open thread – November 23-24, 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.

{ 877 comments… read them below }

  1. Goomba*

    Now that I’ve been around the block a few times, one of my deal-breakers for jobs is whether the manager (and the organization’s senior staff) takes seriously the “managing” aspect of management. I’ve been in jobs where my manager is terrible and where the manager is great that I can attest to how the difference determines the quality of my life and mental health while on the job.

    My criteria for a good manager:

    – Conducts or is open to regular one-on-one update meetings

    – No surprises approach to performance reviews. If there are performance problems or other work issues to address, will address them immediately rather than let issues fester

    – Clear, direct and honest communications. Does not operate in a cloud of ambiguity, unclear or indirect communication

    – Gives me autonomy to “own” and do my job and evaluates me on results. Does not micromanage

    – Has an onboarding process for new employees. Bonus if has documentation and guidance documents prepared for their new hire.

    – Bonus if they have had hands-on training in management such as from here: or training in project management methodologies


    In a job interview what would be good questions to ask the person who will be your boss to get an idea of how they approach these issues?

    What would be the proper timing to raise such questions? First face to face interview, second, etc.?

    1. Legal Beagle*

      I completely agree – who your manager is can really make or break a job, but it’s hard to get a good sense of what their management style is like through the interview process.

      Can you ask direct questions? Like Alison always says, an interview is a two-way assessment! ie, Do you have regularly scheduled check-ins with your direct reports? How have you addressed performance issues in the past? What is the onboarding process for new employees? How do you handle review of your reports’ work?

      BUT I would definitely wait for a second-round interview, so that you have standing to be asking these things as a serious candidate for the position.

    2. fposte*

      I would have thought Alison had addressed this at some point, but the closest I’m finding is the post about the prospective manager being the interviewee. (I’ll append that in followup, since I still think that’s useful, though you obviously can’t ask as many questions when you’re the interviewee.) How many questions you can reasonably ask will depend on the kind of job you’re applying for, but I think you can get in a lot even in a few questions. I also think some of these can be cast as about the unit in general or about you, so as to avoid several “What kind of manager are you?” questions in a row. That’s also a reason to ask some in the first interview and some in the second, depending on their likely relevance and depth.

      So consider questions like “How do the members of the team communicate with each other and with you, and what communication challenges do you encounter?” “What’s the training process for new employees?” “”What kind of employees mesh best with your management style?” The responses to those are likely to elicit a lot of useful information for you, including whether the manager has ever given any thought to these questions before and what they prioritize in their answer to you.

      1. AdeTree*

        Same for me. Except my manager does have training in project management – shows that it doesn’t do much good if you don’t put any of it to use.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I agree with all of those things, with a possible exception of the onboarding process. I say that only because a FORMAL onboarding process is something I’ve rarely seen or experienced. This may just be the nature of my job, as mostly I’m expected to ‘hit the ground running’ at nearly every job I’ve ever had in the last 15 years.

      I like to ask some of the following questions of a potential boss.
      -What, in your view, are the 3 most important functions of this job?
      -If I wasn’t doing something correctly, how would you address it with me?
      -What happens if department metrics are not being met?
      -What needs to happen to make this department successful?
      -What is likely to be the most difficult aspect of this job or role?

      These are typical first interview questions and/or when you get to meet with the actual person who will be your manager (so may not be the first interview if you go through HR first). Some are designed to gauge what they see as important versus what HR has posted in the job description. Others are intended to suss out what happens if things are not going smoothly, and how they might handle that. I’ve found some managers to be be great… until something happens within the company and suddenly numbers aren’t be met, and they turn into mini-monsters. But of course you can’t know everything about how they’ll react, even if they are being completely honest.
      Oh, and I also joke a little bit, as a sense of humor is important to me to shrug off work stress. It’s not a deal-breaker, but I get along better with managers who have a touch of wacky humor like me.

    4. voyager1*

      Honestly if a manager made those requirements I would give them a C.

      What I need in a manager is how do you handle the personel problems ex. coverage or OT?

      How do you handle questions in general? Do you get defensive?

      Are you approachable? Or do you have good days and bad days or are moody?

      How do you provide feedback or guidance in problems? Do you embarrass people in public?

      Does the manager have favoritism issues?

      Can the manager handle tough conversations when high producers or precived high producers do things/doesn’t do things that effect everyone. Or is it just “well they do go work”.

      I have only had one outstanding manager The majority have been terrible to tolerable. My l list had been influenced by my experiences.

      1. Goomba*

        Thanks! I agree it would be a good idea to get some notion through the interview process on the questions you pose. Have you had success in past interviews in getting good answers to these? How would you go about asking tactfully?

      2. JulieCanCan*

        Those are really good things to know before going into a new job, but I would definitely avoid asking most of them during an interview. I can’t tell if you’re saying that you would ask these questions in an interview, or if you just want to find out the answers to these questions prior to starting a job. Because if a candidate asked me any of these questions during an interview I would immediately have alarm bells going off in my head.

        It’s certainly important to know this information and if that’s a possibility, terrific. But I think most people who do recruiting or hiring would be wary to move forward if someone was asking questions like this. It would come across as odd at best and extremely suspicious at worst.

        I would love nothing more than to be able to ask these questions as a candidate; it would’ve saved me some major stress and misery in a past job . I once interviewed with a CFO who would be my boss if I got the job. She was so cool and easy to talk to during the interview, I was thrilled to get the job offer. Within my first five minutes inthe new job she was a completely different person, 180 degrees away from that person I met originally. It was like the devil and a monster took over her body compared to the person I first met. I couldn’t even believe what I was witnessing – she truly seemed like a different person.

        I would love to know of a way to find this type of information out prior to beginning a job. The only way would be if you know someone who works at the company already who can give you an honest and first person account. Barring that scenario I don’t know how you can do it.

    5. Close Bracket*

      I completely agree about the onboarding! You need to know things like when team meetings are, how to fill out a time sheet, who takes care of various things, etc. I had a job where none of that was explained to me, and it was a disaster. That place didn’t even fully explain the pay structure to me-we got paid different rates for different functions, and nobody told me that before I started. I left after a very short time bc I had no idea how to function, and nobody would explain it to me.

      To answer your question, I would not as your manager-to-be anything. I would ask your co-workers-to-be about their experiences. Some examples are:

      “How often do you meet with Fergus?”

      “What is the review process like? Did you have pretty good communication leading up to it?”

      “How much independence do you have to make decisions about your tasks? Do your decisions typically stand or do you get overridden a lot?”


      If you interview with your peers and things come up organically, ask then. Otherwise, wait until you have an offer and say you would like to talk a little more with the people you would be working with before giving an answer.

  2. CountingDownTheDays*

    Has a relocation or signing bonus payback clause ever kept you in a job that you would otherwise have left earlier? Have you ever left a job before the end of the clawback period and paid back the bonus/relo? I’m curious to hear stories from others who have been in this situation. I have about 8 more months in my current job due to a 24 month relocation agreement (I’ve more or less decided being temporarily miserable is worth not paying back about $25K, but I was seriously considering it).

    1. Galactic mermaid*

      I knew someone who was able to negotiate with their current “miserable” employer to only pay a portion of the relocation back (basically divided by months and only paid what was left). They then negotiated with their new employer to pay the remainder as part of their signing bonus with them. It would be dependent upon the miserable employer being reasonable and how desirable you and your skill set are to the new employer, but it is possible. Unfortunately you can’t ask your current employer about prorating without playing your hand so it’s definitely a calculated risk.

    2. Kathenus*

      Yep. I had a two year window for a relocation reimbursement and it 100% made me stay at horribly toxic job long enough to not be on the hook for it. Luckily, if that’s the right word, things didn’t really begin to tank there until into my second year so I wasn’t waiting out the whole two years in a horrible situation. I had just, you know, a bit under one year of hell.

    3. Niamh*

      I left a 24 month nursing contract with a relocation payback clause at 20 months. I didn’t payback anything. I offered, but my manager was amazing, kept me on the books as casual and I just never picked up any shifts, but I was technically still an employee.

    4. The Original K.*

      Yep, my best friend and her husband stayed in a location they didn’t like because they didn’t want to/couldn’t afford to pay back the relocation money. The job she moved for was fine (in fact, my friend is still in it working remotely from a new location), but the new city just wasn’t a fit for them. The requirements were that she had to stay two years and if she left before that, she’d have to pay back a prorated amount (e.g. if the company spent $10K on the relocation and she left after a year, she owed them $5K).

      1. JXB*

        My daughter was hired into a dream job with a substantial signing bonus. A few months in there was a reorganization and new horrible director told daughter she would be laid off. However, it dragged on for FOUR months before any official action was taken. She was held prisoner by the sign-on bonus. If she started looking for work and left before a 12 months, daughter had to repay. If they let her go, no repayment. Job was horrible, every day took it’s toll. She got fairly bitter about the company. Oddly, the company (NOT the director) ended up offering really sweet severance package by the time layoff occurred. Which was really odd as all along HR had told her that serverance was 1 week of salary per year employed. Why/how this deal came about was a mystery.

        Daughter said she was just grateful she wasn’t co-worker they had sweet-talked to move from east coast with a $20K relocation package. Co-worker was only there a month or two before the re-org and was not on the block for layoff so stuck in the now-horrible working situation until her 12 months were up.

    5. Meteor*

      My husband just went through this conundrum. He got an offer from a super well-known, respected company after only 8 months at his previous position. The company he was leaving wanted him to pay back their signing bonus pre-tax, which meant we would literally have been paying thousands of our own dollars in addition to what we actually received. He had done some great work for them, even in a short time, so he was able to negotiate them down to only repay the post-tax amount (basically meaning we received $0 bonus, just kept a little interest it had accrued over those months).

      If you already have spent the $25k bonus, then it’s probably a financial hardship to pay it back. We had ours just sitting in a Fidelity account so it was easy enough to pay it back. Good luck!

    6. Dreamer*

      I’m in the same boat currently. Except I have barely been here 6months. It sucks because I like the company and most of the team but I cant work under my manager.

    7. Ktelzbeth*

      I put the majority of mine in a bank account I swore not to touch so I could pay it back if I had to. I was fortunate on two accounts: the payback was prorated, so I would only have had to pay back what I hadn’t worked off, and I did stay for reasons other than the bonus payback. I set it up the way I did, though, specifically so I could pay the money back and leave if I wanted/needed to, so I guess my answer is a theoretical yes I’d pay back the money if I were unhappy enough.

    8. Family Business*

      Yes, and I stayed. In retrospect, I wish I would have looked at my options more. When I left that company, I got a significant pay bump. My advice would be see what you’re worth in the market and if it’s enough that it makes walking away and paying Old Company back a reasonable choice. If you’d owe $10k, but could make $20k/year more, it’s a win-win.

    9. Blarg*

      I left early after signing a BS payback agreement for training me as a new grad nurse. Needless to say, a hospital that tries to trap new nurses by wanting them to pay for their own on-boarding is not a great place to work. My manager said they were going to make me pay it back but HR never said a word. I had all of 11 training shifts before I was given my own patient load so they didn’t have much room to claim they’d trained me, anyway. I was later part of a class action suit they settled for wage violations.

    10. Naughty*

      Left a job a few months before the end of the repayment window and… just didn’t give the money back. I already had another job and had moved far, far away, plus I knew they weren’t going to take me to court for a few hundred dollars (the amount I had to give back was percentage based), so I just didn’t get back to them. It’s been many years and nothing bad has happened.

      Not saying that’s a good thing to do, or that it’d work for others, of course.

    11. None the Wiser*

      Two things: paybacks on relocation packages are often prorated. If you signed a two-year agreement and have put 16 months, you may not have to pay back the whole thing. Second: if you have to relocate for a new position, you may be to get your new employer to cover it as part of your compensation package. Not always, but I have heard of it.

  3. Bee's Knees*

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    We had the day off yesterday, hallelujah, and are back at it today.

    Fergus has taken off to parts unknown for Thanksgiving, and will be out for a few days. *happy dance*

    I, apparently, got married. I got an email from a high school columnist that’s just started. She’s a super sweet girl, but she emailed me and addressed it to Mrs. Knees, despite the fact that I’ve signed all my emails Bees.

    Wakeen, if it’s possible, has gotten even sillier. He and his wife separated again, briefly, when she texted him on Tuesday to tell him it’s over. They’re back together now.

    His family came by last Friday, his wife, their son, his wife, and their kid. The kid was asleep the whole time. He introduced them, by name, to every single person individually. We work in a bull pen. But he introduced them about six times. Except for the third or fourth time, when he forgot his daughter-in-law’s name.

    Fergus had a loud disagreement with his son about whether or not it was appropriate for the son to wear shorts on Thanksgiving. Then the son says he’s not coming. Unsure how it turned out.

    Fergus, for all his faults, is good at his job. Not so much with the people skills, but he’s a good reporter, for the most part. He and Wakeen had a disagreement after Wakeen did something incorrectly, and Fergus had to redo it. Fergus was right, and wasn’t snippy about it or anything, just this is how we do it here. Wakeen took great offence, to the point where Farquad told him to knock it off. He kept talking about it. Boss calls him in to his office, and Wakeen goes, for all the office to hear, “Time to get raked over the coals!”

    1. Grapey*

      “Fergus had a loud disagreement with his son about whether or not it was appropriate for the son to wear shorts on Thanksgiving.”

      Unless son is an actual child, it’s also inappropriate to criticize other people for their clothing choices. I wouldn’t go to thanksgiving either if my parents raised a fuss about such a silly topic!

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Fergus doesn’t have a house phone, and I talk to his son about once a week when he calls here. I would guess he’s about 18, but he’s apparently in his late 20’s. They fight about all sorts of ridiculous topics.

      2. Lissa*

        I just want to know how it came up! Did Fergus just announce to his son he wasn’t to wear shorts? Did his son call to announce “I will be wearing SHORTS on thanksgiving, deal with it, Dad!” Inquiring minds.

        1. Bee's Knees*

          I think it came up in a conversation about the weather and what they should pack. And then the son just decided that he wouldn’t come, and I don’t know that he changed his mind.

    2. Flash Bristow*

      I rarely read the open threads, hence I’ve not seen your newsroom comments before. I’ve just discovered your blog… That’s the evening gone then!

      Just what I needed today – I’m too ill to get out of bed and a bit of gentle humour should help. Hooray, and thank you!

    3. Screenwriter*

      My young adult son has been lost to the mists of mental health and substance abuse issues for several years now. Every so often he surfaces, and it’s always nightmarish. What I would give to have my big problem with him be whether or not he was wearing fucking shorts to our next family dinner.

      1. cats! cats! cats!*

        I’m sorry Screenwriter! What a difficult and heartbreaking situation for you and your family. I hope your son gets better.

      2. Anon just now*

        I so empathize with you, because I have a related situation. I do feel envious and very sad when I hear about such trivial parental disputes.

  4. Wandering wanda*

    I think some individuals need to tone down the idle speculation when the comment here. The hair letter from the 4 answers this morning is a perfect example. The OP was very angry about the speculation. It detracts from helping those who write in and sometimes leads to off topic and derailing comments.

    1. Zona the Great*

      To speculate is normal human nature. It’s part of everyday life. Alison asks that if we do speculate, we describe why it is relevant. If someone didn’t make it relevant, perhaps you can simply ask the person why they chose to include the post. While I understand your frustration, policing others on this site is equally bothersome IMO.

      1. Jersey's mom*

        It’s one thing to speculate about the situation immediately surrounding the question i.e. did you consider your/her tone when s/he said that? Or was s/he in a hurry and maybe did not give your question or request the consideration it deserved? That sort of speculation is relevant to the question

        This particular situation, a lot of people piled onto the fiance for even asking LW to do the work, up to even questioning if their relationship was worth pursuing. I think that’s a pretty darn big leap to make, and to justify as a “speculation”, especially as LW was not asking about that, and even clarified again in their comment that it was not the fiance that LW had an issue with.

        That type of thread is what turns off people from sending their questions in.

        1. Zona the Great*

          I would then argue that that is not speculation but rather making wild accusations. Speculation uses context clues and the latter uses emotion and irrationality. Piling on is indeed off-putting enough to discourage LWs from writing in.

        2. WellRed*

          Maybe people did stretch their speculation about the fiance too far, but plenty of people write to advice columnists about an issue without seeing the bigger problem or even, that the problem is actually a whole different issue. Not saying that’s the case here but I can see why people went that way.

        3. Lissa*

          I agree. I think the blaming the fiance was pretty bad. Once it was mentioned once or twice, it really didn’t need to be escalated and said 20 more times. If the fiance is in an abusive-boss situation, blaming him doesn’t feel useful or kind. I definitely think there were some gendered assumptions going on there too, and probably quite subconsciously. Those subconscious things are very hard, to realize our own assumptions.

      2. Liet-Kinda*

        It’s also not helpful, pointless, and a waste of time, so we need to rein it in to speculation that results in a reasonable, actionable course of action for an OP.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This. We can only advise the people who wrote in, with suggestions that don’t involve time travel.

          I also feel this way about speculating for -isms that weren’t given in the letter, just in case there might be an -ism going on.

    2. Anon From Here*

      I think there was some reasonable “what’s up with the fiancé pressuring LW to work for free” but I think one or two commenters went straight to an unreasonable “fiancé is a toady and LW should DTMFA.” I’ll be happy to use the same handle here as I did there and own my own comments, because I honestly do try to not say anything on the Internet that I wouldn’t say to someone to their face. But I could see where one or two of the things I said went a little to far into speculation about LW’s relationship with her fiancé.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        I have a lot of respect for people who own their words and are willing to learn / accept when they overstep.

        Just sayin’ ☺

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        I think maybe I came in late after the meanest comments had been deleted or something, because what I saw was overwhelmingly reasonable. I mean, yeah, people were pointing out that this was primarily a fiance’ problem, but, like, they weren’t wrong? They were just kinda like “your fiance’ needs to be the one to fix this instead of dumping it on you” – which is the same thing you’d say for his mom, dad, weird uncle, friend, or other person that was giving an S/O grief.

    3. fposte*

      I’m generally pretty protective of the letter writers (and I think people did go overboard on the fiancé a bit), but an LW’s getting angry isn’t automatically proof that people did something wrong. Sometimes they get angry about any disagreement or any suggestion that they made a mistake. I favor being kind to letter writers on general human principles, but I don’t think the goal should be to make sure they never get angry.

      1. MissGirl*

        I didn’t read her comment as angry but as hurt. Her fiance seems like a great guy with a nightmare boss and some of those comments calling him names were extremely out of line. Sometimes we can take insults to us easier than we can take it to our loved ones. She wrote the letter, not him, and probably feels horrible his name is being drug through the mud.

        1. fposte*

          I think some of the comments were out of line for sure, but I also don’t think that’s ever likely to change completely. And I also think the OP was going to be hurt even if all the comments were in line, as it were, because they were always going to largely suggest her fiancé had blown it here.

      2. Not a Badmin anymore*

        I agree, speaking for myself, I’ve been a LW here before and some of the comments stung but I was also in a vulnerable place, asking for help in the first place . I think it’s an all around sensitive situation for the LWs which could lead to some defensiveness and sensitivity.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Totally unrelated but I couldn’t help thinking this when seeing your name: do badmins play badminton?

    4. Lena Clare*

      This comment doesn’t belong here in this thread.
      Also, with the best intentions and will in the world, you can’t stop people from their thoughts and assumptions. Even if they have all the factual info (which in the scenario you’re describing, they didn’t) people will still view the situation through the lens of their own prejudices. It is human nature.
      And I honestly am not sure why you brought it up here?

      1. Not a Badmin anymore*

        I think anything blog related has historically been allowed in the Friday Open Thread. I’m remembering back to when there was a discussion of the comment section in particular about the purpose and I stated my annoyance at the comment thread being hijacked for things that aren’t actual advice, some people stated they enjoy the community aspect and updates from people. For example, the best/worst threads annoyed me.

      2. Friday afternoon fever*

        They brought it up because they believe it to be relevant and appropriate to the thread and would like to discuss it :)

        You can’t stop people from their thoughts and assumptions but you CAN
        -encourage culture change in your own comments and through replies
        -control what people post on a website you are moderating!

        I know rhere have already been a bunch of discussions about moderation and I personally have no interest in resuscitating them; my point is more that the universe of this question is smaller than all the world and all of human behavior

      3. Liet-Kinda*

        You can’t stop people from their thoughts and assumptions, but you can ask them to restrain themselves from posting any damn fool thing that crosses their mind, especially if it doesn’t change the advice being given to the OP.

        1. fposte*

          You can ask them, but I don’t think, realistically, you can stop all of them all of the time, and a lot of people who cross the line aren’t going to care about non-Alison opinions on their line-crossing. As the volume grows, Alison puts a few different things in place, but short of straight up moderation I don’t think there’s anyway to completely effect the “be kind” guidance. But there’s always the possibility that some other step might help, and I love meta-discussion, so I’m always game for a thread like this.

          Part of why I’m so protective of the LWs is the sheer volume of responses is incredibly daunting–I’d be daunted by it as an OP even if none of them were actively mean, and even knowing the blog as well as I do.

        2. Falling Diphthong*


          I started my commenting life at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic blog, and one rule was to walk away when you’ve made your point. That typing it over again even harder derailed into a nitpicking back and forth when the aim was a civil discussion that presented different takes on an issue.

    5. Guy Incognito*

      Agreed. I have something I’d like to write in with because I need advice, but I won’t because I’m terrified of the speculation in the comments.

      1. Myrin*

        You could always not read the comments (although I get the urge as a regular reader and commenter – you want to know what these people you regularly interact with think of your situation!) – Alison said in the past that that’s actually what most OPs do. Or you could specifically search for some names of commenters whose advice you usually like and just read those!

      2. Nessun*

        I’m a big believer in asking for assistance when you need it, so I say – ask for the advice you need. Unless you plan to ask the commentariat in an open-day session, you can read Alison’s reply and then ask someone you trust to curate the comment section for any relevant responses. If you were thinking of using the open-day session – well, I still say ask (but I can understand it would be daunting). Same principle though – ask for gentleness, find a trusted individual to curate or moderate, or be prepared to read comments and then absorb/filter/ignore as needed. Good luck!

      3. Not a Badmin anymore*

        I honestly think the majority of the advice is good, useful and helpful from commenters, there are a few bad eggs but I hope it doesn’t stop you from writing. I think you’ll also find that when people speculate you can easily screen it out as not relevant to your situation, due to how far people go with the speculation.

      4. Anon 'cause mental health stuff*

        And for some, it’s not really possible to NOT read the comments. I have some issues that I’d really love to write in to Allison and a couple other blogs, but I’m terrified of seeing some ugly comments. I have anxiety disorder, and if my question were to be answered, there is no way I could NOT read the comments, and I know there would be some horrific speculative comments that would trigger my anxiwty to the point that I’d need to medicate. And, those comments would be on line forever, so my anxiety would have me rereading them for months or years, and reactivating my negative thoughts and feelings.

        I recognize this would be a huge problem for me personally, so I’ll never write in. And I don’t often comment, as responses to my comments can trigger the anxiety as well. I wonder how many others are on a similar situation.

        1. Shad*

          I’m so, so sorry to hear that the comments would keep you from asking for help.
          I do wonder whether Allison would be able or willing to turn off commenting for a specific post if a LW has such an issue; I know Captain Awkward will occasionally do that for her posts. If that were the case, would that be a potential work around for you?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’ve done that occasionally, but it’s not something I would do on request. I’ve got to make judgments about what makes sense for the site overall, and ultimately it’s not here just to serve individual letter writers.

          2. Anon 'cause mental health stuff*

            Exactly. I know my personal issues, and I know I need to self-select out of some situations. No worries :)

            My comment was merely to add to the discussion about why people may or may not write in, regarding reading of the comments.

            I also assume that many (most?) writers are eager to read the comments which can sometime have great additional suggestions.

            I guess the gist of my comment is that most people who write in are prepared for the answer and comments. Occasionally some writers are *often spectacularly* not prepared for Alisons’ answer, and some writers appear to be genuinely hurt or angered when reading comments, especially when comments are painfull to the LW.

            It’s very healthy to know when you need to self select out of situations to avoid a hurt. I still enjoy reading the blog and gaining insights, but sometimes avoid comments when they get out of hand.

      5. Lissa*

        I’ve posted for advice in the open threads a couple times, and mostly the advice is good, with one or two comments that veer off into extreme projection/speculation. I think this always happens a little bit, but there are some letters where it starts really spiraling and completely taking over any legitimate advice. Can be hard to predict. I’d probably do what Myrin suggests and search for a few commenter names if it seemed to go sideways.

        I think the most frustrating thing is when there’s one particular detail that commenters latch onto that turns out to not be what they thought. I’d be super annoyed if a huge portion of the comments became useless because a few people cleverly extrapolated, everyone latched on, but it wasn’t even accurate.

        1. fposte*

          We’ve also talked in the past about how the direct address of the open thread tends to mean comments are more measured than they are to the LWs of the blog posts. I think to commenters there’s often still a fourth wall between them and the LWs, whereas to the LWs there isn’t.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yes, for sure. Talking to vs. talking about, but sometimes sort of forgetting that the person one’s talking about is right there, so to speak. I’m guilty of it myself — but then if the LWs are active in the comments section from the start, I think it tends to nip the wilder speculation in the bud. The guy who wrote in about his coworker’s self-harm scars springs to mind.

      6. Flash Bristow*

        I’m sad to see that the comments are putting you off. I know what you mean though; I’ve posted things (to other sites) then found myself running away, not reading, and being rather busy with offline things for a few days. Which was not what I intended. And then if I read a few days later, everyone has moved on, but then I’m late (hence, rude) not thanking the helpful folk or answering genuine enquiries for more detail at the time. (solution: make a separate thank you post addressing everyone – and don’t read the comments to that either).

        The idea of asking someone to curate comments is a good one; either they could c&p a few helpful replies to you, or – given the way this site works – they could take your phone, collapse anything unhelpful and expand anything useful, so you’re then handed the page ready to read with anything unhelpful (bar top level comments) screened out.

        I hope you’ll find a way to write in, if you do need Alison’s help. Good luck.

      7. Anon Anon*

        Yeah. Even when I post something in the open thread my expectation is that 95% of responses will be unhelpful because folks will choose to focus on something that isn’t key to my question and/or is really about someone’s pet complaint (ask a question about how to run a meeting well, get six responses about how you shouldn’t have the meeting at all; ask about holiday assignments and get six responses about how your office doesn’t offer enough PTO; ask about how to work with a slacker coworker and get six responses about how you should be more understanding because they probably have PTSD).

    6. LGC*

      Yeah…that post was a trainwreck. (I wouldn’t say the LW read as angry to me, though – she read as offended. Slightly different, I think, and she’s…possibly justified?)

      To be honest, I kind of noticed that it’s often a couple of people who are…historically rather abrasive. Which you’d pick up on if you read the comments! (All I’m going to say is…my dudes, do NOT live your life according to XKCD 386.) But as Alison has noted in the past, the comments are a very small portion of engagement on AAM, and sometimes you don’t know everyone even if you do regularly engage. (I’ve had a couple of instances where I’ve thought someone was jerkish to me and caught feelings. And then I realized that they’re just like that on the Internet.) Plus, I don’t know if they’re going to care if a particular lay commenter (like me) or even a “super-commenter” (like…let’s say PCBH) tells them that their comment is unhelpful – they want a fight, dammit!

      (I mean, heck, quite a few of them will tell Alison directly UR RUNNING UR SITE RONG. Which…is certainly bold, and I want to salute Alison for her infinite patience in not just nuking them from orbit.)

      That said, it’s really hard to not read into situations. To use the hair letter again, it genuinely is an issue that LW2’s fiance is begging her to subsidize his career (in time, money, and emotional energy), in my opinion. I don’t think that the fiance financing LW2’s career by paying for her beauty school fees or even that this is his one issue changes that calculus. But…as a lot of other people pointed out, there’s a world of difference between noting that as an issue and immediately jumping to “UR FIANCE SUXXX DTMFA.” So – I feel like advice column fanfic can be helpful at some points (or even better, asking questions about the letter or post), but you’re right in that it often devolves into speculative attacks.

  5. Glowcat*

    Hi all! I’m be going to the biggest conference in my field in a couple of weeks, and I would like some suggestions on how to make the most out of it! It’s a huge thing with people from all over the world and it’s a great occasion to network and showcase your work. It’s the first time I go there; I’ve been to the European equivalent, which is a bit smaller, but at the time I was a student and “making the most out of it” meant having the most fun. I actually ended up in my current position because I met my now-supervisor there, but it all happened by chance; now I’d like to be a little more aware of what I’m doing. Any tip on how to network and, in general, how to survive big conferences will be welcome! It’s a scientific event, if that matters. Thanks!

    1. Steve*

      I suggest having business cards that are blank on one side, and – if appropriate – write a few words on the back when you hand one over. Something like “Would appreciate knowing more about your AI algorithms” or “Look forward to chatting about blockchain analysis”. These conferences are just one person after the other, so the ability to differentiate yourself a bit on paper can be helpful (I usually do the opposite – I get business cards and write the notes on the back so I know what to email them about a few days later)

      The key is often to go up to people and just start talking (best to ask them about their work – it should be a chat and not a one-sided moment of you talking at them, which is likely obvious advice). This can be hard, but it’s often what has been useful for me. Or note who asks questions during presentations, or listen in on other conversations at coffee time and then approach people who have similar interests.

      1. Glowcat*

        I don’t have business cards, but I like your suggestion of writing down hints on what to talk about: it’s always hard for me to come up with something when I have to initiate contact. Thanks!

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          If you possibly can, consider getting business cards before the conference? This is how most people exchange contact information with people with whom they’re trying to network, and honestly, just writing down your information can look a little unprofessional in many industries. No idea about yours, of course; but it’s also just so much EASIER to hand ten or fifteen people cards than it is to write it all out every time.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Yeah, business cards are still pretty useful for conferences.

            (but not for meetings where we’ve all been discussing this on an email chain – even if we haven’t yet met – and your info is in your signature /pet peeve rant)

          2. Glowcat*

            uhm, I’ve never seen any of my colleagues using business cards… but I’m going to ask them straight away, because now you’ve made me curious.
            I think I have time to have a few printed, if it turns out it’s better to have them.

    2. Blank*

      My main advice, if it’s a conference with lots of talks and other programming, is to not try to see it all. As you know from the European example, the networking and conversations are the most important thing. Definitely take in some new research! But don’t feel obliged to sit in panels without a break, don’t let #fomo get you down. Stay hydrated. Tack a day or two onto the end of the trip for tourism or relaxation. :)

      1. Glowcat*

        “not try to see all”: that’s a good one, I’m one of those people who try to do just everything. Maybe I was lucky that I registered late and a lot of extra activities were already sold out :)

    3. Kathenus*

      Building on the other comments, you’re smart to be thinking of the value of networking and how to maximize this. In a year or two you will probably remember very little of the content of the conference, but the networking contacts that you make could have a much longer effect on your career.

      As Steve says, engaging people in conversation is a huge key. Especially at the social events, get a drink or bite of food and then look for a person or small group and ask if you can join them. It can be intimidating at first, but it really is easy and most people are just as interested in networking and happy that someone is taking the initiative. If there are presenters, and you can find them later in the conference, referencing their talk is a great way to start a conversation. Have lots of business cards easily available, be willing to put yourself out there and proactively engage in conversation, and you’ll really be glad that you did. Good luck and have fun!

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Some good tips here. I’m assuming you’re doing your research ahead of time on which speakers/sessions you’ll be attending. I’d also see if the conference has a social media page setup ahead of time as that might give you a more informal way to schedule some networking appointments ahead of time. In addition I’d see if the conference had a LinkedIn page as that might give you an idea on who’s going.

        As for how to approach the networking piece, I’ve found that being authentic and genuinely interested in what people have to say goes a long way (thanks Dale Carnegie!)

        Good luck!

    4. BetsCounts*

      some recommended reading- good luck!!

      Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success Paperback – March 9, 2007
      by Anne Baber (Author), Lynne Waymon (Author)

      Talking the Winner’s Way: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Business and Personal Relationships Paperback – September 1, 1999

      Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time Hardcover – Laser printed, February 22, 2005
      by Keith Ferrazzi (Author), Tahl Raz (Author)

    5. Blarg*

      Know that large conferences are FOMO from the moment you wish you’d signed up for that pre-conf session. Practice good self-care — stay hydrated, don’t just eat crap, take time for yourself if you need it. Don’t be afraid to skip a session if you’re having a great convo with an attendee or at a booth. Depending on what kind of networking you’re planning, bringing cards with your personal contact info may be helpful.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Do you have someone else you can buddy with? A lot of times that makes it easier to network and start conversations, as well as having someone to discuss things with and help optimize what events you go to (“I’ll drop into X for a bit, you go to Y, and then we tell each other the important bits”).

      1. Glowcat*

        A few of my colleagues are coming, including some of my teammates. I will try to coordinate our schedules, that’s a good idea. The other time I was alone as my supervisor had to cancel last minute: I had a few moments when I felt really lost.

    7. JxB*

      If you hope to make long-term contacts, I’d suggest figuring out an efficient way to make notes about people you meet. During the conference, it’s easy to think “OF COURSE, I’ll remember ____.” But it’s amazing how quickly the information fades. So perhaps discretely jot down notes and then transfer to an online doc at night in your hotel room. Similarly, things you want to follow-up on, like books or sites mentioned by a speaker. We are all notorious for scribbling some little note in our programs, fully intent to followup up – but then once you return to the office, the “real world” crashes back down and it’s all too easy to forget. Perhaps even set reminders in your calendar to review information in a week/ a month or contact a person or find them on LinkedIn.

      In terms of networking, have a few introductory comments/questions in mind and be willing to start conversations. Look for someone sitting solo and looking uncomfortable. You can help someone out and make a new contact.

      For some events, if traveling solo and perhaps afraid of feeling isolated, ask if there are any 1) volunteer opportunities – which is a great way to get involved and see more than the average attendee and 2) events planned for solo travelers – like sign up list for dinner out on free nights.

      And – absolutely – you want to maximize your potential by always remaining professional.

      Good luck and enjoy!

    8. Glowcat*

      I read all the comments, thanks to everyone for the help! :) I feel better knowing that I know what I’m doing!

  6. Midwest writer*

    I have posted before that I’m leaving one newspaper for another. I wasn’t job hunting but was recruited. Twice now, my supervisory coworker (not a boss but higher in the hierarchy) has said she worries about my new job being a terrible place to work, because “recruiting is just not how good businesses operate.” I keep biting my tongue because there’s no point in telling her that, yes, in fact, many good businesses recruit employees, particularly for hard-to-fill openings.
    Three more days. One of which is today and will be super quiet.
    Because I’m bored, tell me about times you got recruited — did you go? Why or why not? How did it turn out?

    1. wantingworktobebetter*

      What?! Being recruited (or “sourced”) is normal and produces better results than just waiting for applicants to apply. Forty percent of Facebook’s hires are recruited away. They have a whole giant sourcing team for this.

      1. Midwest writer*

        Right? I will grant that we’re in a rural area and in an industry (news) that traditionally had no trouble filling even the lowest-paying reporter position in the middle of nowhere, so she probably hasn’t seen a lot of it here. BUT STILL.
        I think a lot of it is that the company I am leaving has really rallied around this idea that they’re a fabulous work environment (and they have been for me, though not for everyone) and that they’re doing so much to make it even better. Except I see the changes as not necessarily making my particular role better. Also, they were giving me new management duties that I didn’t think I was quite ready for … and then I accepted a job with the same management duties that I had privately told my coworker I was hesitant to do. The difference is, this new job has a plan and a structure in place to not only train me into the role, but also to adequately compensate me for it. And with less travel than the job I’m leaving.
        But mostly I posted this because I’m sort of exhausted by this repeated conversation that implies I’m not smart enough to see how terrible my new employer will be. I’ve been in my industry for 20 years, since high school, actually, and have worked at big, medium and tiny papers. I read AAM pretty regularly. I asked lots of good questions. I ran everything by people with even more experience than I have. I have vetted this job.

    2. Leela*

      All your boss’ answer says to me is that she’s making it clear leaving is a good choice. Either a lack of understanding of how business works or she’s just saying anything she can think of to keep you. Also, casting aspersions on your decision like that really grosses me out.

      I’ve been recruited before, I went, it was the best because my current workplace was ridiculous.

      1. Midwest writer*

        Yeah, lots of her actions and the other upper managers since I gave notice have confirmed for me this was a good time to go.
        I’m glad to hear your experience was good!
        Now that I’m thinking about it, the last two jobs I left also had awful conversations on the way out. The first I left to move to Hawaii to get married (my husband had taken a job there) and my editor told me I shouldn’t go because it would be easier to find a new significant other than another newspaper job. I ended up working for a Hawaii paper for 8 years. And when I left that job, my supervisor told my coworker/friend that she shouldn’t give my family a ride to the airport for our move back to the Midwest. The first made me mad, the second hurt my feelings a lot, because I thought my boss and I got along OK and turns out as soon as I left, she tried to get my friend to stop being my friend.
        Probably, more than anything, these are signs that newsrooms can get really toxic. And yet, I remain a reporter.

      2. Jules the First*

        I’ve had five jobs in the last 15 years, three of them 3+ years, two of them six months or less; three I loved, two where I was bored out of my mind; three of them I was recruited for and two of them I applied for. I’ve promised myself I will no longer apply for jobs…in my field at least, the best jobs find me.

    3. What's with Today, today?*

      I got recruited twice. I got hired in the traditional sense (applied, interview) to then Clear Channel Communications and six months later the man that hired me left and tried to take me with him. I loved Clear Channel (I may be one of the few that had a great experience there) and they offered me A LOT more money to stay so I did stay…for four more years and left on great terms. I left Clear Channel after being recruited by a corporate insurance firm in my home town to do marketing. It was similar to a small aspect of my job at CC (I was mainly on air, but also did affiliate relations for their networks) I was recruited by the company owner, hired after one phone interview with him and started 6 weeks later. Three months after that, he retired, his sons took over and laid me off two days later. I went back into radio (at the station where I started in my home town) and have stayed there and love it. I learned later the sons never wanted to hire me in the first place and had fought their dad on the decision.

      1. Midwest writer*

        Interesting! Thanks for sharing. I have to say I haven’t heard much positive about Clear Channel from outside of the company, but nearly every company with a terrible reputation must have something going for it to keep employees there. (Even if that something is, “This is the only game in town for this industry, so I guess I’ll stay.”)

        1. What’s with Today, today?*

          Lol. I actually loved it! I was in a mid-market city during the mid 2000s, pre-recession. The perks were fantastic, my pay was great, insurance was great…but I was in a small more-niche area of the company (agriculture news and some regular news). I kinda think TPTB left us alone b/c they didn’t know what we were doing a lot of the time but money was flowing in from us.

    4. LilySparrow*

      I was a legal secretary to a notoriously high-maintenance attorney in a boutique firm. Fortunately, we got along great. The only downsides of the job, as far as I was concerned, was that the salary was on the low end of market range. I was okay with that for the short-term, because it was my re-entry job after taking time off with small children. Also, due to the nature of the work, there were inconvenient blackout dates for taking vacation. But all in all, a satisfactory job with good benefits, nice people, and incredible job security at my role. You’d have to misbehave egregiously to get fired.

      I got cold-called off my LinkedIn profile to interview for a role with another notoriously high-maintenance boss in the same specialty at a much larger firm. I explained I wasn’t looking, but the salary range they were offering started at 20 percent higher than I was making. So of course I went in.

      At the interview with the recruiter, they asked why I was looking to leave. I explained that I wasn’t. “You cold-called me, remember?”

      At the interview with the large firm’s HR, the rep asked why I was looking to leave. I explained that I wasn’t, the recruiter cold-called me, but the salary was too good to pass up.

      I found out that it was a pretty messy situation. The boss’s existing secretary was terminally ill and taking extensive ongoing FMLA, but still occasionally working part-time. She was not aware that they were looking for her replacement. The replacement would be ostensibly hired as a newly-created position for “team coverage.” So I would have to work with her and get trained for her position without her knowing I was taking her job. They weren’t planning to let her go (so they said), but they didn’t want to upset her or stress her out while she worked as long as she could. Supposedly.

      The boss was planning to retire somewhere in the 2-5 year range, and there was no guarantee what department or what boss the new position would be assigned to after that.

      But my salary was a struggle, and a 20 percent raise would make a huge difference in our standard of living.

      When I interviewed with the boss, he asked why I was looking for a new job. So I explained the situation again, and started to really wonder if I was the only person in this crew who was telling anybody the truth about anything.

      They offered the job. I verbally accepted. They sent the offer letter. I gave notice.

      And my boss countered, matching the offer. I wasn’t intending to play one against the other, but he’d just removed the only reason I considered the other job in the first place.

      The recruiter was very unhappy with me and tried to persuade me that my old firm would turn around and fire me at the first opportunity, all kinds of things. They even accused me of “wasting their time” or applying for the job under “false pretenses.” And I reminded them all over again that they freaking cold-called me and offered me a shedload of cash, and I’d told them so several times already.

      That last interaction just cemented my feeling that I’d dodged a bullet.

      1. Midwest writer*

        Wow. That’s really intense. I’m glad your boss was able to match the salary and keep you from taking that job. I would be incredibly frustrated to constantly be asked the same question when it didn’t apply at all to the situation.
        I half expected my current employer to try to counter offer, but I was mostly glad they didn’t. There are enough things going on here that have my spidey senses tingling (lots of years in newspapers gives you a good idea about when things are going to become unbearable) that I was kind of relieved to have an excuse to leave. I think they were super offended that I’d leave, when they think they’re an amazing company where everyone is family. (I do not need my employer to be my family. I need my employer to be fair and honor commitments.)

      2. Tysons in Boston*

        My personal feelings are if someone is looking to go (granted in this situation, initially you weren’t actively looking) it isn’t always about the money. If it is just the money than a counter offer will work.
        But for other reasons, tossing money at the situation won’t work.
        I left a job with people that I liked, okay salary, great boss, and a decent commute, because I wanted to move up from my entry level position. That wasn’t going to happen at Old place. When it was announced that I was leaving, everyone went to my boss asking if she tried to offer me more money to get me to stay. She said that money wasn’t the motivation so she didn’t bother.

    5. rubyrose*

      I had worked in a specialized area (Medicaid payment systems) and left for three years for other healthcare IT jobs. Out of the blue, I get a call from a recruiter; I’m guessing he found me on Monster. His first words were to ask me if I wanted to get back into Medicaid. He then proceeds to describe a job that I knew I could do, but there was nothing special or intriguing about the position. It was his last statement that got my attention: “Oh, I almost forgot. This is a remote job. You can live anywhere in the U.S., as long as you are close to an airport.”

      I had left Colorado 10 years before and had ended up in a part of the country that, well, let’s just say was not my cup of tea. With that last statement, I saw my opportunity to get back to where I wanted to be without having to find a job there. You bet, I was interested.

      I took the job and was able to move a year later. Taking the job is one of the better things that has happened in my career. That was 10 years ago and I still work for them.

  7. WorriedJobSeeker*

    Guess the HR team at a big company I applied for some positions for finally caught up on their backlog, because I was sent five “sorry we aren’t interviewing you” emails at one go. Ouchies

    (the positions were similar and the application was spread over a period of three months)

    1. Gaia*

      Ouch, that always sucks even if you kind of figured it was happening.

      Mine always seem to come in batches. I’ll hear nothing on any applications for so long and then in one day get several “Nope!” emails.

      1. Hangry*

        I once received a rejection email in five different languages. It made me laugh so hard I didn’t care I’d been rejected.

        1. Family Business*

          I once got rejected for the wrong job title. As in, not the job I interviewed for. Which went well with the fact that they sent the interview schedule to my email,, but the subject line was Elizabeth’s Interview times.

  8. The Other Dawn*

    I posted last week about figuring out how I should describe my dream job for a company I’m thinking of applying to (no open positions, but they encourage applications anyway). I reached out to a couple contacts there in order to get a sense as to the culture, management, etc. and they agreed to talk to me. Even though I can get a sense of the overall picture based on interactions with them over the last few years, I was hoping for more details.

    I talked to one person on Wednesday and I’m so glad I did! Based on everything she said, this seems like a great place to work. Prior to working for the company her longest stint anywhere was just a few years because she gets bored; however, she’s been at this company for more than 10 years because of all the challenges, changing environment, etc. There’s a huge emphasis on the team environment and things change very quickly, feedback is often and comes from peers mostly, and there are LOTS of perks, even for the remote workers.

    I have one more person to talk to next week, but I will definitely be applying to this company. I love the thought of a lot of change and I really like the type of work they do.

    And I want to say that’s I’m loving being at work today, because it’s SO quiet!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Oh, and what’s nice is that she also told me what kinds of people would NOT do well at her company. Basically people that hate change and want to work in total isolation all the time wouldn’t be a good fit. She said there are people that think they’ll fit, or make the case that they’ll fit when interviewing, but end up leaving because it’s not for them.

  9. Rory Ng*

    Hi Alison. Just wanted to thank you because all the advice you give helped me land a great full time job!

    Also, if I may ask, when are those update posts going to start? I love all of AAM but the updates are my favourite.

  10. June*

    For those of you who have worked holidays, were there any perks* you received the day of (e.g. free Thanksgiving lunch) that you appreciated, or would have appreciated?

    * other than extra $$$ or PTO

    1. Susan K*

      Yes, my company has free lunch for those working Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that is always appreciated. There is extra holiday pay, too, but it is nice for the company to do a little something extra to acknowledge those who keep the place running while everyone else is home with their families for the holiday.

    2. Midwest writer*

      My last job lumped all holidays into your PTO bank. Say at a normal job you’d get 10 PTO days, at that job, your PTO bank would have 18, with the caveat that you could only take 10 until the holiday passed. PTO reset on individual work anniversaries and you could roll over a certain number of days, so you could accumulate them into something useable. Once I’d worked on Thanksgiving and Christmas, then I had two more days I could take off later. We never considered it extra PTO, because it was always just part of the PTO plan. But maybe that wouldn’t work? Can you just give someone a different day off the same week?
      Otherwise, food is good. A lighter workload. Relaxed dress code if it’s an office.

    3. Amber Rose*

      Years ago I worked in a warehouse type grocery store and they decided to do inventory on Thanksgiving. For those who worked it, they cooked up a massive feast of roast beef, mashed potatoes, veggies, salads, etc. I helped with the cooking. It was fun.

      The only holiday I have to work at this place is Remembrance Day, and they do nothing, not even extra $$. I wish they would at least let us observe a minute of silence. :/

      1. Baby Fishmouth*

        Remembrance Day, unfortunately, isn’t actually a holiday in most areas/provinces – I definitely think it should be, but they won’t give you extra money to work something that the government has decided does not count as a holiday.

        I definitely agree about the minute of silence, though – that’s just disrespectful not to acknowledge it.

        1. Amber Rose*

          It’s a holiday here in AB as of this year. That said, the rules say we get a day off, but not when it has to be. So we get Boxing Day in lieu. It’s nice to get an extra day off at Xmas but still.

            1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

              Boxing Day is officially an “optional general holiday,” in addition to Easter Monday and Heritage Day (first Monday in August).

              I’ve never worked somewhere that doesn’t give Boxing Day and Heritage Day off; Easter Monday is hit or miss, but my current workplace gives it as a holiday, as much because we’re heading into a busy season and the 4-day weekend is a nice break before we get into the madness of April-May-June.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            If I remember correctly, in Canada they generally have to give you time and a half if you work on a stat holiday. Even when I worked part time, I remember getting a two-hour bonus on months that had a status holiday, to cover it.

    4. Queen of the File*

      By volunteering to work Christmas at one place you got bumped to the top of the vacation request list for the following year–so essentially you could take whatever time you wanted without having to lottery or get in line behind those with more seniority. That was a nice perk.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I remember one of the worst. My hospital gave all the resident doctors and nurses working in our department a holiday ham on Thanksgiving… just the ham, no sides, made in the cafeteria, and it arrived an hour after the “party” was promised to start. So for working on thanksgiving, I had cold ham and potato chips.

      Plus not everyone eats ham… so questionable
      choice there.

    6. Beatrice*

      Food is a good perk! Not just lunch, breakfast too, and dinner if those hours are included. And seconding a relaxed dress code, if that’s possible.

      Public recognition and thanks is good, too. It’s just words, I know, but having it recognized that you’re putting in time so others can be out is nice.

      And working a shift like that would probably get you a chance at a coveted parking spot. We have a couple of nice parking spots reserved for a peer-recognition weekly drawing. If someone does something nice or “extra” for you, you can enter their name into a drawing to get one of the parking spots, along with a quick note about what they did. We do a public drawing once a week (during a very brief all-staff daily status meeting) to see who gets the parking spot for the following week. The winner’s good deed is read out loud in front of the department. Any non-winning entries are passed out to the nominees, so they know someone nominated them. It’s a good incentive to be both helpful and grateful to your colleagues, and really helps foster a cooperative culture. Chances are good that if you work a crappy shift, someone will think to nominate you for it.

    7. Isotopes*

      Thanks for posting this! I have a bunch of employees who are going to be working the week between Christmas and New Year’s (I’ll be here, too), and a lot of these answers have been awesome! Especially the relaxed dress code, since that’s probably something I have the authority to implement for my team. Yay!

      People like food. Always. If it’s snacks or donuts, or if you can leave a gift card so that someone could run out to grab something, that’s always nice. Depending on what’s open around the office. Or set up catering so that it’s delivered. Seriously, never underestimate the power of food to make people feel appreciated.

    8. What's with Today, today?*

      Everyone else was off, so I wore my pajamas. That really was a perk for me, not sarcasm.

    9. Anonyme*

      I worked nights last Christmas (healthcare). The nurse in charge (of the whole hospital) overnight wrote personalized Thank-you/Christmas cards for every person at work that night. It was lovely getting it at 4am!

    10. Angeldrac*

      I’m a nurse and used to work in a major public hospital, doing shift work (like the majority of nurses, really. I’ve moved to community nursing, with regular hours, now and not looking back). When I worked Christmas and Easter we did get paid the obligatory time-and-a-half but other than that…..not much. Patients, there families and visiting charities might bring us a box of chocolates or Easter eggs or something, but nothing else, really. We may have gotten to leave early if it was quiet and the next shift was ready to start, but that’s about it.

    11. Celeste*

      It wasn’t for a holiday, but once I volunteered to work for an event and I got my parking comped in the attached parking garage. I appreciated it.

    12. sara*

      At my old job the engineering department saved up all the money from recycling scrap metal throughout the year and threw a Christmas Eve lunch party. A bunch of them would do overnight pulled pork (and I think drink quite a lot!) and then on the day of, they’d wrap all the counters in the engineers shop in heavy brown paper, put out the pork, rolls, big Costco salads and baked goods. Their shop would then be like an open house for the lunch hours and through the afternoon.

      Back 10ish years ago, the facility we worked at used to close early on the 24th (like 3pm rather than 6pm), but now days they do basically a full day (close at 5) so the party’s a nice little low key perk for those who have to work that day.

  11. Anon for this*

    I did something the other day and felt weird about it afterwards, so I’m wondering whether what I did was ok or did I overstep?

    On Wednesday, the department head said that non-essential personnel in my department could leave 2 hours early for the holiday weekend, which included everyone except the one on-duty shift employee (a 24/7 required coverage position). At 3:00 on the dot, everyone else ran out the door, but I stuck around a few minutes to finish something I was working on. I was the only one in the office since the on-duty shift employee works in a different building.

    I was putting on my coat, about to leave, when my cubicle neighbor’s phone rang. I went over to her desk to look at the caller ID and I recognized the number as a contractor who works for our department, but in a different building, and probably didn’t know we were leaving early. So I called him back from my phone to see what he wanted. He had a question that wasn’t terribly urgent, but he needed an answer by today (Friday) and my coworker won’t be back until Monday. I found out the answer and told him, so my nosiness did help him out, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I hadn’t called him back. If he hadn’t reached my coworker, he could have called the on-duty shift employee (who couldn’t have answered the question but could have called the on-call supervisor for the answer), but it was probably easier for everyone that I just called him right back and answered his question.

    TL;DR: I looked at the caller ID on my coworker’s ringing phone after she left early and called back the person who had called. Was that a reasonable thing to do or should I have just ignored it since it wasn’t my phone?

    1. Anononon*

      I think it’s fine. Ultimately, it’s a company phone, not your coworker’s personal phone. Also, you recognized the phone number/knew the caller, so it wasn’t like you were calling some random person back. I don’t see why anyone would get upset, but if they did, I would think they were being unreasonable.

      1. Anon for this*

        Whew, I’m glad everyone here thinks it was ok. I didn’t think anyone would get upset, but I wondered if anyone (such as the contractor I called back) would think it was weird or, I don’t know, nosey, that I checked my coworker’s caller ID to see who was calling.

        1. Blarg*

          I would pay for someone to answer my phone when I’m gone. I call the voicemail indicator the red light of death. You get employee of the year in my book.

    2. Zona the Great*

      Totally fine to do. If it were a cell phone, no. But this was an office phone and a work related call.

    3. Kathenus*

      I think what you did was both fine and helpful. Instead of answering their phone you called back from yours. You helped when you were able to that was beneficial to him. The only additional step that might be worth doing, if you didn’t already, is to let coworker know that this occurred so that they’re aware. I think it’s a great that you took time out to be helpful when you could have just headed home, so nice job :)

    4. Parenthetically*

      On first skim I thought it was your coworker’s cell phone, but now that I understand it was her desk phone, absolutely fine to do! I think you could have left it, but no harm in calling back.

    5. Autumnheart*

      Reasonable. The coworker was out, you recognized that it was a contractor calling, you answered his question, operational efficiency was preserved. Yes, it would still have been adequately handled otherwise, but you cut out the red tape. You improved your company relationship with the contractor and earned some cred for being a Team Player(tm). Well done.

      I agree that it would be a good idea to loop in the coworker who ordinarily fields these calls. Just shoot them an email that says, “Hey, Contractor XYZ called with a question about [his question] that was time-critical. I told him [your answer]. Just wanted to let you know so that you’re on the same page in case he needs to follow up. Hope you had a good holiday!”

    6. Darren*

      At my work you would just pickup the phone and that would be considered entirely normal.

      And that includes for any reason that they aren’t currently at their desk. Then you either leave a note (if it can wait) or make sure they get their answer or transferred on to someone that can handle it.

      But in my company phone calls are rare and usually mean that something important has gone wrong, so they need to be handled promptly.

    7. Ms Cappuccino*

      I think it was very kind of you to deal with this call and you went beyond duty.
      Your coworker would probably be grateful.

  12. KayEss*

    Kind of in the vein of the 10-hour test assignment letter, I had a prospective employer respond to my application with a list of 8-12 in-depth, interview-style questions they wanted me to fill out before deigning to even call me. I put it off for long enough that I was just going to let it slide entirely, but then they followed up a week later to correct a typo in the questions… as if the reason I hadn’t responded was that I had been confused by a misstatement of the job’s location, and not because what they were asking of me was annoying and onerous relative to the amount of interest I had in the position.

    I did wind up filling it out, because I’m at the point where I REALLY need a job, but I’m going to be very annoyed if they ask the same questions in the interview we have scheduled…

    1. Anon From Here*

      The one time I got one of these, I ballparked that answering everything completely would have taken a couple of hours. So I didn’t answer them at all. I e-mailed back with something like, “This looks like a great list of questions. I would look forward to answering them in person because I don’t think my e-mailed responses would do them justice.” I got an interview, but I didn’t get the job.

    2. Gaia*

      Ugh. Companies just don’t learn. As if it is 2009 and they have thousands of applicants. I applied for a role that wanted me to do 4 (FOUR!) personality assessments and then have a call to discuss the validity of results before they would decide if I was going to be considered for an interview. I opted not to and several months later they sent me a “we reject YOU” email. Yea. Okay.

      I hope it all goes well and you get a great new job soon!

    3. post turkey day yay*

      This is one of those where I’d weigh how desperate I was. If I wasn’t desperate, I wouldn’t answer until we had a phone screen to see if we were even compatible in the basics. If I were desperate, I’d do it.

      But I feel like I can guarantee 100% they are not gonna look at it before an interview and will either ask you the same questions, or ask questions that make it clear they didn’t bother looking (like you write an answer saying you’ve been whitewater rafting and they ask you if you’re scared of water.)

  13. Amber Rose*

    We’ve hired help! We now have someone in part time to answer phones and help with filing. I’m worried we don’t have enough work for her to actually do even part time. The phones are busy sometimes but not always, especially around holidays. And I feel bad sticking her with data entry and stuff.

    Even I’m a little slow right now, which is why i’m here.

    1. Queen of the File*

      Not everyone hates data entry! Especially if there’s nothing else to do. I used to welcome getting asked to do this type of work when I was a (bored) receptionist.

      1. Shad*

        I would probably die if it were my entire job, but I love having data entry as part of it! Especially if the data is messy or disorganized prior to entry, it uses just enough of my brain to keep me somewhat engaged while being easy enough that I can use it as a break from the more mentally intensive parts of the job. Plus, depending on the nature of it, data entry can be useful for gaining familiarity with the business and the work (for reference, I’m a paralegal; the data entry I do is mostly inputting case information from a variety of forms into the case management software. So, every time I do that, I get more practice with the types of documents and forms we see, where to find certain information in the software, etc.)

      2. London Calling*

        I like data entry. I wait until I have a big file then I use it as a de-stress – I have to concentrate on that and I can’t focus on anything else so don’t ask me. I find it an ideal job for when I can’t be bothered with what else I have waiting.

        There is just something so satisfying about completing a batch, printing the cover note and dropping it on someone else’s desk….

    2. Isotopes*

      Don’t feel bad about the data entry. What’s nice about something like that is that it helps fill the day, but isn’t so taxing brain-power wise that it’s hard to stop to answer a phone call. I used to really like getting data entry tasks when I was in an entry level role. Not everyone loves it, but not everyone hates it, either. Heck, I’ll still do data entry when necessary (special projects, tight deadlines), and I manage people!

  14. Nervous Accountant*

    How is training for new hires at your company and how do you determine if its effective?

    At my current company, when I started the first time as a seasonal preparer, I had a 30m orientation, was introduced to the team and had my first phone call and tax return to work on the same day. I……did not do so well. Both b/c there were a lot of processes and systems, and I also had very little knowledge/experience.

    Second time around, I had about 3 days of training before I was given work. That went sligthly etter, as I did get hired eventually.

    Now, 4 years later (!) the training session for new hires has developed in to a super organized, 2 week long trainings. All Senior Tax Accountants and Managers/supervisors are expected to step up and do this. We’ve been onboarding new hires ALL THE TIME, even during tax season (during tax season it was cut to 3-4 days). I personally feel 2 weeks is too much, and there should be a freeze during the season–I discussed this with my manager and he said this is what the CEO & upper mgmt want.

    Just wondering how other companies do it and is there a way to track how effective these 10-day training sessions are?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I think it really depends on the type of work and the industry.

      I’m in banking and our new tellers get HR orientation the first day, a week-long training in our training room on compliance, security, and transaction processing. They then shadow someone in their home branch for something like a week or two, I think. Then they’re on their own.

      For backroom positions, it’s HR orientation the first day and then they go on to their department to learn whatever has to be learned, on the job. There’s no formal training like there is for tellers. They will meet with their manager to discuss goals and things like that, but that’s about it.

    2. Susan K*

      In my industry, there is A LOT of training — both for new employees and refresher training for experienced employees — and we have an entire department dedicated to training. Training for some positions can take up to two years, so two weeks sounds really quick to me!

      For some of the training, we use computer-based training, where employees can go through a Powerpoint presentation with recorded narration on their own, followed by a test (also on the computer) to make sure they paid attention. You might consider this as a way to ease the burden on senior employees and managers if some of the material lends itself to being done in this format.

      There are a few ways we evaluate effectiveness. Trainees are always given a form to provide feedback every time they attend training. About 6 months after employees complete their entire training program, they do a post-training evaluation in which they answer questions about how well the training prepared them for their job and what they think should be done differently. Their manager also conducts an evaluation of their job performance. Sometimes training is done or changed because of a recurring problem (say, people frequently not filling out the TPS report cover sheets correctly), and in those cases, there is a goal ahead of time (e.g., “90% reduction in TPS cover sheet errors”) that is used as a metric to determine the effectiveness of training.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        May I ask what industry/field you are in? I’m a tax accountant and inpublic accounting.

        We have started using more of the types of courses you’ve mentioned, that were recorded and can be used multiple times so that does take the burden off of us.

        I can’t think of any hard metrics we use to determine effectiveness, but just from what I see (no hard data) we do have issues with turnover. The only thing I can think of. It’s possible this is an HR thing more than an accountant thing that I’m not privvy to.

        1. Susan K*

          I am in the energy industry, at an electric generating station. It is an industrial setting, and most of the training is focused on work that is done in the field and safety practices for this type of work, so it wouldn’t be applicable to someone in an office setting. The office workers here do not get the same kind of formal training to learn the job (just a 1-week company orientation/onboarding at the corporate office), but even the office workers go through a lot of computer-based training, classes to get certifications, refresher training, and training conducted to address recurring problems.

    3. Red Reader*

      Our training process for my team is about 3 months of a train-practice-review-correct cycle, 18 different “teapot types” and a trainee is released from training on each teapot type when they pass a set number of reviews. As training progresses, they have time allotments for current/new training vs working on the teapot types they’ve already been released on, so they don’t forget those processes. After training, they have 3 months to finish ramping up to our first-year productivity and quality goals, then a year at those expectations before they move to our long-term expectations.

    4. Amber Rose*

      We mostly do on the job training. All new employees hang out with me for orientation, which takes about an hour and a half. Then I determine if they need external training courses like First Aid or whatever and get them signed up for those. Then they get assigned to a person who sits with them while they do tasks until they are deemed competent, which is up to the supervising worker. I check in periodically to see how they feel and if they need anything in terms of equipment or whatever.

      Now, we aren’t an accounting office. That said, we hired an assistant accountant last year and we trained him the same way as everyone else: by leaving him with the other accountant until she decided he could work on his own. I don’t know if that’s practical in a busy office with many accountants though.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        We kind of do that–a very “on the job training”. There’s many scenarios that come up that I don’t think can possibly be covered in training, so idk about the others but I do make it a point to say that there are lots of things that may come up (for example, how to report a tax document that we rarely get or looks unusual etc).

        When I train, I tend to focus more on thought processes and how to identify possible red flags on client data for the tax returns. Would these be considered the “soft” skills? Im not sure.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Analytical thinking is a mix of soft and hard skill, I think. I can teach people how it works and what to look for, but the person needs to be the kind who will proactively look for information and think through how to apply it.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      Our training is kind of a disaster. It’s a two-hour video orientation in which my former boss drones on and on in a monotone, showing no enthusiasm for the company or the subject matter. I want to revamp it this summer when business slows down and I have more time to work on long-term projects.

  15. Cat*

    So I applied for two jobs for the first time in ten years, and am now starting to worry a little. I’m currently at a private law firm (not a large one; a small one that isn’t particularly profitable, but the money is okay) and these jobs are both at non-profits. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to afford the pay cut. One of the jobs, my friend who works there told me “pays competitively, and not just for a non-profit” so I’m wondering if it’ll be in a range that might work. The other one, according to Glassdoor, probably not. But I’m not sure how to address it – assuming I get called for interviews, do I try to get a sense of their range early or go ahead and address it when I address it? Will I look terrible for interviewing at a non-profit when the pay cut I’m willing to take is somewhat limited? I’m worried I’ll look incredibly out of touch and like I wasted their time.

    1. Gaia*

      It is normal to feel a bit of “buyer’s remorse” sometimes when applying but remember: you applied, you didn’t promise you would take anything. Pay is a legitimate concern. Talk about it early on. Know what you want, and what you absolutely need (often two different numbers) and know what the market pay is for those roles in your area. If you are close in numbers, you can often negotiate. If you are way off, cut your losses early and you won’t waste time.

      I always ask in the phone screen (or, if there isn’t one, I ask before I go in to interview). If I bring it up, I usually say something like “Just to get a sense of whether we are on the same page, can you give me an idea of the salary range you are looking at for this role?” Some companies will push back and ask what you want (they weirdly act like they don’t have a budget…) in that case I would tell them the range I want and say something like “it may change as I learn more about the role, but in general my understanding is the market range for this type of role is between X and Y. Does that sound like it is where you are?” If it is a no, and they are way off then there is no need to waste time interviewing.

      In this market employers are more and more realizing they need to be more open about compensation early on. There are not hoardes of unemployed candidates begging for anything that pays anything. Most candidates are employed and aren’t looking to waste time interviewing for jobs that don’t pay what the candidate wants.

    2. Anon From Here*

      I’m a little surprised that they weren’t up-front with the salary range in the job listing in the first place. In the two major markets I’m familiar with (Seattle and mid-Atlantic U.S.), non-profits will tend to post the salary so that people can self-select out.

      I say, if it were me and I were invited to interview, I’d ask right there and then on the phone what they’re thinking about. I’d keep in mind what I’ll accept ahead of time and be willing to say, “Oh, look, I’m sorry but I’ll have to withdraw myself from consideration at that rate. [Insert social niceties here].”

    3. Psyche*

      If your friend knows that the pay is “competitive” then do you think you can ask her if she knows the ballpark range?

    4. Bex*

      If it’s a nonprofit, then pull their 990 and look at the salaries. They have to disclose how much they pay the CEO, directors, and key employees. That should give you an idea of how competitive their pay is.

    5. ..Kat..*

      If anything, they are potentially wasting your time by not being up front about the salary range.

      Do find out about the expected hours worked per week.

  16. Gaia*

    A week ago Thursday, I was called to interview for a role with our county. I had applied back in September and I had almost forgotten about it. I interviewed with them Monday, they called my references the same day and offered me the job Tuesday. I am so excited (and also, surprised, aren’t they infamously slow at hiring!?). This is exactly what I want to do, in an area I am passionate about with heavy cross over from my last role. It is a stretch role for me with a lot of room to grow but within an area I am confident I’ll be successful.

    I ended up accepting the bottom of their range without pushing back because anything higher would have required additional approvals and while I have experience in this area, my job titles don’t make that clear and the approval groups are very strict – I chose to take a bit lower pay rather than fight it out and delay my start.

    Here’s the bad news: I actually already started a new job three weeks ago. It is going horribly and I loathe the work and many of the people. I likely would have quit even if this new job didn’t come along but I’m quitting not only 3 weeks in, but right before a major event. I do feel a bit bad. But I can’t turn down this job and while I could delay it until after the event…..I don’t want to. I’m not concerned about professional reputation (this isn’t my industry and there is no cross over, also this job would clearly never go on my resume given it was a few weeks). Any ideas on scripts to use when I give notice?

    Also: I’m nervous about the new job. I’ve never worked in any level of government before. I don’t even know how to dress on my first day. From my interview I think they lean businessier business casual but that is hard to gauge with only 3 data points! Ahh! Advice? Wishes of luck! Screams of excitement with me!?

    1. WellRed*

      At only 3 weeks they haven’t invested much in you and can possibly go back to their pool of candidates and offer the next person the job. Also, I don’t know what role you have, but, at only 3 weeks in, how valuable are you really gonna be for the event? Plus, it’s their own fault if they suck and you need to bail : / congrats on the new position!

      1. Gaia*

        Thanks! I always feel a bit of guilt when quitting and I really do like the head boss and his vision of where he wants to go but OMG he needs to get rid of some crap staff or he’s never getting there and I don’t have the energy to deal.

    2. Midwest writer*

      Congrats! It’s awesome not only that you got the job, but that it gives you a way out of the one you’re not enjoying.
      Any chance you can swing by the office building and scope out what people are wearing? Most county offices I’ve been to tend to be pretty relaxed — dress pants but not suits, button shirts but not ties, flats or even solid, dark-colored tennis shoes. Some female department heads will wear dresses, but most just go for “this isn’t jeans and looks nice without being dressy at all.”

    3. Undine*

      Eeeee! (Scream of excitement). If you’re overdressed the first day you can always cut back. Or you could email the boss, if you felt comfortable.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Something similar happened to me a few years ago. I’d started a job, and 3 weeks in another job I’d interviewed for finally called me back and offered me the job, with much better pay. So I quit and had no regrets.
      Sometimes things like this just happen. It’s best to be calm and matter of fact and gracious.
      I mean, yes, you will probably burn a bridge at your current place, but it sounds like you don’t really care for it anyway.
      I don’t have a particular script, but something along the lines of: “I wanted to inform you that I’m leaving and my last day will be X. Another company I had interviewed for contacted me recently and I feel that position/company is a much better fit for me right now. I took this job in good faith at the time, and I want to thank you for hiring me and giving me this opportunity, but the other position is great opportunity and a business decision I feel I need to pursue.” Followed by “What can I do to help make this a smooth transition?”

      Best of luck!

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        First off, congrats on the new job!

        I agree w/ MissDisplaced and the script provided is a great one. I would assume they’ll probably make the day you give notice the last day you work because well….what’s the point in keeping you around? It sounds like you don’t have an issue with the bridge being burned (and it will be) so I’d put in my notice with no regrets and be prepared to start your new job earlier than you anticipated.

        1. Gaia*

          I definitely expect this bridge to be toast but it wasn’t one I want to cross again in the future as is. I won’t be able to start the new role any sooner due to the specific rules within the government but if I end up with a few weeks off….so be it.

          I’m not actually sure they will make it my last day. I think it could really go either way. I do suspect they’ll try to get me to stay but that isn’t going to happen.

          1. ..Kat..*

            I’m not sure that I would tell them about the new job. I would just go with “this job has turned out to not be a good fit for me.”

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Yup. They’re jerks and jerks get placed on a strictly ‘need to know’ basis. They just need to know you’re quitting.

  17. Trishee*

    Isn’t 40 hours a week of work too much? I don’t even have children yet and I’m just so exhausted after work and I have no energy to do the things I like. And my job isn’t even that hard and my coworkers are nice, I have a good and reasonable boss, too.

    But working for 40 hours (at a minimum) just feels like too much, add some commute time and your day is basically gone. It’s bad enough that there’s no paid vacation mandated by law in the US (whyyy? 20 paid days off plus a few federal holidays must be the bare minimum) and that so many people are overtime exempt. I don’t believe anyone should be exempt from overtime, ever.

    But I think the 40-hour work week needs to change. Why have we put up with it for so long? Productivity has risen so much but we still work long hours and we’ve become so used to it. But it really takes a toll on our lives and our happiness.

    So what do you think is a reasonable work week? 30 hours? 32 hours? 35 hours?

    1. NeverNicky*

      I work 35 hours a week, mostly from home and being in the UK (and long serving) get 25 days holiday, 8 bank holidays and 3 discretionary days. And I head up communications at a charity. Long hours aren’t necessary to be productive or effective

    2. Gaia*

      I think it depends on a lot. What is your commute like? What is the stress level/energy drain of your job? Do you have consistent time off? How much PTO do you get? Is it as flexible as it reasonably can be?

      I don’t find 40 hours draining but the difference between 40 and 45 is real to me. Anything less than 40 and I feel like I don’t have enough time to really dig in (my type of work benefits from long stretches of uninterrupted focus) and get the most out of it. I worked 37.5 for awhile and I usually ended up staying longer to wrap things up.

    3. Kiki*

      30hrs/week. I recall reading a study that said for most people in most jobs, working more than 6 hours a day ends up making them less productive. Based on the times I’ve worked around that amount, I would have to agree! And those two hours make a world of difference in allowing you to do more personal stuff and/or recharge.

    4. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      I had a job where full time was considered 35.5 hours. I work 40 hours a week at a different job now, and in my opinion, the difference is negligible. That 4.5 hours off each week didn’t do much for me, personally.

    5. Lizardbreath*

      I don’t see 40 as an issue…in fact I think 40 sounds very reasonable. But I also usually work 60-70 a week, so if I’m st my desk by 9 and out by 5, I don’t really know what to do with myself.

      If you’re exhausted at 40 hours a week, I’d recommend figuring out how to make your week easier-eg cook on sundays, have food ready to grab and go, figure out if you can adjust your hours to make your commute easier (for example, I know that if I can get on the metro or in my car by 7am, my commute is going to be easy and quick.)

      1. Trishee*

        I do all of those things. I even enjoy driving. I also go to work early, so that I can leave early. But after coming home, working out, doing some daily chores and maybe running small errands, I have very little time for friends, family and my SO. Not enough time for fun or hobbies. And I actually like my job and it’s relatively easy.

        Society has normalized working long hours and this is so sad. The only way out is early retirement but this is only feasible for people with well paying jobs.

        There’s so much more to life other than work and I think society will be better off if people have more free time and more freedom in general. I remember as a kid and teenager I was never bored when I had a long vacation if I had friends around. If everyone works less, adults will have more time to hang out with each other. There will be more fun stuff to do after work.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I do think that most people feel this way. Forty hours, plus commute, plus household chores equals a full day. It could just be me, but I think around 80% of the working adults around me do not have time for much else. In my community volunteering is down. NPOs have a hard time finding and retaining new board members and new volunteer front line people. People’s time is totally lost to working hours.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            And THEN we get the CDC telling us that “Americans sit too much” or our employers and doctors telling us we’re all getting fat because we don’t eat healthy, sleep, or get enough exercise. Well, duh!

            Like WHEN are we all supposed to work out when we have on average 12 hours a day of work/commute time? And all of that time is spent sitting at our desks or in our cars? Only so many hours in the day people.

            1. Trishee*

              Exactly. I make it a point to work out every day and to walk as much as possible, I’m lucky that my desk can convert to a standing desk but it’s still not enough time. Not to mention the lack of natural light in so many American offices. It’s just not healthy

            2. Rebecca*

              Yes!! I am fortunate, I have a 25 minute or less commute. So, that’s 45 minutes per day, on top of the 8 1/2 hours I’m in the office, every day, and then I get up 1 1/4 hours before I walk out the door. Thankfully I am fortunate to have 5 1/2 hours to fit in exercise, proper meals, etc. after allotting 8 hours for sleep. Many people, as you said, at the 12 hour mark just getting to and from work and the work day itself, if not more.

              One thing I’m strict about with myself is getting up and walking around. I’m non exempt, and I’m allotted two paid breaks and an unpaid lunch break, and I spend those walking. I usually have over 8500 steps on my Fitbit before I leave the office for the day, and I’m fortunate to be able to take a walk in the evening, too.

            3. lost academic*

              American average commute time is 25 minutes. Assuming 9 hours in the office a day instead of 8 still only gets you to under 10 hours committed to work.

              If 40 hours a week isn’t working for you, maybe you can negotiate a shorter day or week. The trick is finding a way to live on it.

              1. Trishee*

                I’m not looking for personal advice. I’m already doing as much as possible to optimize my time and spend as little time as possible at work. I also reasonably enjoy my job but it’s still a job.

                This 4-day weekend, for instance, has been amazing.

                1. pugs for all*

                  I agree with you 2000%. The 40 hour workweek really does not leave me with enough time and energy to enjoy my “real life” and I long for a culture where a shorter – yet still productive – workweek is the norm. I too like to work out, cook, spend time with my family and friends, make art, etc but it is so hard to fit it around the job and the commute!

          2. aquarian1*

            Forty hours, plus commute, plus household chores equals a full day.

            Excepting a long commute, I disagree. I am also single with no kids, I work 40 hrs/week, my commute is 40 minutes each way, and I am quite active/busy. The one difference is I don’t do chores every day – I do most of them on weekends, and it only takes a few hours to do them and it’s easy to do them concurrently – e.g. put in a load of laundry then go do something else like vacuum, or clean the bathroom. I also run errands on my way to or from other things (e.g. pick up my prescription on my way home from work, or get gas on my way to karaoke, etc). I have several weekly activities, some monthly, and other “spur of the moment” – I regularly 1) record, edit, publish a podcast as well as do daily social media for it, 2) go to karaoke 3-4 times a month, 3) weekly improv related activities (whether rehearsal, workshop/class, performance, etc), 4) have a monthly dinner with a different group of friends that are not part of improv, karaoke, or podcasting, 5) do “normal” friend things like going to movies, brunch, drinks, etc, 6) date, and 7) I recently started jiu-jitsu classes and attend as the rest of schedule allows – anywhere from 1-3 times a week.

        2. Triplestep*

          I don’t know if you’re still reading comments here, but if you have time after work every day to work out, do some daily chores, and run some errands, you’re probably accomplishing more in a day than the majority of those who work full time. I suspect this is because your work (according to what you’ve said here) is not demanding, and you have a workplace that is not stressful. That you’re able to have a sit/stand desk indicates your workplace is pretty good to it’s employees. There are other people who work the same number of hours, have the same kind of commute, but are drained of energy after work due to the stress of their jobs and workplaces.

          You already know that plenty of people would love to have your situation, and I know that is not your point. I’m sure you don’t want to be told “Quit complaining; you have it pretty good!” … you seem to know you have it pretty good! But I’ve read though the comments here and I don’t feel like the following point has been made: It’s not reasonable to expect to have a full time professional job plus time to devote to a social life every weeknight. “Spending time with SO” and “making new friends” is exactly that … social. If you’ve mentioned your age anywhere in this thread I’ve missed it, but expecting to have a full-on weeknight social life (like many people do in college, where time between classes and even on the job can feel social) is not a mature/adult way to think. Sorry.

          Rather than focus your energy on wanting to work fewer hours, consider putting more into the hours you work. Take on more responsibility and focus on your career. You really can’t expect things to get better in the social life department as you get older – from here you’re only going to have less and less time to spend on hobbies and your social life. (Sorry again!) So why not spend this time building your career so that as you grow in it, you can expect to become more autonomous which could easily translate to more control over your own time?

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            You’re expressing the common understanding which had been trained into most people by the current, work-focused culture very well. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask why it has to be that way. There’s nothing in nature which says that it’s not okay for adults to work less time and spend more on pleasure and social life, and a lot of research which suggests that it’s healthier for it’s to do so. It’s also better for the environment for there to be less several societal focus on economic growth and a transition to more stability and balance, since we’re turning more natural resources into unnecessary products right now than we can sustain. Add to this the fact that our culture doesn’t actually need nearly all the full-time workers it’s got (which is why there is constant angst about needing “job creation” to happen), and it might be the best thing we could do to reduce the average workload in most industries to between four and six hours, and make up the difference partly by employing more people who would otherwise not have jobs and partly by making less stuff. Yes, this would require a societal change, and specifically a turning away from cutthroat capitalism as the only accepted economic structure under public consideration. No, that does not make it wrong or impossible to accomplish.

            1. Triplestep*

              You make some thought-provoking points, but we already work fewer hours than our ancestors did prior to industrialization, so I don’t think there’s anything “current” or new about the notion that work should come before pleasure. The societal change you mention would have to include not just a turning away from cutthroat capitalism, but the rejection of the idea that the ability to delay gratification is considered a desirable trait and a measure of maturity.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                Not really. Lots of people do things which aren’t part of their paid employment which involve delayed gratification and responsibility. They volunteer; they care for relatives, friends, or strangers in need; they make art; they study; they organize politically or socially; they do research. Prioritizing your employment over all other factors used to be a necessary way to survive. Since that hasn’t been true for a long time, employees who wanted to extract the greatest possible amount of labor from their workforce had to find another way to convince people. What they came up with was a lot of claptrap about the values of the workplace, in which people were judged by their devotion to their job — their loyalty to a company which is not loyal to them, in effect. It’s very effective propaganda, and you are making its case clearly, but it is not the only reasonable or honorable way to think. It’s just the one the employees want us to believe is.

                1. Trishee*

                  Yep, very well said. Triplestep’s argument is essentially “You should work more because you you just should, it shows you’re mature, if you want to enjoy life, you’re not a real adult”.

          2. Trishee*

            So you’ve just bought into the current model and don’t think any change is necessary? You don’t think making life better for working adults is a good thing? You don’t think adults should have active social life and that it’s just a fact of life that work consumes all of your energy once you grow up?

            Yes, I know I have it pretty well compared to most people but this doesn’t mean much. Even though I’m better off than most working people in America, it’s still far from good. If someone in North Korea can have a good meal once a week, they’re better off than most other North Koreans. It doesn’t mean North Koreans should be content with that and not expect everyone to be able to have 3 good meals every day.

            Your solution to too much work is even more work. My solution is less work for everyone and more people sharing the benefits of increased productivity, not just C-suite level employees getting millions of dollars in bonuses.

            I do know I have it pretty good and that’s a result of me actively trying to get there. But that’s not feasible for everyone unfortunately. I want everyone to work less, not just me. I want everyone to be able to have an active social life throughout adulthood, not just me. I want everyone to have more time for personal relationships and family, not just me. People flipping burgers, people cleaning toilets, people writing computer programs – they all deserve a living wage if they work for 35 or even 30 hours a week, so that they have time for what actually matters in life. They all deserve to have enough time to enjoy life.

            This thread is not about me. It’s about societal change. I don’t need personal advice, I’m doing my best to make the most out of terrible worker’s protections laws. Not everyone is as privileged as I am. And no, we don’t have to accept as a given that as we age, our social lives die.

            Do you know that Americans are having fewer and fewer friends? According to one study “Discussion networks are smaller in 2004 than in 1985. The number of people saying there is no one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled. The mean network size decreases by about a third (one confidant), from 2.94 in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. The modal respondent now reports having no confidant; the modal respondent in 1985 had three confidants. Both kin and non-kin confidants were lost in the past two decades, but the greater decrease of non-kin ties leads to more confidant networks centered on spouses and parents, with fewer contacts through voluntary associations and neighborhoods.”

            It doesn’t have to be this way.

            1. TootsNYC*

              add to that, loneliness is hurting people! Killing them, even.

              The opioid crisis is fueled and sustained by it.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                Also by chronic pain caused by repetitive stress injuries, which are common for people who sit or stand in the same position all day or who do the same movements over and over again all day.

                Specialization is necessary for our economy but really bad for our bodies. One way to balance the two needs can be to specialize at work but have each person do less work.

      2. Kiki*

        I think this is definitely multifactorial. There are people who are energized by work more than anything else and are truly happy having it be the thing that occupies most of their life. But a lot of people, myself included, love our work, just less-so than other things.

        How you feel about working +/- 40hrs/week also depends on your other obligations and preferred hobbies. I am child-free, so I have no obligations in that realm, but my hobbies are relatively time consuming. I also love to travel, but the traditional American work schedule does not accommodate travel well.

    6. Puppy Lover*

      I think this would be industry based. I’ve worked some jobs part time that I could never understand how people work a full 40 hour week due to the stressful industry.

      My industry is fairly common on only being closed on major holidays. Most places do not offer a whole lot of time off. 20 paid days would be a luxury. A new employee at my company gets up 6 sick days(unpaid) and 5 unpaid approved leave days that’s it. After 1 year, 5 days of vacation, can earn 6 pto days (as long you’re not late or calling in), 5 unpaid approved leave days, and 6 sick days (unpaid). The only thing that increases is vacation and it caps at 15 days after YEARS of seniority.

    7. AnotherAlison*

      I think 40+ is fine. 40 hrs a week was a big reduction in how I spent my time in college and high school, so I have never seen it as an issue. I am exempt, but I make a nice salary, have good opportunities for advancement, and have 5 weeks of PTO available per year. I have 2 kids and a husband, and don’t find life exhausting. I would sincerely wonder if you are bored in your job, have time management issues, or have an underlying health issue. I have a young male coworker who has sleep issues, so sure, if you are only getting a few hrs of sleep, it could be rough, but I don’t think it is that way for everyone. I wouldn’t appoint yourself the spokesperson for everyone. Some of us enjoy working and find it adds value to your lives personally. I would rather work than do hobbies because my true interests are in my work.

      1. Trishee*

        No, I don’t have health issues and I like my job well enough. It’s the best I could get as far as jobs go. I’m not bored at my job. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

        I find it troubling so many people are workaholics in the US. I think the cult of working long hours needs to die.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am with you from the angle of why do we have to work greater than 40 hours a week to remain a viable employee? I know of people who work 80-90 hours a week because they have to. Why is this.

          I do think that some people have different views of what their lives should look like. My husband would work 14-16 hours a day willingly. I was gone for the house 10-11 hours a day and NOT happy. We both ended in the same spot, neither one of us wanted to go anywhere once we got home. Well, anything of any interest would be at least a half hour drive one way, so that drive weighed in to our decision to stay put at night. We would take walks or visit with a neighbor but that was it.
          It felt like our jobs consumed our lives to me. I don’t see life as being all about work.

        2. Ms Cappuccino*

          I don’t think it is just in the US though it might be stronger in the US.
          We live in a world that overvalues work. Many people get their sense of worth from their job and feel worthless if they lose it.
          Not having a job can be seen as immoral rather than just a financial problem.
          I know a person who doesn’t need to work to live. Many people despise her and call her useless.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            That was the trick played on us by the business owners when it stopped being necessary for everyone to work all the time in order for there to be enough food. They wanted us to choose to work all the time anyway, so they turned it into a “moral value” thing, and convinced the culture that identity hinged on work, so someone “is” or “does” their job title. (“He’s a lawyer.” “What do you do?”) They even convinced enough of us that it was immoral not to work, that we began forcing people who are unable to find work to do useless tasks in order to obtain the money to survive; things which did nobody any good, like digging holes where no holes were needed and then filling them in again, just so that there wouldn’t be anybody ever who ate something they hadn’t done a job for.

            And then, of course, they taught us to idolize “job creators,” because they are the source of those all-important tasks by which one can prove one’s right to survive.

            It’s all nonsense, and it always has been. There is NO value in making somebody do a task that does not help you just so they won’t be consuming something they did not earn. There’s no value in working 60-hour weeks to “show your loyalty” to an entity incapable of feeling any loyalty in return. There’s no value in *anybody* doing things which are not enjoyable to them for any more time than it actually takes to produce a portion of the GDP equivalent to that which they consume… and by now, our real productivity is so high that if people actually stopped working at the point at which they’d produced as much as they consume, it would be roughly 25 hours a week. The rest is all going into the pockets of the people who have taught us to do what is against our best interests, with excuses that hide the truth that it’s all really about their selfishness and greed.

      2. Baby Fishmouth*

        I think the difference between college and the working world is huge though, even if technically you put in more hours in college. In university, I spent 15 hours a week in class max, put in reading/study hours at home, worked a part time job somewhere else, and did student clubs and spent time at the gym on the side. My schedule and environment changed up so much that it didn’t exhaust me, and if I wanted to work hard and get most of that stuff done first thing in the morning, it was pretty easy to adjust my schedule as needed. The difference between all of that and a 9-5 butt in seat job was huge, and honestly a little depressing.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Yeah. but I was talking about my life, not yours. ; ) I didn’t have a traditional college experience. I had my son when I was 19, and finished my last three years of engineering school, which has a reputation for difficulty, “on time” while married and raising a kid. You will have to take my word that a 40 hr week was a big step down in work time for me. Now that we are 20+ yrs removed from that period, my husband and I often wonder how we did it. He was not in school, but he had 2 crappy full time jobs and worked 7 days a week. I will concede that 60+ hrs a week is too much.

      3. innit*

        I don’t think not wanting to work 40 hours means someone is likely to be bored or have time management issues. It might mean they want to do other things with their time. It’s great if you enjoy work, but even in that instance you don’t want to spend that much of your week at your job. I think in general there’s a lot of talk about improving work/life balances, and for many people long working hours are making them miserable, even if they actually like their job. And that’s not speaking for everyone, but it is true for many.

        1. Overeducated*

          Yup. My job isn’t bad, but I spend 8.5 hours there and 1.5-2.5 hours a day commuting, and it means I leave too early to eat breakfast with my family and get home too late to play outside with my kid. I feel like the most valuable parts of my day are almost all spent on work, and I can literally just think of other things I’d like to do with that time. (Yes, obviously commute is a factor in my case, but unfortunately some of us are stuck with them due to geography and $$$.)

        2. Trishee*

          Exactly. So suddenly not enjoying sending the majority of your day at work means you have a problem? Could it just be that, I don’t know, it’s the normal human experience to want to spend more time doing enjoyable things?

          This 4 day weekend, for instance, has been bliss. My SO and I could sleep in, then we could engage in some prolonged adult activities that we can never have time for during the week (not because of time management issues, you just can’t spend hours on your sex life every work day), then we went walking around, went shopping, played games together, worked out together, spent some time on individual hobbies, saw family, we’re seeing friends today, more fun, more relaxed time together, fewer arguments caused by stress. It’s just not possible to have this during a regular work day and time management and health issues are not the reason. And experiences like this are what makes life worth living.

          But according to some people here, wanting more time to do stuff like this means there’s something wrong with you.

          1. Triplestep*

            Nope, everyone wants that stuff. Nothing wrong with that. Expecting it several days a week along with a full time job? Not a reasonable expectation.

            The ability to delay gratification is considered laudable in our culture. In theory, people who prioritize their jobs before (or just as much as) their non-work gratification are rewarded with more autonomy and more money, both of which can contribute to a happy home and social life.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              That is, indeed, the theory. It’s legitimate to inquire both about whether it’s really true that prioritizing one’s work to that extent actually leads to the promised rewards, and about whether those rewards are worth the price of putting that much of one’s time into one’s paid employment. Neither is necessarily a given.

    8. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      I think it really depends on the person – I’ve always worked a 40 hour week (sometimes more like 45-50) and have found adequate time to pursue hobbies and such, as well as take care of my home and family.

      That said, my husband does at least if not more than 50% of the housework and yard work, and I’ve had a commute under 30 minutes each way for a while now. We also live hundreds of miles away from either side of our family and don’t belong to any large friend groups, so we have zero commitments on our time in that respect. I get home at 5pm and don’t go to bed until around 11pm, so that gives me a full 6 hours each evening to get whatever I need/want done.

      1. Trishee*

        My schedule is actually similar and my SO doesn’t expect me to be a maid. But I still spend less time with him than I’d like and I’d like to have time to make more new friends.

        My current situation is not the worst but there’s just so much better use of my time than helping my company make more money.

        1. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

          Well, that’s why I said it depends on the person. While working a 40 hour week I’ve been able to write a few novels/novellas and many short stories, exercise on a regular basis, cook/bake a few times a week, and I’m currently taking an online class in SQL.

          It’s not to brag, but just to point out that not everyone has the same number of spoons to go around. I’m much more productive with a tight schedule, I genuinely like to be busy, and I’m quite an introvert so I don’t need or desire much social interaction (which frankly exhausts me more than my job ever does). Unless I’ve had a particularly stressful day, I rarely arrive home mentally/physically/emotionally drained – my job/commute just doesn’t take that much out of me. I’m sure I could find other things to do with a shorter work week, but the one that I have doesn’t really interfere with my personal life at all, so it’s not a priority for me to work less.

          I’m all for others folks like you being able to do so though if it would make them happier and able to have more fulfilling work/life balance.

    9. Amber Rose*

      It’s too much work, but not too much money. A shorter week would mean I couldn’t pay my bills anymore.

      If I could work four 8 hour days a week instead of 5, I’d be a much happier person for sure.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            From what I see most places could reduce the work week by at least 5 hours and still get the same amount of work done. The amount of time wasted is staggering. I don’t think they would notice any difference.

          2. Parenthetically*

            Yeah, it’s definitely a well-researched phenomenon that most people who work 8 hours a day aren’t working for all of that time, and so could really be paid the same amount of money but work for, say, 6 hours a day. There are lots of obvious barriers to that kind of shift, but a big one is cultural — we somehow see being at a job for 10 or 12 hours a day as a positive thing, a sign that we’re serious, committed, passionate, hard-working, rather than that we’re being taken advantage of in order to continue the flow of wealth from the not-rich to the already-rich.

            1. Lissa*

              There is also the problem that in a lot of jobs, customer service, retail, food service etc. where it really is about having the coverage, not about a specific amount of work that needs to be done and then the person can leave. And unfortunately those are the jobs that already tend to have less pay, less prestige etc. So I feel like changing things would be likely to screw over people in low-wage jobs in a lot of cases, unless there was something implemented for that. I mean I am totally in favour for not being butts-in-seat when it isn’t needed, and focusing on output, but not sure how to make that equitable for people in things like the restaurant industry.

              1. Trishee*

                I think it’s a pretty easy solution – the hourly wage must go up every time the work week gets shorter, so that everyone who used to get a certain paycheck for 40 hours a week will now get the exact same paycheck if they work for 30 or 35 hours a week. Businesses can deal with this by hiring more people and transitioning to 6 hour shifts instead of 8 hour shifts. Unemployment rates will go down and workers will have more bargaining power to ask for even more protections.

                1. Teeth grinder*

                  And are you gong to be 33% more productive, so that you do as much for the employer in six hours as in eight? Really?
                  Or should the company raise its prices to include a 33% higher labor cost, making its products or services that much more expensive for everyone? Driving inflation, so that you’ll want to be paid even more to be able to afford all the things you want/need?
                  Why do you think you should be paid more to do less?

                2. Autumnheart*

                  Productivity has already skyrocketed over the last 25 years, while wages have stagnated. We should be paid more because we’re doing more, and making employers progressively greater profits. Employers are the ones who are not meeting their obligations, not workers.

                3. Working Hypothesis*

                  If the minimum wage had kept pace with nothing but inflation since 1960, it would be well over $18 an hour. At the time, it was taken as an article of faith that we were moving toward a world in which we’d get paid easily enough to live comfortably on 20-25 hours of work a week, because productivity was increasing so much that’s all we would need in order to make everything we had a purpose for. The only thing it doesn’t take into account was all the increases in productivity (and some of the original productivity from before that) being swallowed up by the business owners instead of passed along to everyone to share.

                  We all generally understand that, if you’re business model requires you to pay no more than $2.00/hour in order to make ends meet, then you do not have a functioning business model nor a business which can succeed. Because, according to law, custom, and what we’ve been trained to accept as common sense, we all get that nobody should be expected to live on that, and if you can’t or won’t pay more, you deserve to fail as a business. Same for if you can’t run your business without expecting 100-hour workweeks from everyone with no days off.

                  All that says is that right now, those are the places we have set the bar for “amount of productivity which we expect business owners to share with the workers.” In 1960, it was a lot higher, since in 1960 business which couldn’t out wouldn’t pay the equivalent of $18/hour in modern dollars were recognized as deserving to go out of business because they had an unsustainable business model.

                  There is no reason we can’t go to that again and higher, given the productivity levels we have right now. All it means that we don’t is that we have laws made by business owners and their friends, instead of by workers and their friends. The productivity is there; it’s just a matter of how we decide it ought to be allocated.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              Not to mention simply the percentage of profits which goes into the pockets of individual owners, or into the dividends sent to stock owners for public companies. That’s grown steadily higher for the last fifty years, and less and less of the money made by those who work at a business ever goes to the people whose effort produced it. Lots of countries have thriving business environments in which companies do swimmingly, while still paying their workers well, paying taxes at rates which create a sound social safety net, and providing decent hours and time off. The difference is simply that their owners get rich but not as rich as most small countries and a few large ones. A lot still goes into their pocket, but not so much as to include both their share and everyone else’s also.

    10. Aly_b*

      I used to work 37.5 and now work 40, and for me it’s a surprisingly big difference. Not sure how much it changes in terms of how much I get done, but I’m definitely more drained by the end of it. I’d love to do fewer.

      1. Nessun*

        I worked in an office years ago where they did 40 hrs during busy season (Jan-June), and 37.5 the rest of the year. That half hour a day difference was HUGE for me. It’s amazing how such a small amount of time will impact state of mind and opinion of workload.

      2. Tau*

        Same! I miss my 37.5 hours so much, it’s been over a year and I still feel like I haven’t adjusted properly. 30-32 would be bliss, and I suspect I’d get exactly the same amount of work down at 35 hrs/week as I do now.

    11. Baby Fishmouth*

      I’m still waiting for the leisure economy to materialise – it was predicted at one point that as more and more tasks become automated, people would have to work less hours (for the same pay) and we’d essentially have a ‘leisure economy’ where people would be free to pursue their own interests.

      The only thing that theory didn’t take into account was human greed – it operated on the assumption that most people would be happy living with one car, one house, etc. Greedy CEOs have made this impossible. *sigh*

      1. Trishee*

        Yep, exactly. I’m sure it’s possible to reduce the work week and not have an impact on the economy but corporate greed, as well as some worker bees’ workaholism make it impossible to implement.

      2. Lissa*

        Looking at overall history I think this could still happen! The timeframe in which we went from a huge percentage of people having basically no days off, no worker rights etc. to having what we have now is really short comparatively. I sure hope I’m alive to experience said leisure economy of it happens, but I am also not holding my breath.

    12. What's with Today, today?*

      I work 40 hours a week, but go in at 5 a.m. and get off in the early afternoon. Honestly, I have no idea how people who work 9-5 jobs do it. How do you get any errands done? The few times I have worked that 9-5 type shift, I’m hitting a wall by 3 p.m.

    13. KR*

      I work 40 hours a week. I’m probably productive for 32-35 of those hours on an avg week. A lot of my job involves being available for the full week in case my team needs me and there are weeks where I am fully productive 45 hours yaknow. I think it depends heavily on who the person is. Like after 7 hours my brain starts getting foggy but sometimes I’ll work 10 or 12 hrs if I’m having a good day. There are some people I work with who are seemingly always working. I agree that 40 can be a lot and so tiring. I often fall right asleep when I get home after walking the dogs.

    14. Lissa*

      40 is fine for me, but it depends on the job. Also I have not much commute. Customer service for 40 hours a week made me a miserable shell. I wonder if there really is a number that would work for everyone – I mean it used to be *a lot* more and was pretty awful for like 90% of humanity, but we finally started making things better for more people (not for enough sadly.) I wonder when/why 40 got settled on. If we had settled on 45 or 35 would the conversation now look different, or is there a number that would work for most people?

      Maybe it shouldn’t even be standardized – I think it originally was standardized as M-F 40 hours because it was a vast improvement on what happened before. So how to make some kind of standard that isn’t going to be abused, while also acknowledging that different jobs and different people have varying needs.

    15. Wishing You Well*

      40 hours/week was exhausting for me in my 20s, but fewer hours meant less money and NO benefits.
      You high-energy people are AWESOME!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I don’t think of myself as particularly high energy (far from it, in fact) and I’ve worked 40 hour/week corporate jobs for my entire career. Sometimes I’ve worked 50 hours in a week, and with that comes major burnout for me, but 40 hours just feels like… I can’t say I run at 100% for all 40 of those hours, but I never expect to run at 100% for extended periods of time anyway. I don’t think I’m that unusual, to be honest.

    16. LilySparrow*

      The 40-hour week and the 8-hour day started with Ford Motors, because they observed that longer hours reduced productivity for both the workers and the equipment. It was fought for, hard, as a legal cap until it gradually gained acceptance and enforcement.

      Prior to that, industrial workers averaged 100 hours a week.

      And farmers/agricultural labor…well, you worked until it was done and rested until the next thing needed to be done.

      I know you said you don’t have health problems, but if 40 hours of work leaves you unable to function or have a social life, it would be a good idea to get a general checkup on your physical and behavioral health. Low-level executive function issues can make ordinary tasks exhausting, because you use up so much bandwidth struggling to focus. And there are a lot of seemingly minor issues, like borderline low iron, that may not be obvious “health problems” or illness, but can sap your energy in an insidious way.

      If you just have a political/philosophical issue with the way jobs work, maybe you would find studying the larger political, historical, and economic issues inspiring. Sometimes the missing “vitamins” for low energy are inspiration and a sense of purpose.

      “I hate this, doesn’t everybody?” isn’t really an effective proposal for a major cultural shift. Because no, everyone doesn’t.

      1. Trishee*

        I’m not looking for advice, thank you. I do have a social life but it’s not what I would ideally want.

        And of course that 40 hours a week is better than 100 hours a week and it was a huge step in the right direction. But we need to continue walking in the right direction of helping people not be wage slaves and have more leisure than work. I think the next step is 35 hours, then 30, of course, pay and benefits staying the same.

        I think most people don’t even realize reducing the work week is possible and they have just internalized corporate greed and abuse.

        And no, a sense of purpose is not the solution for most jobs. We still need janitors and grocery store workers and waiters and data entry clerks and truck drivers. Most jobs are not great, let’s face it. A small minority of jobs are awesome, the rest are just jobs.

        1. Lissa*

          I definitely think we are moving in the right direction – looking at progress in worker protections made in the last 100 years, based on the length of time it took progress in the centuries before. I hope that it keeps expanding exponentially.

          I think another thing that needs to be looked at is how different jobs operate. IE there are those jobs when really there’s no need to be there for the full 8 hours. You’re not actually doing work for some of it, just sitting there. Then there’s other jobs, like anything that involves customers/clients, where *someone* needs to be present. So for the first type it’d be great to change things to “once you complete your work for the day you can leave” but for the others shortening shifts would mean additional staff. Then things like contract work, etc. Right now a lot of worker protections are really piecemeal, ie they apply only to certain fields or situations.

          And working for incremental change is good, like from 40 hours to 35 etc. I have a hard time thinking of things that way because my jobs have basically all been hourly work, either previously mentioned low wage jobs or currently, contract where I set my own hours for the most part. So should we tell people they can’t work above a certain amount? If not there’s always going to be people saying, oh, but I really do WANT to work 70 hours/week or whatnot (for money, being a workaholic, etc) which changes the calculus. I mean I don’t personally think working 40 hours/week makes one a workaholic with bad work-life balance, but then I’m lucky and don’t have anything reasonably considered a commute! I’m also not American.

          1. Trishee*

            Workaholics cannot be helped. The only cure for them is to get a life but of course that’s not happening if they work all the time.

            Anything over 35 hours a week should be considered overtime. No jobs should be exempt. The hourly wage should go up, so that people still get the same paycheck as before.

            If someone is so set on working long hours, they should start their own business instead of working for someone else. They can still have their regular jobs for 35 hours a week and they’re free to spend 40 more hours on their own business. That would be more satisfying for them anyway.

            1. That Lady*

              You seem to be pretty dismissive of people who think differently about work than you. It’s fairly insulting to tell someone to “get a life” or call people “wage slaves” or straight up say that people who prefer to spend more time on/at work than you’d want to that their lives would be “more satisfying” if they’d instead start their own business (???).

        2. innit*

          Yeah I’m not sure how ‘well it used to be worse back then!’ is helpful when we’re discussing how things are now. And a lot of people work way more than 40 hours a week anyway.

          1. Lissa*

            I think it is helpful to look at the historical context when it comes to how long these things can take, because it can help keep people from getting despairing, and see the types of changes that have already been made and how much progress there’s been even when things were much worse. I know for me it’s really inspiring to look at past activists and say “whoa, we’ve come so far, imagine how awesome it will be in the future if we keep working towards better conditions!”

            I have a lot of friends who get really depressed about “the state of the world today” and I know for me listening/watching to stuff about history keeps me motivated.

        3. LilySparrow*

          I wasn’t recommending a sense of purpose as a solution for most jobs, but rather suggesting that the economic, philosophical, historical, and social issues involved are rather more complex than you seem to be considering. And really studying them might give you ideas for a more satisfying life.

          If you are unhappy with your job and commute, unhappy with your social life, unhappy with the time you get with your partner, and unhappy with the way you physically feel when you get home?

          It seems to me that there may be ways to direct your energy to improve your own life in the near term. Whereas insisting that everyone who says they like their jobs is a workaholic wage slave probably isn’t going to do much for your personal situation or the broader cultural issues either.

        4. Triplestep*

          So janitors, grocery store workers, waiters, data entry clerks and truck drivers can’t ever have a sense of purpose in their jobs?

          Oh how I wish I read this before using any brain cells to diplomatically explain how entitled your posts come across!

          1. Trishee*

            They could but they usually don’t. They do these jobs because they have bills to pay, the same reason most people work. I just randomly listed jobs that have very little potential to be interesting or enjoyable but that are still necessary. We shouldn’t pretend that finding a sense of purpose will help those workers have better lives. Nope, them working less and receiving more will make their lives better.

    17. MissDisplaced*

      It is my opinion that Americans work (and commute) too much!

      My day starts at 6am.
      1 hour to get ready, leave at 7am.
      1 hour (minimum) commute
      Work is 8am-5pm. Lunch is not included, and I typically work through lunch. So, I work a 9 HOUR Day.
      1 hour (minimum) commute home.
      Essentially I work a 45 hour workweek PLUS 10 hours of driving/commute time per week if I go into the office every day = 55 hours. This is not unusual for most Americans.

      Thank god I can work at home 1-2x per week or else I’d be exhausted! It’s not so much the “work,” but the 2-2.5 hours of daily driving that kills me. When I work at home, I don’t need an hour to get ready and get extra sleep because of no commute.

      My co-workers/friends in Europe typically work a 35-hour week and when I was there, your lunch hour was INCLUDED in your work day, so 8-4 or 9-5 was the norm.

      1. Trishee*

        Yep, Germany is still an economic powerhouse, even with all the short hours and long vacations and strong workers protections. Go figure.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          At my last company I worked with a lot of Europeans as our other main office was in France. It felt really unfair sometimes because (by law) they:
          • Worked a 35-hour week (5 hours less then us)
          • Had on average 20 days paid vacation per year + 10 paid holidays (compared to our 10 & 5)
          • We had to cover for them in August when most of France and most of Europe shuts down
          for summer holidays (we were not allowed to take vacation during August)
          • Didn’t have to pay for healthcare/no high deductible

          As for commutes, well, some of them did have commutes that are just as bad as here in the US. However, as we know Europe as great public transportation, and their train passes were 1/2 price covered by the company. Not so for us!

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I think the commute is a BIG factor for most people. I have a relatively short car commute (about 25 minutes) but I feel much less awake and my energy is lower than it was when I had a 45-minute urban train or bus commute. I got on the bus in the morning and again in the evening and read or listened to a podcast and I didn’t have to pay attention. By the time I got to work, or by the time I got home, I was ready for whatever came next. I was also able to stop on the way home and meet friends without worrying too much about traffic. These days, I never want to go out once I’m home, and there are some mornings where the drive is just a slog. I would take double the commute in a second if it meant I could close my eyes on the way to the office.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Long driving commutes do suck the life out of you! I’m so happy I can work at home a few days as I find it really ups my energy and I don’t have to get up quite as early just to sit in traffic.

    18. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      I think 40 hours a week are reasonable, 32 hours would be great. That being said, I would be perfectly fine not working at all were it not for that pesky requirement to earn a living. I think many of us are like you and don’t have a lot of energy left at the end of the day, though that kind of didn’t develop until I got older. In my younger days, I worked a second job on the weekend due to living in a high cost of living area. I also worked full time while getting my college degrees. So, if you’re pretty young not having enough energy seems a bit odd. Then again, I know people my age who’re doing all kinds of stuff besides working and just listening to them is exhausting. Bottom line, work does tend to get in the way of fun.

    19. Possibly Enough Detail to be Identified?*

      UK based and do 36.5 hours a week. That doesn’t include the unpaid lunch break. They’ve recently changed our working pattern, by shortening our (unpaid) lunch break from 60 mins to 45 mins, so instead of even working hours per day (approx 7 hrs 20 mins), we do 7.5 hours a day Mon to Thurs, and 6.5 hours on Friday.

    20. Utoh!*

      I mentioned how I wish we could work only two days a week and have a 5 day weekend. His response was that people used to work 7 days a week, for little pay, no sick or vacation time…blah, blah, blah…
      I learned quickly not to commiserate with him!

    21. Vic tower*

      I think some jobs need long hours in order for you to have the skills to do the job. As an obgyn, I currently work 50 hours per week not including on call overnight once a fortnight and 24 hours on call every fourth weekend. This is less than when I was training. But if I only did 35 hours per week I just wouldn’t be as good at the technical aspects of my job, such as performing hysterectomies or deciding how to manage difficult obstetric cases. But I agree balance is important

      1. Lissa*

        Medical jobs are a place where I really wonder about this – I know 12 hour shifts are the norm for nurses for instance and there’s a lot of discussion about that. My immediate feeling is that it’s really bad, but there is another side too, about shift changes causing more errors. So I can see it isn’t just black and white.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          It’s a tough balance to strike, because shift changes cause errors, but so do overworked medical staff. The recent laws banning previously common horrendous practices like 36-hour consecutive shifts for medical interns and residents didn’t come about because of much legislative sympathy for exhausted residents… they came about because those residents were making mistakes which cost lives.

          I don’t know where the sweet spot is between minimal errors from unnecessary shift changes and minimal errors from tired nurses and doctors, but that’s a research question with a factual answer someplace, if somebody does the study to locate it.

    22. MsChanandlerBong*

      I think 40 is fine IF you have enough PTO. I’m so tired that I went for a nap at 5:30 p.m. last Friday and ended up sleeping until 6:00 the next morning. I just never got up when the alarm went off. The problem is that I have such a crappy benefits package. My husband carries our insurance, but I wouldn’t take my company’s insurance even if he didn’t (all they do is pay $100 toward your monthly premium). The 401(k) match is the lowest I’ve ever seen at up to 4% of your contribution; not your salary, your contribution. So if I could manage to put away $200 a month, which I can’t, my match would be less than $500 per year. I have no other benefits available–no life insurance, no dental, no vision, no accidental death, nothing. I get 10 days of PTO per year, with sick, vacation, and personal all in the same bank. I have not taken a vacation since I started, all because I had the misfortune to need major dental work last May and then I had a heart attack in July. Yeah, I was in the hospital, but let me tell you–it wasn’t restful. I’m fine working 40 or even 50 hours per week if I have time to recharge, but I am now completely burned out because I haven’t had more than two days off in a row in over a year. And even when I am off, I am constantly getting messages on Slack and Skype, so I am never truly “off.”

    23. What the Butler Saw*

      Hmm, without reading the other replies, I will say that 40 hours has never seemed that burdensome to me. I have two kids in middle school, volunteer for the PTA, and have people over every week. If I’m at work until 4, home by 5, I still have hours and hours until bedtime, plus 2 days of weekends every week.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Out of curiosity, when do you wake up… and how much sleep do you find you need? Because if I went home from a 40-hour-a-week job at 4, it would mean that I had arrived there at 7:30 (assuming a half-hour lunch). Add on an hour commute (your numbers, from “at work until 4, home by 5”) and I would have had to leave the house by 6:30AM. That would mean waking up between 5 and 5:30. If I fall asleep eight hours earlier than that — not really enough for me; I need 9 to 9.5 hours, but let’s take an average person for our example! — that means I was out like a light by, at the absolute latest possible moment, 9:30PM.

        Figure half an hour before that to get ready for bed and wait for sleep to happen, and it would mean that I have precisely the four hours between 5PM and 9PM, out of my entire 24-hour day, which is not spent either working, getting to or from work, or getting adequate rest to make it possible for me to work.

        That doesn’t mean those four hours are all my own, of course. It’s necessary to fit all the housekeeping, cooking, eating, and parenting into that time. But they are distinguished by being the only time — one-sixth of my life — in which I’m able to do anything which benefits anybody other than my employer. The rest is all either working or becoming able to go *back* to work the next day.

        Most people I know who say, “I don’t see why anyone has a problem spending 10.5-11 hours a day either working or commuting — it never kept ME from doing all sorts of things,” are achieving this result by sleeping less than 6 hours a night. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is as bad as alcohol in impairing one’s driving judgment, and that one of the most significant causes of auto accidents in our current world is the way in which we’re almost all in a constant state of sleep deprivation.

        And on that note, it’s 11:45PM. Goodnight!

    24. mooocow*

      I work in a leadership role in tech in Germany.

      I’ve negotiated a 35 hour workweek with 29 paid vacation days plus about 10 public holidays. 10% of my working time are reserved for professional development (can be anything as long as there is some connection to the general area of work we do). I get to set my own schedule as long as the work gets done and I’m there for the numerous meetings my job entails. In practice this means I take every other Friday off, and the Fridays I do work it’s work from home focused on professional development.

      There’s also 6 the legally mandated 30 days paid sick leave (requiring a doctor’s note), after that health insurance long term sick pay kicks in.

      I’m really happy with this arrangement, as it gives me time to pursue hobbies (gardening, personal development, board games, kayaking, traveling, amongst others), while still giving me enough time at work to do my job well. I love my job (and my company!) but I’m still considering whether I want to further reduce my hours simply because there are so many other important things in life that I want to pursue.

      I’m grateful that I have these opportunities, and i don’t see myself going back to a 40 hour workweek, ever.

      One thing that is true for me is that working less hours actually improves my quality of work, because it gets me out of the frenzy of a hectic life and gives me more opportunities to genuinely reflect, for example on what good leadership actually means and where I might have made mistakes and how to improve them. When all I do is work, and then try to fit as much into my little free time as i can, I don’t get enough quiet time for that kind of reflection.

    25. Ms Cappuccino*

      Working 40 hours a week must be very tiring.
      It’s only 35 hours where I am and I already find that exhausting.
      I think in Germany it’s 32 hours. That would do for me. Too bad I don’t speak German !
      How much annual leave are you entitled to ? A lack of vacation is also very tiring as you don’t have the time to unwind.

      1. USVacation*

        I know that it is popular to talk about how relaxed work in Europe is compared to the US, but what you say is simply not true. I am in Germany and have never heard of a place where 32 hours are the norm. Public service sometimes has 37,5, but all other people I know have an ordinary 40-hour week if they work full time. Plus mandatory unpaid lunch break means 9 to 5.30 in the office is the standard for most, just like in a lot of other countries. You can of course work part-time but will have a hard time living off that salary. On the other hand, unpaid overtime is not unusual in corporate jobs as well.

        We do have comparatively much PTO though, but that horse has been beaten to death.

    26. Ingrid*

      In Denmark a fulltime job is 37,5 hours and then unpaid lunch. 5 weeks vacation plus 5 vacation days which you can choose to take as a full week or separate days.
      I honestly would get sick if I had to work 40 hours a week and with much much less vacation.
      My dream would be working 25-30 hours a week. But then I have a lot of not-work commitments and not really any expensive habits.

    27. Rebecca*

      In my case, I’m non exempt office cog, so I’m expected to be in my chair for the 40 hour week, unless it’s a paid holiday or I take vacation or PTO. That being said, my job is really busy for half the year and not busy for the other half. Company avoids overtime like Dracula avoids mirrors and garlic. So I spend the busy times working like I’m playing whack a mole with a foam hammer, and the other times I sit, read the news, play solitaire, and fill my time as I can. I would love it if I could work however long I needed to when I was busy, and then work half days when I’m not, but that’s not how it would work. Even if I was exempt, I’d still be expected to be in my seat for 40 hours a week, plus more! That’s what I’ve observed. Without exception, when people on my level were offered exempt status, we all turned it down, because we didn’t want to be expected to be in the office 50 hours or more a week.

      I’d love it if cogs like me could just get paid to do the work when it needed to be done, but that’s never going to happen at my company.

    28. Akcipitrokulo*

      I’m 37.5 which is standard… have seen some advertised at 40, worked somewhere with 35. Unless you jump through legal hoops you’re not allowed to work >48 (at the moment… let’s see what happens in March with Brexit…)

      When had choice, I’ve gone with jobs that didn’t ask for 40, and think 37.5 is my limit at the moment (of course at mkment I end up doing a bit over that because I’m just finishing something or want to talk to overseas guys briefly in evening I don’t count, but it’s not onerous and work is flexible in return.)

  18. Lizzy May*

    This is a little thing but I’m trying to figure out why this annoys me so much. Sometimes when I come back from being away from my desk, I’ll find that coworkers have left work for me on my chair rather than on my desk or in my incoming work folder. When I see it, it bugs me but I can’t put into words why.

    1. Labradoodle Daddy*

      Awful! I have absolutely nothing to do and could be spending time with my family. My manager sucks.

      1. valentine*

        For me, it’s because:
        (1) Instead of putting it on the desk, where it belongs, they’ve forced an extra task on me literally before I can even sit down, like punishment for leaving my chair.
        (2) It’s the passive-aggressive version of throwing or dropping something they’re meant to hand me. Instead of chasing it or literally lowering myself, I have to move it or sit on it, neither of which I want to do and only one of which is socially or professionally acceptable, and it’s, of course, not the one that will provide instant (probably pain) relief.

    2. Amber Rose*

      To me it says, “This I am giving you work is so urgent and important that I can’t trust it to your inbox, where you might not see it for a whole 15 minutes.” Whether it is or not. It just comes across the same as urgent read receipts on emails, you know? Not a huge deal, but irritating.

      I only ever leave stuff on someone’s chair if their desk is so cluttered i’m not sure where else to put it.

    3. Not All*

      I don’t think I’ve ever worked someplace where putting stuff on people’s chairs was NOT the the norm. It’s easy to see at a glance and the recipient can put it wherever they want it quickly. And if it is something time-sensitive, it’s easy to walk past someone’s cube and notice whether it’s been moved if you aren’t positive if they are around/tied up all day.

      I doubt they are making subtle digs about the state of your desk, which is the only reason I can think to be bothered by it?

      1. Triplestep*

        Yup, this. If it’s on your chair, then YOU decide where to put it. I’m not making that decision for you.

        I also agree that it’s not likely a statement about how organized/disorganized your desk looks.

    4. Anon From Here*

      Uh-oh. This is my standard operating procedure. When I put it on your chair, then I know it’s not going to get misplaced or overlooked among the other identical envelopes and manila folders on your desk. I consider it a courtesy, not an expression of urgency and absolutely not an expression of distrust.

    5. Zona the Great*

      It is super annoying for people to do. Put it on the keyboard. I know someone who wrote a sign and put it up on their chair that said, “My Chair is not an Inbox”.

      1. Seal*

        I did that once! My jerk coworkers kept making a point of putting things on my chair despite the fact that I had a large, well-marked in box. The sign didn’t help much because those people were the epitome of workplace bullies, but it made me feel better.

      2. GhostWriter*

        I like to leave it on the keyboard too (usually with message written on a post-it). I figure someone might be talking on the phone or otherwise distracted when returning to their desk, and they might plop down in their chair without looking and get the paper all crumbled or a staple caught on their pants. The keyboard seems like a “safer” spot.

    6. Occasional Baker*

      We will do this for one or two people in my office – because the desks already are looking like archeological digs, and they have a mailbox, but no inbox. It signals “deal with this, sooner than later, please” where the mailbox would not. YMMV, of course. But possibly it’s for “reasons” or, the leaver may just feel their drop off is super special!!!/s
      So, maybe that’s why you feel ick about it? Because subconsciously, you prefer to manage inbox priority, and this feels bossy?

    7. Susan K*

      At my first job after college, everyone told me that if I want people to see something, I should put it on their chair and not their desk or, heaven forbid, their inbox, because if I put it on their inbox or desk, they can just ignore it or push it aside, but if I put it on their chair, they have to pick it up before they can sit down. This was how everyone did it there, so it just became the “normal” thing to me.

      When I started working at a different place, some people didn’t seem to care if people put stuff on their chair, but one time, I put something on a manager’s chair and he flipped out, and the next day, did one of those lectures to everyone in the department about the appropriate place to leave documents, obviously referring to me and the thing I put on his chair. These days, it’s actually pretty rare that I leave a hard copy of anything for anyone — I usually just e-mail stuff.

      1. Anon From Here*

        That’s funny, because the reason I got into the habit of placing materials on chairs is because of an early boss, who wanted it done that way.

        I feel like holding a poll in my office (about 120 people), now, to see where people tend to fall on this one.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I was told something similar. My last office job had as many different systems of organizing papers as employees, and it wasn’t always true that an “inbox” was actually used as such. Putting it on a chair seemed the best way to make sure it was noticed.

    8. Asenath*

      I think people do it so that they are sure you’ll see it. I find it a bit odd, but I’ve gotten used to it. I do have a mail slot in the photocopier room, but some of the people who routinely do it don’t know where that is. The other alternative (if my door is closed) is to push it under the door, which I dislike even more. During normal office hours, there’s always someone around (although probably someone who uses the chair method), so why shove it under the door? So I can walk over it?

      And worst of all – a new employee once put some documents on my desk, upside down so no one could read them in case they were confidential. She put them on top of a stack of scrap paper I use for scribbling notes. I didn’t find them until I went around grumbling that I couldn’t find some paper someone claimed to have left for me, and she heard me and told me where she’d put them.

      1. SignalLost*

        Yup. I was asked for something we don’t have digitally the other day. Grab the hard copy, head to the office of the guy who requested it, left it on his chair when it turned out he wasn’t there. If I left it on his desk, I’d feel like I also had to send an email saying I’d brought it by because how would he know to look for it? His desk is not so messy it would get lost, nor so clean it would stand out instantly, so the chair was a good place to make sure he saw it. I know few people who have inboxes and fewer still who don’t use them as “these are my current projects for today”, so I distrust them as a place someone will quickly see something.

    9. CTT*

      As this thread shows, people feel differently about it; it’s always been my MO because most people at my work don’t have inboxes, and the people who do have them for actual mail and don’t like to cross-contaminate (there’s probably a better term for that but I can’t think of it). It’s a law firm so people usually have a lot of paper on their desk and their own way with organizing it, so putting it on their chair is a way of saying “Here’s a new thing, I want to make sure it doesn’t accidentally get mixed up with the file on your desk.”

    10. Miss Wels*

      That used to really annoy me but tbh it does make it so that the person knows right away that they have something to deal with, especially if they have a messy desk they might not realize it right away.

      1. Isotopes*

        I am the person who has a messy desk so I always appreciate when someone puts things on my chair. I do have a clearly indicated inbox as well, but if something is on my chair, I know to deal with it right away (and I have a lot of time-sensitive things to deal with, like approvals). I don’t actually put things on people’s chairs, though. Probably because most people keep their desk in a nice order.

    11. Canadian Natasha*

      Oh I have the same peeve! I actually have a Dilbert cartoon about that exact thing posted in my cubicle. I also have a very large and obvious sign pointing to my inbox so there is no reason for people not to know where I’d like things to be left. And yet…

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        I should mention that I do put papers on other people’s chairs sometimes (so I may be a bit hypocritical). It’s a different situation though; most work at my desk has same-day urgency whereas the other people may not look at the new items on their desks for a day or two. So if it is quite urgent I will put the work on their chairs.

    12. What's with Today, today?*

      Totally the norm at my office. None of us ever check our boxes and they are so full of crap.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I used to hate it, too, but then I realized it simply meant (to me, at least) that I could put it wherever I want it to go and there was no risk of it getting lost on my desk. I then started doing it, because I figured maybe others would feel the same way. There were also a couple people that would routinely ignore things on their desk, or would lose them, so this would make them actually touch the document and do something with it.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      It was one of these work-left-in-chairs discussions that sparked me to tell my boss to leave my priority work IN my chair. If I see it in my chair that means do it first. She will pile my in tray up 5 inches high, sometimes higher. (Not a problem, that is my job to deal with that.) The problem is if the urgent item is 4 inches down in a 5 inch pile. It could be late afternoon or the next day before I find it.
      This is a system that has worked out great for us. When she comes in she looks for Thing Left In Chair right away and it’s always done. Instead of frantically running around trying to get Thing done, we are both calmer and able to go about the rest of our day.
      I tend to leave my urgent stuff on her keyboard. I think that is more because of the layout of our desks. She will spot Thing on the keyboard when she walks in. But my desk is smaller and there is more apt to be stuff on the desk already.

    15. Blue Eagle*

      Many times when I have put items on someone’s desk, next thing you know the person doesn’t see them and they are misplaced so now I always put things on the person’s chair so they will definitely see them.

      Sorry that this bugs you, but just curious if it is that big a deal to just take it off the chair and put it where you would prefer that it would go?

      1. valentine*

        On any other flat surface on the desk, propped between the keyboard and monitor, or on the keyboard (last resort). I am instantly in crisis if I’m out of hands or surface area, so, if I’m carrying stuff, especially liquid, this chair commandeering neatly sabotages my x-minute budget of pain-free time between seats. I might set the interloper anywhere else it can go without wrinkling and forget all about it because it’s not supposed to be there and it was never where it belongs: on the desk.

    16. Carbovore*

      It depends entirely on the coworker for me, whether or not it bothers me, lol.

      My direct supervisor now (she used to be a peer until I was promoted) tends to place things in my chair and I don’t take it personally at all because I know she just means for me to see it and deal with it as I want to. (Sometimes there is a note indicating, “Whoops, this needs to happen now and I’m not in tomorrow, can you handle it?” and that’s ok, too.)

      The only time I hated stuff-in-the-chair was from my dept. head and typically the only reason she ever did it was because rare afternoons she’d decide to “clean” her office… By “cleaning,” I mean that she would opt to scoop huge piles of papers up from her tables and desk, throw them in my chair, and place a sticky atop the mound that would say something like, “Can you find somewhere to put all this?”

      It always smacked to me of, “I have no clue if this stuff is important or not and I super don’t care because now I’ve made my disorganization your problem!”

      Needless to say, a great deal of it went in the recycling/shredder and was never missed…

  19. Kali*

    I am in my first people-managing, team-working role, and I am struggling. Context; I’m a mature student (just turned 30) and this year I got promoted to Senior Student Ambassador. Basically, instead of doing the tours myself, I, and a team of 9 other people, tell other people to do them instead. We decide on the job roles, take on key roles throughout the interview day, etc. It’s kind of a my-first-management job; we’re not really in charge of people, but we are given certain tasks which are great experience and semi-managerial.

    The part of the role I’m struggling a bit with is with planning the socials. We do about four a year, and last year they were all of the lets-go-out-and-get-hammered variety so I didn’t go. I’m not a big drinker, and I’m ten years older than everyone else. I know some other introverts and the relatively few Muslim ambassadors didn’t go either. When we planned our first social this year, I brought up the idea of making them more diverse and got some general agreement, or, at least, not disagreement. Then, last week, someone goes “oh, I’ve booked the local student bar for the Christmas social”, and suddenly I’m the bad guy for saying “wait, didn’t we talk about more diversity?”. My viewpoint is mainly that our job is to enable our coworkers to bond, and even if 70-80% are into the drinking type socials, we’ve failed if every single social leaves out the other 20-30%. I’d rather do a lot of smaller socials that, over the year, appealed to everyone. I don’t object to the drinking socials, I just feel like it’s a waste to do two in a row when we could be appealing to more people. It’s like fighting uphill.>< The kind of arguments I've heard are;

    – "You can't please everyone!" which was literally my point – you can't please everyone in one event, so we should have diverse events to try to appeal to everyone over the year, not the same event over and over.
    – "People just need to put the effort in and deal with it!"
    – "but we got the majority!" and "we should decide democratically!". The problem isn't that the majority of students aren't into nights out drinking – it's that the same minority is consistently left out. :(
    – "You can't expect everyone to be teetotal/there's nothing wrong with drinking!" – I literally never expressed those opinions.

    I did a brief survey of the ambassadors on the last open day, and most are happy with a meal, including the introverts and the non-drinkers. I didn't do that survey before because, tbh, I did not expect this to be any kind of argument. I pictured us all sitting down together to brainstorm and coming up with fun ideas, not an uphill battle. I'm pretty frustrated that the concept of doing something for all of your coworkers rather than just you personally and your friends is so controversial, and I'm annoyed that I'm having to come up with all the ideas myself and present them gift-wrapped in a neat bow with no flaws, rather than working with the team to make it happen, but I guess that's what we're going with. :( Anyway, I've decided that my win condition for the year is do at least two non-drinking socials. My ideas so far are the meal and getting dogs from a local dog's home to come visit our uni. The dogs usually visit the student support office every Wednesday, but that's when we hold the open days so ambassadors don't get to go. I thought it would be nice to do a session on a not-Wednesday, for only ambassadors. We'll see how the rest of the team respond to that idea next Wednesday.

    There are some things I'd like advice on, if anyone has any ideas. One thing I'm struggling with is that my childhood was quite abusive, and that's left me struggling to manage my emotions and to deal with conflict. I'm working on it with my therapist at the moment, which is slowly helping, but any tips are appreciated. Basically, I tend to feel like if I run into conflict with a group, everyone is automatically going to hate me anyway, so I might as well go full nuclear. I also struggle to hide if I'm unhappy or annoyed by someone; atm, I suspect it's because my mom would have constant mood swings and gaslight me, and I feel like being friendly to someone I don't like is basically the same thing, like they might think we're friends and I'd have to reveal we're not, and that's worse than just letting them know I'm unimpressed. I realise that's irrational, and that people can disagree and not dislike each other, or even dislike each other but still agree and work together, but I'm not really sure of how to do that or what that looks like. I'm also not feeling great because there's an inner clique of people who bonded at the evenings-in-the-pub socials last year, and they tend to shout me down and constantly interrupt me in group discussions. Depending on the person, I suspect it varies from being actively rude to just being obliviously, and I'm struggling to politely assert myself. This group also tend to be of the opinion that there's nothing wrong with the way the socials have been run, and if people don't like them, that's their problem (almost exact quote). I'm pretty sure this will get knocked out of them at their first non-homogeneously-populated out-of-uni jobs, but I want to do things better now. :( I've no doubt that the age gap is also a problem, both because we have different viewpoints and because I suspect I both over and under-estimate my coworkers at different times. I'm also not very emotionally mature; I find it really hard to deal with and manage my feelings, and while this is a great experience in working through that, and growing, and learning, it doesn't feel great to be going through it right now, and it definitely makes this whole thing so much harder

    1. Anonymoosetracks*

      I don’t exactly have any ideas for you, but I did want to say that I think your self-assessment is really thoughtful and impressive and I think you have probably put your finger on the things that are the sticking point issues for you here. Some of the emotional management things you describe probably are best worked out with your therapist but interpersonal conflict is always a hard thing to have to deal with and part of it (at least for me) is recognizing that you’re always going to have times in your work life where people disagree and there’s going to be no way to make everyone 100% satisfied with an outcome, and getting to a place where you’re able to live with (and, for me at least, compartmentalize away) the discomfort of knowing that someone is displeased with you. Just make sure they feel listened to – healthy disagreement requires actually hearing out the points where you differ! And then even if they’re still not satisfied with the outcome, they will generally at least be satisfied with the process.

      As a side point, I think a breakdown of social events with 2-3 drinky nights out, 1 group meal, and 1 puppy-petting adventure is the right balance of inclusivity in just about any group situation so I hope you manage to work that out!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I can see what you are saying. When I went back to school, I was 40 and they thought I was OLD and told me so. (I giggled, I went to bed one night while I was 20 and woke up the next day and I was 40. The same thing will happen to them.) In some ways, I was old however. When it came to the drinking stuff I stayed right out of it. I read the newspaper articles and it’s the 40 year old who gets arrested when there are underage drinkers. Nope, nope, nope. I just went home, they could do what they wanted.
      And I was off my rocker for thinking along this line. So I do understand how isolating this stance can be. And I understand how people will say, “you’re making mountains out of mole hills”.

      So my #1 thought here is stick with what you are saying. If a person should learn to adapt to a drinking social then the opposite is true also, a person should learn to adapt to a social where no alcohol is served. Both skills will be required in the work world.

      My second thought here is the parallels between their rigid stance and your parents’ rigid stances on other things. In both cases you are dealing with people who are vehement and strong about their opinions. The difference is that this time it’s NOT your parents. Because we are children we have no power and no agency when our parents put their foot down. Remind yourself that these people are not your parents and this is not the same as home and when you were growing up. Yes, we have to deliberately tell ourselves things like this because that is how power and intense those memories are.

      Just my opinion, that anger is the lack of knowing what to do. So use your anger as a trigger to say, “I need to build a plan for this issue here.” And congratulate yourself for posting here for ideas, that is a great step forward. If you don’t get a lot of responses, ask again next week. Just say you are looking for ideas for a college social that do not involve alcohol.

      I am not sure where you would go, but try to find the school’s policies on alcohol consumption at events. Try to find out about liability for your group if something happened.

      Next, as you look into this you will find other people at school probably employees of the school. Perhaps one of them can speak to your group and get them to calm down a bit. In the workplace if your subordinates were telling you NO, you would ask your boss for assistance. A good boss would step in and tell your subordinates that they should do what you say. My point is that sometimes we have to pull in an authority bigger than us to get the credibility we need so we have some traction. There is no shame in having to do this. (I had a subordinate basically tell me FU. My Big Boss told the subordinate, “No. you have to do what she says or you can leave.” Sometimes situations have to be handled this way.) Look around, where would you find someone concerned about alcohol consumption at a school event?

      Okay, I want to look at the part about you planning the event. You say you have non-drinkers in your group and folks who do not attend the drinking socials. Invite them( the non-drinkers) to an event planning committee meeting. Ask them their thoughts on what they would like to do as a group. They will probably stall out, not really having too many ideas. So then ask them to think of times where they did a group social and had fun. What went on, what made the social fun. Ask them what activities they do with their friend groups.

      Remember a social does not have to be a long drawn out all nighter. You can plan an event for about an hour and a half and still have a good time. Perhaps you can invite speakers or have a drawing.

      On a personal note, I found the whole drinking thing to be very upsetting and personally challenging. My father was the good parent but he was also a drinker. Lots of memories and lots of upset there. When the group became strident about getting drunk off their butts, I wanted to run out of the room. It took a lot for me to sit there and let them yell at me.

      I would like to point out that the world of work is not hard like this is. I thought the situation was very hard, because there was so much upset. Most work places do not involve yelling matches like that, nor do people dig their heels in that hard. Workplaces are easier overall. Do the best you can with it here. What is happening here is NO reflection on you. If it happened on my campus and yours then it is probably going on in many places. Keep a big picture perspective, if you feel in the end you have failed here it means NOTHING in the long run. Because it is NOT reflective of how work places actually function. Don’t draw the conclusion that “If I can’t lead people here then I can not lead people at all.” Because that is not a valid comparison at all. I was fine leading people, it wasn’t until I returned to school that I was considered a jerk. School groups and work groups are apples to oranges different.
      Cry when you need to and remind yourself that semesters and the school year does come to an end. This has an ending, it will not go on and on.
      Come back with more questions as this unfolds for you. Do not walk alone here. This is too much for one person to work through on their own.

      1. Kali*

        Oops, I should have said – I’m in the UK, where the drinking age and the starting age for uni are both 18, so there’s no issues with underage drinkers. It would be so stressful to worry about that as well! :o

        Tbh, I was worried that this meant I wouldn’t get along in a workplace either, so I’m glad to know it’s actually tougher. That’s really reassuring. You’re also right about the lack of agency with my parents being an issue, along with the paralleled lack of power here. :( Thanks for commenting, it’s really helped!

    3. Llellayena*

      Try bowling, if you have a bowling alley nearby. Alcohol is available but not required and the focus of the event is not the drinking.

      Volleyball, the school probably has a court you can reserve.

      Game night: Jenga, Apples to Apples, look for larger group games with some interraction (not just your turn/my turn), and provide more than one game and game area.

      These ideas provide a catalyst for conversation other than “hey what beer is that” so you actually might get more of the bonding your looking for. Good luck.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll throw you some ideas for the brainstorming session. But it’d kind of hard not knowing your climate.
      Ice skating…maybe you can sweettalk some hockey team members to give lessons. (Men’s and women’s teams alike)
      Roller skating, bowling.
      Swimming, maybe with a water volleyball or water polo kind of thing. (If you do on-the-shoilders, ask any strict Muslim ambassadors if they’d prefer to be referees because of possible rules against contact.)
      If you have a strong Indian population, ask if a “Holi” colors fest would be appropriate when that holiday rolls around. Ditto to Chinese ambassadors and Lunar New Year.
      Swing dance lessons.
      Rent a bounce house that’s rated for adults. Have a cotton candy machine and a big popcorn popper.
      If it were early autumn in New England I’d suggest hay rides and corn mazes.

      Whatever you pick for an hour or two, remind people that the ones who want to go drinking can go out together afterwards!

    5. Daphne*

      Maybe some sort of crafty/art event. Inoticed on FB recently a local boutique/gift shop ran a pottery decorating night for what looked like a staff night-out!

      Also liked the bowling suggestions.

    6. Koala dreams*

      I just want to thank you for planning non-drinking events! The drinking culture was a big problem when I went to university, and it’s easy to overestimate how many people are actually enjoying drinking socials, as opposed to quietly enduring. It’s great that you advocate for more inclusive events!

    7. LGC*

      Okay – so…first of all, please stop putting yourself down! You have your difficulties, you’re aware of them, and you’re making the best of it! To be honest, I wish I was as mature and introspective as you seem to be.

      I’m just curious – what are the logistical challenges to putting on your own socials in addition to the drinking ones? Like, are you able to put on your own social (with the help of the senior ambassadors that seem more receptive)? Do you need the majority of people to buy in to socials? If you can get a couple of people to buy into a more low-key social, that might work well. I think part of the pushback might be that (from their perspective) you’re an Old barging into their Drinking Time and telling them they can’t get lit. Which…I don’t think you are, but that might be what they’re hearing.

      And also, are ambassadors required to show up to socials? It doesn’t seem like they are (you haven’t gone to them, it seems), but if there were less pressure to attend EVERYTHING that might also help.

      What I’m saying is that they can get messed up on cheap booze and play with puppies if they want. (Not at the same time, hopefully.)

      1. Kali*

        We have no budget for the socials, so they all need to be pay-as-you-go or totally free events. I definitely don’t think we need the majority as long as we have a variety, but the other seniors do seem to define success as majority, even if the same people are left out time after time. :( Ambassadors definitely aren’t required to attend socials, and I think that’s part of what stops people from going “hey, this isn’t for me, can we do something else?”. People don’t want to feel unreasonably demanding or make waves. I’m hoping you’re right about additional socials being the best option; I guess we’ll see on Wednesday.

        Thanks for the comments about my introspectiveness – I just wish identifying the issue meant knowing how to do better!

    8. TootsNYC*


      Euro games, which play fast and allow for near constant participation by all players, because they’re very interactive.

      and classics like Sorry (but not Parcheesi or Risk; somehow those always end up in fisticuffs)

      You’d need several for larger groups, but people can rotate.

  20. LGC*

    …so one of our employees came in with a shirt that referenced a sex act. In rather explicit terms.

    While I’m glad that he’s at least more generous than DJ Khaled, that is probably the worst choice of attire for work. (Since he’s not on my team, I let his team leader handle it.)

    So for everyone else stuck at work – how’s your day?

    1. Amber Rose*

      It’s so. Slow. And quiet.

      I hate slow Fridays. Like all I want to do is reach the weekend, but no, Friday has to last an extra 2539 days.

      1. LGC*

        Come on over! Our parking lot gate froze, 4 of my employees called out, and our receptionist was late so I had to handle the front desk for 15 minutes.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Ouch. D:
          I got some work in but everyone’s pretty much just standing around chatting because we are dead in the water.

      2. Birch*

        I’ll trade you. I’ve spent the week frantically trying to re-do a horribly time-consuming task with a deadline because of lack of communication about how it was supposed to be done in the first place….

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I volunteered to come in because it’s usually a really quiet day and I can be super productive, except I have NOT been productive, I’ve been distracted, it’s super quiet and slow, and we actually have more staff than I thought we would today so coverage is a non-issue. Oh well. Maybe I’ll get my act in gear for the afternoon?

    3. Lissa*

      Oh my god. Your turn of phrase there was an amazing way to detail what the act was. HAHAHA I’m dying of entertainment. Obviously less funny for people who have to tell him not to wear that.

      1. LGC*

        …I should also mention I’m a supervisor. So technically, it IS my job.

        (When I explained what I saw to the team leader, he said he didn’t notice until I pointed it out. In the TL’s defense, he couldn’t see the shirt full on from where he was sitting.)

          1. LGC*

            If I remember correctly, he was told he had to cover it or turn it inside out. (OR he could have taken it off – I think he was wearing a long-sleeved undershirt as well.)

            I wouldn’t have noticed at all normally, since the employee and I don’t work in the same office (and usually not even on the same floor)! It just so happened that I happened to walk by him in the hallway when we were both on break and I caught a glimpse of his shirt while he was on the phone. I had to look about three times because I thought I misread it at first.

  21. Red Reader*

    Asked my boss about a mid-year raise on Monday. She’s all in favor and going to see what she can make happen with her higher-ups. (Usually we only do raises as an annual review follow up.) Fingers crossed.

  22. Bones*

    My manager has proven several times over that going the extra mile means nothing to her (I’ve spoken about this here in the past but the very short version is she threatens the jobs of hard working, long hours employees over minor mistakes). Is there any way we as a group (or even as individuals, I guess) can say “we’re not taking on extra projects or work because it’s clear it means nothing to you” ?

    1. Bagpuss*

      I don’t know that you can say the part about it meaning nothing, but I guess in relation to extra hours and such you can fall back on the ‘sorry, I’m not able to stay late’ or for extra projects follow Alison’s advice about asking what she wants you to prioritise – so if she wants you to take on extra project ‘A’ you ask her which of existing tasks ‘B’, ‘C’ or ‘D’ she wants you to drop or delay. or pass back to her.

      1. CM*

        Agree. I don’t have the full context for this, but I think the best strategy is to decide that you’re not willing to keep cramming extra work into your schedule and — without saying that directly — be clear that there isn’t enough time to do A, B, C, D, E, F, G so she needs to choose which ones she wants to prioritize.

        If she’s a horrible person, then there may not be a solution where she doesn’t harass you about it, but this is a reasonable approach that you could defend to others later.

  23. TV*

    What is everyone’s leave/call out policy with their manager? My boss is pretty lenient with it (text him if you’re late, email your crew if you are out for the day) but it’s too the point that he can’t track anyone/doesn’t know staffing levels at any given time. We’ve tried a paper calender for expected vacations, emails weeks in advance reminding him of approved time off, etc but he is still unhappy. Our employer is very flexible so it is just a matter of tracking.

    1. post turkey day yay*

      A tracking system that worked great for us (and so of course is no longer the system we use…) was to have a centralized online calendar where people would enter when they’d be out. If someone called out, someone else could enter it on the calendar for them, so at a glance, you’d know who wasn’t there.

      You could do these calendars in Outlook or in something like Google Calendar.

    2. Gaia*

      When I managed a team I did two things: pre-planned time off went into a specific Outlook calendar (the employee added it to their own calendar and cc’d this one and mine) so that everyone who needed to could see the entire team’s coverage on that day. If it was unplanned, text me and I would update (late – no calendar, out – calendar).

      It worked pretty well. They knew if I was out, they just needed to text another manager and the process would move forward.

    3. Long time fed*

      We have to email the boss before 7:00 AM if we are going to be out for the day. Planned leave is put on a shared calendar by the employee’s manager or team lead and if we call out the manager updates the calendar.

    4. Asenath*

      My employer is very flexible. There is one staff member we notify in advance or call if something comes up – and she’s the one who handles the documentation. As long as the work is done, no one worries about it – although there are a few periods in the year in which it is really essential to have the people dealing with certain events present, and an absence for anything other than, say, having surgery would not be appreciated.

    5. Carbovore*

      With our disorganized boss (who can be micro-manage-y and overly interested in what certain folks are doing with their time), we found that she responded to something visual. Google calendars are great for the visual as well (this is how I prefer to view calendars) but for folks like our dept. head who aren’t great with technology, we came up with a more simplistic solution. We instituted a whiteboard near the front door of the suite with everyone’s names written on it. The admin in the office is responsible for “resetting” the board each day with everyone’s status (out, coming in at noon, teleworking, etc.) and each person is responsible for updating the board should they have to step out for a good deal of time. (I work on a campus where we often have to traverse to other buildings for meetings. So, for instance, if I knew I was going to have afternoon meetings all day in the Fergus Building, I’d write that next to my name as I walked out.)

      The idea being, it gives our boss an idea of who is physically around, who is around by email, etc.

      It’s mostly been helpful. (And the ways it hasn’t been helpful can be chalked up to the fact that our dept. head is a horrible manager in about 50 other ways…)

    6. JxB*

      As professionals, people on my team have a lot of autonomy. Running a few minutes late if no appointments doesn’t require anything. Everyone is expected to keep their online calendar (Outlook) up to date with with appointments and leave. For leave – ideally in advance, if not then as soon as possible – we send a calendar appointment to our manager. The “location” includes the words “Leave Request”. Appointment type is marked as “free” so it doesn’t block her calendar as busy. Team manager has ability to see any individual’s calendar, plus all the leave notices are on her calendar. For illness, we call in; getting voicemail is fine. But then you still add a leave notice later. Also, we all must do monthly timesheets even though on salary (government requirement, primarily to track PTO) so the leave notices should match personal time taken on timesheet.

  24. I Work on a Hellmouth*

    Is it crazy that I’m working through a whole Excel course before I take an assessment test for a position that I applied for? The job posting mentioned having great Excel skills, and I use Excel allllllll of the time, but I’m self taught. Then I got an email from the hiring manager (and this job is one of the ones I REALLY want to interview for) directing me to take about an hour’s worth of assessment tests through Indeed. So my immediate reaction was “Ack! What if I completely wiff it because I’m self taught on this and I don’t understand the questions, clearly I need to work through every section of ‘Essential Excel Skills’ over the next few days or DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM and also no interview.” Part of me is very “Hey, it won’t hurt and it might help you score better,” and the rest of me is very “You are clearly insane.”

    1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      I should probably have also mentioned that there is a lot more to the job than using Excel.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      Sounds wise to me! I am predominantly self taught in graphic design and was required to take an Adobe Illustrator course a few years ago. At first it annoyed me, because I was already a whiz at Illustrator. But I learned:

      • basic functions that I’d never understood, or never spotted.
      • elementary keyboard shortcuts.
      • conventional labels for things. I’d ignored “clipping path” and “clipping mask,” for instance, because I had no idea what those meant and assumed that whatever they were, I didn’t need them. I discovered in the course that these were terms for tasks I’d been doing in an outrageously convoluted way.

      It filled in the gaps, essentially.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Yeah, I’ve discovered the same thing. I keep finding super simple ways to do things that I DEFINITELY over complicated. Whether that actually helps me take a timed test faster remains to be seen, but it’s kind of cool to see all of the ways I can do things more quickly/easily.

    3. Triplestep*

      This sounds like something I would do. So can I ask what Excel course you’re taking? I may find myself there!

      I am also self-taught, and I LOVE excel (probably more than I should.) I want my next job to be heavy on analysis, so I don’t think this is crazy, but others might.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        I’m working my way through “Learn Excel 2016 Essential Skills with The Smart Method​.” I bought the ebook because it is allegedly updated regularly. And I have actually been having fun working through the modules, because I am a giant nerd.

        1. Yay commenting on AAM!*

          To be devil’s advocate because this happened to me:

          What version of Excel are you being tested on? I once had to take a skills test on Excel 98…in 2011. Needless to say, I scored poorly on it, because I’d been using newer versions for years by then.

          1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

            That’s my biggest fear–I’m really only super familiar with 2016, and Indeed does not say what version it tests on. ANNNNNNNNNXXXXXXXIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEETTTTTTTTYYYYYYYYYYYY.

      2. Even Steven*

        Hey Triplestep! If you’re really into it, check out the two data analysis courses from Pricewaterhouse Coopers on They’re a blast – I just finished them. You can audit for free or pay about $55.00 per month to get formal certificates at the end of each course. They’re really fun!

    4. Ranon*

      Are you learning things? If so, sounds like it’s worth it! I agree with other comments- self teaching is great, but it can leave gaps- I’ve wound up with all sorts of strange workarounds in various programs because I was self taught and didn’t know the “correct” way.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        I am! Even if it doesn’t help me on the timed assessment, I will at least have learned some new useful stuff, I suppose. Which makes me feel LESS crazy (now that I’m thinking about it).

  25. Zona the Great*

    I posted a couple of times in the Friday thread asking you all how you would have handled past oddities that have occurred in my worklife over the years. I’ve spoken a little about this experience over the past few months but I would love to know how you might have handled this.

    I was a first time manager overseeing resort shuttle drivers. A particularly annoying long time colleague begged me to hire her son. I did (Yuge mistake but that is not the point). On his first day, we held a training. I walked in and said, “Good Morning” and he responded with utter vitriol by saying, “it’s not a good morning! I just lost my steering column in my car and had to hitchhike here!”. Um, okay. I had no clue how to respond.

    When someone introduced themselves to him that day, they asked him if he had ever driven a bus. His response was to exclaim with a very indignant and annoyed tone, “My father has driven every vehicle out there!” as if the person should have known that driving skills are passed down through DNA.

    He spent the entire training yawning–but not just any old yawns. They were head-cocked-back, mouth-wide-open, forcing out a very loud noise accompanied by saliva being pushed out of the back of his throat, extremely bad breath that we all could smell, and we could all see his fillings in his teeth. These 15 second yawns were completely disruptive.

    All of this was in his first day. He lasted a week and I had to tell him never to come back. Would you have let him go right away? Would you have brought up all the weird things he did? Would you just say “bad fit” and ask him to leave?

    1. post turkey day yay*

      Wow. With all of that, I wonder if it was self-sabotage, as in, his mom pressured him into the job, but he didn’t want to do it, so he did his best to get fired from it as soon as possible.

      1. Zona the Great*

        If I didn’t know a little about him, I would agree with this. However, I have interacted with him on several occasions since then and he is just simply an oddball with very poor social skills. He once shouted out to me through a crowded local grocery store, “F*ck Zona’s Ski Valley!” which was actually meant as a friendly greeting to get me to engage with him on a friendly level…?!?

        1. LGC*

          Did you let him know about his behavior? I’m guessing you did, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. From the “poor social skills” thing, it sounds like he’s extremely oblivious. (And Mom knew this and thought her darling baby would be safe at your job.)

          I think you handled it well, though – you gave him a bit of a chance, but cut him loose pretty early.

          1. Zona the Great*

            No I never did. He actually had to be let go for reasons beyond my control. It was discovered that he lied previously in an official capacity to the company (like on his application or resume). While that was happening, he kept saying he was sure it would all work itself out. It did in the form of him being fired.

            I have no idea how he would have handled a conversation in which anyone tells him almost all his behaviors are unacceptable in society. Likely would lose all control and go on a twitter rampage or something.

            1. Kathenus*

              With this extra layer of information and unprofessionalism from him, I doubt talking to him would have mattered because it seems like he has so many issues to deal with related to being a good employee.

              But if you had wanted to address it, I wouldn’t worry about his behavior related to society or even overall workplace norms, and just stick to it being inappropriate at this job. Letting him know that xx and yy behaviors were unprofessional (and why if possible) and that behavior zz was disruptive and rude (looking at you yawning). Just addressing why they aren’t acceptable at this company is all you need to even try to convey, not your job to make him a better citizen.

              If this was someone who seemed just innocent and naive, I’d potentially offer advice and coaching, but this kid seems like he just doesn’t care, and in that case he wouldn’t be worth my extra time.

              1. Zona the Great*

                Thanks for your comment. I often have trouble turning off my desire to fix people or to at least get through to them that they are wrong. It’s such a problem for me that it takes a lot of time to discover what my true intention is.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  People who want to do better will tell you in some way.
                  Usually they start by saying/showing they are nervous. This means they want to do a good job. The people who are not nervous…. watch them. I have seen two people out of the many folks I have trained who were not nervous. They were massively messy like you show here.

                  The people who want to progress pay attention, they take notes or ask to keep samples for a reference and they ask questions. These are the people to keep, the ones who show concern about doing the job correctly. There are many ways of showing concern, so it’s a good idea to watch for shows of concern.

                  This guy needed help on the remedial level. The yawning, the way he greeted you were so far removed from norms that you can assume he will need a lot of guidance. Then it becomes how much guidance do you have time for? And really the number one question is do you want to make your crew put up with this? As a leader we have to always be thinking about what we are putting our crew through.

                  In the past when a person has so much going on with them, I have seen companies pick one thing, such as tardiness. They fire on the basis of that one thing.

            2. LGC*


              Kathenus is mostly on point, though – the problem isn’t so much that Fergus shouldn’t be allowed out in polite society as it is that he was really disruptive to your training, and that should be the focus. But I don’t think you have to fix a Fergus – just make him aware that he needs to check himself.

              Also, prioritize! Like, to use Fergus again, his yawning seems like more of an immediate issue than his halitosis. (…okay, you could probably chain both of those together.)

              (Final disclaimer: I work in vocational rehab, so my standards for what is workable are skewed.)

        1. Wishing You Well*

          I would have said “bad fit” and have him leave. It would have been a huge wasted effort to try to educate him on appropriate behavior and your advice could have easily boomeranged on you with his mother.
          A different type of employee might have benefited from constructive criticism, but not this guy.

          1. valentine*

            “That’s unacceptable. While you’re here, you need to be polite and kind to others, not shout, cover your mouth when you yawn, and maintain a library-like quiet.” I’m a baseball fan, so I like three strikes, but two might’ve done it because just the response to your greeting means we’d be fools to inflict him on anyone.

            “My father has driven every vehicle out there!”
            He’s hired! (No, but how did he drive them? How many wrecks has he had? Would MADD party with him?)

            I love this: he kept saying he was sure it would all work itself out. It did in the form of him being fired.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          “it’s not a good morning! I just lost my steering column in my car and had to hitchhike here!”.

          Sounds rough. Well, glad you made it.

          “My father has driven every vehicle out there!”

          Good to know. What have *you* driven?

          He spent the entire training yawning.

          this is trickier, because he might not be able to control it. I might be tempted to an “I’m sorry, are we boring you?” But I’d probably let it go.

  26. Unreal*

    There’s jobs going where I work – one is what I’m doing as a temp – but is less than what I can offer and I think I’d be bored if it was long term. Theres also a role I’d consider (on paper) a leap – but also it probably would be somewhat challenging (which I kinda need to be engaged). I need to ask what I’d be qualified for and what to apply for with my boss but so far have chickened out. I need some framework to use and also to deal with some major imposter syndrome. Can anyone help?

    1. CM*

      I think it’s important to ask yourself what you want and to answer that question independently of asking “What do I think I can get?” and “What do other people think I deserve?” Those things also matter when you’re deciding how to approach a job application, but they shouldn’t override the question of what you actually want to be doing for work.

      If you want to be doing Job 2, then maybe the right approach would be to mention that to your manager and talk about whether s/he thinks you have a chance of getting that job if you apply — and, if not, what kind of skills and experience are missing from your CV. This is good information to have, even if you end up looking for similar work at other companies.

      If you don’t particularly want Job 1, but yo think you could get it, the question is, would you rather take Job 1 to stabilize your income, even though you didn’t like it and were planning to leave as soon as you found something else, or would you rather shake hands at the end of your temp contract and walk away to look for another job somewhere else.

      Having the discussion about Job 2 could help you figure that out, because maybe doing Job 1 for a year or two would leave you better positioned to apply for something like Job 2 later on.

      If, however, you don’t actually WANT either of these jobs, and you’re just trying to pick the least bad thing out of what you see on offer, I think it’s important to consider what you actually DO want and try to map out a career trajectory that will take you closer to that thing.

      Good luck. :)

    2. mandassassin*

      I have a tip that may help with getting yourself to the point of actually asking. Whenever I have to ask for something that makes me nervous, I tell myself that I already have no [x], and the worst thing that can happen is that I will still have no [x].
      For you, Unreal, you already don’t have this interesting job – the worst that can happen is that you still won’t have that particular job. No change.
      By asking, the best thing that can happen is cool new job. With not asking, the best and worst outcomes are the same – no job.
      It’s perfectly reasonable for you to ask about these jobs. Assuming your boss is decent, it won’t be a big deal at all – even though it feels that way on your side of it!

  27. Talvi*

    I’m approaching the end of a short-term, temporary position and I’m not sure if I should list the job as [month 2018] – present (which I would do with regular/permanent positions), or as [month 2018] – [month 2019] (because my end date is already known). Would listing a date in the future look weird, even if it was already fixed when I was hired? Does it make a difference that I’ve labelled this position as “temporary” on my resume – will employers want to know just how soon my current position is intended to end, for availability? Because of how my position/project is funded, I can’t be extended, so my end date won’t change.

    1. Snubble*

      I’d include the date and then also the reason, so it would look like “spout technician, May 2018-April 2019 (fixed term contract)”. I don’t think it would confuse anyone and it handily explains both why you’re looking and when you expect to be available. I put a note like that on the kind of applications that ask why you left previous positions.

    2. Chuck*

      I think it would look fine to have the future date as an end date. People do it all the time with graduation dates, for instance. Especially since you list the position as temporary, employers will know what’s going on, and that way they’ll already know why you’re leaving your current position.

  28. miap93*

    Has anyone here has this problem. Last year I applied at a company I did my last college internship at and it became my dream job. I applied for the position of teapot designer two weeks before my graduation. About two months later I had contacted the Human Resources Manager named Arya and she told me that the position is available but they were busy with their restructuring exercise and higher priorities, but Arya told me that she would pass along my application to the hiring managers. Then in January I had received a call from the company’s administrative assistant named Sansa contacted me by phone and told me she had found my application and told me she had planned to called me back later that evening to schedule an interview, I waited for two days and nothing. So I called Arya and told her about it but I was unable to hear it had unclear understanding of what she had said so I am concerned whether I had missed the interview without realizing. A few months later I had met a networking contact on LinkedIn from the company named Jane and I explained the situation to her and a few months later I was told by her that the teapot designer position was still open from the supervisor named Fergus from that area whom I am still on great terms with all I have to do was to contact Arya again. When I contacted the company last month I was told by Sansa that the positions were opened, but the company was rushing to hire did to a season of slow customer sales and Arya was out of office for a few days and earlier this week I called but Sansa
    told me that Arya was unavailable and I left a message but she still has not gotten back to me as yet. I was thinking about trying again next week but I am worried that Arya may think I am disorganised or desperate and maybe blacklisted from the company’s pipeline. By the way I had also applied for other jobs elsewhere and about to send out about five other resumes, but I want this one the most can someone help me?

    1. post turkey day yay*

      I think you should let it rest and assume there isn’t a job. If there is a job, they know how to contact you for an interview.

      Because also, if they expect this level of organization from you in order to get them to hire you, that sounds like a lot of red flags.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      To me this sounds like a disorganized and indecisive company. If you worked there it would probably take you a year to find out if you had health insurance or if you could take a vacation day. Eh, I might be worried if it would take me a year to get a paycheck.

      I understand you love the place. But sometimes we need to take a second look and see what the place actually is.

      If I were in this position I would be worried that I had contacted them too much and they had written me off because of it. Stop contacting them, send out your other applications and keep moving forward. If they call you, well that is a bonus. If they don’t call at least you prepared for worst case scenario.

    3. Oops I forgot*

      I’d email Fergus directly because you have a relationship. Keep it simple. Then drop it and mentally move on. If Fergus (who knows you and it’s his headcount) wants you, he’ll make it happen to get you interviewed.

  29. Nacho*

    I work customer service in a call center, Technically, between calls, we’re supposed to be working on emails, but as anybody who works in a call center will tell you, a lot of us spend some of that time reading the news (not all, we get a decent amount of work done too). My teammates have told me that our team lead doesn’t mind it, and while nobody’s ever explicitly asked her, they do it all the time right in front of her and she never says anything. The problem is that another TL does mind it, and the way our desks are set up, my computer is one of the only ones in his field of vision.

    Should I talk to my boss and ask for explicit permission to do this thing that is obviously against the rules, but which everybody does anyways? Or not, and suffer being the only one not allowed to do it because of where I sit until the next seat change?

    1. Nancy*

      I think you risk either messing up a good thing for those who have it, or getting the permissive TL (your lead) in trouble. It is one thing to look the other way when someone is doing something minor against the rules, it is another to give someone explicit permissions to break the rules. By asking her explicit permission you take away her plausible deniability.

      Also, just because she has never said anything does not mean it is OK. If everyone knows the rules, a supervisor shouldn’t have to tell someone not to do something when they know that the person knows they should not be doing it. Your co-workers might be in for a shock come performance reviews.

      So, crappy as it may be, you should probably just deal with the fact that you are literally not in a position to read the news for now.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        By asking her explicit permission you take away her plausible deniability.

        I wanna highlight this, because I’ve seen exactly this happen more than once, in a lot of different work and non-work contexts.

        Yes, it sucks that because of where you’re sitting, you can’t take advantage the way others do — but that’s kind of an unfortunate truth of the working world. You’re gonna have to suck it up until the next seat change, unfortunately, or you risk wrecking it for everyone.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Nine times out of ten, the way these things play out is that I would end up having to play by the rules. Time passes and I would get used to it. Then the big crack down would come and everyone had to follow the rules. The outcry was incredible. Constant moaning and complaining followed next. Meanwhile, I sat there pretty smug because I had the “unfortunate” circumstances of having to follow the rules right along.

      My older, more professional opinion is, if someone is giving me a day’s pay then I owe them a day’s work. If other people don’t work that way that is their’s to sort out, not mine. My experience has been that if supervisors do not enforce the rules they end up being told they must. It takes time for it to all play out.

    3. valentine*

      It’s not obvious by their movement or lack thereof they’re not doing email? Can you let the news go and improve your email metrics, then keep them up despite a future seat change?

  30. Elizabeth*

    I’m looking for ways to help my DH, and I’m needing help in not letting his woes affect me as much as they have been.

    We’ve both been with our respective employers for 24 years. I generally enjoy my job (healthcare IT), and I’m highly trusted. DH used to enjoy his job & be trusted (IT in higher education). Recently, he’s been absolutely miserable. There has been staff turnover at the management level. He was mistakenly forwarded an email by his new boss from the boss’ boss that included a lot of negative comments about him.

    He’s been looking at a low key level for a while. I’ve told him that he needs to ramp up the search. He’s very picky about what he wants to do, who he wants to work for and where in the country he wants to work. I’ve told him that if getting out of the situation he’s in requires moving, we’ll figure it out. I can stay and deal with the house while I work on getting to the 25-year mark if it means that he’s not unhappy all the time.

    The big problem with his misery is that I’m really the only person he has to dump it on. Every night and every drive to work is a litany of everything that is wrong and how little respect people have for him. It makes him feel better to vent (at least temporarily), but it is emotionally draining to me. It has an impact on my ability to get work done, because I don’t have the mental or emotional energy to give to it.

    I need strategies to help him get motivated to get through this, and I need strategies for myself to not be overwhelmed all the time by his problems.

    1. Gloucesterina*

      That’s rough! It sounds in part like he needs to have a plan to connect with people who are not you (ideally colleagues in the same field but at other workplaces). Could he attend a professional conference or connect/tap into professional organization related to his field? That said, I’m new to my field so my sense of opportunities for building or tapping a colleague network may be very out of whack since you and he are ‘senior’ in your respective fields.

      1. Gloucesterina*

        And if urging him to do things has gotten nowhere, maybe you just do the connecting with colleagues in your field for yourself (that is, if you’re not already, then ignore this spitballing!). At best, those connections and conversations serve as an outlet for stress for you. And seeing you do it might entice him to do so, but I think that’s unlikely and also kind of gross idea (that adults could so easily be swayed, even into ‘desirable’ behaviors) but that’s possibly just my personal hangup :)

    2. Psyche*

      I think you need to tell him that while you understand that it helps him to vent, it is making you feel worse and you cannot deal with being his emotional dumping ground anymore. Tell him that if he wants your help in actually working on the problems then you are there for him, but if he wants to vent he needs to get a diary or a therapist. That is a reasonable boundary to draw.

      1. Gloucesterina*

        Yes, I agree with Psyche that this is step 1; my thoughts are more spitballing around the edges of the issue!

      2. Anon From Here*

        I agree 2807423% with this comment. Nothing wrong with one spouse opening up and expressing frustrations to the other, but it’s not the sole job of a spouse and it’s not what you should have to be doing as frequently as described.

        1. Isotopes*

          This sort of thing actually contributed (partially) to the breakdown of my marriage. You can’t use your spouse as a dumping ground. It’s important to spread it out a little bit. Does your husband have friends? Is he in any kind of therapy? That sort of thing might help. There are even free apps you can use to just vent to a stranger and they’ll respond.

          I’d start out with a very explicit conversation, stating what you can handle. “I’m ok for us to take 30 minutes to vent at the end of the day, but I can’t handle it first thing in the morning. Maybe we just listen to silly radio DJs in the morning, and we have a limit to this kind of talk after work.” And then set the limits. And let him know that it’s very important to you. This should be a safe, respected boundary for you to set.

      3. WellRed*

        I a gree with this. Also, if he must vent, can you declare a vent free zone, time ir space wise? No venting on the car ride to work, for example. The issues are larger, but sometimes it helps to tackle in smaller bites.

      4. Anonymoosetracks*

        I had to do this with my DH for awhile. I just explained that the emotional labor of being his dumping ground was burning me out too much, that I was willing to help if there were actionable things I could do but that I couldn’t just be a passive audience for vents anymore and watch him hate his job but not take any steps to help himself.

        It helped us both and now he has an awesome new job!

      5. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

        I second this comment! My husband recently had to tell me this (I have been venting a lot about my sister lately), and it did hurt my feelings a wee bit at first, but as I thought more about it, I realized that constantly dumping on him about my sibling issues wasn’t fair and/or pleasant. Drawing some venting boundaries would probably be a good idea.

    3. Steve*

      It may help him feel better in the moment, but all that negativity is likely bad for him overall. If he can’t change the bad things, then if I were you I’d request that they be cut out of your conversations. If he wants to discuss coping strategies or how to improve on processes or whatever… then great, but it sounds like he just wants to dump his problems on someone else and in reality he’s just doubling the negativity as he isn’t any better (he might say that he is, but if he was then he wouldn’t be doing the same thing every day) and you’re a lot worse.

      I wouldn’t push him on applying to more places (don’t add to your workload of pushing on him), but I would cut him off.

      Oooooh, or how about you work out a deal where he can complain to you for 15 mins, or an hour (whatever seems reasonable), for every application he submits? That won’t be an option for everyone, but might give him the motivation needed…

    4. Kathenus*

      Building on what a lot of other commenters are saying, but with an addition. I think venting can be cathartic, but only if it’s controlled/limited, and if it’s the first step in a problem-solving process. Like letting out excess pressure from the safety release valve before proceeding.

      So could you put some structure around it – “DH, I know that you’re frustrated, and that letting it out might be helpful, but it alone won’t help resolve the situation. It’s also really draining on me to only hear negative things without any positive solutions. How about there’s a 15 minute period before dinner/in the car/after work for venting and letting out the frustrations of the day, and then we take 15 minutes to brainstorm solutions and steps to move forward to something more productive”.

    5. Book Lover*

      This struck me:

      ” It makes him feel better to vent (at least temporarily), but it is emotionally draining to me. ”

      I used to vent about stuff at home. I finally was (quite gently) told that it was exhausting for everybody else and that I needed to stop. I thought venting was helpful, but it really wasn’t – it just dragged whatever the vent was into my home life as well as into my work life. Stopping talking about work at home (except for the good/interesting stuff) was really healthy for me.

      I think if you can encourage him not to vent to you, that would really help both of you, not just you.

      1. valentine*

        Seconding CA rec. Elizabeth, you’re taking on too much for him. Suggest therapy or literally anyone else for him to talk at, but it’s keeping you both in that negative space and he’s snowballing it by gathering material and filling his stage time. Come up with different acceptable scenarios and present them. Any dealbreakers? Timeframes? How does his pickiness serve you? Either the job changed or he didn’t choose well, so, a break from his SOP may help. Can you drive separately for a bit and carve out solitary evening time? If you do that for a few weeks, I think the peace will both give you a boost and be something you prioritize.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      I find that “so what are you going to do about it” can help cut off a good vent. No one likes to be cut off mid-vent with advice, but changing the subject to how they’re going to fix things can sometimes work.

    7. lobsterp0t*

      1. Can he get a therapist or coach? He should.
      2. Set boundaries. DH, I have x minutes of work related venting in me this morning. Then I need to focus on positive things to get through my own busy day.
      3. Set conditions on the conversation – just don’t enable him to continually revisit the same issues. Captain Awkward has a lot of good scrips for this type of thing, but it’s really about just saying to someone, I care and want to help you move forward, but I am all talked out about this same recurring issue/rumination. If you want help planning your next move, come talk to me!
      4. His motivation is his own. You might need to accept that he lacks that motivation and that he’s happier to stay in a disappointing job than to look – but if that’s his choice, he doesn’t get to complain about it endlessly – especially not to you!

    8. Double A*

      A little late commenting here, but does his job have an EAP? That might be a great resource for finding a therapist or counsellor.

  31. Gloucesterina*

    For those in fields where long cover letters are the norm (by long I mean 1.5 page to even up to 2 pages), how do you keep the reader from falling asleep?

    Or: is the assumption that one can only be so engaging in a context where you are expected to highlight a good deal of your experience in the cover letter in order to be clear about how you are speaking to the requirements enumerated in the job posting. In my context, the list of required qualification and desired qualifications on top of the job duties listed in the posting can be very long indeed.


    1. Gloucesterina*

      And just to clarify – I have been specifically advised by people who have sat on hiring committees in this field (multiple different orgs), including at trainings designed to help people applying for jobs in the field, that such long cover letters are indeed the norm. This is not my perception based on seeing an example or two; it is a real expectation in the field that I’d love your advice in working with!

    2. fposte*

      Longer cover letters are the norm in my field. I’d say you keep the reader from falling asleep by writing it decently–many people read books that are hundreds of pages long without falling asleep :-).

      Have a look at the examples of good cover letters Alison has posted here over the years (the “cover letters” tag will probably bring them up). Most of all, I’d say, think about structure–this shouldn’t just be an expanded list or an expansion of your resume history. Maybe decide you’ll have a set number of paragraphs–say, five–and decide what the point of each will be, and how those points work together and what kind of trajectory you can convey. Paragraphs should usually be at least three sentences, but they shouldn’t get so long that readers will get lost, either. If you’re like me and like to write five-line sentences, try to keep them a little shorter. You’re trying to sound like you, but you at your punchiest–how you’d describe your candidacy when you had twenty minutes and your listener had had a long day, not an hour with somebody first thing. So you’re flagging things a little more explicitly, prioritizing the clarity of transitions, cutting extraneous stuff from sentences if you tend to wander, etc. Depending on your tastes, you could either start by brainstorming or by outlining, but both can be useful steps.

      Hope that helps some–good luck!

      1. Gloucesterina*

        fposte – thank you for your advice!

        I especially like the ‘you at your punchiest’ line. I was having trouble squaring the samples I was seeing on AAM (which, in my view, really sparkle with the writer’s personality as professional, in part because they are so brief, and well, punchy) with speaking to these long lists of required and desired qualifications. Reframing the rhetorical goal as ‘punchy for me’/’punchy for my context that calls for a certain degree of comprehensiveness’ is really helpful

      2. deesse877*

        This is good advice. Only thing I’d add is: pay attention to the order of your paragraphs, such that the crucial skillset **for that specific job** comes first, then the secondaries, then the “nice to have” stuff last. Don’t assume a uniform order for the entire field.

        1. Gloucesterina*

          Yes, of course it makes sense to tailor the structure to the particulars and priorities of the posting, deessee877, thanks! My concern is less about the overall structure, then how to speak to those particulars and priorities while keeping the prose relatively fleet of foot (which is hard to talk about in the abstract!).

  32. ThatGirl*

    I’m trying not to think about it this weekend but I’m frustrated, I’ve been at my current job for not even 18 months and am now the most experienced (at this job) person on my team, including the team lead. One person left for a new job, two people got transferred to other teams, and two were let go. We hired one new person (who I ended up doing my best to train in a very chaotic week) and a new team lead and I thought we would make it through the holidays. Then this week my TL said my last experienced coworker was switching teams and a new person is starting Monday. I have to train her too. I don’t love training people and it means less time to deal with other things. And it’s extremely busy right now!
    The only good part is that my manager knows my skills are underused and that this isn’t really what I was hired for. Ugh.

  33. Chuck*

    tl;dr Would it be appropriate for me to give my coworkers/bosses thank-you cards on Christmas?

    Long version: I’m a new grad (May 2018) in my first professional job as an admin assistant at a medical school. One of my coworkers told me that while individual, inexpensive Christmas gifts* are not uncommon, it’s also not uncommon to just bring a bunch of baked goods for the office. I plan on doing the latter anyway. However, the other people in my department have been really kind and helpful to me. Besides just the help and advice everyone has given as I learned how the professional world works, they gave me ~$200 to help with my move this summer (probably not realizing I move apartments every year) as well as a few pieces of furniture.

    I’m pretty awkward, don’t express my emotions very strongly, and worry that I don’t come off as sufficiently grateful/happy. I want to write cards for the other admins, as well as the chair and vice-chair of the department–everyone who I work most closely with and who gave me move-in money–thanking them for their help and saying how much I’ve enjoyed working with them over the past several months. Would this be appropriate?

    *I’m aware some people don’t celebrate Christmas (my roommate is Jewish and our apartment is Christmas-free) but Christmas is treated as The Holiday Celebration at work, despite having a few Muslim and Hindu residents/faculty. While I’ve made a point of saying “not everyone celebrates Christmas” when this kind of thing comes up, I do not have the standing to change the department culture.

    1. post turkey day yay*

      If you want to give people thank you cards, I’d divorce it from Christmas and not have it be “giving someone a christmas card”, because that might be awkward for reasons you listed. But a nice thank you e-mail saying “it’s been great working with you and I really wanted to reach out and thank you for your help in getting me started in my new job, especially with X, Y, and Z”, maybe?

      But honestly, I’ve worked with a bunch of new grads and it’s part of my job. I’ve clicked with a few of them, but I’d feel a little awkward getting a card from them thanking them for the help. But I’m also an awkward person who is uncomfortable with displays of emotion, so everyone’s mileage is gonna vary.

    2. purple otter*

      Yes, thank you cards are fine to your coworkers are fine. You could give them to any coworker any time of the year and they would be appropriate, regardless of religion or holidays. If you’re in the US, giving these cards around Thanksgiving does seem rather apt.

    3. Asenath*

      I suppose it depends on the workplace, but in mine it’s quite common to give cards at Christmas, and people use anything from non-religious “winter holiday” types to the religious kind, so cards can be chosen for all potential givers and recipients. So in my workplace, it wouldn’t be out of the way to add a line or two about how much you appreciate their kindness in addition to “Best wishes for the holidays” (or whatever else you consider appropriate).

    4. Susan K*

      I think that would be appropriate. In my department, it is kind of a tradition for managers to give holiday cards to their direct reports, and they often write something nice (work-related) in the cards. It seems to go over pretty well with everyone. It’s a good time to put your sentiments in a card because there’s a lot of card-exchanging going on that time of year anyway, so it could feel a little less awkward than just handing someone a random thank-you card out of the blue.

    5. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      We exchange Christmas cards at my workplace, and I usually write in some sort of thank you message/I’ve enjoyed working with you message. I just make sure to purchase cards that don’t allude to anything religious. People seem to appreciate the cards that they receive. I don’t think you would be off-base to do this at all.

    6. Kathenus*

      I think it can be a great idea. Last year for my team of direct reports, in addition to a small gift for each of them I wrote a personalized message in their cards about why I enjoyed working with them that year. I got more thanks for the notes than for the gifts. And I still have a thank you card from someone I used to mentor, and every time I read it it brings a smile to my face. A sincere, personal message can be a wonderful thing. You can choose to make it Christmas or holiday, or just in a generic card, at your preference.

    7. LilySparrow*

      I don’t see how a sincere thank-you note could ever be a bad thing.
      One thing I’ve done at jobs where some co-workers don’t celebrate Christmas is to switch over my personal card & gift focus to New Year’s. There are a lot of nice Happy New Year cards out there, or I’ve even repurposed some that just said things like “Peace On Earth” and written Happy New Year in my note. If you’re working the last week of the year, you can do it then.

      People are so inundated with Christmas decor, music, gifts, parties, sugar, etc etc etc (what I sometimes refer to as Reindeer Vomit), nobody is likely to notice if you wait an extra week to hand your cards out.

    8. Chuck*

      Thanks, everyone, for the advice! To clarify a couple of things: Christmas cards are common around here, so even though I don’t know the exact workplace culture around them I feel like cards themselves would be inconspicuous around then. And I definitely wasn’t planning on giving out anything religious (I’m not Christian).

      I think I’ll stick to “happy holidays”-type stuff and give the cards out either after our week off or whenever I see the people in question distributing presents. (We are closed 24th-28th and for New Year’s, so it would land on New Year’s Eve.)

  34. Ellie*

    How do you indicate on your resume that you haven’t changed jobs, but the job (specifically, the title and a few new tasks) changed? If I spent 5 years doing X job, then at the beginning of the 6th year my employer changes the title to Y job, how do I show that? Do o slow it at all, or just list all my time there as Y job?

    1. fposte*

      You did change jobs. The title changed and your obligations changed. The fact that you didn’t seek it out doesn’t matter. Treat it the same as a promotion on your resume.

    2. post turkey day yay*

      I start a new list for that job, especially when the title and tasks change.

      Job 1
      Employer 1
      Bullet points of what I did and how awesome I am

      Job 2
      Employer 1
      Bullet points

    3. Lena Clare*

      I write:
      -Dates job 1
      –Responsibilities and achievements

      -Dates job 2
      –Responsibilities and achievements

        1. Lupin Lady*

          What if your responsibilities and achievements stayed the same, the company simple changed the title of the position?

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Then I’d probably do

            Current Title (formerly Previous Title)
            – achievement 1
            – achievement 2

  35. namechangeforreasons*

    I’m four montha into a new job and it’s not working. I’ve worked 60+ hours this week and I’m not even done. Last night I was working until 3am, desperately trying to catch up. The work isn’t hard but there is a lot of it and it’s difficult to understand. The industry is new to me and I’m failing, which is something I’ve never done before. I’m usually excellent at my job. The managers here are not nice people and yell/belittle a lot, which is making me withdraw. I’m so sick and anxious in the mornings I’m arriving late because I’m dreading it so much.

    My last role was >1 year so I can’t leave. I can’t job search again, plus I don’t want to leave as a failure. I’m so sad and angry with myself. Can I turn this around?

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I think you get a pass when a job turns out to be a terrible place to work and makes you feel bad. I’d start looking for something better right away. No sense in torturing yourself out of some sense of duty if your bosses are not worth your loyalty.

    2. Ellie*

      Pick up and go, hopefully with another job lined up, but go. I once worked under a belittler, and the number it does on your mental health ….

    3. Little Miss Crankypants*

      Yes, you can leave. You’re in charge of your work life and career, not them. If the manager are belittling and unable to provide adequate support for your duties and/or the workload is unreasonable (and it sounds like it is), then these are not folks you have to stick around to please.

      You can job search, yes, you can. You’re in charge here. You’re not a failure.

      Do something truly FUN for yourself this weekend, whatever that might be. Take a ceramics class. Go horseback riding. Go hang gliding. Something physical and fun that will force your concentration on This Moment Right Now, and I’ll bet you’ll feel better afterward. It’ll let your brain clean out the gunk of this shitty job.

      You can leave. You’re in charge. :)

    4. Close Bracket*

      You’re not a failure. The JOB is a failure. They knew you were new to the industry when you started. If they were serious about making you successful in your role, they would be supporting you. You said the managers yell and belittle you, so I won’t suggest going to them for help. Just start the job search.

      1. Pear*

        Yes, you can leave. No, you are not a failure. You’ve found a job mismatch.

        I think working 60 plus hour weeks, not being able to get ahead, having management and co-workers that are not nice to borderline toxic – that would definitely leave ME demoralized.

        I would probably cut back on the number of hours I dedicate to the job. Remember, someone did that job before you go there (even if it’s a new position – someone did it that they had to decide to create the position) and someone will do that after you leave. I would do 89 percent of my best, but always keep in mind that your health (mental, physical, social) is of the utmost importance.

        And when you’re not there, do not think about it. This is the hardest part for me, but remember you are a star in your own life. Your ability to spend your working career in a place you don’t dread going to – a deep down, forcing yourself to get out of the car/off the bus/off the train and actually walking in there – is more important.

        And when you get an interview – and you will – you can tell the interviewer you’ve learned a great deal (with examples) or if you haven’t learned anything, then you learned something about yourself.

        Good luck.

    5. Gloucesterina*

      Sorry this is happening, namechangeforreasons! I’m pretty sure AAM has an article somewhere about situations that workers sometimes mistake for job-hopping. I believe that it argues that true jobhopping is a pattern across somebody’s career and not just a response to an untenable and horrible situations. I wonder if anyone can come up with the link!

  36. monster*

    I have a job that resulted not to have much to do with what was described in the job ad. I’ve tried clarifying it with my bosses of course but after a year it’s clear I need to go. Also, the environment is really toxic.

    I’ve now got an offer from somewhere else. The position is interesting. It’s in a field that I have had a bit of experience with during my jobs so far, but which wasn’t the focus of these positions. I was offered a position of a team manager, which would be one step up from my current title. I would be responsible for several people. The company is twice as big (about 20k employees worldwide) as my current one.

    However, the position doesn’t really pay well. It just pays 5% more than my current position in the first 2 years and I would work 20-40% more than currently. I just have a few years of professional experience so I think every position I take on should pay more as my experience grows. What do you think?

    I accepted the offer verbally (not binding in my country) but now I need to sign the contract and I have my doubts. I would be able to sustain myself with the salary, it’s just that there would be no salary progression for me.

    I don’t really have alternatives. I’ve been applying for 3-5 months intensively, but other offers were even worse.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s okay to make a move for reasons other than significant salary growth. At this point, do you want to sacrifice possibilities for the sake of an abstract principle?

    2. Psyche*

      Basing your salary expectations on your salary history is not the best plan. For example, if you are overpaid at your current job (not saying you are), then you essentially would not be considering any jobs that pay market rate because they wouldn’t be an increase in salary. It makes sense to consider your current salary when deciding whether you want to keep your current job or take the new one, but you should base your salary exceptions on the market rate for the job.

      You also need to consider opportunities for advancement. It sounds like there isn’t much at your current position. Would the new job have more opportunities for promotion? How long do people typically stay in the position?

      Honestly, you sound very unhappy with your current job and the salary is at least not going down. If all your other offers have been worse I would probably take the new job in your position.

      1. monster*

        Hi Psyche. Thanks.

        I’m not overpaid. Actually, even independently from my tasks and environment in the current job, my salary is not very attractive and when accepting the position last year I had huge doubts linked to the salary.

        On the other hand, most other companies pay even less – although I’ve competed for companies offering much more too.

        1. Psyche*

          I really wasn’t trying to say that you are overpaid, just pointing out why basing salary expectations on your current salary is a flawed system. I probably should have pointed out the other side too in that if you are underpaid you shouldn’t accept less just because it is an increase over what you currently make. Essentially I don’t think that the statement that “every position I take on should pay more as my experience grows” is necessarily true. Sometimes a lateral move is worth it.

    3. CM*

      When I’m trying to make a decision like this, sometimes it helps me to list out the options I have (and not the options I hope to have in the future) and then pick the best one. Based on what you said, it sounds like you’ve got four options right now:

      — stay at your current job and keep searching
      — accept this new job and keep searching
      — accept this new job and try to stay at it for a while
      — leave your current job without another job lined up

      I can’t tell you want the exact calculus is on each of those options, since I don’t know your situation, but I think you need to weigh it out and decide which option feels best. But, whatever you do, don’t compare it to a hypothetical situation where you find the exact job you want and go there instead.

      The tricky part is in differentiating the second and third options on the list. If you know in your heart that you’re not willing to do this new job for the amount of money they offered you, then essentially you’re going there just to improve your immediate situation vis a vis the toxic environment, but you’re still actively job searching. It kind of sucks for them, but it might be the right choice for you — I can’t decide that.

      In option three, maybe you have some reservations about the new job, but there’s a possibility it will all work out once you’re there. So, in that situation, you’re cautiously stepping into it with the hope that it will turn out okay, but you’re prepared to start looking again in a few months if it doesn’t work out.

      Good luck.

  37. Jack Be Nimble*

    We had a bit of a situation at my work, not excited for the follow-up Monday.

    I’m relatively new in an HR role, and was just trained on our offer letter process. My coworker Sam forwarded me an exchange between several people regarding an offer, and asked me to create the offer letter. I do, using the salary of $X that was indicated in the form, and it goes out to the candidate automatically (our system sends the letter as soon as it’s generated, which is…bad.)

    Almost immediately, I get an email from the hiring manager that the salary should have been $X-5,000, which was buried in the email chain and Sam hadn’t realized. There was a lot of back and forth, and in the end, they decide just to let the the offer stand at $X.

    A happy ending for the candidate, but I’m dreading the follow-up.

    1. fposte*

      Oof. However, that process sounds like it was asking for trouble from the start. “Dig through this email chain, which contains several different iterations of the salary, and determine which one should be legally binding.” Obviously that’s not what you want to lead with on Monday, but even in my slapdash academic office you wouldn’t just forward an email chain to HR and hope they extract the right figure, and I suspect if your event happened here, the unit now on the hook for $5000 extra would be told, albeit in not so many words, that it’s their own fault for not being clearer.

    2. WellRed*

      I think the follow up is a good time to point out the issue with a system automatically sending off the letter. It seems like a pretty important communication that the hiring manager would want to check before its sent.

      1. post turkey day yay*

        Yeah, at the very least, modifying the system so that it goes around to the hiring manager for one final check would be good.

        Jack Be Nimble, I recommend framing this entirely as a systems issue. “We need a way to make sure all of the information is correct”, maybe it’s a form (which it sounds like you might already have?) and no e-mail chains, and then the final letter gets routed to the hiring manager for a final check.

        1. Psyche*

          Yeah, since there is an official form, the policy should be that a new form needs to be filled out and given to you to enter into the system and not that an incorrect form is given to you with an e-mail chain. You do not need to see an e-mail chain, just the final form.

    3. only acting normal*

      They sent you (& Sam) an HR form with the wrong information on it. That’s their mistake not yours. If they wanted to change something they should have amended the form *before* sending it to HR for action. (And I think that is the lesson for your company to learn from the incident.)
      As for the bad timing, it’s no different than them coming to you with new info after a snail-mail letter was already sent.

  38. The good dilemma*

    Long winded Job dilemma below, any insight from similar situations would be much appreciated :)

    I took up my entry level position at Company 1 about 5 months ago, originally on contract but have since taken up a full time permanent position. While I was still on contract, I applied to a similar position at Company 2, and two months later they have finally invited me in for an interview for a permanent position.

    Company 1 is bigger and more well renowned, while company 2 is slightly smaller, and perhaps slightly less prominent but still well known. As for the work itself, it is pretty much the same. At Company 1, I am responsible for 2 programs with 300 files total, where as at Company 2 I would be responsible for 5 programs with 300 files in total. It would essentially be a lateral move to Company 2, though it might have slightly more responsibility.

    I enjoy my work, colleagues and benefits at Company 1 and it has a good salary, however the cost of living is extremely high in the city of Company 1. Company 2 offers similar salary ($1k less), similar benefits and in a city with a significantly lower cost of living which would give me the chance to save at least an extra $1k/month, though I can’t speak to the work culture or my colleagues here.

    In terms of room to grow, I’d be more inclined to say there is more room to grow in my immediate department at Company 2 based on the fact that the current employees are generally older. At Company 1, I don’t think there will be much movement in my department anytime in the near future. However, there is more opportunity elsewhere in the company, though i’d like to stay in my current department.

    So, hypothetically, if you were to be offered a job at Company 2, would you take it? Are the extra savings worth it to? Or is it better to stay at company 1 which is bigger and more renowned?

    My immediate goals are to build up my savings, but I don’t want to stunt my potential career growth. I’d be looking to move up in the next 1.5-2 years if all goes as planned.

    1. post turkey day yay*

      How important is the city to you? I lived in a cheaper city for a few years to be able to afford to live and work in my desired city, and now that I’m here, I really don’t want to leave, even though I might have to because rent rises faster than any other force in the universe. If you don’t mind the city in Company 2, go for it. The savings will help.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Which city more closely matches the life you would like to have?

      This is a weird thing to say but sometimes I have made decisions based on keeping options available. So the question I ask myself, if choice A did not work out what other options would I have. Then if choice B did not work out what other options would I have. And I compare my list of options. Sometimes it’s very clear which way to go as I don’t want to paint myself into a corner that I cannot get out of. Other times I just like the options for one the most.

    3. ..Kat..*

      My three biggest considerations would be the following:

      1. The culture of company 1 is known to you, and you like it. Company 2 culture is unknown.

      2. How much can you save per month at company 1?

      3. You accepted a full time job offer from company 1 five months ago. Leaving now could burn a bridge with this company.

  39. Laika*

    I’ve just had my three month assessment with my boss and she had nothing but positive feedback for me – happy with my work, complimented my projects, said she’s pleased with my contributions to the team, etc… But for some reason I’m not satisfied with that! I was hoping for more constructive feedback, I guess? I know what *I* think my weaknesses are, but trying to convince my boss I’m a worse employee than she thinks feels counter-intuitive. Any thoughts on this?

    1. fposte*

      I can’t tell if you were hoping for more actionable items or if you’re struggling with impostor syndrome. If it’s the former, you can always go back to your manager and say “I’m really gratified that you’re happy with my work. I would love to have some growth targets, though–if you had to pick one or two areas where I could grow or learn more, what would you point me to?”

      Be aware that your manager may simply not see any flaws that she thinks are worth raising, so I really wouldn’t focus on the “weaknesses” framing–focus on the growth possibilities.

      1. Laika*

        Seeing it in writing, it’s probably more the latter than the former! The position isn’t all that challenging in terms of responsibility/consequence/skill required and I’ve actually held it before in this same company, so my learning curve was pretty shallow. So even though I’m worried that I could be doing “more”, I’m definitely fulfilling all the expectations of the job. But I’ll probably approach her with some variation of your suggested language anyway – there’s always room for growth!

        1. fposte*

          I had a temp job once where they loved me and told me how much better I was than the usual person. My job consisted of carrying microfiche to the other side of the building once or twice a day. God knows what the regular person did–get lost on the way?

          Your position might not be quite so drastic, but it does sound like you feel like you should be doing more than you are. I think, though, that’s your internal expectation for you and not a job expectation, so it might be happier and healthier for you to see this as an opportunity rather than as your secret job failing. Some jobs make you stretch; some jobs leave room for you to seek stretching out. Currently you have the latter, and that’s okay.

            1. Carbovore*

              As someone who (may be) like you and likes to seek out more to do if there’s time/interest, be careful about doing it too much/all the time. I’m currently in year 7 of a job where I added more work to my plate borne out of seeing a hole that needed filling or an interest driving me to work on it and in some ways, it’s really been to my detriment. People came to expect that I would just give 150% on everything and that I would take on any task needed doing instead of them being grateful for the extra mile I was going. It’s something I have continuously worked hard on over the last year to undo and cement more boundaries with and it has NOT been easy so I just wanted to caution you on that…

              You may be like me and hate being bored at work and enjoy doing good work… just make sure to not give all of yourself… people will readily take it and then hold it against you when you can’t give 150% all the time…

  40. Myrin*

    I saw a post on tumblr yesterday giving advice for job hunting and it started with something like “submit your application, then wait one (1) day and call them. Blabla. This will force them to look at your resume”. I immediately realised how spoiled I’ve been by AAM because I had to block the post post-haste or else my blood pressure would’ve risen to dangerous levels (any other time I actually might have added a reply and linked to AAM but I did not have the energy for that yesterday).
    The rest of this post wasn’t even half bad! But what a way to start off a discussion like that!

    1. post turkey day yay*

      The issue on tumblr is no threading. That advice has probably been refuted dozens of times in reblogs, but you don’t see it because the person you saw it from was on a different branch.

      Going back to the post from this morning, I’ve also seen a tumblr post go around telling you to lie on your resume. But that one had a pile-on saying don’t do that. But the nature of tumblr is that most people will not see that.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I bet I could’ve waded through the replies and reblogs and found several actually useful refutations but it’s so tedious on that platform because you have to at least glance at a million stupid additions first to find the good stuff inbetween.

        1. post turkey day yay*

          Yep. Tumblr is great for posting pictures. It sucks for communication. Xkit will show you various things but that doesn’t necessarily help, especially on a post with 100K notes.

  41. Toxic Waste*

    I’ve been given three days to complete a project and after only 4 hours of receiving the assignment, the woman leading the project was on me about how far along I was with it, am I almost done with it…. WTF? Oh, and since my coworker is gone, I had to do other tasks. The woman then told me, “The project is your first priority. Everything else can wait.” Um, excuse me? Are you my boss?

    She then checked in on me while I was working on it 3 times!! I asked if she wanted me to send her what I had so far, but she said no. If she keeps it up, can I tell her to back off? It’s really ticking me off- I don’t need to be told what to work on. I don’t need to be told what to prioritize. Plus I’ve been on the project since June. I know what needs to be done. How do you handle someone like this?

    1. Enough*

      I have a sign up at home that says my anxiety has no basis in your reality. Sounds like you need the flip. Your anxiety has no basis in my reality.

    2. BRR*

      For the checking in, I’d reply with a “I’ll send it to you when it’s done.” If she continues then I’d go with a “I need to be able to focus on this. I’ll send it to you once I’m finished.”

      For a coworker telling me how to prioritize I use something like “I have it covered.”

    3. Psyche*

      I think you need to loop in your boss. Have her verify your priorities and relay that back to the pushing coworker. Let her know when you will get the project to her and when she asks for updates, reiterate when you will get it to her.

    4. Isotopes*

      “I was given three days to complete this process; has something changed in the timelines that requires it to be expedited? If not, I will have it to you by the end of the three day deadline. Thanks!” I’d consider looping your direct boss into it, via email. Get it in writing.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      When she says the project is your first priority just say, “That has to be cleared with my boss. I can’t change my priorities without her approval. I will call/email her right now to confirm what she would like me to do.

      This is a handy card to have up your sleeve. And you play this card the first time you hear someone say that. “I have to clear that with my boss…” I have used it several times over different jobs.

      As far as her checking on me, I might ask her why she is doing it. Or I might skip directly to, “You know every time you ask me that it adds another ten minutes to total project time as I must pick up my derailed thought. So far I have an additional half hour added to estimated time.”

    6. CM*

      You absolutely can tell her to knock it off, but the important question is whether your manager will back you up if or when she tries to go over your head. So, as others have said, you probably want to talk to your boss about this situation specifically, but also how the two of you want to set priorities in general. If you have a good manager, s/he’ll have some kind of process other than “The person who screams loudest gets help first.”

  42. AnotherAlincognito*

    I have had a lot going on over the past couple months with outside applications, interviews, frustration with my current role and uncertainty about where I was going with my company.

    I ended up having a meeting with my boss this week, and he told me that he had been meeting with my grandboss and some other executives about future roles for me. We also got back on track with my current role, I think.

    What was interesting is that he asked me about what I wanted to do next, and I said I didn’t know because I was not sure what would be open to me. Turns out there are more possibilities than I thought. I considered that I was pigeonholed into my current group forever, but other groups want me, too. So, I still don’t know what I want to do, specifically, but I am more confident that I will stay at my company. Someone made the comment on here about talking to my boss last week. Such a legit point. I spent too much time talking to people who aren’t me at work, and what’s true for them isn’t true for me. I had people encouraging me to leave because of their frustrations, but my conversations with our boss went a lot differently. I was pretty close to one of our sales guys, and he was crossed up with boss and grand boss. We shared many of the same aggravations, but mgmt seems to want to help me, while they basically told him he needed to move on, and he went back to a former department without getting any recommendations from our team’s management.

    Also: my husband kept telling me to hang in there and it would lead to something good. They would look out for me. I told him he did not get it because he doesn’t work for a corporation. Turns out he was right. Can’t tell him that, though.

    1. Kathenus*

      Congratulations, sounds like you have a lot of potential for growth and support from your bosses. Great position to be in. And good on you for talking to your boss.

  43. Anon anony*

    In toxic environments, do they play favorites based on exempt and non-exempt? I’ve noticed that some people treat the exempt workers differently than the non-exempt. I don’t know for sure if this is the case, but could it be? (I’m thinking of the “Friends” episode where Joey works at the museum with Ross, but they are separated at lunch…lol)

    1. fposte*

      I suppose they could be, but most people aren’t going to know off the bat who’s in which category. Usually the different treatment stems from the different implications. The exempt employees are often in a different, more managerial track, and you’re burning the midnight oil with other exempt employees, not non-exempt employees, because it costs too much to do it with exempt employees.

    2. Close Bracket*

      Yes. Allow me to repeat, as verbatim as I can remember, my extremely classist and sexist boss, regarding an event that was against the rules but had almost zero impact that was highly likely to happen at our “Rules don’t apply to me” company:

      “That would be a fireable offense for a technician.”

      Yeah, boss, engineers do that shit, too. I notice you don’t include them in the “fireable offense” category.

      Another one, regarding some pretty egregious actions by an engineer as reported by a tech:

      “Well, you only have Tech’s word that Engineer did that.”

      I’ve worked with Tech for a long time, and I have more reason to believe (male) Engineer did those things than I have to believe that Tech is lying. But sure. Let’s jump right to Tech is lying, oh, and also to (female) Close Bracket has no judgement.

      That place was toxic af, and Engineer and Boss were a particularly toxic pair.

      1. fposte*

        Taking the question literally, though, that’s not about exempt and non-exempt, that’s about different statuses, period. There are lots of places that treat people of different status differently, but their FLSA status is not the reason.

    3. Minerva McGonagall*

      Totally the case in my OldToxicJob. I was non-exempt and it was frequently said within our department and others that the non-exempt staff weren’t actually professionals and were never to be considered for a promotion to an exempt role. It sucks but it happens.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      In toxic environments anything is possible, so sure exempt people can be treated differently from non-exempt.

      You see a lot of it in some NPOs. Exempt person does X and “oh that is so funny, hahaha”. Non-exempt person does the same thing and they get fired.

      Years ago, I was unsettled with what I found out about coupons in the mail room. The only people who got the discounts from local businesses were the exempt people. The non-exempts did not receive any coupons. These coupons were for free items or items really reduced. The people who had the money to pay full price were getting the price breaks. The food stamp eligible people never got these offers.

    5. CM*

      Toxic offices always have screwy power dynamics, but their exact shape can change depending on the situation. If you’re in an environment where exempt vs non-exempt is an obvious fault line to use in a power struggle, then it makes sense that that’s where people might focus their toxic energy.

  44. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I am handling Enormous Dogs ™ much better in my side gig of walking them for a neighbor who had surgery! The older ones know I mean business now so I really just have to struggle with the 9 month old.

    Although I ran a 5k this morning (well, powerwalked with intermittent running), and rolled my ankle so I hope I am feeling OK enough to take them out this evening.

    Also, after losing almost 50 pounds, shaved 11 minutes off my time! 58:36 to 47:34.

  45. Px*

    How do you know when you are ready for people management? How can you prepare?

    From reading this blog over time and given that I sometimes feel like I do a fair amount of coaching with certain colleagues – there are times I definitely feel that I might be ready for people management.

    But then I also panic at the thought of having all that responsibility and I’m not sure if the reason I want it is because it’s easy to criticise/see the flaws from down here where (in my opinion ) there is room for improvement based on what my boss does….

    1. fposte*

      Can you ask your boss if you can shadow her or another manager for a little to get more of a taste? You could also look at the Management Center materials (linked upthread, conveniently) to get clearer on what management would mean to you aside from avoiding the mistakes you see in your own managers.

      1. Px*

        Unfortunately shadowing is not really an option. We are a very small team in a remote location so there’s just us. And my boss…I dont think would be comfortable with me shadowing them. Interesting idea though. I’ve been on the lookout for a mentor and I think this could be one of the things I try and ask for (management experience )

    2. Close Bracket*

      Well, if you are questioning and panicking, it probably means you are ready. :) It’s those people who think they have nothing to learn that worry me.

      Maybe the question you should ask is not “Do I have the right skill set?” but “Do I want to be in that role?” It’s ok if you like doing your coaching from the position you are in right now and don’t want any more.

      1. Px*

        Hah. Thats something I waffle on regularly. Interestingly enough, your question has got me thinking. There are things about my bosses job that I definitely wouldn’t like, but the people management is not really the thing that worries me the most (politics/annoying bureaucracy is the answer there). So it’s an interesting point you raise, can I somehow finagle a way into people management without necessarily moving up…..*ponders*

        1. Close Bracket*

          Another question is do you want people management or project management? That is, are you interested in developing people or are you interested in assigning tasks? Assigning tasks has an aspect of mentoring people and developing them to suit the task, but it’s at a more immediate level. You aren’t making long term career goals with them, and you don’t have to decide promotions and raises, etc.

          1. Px*

            Ahhh its like you can read my mind. Thats been my other waffle. Currently my title is product owner, and that definitely has a lot of project management-y elements in that I have (a little!) authority to assign tasks. And thats also what got me to thinking about if I want more people management.

            I guess the real issue is having the ability to really hold people accountable. Thats what frustrates me at the moment. I can see the issues and can ask/request/suggest people do certain things. But if they dont do them, it should be up to my boss to do/enforce things – but they never do. So is it just that I need a better boss who would enforce things?

            I will say that I feel like developing people is something I would like to do (and I feel a do a bit of in my current coaching) and feel like my boss does very poorly. They are not very good on following through or communicating clearly when they want you to do something different (or rather, they are the kind of person who would rather do it themselves than really sit down and have the conversation about how you need to change/try and really develop a person) and it…frustrates me because I feel like there is lost potential in our team because of that.

            Argh. Good questions though! Some stuff here for me to think about.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My thought is that management is about the people being lead. We can’t know everything there is to know. We can only commit to being thoughtful and fair with our people. We can commit to asking questions and listening even when listening is HARD.

      Of course you want to improve on what your boss does. Even if you had a good boss you’d want to be a great boss. There is always that driver to some degree.
      One thing I will say, that the longer a person leads the further and further away they get from being aware what the day-to-day stuff is like. While you can see the problems now, will you still have that clarity in ten years? This is where committing to being thoughtful and fair with your people kicks in. Start now, so in 10 years it’s a habit, not a new concept.

  46. Well Regulated Mellissa*

    Hi everyone, I have been temping in an office for the past few weeks, and will be working here until the 3rd week of January when 2 people return from medical leave. I enjoy it here, but due to family obligations, I am not available to be hired long-term.

    My question is about the extremely casual dress code here. Most employees are comfortable walking around shoeless. Today, I did a quick count and 6 of the other 9 people are padding around in their socks. One of the 6 is the CEO who I don’t think I have ever seen wearing shoes.

    In light of this, do the normal rules about wearing shoes in the office apply here? I am kind of self-conscious about my feet, and wouldn’t ask in the summer, but since it is socks season, do you think it would be OK if I went shoe less too?

    1. fposte*

      I find this question adorable, for some reason.

      If 6 out of 9 people are shoeless and you don’t care if you’re hired on long-term, I think you’re probably fine. If you want to be sure, ask whoever’s in charge of you when you’re there.

      And either you’re in a warmer climate than my workplace or you have much more updated heating.

      1. Well Regulated Mellissa*

        The heating vents are all at floor level, and some days my feet can get toasty. I posted this because I had taken my boots off earlier. No one seems to notice or care, although I do wish I wore dress socks and not plane white ones. :-)

    2. MissDisplaced*

      If others do it, and it seems to be part of the culture at this office, then I’d say yes, it’s OK to pad around in your clean socks. But I hope people there do put their shoes back on to use the restroom and such!

      I sometimes kick my shoes off under my desk, though I generally won’t pad around that way.

      1. Well Regulated Mellissa*

        No worries, the ladies room is outside the suite about 200 feet down the corridor.. The guys actually have to go one flight up or one flight down to use a mens room. No one is going there barefoot.

  47. The Curator*

    Still in the middle of the big project. We are in copyediting now. Yikes. I hang my head in shame. I don’t actually know the how and when to use have, has, and had.
    It is a book. It is on Amazon. It is on Edelwiess. It is on Indie Bound. It is the catalog for an exhibit, The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter by Leonard Marcus, opening in Feb. 15, 2019. but it stands alone.
    It is real. My librarian friends- hoping to have advance copies at ALA midwinter.
    Whew. Lots of work for over the weekend but the end is in sight.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, Leonard is marvelous. What a great project! And how much you will enjoy when it is done (which is always the best time of any project).

      1. The Curator*

        Thank you. What we did was take Leonard’s words for the NYPL exhibit and use the materials from ours. I thought of this in 2014 when it closed in NYC and there was no catalog. It took a few years to get the ducks in a row.

  48. anony anonymouse*

    How do you deal with rude coworkers? It’s a stressful and dysfunctional environment, but I have people who slam doors on me and interrupt when I’m talking to someone. There’s even a new girl who started who has only been there for a week and she refuses to acknowledge me and only gives me attitude. I’ve never experienced this in the workplace before so I’m way out of my element.

    1. BookPony*

      So much of my department is made up of rude coworkers. I have a coworker that constantly interrupts me, and I usually just wait them out and then continue from exactly where I had been talking, in an even tone. If they continue, you could ask them to stop interrupting you, but ime those people don’t really tend to listen.

      As for the people slamming doors…that sounds like something you need to bring up to your supervisor, provided you’ve talked to the person already. That sort of thing is just not on, and is not appropriate in any setting.

      In terms of the new girl, I mean, if you don’t have to interact with her, I just wouldn’t. I had a coworker like that who I had to share an office with, and they were a nightmare. I eventually got my own space and it got a bit better, but mostly I just ignored them aggressively and focused on my work. If you can, putting in headphones/ear buds might be a good deterrent.

    2. CM*

      If you don’t want to lower yourself to their level, you should just reassure yourself that what they’re doing is not okay, and look for another job.

      If you DO want to lower yourself to their level, then you can have some fun. Fun like installing hardware to make your doors slam-proof and yelling the words to “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” whenever someone tries to interrupt you.

      Will they like that? Probably not. But you don’t like what’s happening right now, either.

  49. BookPony*

    So two small things:

    Problem the First: How do I tell my boss I really don’t like the “Sandwich” Method? (i.e. a good thing, the bad thing, the good thing. This hasn’t come up a lot, but they’ll drop by my office, ask me to come in, and then when I do, they start with “you’re doing a great job, everyone loves you” blah blah blah (which they do; I’ve had Boss, Grand Boss, and Great Great Grand Boss praise me for my work), but then they’ll slide into whatever I need to correct.

    I have no problem correcting it, but when they start with the good, I think we’re revving up to me doing a new project, or them finally telling me my promotion/raise will be applied next week, or some other good news thing. Other people on my team aren’t fond of the Sandwich either, and have said so, but I think this might be a thing my boss is married to. :/

    Problem the Second: My boss wanted to start an Event Committee to help free them up from handling all the party related stuff (cakes, cards, party ideas). They sent out a team email, and I immediately wrote back saying I wanted to help. (I love organizing stuff lol). But so far it’s just me, and I worry that no one else is going to join because a certain group of people on my team don’t like me for honestly mysterious reasons. (I mean, I suspect the reason is racism, but yanno. It’s those fun microaggressions and not full on “those people” racism) The other group on our team is more of a “I’ll do it if you make me, or if you pay me extra”, and I know they like me, so that’s not the issue.

    I honestly have no problem handling all this on my own, but I worry this is gonna bum out my boss and they’re gonna try to rope people into it, or that I’ll have to figure out some statement that shows I’m perfectly fine with flying solo, without sounding like I’m complaining. (I usually say, “Oh I’m fine working on this by myself! It gives me a lot of creative flexibility.” or “It’s okay” when they feel bad about x or y, but then they’ll say “No, it’s not okay.” and I uhhhh don’t really know what to say to that.

    1. Zona the Great*

      This is a great illustration of why the Shit Sandwich method of correcting employees is terrible. How’s your relationship with boss? Could you say something like, “Boss, I really can handle whatever correction you have for me and I’d prefer you just be direct about it. I don’t need it to be sugarcoated as I don’t take correction personally”?

    2. fposte*

      On 1) you may not be able to change it, and there may be people who’d be freaked out if it did change. However, one possibility (that will affect what she does with you but not others) is, after she tells you to stop punching the courtyard rabbits or whatever, is to say “Thanks, I’ll get on that. [pause] You know, Boss, I think we have a good overall relationship and I’m pretty practical, so if you just want to note a correction in my work without balancing it out in that particular conversation, that would be fine with me.”

      On 2) if you keep your mouth shut about the lack of participation, will the boss know? You could even talk about yourself as the Events Committee. If that doesn’t work, I’d say “I think it’s really important that people on a morale-focused committee like this be enthusiastic participants; it can be hard to work with draftees to plan fun. Could we limit the committee to volunteers this go? If that means only me, that’s fine.”

      1. BookPony*

        @Zona: My relationship with my boss is pretty good. Honestly, what’s been so bizarre about the times I’ve been sandwiched is that the stuff I need to correct (minus one incident where I read the room wrong and mentioned my dislike of cops at an outside class, oops) is stuff that they don’t actually think is a problem, but someone complained so they brought it to my attention. Which is probably why I haven’t brought up my dislike of the Sandwich yet.

        @fposte: I’ll have to give that a try. I know one coworker (who basically has the same attitude as mine on these things) told Boss at our staff meeting she doesn’t like the Sandwich, but Boss gave some gentle pushback since I think they like it so idk.

        As to the Events Committee, Boss brought it up themselves during our staff meeting, since I single-handedly put together a team outing happening in the spring that almost everyone in the building wants to go to (lmao), and Boss is really supper jazzed about it, so they know that no one else has pitched in yet. I have also put together the holiday party, including the music, games, flyers, and scheduled the meeting room. Plus I’m bringing food (and one other person is as well but they don’t wash their hands so I’m trying to figure out how to steer them into bringing something I won’t eat lmao). Because I don’t have anyone else on the Committee, I’ve had to email my boss to make sure the games/music is acceptable, which I know is just drawing them back into it, but I also don’t want to get over excited and include things that people won’t like/will be offended by. (sidenote: it is very difficult to come up with non-Christian holiday songs. I think I have like, 30 for a three hour party. Idk if that’s enough) Plus, iirc, when I sent out a team email just listing the upcoming holiday events (my department is really into parties lmao), I believe Boss reply all’ed and reminded people to please join the group. Soooo idk lol

        1. fposte*

          On 1) I think if Boss has been asked about the practice and basically said she plans to keep doing it, I’d let it go. Usually the manager’s way is going to rule in something like this–she’s not going to have different feedback methods to suit each report–and you probably have personal tics that she’s letting go, too.

          On 2) you can give a decent amount of time and if nobody volunteers you can give the boss the “please just volunteers this year” speech. Got nothing on the holiday music–a million different covers of Jingle Bells?

          1. Susannah*

            Depending on the vibe you could think about Karaoke versions/instrumental versions maybe? There’s plenty of variations (jazzy/folky/etc) so you could use similar songs multiple times and even if the lyrics stray christiany you might have better lucky if they’re avoided? Not sure if that goes far enough but it could be a start?

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            Yeah, unless it really sets your teeth on edge, I’d let the shit sandwich go. After all, there are worse things than your boss complimenting you.

        2. Close Bracket*

          You need to have to conversation about what you are supposed to do differently and why she is giving you feedback that she doesn’t want action on. There was a letter similar to that here- I think it was something like “My boss doesn’t have my back.” If you *really* have a good relationship with your boss, you could try asking her whether she should really be promising to talk to you about things that doesn’t care whether you do or not.

          In the end, though, you can’t change her. You can only change yourself. First, manage your expectations. You know that praise is sometimes followed by a criticism, so when you hear praise, maintain open expectations. It could be followed by a new project, it could be followed by a criticism. Keep your expectations open so you are not jarred by whatever comes next. Then if you hear a criticism, ask whether she sees it as a problem and what she wants you to do (nothing/change/do it again) (/jk on do it again).

          1. BookPony*

            @fposte: Yeah, that’s basically what I figured I’d have to do, but I figured I’d throw it out here to see if anyone else had something. As for the holiday music, I actually don’t think I have Jingle Bells on there, lol, so that’s going on the list.

            @Susannah: I do have a few instrumentals on there (think Carol of the Bells by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra), but I know for a fact my team does not do karaoke lmao

            @Close Bracket: The complaints have been “don’t brag about your accomplishments” and essentially “talk more gently to people”. For the first one, it took me until like, a fourth convo with my parents to realize me saying, “Yeah, this only takes me like, five minutes to do, so if you’re swamped, I can do it” is apparently not the way to go. (The larger context was this was like, 500+ files to process and said person still hadn’t finished their original 500, so I was trying to convey that me taking on more wasn’t a huge struggle. Buuutttt this person used to be friends with someone I didn’t get along with, so I should’ve realized they’d take it poorly in hindsight. Plus when Boss came to relay the complaint, you could tell they really didn’t want to even mention it.)

            As for the second one, I can’t remember at the moment what caused the comment. I think it was me giving a firm statement, and I’ll be honest here, that complaint read like “oooo the black person is being mean to the white woman waaa”, plus my boss basically said they had no idea on how to fix that problem, since they struggle with it as well (boss is white), and suggested I ask my coworker (the one that doesn’t like the Sandwich).

            I think my boss is bringing these things to my attention so they can tell the person they did something about it. But like, forreal, I am like, one of four black people on my team, and we have less than 15 in the department that actually work in the building, so a lotta hinky stuff like this happens.

            As a sidenote, what is the best way to respond to “Is x something you’re willing to do?” I have a coworker that loves to use that phrase with me (and only with me, they’re loud and I hear them talking when I go by). And I usually just go, “Oh sure! You know I’m more than happy to help out with anything, Ethel! (not real name lol)” This probably stems from them complaining to another coworker that I didn’t help out while people were out, but I sent them an email asking if they needed help and they said they were good. And they get really, really irritated if I just pitch in without asking, so like, why??? would??? I??? (Not to mention a different coworker complained to Boss directly that I didn’t help, Boss came in and asked, and I told Boss that not only did I ask them if they needed help via email, I walked into their office and asked and they said they were good. And Boss looked very annoyed at coworker at wasting their time.)

            It can get pretty dysfunctional, but as long as my boss isn’t stressed, our relationship is good.

  50. Question for Admins re. Conferences*

    I’m an EA and a member of the IAAP, so I attend Summit when I can and CEC every year (being in Western Canada, the Canadian Education Conference is easier to get to than Summit, and much cheaper!). This year I’ve got an opportunity to travel farther afield for education/networking, as my boss has offered me a fairly generous budget. That said, have any fellow admins been to conferences they’d suggest? Anywhere in the world – I’m open to anything. I support C-suite level, so the level-specific events are also possibilities. I’d especially like to hear from anyone who’s attended both Summit and something non-IAAP, for comparison purposes…but I’d take any info anyone can give me at this point, so I can dig into all my options before I present my boss with a business case for a particular conference. Thanks in advance!

  51. Liet-Kinda*

    I’m currently hoarding my leave, and I am literally the only person in this wing of the building. Holy hell is this boring.

    1. Not All*

      There are roughly 150 people in my building on a normal day…today there are 8(!) cars in the parking lot! I’m sortof regretting not bringing in a bunch of holiday decorations to do up my cube just for something engaging to be doing.

    2. Ktelzbeth*

      I’ve managed to not work and not have to use leave today in the past (work for one place that is open but at another that isn’t, so I can’t go to work), but today I did have to take the leave. Mixed feelings, since using the leave means its gone, but let me go out of town, which I couldn’t if it was unofficial.

  52. Jennifer85*

    Soooo much going on at work… a new team member joining next week (which is great because we are massively overloaded but I need to prep!) and I’m interviewing for the first time too. Oh and my site just got new ownership so there’s a huge amount of up-in-the-air-ness and the marketing team are likely to lose their jobs.

    Send calming thoughts (and tips for newbie interviewers please!)

    1. Isotopes*

      Does your company provide an interview guide? Do you have someone you can talk to about the things you can and cannot share in an interview? For example, can you share the salary band information if it’s directly requested by an applicant?

      Do you know what kinds of skills you’re looking for, and do you have questions designed to get that information? Think about the culture of your team and how you’d describe it to someone. Have an answer prepared for the question “What do you like most about working here?”

      Are you able to have someone experienced sit in with you for your first few interviews? I found it immensely helpful when I first started conducting interviews to see how other people handle the process. If you could then have someone sit in with you while you conduct an interview, that person can take notes both on the candidate and on anything you might want to keep in mind.

      Let the candidate talk! Don’t feel like you need to fill silences if they’re taking a moment to come up with an answer to a question. Don’t let someone run on past the point it’s helpful, but do let them speak. Sometimes people will get into details you might otherwise not get, if you just give them time to speak.

      Depending on policy, I would highly recommend that you conduct phone interviews as a first step. My company doesn’t allow it unless you’re interviewing someone who’s not in the same city (which I argued against, but there was no budging on it), but I feel like it’s a really good step. And actually, if you have an email questionnaire that you can send prior to an interview, even better! I feel like making it easier on candidates is never a bad idea. Plus, limits the in-person interviews you need to conduct, which is always nice.

      1. Jennifer85*

        Thanks so much! This is really useful, Yes I got an interview guide which is partly useful, but part of it basically says ‘we don’t want to all have the same interview style so google it’ followed by a load of links that are out of date :p

        I’m only interviewing interns so it’s pretty set (one role, no negotiation on pay). The CVs are pre-reviewed (by someone else) and the final decision is by someone else – so my role is to hold the actual interviews and feed back/make good notes!

  53. What's with Today, today?*

    I work for a small family owned media business. It’s been seven years since I have had a raise. I asked for one on Friday. Both my boss and the owner were receptive and agree I am deserving. They are mulling it over and I should find out fairly soon (though the owner will be out the next few weeks). I don’t expect it until Jan 1, though we have no formal structure so it could come on Dec 1, just depends on the bosses. I’m hoping it’s decent. I threw out a reasonable number that I knew was still too high for them, so I set my ideal a little lower…we shall see. I’m at the point where I could free lance at home and make just as much money, but I’m not sure I’m disciplined enough for freelancing and working from home.

  54. Jaybeetee86*

    I’ve been wondering lately, what would hiring managers/HR think of receiving a resume in Google Docs? I’m in a sector now with a very specific job-application process (I’d be pasting my resume into an internal application system), so it doesn’t really apply to me, but I’m a bit curious. At home, I now use Google Docs in lieu of Word for various reasons, and don’t even have Word on my computer at present. But would a Google Docs resume be accepted, or is “Not Word format” still considered a negative? (It is possible to convert them to PDFs, but I was wondering about sending it in its regular format?) Any hiring managers here able/willing to weigh in on this?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Don’t do it. I get these sometimes and it’s annoying; I have to write back and ask the person to resend it as an attachment. There’s no easy way to get a Google Doc into the tracking system I use — and plus, the document can be changed after I look at it the first time, which I’m not comfortable with since I may pass it on to someone else involved in hiring to look at and I want to know they’re seeing the same version I am.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m also going to use this as a short-answer question in Monday’s post if that’s okay with you — I want to spread that message more broadly!

        1. Jaybeetee86*

          Haha, sure. As I said, it’s moot in my particular industry, but I was wondering. FYI, if you want to get the message out there, Google Docs can be converted to PDF (if that’s any better – honestly, I don’t know if hiring managers like anything other than Word).

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Sure, but you don’t want to ask a hiring manager to convert your documents into a format they can use. You want to send it to them that way in the first place.

            1. fposte*

              Please, please, please, people, listen to Alison on this. I’ve been seeing more Google docs links in applications, and I gotta say it really pisses me off. I asked you to send me your resume, not send me a link to your resume; I don’t care if it’s your website or a Google doc that you’re linking to, it’s still not doing what I asked.

              1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

                Oh, I’d read that as advice to the applicant – as in, by all means write your resume in Google Docs if that’s the word processing software you are using, but then convert it to PDF before submitting. I wouldn’t even dream of making the hiring manager do more work before consdering my application!

          2. Arctic*

            FWIW I think pdfs are fine to send. As an attachment not as a Google Doc for the office to convert. But as an attachment I think it’s entirely acceptable.

          3. Fake Eleanor*

            You can download them in Word format, too, so you might as well just do that. You don’t need to have Word on your machine to do that.

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      This is an interesting conversation, I would never consider sending anything other than a PDF of my resume unless specifically asked to. I just worry too much about unintentional (or intentional) clicks/deletes/additions that are far too easy to make in an editable document. But I am also generally more skeptical of people than most, so that might have something to do with it.

    3. Susannah*

      I would also like to echo that google docs, while fantastic (they make up 95% of my lesson planning documents and I use them for a lot of professional collaboration), should be treated with caution when corresponding with people you don’t habitually collaborate with. I’ve been in too many situations where I’ve accidentally messed up a sharing setting/placed something in the wrong folder/synching has been misaligned and what could have been a very quick process gets bogged down by “what email are you using can you change the sharing settings/try it again.” Thats bad enough in a normal context but when in the setting of a job interview I 10/10 do not recommend.

  55. SciDiver*

    Hi all! I’m in a contract gig that wraps up early next year so I’m looking to line up my next job, and I have an interview next week! It’s with a state agency–anyone here have tips? It’ll be a 3 person panel (remote video interview) but I don’t know much beyond that. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. post turkey day yay*

      Treat it like any other. Look into what the agency does, so you can craft your questions, that sort of thing.

    2. foolofgrace*

      I’ve been interviewing for state jobs in Illinois and the interview process is that there is a set series of questions where each applicant is asked the exact same things. You can’t ask for more information about a question, you just have to answer as best you can. However, treat it like any other interview with the exception that you can’t ask for clarification of a question. Your state might bee different.

    3. JxB*

      Like other jobs, learn all you can about the organization – not only what they do but who the stakeholders are and what the governing structure is. (If they have a board, who is on it? How are they appointed?) Working for government is unique because there are mitigating factors that can be frustrating, like being mandated to perform a role but given no funds to implement. Politics – literal and figuratively – can drive projects in ways that make no common sense. Most government employees are very hard, resourceful workers who accomplish so much that goes without praise. However, it’s a very different environment than the private sector’s “profit or perish” mentality.

      So when you interview, you want to show competence in your field but also that you have a leaning toward public service and that you can balance your drive and initiative with barriers that may not be found in the private sector. Show respect for the government processes and employees. Be very careful about anything that smacks of the ideas that you’ll come in and “fix” things (because those who preceded you were lazy/incompetent). Of course you’d never SAY that, but it’s amazing how that message might be subtly inferred.

      Working in the public sector can be extremely satisfying and rewarding. But – like pretty much any situation – there are challenges. Good luck!

  56. Haunted*

    Had a company’s recruiter e-mail me to ask me what my acceptable salary range was (I filled in “$0” in the application form). I asked what salary range they had in mind for the position. They told me their range, but pointed out that it’s very helpful for candidates to actually fill in their salary expectations so as to not waste their time or the employer’s time.

    They went on to say that the high end of the salary range is “only for candidates that possess all the required experience in x” (note: I have no experience in x, but applied since I interviewed for the same kind of position elsewhere and was told x is easy to learn). The recruiter is going to pass my application onto the hiring manager even though she told him that she wants someone with more experience in x than my resume “appears to show” since they think my background in y might make up for it.

    So I guess if they want to interview me and go on to make an offer, I should I only expect that lowest of the salary range? I’m not conveying it here well since I don’t want to be too specific, but the recruiter was pretty condescending. Not sure if I should take that as a reflection on the company, but I’m much less interested in the job now.

    1. post turkey day yay*

      It sounds from this that they want someone who is already strong in X. I’ve run into that a few times with job postings that say “strong in X or Y or Z” but then it turns out they really only want X, which is disappointing, especially when it’s something you can be easily trained on. But sometimes I guess they don’t know what they want until after they start interviewing for it? IDEK.

      But there also could be a disconnect between the recruiter and the hiring folks, and honestly, a recruiter e-mailing you to ask what your salary requirements are does make it sound like they did like your application and just want to be sure your numbers match before going forward in the process.

      Whatever they offer you in the offer, I don’t know, but if that’s too far below what you want, definitely negotiate it. Don’t take the recruiter as gospel.

      1. Haunted*

        I would think that they’d get lots of applications from people with experience in x, so it seems weird that they’d consider me if the hiring manager has already told the recruiter that x experience is important to them. It makes me wonder if they’re not getting many applications for some reason, or, if as you said, there is a disconnect. Maybe the recruiter is more concerned about getting someone as cheap as possible than the best possible fit.

        Cute username. :)

    2. Talvi*

      They told me their range, but pointed out that it’s very helpful for candidates to actually fill in their salary expectations so as to not waste their time or the employer’s time.

      If they don’t want to waste anyone’s time, why did they not just put their salary range in the job ad?

      1. Haunted*

        If the conversation had been over the phone instead of over e-mail I wouldn’t have been able to keep myself from asking that (my verbal filter is much weaker than my written filter).

      2. CM*

        Ding, ding, ding.

        Though I did have on experience where the company listed a hiring range and then talked about that hiring range all through the interview process… until they made an offer and tried to convince me they would never, ever, ever offer anyone a salary at the top of the hiring range, so the middle was really the top. WTF. That was a waste of everyone’s time, too.

    3. Close Bracket*

      I suggest asking for the middle and being satisfied with something between the middle and the low end.

      1. Haunted*

        I was thinking I wanted the middle of the range. I technically have the skill set to do the job, I just don’t have the knowledge. It seems like skills would be worth more than knowledge since it’s easier to learn knowledge while skills take more practice and training.

  57. Fellow Traveler*

    Does any one have resources that can help me develop non-binary language and inclusive/ respectful ways to navigate this at work?
    Last year, my department head decided that we should move towards a non-gender specific approach to forms of address, however, we weren’t given a lot of tools or language to use to do this. We work a lot with large groups of people, so we were told that when making announcements, instead of saying, “Ladies and gentlemen”, we should now use “Everyone” or “Folks” or simply “Attention please.” That was about the extent of management’s input. This, however, I understand, and find it is an easy mind shift. I’m a little stymied, though, when it comes time to refer to individuals- before we referred to them with Mr./Ms./Mrs., etc, but some of my co-workers feel that we should move away from such assumptions. I’m not sure how to navigate this: how does one go about finding out each preferred honorific of a large group of people? Is it really insensitive to presume an honorific and tell people to feel free to correct me? It feels a little informal to just start referring to people by their last names since addressing people with an honorific, as has long been the custom at my workplace (there are certain longstanding traditions and formalities associated with my work, and we do frequently sort people and data based on gender in our work). I do really want to be respectful and inclusive, but I also don’t want to take a gender-blind approach to things because I feel the issue is not about ignoring gender, but rather letting people use the gender they feel comfortable with.
    I do feel like adopting gender neutral language as a whole is a different issue from adopting practices that are inclusive on an individual basis, but I’m a little unclear as to what that distinction is.
    Does anyone have experience with this, or examples, thoughts, or personal feelings about non-binary language and communication that might be enlightening?
    Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

    1. Alpha Bravo*

      Since it sounds like you are collecting data on the individual level, I’d revise any forms you have for intake of this information with sections asking their preferred pronouns and appropriate honorifics. Would that be feasible?

      1. Batshua*

        Ideally, you want freetext fields there.

        Also, ask for “gender” and not “sex” unless you’re doing medical paperwork, in which case, ask for both.

      2. Laika*

        My organization has recently revised many of our intake documents for this as well, but it might be worth noting that a person doesn’t generally have “preferred” pronouns – they just have pronouns. :)

    2. Batshua*

      Also, if people are using nametags, they can put their pronouns on there. If you can run them through a printer, you can create a name field and a pronoun field to explicitly prompt people.

      Do the people you work with have some sort of generic title, like “client” or “patient”?

      I’ve totally referred to people as Patient Lastname because it’s gender-neutral.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        I think it is also becoming more acceptable to address someone by their first name in a more formal setting. “Dear Firstname” should be just fine.

        Generally if someone hasn’t indicated their gender, the most inclusive thing is to avoid gendered language—or ask them their pronoun preferences! It is so OK to ask.

        Avoiding gendered language when in doubt isn’t ‘ignoring gender,’ it’s avoiding presuming gender.

        I wouldn’t go ahead with a gendered honorific and ask someone to correct you if it’s wrong; that puts the burden back on the other person to single themselves out and make the extra effort to have their identity accommodated.

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          It’s not clear from the comment — in what contexts are you using honorifics? In what contexts are you sorting by gender? How do you collect information about gender? I think some solutions will depend on process and/or context.

    3. Batshua*

      Some people like to use Mx. as their honorific, but I’ve heard it pronounced “Mix” in UK writing and “Mixter” in US writing, so ask if you see it written how they want it pronounced.

      I’ve also seen “Ind” and “Per”as honorifics short for Individual and Person.

    4. Batshua*

      You can also do what customer service people do and say “Do you mind if I call you Firstname?” or you can say “What would you like to be called” or “How would you like people to refer to you”?

    5. Jennifer85*

      I agree that first names are generally the way to go – and actually there are pretty few circumstances in which ‘she/he’ can’t be replaced be ‘they’ with no change in meaning. I work with a tonne of people who’s gender isn’t obvious from their name (or at least, isn’t to a westerner) and I find not assuming either way works fine in all the circumstances I’ve come across so far.

    6. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

      I’m not sure what you mean by gender-blind here. There are contexts in which decisions or policies should be gender-blind (invite everyone to the ballgame or the craft circle, not just people of one gender) but gendered terms are still fine: a school can have a gender-blind admissions policy and still use gendered honorifics (Ms./Mr./Mx.) in the acceptance letters.

      If your custom is to use gendered honorifics (“Ms. Gollux” or “Mr. Device”), one approach would be to add a space for honorifics on your intake forms–that will also make things better for the women who prefer “Mrs.” or “Miss” and the occasional person who feels strongly about being addressed as “Dr. Smith” even though their degree has nothing to do with your interactions with them.

      If the current form asks for honorificis but has check-boxes, either add a box for “Mx.” or replace the boxes with a free-text space.

      Also, if you’re sorting data–or people (?)–by gender, you need to account for nonbinary people, and you need to accept that your data will sometimes need updating, both because of simple errors and because someone might transition while you’re working with them. I don’t know why you sort by gender, but if it’s a good reason, then it’s worth getting the data right, which shoehorning a nonbinary person into the “female” or “male” dataset isn’t doing.

      And yes, assuming an honorific and expecting people to correct it is insensitive–you might not think it’s a big deal, but if you get their honorific wrong, you’re very unlikely to be the first, or even tenth, person to do so. Heck, after decades of explaining that I am not “Mrs. Device” I still get annoyed, and I assume you don’t want to annoy people unnecessarily. And that’s minor compared to addressing people who keep being addressed with the wrong gendered honorific.

    7. Fellow Traveler*

      Thanks everyone for the advice and input. It is really helpful for me to read these comments since gender identity is something whose scope is larger than I had thought.
      My work is something like event management where we deal with many people coming together for a couple weeks to work on a project. I don’t collect people’s information; management collects it and then hands it to me when I come onboard. When talking to someone face to face, we do use first names. The honorifics usually come up when:
      1) I’m referring to someone to a third person, often in a memo. (“Mr. Jones needs a vegetarian option.), or
      2) I have to make an announcement over a loud speaker. (Ms. Smith please report to the front office please.)
      Both these practices admittedly seem formal and dated, but it is just ho w things are run and it feels jarring and almost disrespectful when I don’t have a honorific to use. I do want to have the right information and honor what people want to be called. I suppose I could ask that management collect the correct information for us when people sign on to our project.
      Sorting genders mostly comes in play when we have to decide where people can change their clothes.

      1. G&T*

        I think using first and last names in both those examples would be fine, if you don’t have the correct honorific on record. “Daniel Jones needs a vegetarian option”/”Kendra Smith please report to the front office” sounds perfectly polite and respectful – it may be slightly different to what has happened in the past but unless you have a directive from management that you must use honorifics, it’s fine to do this and you’ll probably adjust to it quickly and then the awkwardness will dissipate.

        It would certainly make sense to have honorifics be self-selected on sign-on though. Just make sure you have a suitable selection of options that include gender-neutral terms or, even better, make it write-in (probably more work on your end but far more inclusive).

        As for the changing clothes thing, is it possible to provide gender-neutral changing spaces? Either individual private rooms, or include a space labelled gender-neutral? And do allow people to self-select which space they use.

        1. valentine*

          I agree about using first names (or first/last, if necessary to distinguish). You can drop the honorifics altogether and loosen up the atmosphere. For groups, depending on formality: colleagues, folks, friends, neighbors, party people in the place to be. When calling on someone: “Our friend in the blue sweater” or “First row, colleague with the plaid scarf.”

      2. Friday afternoon fever*

        I don’t think it’s disrespectful to use Firstname Lastname — plus, I’m more likely to actually notice you calling me over the loudspeaker if you use my full name :) (Plus that way, if your event is really big, you don’t get 15 Mr. Smiths showing up when you just wanted Mr. Rob Smith III, or Mr. Omar Jones the carnivore gets the vegan option when Mr. Paul Jones is the vegan)

        You could ask management to collect the info for you by form when people sign on—that might be a good backup anyway—but it’s easier on you and not disrespectful to ditch the honorifics.

        For changing, is it possible to allow self-sorting into the area that best fits your gender identity/expression, with a generous quantity of gender-neutral changing spaces?