open thread – March 15-16, 2019

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 1,911 comments… read them below }

  1. Linda Evangelista

    Has anyone negotiated a part of their job *out* of their job description? I really like my job, but there’s one piece of it I absolutely can’t stand (my last job was ALL this one thing, and I took this job because it would be LESS of this thing, but lately its becoming more and more of this thing). I’m wondering if there’s a tactful way to say, hey, I really don’t like this thing, it’s super stressful for me, can I do this other thing instead?

    1. Ali G

      Have you tried addressing it with your boss? You could say something like “I specifically took this position to do less of X. While I am happy to support X, I am worried about the amount of time I am spending on it. I would prefer to work more on Y – is there a way we can make that happen?”

      1. Linda Evangelista

        I know that’s something I really should do, but it’s a little hard. Everyone on my team helps with X thing as needed, though there are two people who do it primarily. However, because of my experience, I end up getting pulled in more. Plus, I think part of my hiring was because of this experience. :/ So I just happily help and muscle through.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          I was going to say – I think they may have hired you precisely because you had that experience. If so, I think you can still broach the topic with your boss with the wording above, but be prepared for them to tell you “no.” Then you’ll have to decide just how much you hate doing this thing in relation to everything else you do there and whether or not you’ll be okay with the possibility of that task becoming a more frequent component of your new role.

          1. Sloan Kittering

            My only question is, does a job with more X thing typically pay more? If so, you should at least negotiate HARD for that raise.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      I think rather than focusing on why you don’t like doing it, you need to make a business case for why someone else should do it. For example, you shouldn’t be adding the teapot handles after you take them off the production line because then Fergus has to paint around them, and it’s very quick and easy, so Fergus should add the handle after he’s done. If there is another person whose expertise or process is more suited towards the part you don’t like, you can propose that they do it, but you might want to informally approach that person and feel them out about it before taking it to management.

      1. Linda Evangelista

        Unfortunately everyone on my team does it, so there wouldn’t be anyone to transfer the duty to. Sorry, I wish I could provide more context without giving away too much!

        1. fposte

          Details might change this, but I think that it’s tough to ask to be the only person at your level that never does x. But it might be possible to ask to fall farther down on the priority list for x if you can make a case for your time being more profitably spent on y. (That’s especially true if people don’t particularly mind x–if x is a universally hated task, it’s harder to justify you getting cut more of a break on it.)

          1. Linda Evangelista

            Thanks! This sounds great. Yeah, I think only one other team member feels the way I do. Everyone else seems on board.

            1. RPCV

              Is there anything your other coworkers don’t like doing but you’re fine with? You could try a trade with them. “Hey, since you don’t mind doing X, and I don’t mind doing Y, how ’bout I start sending more of X to you and you can send me more of Y?”

                1. Beth

                  I managed the trade. I don’t mind reviewing TPS Reports (which everyone seems to find mind-numbingly dull) and in exchange don’t have to negotiate the TPS Reports (which I find nerve-wracking). It helps that I’m very fast at my part of the job and can really reduce their “boring” workload. Keep in mind they might hate something you love. I honestly love reviewing and still can’t believe they’ll give me all of it.

        2. E

          Could you offer to train some of the other folks so that they have closer to your level of experience with this?

    3. Celeste

      I’ve had some success with discussing how much I like a different part of the job, and asking if I could take on more of that and let someone else (who prefers it) take a greater share of the load I dislike. It won’t work for all situations, but I think it’s important to show that you aren’t trying to get out of work per se, but would like a different distribution of it.

    4. AnonEMoose

      I have. But I think it’s really dependent on your circumstances, your relationship with your boss, etc. In my case, it was work that had been added to my workload because it had to go somewhere. And I HATED it. They hadn’t bothered to figure out the process before moving forward, and so it was a bit of “we don’t know what we want, but we’ll know it when we see it.” Which is a pet peeve of mine.

      My direct boss was well aware that I wasn’t happy about any of this. But I did the best I could with it. Some time later, an opportunity came up, because there was other work they wanted to give me.

      So I went to my boss and said, in essence, “I’m happy to take this on; however, if this comes on to my plate, something needs to come off. I think the thing that comes off should be (process I hate), because it doesn’t really fit with the rest of what I’m doing and it’s time-consuming.” Boss agreed.

      In my case, there was an opportunity and a solid reason (other work being added), and my relationship with my boss is pretty open. Plus there was somewhere else that work could go. Those things helped.

    5. Overeducated

      I think it depends on how much that piece is a core part of the work and how important it is compared to other parts of the work. My job has also taken a direction like that, but the piece I don’t like is really a fundamental obligation that has to be fulfilled that wasn’t being done properly, and the stuff I thought I was hired for is…nice extra, in a legal sense. There is no point in my asking for that to change, I am just trying to take advantage of the professional development opportunities offered and see what happens in the future.

    6. Ann O'Nemity

      I’ve seen this happen in a few situations:

      – When there’s a good business case for it. For example, it doesn’t make sense for a highly paid technical person to spend a lot of time on administrative paperwork that could be done by someone at half the salary.

      – When someone is amazing at part or most of their job, and awful at one part. The manager may decide that it’s worth it to reconfigure the job description to play to the person’s strengths.

      – When someone is ready to quit over it. Similar to the one above, the manager has to be willing (and able) to change the job description to accommodate an awesome employee.

    7. Mbarr

      The closest I’ve come to this is telling my manager that it’s stressing me out and I’m unhappy about it… But there were extenuating circumstances:
      – Project 1: I was being pulled in when I wasn’t a subject matter expert and my participation was not adding value. I was just being a middle man between two teams. Thankfully my manager got me off of the project and made the two teams duke it out together.
      – Project 2: I inherited the project from another team, but I’m again in a situation of, “I don’t know how I’m adding value/I’m leading someone’s team on their behalf.” I approached my manager and laid out the situation, and while I’m still stuck leading the project, my manager is actively working to get agreement on a transition plan for me.

      So it’s worth discussing with your manager why you’re unhappy with the work, and see if there’s a way to get less of it.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Since everyone does it but you are the primary “fill in”, I think that you just need to focus on “Can we spread this around more evenly? I prefer not to do this and just because I have the most experience doesn’t mean I should necessarily be the next in line.” You can come up with a system so that you are still doing it but not the next in line, it should be some kind of “fair” scheduling for backup. Just like I have a lot of experience with phones, that doesn’t mean that I’m the one tossed on right away if the main person isn’t here.

      I wouldn’t ask to be cut out completely because in my experience that goes over very badly.

    9. Anono-me

      Do any of your co-workers seem to like this task better and dislike something else that you don’t mind or enjoy? You may be able to trade some or even most of the hours with your coworker. I would suggest seeing if your co-worker would be interested, and then if so, approaching your supervisor.

      A co-worker and I used tea cozies in a former job. We had a blue one and a green one. Our boss had us alternate between the two, (to be fair). One day, a co-worker and I were comiserating about the unpleasant tea cozy. Eventually we figured out that I was talking about the blue one and my coworker was talking about the green one. We were able to switch to using the one we like to exclusively.

      Good luck

    10. Mouse Princess

      I did! But I wouldn’t recommend the way I did it (having a very stressful meeting with my manager and getting teary-eyed). But once we got past that, I figured out how much time I was spending on X and how I could replace it with Y and delegate X into a new position that was already in the works beforehand.

    11. Drax

      I did this actually. In a previous job I had I was good at about 90% but I had one task that I was awful at. I really really struggled with it and then the stress would snowball because I had to do it, but I couldn’t figure it out and then I would get in my own way etc etc

      I was lucky I had a really good relationship with my boss, so I went to her and just told her “Hey, I know this is typically part of the position but I am really really struggling with it and it’s causing a lot of stress. Is there any way to wiggle it around that someone else takes over this task and I take on something else? And if not, am I able to get more in depth training on it?” and she worked with me to figure it out. We ended up shuffling it back to the Operations Manager who had previously done it and set up the system so no one else understood it and I took over the raw inventory in exchange.

    12. ragazza

      I just did this. I repeatedly pointed out that I was hired to do X and Y was taking more and more of my time, which was taking away from my availability to do X, which we really, really needed. The response for a long time was “well, there’s no one else to do Y.” I pointed out that the company easily had the resources to hire someone else to do Y. I just kept pointing out it made no sense for me to do Y when I had an advanced degree in X.

    13. Anon Anon Anon

      In my experience, you can ask for anything if you have evidence that it would be valuable to the business. So I would frame it in terms of what you’re good at, and your productivity. “X is a weak spot for me, whereas I am very good at Y. I am working to improve at X, but if I am assigned more of Y instead, I will get more done faster. I also find Y more interesting and more compatible with the direction that I want to go in. What do you think?” You’ll have a stronger case if you’re the only one who dislikes X. If everyone dislikes X and likes Y better, you’ll have to go farther to support what you’re asking for.

  2. Thirsty?

    I am administrative/office support in my company to a sales team. One of my tasks is assisting with client visits, including keeping the conference room fridge stocked with bottled waters and sodas. I don’t check the fridge on a daily basis; just fill it up when I get word that clients are coming in. Lately I’ve noticed drinks disappearing from the fridge when I know clients aren’t around. Yesterday I stocked the fridge around 3PM for clients that are coming in today. When I went in this morning to finish set up, at least four sodas were missing, during those few hours when there were no clients were around, only staff.

    I’m less worried about the bottled waters because we get huge shipments of them directly to the office; the sodas are the sticking point because I have to go out and purchase them myself so it is frustrating to know I’ll have to make a trip out sooner because my coworkers are taking drinks from the client fridge. We always share the leftover food from client meals, but the sodas stay put until the next visit. Is this worth it to send an email out reminding my coworkers that those drinks are for client visits only or should I just suck up my annoyance?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      Is that the official rule? Like, sales manager says that we’re buying these beverages just for client visits? If so, let the person in charge of the rule know that “hey, the beverages are disappearing faster than they should, just making sure the rule hasn’t changed?”

      1. intelligent_zombie

        I agree with Red Reader. Confirm that the sodas are really only for client meetings and then ask for their assistance in enforcing that rule, unless you think you have the standing to do so on your own.

    2. londonedit

      I think you should send an email now and nip it in the bud before it becomes A Thing that there are free drinks available in the conference room. It’s possible that whoever’s helping themselves honestly doesn’t realise they’re meant to be for clients, and it’s possible someone just wants to help themselves anyway, but in any case it’s probably wise to remind people that they’re not for general consumption.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        I have seen this go nuts and I’ve been part of the problem. I had no self control knowing there was free soda that the company didn’t mind (?) us taking. It quickly ended up that we all took one per day and then the company started minding …

    3. Mockingjay

      Not only would I send a reminder email, I would label the sodas within the fridge: For clients only. Add a meeting date if appropriate. “Reserved for Client meeting on 3 April – do not touch.”

    4. Marion Ravenwood

      Can you lock the fridge and/or conference room so no-one can access it without a key? Or make stocking the fridge your last job before you leave, when there are fewer people around? Is it worth starting an office snacks and drinks kitty that can be used to buy sodas for the team rather than using the clients’ supply maybe?

      Also, are you claiming the costs back for the sodas from petty cash or similar? If so, I would strongly consider flagging it to your supervisor or whoever is in charge of that petty cash tin, as eventually (if they haven’t already) they’ll notice the purchases on sodas aren’t matching up with the number of clients coming in and out. If not, then that’s something you need to be doing, and you can potentially bring this up when you do. Red Reader’s script is good for both these scenarios, I think.

    5. this ain't a scene

      Do they know it’s a client-only fridge? Even if so, an e-mail sending out might be good, or a sign on the door saying “drinks for clients, employees please use [location of employee fridge]”.

      1. Database Developer Dude

        While that’s not a bad thing, the OP needs to know their audience. A sign might provoke those who know better, but choose to do bad anyway. They’ll need to know in advance in order to deal with that.

    6. RandomU...

      It’s totally not the point of your question. But I thought I’d throw it out anyway. I know we get our pop delivered from the same place that we get our office supplies delivered from… it’s probably office depot or office max.

      While addressing the missing pop, you may also want to explore this option as well (or even Amazon delivery if someone has a prime account if you don’t purchase often enough for a standing order).

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch

      First ask your supervisor is on board. Don’t take it into your own hands without addressing with someone else what’s going on and if it’s okay to send out the email.

      I only say this because it may look like you’re overstepping, even though you’re well within your rights to be upset by it adding to your duties! Some places wouldn’t look kindly on an assistant popping off an email chastising over four missing sodas.

      You’re being paid to go out and get them and they’re being paid for by the company, right? I’m sorry it’s an unfavorable task of yours, those stink but it’s your task so I’m a little worried that you’re going to come across poorly without some backing from your management!

      1. Parenthetically

        “popping off an email chastising over four missing sodas.”

        Eh, I really don’t think the right tone is “chastising.” I think Thirsty can send out a quick: “Hey all, just wanted to clarify in case anyone wasn’t certain — the waters and sodas in the conference room are for clients only! Please leave them for the next round of client visits. Thanks, Thirsty

    8. I See Real People

      I am in the same position at my office, a large medical practice. We have a refreshment service that brings in bottled water, sodas, coffee, sweeteners/creamers, etc. The coffee is free to everyone who works here, and we have a water filtration machine to provide hot and cold water as well. However, I keep the bottled water/sodas reserved under a locked cabinet to keep stock for the boardroom/administration office small refrigerator. Before we installed building cameras, I noted that a lot of the fridge contents would disappear over the weekend. The first weekend we had a camera, it was revealed that a contracted employee who worked on Saturdays was taking a sixer every Saturday. One wouldn’t be a big deal, but she was written up formally for that, and we haven’t had a problem since.

    9. Beehoppy

      This reminds me of my old job. When I got the tour on my first day I was shown the refrigerator and told to help myself to beverages. Later it was my turn to give the tour and I said the same. Most of my colleagues took drinks from the fridge and I was in charge of restocking with corporate cc (they were also for clients). One day, 6 months later, in an all hands meeting, the founder of the company said she had recently been to a conference where companies discussed “work perks” and she heard someone else mention that they provided free drinks to staff. She said, “Maybe we should consider that instead of having them for clients only.” Silence fell across the room, everyone looked at everyone else. Finally, some brave soul piped up to say: “Uhh.. we already have that policy.” Luckily she laughed and confessed that she had felt guilty because from time to time she would “steal” one from the fridge!

    10. Yvette

      Can you keep the soda, water etc. in a locked storeroom? Then stock just before the meeting and empty out afterwards? Maybe provide ice and cups during the meeting? (Personally I hate drinking out of a can.)

      Also, the fact that it has started lately might point to newer employees who are not aware of the restrictions. I think a reminder in the form of an email or posted sign reminding everyone might not be out of line in this situation. As others have pointed out, just make sure this is still the policy.

    11. Adminx2

      Best option for all: Research soda/water vendors and pricing and ask manager to start stocking fridge for the entire office AND clients. Manager says yes, you no longer have to get delivered, everyone gets free drinks!

      Other option: Start using Amazon to do the delivering for you, but keep drinks in closed boxes labeled “Clients Only”

      Do not email- the people who don’t do it will feel chastised and the ones who do won’t care.

    12. Parenthetically

      1. Email to manager: “FYI, it seems like some folks have started grabbing the client-visit water and soda from the conference room fridge for themselves, and it’s happening more often lately, so I’m planning to send out an email just reminding them to reserve those for client meetings, unless the policy has changed around that!”
      2. Sign to tape on the front of the fridge: “Inventoried 3/15; for client meeting 3/19”
      3. Email to everyone: “Hey guys, just a quick reminder, I realize not everyone may know this, but the drinks in the conference room are only for client visits. Thanks!”
      4. Look into having your sodas delivered; any office supply company should have soda, juice, tea, etc. as well as water.

      Don’t assume ill will (“They are knowingly making more work for me by taking soda”); assume ignorance (“They literally do not know they shouldn’t take these things, or don’t realize it’s causing a problem and are just thinking about how they want a Diet Coke”). IF they’re jerks and the missing sodas continue, you can escalate to locking the door or whatever. But this way, your manager is in the loop, the ignorant have been informed, and some accountability has been put in place.

    13. Kathenus

      At my organization the Development fridge has these in the drawers with big labels on the drawers saying that these beverages are for tours only, so it’s at least a regular reminder to all that they shouldn’t take them. Won’t help if it’s intentional and they know that they shouldn’t, but might if it’s confusion.

    14. Madame Secretary

      I’d bet that the company that delivers the water will also deliver the sodas too. You shouldn’t have to go get it.

    15. That Girl From Quinn's House

      If it’s a full-sized fridge, could you put them in a opaque storage tub, inside the fridge? Labeled “for client meetings only”?

      We had a problem at my last work with people leaving food for meetings or events in the multipurpose room with a kitchen, and then other people finding them and helping themselves so they weren’t there for the event. But to be fair, the teens we had working on evenings and weekends had no clue that we even *had* a Board of Directors, so of course they would not realize that the mini-muffins and granola bars were for the BoD breakfast meeting in the next few days. It was just so out of the scope of their job to know that.

    16. Trixie

      In addition to just restocking for client visits, I would consider stocking bottled water only. We used to have soda as well and once we went to bottled water only, so much easier to keep stocked.

  3. Claptic

    I reached out and got excellent advice from a LinkedIn contact on how to enter her field of work months ago. After much research and soul-searching, I decided against pursuing that field. Should I email the contact and let her know? If I end up taking a job outside her field and it appears on LinkedIn she might wonder. Also, her advice was very generous and thoughtful and I feel I may owe her an explanation why I decided not to move forward. If someone you gave advice decided not to pursue your field, would you like to know?

    1. IL JimP

      I don’t know if you need to but I probably would. I would just keep it short and thank her for all the help she provided and that it allowed to make a really good decision about your future.

    2. JokeyJules

      I don’t think you need to! I don’t think she will wonder or notice, and if she does and asks you about it, you can just tell her how much you appreciated her advice and that you realized it wasn’t going to be the best fit for you.

    3. this ain't a scene

      How close are you with the contact? If you’re at actual-friend-level, mentioning the next time you see her that you decided to go in a different direction because another thing sounded better. If you’re at networking-only level, I think it’s totally fine to just let it lie. There are tons of reasons why you might take another job.

    4. kittymommy

      I think maybe it depends on the level of advice she gave: was this a one time only advice or on-going? If it’s the former I could see just leaving it alone, but if it was more than that I would shoot her a message thanking her for all of her help/advice but ultimately you decided the field wasn’t quite right for you.

    5. ANon.

      Given that she took the time to give you such helpful and thorough advice, I think it would be a kindness to let her know. Just a brief note along the lines of: “Just wanted to give you a quick update. After more research, I’ve decided to pursue a different field. I truly appreciate your thoughtful advice and hope our paths cross in the future!”

      1. WatchOutForThatTree

        I’d be a little more personal. Since the contact made the effort to provide real advice, it would be nice to respond in kind. Without getting into personal details (if those factored in), it would be considerate to let her know some of the reasons you decided against pursuing that field. She might appreciate your effort and openness as much as you appreciate hers.

    6. Mel Reams

      I don’t think you necessarily owe her anything, but it would be a nice gesture to let her know why you decided not to pursue her field. I would personally *love* to get a message like that because a) if my advice helped somebody avoid a field that wouldn’t be right for them I’d feel pretty great about that (assuming I read your comment correctly and her advice did play a part in that decision), and b) knowing more about what might make that field a bad fit for somebody is super useful information I could share with people who ask my advice in the future.

    7. Gloucesterina

      I would love to know how my advice was helpful in helping a person clarify their own career interests! I would not be stalking their LinkedIn.

  4. Taro

    I just listened to Alison’s podcast on tone in interviews and have a couple of related questions about something that occurred in an interview. During an interview last month, the interviewer and I were discussing the inconvenience of a particularly large print design for teapots.

    She asked me what size of design I currently use at my job. I blanked on the answer and stated, “86.”

    The correct answer was actually 286, which is a lot larger than 86. The interviewer immediately and kindly pointed out that my answer sounded incorrect. I admitted that 86 isn’t very large. The conversation shifted and the interview did end on a good note, but because this answer is something I am reasonably expected to get right, I was worried that my mistake showed me in a bad light. I’m curious what I should have said — and in what my tone — when it was clear that I didn’t recall a potentially important detail related to something I frequently use a lot. Any thoughts, anyone?

    Second, when I was writing a TY email after the interview, I internally debated whether I should correct my error in the email or not. I ultimately decided to not mention it at all, so as not to remind her in case she had forgotten. Was this the right decision?

    1. intelligent_zombie

      If I were the interviewer, I would have thought it odd, but probably not a deal breaker assuming everything else went well. It is a very specific question that probably caught you off guard and the interview should have recognized that.

      For the follow up note, I would have mentioned it in a joking way, “I realized I said we use size 86, I meant 286 and my nerves got the better of me, thanks for understanding” or something else along those lines, but, again, I don’t think it is detrimental that you didn’t say anything.

      At this point, move on with your job search as it is out of your hands. If you hear back and move forward, great. If you don’t, that’s okay too because there will be an opportunity that better fits for you.

    2. fposte

      That kind of error isn’t optimal, it’s true. Generally your interviewer would consider the interview’s totality, though, rather than just dismissing all of it because of an error, and its impact will depend on the real thing’s importance in the field. I think during the moment it’s okay to say “Wow, I do this every day, I can’t believe I’m blanking–an 86?” but it’s still not as good as the right answer.

      I think it would have been okay, in a followup, to say “Sorry, interview nerves got me! I use a 286 print size every day and for some reason I just blanked on it.” That won’t be the same as saying it as an answer at the time, but it will make it likelier that you know what the standard really is.

    3. ChimericalOne

      She probably understands that you just blanked on it (I’m guessing you probably had one of those looks on your face!). I would’ve mentioned it in the follow-up, since it’s an innocent thing but also something that *could* have nagged at her later when considering your candidacy. Intelligent_zombie’s phrasing is pretty good for that.

      I’d normally suggest letting it go, but… your interviewer might’ve wanted (and might still want) to know the real answer to have a better sense of your experience. You probably could still follow up with, “Oh, and I wanted to apologize for blanking out when you asked what size design I typically work with! It’s 286, not 86.” And you could follow up by saying something like, “I’d love the opportunity to work with a wider variety of sizes at XYZ Company! Thanks again for considering me.” Or, if that’s not quite right, just “thanks for considering me!” or “Again, I very much enjoyed meeting you!” or something else that’s right for you.

    4. Taro

      Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I also appreciate the advice about how to handle it in the moment — I’ll keep all of this in mind for the future.

      It’s interesting that you all would have corrected the error. Everything else had gone really well, so I refrained from bringing it up. I’m happy to report that I did end up receiving an offer. However, I know that I wasn’t ranked in the top 3-4 among the batch of offers that went out this year, and I can’t help but wonder if my mistake — and not correcting it — had something to do with not being amongst the top. Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and now I know how to handle these kinds of situations better :).

    5. designbot

      I probably would’ve said something like, “oh this is embarrassing, but I’ve got the templates for those things so dialed in that I haven’t thought about the size since I set them up!”

  5. Sail away, sail away...

    How can I explain at interviews that I want to leave my current job of 13 months. I’m an admin but do very basic and limited things and there’s no growth or development for me at this place. I left my last job after just 7 months (hope to see that place in hell) and don’t really think I can say the generic “looking for a new challenge” when I don’t really do anything! I’m already having a hard time as my past experience becomes less relevant and almost ‘stale’ as time goes on. Any thoughts?

    1. Jess

      “I like where I am but there’s no opportunity for growth and development, and I’m looking for that. I’m especially interested in your company/organization because…”

    2. NeedSomeEspresso

      I’m dealing with similar issues (current job- 15 months, previous job-12). I really do want to settle down somewhere, but it hasn’t worked out. I’ve been trying lack of advancement, but just got a lot of push back even this morning on that answer. Best of luck.

    3. Karen from Finance

      I think you’re going to give a bit more context. It might not hurt to just tell the truth, as long as you don’t fall into a full-on rant of your employer.

      I had an interview yesterday after 10 months in my job. I rehearsed an answer about the industry in my current job not being the right fit for me and got a lot of pushback, and I mean they asked a version of this question like 5 times over the course of the interview. Eventually I addressed specific cultural problems that I’m struggling with and they understood.

      So for your case maybe you should go into a bit more context of what you were looking for when you entered these jobs and why they didn’t match your expectations. Saying “I was hoping for a career growth but instead in my current position I find myself under utilized” is a valid explanation, I think.

      1. ChimericalOne

        Yeah, you have to give a real reason. “Not a good fit” can mean “They had some major problems” or it can mean, “I have problems with perfectly normal employers.” You can start with “not a good fit,” but you need to be prepared to follow up when asked with, “Unfortunately, they had a lot of problems with X” or (in a more positive framing) “I found that I prefer to work in a more engaged/fast-paced/hands-on office” or something else to indicate that they really did have a real problem & that it wasn’t just you!

        1. Karen from Finance

          My problem is nepotism and all that comes with it. I struggled to find a way to state this without ranting.

          What I said was “there are certain problems that are specific to a company that began as a friend and family business, and then grew abruptly”. And the interviewer was like “Yes, I understand”.

    4. Mbarr

      I left a job after 13 months too. Make sure you don’t rant about the company, but frame it as wanting more of a challenge and problem-solving.

      When I left that old company, I framed it as wanting to work in a faster paced environment, where I could see my contributions having a more immediate effect. (Multiple people at the old company used to tell me, “You’re getting paid more to do less work!” which wasn’t an attitude I wanted to adopt… Among other problems.)

    5. ChimericalOne

      I think “looking for a new challenge” is perfectly appropriate when your current work isn’t very challenging! You can also say, “I’m looking for a job that has more opportunities for me to grow and develop as a professional.”

      If your previous job was in the right field and just the wrong workplace, you can also say things like, “I’m really excited for the opportunity to get back into X. I really enjoyed doing it at Company ABC, but the workplace itself, unfortunately, was not a good fit.” (Which you’ll need to follow up on, as they’ll ask why. Keep it short & not terribly detailed or negative; e.g., there wasn’t a lot of organization, they didn’t have a very positive culture, there was a lot of instability, etc. They may ask about why you took your current low-challenge job; I’d suggest something like, “I wanted to take a break and figure out what I really wanted here. I realized that I miss the work I used to do, though, and I’m excited to dive back in.” — or, “I’m excited to pursue something a little different,” if the job’s not quite the same as your old one.)

      Also, if you can attend conferences, workshops, webinars, etc. in your field, you can list those on your resume to make it clear you’re staying current on the subject.

    6. designbot

      I think you can say something that communicates that you are also surprised to find yourself tapped out after so little time there. Like, “Well frankly I thought I’d be here a bit longer too! But as I approached the year mark I realized that there was no pathway for growth from my current position and I feel like I have a lot more to give.”

  6. Où est la bibliothèque?

    I’m scheduled for a Skype interview next week, and I’ve never done one before. Any advice? I’m already fretting about the glare on my glasses.

    1. IL JimP

      I know nothing I can say will lessen your concern about your glasses but it’s not really that big a deal. Just dress like you would for an in person email and make sure where you have your computer setup that the background doesn’t have anything you wouldn’t want the interviewer to see. I would use cabinets or a blank wall behind you and just make sure nobody can interrupt you.

    2. Lurker

      Hey! In my current role I had several Skype interviews in the hiring process. I would suggest road testing your attire and call in location just like you would in a regular interview! I put on my outfit, found a good place to sit (quiet with an empty wall behind me), and had my husband call me so we could see how I would appear on the screen. You can adjust the lighting and the placement of the phone/computer to make sure the lighting works and that you are comfortable! Hope you have a great interview!

      1. Mel Reams

        Seconding this excellent advice! If you can do a little troubleshooting practice, even better – it’s extremely common to have trouble muting/unmuting/fixing echoes or feedback and while a reasonable human being won’t hold that against you, it might help you feel more relaxed in the interview if you know you can solve common problems.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.

      Find a place where the space behind your your head will appear neat and orderly to the viewer. My set-up shows a bookcase and a piece of framed art behind my head. I’ve seen a lot of people use a plain wall or a window with the blinds or curtains drawn.

      Test your set-up ahead of time. Move a lamp around to a few different positions to see if it helps with glare and harsh shadows. Lighting suggestions for photo/video can be googled.

      Wear a professional top, but wear pajama pants if it’ll help you feel more comfortable (or, you know, an entire suit if that would help instead). I also keep a glass or coffee cup with water close to hand.

      Good luck! You’ve got this!

      1. Oxford Comma

        I concur about testing it out ahead of time.

        About the pajama pants…if you have to get up at all for any reason, that could be awkward.

        1. RabbitRabbit

          Yup. My husband had a long Skype interview – fortunately with friends/very close colleagues – that had to be done while on vacation. He took over our hotel room for it, styled his hair nicely, and had a shirt, tie – and colorful shorts. He forgot about this when he got up to get a drink at a break, and heard peals of laughter behind him. (Yes, he did get the promotion anyway.)

        2. Glomarization, Esq.

          Point taken, but I’m on regular videoconference calls and I find it’s not much of a challenge to slide out of my seat and get out of the range of the camera before my rear would be visible. Everybody’s set-up and camera will be different!

        3. Autumnheart

          Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t wear pajama pants. Better to be physically uncomfortable for a little while than to blow a job because your puppy PJ bottoms made it on camera somehow. You might get away with black yoga pants or leggings, but in any case it should definitely be able to pass as street clothing.

        4. Le Sigh

          Or just hey, wear pants. Unlike my college buddy who did this in his undershorts and forgot about it when he got up.

      2. Ra94

        I once did a video interview for a big firm (where you just answer text questions to a camera), which was specifically recruiting students for an internship. I wore a suit and sat in front of a clean background in my tiny dorm room- just my white wall and a few small, framed posters. My feedback was that they liked my interview, but I should have taken the posters down and had an entirely white, blank wall- no posters, no bookshelves, no framed art. Seemed pretty extreme to me, especially as they were interviewing students who mostly didn’t have access to big houses with lots of open wall space.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.

          Yeah, there’s no need to make your video chat look like you’re doing it right after you’ve had your mug shot taken. I mean, you don’t want an Al Pacino “Scarface” movie poster in the background, but a completely, starkly white wall shouldn’t be necessary.

      3. LKW

        Disagree -if you can make it look like radiant light is emanating from your head, like a renaissance picture, it will send a subtle signal that they have found their new perfect employee.

        JK – find a wall that doesn’t get glare from windows, or show movement behind you -like a picture window where people drive or walk by.

    4. Emmie

      I have conducted Skype interviews. The glare from your glasses does not matter! The other stuff does. Dress professionally. Practice your responses. Look at the camera. Take the interview seriously. Be aware of your background – it should be neat, and it is okay to have something in the background like wall art. I recommend that you do not interview from your couch. Watch for other house noise like loud family members, dogs, or coffee shop noise. Watch your posture. Practice with the technology and ensure that your net connection works well. Keep a copy of your resume nearby, something to write with and on (since you don’t want to flip screens on your device generally during something important, but also because it’s your first time using the technology for an interview), and something to drink. Log in early! Good luck!

    5. Pilcrow

      Agree with the advice to test beforehand so you can anticipate what the interviewer will see. Make sure you’re face is being framed nicely and not some weird below the chin angle or only shows your forehead or so close they can count your nostril hairs.

      Remember to look at the camera lens, not the screen, particularly if your camera is mounted far from the screen. Most cameras are mounted above screens so looking at the screen (where the interviewer’s face is) comes off as you looking down an not making “eye contact.”

    6. 867-5309

      Yes to the comment on paying attention to the space behind you!

      Also, I usually wear a bright colored top (think jewel tones or black), not white. Also, where real pants (not sweat pants or the like) because it will put you in the mindset of being in an interview.

      Lastly, in my experience, the other attendees are also noticing how THEY look on the screen and also taking notes, so they won’t pay attention unless something stands out. Glare on glasses have never been an issue for me.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        Good advice here that I’ll add to…

        Put the camera at eye level. If using a laptop, you may want to prop up the device. No one wants to see up your nose, haha. Try to look at the camera, not at the screen so it appears you’re making eye contact.

        Agree with jewel tones and black for color choices. Avoid tight patterns or narrow-strips that can cause that weird camera effect of shimmering.

    7. EmilyG

      If you have pets, even if you think they will not pester you or will be asleep or whatever, lock them in a bedroom! Ask me how I know…

      1. Catleesi

        Yes! And if possible far away from where you will be doing the interview. Belonging to several needy cats – there is nothing quite like a loud and indignant MEOW right in the middle of an interview to throw you off and perhaps hurt your interview.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Personally, if I were the interviewer, I would love this and demand to see the kitty.

          1. EmilyG

            So this actually kind of happened to me… had a Skype interview during cat’s usual naptime. I figured if I woke her up and put her in the bedroom, she’d yell. And in my small apartment, it might be audible to the interviewers and certainly distracting to me. So I let her sleep… half hour into the interview I see her little head pop up on the chair next to where I was sitting. Tried to unnoticeably stretch my arm out to put my hand on her head and keep her there… then POP there she was on the keyboard right in front of the camera. They had me on a giant screen talking to about six people so apparently she was Godzilla size. But somehow it worked out, because they’re cat lovers, I got the job, everyone still remembers it. (Even though my dear cat is now gone.) I think it worked out because I handled the interruption well.

    8. Sam

      I wouldn’t worry about glare, but definitely dress professionally and have a clean background behind you. And if you’re interviewing from a laptop, it can help to sit it on a stack of books/papers/binders so you aren’t looking down at the camera! Having the webcam at eye level helps you make better eye contact on Skype!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood

      I haven’t _interviewed_ on Skype, but lessons I learned from conference calls:
      Ahead of time, check your background — no laundry, no toys, only tidy paperwork, and the visible area is clean. Choose a location out of earshot of the front door in case someone knocks loudly… preferably far away from the neighbor rebuilding a Harley.
      Day-of, turn off your house phone. If possible, turn off your doorbell. Consider putting up a note telling deliveries to leave packages at door between x and y o’clock. And if you ARE going to wear PJ bottoms, test your camera angle to learn what people will see if you DO have to get up for some reason. (Like “helpful” neighbors who are upset on your behalf that FedEx left a package by your front door… after the first time that happened, I started telling my elderly neighbor when I had a conference call. She was in 7th heaven watching my door *with my permission*!)

    10. legalchef

      In addition to what is said here, make sure that if you have popups on your computer enabled (new mail, imessage, etc), turn them off. Better yet, x out of any program other than skype.

    11. Escapee from Corporate Management

      A few tips on what not to do, having conducted Skype interviews:
      1. Don’t use your phone. Holding your phone for a 30-minute interview is touch. Seen too many jittery video feeds.
      2. Ensure you will be in a quiet place. Besides the obvious (e.g., don’t take the interview from your local coffeeshop), make sure your door is closed and, if there are other people in your location, they know not to bother you. If you have young children, try to ensure they will not come wandering into the office (as shown on the famous BBC interview).
      3. Don’t multitask. Yes, your computer is in front of you, but this is not the time to have your emails and messages open in other windows. Close down programs so you are not distracted.

      Good luck!

    12. Hold My Cosmo

      Have a drink of water (not spill-able), tissues, and lip balm nearby, but off camera. Coughing fits and runny noses always happen when you can’t afford to deal with them.

    13. Erin Withans

      Be sure to look at your actual camera when you’re answering, not at the screen where you can see them/yourself. It gives the impression of eye contact, and makes you ‘feel’ more present.

    14. TheOtherLiz

      I’ve evaluated a lot of skype interviews so here’s my advice from what I’ve seen done poorly:

      Think about your background and surroundings. I’ve seen people’s frilly pillowcases, had folks be backlit so they looked like they were anonymous witnesses in a Dateline piece, and heard people’s phone buzz – and seen them look down at texts – during interviews. Dress like you would in person, have a neutral or empty background. And if you have unavoidable circumstances, like you have to do it from the airport on the way to a family emergency, or your cat won’t leave you alone, acknowledging those and then carrying on will win the day. And everyone loves a nosey cat in an interview, right?

    15. Autumnheart

      You won’t get glare on your glasses as long as you don’t sit too close to a light source or a window. Put a light about 5 feet in front of you at a 45-degree angle. This will be close enough to light you, but not so close that you should have glare issues. You don’t want the light directly above you (makes you look like a criminal in a noir film) or behind you (makes your face hard to see).

      Also have a dark background on your computer screen, and tab to it while you’re on camera. Otherwise you’ll wind up with white browser reflections on your glasses.

    16. Hamburke

      Skype with a friend or if you have 2 computers that can be in the same room, you can skype yourself. You want to see that your lighting and sound work well and that you don’t have anything embarrassing in the background.

    17. Sara(h)

      If memory serves me correctly, Alison did a fantastic post on this a while back – I’m sure a lot of what she said is also included in the responses on this thread, but it’s worth looking it up!

  7. De Minimis

    I got the job I interviewed for last week! Really excited about it, but now it’s time to inform my supervisor and give notice. That’s always nerve wracking. Pretty sure they’ll have me work out the notice period [they did with the last person] but who knows.

    It doesn’t matter how much I dislike a job, it’s always difficult to have that conversation that you’re leaving. I was only here 7 months, but it was pretty obvious after a while that it wasn’t a fit for me, and thankfully what seems like the perfect opportunity came along.

    1. Ali G

      Awesome! Honestly, if it really wasn’t a good fit all around, they might just be relieved and wish you well.

      1. De Minimis

        I’m hoping for that, but I think there’s going to be some resentment because I’m part of several projects and am a backup to several people, and now they’re going to have to start all over with someone else, but….not my circus, not my monkeys. Hopefully they’ll find someone who is a better fit for the role.

        It’s been interesting for me too, after having had previous federal government experience [with what was more of a “field office’ type position] to realize that I’m not really a fit for the ultra-bureaucratic, “siloed” type of workplace. I think too, that since I was a contractor and not a regular employee, it was difficult for me to really feel a part of the team [though I have contractor coworkers here that are okay with things.]

    2. Bunny

      Just as long as you don’t write a letter, ask for a meeting with your boss, and then hand them the letter as your notice without saying anything, I think you’ll be fine.

    3. Marion Ravenwood

      Congratulations! Best of luck in your new role, and I hope things go OK with your supervisor.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      That’s great news! Try to just rip off the bandaid, I know it hurts but it’s so much better after the agonizing period right up until you get to just get the news out there!

      1. De Minimis

        And of course my supervisor has been on a call so far this morning with the door shut, so I’ll just have to keep waiting. Hopefully later this morning…

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          ARGH! Of course it would be one of those days.

          I’m still grateful I hated my last job so much and the owner that I waited until the very minute he finally sat down, swooped in and just dropped a “My last day is XXX, here I put it in writing too!” and flounced. But you my friend, you’re much better than I am [this is a good thing, I’m the worst!]

          1. De Minimis

            I was finally able to meet with her prior to another meeting that we’d had scheduled, and of course it was fine—just going to work these last couple of week on handing things over and ensuring coverage. Most of my job was backing up other people who are still going to be here, so I don’t think it’s going to be a huge issue for anyone.

            I wasn’t that happy with the job itself, but framed it more as my moving on to this exciting new opportunity.

    5. Quackeen

      Congratulations!

      I just did something similar, leaving a job after 5 months. When I gave my notice, it was extremely awkward, but I kept focusing on the transition plan and what I could do to document and shift my work. The good thing is, notice periods are finite and everyone gets through them.

  8. You Can Take My Life But You Cannot Take My Braid

    I’m still cracking up about Braidgate from early this week. I have long hair that I wear either in a braid or loose every day. I get it trimmed every 2-3 months, and it has layers, so it’s thick and healthy, and not ratty looking. It definitely can get a little wild though! Despite this, I have made 4 career advancements in the past 6 years, increasing my salary from $12/hour to $60,000/year. All with my braid. Pretty sure I even wore a braid to the interview for my current job.(Just wait till you hear about my shoes/skirt length/lack of makeup!)

    I agreed with some of the comments that a lot of the expectations on women’s hair seem more tied to whether we spent a lot of time on it than whether it looks nice.

    1. Amber Rose

      My hair is the longest and healthiest it’s been since high school and I am never cutting it again (aside from regular trims for split ends). And I refuse to tie it back because I don’t want to. Doesn’t seem to have affected my life in any way, which is why I was surprised that certain kinds of hairstyles are more professional than others. If it’s not bedhead or greasy, then leave it alone.

      Further exceptions: That trend when I was a kid of people spiking their hair with glue sticks. Don’t do that either. Professional or not, just don’t do it.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Mine too–it’s long and blonde and I like wearing it down. I interview with neat clean hair that’s styled nicely, the way I’d wear it to work every day. I really don’t care what anyone thinks.
        And I figured out a way to do it without heat or taking hours in the morning to style, so hey.

        1. Jsrbv

          I have long hair too and now it’s randomly become curly. I wear it down to interviews too. I like how it looks, I’m comfortable and confident, I’ve had long hair for a long time so I don’t touch it or anything.

    2. Ali G

      That was an interesting thread! I think my view comes from the fact that I have very fine hair. At some point, it’s just too long for itself – so I could never have long, healthy looking hair. When I do let it grow too long (sheer laziness on my part) I tend to not even try to style it and a low braid while it’s still wet is my go-to. Which obviously I would never do for an interview, big meeting, etc. In that case I would get my butt up early enough to make it presentable.
      But it was weird the vast divide in opinions! I don’t think I would judge *someone else* on their hair length/style, I just know *for me* it feels unprofessional because it comes from my lack of attention to myself.

      1. Autumnheart

        I have long-ish fine hair, and when it gets to a certain point, I braid it and then put the braid into a bear clip. It looks like a fancy bun and also helps the clip stay in my hair.

    3. Manders

      Hah, yes, I was surprised people were so worked up over that! I think you’re right about expectations for women’s hair. I managed to find a low-effort hairstyle that looks professional, but mostly because my hair happens to air dry in a way that looks like I’ve spent more effort on styling than I actually did.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.

      Yeah, I’m an old, I don’t wear makeup, and I wear my long, curly, gray hair in a braid at the office. Every workplace is different, and everybody’s experience is different. But I think some readers must be working in “fishbowl” offices where there is just way, way too much attention paid to little details of people’s appearance rather than their actual work. And I’m still laughing at the extrapolation that someone would automatically assume lice in my household if they saw my hair in a braid. Also I will never stop laughing at the suggestion that braids, in and of themselves, are somehow “cultural appropriation” of indigenous culture.

      1. You Can Take My Life But You Cannot Take My Braid

        The sisterwife comments were weird too. Even if a braid *was* part of a conservative religion (like the Mennonites)… sometimes women in conservative religious groups work. Deal with it!

        1. ThatGirl

          Not all Mennonites are conservative and while I’ve certainly seen my fair share with braids (usually put up in a bun) it’s not a Mennonite Thing.

          But yes, plenty of Menno women work.

          (I’m a Mennonite PK so this is a Thing for me.)

          1. You Can Take My Life But You Cannot Take My Braid

            Didn’t mean to imply that, sorry! I know a lot of progressive Mennonites. I particularly meant the ones who often get mistaken for Amish.

      2. Manders

        Yes! A lot of the criticism seemed to be an attempt to come up with some sort of universal rule for a personal preference. It’s totally fine to prefer braids or no braids for your own hair, you don’t have to come up with a reason why a very common hairstyle is secretly sending some sort of extreme cultural or religious signal.

        I do think some people who were working the “cultural appropriation” angle were conflating several different hairstyles. Very small, tight braids and cornrows do have a cultural meaning in many areas, but the OP seemed to be describing putting long, straight hair in a single large braid.

      3. ThursdaysGeek

        Although I usually wear my long, greying hair down, I’ve decided to wear in a braid more often, . Actually two braids. That’s what I have today – two pigtails with non-matching hair ties. No makeup. No trimming my hair (I don’t get split ends).

      4. Kettles

        “I will never stop laughing at the suggestion that braids, in and of themselves, are somehow “cultural appropriation” of indigenous culture.”

        …..

        There have been braids in literally every culture since the dawn of time.

        1. Le Sigh

          Yeah, I mean, there are specific kinds of braid styles that *can* be appropriation depending on who’s wearing them. But I feel like people were conflating braids as a whole with “specific styles and types that have meaning or history within a group or religion.”

          1. Sunshine

            Sure! I can understand people saying box braids on white folk are appropriation, or as you say, acknowledging that certain styles are culturally specific. But these are plaits. They’ve been seen on Neolithic sculptures. Celts braided their hair, as did visigoths and Romans and Vikings. It’s just a… baffling pov.

        2. Tiny Soprano

          There’s a tutorial on youtube for a braided hairstyle found on the >2000 year old Danish bog-preserved body known as the ‘Elling Woman.’ Just in case anyone wants to rock some Iron Age Danish braids.

      5. Move Over Thrawn - Florian Munteanu is BIGGER than you!

        The cultural appropriation belief was just insane. Seriously?

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I usually wear my hair down or at most some swept up in a clip.

      I also wear blouses with adorable prints on them because I do what I want. I look professional, I’m not interested in working for anyone who doesn’t hire me because I wear my hair any specific way or didn’t wear the pants [lol skirts, no] they expect.

      If it’s business wear, it’s business wear. Deal or don’t, I had the same advancements as you have but my advancements were awhile back, when I was even less put together.

    6. Pinky Pie

      This topic was surprisingly personal for me. The bit boss from heck used my hair length to torture me to the point she’d send me to the bathroom to fix my hair. I stayed in long enough to wash my hands and she was satisfied. I had lovely hair that went to my mid back at the time. Finally, just to get the witch off my back, I cut it to short short and have regretted it to this day.

    7. Drax

      Actually I thought about that yesterday when I was going for an interview. Psyched me out, as my hair was a bit unruly so I normally would have braided part of it to keep it neat.

      Ended up going with my hair loose and bit wild, which is another faux pas as it’s long (past mid-back, I didn’t realize how long it was getting) but it didn’t seem to be an issue with my suit so I’m okay with that decision.

      1. You Can Take My Life But You Cannot Take My Braid

        All the competing advice and expectations about women’s appearance definitely take a hit to our confidence in interviews and other high stakes situations. It sucks.

      2. RPCV

        I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to say this, but I don’t think I’d want to work for a manager who paid so much attention to my hair for an interview that it affected their opinion of me that much. Bullet dodged!

        I get that first impressions are a thing, and matter, but if you can’t get past something as minor as someone’s hairstyle choice for the interview, then the problem is you, not the interviewee!

        At any rate, I hope your interview went well and the manager isn’t that type. Good luck!

        1. xarcady

          Well, I did notice once that a candidate for a job had what looked like hair that had not been washed or combed in days, with a crooked part. It made her look unkempt.

          If she had been a better candidate, I might have overlooked that. But everything about her was messy/sloppy–her clothes, her resume–two pages, single spaced, with each job taking 2-3 lines. She’d had, if I remember correctly, 15-20 jobs in the past 3 years.

          So the hair was one part of a larger picture that made me say, “Nope.”

          But I’ve interviewed a lot of people, and that’s the only one where the applicant’s appearance left a lasting memory. Mostly, I just got a impression that this person was appropriately dressed/groomed for potential client visits and didn’t think about it again.

      3. designbot

        I was actually a bit surprised at the suggestion that wearing one’s hair back is potentially required. I happen to think I look most put together when my hair is down. While I seldom get haircuts, my hair is full, healthy looking, shiny, and well cared for, and I regularly get complements on it and stopped by people asking who does it. Maybe it’s a Leo thing (ha, because today’s astrology letter), but my mane is one of my best features and I’ll be darned if you’re going to convince me that tucking it away is the only way to be professional. I feel like the people saying that are the same ones who think a beard is not appropriate for a professional man.

    8. Environmental Compliance

      People are so incredibly weird about hair. Like ExBossLady, who threw a hissy when I mentioned in passing (to another coworker, who had short hair) that I was thinking about getting a pixie cut again, because a Young Woman (I’m nearly 30…) like myself should never get hair that Short, it’s too Unprofessional.

      New job, new pixie cut, much better situation all ’round.

      And funnily enough, prior to Pixie EC, I had elbow length hair that I kept in a french braid 95% of the time, as ponytails gave me headaches, and I hated having my hair constantly on my face.

      1. Bunny Girl

        I have a longer pixie, and soon I’ll be doing a short pixie for the summer. I personally think I look a lot more professional now than I did when I had really long hair. That might just be me though. My hair was healthy when it was longer but I wasn’t interested in taking care of it. It took two full days to air dry and I just didn’t have the will to blow dry it.

        On top of it being more professional for me, I think I also look my age more. I’m almost 30 and when I had long, long hair a lot of people mistook me for a teenager.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          Same here to all the above! I have thick hair that just never lays right when long, and took forever to dry even with a blow dryer. And it’s nice to be immediately taken seriously when I walk into a group of contractors rather than someone confused on why the intern is out and about (seriously).

    9. Kiki

      Allison’s initial response and a lot of the anti-braid comments bothered me because it seemed to be rooted in personal preference (or a childhood experience involving braids and lice??) more than any professional reason. I feel like there is a pervasive mental model of the modern professional woman that is embodied by Sheryl Sandberg: white, upper-middle class to wealthy, blown-out hair. That just isn’t attainable for most women on a daily basis.

      I have thick, curly hair. Until recently, it was common advice to straighten/ blow out curly hair for interviews because it is more professional. Blowing out my own hair is a skill I could develop, but it shouldn’t be a professional requirement. I braid my hair frequently for work because it is quick and keeps my hair looking consistently neat in all climates (an issue for curly hair). Imo, it looks neater than a ponytail for my hair.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Honestly, I think my initial response had a blindspot about hair texture. At least here in D.C., someone with fine, straight hair wearing a long, thin braid down their back would look unprofessional. (Note D.C. is really conservative about this stuff, so that’s influencing me.) Someone with thick, curly hair wearing a braid would look fine. I was picturing the former, and was wrong not to consider the latter as well.

        And I know people were annoyed at the statements the former would be frowned on. And personally, I don’t give a crap how anyone wears their hair. But I do think some looks will come across as more polished/professional than others, and a long thin braid of fine/straight hair is going to register as less than professional for a lot of people.

        1. Batgirl

          Ah! You’re talking about a plait! I forgot the UK/US differences in wording. Here, ‘braid’ doesnt mean a three strand plait, it means woven right down the middle of the head (for non afro hair at least) like a French or Dutch style. It is much more popular with thick hair because you end up with a thick well styled rope, much better than the wild woman alternatives. Possibly on thin hair a hanging plait could look a little rat-taily. Honestly don’t know though, as you don’t tend to see it?

      2. EddieSherbert

        Yeah, a lot of these “rules” don’t seem to be an option for curly hair. Honestly, anytime I pull my hair back in any way (ponytail or braid or bun), I wear a headband (usually a very thin – less then 1/2 and inch thick – black headband) to avoid having little frizzies sticking out everywhere. If I skipped the headband, I’d probably need 12 bobbypins. I can’t imagine how some people would take me wearing a headband in a professional environment…

        (I lovingly call the two MOST prominent short hair frizzy spots my devils horns… because, yup, for some reason I always have a clump of really short 4-6 inch long hairs right above my temple. So professional looking!)

        1. Sloan Kittering

          What ARE those?? I have them too – and curly hair here. My mom used to get so angry with me as a kid for “cutting my hair” (thinking I was trying to cut bangs, I guess??) but it has always grown in that way. I also call them my horns or my beetle antenna. It is not a great look (nor very professional I’m sure). The gel only goes so far.

          1. EddieSherbert

            Right? I’m 95% sure mine have never been cut or trimmed, period – and yet, they’re eternally always the same length! So weird. I love the idea of ‘beetle antenna’, though!

          2. Tiny Soprano

            This is the whole reason I cut bangs. To hide the frizzies. In high school my friends used to call them ‘steel wool’ and I’ve definitely thought they looked like devil horns before.

          3. Batgirl

            My nana called them kiss curls. No idea why as ‘bits of steel wool’ is more like it. There’s an afro hair styling expression which seems way more apt: ‘baby hairs’ which explains their permanent shortness. There’s a whole afro styling thing of making sure they are gelled down or pomaded flat which is called ‘laid’. I’ve tried it but laid baby hair is much for my caucasian curls; it makes em look greasy instead of the cutely smoothed look of afro hair. Spritzing them with Shea Moisture coconut water does work though (for me). As does my nan’s trick of tucking them inside a pin curl with product or finger wrapping them. A toothbrush spritzed with hair spray will also comb them back into a pulled back hair style sometimes.

        2. Elizabeth West

          I have a big old cowlick that always flips my hair up on one side. It’s really obvious when I have bangs–it took me ages to grow them out. Even though I have a fivehead, I don’t really want to wear bangs again because it’s impossible to style properly!

      3. You Can Take My Life But You Cannot Take My Braid

        I definitely agree about the expectation about blown out air. Blow drying hair is hard (I’m in my 30s and still couldn’t blow my hair out close to like a hair dresser can), time consuming, and damaging to hair. It’s a ridiculous expectation.

    10. Slovenly Braid Cultist

      I’m still a little startled by it! But I guess the world takes all kinds. I probably wouldn’t be happy in the sort of office that demands high heels, makeup, short hair and all, so it’s for the best that they’d never hire me because my hair’s too long.

      I am still a little wounded to think that so many people are apparently dry heaving because I’ve got the audacity to exist in public with my disgustingly long (clean! Braided!) hair. But not enough to cut it to please them. C’est la vie.

      1. DaffyDuck

        I was really surprised also. I always thought a French braid was considered chic and very professional. I have long hair, when I was younger it was past my hips but currently is mid back. Ponytail or French braid for home, usually some sort of clip for the top/front, part on the side and a small braid for the top, or a bun for when I go out “fancy”. Sure is funny seeing what folks think is acceptable.
        FWIW I am over 50 and my mother always liked short hair. Started growing mine long as a teenager (what a rebel!) and as it has always been healthy and very amenable to styling just kept it that way.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          In a previous office with much longer hair….I always french-braided my hair, and tucked the end up under the braid itself with a spiral pin. 99% of that was I hated having my hair on my face or my neck and I knew how to braid. Somehow my ponytails always looked lumpy (thanks, cowlicks!), and I couldn’t do a fancy up style to save my life, so a braid it was.

          Now I solve the issue of hair-in-face-or-sticking-to-neck by having a pixie cut, which I think suits my lifestyle/face a lot better, but I’ve never thought anything of someone having generically braided hair.

    11. Coverage Associate

      Another funny thing is corporette occasionally talks about making sure your “look” isn’t “fussy.” I remember a post about whether a ponytail with a twist was too complicated to be serious/professional.

      So, yeah, just can’t win.

      1. Tiny Soprano

        I searched ‘hair’ on corporette after reading your comment (because I must be a masochist) and oh my god. If your boss is paying that much attention to your ponytail there’s something seriously wrong with your office.

    12. Rebecca

      I wear my nearly waist length hair down, not styled, it does whatever it wants. It does not affect my job performance, so in my mind, that’s what matters.

    13. Dr. Doll

      If it’s good enough for Jane Goodall, it’s good enough for me. So I put my straight, fine, getting-thinner medium brown hair into a smooth ponytail every single day.

      I appreciate “You Can Take My Life’s” observation that it’s more about looking like we spent Time and Money than whether hair (or other aspects of appearance) looks nice. Sigh.

    14. ello mate

      Omg are you me!? I wear a braid and in the last 4 years have went from $12 an hour to 60k-EXACTLY. Go braided ladies.

    15. dawbs

      I also think this is one of the places where the AAM world has some white collar tunnel vision.

      Loose long hair is a hazard.
      I always wear my hair back or up, and in the last 20 years I’ve still managed to set it on fire (not BADLY-and to be fair, my hair tie literally broke and sent my hair cascading down onto the material I was soldering), caught it in a small motor for an electrical lesson for kids (which isn’t dangerous as much as it just rips out chunks rather painfully) , and managed to coat it in some harmless but difficult to wash out chemicals (ok, slime. It was slime. Slime DOES wash out with enough water, FTR).

      Which isn’t to say that everyone has to wear their hair up all the time–I don’t. But I do consider people who wear their hair up to the interview to be more dressed for the job; the same way I’d consider them wearing closed toed shoes (no open toes here!) more dressed for the job. And I’d consider the scraggly braid (which is what I have when I braid) to be a very slightly better choice than loose. (although neither would keep someone from getting a job)

      But I ALSO have a supply of new-in-package hair things (a variety. clips, sticks, and elastic bands, bobby pins, spin pins–I am an effing 1 shoebox drugstore, of supplies for students) on my desk that I hand out when I’m showing off things that are hair-bringers (ha) of doom.

    16. Lucy

      I have had one or more braids in my hair every day since, to smoke out the commentariat.

      And although there’s otherwise no change to my “look” (e.g. a narrow braid on one side, into a bun or ponytail like 99% of other days) I have had several compliments each day. So I’m not sure what to conclude from the experiment.

  9. Snark

    Well, I’m finally back in my office after the bomb cyclone/snowpocalypse/blizzicane turned Colorado into a bad knockoff of The Day After Tomorrow for two days. And even then, it was a good thing I have a Subaru with snow tires. Working in the middle of nowhere is really quite a thing.

    This is going to be the most productive Friday ever!

      1. rubyrose

        My lights flickered some, but was not bad. I work at home, so did not have to deal with the roads.

    1. Snark

      Accidentally hit return and it submitted….since my workplace occasionally does a good impression of Siberia in the winter, anyone got any tips for hitting the ground running after a snow day or two knocks you off kilter?

      1. Happy Lurker

        YMMV – relaxing music at very low volume on my phone, minimize and ignore my email, shut all non task windows on my computer and half shut my door. A lot of times I skip the music and mutter to myself. I pick one big task and hit it hard for an hour or so, eat a snack and hit the next.
        Good luck!

    2. Elizabeth West

      We got the rain arm from that, along with a crap ton of very high wind (50 mph gusts). I wonder–if you drove a high-profile vehicle in your job, would it be acceptable to call in under those conditions? A semi-truck actually got blown over in Texas!

    3. JenRN

      Oh no. Just no. We get the Colorado lows after they’ve dumped on you, hit the Great Lakes and loaded up on moisture and then it dumps on us. We’ve had over 2.5 m of snow fall this year and anything that falls now is wet and heavy. I love snow and winter, but I am so over it this year.

  10. Amber Rose

    I have no work to do. Rather, the system I need to do all the work piled on my desk is badly damaged, has been sent away for repairs, and I’m under strict orders to pretend for the time being that it never existed because anyone trying to get in right now may possibly break it worse. We can’t ship anything. We can’t build anything, because we can’t order any parts. I can’t look up any information. But, as is typical, I’m not allowed to do non-work things like read or crochet (because I’m being paid to work, natch). I have to look like I’m working while being unable to work. Even my boss is at a loss.

    I’M DYING. SEND ENTERTAINMENT. D:

    In other news, I’m not threatening. I gave everyone shit for being passive aggressive in a meeting (because I’m tired of people coming to me to complain about other people and asking me to deal with it) and one of upper management said that was awesome, but I should ask him to back me up when I because he’s more threatening than I am. I was thinking I should switch to leather, tattoos and a pompadour to boost my intimidation check, what do you think?

    1. No Tribble At All

      Detective Rosa Diaz is intimidating. Ergo, you should switch your hair to something crazy every week like she did in that episode with the robo-murder. Then you will be intimidating like Rosa Diaz.

        1. valentine

          You can’t go wrong with leather, tattoos, and a pompadour. Also 13/10 recommend a switchblade comb and a really sharp snap of the fingers.

        1. JanetM

          This mental image makes me very happy. (I have hair down to my knees. I can’t imagine how much product it would take to turn it into a mohawk.)

          1. Seeking Second Childhood

            Try it the old fashioned way: beaten egg whites. Seriously. You can play with it and make pound cake with the yolks. ;)

    2. Hold My Cosmo

      If you are actually interested in appearing more intimidating, cultivate the often-recommended AAM viewpoint of observing your colleagues as if you are an outsider viewing a strange civilization. It will help you to get some mental distance from the situation, and acting slightly aloof and disinterested (rather than reactive and stressed out) can be intimidating. Emotional investment = vulnerability.

      That said, don’t completely check out, or you risk seeming like you don’t want to be there at all.

      1. Amber Rose

        I already do that, honestly. Mostly because I frequently feel like a stranger in a strange civilization. Like, why are my coworkers currently discussing the most deadly mushrooms on earth? Why was my boss talking to someone else about body hair waxing a little while ago? Does nobody else find it weird that people sometimes jokingly offer each other sexual favors at work?

        I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me exactly, but it’s so friggin weird around here all the time.

    3. Hey Karma, Over here.

      My mom was five foot nothing, wore wool suits and one in pumps. She was the assistant to the CEO and scared the living shit out of everybody.
      She said that at work, quotes to her included:
      “you never yell.”
      “You never swear”
      “you never sweat”
      to which I replied,
      “Well CLEARLY I got someone else’s fucking genes.”

      1. Amber Rose

        My mom was the same way. Five foot two, wore pink suits and pumps and had short curly hair, and she scared the hell out of everyone. She had a way of seeming much taller than she was. She was in business, negotiating with airlines to create new routes, extremely well known and respected in her field, and managed to achieve all that without even a college degree.

        I did not inherit her drive and presence. I am a wilting wallflower of a human being most of the time.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood

      Do you have any device that will get you to the internet? If yes, time to google “free online courses”!

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      My dear old boss told my predecessor, who was at the time trying to replace herself, that he wanted her to hire someone who was “punk rock” and “took no sht”.

      Little did they know when I rolled in I had just went through a massive overhaul post-leaving my last job who didn’t care what I did to my hair/clothes. I never did go back because I had outgrown it by that point but I cackle at the idea of this image being intimidating.

    1. caliopi

      I’m sorry. I’ve been laid off before. It sucks. I know there isn’t much I can say to make you feel better. But I diligently job searched and found my way. I hope you have luck on the new job front.

    2. PlatypusOo

      Actually, yes! I was working as a dresser for a comedian who was doing a shoot for Netflix. His wife had a “problem” with me and made up these insane lies about an interaction we had and I was asked to leave the building. Super depressing.

        1. PlatypusOo

          I’ll never know the answer and it seems wacky to say but…I don’t know what else it could be.

    3. ChimericalOne

      That sucks. A lot. :( My advice from when I got fired a few years back: Take a week to yourself, if you can. Go for a walk. Enjoy a book. Clean your house. Whatever gets your mind off it. Give yourself a little time to process. Then set a schedule for getting back out there — applying for however many hours per day, working on your resume, etc.

      I hope you find yourself in better circumstances soon!

    4. PlatypusOo

      Also: sorry if you are having a bad time right now. Even if you didn’t like the job getting fired is so demoralizing.

      1. Zephy

        > Even if you didn’t like the job getting fired is so demoralizing.

        +1 to that. Happened to me around this time last year.

    5. CastIrony

      I’m so sorry! I may be joining you soon.

      Take care of yourself and take a break before you search for another job!

    6. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Not this week. But other weeks.
      Make a list of all the things you thought about doing while you were at work but couldn’t because you were at work and try to do some of them. It helped me feel like I was in control of my time and my life.
      (Full disclosure, it was 11 in the morning. I was eating some instant cheesy potatoes and watching sitcom reruns interrupted by infomercials and thinking that my life was crap without my job. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t like that job. All day at that job, I imagined being somewhere else doing something else. So I put down my fork, got up and did those things.)

      1. Grandma Mazur

        I thought you were going to say that eating instant cheesy potatoes and watching sitcom reruns was what you had imagined doing while you were at work…

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.

          HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
          That was 20 years ago. I think that’s exactly what I’d do now!

    7. Drew

      Not this week but in the past I’ve been – well, not FIRED, as such, but it was gently suggested that I should resign at the end of my current contract to avoid the unpleasantness of going through with a firing. It worked out – I was growing to hate the job anyway and needed a change – and the timing gave me the chance to find something more suited to me and save face with coworkers.

      It still sucked. I’m sorry, #squad.

    8. Sandman

      Not this week, but I have been fired before. They were really unkind about it, too – it was such a dysfunctional office. The worst thing about it was letting it get to my head and affect who I believed myself to be at a deeper level, not thinking that I had landed in a bad place or even done bad work but that I was terrible and incapable of succeeding. It really messed me up. I hope that’s not the direction you go, but if you do I’d encourage you to get yourself into therapy or similar to deal with that kind of fall-out before it affects you in the long run. Good luck. <3

  11. OOPS

    Green food themed potluck at work today. I made pistachio fluff (pistachio pudding, pineapple, & cool whip).

    Turns out, my supervisor is allergic to pineapple and one of my teammates is allergic to all nuts. Luckily, I put a note on the dish listing the ingredients so I didn’t accidentally poison anyone.

    1. Bunny Girl

      I miss having potlucks every so often. I really love to bake but my boyfriend and I are both trying to lose about 50 pounds each so I don’t bake at home for us a lot.

    2. CupcakeCounter

      I just found out I’m allergic to pineapple too – it blows as pineapple is delicious!

    3. Mbarr

      Pistachio fluff. Ugh. When I was little, I used to cry when my parents made this cause I hated it so much. And we had a rule in our household that all the kids were allowed ONE thing they didn’t have to eat (mine was broccoli), so pistachio fluff was still forced upon me.

      (To be fair, a couple of years ago, my mom made it again, and I didn’t hate it… But the childhood trauma was still too real. Also, what kind of parents force their kids to eat a pudding/cool whip combo?! LOL)

      1. Happy Lurker

        Mine was baked beans. I had to sit in front of it for 2-3 hours one Saturday night and was then served it for breakfast Sunday morning. I will never ever tell my father that now, 35 years later, I love baked beans.

      2. Elizabeth West

        We had a three-bite rule. You had to eat three bites of whatever it was before you could leave the table. My brother was the Crown Prince Picky of The Kingdom of Whine, so he always ended up sitting there the longest.

        We also had to taste a food before we could say “I don’t like that.” I instigated this rule when I had a *stepdaughter* and it backfired on me when I had to try a spaghetti sandwich. >_<

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Tell, them, hey man, potlucks are not for the weak. You get your plate and you take your chance.
      This week on Survivor: Office Potluck…

    5. Stop Touching Me!

      I’m a huge fan of labeling dishes with allergens, or ingredients in general (I never would have thought of pineapple as an allergen!). It’s just courteous to everyone! Kudos for doing that! (Also, that dish sounds delicious!)

    6. Drew

      Mmm, I love that stuff and my mom still makes it for every holiday dinner. We usually add marshmellows and pecans or walnuts, and I’ve been known to sub in mandarin oranges for half of the pineapple.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood

      “I don’t know what it is, but it’s green!” –Scotty, Star Trek the first

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          A little bit of background for this… I lived after college as the one white kid with four or five people of Asian ancestry. I learned to cook some Vietnamese some Taiwanese some Singapore you get the idea. So fast forward a few years and I’m dating someone who grew up working in his family’s restaurant and had gone to cooking school. I cooked Vietnamese stir fry and he asked about the nuoc mam. I had just poured a small spoonful for the pot so held it towards him and said try it. He thought I was offering him the whole spoon and downed the whole spoon. He still hasn’t forgiven me. If you don’t know nuoc mam either, well… it’s as intensely salty as soy sauce but fermented from fish not soy.
          Think liquid anchovies.
          I had expected him to touch a finer to the sauce and taste a drop. He ate the spoonful.

  12. Admin by Day Roller Derby by Night

    My institution sites workman’s comp as a reason for having an official “no working from home” policy. They seem to be saying “what if you get injured? you’re not really at work, but you are! What then?” Is this a thing that could actually cause them problems?

    1. Amber Rose

      No? It’s handled the same as if you got hurt while driving to the store for work. If you’re acting in the reasonable course of your duties and you get hurt, it’s a workplace injury regardless of where it happened.

      I mean, IANAL or an expert in worker’s comp law around the world and maybe it’s different where you are, but I don’t see why it would be.

    2. Natalie

      It doesn’t cause a problem in the sense of providing coverage – workers comp policy’s cover employees any time they are working, whether or not they are on the employer’s premises. A plumber that works in client homes or an admin sent to the office supply store are still covered by their company’s workers comp policy even though they are off the company’s premises. Similarly, a remote worker would generally be covered in their home assuming remote work is allowed by their employer.

      They may actually be concerned about their lack of control over the premises and/or the likely lack of witnesses to an injury, or they’re just uncomfortable with WFH and are reaching for reasons.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise

      I think the concern (which is likely overplayed) is they have no way of knowing how safe your home is. You could be a resident of Ghost Ship for all they know. But I don’t think it’s a serious concern. I can’t speak to the legal aspects…

      1. Overeducated

        My workplace has a “self-certification” checklist you have to fill out for home workplace safety before being allowed to telework, so I guess that’s how they can cover themselves. They define telework as permission to work at an approved alternate work station, not just anywhere outside of the office.

        1. Admin by Day Roller Derby by Night

          Oh, that’s a good suggestion to bring to them if I ever wanted to press the issue.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood

          Similarly, when I did a significant chunk of 100% telecommute, I had to get approval that involved a form describing my dedicated work space, level of internet access, etc. And provide photos of the work space.
          If you suspect that’s an issue, some of those forms might be online for borrowing.

      2. Not Me

        This is why. If they really wanted to allow people to work remotely they could require an affidavit and pictures of your work environment. There are also OSHA concerns with remote working, data security, etc. It’s a pretty big can of worms legally for an employer.

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Only problems caused by people who call shenanigans on their crap reasoning. If you don’t want employees working from home, say you don’t want employees working from home.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

        At Oldjob, if you wanted to work from home on a regular basis, they would send someone out to your home to take a look at your work space and make sure it was “up to par”

    5. That Girl From Quinn's House

      “Hi, I’d like to apply for Worker’s Comp. I got absorbed in writing a reply to your email, and failed to feed my cat on time, so she scratched me.”

  13. No Tribble At All

    Examples of stuff working well because everyone behaved like a reasonable person at work: go!

    I joined a new team (A) but still sat next to team (B). After agonizing about being disruptive, I asked someone on team (B) who sits next to team (A) if he would swap desks with me, and he said yes! He works remotely half the time and doesn’t care about his desk. My convenient cubicle will be ready on Monday :)

    1. Garland not Andrews

      What a very sensible and logical thing to do! Amazing what just talking and communicating with your coworkers can do! :-)

    2. NACSACJACK

      Yeah!!! One of our contractors sits at a desk halfway across the floor but is over here conferring with my colleagues. I wish I could offer up my desk since I work solo a lot, but I have an employee desk9six feet/two monitors/file cabinet/bookshelf) and he has a contractor desk (3 feet/1 monitor). :(

    3. Jadelyn

      I was still using the same computer I was given when I started working here 5 years ago, and it was starting to slow down badly, right as my role is growing to include more intensive data analysis work. I agonized over looking demanding or spoiled (love those millennial stereotypes…) for asking for an upgraded machine, but after encouragement – on an open thread here in fact – I sent an email to my boss asking what we could do about either upgrading my current machine or requesting a new one that can handle the stuff they need me to do now.

      The response came back literally 5 minutes later: “Of course! Write up the specs you need and I’ll send the request to the head of IT.”

      Just last week, they set up my new baby. Current-gen hex-core i5 processor, 16G RAM, a 256G SSD, running Windows 10 Pro. I hadn’t even asked for that much, lol – I did request a current-gen i5 with a minimum of 8G and Win10 instead of 8.1, but I didn’t even mention an SSD, and they gave me more RAM than I originally asked for. Amazingly, my company is staffed with people who understand the value of investing in good-quality equipment for people to work on, and nobody thought their budding data analyst asking for an upgrade from a 5-year-old computer was over the top. Who’d have guessed?

    4. LKW

      I scheduled a meeting and someone sent me an invite for the same time that had several other people from my meeting invited to their meeting. I sent a note and said “Can you move your meeting to an hour earlier? I need the following four people at my meeting for this specific purpose. ” …. and she moved the meeting!

    5. Seeking Second Childhood

      My new office is near a large open area that does not yet have any cubicles in it, just two sofas. Twice this week I have poked my head around the corner, tapped my ear, and ducked back into my cubicle and my co-workers came over to apologize for being loud.
      We all commiserated saying soothing things about terrible open offices and voices carrying…and went on with our day. And I didn’t even use my words!

    6. Jasnah

      My office sent around a poll asking if we should get a fridge/microwave. We got enough votes to get a fridge/microwave. They’re pretty nice and clean still. No fights that I’ve seen so far.

  14. Trout 'Waver

    I want to give a shout-out to a certain company that e-mailed me not one, but two rejection notes simultaneously for the same job. The first said the job posting was closed due to business needs causing the position to be eliminated. The second said they were only proceeding with more qualified candidates.

    Way to give confidence you know what you’re doing, guys.

    1. Art3mis

      I had a company that emailed me a rejection and then called me twice, I guess to make sure I knew they weren’t interested.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Maybe you should warn the qualified candidates that the position is being eliminated. /s

      I am very sorry you got the rejection notices.

    3. Zephy

      Sounds like a bullet dodged to me. Or a whole bunch of bullets dodged, Matrix-style, more likely.

    4. Autumnheart

      I feel bad for whoever they hire. He’s gonna get to work and find out he’s out of a job!

  15. I Work on a Hellmouth

    Well guys, it has turned out to be a pretty terrible week, even by Hellmouth standards. There have been termite swarms in apartments, baby squirrels trapped in heater closets wreaking havoc (assumedly adorably), a terrible instance where I laughed about the squirrels and then learned that my boss was making some hideous homophobic joke at the expense of the pest control lady who was dealing with the squirrel situation and THOUGHT I WAS LAUGHING AT HER JOKE, McGruff… well, she has decided that I am her enemy and am sabotaging her (and she also has been slipping out to make 30 minute personal calls several times per day this week which has my boss on the warpath, which McGruff is also blaming me for), and all of the usual fun. It was mostly rolling off of my back, because 1) My boss being mad at McGruff means I am out of her doghouse and can work without being gaslit, given impossible projects, or otherwise punished, and 2) The job hunting is going well and I think I might have some pretty good prospects that might actually (finally) turn into employment offers. I was feeling really buoyant and hopeful—and then a resident tried to physically attack me.

    I want to stress that I am okay. The resident was stopped from actually laying hands on me. But it was extremely upsetting. It started with a phone call, where the resident called demanding to speak to the manager (who was off property) about an issue with a service request, and who snapped in the middle of the call and began yelling and being really aggressive before threatening that she was coming over right then to see my “rude ass” (guys, we have the call recorded and I have listened to it several times since, and I still don’t know why she flipped out and started screaming). I went to tell my leasing staff to call the courtesy officer and the maintenance crew right away because I felt that this person really was heading directly to office and felt that she might continue shouting/create a scene and refuse to leave when asked. Then all of a sudden she was screeching into the parking lot and charging into the office, demanding to know “Who is Hellmouth?! Where the hell is Hellmouth?!” I tried to calm them down, they kept yelling. I told them they would have to step outside and come back when we could all be calm. They refused and started swearing. I told them that they couldn’t yell and swear in the office and would have to step outside. They told me the “could damn well say whatever they wanted to to [my] ass” for what they pay to live here. I told them if they did not leave they would be escorted out and instructed McGruff to call the courtesy officer, they said that they were going to “hand me my ass” and lunged right at me. Fortunately, the one good maintenance tech that we have had gotten to the office at this point (the courtesy officer, it turns out, was off on a vacation that no one knew about and everyone else figured someone else would go to the office), jumped in front of them and caught them, and physically escorted them out.

    So I’ve filed a police report, I’m pressing charges, the property is filing for eviction (although I don’t think my boss has filled out an incident report or told corporate about anything—however, I’ve made sure to tell my corporate mentor about it), and I am (obviously) very desperate to leave. My boyfriend and I crunched the numbers again and I still can’t quit without another job lined up, but at least it seems like I have prospects on the not-too-far-off horizon? I have an interview for an admin position next week, and while the job is not as awesome as some of the ones I have applications in progress for over at Local Big University, if I get an offer and it meets my minimum income requirements I will very gratefully take it.

    1. Snark

      Jesus, I read this every week and long for popcorn, but this one is just downright scary af. Get the hell out of there, even at the cost of my entertainment.

    2. Amber Rose

      I think of you every now and then and involuntarily cross all my fingers and toes that you escape soon with your health and sanity. Sometimes I feel like you should get one of those paranormal investigator types from those TV shows to go over and see if you’re actually on a real hellmouth.

    3. Marion Ravenwood

      Jesus. That sounds awful. I’m glad you’re OK, but that’s… really quite worrying. Fingers crossed one of the jobs you’ve applied for says yes! (And if they don’t, I will happily contribute to an AAM fundraiser to help you GTFO faster.)

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Thanks! I’m still feeling good about the job hunt, so that’s a real positive.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Thanks. I am not taking it for granted that I was pretty fortunate in how it turned out.

    4. Lilysparrow

      You gotta do you, but I’d have my desk packed that day and be cleaning houses or checking groceries tomorrow. The emergency credit card is for emergencies, and getting attacked is an emergency.

      1. Turtlewings

        Agreed. Hellmouth, I know it’s super easy for us to say “leave and let the chips fall” when none of them are falling on us, but honest to God I don’t think you would ever regret leaving this job, even if it put you in debt forever. Be honest, if you got fired tomorrow, would you burst into tears of relief? If yes, get out, money be darned.

        1. I Work on a Hellmouth

          If I got fired tomorrow I would burst into tears at the thought of potentially losing my home/not being able to eat/not being able to feed my dog. And getting fired would be something that I had zero control over. There is no guarantee that I will find employment quickly. I can not choose to leave and potentially have no income or income under a certain necessary level for an unknown, potentially lengthy amount of time. I can not give notice until I know I will have a way to cover my bills. That’s just reality for me. My partner and I have been trying to figure out a way for me to be able to just leave, but we are not able to indefinitely swing it financially without me being employed and making at least a certain amount in salary.

    5. revueller

      Yikes! Yikes! Yikes! Glad you’re okay, but that’s so scary! Hope the charges go through smoothly and that you don’t have to deal with anyone horrible soon.

      *looks at Boss and McGruff.* well, let’s hope for no one more horrible.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        The terrible thing happening preempted a story about McGruff’s latest claim of both drama and of being an amazing crime fighting detective. I don’t know that anyone more horrible anytime soon is statistically likely.

          1. I Work on a Hellmouth

            Hold on to your butt!

            McGruff has now claimed that she needs to switch weekend shifts with The Good Leasing Consultant and work this Saturday because her father, who lives in another state, has been scammed out of $22,000.00 via robocalls. This allegedly happened earlier this week and she was allegedly contacted by fellow members of her father’s church who tracked her down to tell her about this. She claims that her father confirmed this when she called and asked him (after the police in his state refused to give her any information). She then reportedly told her father that she solved her case of fraud by herself and she could solve his. McGruff then spittingly recounted how her father’s girlfriend said that both that statement and McGruff herself were absolutely stupid. Also, McGruff claims to have uncovered the fact that her father was diagnosed with dementia and secretly had his girlfriend set up with power of attorney, and says that neither her father nor his girlfriend know that she is aware of that. So McGruff says that she needs to work this Saturday so she can drive to her father’s state Sunday and on Monday (which she would then have off as a comp day for working Saturday) go see a lawyer and have power of attorney forcibly transferred to her. And also maybe do some good Hardy Boys work on that missing $22,000.00. She also says that maybe this will be the thing that will allow she and her father to finally have a relationship.
            ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              1. Decima Dewey

                Oh, my. So forcibly overturning her father’s stated wishes is somehow going to improve their relationship? Okay.

              2. NOTaFan

                You’re being a bit insensitive here. “Allegedly” this, “claiming” that. You were just complaining that she was making 30 minute phone calls all day. Seems to me like that might be her father’s church friends calling.
                Elderly people are conned over the phone all the time. It’s really not funny.

                Furthermore, if he’s been diagnosed with dementia AND lost $20k on those calls, he’s probably not be in any position to sign off on a power of attorney. He very well could have been coerced by his girlfriend. In any case, McGruff has good reason to be concerned.

                I know you have issues with her but that comment was just mean-spirited.

                1. Batgirl

                  I think you missed the part where McGruff is going to solve this herself; that’s the amusing part, not ‘haha her dad has dementia’.

                2. I Work on a Hellmouth

                  Except she’s been caught making up increasingly dramatic stories since she started about seven weeks ago. She’s made up medical issues. She invented a very dramatic story involving her pugs that was later thoroughly debunked. We’re pretty sure she made up the identity theft story when she started. She also made up a big story about planning her fortieth birthday party when she interviewed with my boss, but she’s actually in her fifties. I’ve also watched her lie about both big and small things that happen in the office.

                  I’m sorry if you think I’m being mean spirited, but I have no reason to believe her given her demonstrated dodgy history with being truthful. She isn’t credible, and her tone and manner while relaying this story was, frankly, suspect. She’s cried wolf a lot.

            1. animaniactoo

              I’ve held power of attorney before. Good luck getting it forcibly transferred. Good luck with that attempt helping the relationship with dad.

              Geez, McGruff, I’m shocked. Just shocked I tell you. That dad would make his gf the power of attorney over his boundary stomping daughter.

              ——————–

              For you, Hellmouth – like others, I come here specifically to check in on you on Fridays. I don’t have as much time to participate in this thread as I’ve had before and would like to again, but you write well, you’ve got a pretty decent sense of humor/realism about all of it, and I hope you make it out soon. I’ll miss the stories, but not as much as I’ll appreciate knowing you don’t have to put up with this crap anymore. Best of luck.

              1. I Work on a Hellmouth

                Aw, thank you. I’m hoping I’ll be out really soon—but we’ll always have walls full of squirrels.

    6. Aphrodite

      Yes, I read this every week too and my alarm continues to grow. I am happy to hear some other employment prospects are in the works (academia has its own craziness but it is certainly a lot calmer than where you are now). But . . . can you not just get a retail job if nothing else? Would that salary work as temporary? Or have you talked to any temp agencies? I am wondering they might have any longer-term gigs that could work. Also, I’ve mentioned this before but here in my city there is one temp agency that has contracts with the city and the university to supply their temps. That’s how people get into those jobs on a permanent basis because it’s nearly impossible otherwise.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Unfortunately, the temp agencies here primarily seem to be kind of garbage. And other than a position at Whole Foods that I applied for (I was immediately rejected because there was one week a night where I could not close), there are no retail or other subsistence-type positions that would meet my minimum income requirement. I can’t knowingly put myself in a completely uncertain financial situation for an unknowable amount of time.

    7. CatCat

      OMG. This is really scary. Thinking all the good thoughts for an offer ASAP that meets your needs!!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        On the plus side, once I move on even the most Fergussy of Fergus coworkers will not bother me for quite some time. I will at least temporarily be normal-workplace-annoyances immune.

        1. Karen from Finance

          That’s one hell of a silver lining.

          And when your immunity runs out, there’s always this blog. For me it has been a godsend.

        2. ArtsNerd

          In my case the immunity did wear out but it took some time.

          Sending good vibes of Getting TFO and getting paid in a much better environment. Take care of yourself.

    8. Bee's Knees

      Yikes. Sorry that happened to you. On the plus side (if there is one) that would make me think twice about a manager if one of the employees got attacked and was pressing charges, and I hadn’t heard anything about it from her.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to look great if it turns out that no incident report was filed.

    9. sammy_two

      If you get the job at the university, take it! It will get your foot in the door and if it’s anything like my university, the benefits are awesome. Once you’re on campus, get involved in professional organizations/associations and get to know other admins at your level and above. Then when a job opens up that you’re really excited about, you’ll be well positioned for it. Also, for anyone applying to positions at universities (at least at mine), the adage that “I have 60-70% of the qualifications they’re looking for so I’m going to apply” doesn’t work. You have to meet every single required minimum qualification and address each one either in your cover letter or your resume or you will absolutely not get an interview. If they say you need experience with Microsoft Office, address it in some way, even if you think it’s obvious you do since you clearly typed up/formatted your resume and cover letter. (I didn’t realize this until I had already applied for a couple of jobs on campus.) I hope your current job will one day be this crazy thing you had to put up with that you can laugh about. Good luck!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Awesome tips, thanks! The way the timeline is shaking out, I am (hopefully) going to have an offer from one of the non-Local Big University places I have applied to since the LBU hiring process is kind of glacial, but the positions I’ve applied for at LBU are genuinely things that I would have applied to if I *didn’t* work on a Hellmouth. Maybe fortune will smile on me and the process will speed up a little on one of them.

    10. Drew

      At least you have an iron-clad answer why you’re looking for a new job.

      “I figured that when one of our residents tried to attack me physically and my manager didn’t lift a finger to protect me, it was time to move on.”

      Sending you all my best wishes and good vibrations for finding something immediately.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Heh. I was planning to just focus on how I never really intended to go back to property management and then talk about why I am excited about Field X, but I can probably pretty easily justify not completing a two weeks notice if it comes down to it…

        1. Quinoa

          Why not take the two weeks off ANYWAY and just not give the notice? Two weeks of rest may be just the thing you need, if you can make it happen financially.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood

      I thought of you recently when my company’s (outsourced) facilities manager gave notice recently. My co-worker heard all sorts of inappropriate yelling from a woman that sounded to be from the outsourcing company. His responses were too calm to be heard. And two days later he was done. From what she overhead we suspect he gave 2 weeks notice and was told to get out ASAP — and then they backtracked because they needed someone to oversee the construction work in progress.
      May your next excellent job come soon and may the transition be easy!
      (And may you find something else to talk about to entertain our Fridays.)

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Woooooooow! Why do people think screaming is ever an answer to anything. Good for him for his prompt escape! And gracias!

    12. MatKnifeNinja

      My brother works at a rental in grounds keeping/landscaping. He had a resident swing a old school shovel at him (for digging dirt).

      The resident was PO he couldn’t repair an engine in the middle of the common court yard. (Big green space). It took much effort to drag the engine to that spot.

      My brother called the cops, and the cops wound up tasering Mr. Mechanic.

      We need an aerial spraying of Haldol and lithium this week. People are off the chain.

      Keep safe! Fast job getting vibes your way.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Holy moly! I’m so glad that the police made it out in time to deal with that creep!

        Yeah, I don’t know if there’s some sort of Super Weird Mercury Retrograde Permanent Full Moon or what, but people seem to be particularly volatile. No. Bueno.

    13. Weegie

      Good luck with the admin interview! Let us know how it goes.

      Of course, now I’m imagining your answer to the following question: ‘Why do you want to come and work with us?’

      (Silently hands over hard copy of AAM posts . . . )

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Thanks! Will do!

        I may just mail a big envelope of hard copies over to HR after I give notice at this point. Or write the Glassdoor review to end all Glassdoor reviews. I am weary, and running out of cares to give.

    14. Shamrockanon

      Oh dear Lord. I am very happy that you’re okay, but gosh that’s so scary. I totally get that you can’t quit without another income stream, but I’d think that someone trying to PHYSICALLY ATTACK YOU would be considered constructive discharge and thus you’d be eligible for unemployment. Just a thought. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you that something works out soon.

    15. Où est la bibliothèque?

      God, that’s scary. When I worked at a college, we were always told that if something truly dangerous might happen, “call 911, and then campus safety.” I think that should be how you use your courtesy officer, too.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        That’s definitely how I will be handling things from now on. Even when he’s around, the courtesy officer is honestly kind of worthless.

    16. N.J.

      I have to ask, what part of the country are you in? What state or metro area? That’s something I dont remember seeing but I wonder if any of us can help with job prospects if we are in your area.

      1. Karen from Finance

        IIRC, she’s just outside the second largest city in a boot shaped state. Or that’s more or less how she’s worded it once.

    17. What She Said

      Lurker here so I’ve only seen some of these posts. Has anyone suggested you write a book about this place. You could be the next big paranormal or mystery writer. You’d never have to work again with the book sales.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        I should probably try to make friends with someone at Lifetime. I bet I could help them generate at least a season’s worth of programming!

    18. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

      rooting for you on the interview. And I get having to hang on…. but cut yourself slack where-ever you can… extra sleep, treat this like the most stressful illness or scenario imaginable, and be kind to yourself and shut down area as you have to, to survive emotionally. Extra vitamins, water, sleep. Journaling, meditation, calm, calm, calm… you will possibly have a form of PTSD and extra support and love from everyone is helpful. Time to let as much love and support in, as you would accept if you were say, in the hospital. Don’t try to be brave or independent outside of work – build your support network and coping, okay??? Hug.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Thank you so much. I’m trying to be really mindful of my health right now—making sure I exercise 3 times a week, making sure I stay hydrated, try to stick to a regular sleep cycle, and I’m trying to stay positive. I’m lucky in that I have a few really good sounding boards/loved ones on call for lunch break phone calls and a boyfriend and dog on tap for on demand hugs.

    19. Plays with Hand Tools

      I check here every weekend to see what tornado has turned up in your office. I agree with previous posters that a book may be the way to go. Just a hundred or so 3 or 4 page chapters telling these stories you’ve shared here. Wishing you the best of luck in the job-hunting arena.

  16. Karen from Finance

    Had a job interview that looks promising this week, thanks to Alison’s excellent advice. I interviewed them as much as they interviewed me (I’m uncomfortable in my current position but not absolutely unhappy, so I really want to evaluate my next step).

    Another thing is that the HR person had assured me of benefits of the phone that it turns out aren’t really available “yet”. They tried to convince me that they are working on implementing them asap but I don’t really believe them on that front.

    They sent me to do one of those IP cognitive assessment tests, any advice before I do it?

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      IP, is that information processing? Well, since you are content in your present situation, you can push back a little and say that the information you’d like to process includes the benefits they list. And if those aren’t available, they need to process a document that lists and guarantees them.

    2. ragazza

      Yikes, the benefits thing (and not telling the truth about it) would be a big red flag for me.

    3. Karen from Finance

      I meant to say PI, sorry. It’s called “Predictive Index Cognitive Assessment”, which they say they do for all new employees. They said it’s 50 questions in 12 minutes, to see my logical and reasoning skills (which is relevant for the job). I don’t think I’m getting away with not taking it. They advised to do it some day where I’m able to really focus and not too tired.

      I was wondering if someone else had maybe had experience with them?

      1. Quinoa

        My company uses them. I am now surrounded by insanely smart, motivated people. It makes doing my own job so much easier.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Dislike their “maybe benefits”, that’s pretty translucent, I wouldn’t trust them without knowing them, which you of course don’t know them!

      I almost didn’t do our cognitive assessments because ‘bleh’ but it turned out it was just a screening mechanism that was put into place. Which yes, isn’t too great but aside from heavy eye rolling in that aspect, I ended up in one of my best jobs yet. So I would at least keep sniffing around just to keep seeing what they have to offer.

      Just do your best on the test. Don’t try to game the system, assume they care about the results. Worse case, they don’t move forward and then whatever, you don’t want any of those apples anyways, they’ve got worms.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.

        I want to second this. Particularly noting, use the test for yourself, to get more comfortable with it. Even if this job doesn’t pan out, at least you will have that experience for next time.

      2. Karen from Finance

        I like this attitude a lot, I’ll try to keep myself in this mindframe.

        The reason I’m considering this despite the red flag about the benefits (they only lied about the one, but it’s the one that was the most important to me) is that it would be a very material pay raise, and a change back to a more familiar industry.

        It’s like a 50/50, win-win scenario. If it happens, “Ok, good! But be careful anytime you hear HR promise something”. If it doesn’t, on to the next one, ideally one that has all the benefits I’m looking for.

        Thanks!

  17. DC

    A friend of mine told me recently that people have told her not to use “I” statements in cover letters. A lot of Alison’s examples use them, and I tend to prefer the conversational tone they lend (which suits my industry).

    What do you all think?

    1. NeedSomeEspresso

      I personally think I makes sense to take ownership of your accomplishments, but your industry might be unique, may I ask what it is

      1. DC

        Events/Comms! “I” definitely makes sense, she said she’d been given this advice and I just kind of gaped at her.

        1. Marion Ravenwood

          I’m in events/comms (albeit in the UK), and I’ve definitely never heard this one before. In fact I’d have thought it’d be quite the opposite – surely you want the emphasis to be on what *you* did to contribute to the success of the team/project, rather than a collective thing? (I mean, you could possibly say stuff like, ‘my team successfully delivered Objective X, which I enabled* by doing Y and Z’, but then you’re still talking about the work that you did which meant that objective was achieved.) The only thing I can think of where you might do this is for a people manager role and you’re showing how well you got your team to come together and do the thing, although that still cycles back to what you did to ensure the objective got delivered.

          *not sure enabled is the right word here, but ‘supported’ and ‘contributed to’ both feel too passive.

          1. DC

            Ah, the people manager piece makes sense! I had no considered that side of it. I’ll have to keep that in mind as I apply for roles like that in the future.

      1. DC

        That’s what I was struggling to understand in the advice! She indicated that she was using “we” and “As a team,” but that’s not the point of a cover letter.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

          If I read a cover letter like that, it would come across strangely as the royal “we” and be amusing or off-putting depending on context.

        2. BRR

          I would possibly read that as trying to take credit for other people’s work. We did X. Well how much of X was you?

      2. Friday

        It’s like trying to write a cover letter without vowels or some such nonsense. My gender BS spidey senses went up when you said your friend’s a woman… we get dinged sometimes for exhibiting the same confidence in the workplace as men.

      3. Nonprofiteer

        The only sense I can make of this is that you wouldn’t want to *only* talk about yourself, and not thoughtfully include details about about the prospective employer. But that applies to pretty much all communication aside from your therapist/clergy/astrologer.

    2. ArtK

      Sounds ridiculous to me. What are you supposed to do, use the third person? “DC is well known for successfully managing teapot painting duties while doing the Macarena”?

    3. Où est la bibliothèque?

      I think that’s really weird advice. But I have heard that you shouldn’t begin every new paragraph with I, just because it becomes tedious.

      1. ArtK

        Now that I can agree with. It’s something that I need to check when writing cover letters because it’s easy to fall into that trap.

      2. Lily Rowan

        Yeah, I try not to start every sentence with “I,” but basically the statements all need to be about what I’ve done, who I am, what I think!

    4. DC

      Okay, thank you! I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who thought that was really really weird. I shall continue as I have been… following Alison’s advice!

    5. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"

      That’s bizarro-world advice. I wonder what that person thinks a cover letter is for.

    6. londonedit

      Sounds like bizarre advice to me. I agree that I usually try to avoid starting every paragraph with ‘I’, as that just gets boring (and part of my job requires writing skills) but I’m not sure how you’d write a cover letter without using ‘I’!

    7. OtterB

      Agree you shouldn’t be all “I” statements, but the whole point is to give a clear picture of yourself. I’d avoid focusing too much on what *you* want and will get out of the position and focus on why you would be a good fit and a benefit to the employer.

      1. ragazza

        Maybe it could be modeled after Jaqen H’ghar’s communication style in Game of Thrones: “A woman has increased teapot sales by 45 percent. A woman has excellent PowerPoint skills.”

      2. PB

        I was actually on a search committee once where my fellow committee members came down on a candidate for using “I” in her cover letter! The chair even told a story about when she was in grad school and they had a class assignment to write a cover letter without using the word “I,” which I thought was banana-crackers. What are you supposed to do? Talk about yourself in the third person? I should note that this candidate was ultimately rejected for other reasons, but I couldn’t believe it even came up.

    8. pleaset

      Definitely be conversational and definitely use I statements – the cover letter is about you, right?

      But mix it up and don’t have every sentence start with “I”

    9. Hey Karma, Over here.

      And always where a white shirt. And never ask about salary.
      There are no absolutes in interviewing. There is no magic key.
      There’s no secret that only a few people know and are keeping from the rest of us.
      Maybe just tell your friend, that any advice she gets that makes any step of the interviewing process more difficult, is probably not going to help you.

    10. Lazy Susan

      I think it would be funny if they instead referred to themselves in the 3rd person.

      “Tiffany is well schooled in the Microsoft Office Suite and has experience using database programs. With over 36 credit hours, Tiffany is on her way to receiving an AS in computer science. Tiffany is an enthusiastic team player and last year Tiffany was recognized by management for her team contributions to the Excelsior initiative.”

    11. Half-Caf Latte

      chiming in to agree this is bonkers.

      *I* have a coworker who believes feedback should NEVER include the word “you.” This is, far as I can tell, a gross misapplication of the recommendation to use “I statements.” Unfortunately, we’re in staff training and development, so she teaches this to new supervisors monthly.

    12. Grandma Mazur

      I wonder whether this wasn’t a garbled version of the advice I’ve heard before not to use “I” in any bullet points on the resume/CV? As in, just start with the verb (“completed”, “accomplished”, etc). That’s the only thing that I can think of that sounds remotely plausible…

  18. NeedSomeEspresso

    TLDR: Not sure if this phone interview was rude/should I go to the in person interview

    So this morning I had a phone interview. They were extremely pushy about why I was leaving after only 15 months. I initially politely said lack of advancement (which is true, but the story is much more complicated – lots of politics, PTO and bonuses being slashed, restructured culture). I do not ever want to bash a previous job and kept trying to restate my issues as politely as possible when they asked in 3 different ways why I left, including “I don’t understand why you’re leaving.”

    I’m young, so maybe I don’t know any better, but this left a bad taste in my mouth. I assumed they didn’t like me – but they emailed me asking to come for an in person interview. Am I just being sensitive or is this a red flag? Should I go?

    1. Emily

      I don’t think it’s a huge red flag. It’s a little weird, but the person doing the initial phone interview probably wouldn’t be your manager, anyway. In terms of not wanting to bash your employer, that’s good, but you can say something like “we’ve been losing a lot of people recently; they’ve been cutting PTO and bonuses.” No one should think poorly of you for that, you’re just citing an objective thing that’s happening and that would make many people job search. You can also say “actually, it’s a fairly high-turnover position – leaving after a year is normal” or something like that if it’s true.

    2. IL JimP

      A lot of times phone interviewers aren’t managers at companies, I would put it in the back of my mind and see if there are any other red flags from the in person interview with the actual hiring manager before making a decision.

      1. NW Mossy

        Or even employees of the company at all! My organization uses contractors for recruiting/initial phone screens, and there’s a lot of turnover so it’s pretty rare even as the hiring manager to have the same person all the way through filling an open req.

    3. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon

      When I got my role at my current organization, the person who did my initial phone interview was just an HR assistant who had bunch of boxes to check and responses to write down. They came across as a little condescending and bored, so I was initially turned off. I decided to do the in-person interview anyway, and thank goodness I did, because my current manager is all around awesome. I’ve never even met the person who did my phone interview.

      Maybe the person on the phone just had a box to fill out too…and maybe they’d been recently grilled for not getting specific answers or something. I don’t know, just my two cents! But if you’re going to be working directly with them, and you know that, then maybe their attitude is something to consider. Tho I’d still meet face to face to suss it out. Don’t let one bad apple ruin the bushel.

      1. NeedSomeEspresso

        Thanks guys. I will go ahead and do the in-person. I do like a lot about the position, so doesn’t hurt to give them the chance. It was definitely an HR person, not my manager, which I know makes all the difference. I’m skeptical, but can’t hurt

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.

          Reading comments, I am thinking more about the check box idea and your answers didn’t fit easily into the form the interviewer had and that’s the reason for rephrasing. S/he didn’t want to put words in your mouth or admit “hey, we have a form, which one of these most fits your situation (because you and your life are in no way unique so we put everyone in a box)?

    4. Sleepytime Tea

      Some people have TERRIBLE interview skills and that isn’t necessarily a reflection of the company.

      I was asked for my greatest weakness once, and then before I could really answer I got interrupted and the interviewer said “don’t give me the bullsh*t answers for interviews, give me the real stuff.” Yeah, it was weird. Don’t regret taking the job here though. It’s darn near perfect for where I am in my career. That interviewer was not the manager who I would be reporting to though, which might have changed things a tad, I have to admit!

    5. Jess

      If it was with the person who would be your manager, I’d think of it as a red flag and ask yourself if you want to work for someone who interacts with you like that.

      If it was HR or someone else doing an initial screening, I’d think of it as a yellow flag and go to the interview with open mind and open eyes. What you’re looking for is whether this is a sign of the overall culture of the organization, a sign of the org/dept/mgr being burned previously by people who left quickly and trying to weed that out proactively, or just one individual who’s not great at interviewing people.

    6. Namast'ay in Bed

      You can absolutely say that your benefits are being cut and the office being restructured so you’re looking for something more steady/layoffs seem imminent, that’s not bashing at all. TBH saying you want to leave due to lack of advancement after only 15 months, especially early in your career, comes across a little naive as an answer.

      The pushiness and the “I don’t understand why you’re leaving” may not be a ringing endorsement, but it’s not a giant red flag if that’s the only issue you have, especially depending on who the person was you spoke with (recruiter, hiring manager, or person who you’d work closely with, etc). I don’t think it could hurt to go to the in-person interview to get more information.

      But I’d honestly recommend adjusting your “why are you leaving” answer.

      1. NeedSomeEspresso

        Thank you, I was not sure what is appropriate to say so I just assumed that was a default response. So saying there is restructuring and I’m looking for more stability would be safe to say?

        1. Namast'ay in Bed

          Absolutely! Those are very practical reasons for why you might not want to stick around. As long as your reasons are objective (“the organization has been in a state of flux for a while and I’m looking for something more stable”) rather than opinionated and personal (“my boss is a yes-man who kowtows to the idiot owner’s idiot kid who runs this place like their personal piggy bank”), you’re fine. It also helps to then transition your reasons for leaving into why you’re interested in the job you’re applying for.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood

          I would say it.
          I’d also mention it if you’d seen a position eliminated that you’d thought to apply to after a couple of years at that company. (I’ve seen it happen — a company outsourced the job that a friend had wanted to move into …so she searched externally.)

      2. lulu

        All of this. Don’t badmouth your employer is often taken literally, but you can make a general statement about work conditions changing and benefits being slashed to explain why the job is no longer what it was when you took it 15 months ago. The point about wanting more advancement so early being a potential redflag is also good. Keep the tone and the language neutral, but you can definitely share more about why you are actually leaving.

        1. Jadelyn

          “Don’t badmouth your employer” means more like “don’t go on a 5-minute rant about how crappy your boss was and you hate the work and wish the place would burn down so you don’t have to go to work tomorrow”, not “don’t admit there are real issues.”

          Very early on in my recruiting career I remember doing a phone screening for a woman who was leaving her job, and when I asked why, she calmly explained that there had been some big changes in management and the culture of the place had changed a lot, and she no longer felt like it was a good environment for her. Her tone was quiet and even, almost sorrowful, and I could tell she wasn’t happy to have to leave. And far from turning me off her, it actually helped, because it demonstrated that her job search was carefully considered and that she was looking for somewhere that would be a good fit for her long-term.

          So it’s okay to admit that things aren’t perfect at your current job and that’s why you want to leave – the key is to be careful about tone, stay very matter-of-fact and calm about it, don’t get emotional.

        2. The New Wanderer

          Right – you can talk about the objectively bad things (understaffing, cuts to benefits, no advancement) and they are perfectly valid reasons that most people will immediately understand. Avoid the subjective negative stuff (my boss is a jerk, coworkers gossip too much).

          It is odd that the interviewer pushed several times, but sounds plausible that it was about checking a box and not that your answer wasn’t good enough.

        3. Syfygeek

          When I was leaving my position after 9 years, I was very careful not to be derogatory about my company, and especially my boss. After the formal interview, I was taken on a tour of the campus and ran into someone who had worked where I did before coming to the college. First words out of her mouth were “Are you finally leaving that hellhole and ditching the psychopath running it?”

          After being hired, over time, my supervisor got the full story and was impressed at how circumspect I was.

    7. fposte

      I wouldn’t hinge my decision about going for an interview on the phone interviewer’s manner. However, I would be prepared for the possibility that they may be looking for something deeper on an early departure (I think the restructuring seems pretty objective to offer). It would also be okay to open up the discussion a little–you can say “I still work there, and I’m not comfortable giving out too much industrially significant information.” If you’ve had longer-term jobs before that one, you can point to those to say “It sounds like Your Company, Inc. places high value on a longer tenure, and I usually have longer tenure at jobs and would expect to for you.”

    8. RandomU...

      Echoing what others have said, at my company the first person to speak to you would be our recruiters who are doing an initial phone screen.

      Their job is to get a little of background on you to fill in some of the information that may not be on your resume. So them focusing on the basics like why you are leaving, gaps, and other surface things is normal. They pass their notes off to the hiring manager who will use that with your resume to determine if they want you to proceed in the process.

      Your description sounds like they were a little overzealous in their questioning, but they are likely not the hiring manager or anyone you will speak to outside of the hiring process.

    9. Bostonian

      Yeah, they do seem oddly fixated on that one thing. I don’t think 15 months seems that short, and it seems like a realistic amount of time to be able to recognize that you own’t get any growth opportunities. I don’t think you have anything to lose by going to the interview and seeing if there are other concerns you pick up on.

      I can provide some encouragement here: For my current job, the phone screen with HR and then the hiring manager seemed overly concerned about whether or not I was really interested in the position. It really threw me off. It’s a position that combines X and Y, which I have degrees in both. Also, they emphasized that sometimes this position required a lot of Z, which they considered less desirable, and I gave examples of having worked with Z and enjoying it. So I wasn’t sure why my answers didn’t satisfy them. It was rough! Here’s the good news: I got to the in-person interview, and it never came up again!

      So maybe they were satisfied with your answers the first three times they asked and it won’t come up again. But I would be ready to address it if they do again, including being OK with saying something like, “This seems to be a big concern for you, can you explain why?” In my case, it turns out that they had a long history of not being able to fill this position and some horror stories (so I heard after I was hired) of candidates that only applied to get their foot in the door.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        It can depend on the field too. In my field, a year is very short, two years is short, after that you’re probably okay. It’s really hard bc I don’t love my current job and I probably can’t stay two years, so I’m bracing for the difficulty I’m going to have. There are some jobs where this wouldn’t be the case and anything over a year is totally fine.

    10. PB

      Am I just being sensitive or is this a red flag?

      Neither, I think. I can absolutely see why this rubbed you the wrong way. It reminds me of an interview when I was younger when an HR rep asked me about why I was job searching after only 6 months in a job. I explained that it was a temporary position and only funded for 9 months. A pretty good reason, right? Apparently not to her. She then badgered me about my “job-hopping” (they were internships), and flat out asked me if I was difficult to work with or had anger issues (I do not; I get along very well with my coworkers).

      But everyone else there was wonderful, and I wouldn’t have been working with this person all that closely. I didn’t end up getting the job, but because they went with someone with more experience, and I received a very nice personalized rejection from the hiring manager.

      Bottom line, you’re not being too sensitive, but, like others have said, it isn’t necessarily a red flag. I agree with others who said go to the interview, and let that contribute to your overall impression of the employer.

  19. Murphy

    More of a comment, but I got invited to help review applications/interview for a position my boss is hiring for. This is the first time I’ve ever reviewed applications and wow. Firstly, I completely understand Alison’s cover letter advice now. I understood it before, but after reading 40+ cover letters and finding them all pretty generic and uninspiring, I truly get it. Notable highlights: Someone submitted a cover letter for the completely wrong job. Someone else submitted an eight page resume (that was in no way justified).

      1. Murphy

        It looks like they’ve had one position and they seemingly described every single job duty in excruciating detail. Instead of “completed TPS reports” it would be “sent emails to department heads asking for TPS data, followed up with DH’s that didn’t respond in a timely manner, checked TPS data for accuracy, entered data into template” etc.

        1. PB

          Eight pages on one job is wild. I’ve seen a 14 page resume before (seriously!), but at least this was someone with lots of experience and apparently no self-editing skills.

      2. ArtK

        Years ago, I got a 9 page resume. Honestly, I don’t recall everything that was in it. It headed for the “nope” pile with the barest cursory look. My suspicion is that it was someone who was used to academic CVs* which can get very long.

        *Not sure why, but I was just struck by the absurdity of using an English plural of an initialism of a Latin phrase, which needs a totally different form of plural.

        1. Owler

          Someone told me once that the abbreviation becomes the English “word”, which is why it is given an English plural. Maybe less absurd to think of it that way?

      3. The New Wanderer

        The 13 page one I saw (for someone who got HIRED using it in a US, non-academic environment) was at least 80% filler. It was kind of in (US) CV format but would have been laughed at by academic hiring committees. It included all the things this person had ever written, had duplicate listings of the same papers under several categories, and included internal documents (white papers and memos) as publications. This person maybe has 10 legit peer reviewed publications.

      4. Algae

        I had an 8-page resume once. It was filled with every job they ever had, a paragraph explaining job duties, AND a reason why they left (my favorite: they didn’t like the commute).

    1. voluptuousfire

      Welcome to the world of reviewing resumes! :) I once had a gentleman submit a 20 page resume (no exaggeration) for a role I was helping recruit for. He was an older gentleman who had been in the military his entire career, so he included everr-y-thang he ever did in his career. This included classes from high school 40+ years before. He was very thorough, I will say that!

    2. Environmental Compliance

      Hubs recently asked me to help him look over a friend/coworker’s resume that had gotten sent to him by Friendo because their job hunt wasn’t going well.

      It was quite literally 1 paragraph. For a person with 5-10 years experience, partially in management. And most of the paragraph was about their degree. Listed maybe 2 job duties.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

        I tried to help my brother in law once with his CV. His original version was basically two paragraphs with some vague stuff about his computer skills. He has 15 years of experience in management in his field! I think he just never had to write a new one so had no clue how.

        My mother in law ended up helping him instead.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          This person’s never (apparently) had to write one either. Thankfully he was receptive to feedback!

    3. Peggy Olson's blues

      So many terrible CVs! I’ve done quite a bit of hiring, and am constantly astounded by how bad some of the applications can be. Formulaic isn’t great, but I’ve also seen instances of people trying to stand out and failing badly (ie photos of them doing their hobbies, timelines, infographics). Applicants shouldn’t make people work so hard to figure out their work experience/skills. I recently saw a 10 page resume for someone who has only had two jobs!

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Yessssssssssss, welcome to our application sorting nightmare *steeps fingers*

      I’ve had multiple page resumes of people who listed every temp placement job they ever had in a 20 year job history. Lots of temp placements. It turns my stomach each time.

      One person once legit copy/pasted the same job description/duties into each of their jobs at each of the major cell phone companies. I mean I get it, they did the same thing each time but it was like “Help customers with their phones. Provide superb customer service.” 5 times over.

      1. Murphy

        I started by looking at the cover letters, so I haven’t looked at all the resumes yet…the first one I opened was he 8 pager, so I can’t even imagine what other horrors await.

    5. MissGirl

      I’ve been reviewing resumes for the first time this week too. My longest was only two pages but the odd thing was that he had put zero descriptions under any of his jobs. Only bullet points with the position then nothing. His length came from lots of weird formatting. (FYI, make your resume a PDF. Word does wonky things online)

      And apparently cover letters are dead in my field because he’s the only who sent one. I wanted so much to reach out to him to tell him how to fix his resume. Oh well.

      1. Murphy

        Our system requires cover letters, which I think is good in theory, but honestly I didn’t learn a whole lot about the candidates by reading them. And most of them seemed like they could be sent to any EA job with little to no changes.

    6. Margali

      I once had someone apply to our company through our electronic system, but instead of uploading their resume and cover letter, they accidentally uploaded *their offer letter from another company*!

      1. Lucy

        AAAAAAAARGH!!

        I cringed myself inside out reading that. It’s hideous whether accidental or deliberate.

    7. Ange

      The one and only time I had to review applications, my favourite was the one that said that while working at posh department store they had sold 200 video cassettes to a Russian diplomat using only their charisma and the power of mime.

      I have always wondered if the diplomat even wanted video cassettes….

      1. MissGirl

        Power of mime or the power of the mind? Because those are completely different things. ;).

    8. Pam

      For hiring in my field, academic advising- I make a spreadsheet. I do a quick review of all packets, listing education, have they worked at my campus, have they worked in our public university system, and a sentence or two commenting on their experience.

      I can then go back for a more in-depth review on the ones meeting my criteria.

    9. Ms.Vader

      Haha I have been recently applying and I applied at one company for multiple positions and each time I would attach a separate cover letter that listed the position and what specifically I could bring to that role. It wasn’t till the third that I realized that every time I applied it updated all previous applications with my new resume and cover letter! I didn’t realize it was one centralized profile! So 2/3 have the wrong job info! Won’t be hearing from that one haha.

  20. Michelle

    We have an event tonight. It’s been sold out for 2 weeks. I’ve answered 22 calls from people wanting “just one more ticket” or my friends from out of town are here, can we just show up? No people. We are SOLD OUT. We are NOT selling tickets at the doors and if you show up without a ticket, you will be turned away.

    Why do people wait until 8 hours before an event to try to buy a ticket when we have clearly and repeatedly on multiple social platforms, website and telephone that it’s sold out? SO frustrating. And yet, there will be people who just show up. We are putting an A frame sign by the walkway saying “Event is SOLD OUT. No tickets will be sold at the door” and people will ignore it and try it anyway. ERRRR

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?

      Oh, live events, I know this brand of entitlement well… the worst are the ones who show up explaining that ~obviously~ even though it’s sold out there will be people who won’t show, and of ~course~ you should give them the spare tickets. Or they’re even willing to buy them, because, gosh, they’re just that reasonable.

      These are people who took the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” to heart, and it’s probably worked for them once or twice, so they’re going to try for the rest of time.

      1. Not My Money

        It’s like a dog who finds a scrap of food on a walk who insists on walking that way and checking for the rest of its life.

      2. Le Sigh

        Or my other favorite: “I bought a ticket! I bought it at 11:30 last night for this 9am breakfast event. What do you MEAN you don’t have a professionally printed name tag for me?!? Why weren’t you up all night making name tags in case I bought a ticket? You mean I have to make a last-minute name tag? What kind of place is this?”

    2. DC

      UGH YES.

      Similarly awful: Being sold out, and continually getting emails from your CEO saying “Oh course we can get you a ticket Fergus! DC will handle it!”

      1. Anon Admin

        OH GOD YES. I got cc’d on an email like this for an event a few months ago. I replied back to my boss “Where, exactly, would you like me to seat them? We saved 10 buffer seats and you have already given them away. The only option left is to put a stool in the kitchen and let them eat there.” He ended up giving up his seat and his wife’s seat and they ended up standing up to eat.

        We made an agreement the Monday after that he got X of the extra seats and that was it. He has used all of them for this event and to his credit, has said no to a few people.

        1. MsM

          I like your boss. Mine kept deciding we’d just add another table. Which then meant figuring out who wouldn’t be mortally offended by being stuck in the back (spoiler alert: no one), and changing all the badge numbers, and…aaaagh!

    3. londonedit

      Oh, yeah. Not work, but my running club puts on various events throughout the year, like a Christmas party and summer awards night, and tickets are always on sale for weeks beforehand. The social secretary sends umpteen reminder emails, posts on Facebook, and updates the club website with all the information about the event and the closing date for ticket sales. Yet without fail there will be people who respond to the ‘Ticket sales have closed!’ update with ‘Oh noooooooooooo I really really really neeeeeeeed a ticket!!!! Can I buy one? I’m so sorry I missed the deadline!!!’ Drives me mad. Everyone else can get themselves organised.

    4. Amy Farrah Fowler

      This is absolutely not a generational comment, but it’s because EVERYONE thinks that they are the exception/special snowflake and that if they just ask the right way or right number of times that of course they will be accommodated.

      I experience this on a weekly basis with people who very obviously do not fully read the job description when applying, and then tell me on phone interviews that the are incapable of important portions of the job, but that we should make an exception for them because they’re excellent at X, they just can’t do Y. Sorry. The job is to do X and Y and there isn’t a way to separate it into different roles. Everyone thinks they are the exception.

    5. catwoman2965

      Because they’re speshul and the rules don’t apply to them! And they think, and assume (incorrectly) that IF they show up, well, somehow a ticket for them will just magically appear out of thin air! And these are the same ones who will then get indigent and pissy that they can’t be accommodated.

      Repeat after me “lack of planning on your part DOES NOT constitute an emergency on mine”

      1. Anon Admin

        I’ll be getting a lot of those indigent and pissy comments tonight!

        Since we had an issue with an unruly man with no ticket a few months ago, I requested the 2 tallest and most muscled security guards on staff to work the door with us. I can trust them to have our backs and escort people with temper tantrums out. One is a retired police officer and the other is retired firefighter!

      2. Aunt Vixen

        I mean – you’re not wrong, but they can also reason that they certainly won’t get in if they don’t go and ask for special accommodation, so what’s the harm? (The harm is that it is frustrating and time consuming for the person telling them no. But that’s not on their radar.)

    6. Psyche

      Honestly I think it is because many places say that it is sold out, but still let in other people anyway. It trains people to think that “sold out” doesn’t actually mean “sold out.” They assume that there is a buffer that you can dip into for them. It’s just like people not believing deadlines are real because so many people make fake deadlines to give themselves a buffer.

      1. Jerry Vandesic

        I have picked up last minute tickets to many sold out events (mostly concerts and plays). There are often late cancellations, and I check at the to see what might have opened up. These cancellations are usually just before the event, so I have found that it’s actually better to wait until the last minute. That being said, I usually check online rather than trying to call in a favor, and am not surprised when a sold out event suddenly has a few tickets available.

        1. Qosanchia

          I think the key difference is, rather than begging for some kind of special treatment, you go in checking specifically for cancellations. That takes it from asking for a favor to checking in on a normal process, and I think it depersonalizes it enough that it’s not as big a deal.
          I’m not an event organizer, so I could be way off base here.

    7. roisin54

      Semi-related: we have a lot of private events here that are nevertheless posted on the public calendar, so of course we get people wanting to go to them. The worst was when there was a private screening and reception for a TV movie in which an Oscar winning director and an Oscar winning actor were involved. We got soooo many phone calls and emails from people wanting tickets to the event, despite the fact that we advertised very heavily that it was a private event. I would tell people that if they were not invited, then they couldn’t go. Which only led the bolder ones to ask how they could get invited. That was a fun week.

      1. Anon Admin

        I totally get that. We also rent the facility for private events and we’ve had a few of those as well. Luckily, they don’t get put on the public calendar, usually it’s word-of-mouth issue.

        Caller: My sister is going to this super fun event at your facility and I want to go, too! How much to get in?
        Me: So sorry, that’s a private, invite-only event. You must be invited by the person who rented the space.
        Caller: If I just show up with my sister can I come in?
        Me: Ma’am it’s a private event and we have no control over the guest list. In my opinion, I would not show up to something that is invite-only and I had not received an invitation.
        Caller: But they won’t even notice!
        Me: Ma’am I’m not sure what you want me to say. All I can do is repeat what I’ve told you- private, invite only event. I think there will be a person with a list at the front.
        Caller: swear words I’m never coming there ever again!!
        Me: Thanks, have a nice day!

    8. Seeking Second Childhood

      I once had a telephone number very close to that of the local amphitheater. Every time there was a big concert, people would call asking about tickets. It wasn’t even the right phone number…and good grief people NO! There will be no Metallica tickets available 5 hours before the concert!
      I soon gave up and changed my number.

  21. Wing Leader

    I don’t have a question, but I did want to share something from this past week.

    A few days ago, I had a job interview. For years, I have struggled with low self-esteem, no confidence, social anxiety, and depression. However, self-help has been doing wonders for me in the past few months. I still struggle, but I’m much better than before.

    The old me would have walked into the interview, tried to fake my way through it and pretend to be someone else, and would have answered their questions however I thought they wanted me to, whether it was true. Instead, this time, I decided I was going to just be myself and answer everything honestly. If they liked me, great, and if not, it didn’t mean I was worthless or unlikable (like I would have previously though).

    So that’s what I did, and the interview went well. I sat in an interview with two men, one just under the CEO and the other the Director of Sales, and they both fired question after question at me. I could tell they were trying to intimidate me, since the job I’m applying for takes a pretty thick skin (often dealing with angry people). But I stayed cooled and honestly answered everything they asked, whether it was what I thought they wanted to hear or not. After it was over, they both reacted positively to me. The Director of Sales told me that he liked me and he thought I would be a great fit. He also told me that I had answered one of the questions perfectly.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen next because they still have other candidates to interview, but I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I couldn’t believe they liked me, the real me. So, I learned that you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not just to be accepted in the world. You just have to be yourself and, if someone doesn’t like you, that’s their problem, not yours.

    1. Fortitude Jones

      That’s awesome! Good for you. That’s pretty much how I go into interviews these days – if they like me, cool. If not, I’ve still got a pretty good job, so I’m not bothered and onto the next!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      This is fantastic, thank you for sharing with us. I have also had to fight the instinct to turtle and not be myself because I didn’t think I was “good” enough for just about anyone. Thankfully self-help and personal positivity has pushed me through the weeds on that.

      I have taught myself that it’s okay that some people don’t like you or you don’t “fit” into every office because how boring would that be? Also the most wonderful people have critics and some people simply “hate” everyone, that’s on them not us.

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

      awesome encouragement. Promise to come back and give updates on other interviews, too? It is hard to do enough self-help (when a beginner like me) to get past the fear of being yourself. This is so helpful!

    4. Finally Back In A 'Proper Job'

      This is so incredible – you should be so proud of yourself!

      One thing to perhaps consider before you commit to the role: If it is one where thick skin is required, how will you cope on your ‘down’ days?

      Having suffered from depression my whole adult life, yet still held high stress jobs, I am aware that on my good days, I can handle anything that comes, but on a down day it is much harder (of course). Good to have a coping strategy for the down days when your skin might not be quite as thick.

  22. ArtK

    Job search update: I now have a phone interview scheduled and I know who the hiring manager is. I’ve been able to look them up on LinkedIn and I’ve reached out to a friend who works in a nearby department who may be able to give me some info.

  23. Dragoning

    My manager has been driving us all crazy this entire week. A lot of process decisions being made by him, who doesn’t actually understand the process and never has, and refusal to listen to any protests lodged on our part. Not even sure what his logic is at this point. We’ve pretty much dug into the trenches of “Well if you want us to do you, you have to put it in the procedure because Audits.”

    Ugh.

    Also there’s been tons of of OT this week, will be plenty more later this month and into next.

    And on top of this, one of the other managers in the department (not mine, but we have no other management around this week except all the way up to the VP, which…no) made an incredibly uncomfortable sexual comment to me and I’m trying to decide if I need to/should go to HR about it and how to handle it.

    But in a few hours I get to go home and not deal with it.

      1. Dragoning

        I looked at my phone to check the time, saw a bunch of notifications on it and said, “Why do I have so many notifications; what do you people want from me?” and his response was “They just…want you.”

        I’m an AFAB person in their mid-twenties, he’s at least twenty years older than me, and when I finally awkwardly said, “Well, I hope not, that would be awkward,” he told me he was wondering what my reaction would be.

        Thanks, buddy.

        I know it could be a lot worse, but also, gross.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Hopefully there will not be a next time but you could say something like:

          “Let’s not go there.”
          or
          “That’s not cool.”

          1. Dragoning

            Well, it’s actually not the first time he said something creepy to me, and at least one of the time he did, he even made a joke about how HR would have a problem with it.

            But none of it’s ever super explicit or overt, and it’s not super frequent, so IDK.

            1. Hey Karma, Over here.

              Trust your instincts. He’s a jerk who says things that make you uncomfortable for the sake of seeing if you get uncomfortable. Well, you got uncomfortable. That is when you speak up.
              At least meet with HR and explain you have a person in a position above you who makes rude comments for the purpose of seeing you react. “I don’t think he’s sexually harassing me, I think he is systematically I guess, abusing/mocking/bullying/undermining me with sexually charged statements.”
              Because that’s what he’s doing. Worst case results: You are already questioning your judgement, you are going to end up avoiding him, so you aren’t going to go after special projects with him. And you become stuck because, “well, I never said anything before…”
              Stay strong.

              1. Jules the 3rd

                He’s pushing boundaries to see what you’ll let him get away with. It’s a common first step in abuse / harassment. He SUCKS.

                1. Hey Karma, Over here.

                  I’m going to kick up my response to this a notch and pointedly say, it is a grooming technique to make you submit to his abuse.

            2. Not So NewReader

              Tell him he needs to speak in an manner that has NO ambiguity. (Like many of the men and women out there already do, just sayin’ it can be done. It’s not difficult.) It’s called being professional.

              It may not be frequent but that does not mean he is less of a bore.

            3. Jules the 3rd

              Ugh – the borderline creepers are awful.

              No individual comment is going to be over the line, but if you document every single one, you may get enough to get a response from HR. Demonstrating a pattern can help. But most likely, he knows the line he can get away with and will stay on the safe side.

              Other options for direct action:
              Become boring. He’s getting off on making you uncomfortable, so you stop showing your discomfort. He makes a comment, you ignore it. No pause / questioning face, no question back. Limit talking around him, no rhetorical openings. Or 1 glance as if he’s a stupid child who is NOT amusing you and moving on. (SUCKS SO MUCH, this is so stressful for you, especially since he may escalate briefly to get a response),

              Become too much hassle:
              Barrage of uncomfortable return questions, returning Awkward to Sender: “What did you mean by that? Why do you think it’s ok to make your female employees uncomfortable? Don’t you worry that pushing boundaries with female employees will have professional repercussions? ” Emphasize that you see what he’s doing, and if you see it, other people will too, and they won’t be amused by it. (also SUCKS SO MUCH with potential career impact)

              Enlist a protector
              Talk over with a male manager, his equal or senior, or a female manager who is his senior in an earnest conversation and request for advice: “Slimer makes these comments that could be ambiguous, but then he follows up to see if he’s made me uncomfortable, in a way that makes it clear that he *wants* me to be uncomfortable. Here’s an example. Is it just me, or does he do this to other women? Of course our company would never want to have an environment that is uncomfortable for female employees, so I though you might want to know how he’s pushing boundaries. Any advice?” (Potential for this to be ineffective or even go wrong, with possible retaliation / labeling as ‘too sensitive’. I really wish that were not true, but well, sexism is not just limited to Slimer.)

        2. Bostonian

          Ugh. gross. I would say report it if you think you might regret not reporting it later. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes they don’t deserve that.

          I sometimes still think about how I wish I had reported a former boss who said a couple inappropriate sexual things (both regarding the size of my behind).

    1. mrs__peel

      I would strongly suggest documenting each incident, just in case (and keeping copies in a safe place). You don’t have to decide immediately if you’re going to go to HR, but having that information at hand will give you more options if you eventually decide to go that route.

  24. Manders

    The person who was hired at my last job after I left just applied for a position at my company! I was a little nervous to hear he was interviewing because my former boss had a habit of blaming problems on whichever employee left most recently. The new guy lasted almost exactly as long as I did, and it sounds like he had exactly the same problems with lack of direction.

    I don’t know if he’ll be my future coworker, since I’m not a part of the hiring process for this role. But it’s nice to hear that the parts of my experience that soured me on that job weren’t my fault.

    Has anyone else ever been in this situation? Was it awkward, or was it convenient to work with someone who you know had such a similar background?

    1. Not So NewReader

      It’s usually been fine. Crack a few jokes about how foolish the old boss was and life goes on. It’s usually been a bit of a bonding thing as we’d end up empathizing with each other.

  25. brought to you by the letter f

    I know you’re not supposed to get excited about jobs you apply for, but I’m desperate to get out of my current position (which is borderline abusive — I’ve been called stupid three times today and it’s not even noon here) and I really thought my last interview went incredibly well.

    They called *and* e-mailed to let me know they didn’t want me, which has me crying in my office, because as irrational as it is it just feels like they wanted me to know how much.

    I’m beginning to feel like I’ll never get out of here. I can’t leave without something lined up and I don’t have a support system. I can’t even take days off to go to an actual doctor, let alone to therapy to try to get through however long it takes me to find something else. I don’t know what to do anymore.

    1. T. Librarian

      I am really sorry that you’re in a crappy position. I hope you find something new really soon. I mean, they’re calling you stupid? At all, let along multiple times in a morning? That is NOT healthy. And your crying response to the call and email is completely understandable. Sending virtual hugs.

    2. Wing Leader

      So sorry! Please don’t give up though.

      You didn’t get this job simply because it isn’t the right one for you. That means there is a great job out there that is perfect for you. You just have to go find it! So keep applying. Attend some networking events. Talk to anyone you can. Keep sifting through any jobs that aren’t yours so you can find the one that is.

      Also, I don’t know if you do admin, phone work, data entry, or anything like that. But a lot of business people, especially new ones, need assistants.

      Also, go to http://www.bni.com and look for a local chapter. You will meet a lot of professionals if you attend their meetings, and I bet someone will know if someone in their industry is hiring. Let them know that you’re job searching when you’re introducing yourself, and word will spread very quickly.

      1. brought to you by the letter f

        Sorry, I guess I should clarify: I actually work in higher education. I have a background in advising/student affairs but currently work for an academic department as a coordinator. I’m not looking to leave the field … just this department, which is full of faculty members who think my degrees are worthless and that I am an idiot.

        1. MissGirl

          Can you consider broadening your field choice when applying? With academia being what it is, it may be difficult to land a new position and there are a lot of badly managed departments. Weigh your desire with getting out of this job versus the viability of finding a new job in a short amount of time.

          Remember, if you go on an interview and you realize the job isn’t right for you and you want to stay in academia, you can always reject it. But you might also be pleasantly surprised by what else is out there.

          1. brought to you by the letter f

            I have a master’s degree in higher ed, and I like student affairs, so I’d like to stay here. There just wasn’t a straight SA position available when I graduated, and I needed a job. So I took this one, because any job is better than no job. I really don’t have it in me to start all over again.

        2. Prof_Murph

          As an academic, I’m very disturbed that you are being treated this way by faculty and others in your department. Just a reality check: this is not okay and there is definitely something dysfunctional happening. I’m sure you are cautious, but if you get the opportunity to express this to someone outside your department who has some oversight (e.g., associate dean, dean, etc.), I encourage you to do so – they probably already know but should be alerted to these types of situations. You will not be in this position forever and just keep your eye on the prize as you search for a new position.

    3. Anon for this

      You should look into FMLA and short term disability laws in your area. I took a month off work and was then approved for 4 hours off each week so I could go to therapy. I eventually left that job without anything lined up (which was a risk but my mental health needed it) and have been in a great job since! It’s really important to take care of yourself. Good luck.

      1. brought to you by the letter f

        Unfortunately, to my understanding short-term disability does not cover mental health where I am, and I cannot afford unpaid leave. Thank you, though.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Oh man, this really sucks. I am so sorry.

      Just a couple of freebie activities that I try to tap:
      Crying. Crying is actually good for the health of our brains. It starts a chemical reaction in the brain that helps the brain to stay healthy. A person can feel like they won’t be able to stop, but eventually the tears do stop. And the next day can be different, I dunno, a new small feeling of strength that wasn’t there yesterday?

      Walking. Even short walks, with or with out a friend can help us sort our thoughts and kind of pull a few useful thoughts together. This does not have to be a long walk, 15 minutes or so is fine. It’s more important to keep doing it as much as possible.

      FWIW, that was reeeally rude that they contacted you three times. Really rude.

    5. Canadian Natasha

      Aww, that sucks! It seems like you are aware that it’s probably jerk/stress brain thinking but I’ve found it helps a lot to deliberately reframe your thoughts. I’ll even tell myself aloud “Hey, that’s not realistic or helpful!” and try to think of alternate explanations. Like, the double communication was because “these interviewers are trying (clumsily) to be considerate and not just ghost the people they don’t select for the job”*. After all, we hear so often about how frustrating it is to interview and then get nothing but silence, right?

      I know when you are in a bad situation and your mental and emotional reserves are running on empty it makes it so much easier to see things from the most depressing interpretation (been there done that!). Wishing you a speedy job search and a supportive and respectful new environment asap!

      *And even if they were that big of jerks that they wanted to make sure unsuccessful candidates knew they were Totally Rejected then really you made a narrow escape from getting into just as bad a new job as the old one seems to be!

    6. voluptuousfire

      Why not look at online therapy like Talk Space and Better Health? Hopefully you can find a counselor or therapist who does evening or weekend sessions. This way you can see someone on your own time and get your confidence back!

    7. PBJnocrusts

      Right there with you letter f. Mental health = employers GNF. At least you have a job atm (which doesn’t sound like a great environment, I’m so sorry to hear). Same thing happened to me last week. I Was so hopeful and i didn’t get the job I interviewed for :( wishing you luck !

  26. Mimmy

    Please (gently!) tell me I’m just being paranoid with this….

    I have been trying for years to get a job with a major university which happens to be where I got my Masters. As one would expect as an alumnus, they often solicit for donations. I’ve resisted donating just because we get solicitations all the time, sometimes a little aggressively, e.g. late-evening phone calls. I did finally fulfill a pledge I made a few months ago, partly out of paranoia and partly out of genuine support.

    Do university employers ever look at whether an applicant is an alumnus and if they ever donated to the university and/or to the specific school/division they’re affiliated with? I would imagine it’s unethical if they did.

    1. Manders

      I’m pretty sure hiring managers don’t have access to those systems. Even if they did, the kind of boss who you’d want to work for would never check it because it shouldn’t be a factor in hiring decisions.

    2. Murphy

      Unless you were applying for a position in development, it would be completely different departments and highly doubt anyone would ever go out of their way to check donor status.

    3. AES

      I work at a large university and have hired for both faculty and staff positions, and have reviewed candidates who are alumni of our programs. Not once did it ever occur to me to check whether they were donors. The only time where I can see this even remotely being an issue is if you were applying to work in fundraising or in a major alumni-facing position, and even then it would be, from my perspective, incredibly shady.

    4. Sara without an H

      Hi, Mimmy —

      Development Offices are usually pretty well siloed in most universities. Unless you’re applying for a job there, nobody will know if you donate or not. The hiring manager may not even know you’re an alum, unless you specifically mention it in your cover letter.

      If the university is a major employer in your area, they probably get a lot of applicants for any open position, and that’s contributing to your difficulties in getting hired there. You might want to get out your resume and cover letter and spend some time in the AAM archives going over Alison’s advice.

    5. BRR

      I used to work in university fundraising and we would never report out giving history to another department and I know our department would never take that into account. If you’re annoyed at them I would reach out and ask them to not contact you. I get specific and say do not call, do not mail, and do not email.

    6. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      I work for a university in a department that has recently been re-org-ed out of advancement into a separate unit so I have some experience working closely with advancement and alumni departments. They will likely know you are an alumnus, especially since your resume will, presumably, have your education listed, but they won’t have access to any donor history — as others have pointed out that’s a separate database than student records — and they won’t have access to student records either to see what grades you received unless you give them permission (that would be a FERPA violation because it’s not a “legitimate educational interest”), just in case you were wondering on that.

      In addition, my experience is that, if you think you’re hit up to donate now, as an alumnus, just wait until you’re an employee.

    7. Oxford Comma

      In my experience, nobody pays any attention to this for hiring. There are development officers, certainly, but they tend to be operating separately and are not integrated at all into hiring or even usually the day-to-day activities of departments.

    8. Psyche

      I highly doubt they have access to that information. And unless you were a major donor, I don’t think they would care.

    9. Nicole

      I have worked in advancement at a university and our donor database was very secure and only accessible by us, not HR.

    10. Justme, The OG

      The two systems should not be connected in any way so that HR can see if you have donated.

    11. PB

      I’ve participated in searches at three large public universities. In my experience, no, we don’t have access to those systems. Donating is great is you want to and can afford to, but it truly will not affect your candidacy one way or the other.

    12. Polymer Phil

      Yeah, I’m sure that admissions bribery scandal was all just a big misunderstanding.

  27. Risk Taker?

    I have a question about taking a risk in your career.
    I like my current job just fine. Been here almost 5 years. I’m a little bored (with some things… other parts of the job are still interesting) but I like the company and I like the people I work with a lot. Last year I got passed up for a promotion opportunity, and it doesn’t look like there will be another one for quite a while (it’s a small company and people stick around). After reading this blog for a while I know it could be much worse. And feeling “bored and stagnant” is not exactly a great reason to leave. I have been keeping my ears open but have not been actively job hunting (because, like I said, things are pretty good).
    Recently, through professional contact, an opportunity has come my way that I am very intrigued by. It is a 180 from what I am doing now. It is actually in the same industry, but that is where the comparisons stop- both with the company and the job itself. A big part of me is interested in pursuing it, but another part of me thinks it’s crazy to make such a big change… not knowing if it would be something I would be happy in (when I am relatively happy now).
    Has anyone here made a big career leap into the unknown? How did it work out?

    1. MissGirl

      Bored, stagnant, and not great pay was the reason I left my career and industry four years ago. It’s turn out really well. I’m still not making quite the money I had hoped to, but part of that was due to having to start over experience-wise. I am making almost double what I did before and now I own my home (well, me and the bank). I also have more of an upward mobility than ever would have.

      I sometimes still miss the work but I’ve learned no job is 100% perfect so figure out what’s most important.

    2. Bostonian

      I feel like I could have written this. The only difference is my compensation package is OUTSTANDING so it would take a lot to get me to leave.

      I’d say it wouldn’t hurt to throw your hat in the ring and go into an interview being really clear in your mind on what it would take to get you to switch over and finding out if the position can offer that.

    3. Hmmm

      I was in the same position as you (complete with passed up for a promotion) about 5 years ago. I made the leap and it was hands down the best thing I ever did for my career. It rounded out my resume in a way that made me much more attractive to future employers and has given me a much better perspective.

      Was it scary? Yes. I was comfortable at my job at the time. Knew the drill and felt a deep sense of safety there. Taking the job risked diving into the unknown and leaving behind my comfortable spot and starting over. Totally worth it. Even if it had ended up not working out, at least I would have known it didn’t work out and not lived with wondering.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It’s absolutely reasonable to change careers when your growth opportunities dry up [you say there’s little liklihood of an promotions at this rate], being bored and stagnant can be bad on your health in the long run. It truly just depends on what you thrive on. If I’m bored to tears, it starts wearing on my overall well being but I know that others can make due by expanding their personal lives/hobbies what have you. So again, totally a personal thing there.

      I’m all about taking calculated risks. I’m not going to quit tomorrow, pack up my car, take $50 bucks and try to “make it” in the movie industry or something. I will however make sure my eyes and ears are open for opportunities and I will explore them when they present themselves. That’s how you not only grow professionally, you stay satisfied with your professional life and you often become a bigger player in the game. It expands your network and your life view.

      Working at one company your entire life works great for some, some companies are fantastic and I can see why you wouldn’t necessarily want to try something when the grass is just fine on your side of the fence. But I like challenges and growth. Then again I also packed up at 30 and moved to a major city after growing up and kicking around dirt-towns the first 12 years of my working life. It was okay to begin with but yeah, we needed to expand.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        If I’m bored to tears, it starts wearing on my overall well being

        I’m the same way. This is why I’m looking to leave my current job. It’s nice and all, but I end up having entirely too much time on my hands in between projects, and the stuff I’m assigned rarely challenges me in the way I’m used to, so it’s time to move on. I have hobbies and things I do outside of work, but I’m still career driven, I’ve tried not to be, it’s just how I’m wired. OP, I think you should explore this opportunity – you don’t have to take anything, just feel it out for now. You may actually discover this position isn’t that much of a stretch for you after all, or you may determine you’re better off where you are. Either way, you won’t have the what if’s ringing through your head. Good luck whichever way you go.

    5. isitspringyet

      It was something I had to do but I missed the little things, like having an established reputation, my hard earned vacation days, my family-like co workers, the ease of having an emergency to handle and not worry about whatever I needed. It was hard having the least seniority and not having the most. Although I loved learning the new job, I missed being a SME and the go to person. Also keep in mind to check your retirement/pension vesting. Best Wishes to you!

    6. Finally Back In A 'Proper Job'

      I have recently switched careers completely and gone from running my own business to getting back to what my Dad calls a ‘proper’ job. It was a huge leap, made mostly because I was bored to death with the industry I was in rather than a lack of growth opportunity (I could have grown the business of course but just didn’t want to). It has been really really hard (lots of imposter syndrome, having to get comfortable with not knowing what I am doing having been at the top of my game) but so so worth it. I am learning so much, have met incredible people and have already developed loads. I feel like the sky is the limit again and am really excited to go to work every day.

      It is definitely worth at least looking into new roles and industries and sniffing out some options!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood

      Spin that around and look at it again. You’re not “bored and stagnant”–you’re is “ready for new challenges and looking for opportunities for advancement in your career. “

    8. Prof_Murph

      From a very different perspective, psychologically-speaking, people are very resilient and typically re-frame any decisions they’ve made as the right decision. There’s a sort of cognitive dissonance whereby “I decided to change jobs, and am in a new job, so I must like it” (attitude and behavior match). I know this sounds a little out there but you can trust your future self to make things work – you’ve served yourself well so far.

  28. Manon

    I am probably overthinking this in a major way, but is it weird to scope out the Linkedin pages of people you don’t know at all/are in no way connected to?

    I’m a college student and I’ll sometimes look up people in roles that I might want in the future to see what they studied and what paths they took to get to where their positions, kind of like self career advising. Thing is, I don’t know them at all – I’ve just found out their names from company websites or from clicking on suggested people on Linkedin – but Linkedin SHOWS them that I’ve viewed their profile and I know they know because occasionally someone will view mine in return.

    Long story short I feel like a creepy stalker but I’m really just trying to get career help! Plus the profiles are all public so you kind of have to expect people to look at them, right?

    1. Hold My Cosmo

      You can change your LinkedIn settings to view profiles anonymously. You lose the ability to see who has looked at your profile, but that’s a fair trade IMO.

      Go to “Settings & Privacy” under your profile, then under “How others see your LinkedIn activity” change “Profile Viewing Options” to “Private mode”.

    2. TCO

      I don’t think it’s creepy–people must expect it to happen when they put out public information. I’m usually flattered when people look at my LI profile even if I don’t know why they looked at it. However, LI also offers a “browse in private mode” setting in the privacy settings that allows you to browse anonymously. The trade-off is that if you turn on that mode you also don’t get to see the names of who visited you. It’s an option for you if you’re interested but I also don’t think you’re doing anything wrong.

    3. Lucky

      I wouldn’t worry about it. I get randos looking at my profile all the time – I assume they’re looking for someone else or just stumbled on my page, unless I can see a direct connection (like, if we have a job opening in my department and they fit the general title/industry for the position).

    4. ContemporaryIssued

      I have done this as well, though I myself have no LinkedIn so I just view them totally anonymously. I like seeing different career paths, especially of people who have radically switched careers – like a former marketing director who’s now a building manager or whatever, or an English teacher who became a lawyer some 14 years into her career. Of course, these profiles present a very clean, and cleaned up image, but I do find them fascinating, and also inspiring. If my current job or field makes me lose all hope, it is nice to see that re-training and doing something entirely different is usually a possibility, though it involves a lot of hard work no LinkedIn profile is going to show.

    5. Tarra

      Actually I think this is a super sensible thing to do as you get to see real people’s career paths. It’s not weird.

    6. CatCat

      You’re not a creepy stalker! People put info about their professional lives on a public space designed exactly for that. It would be totally normal for you to look there for the information you’re looking for.

    7. Lilysparrow

      I don’t think it’s creepy at all. When I was starting my freelance business, I would often scan profiles of people offering the same kind of services to get ideas about keywords for my services, types of clients to approach, and what sorts of projects seemed to be in demand.

      Not competing directly with them, but taking note of things like, “oh, these guys seem to blend a lot of custom teas for local restaurants. I hadn’t thought of that.”

  29. LGC

    I now have a budding coffee war in my office.

    One of my employees usually makes a pot of coffee for the office. Another employee has started vocally complaining about how it’s too weak for him. I did shut him down, but…okay, I might be at BEC with him because he is overly outspoken about a lot of things, but I’m pretty annoyed that this is a thing.

    (He did volunteer to make the second pot of the day, which puts a band-aid on it.)

    1. Snark

      I really want to understand what makes people think, “Yes, it is right and proper that I should complain vocally about the strengh of the coffee someone voluntarily made for me,” because I cannot get there from here.

      1. LGC

        Simple: he has no filter, much like a lot of people in this office. (Admittedly I don’t have the best filtering myself!)

        1. Office Gumby

          Complaining about coffee that someone else made or if the kindness of their hearts is Chock Full o’ Nuts.

      2. AcademiaNut

        Well, if you have to wait until the current coffee pot is empty before you get a drinkable cup it’s kind of annoying, particularly for the first cup of the day. And you can water down already made coffee, but you can’t make it stronger, and bringing in your own coffee making system is extra fuss and expense.

        If the guy isn’t willing to make the coffee himself, I don’t sympathize, but if he can’t make the first pot because the other person gets there first I do, particularly as the OP says that the coffee maker really does make very weak coffee.

        1. LGC

          He also called her out on break in front of the rest of the office (me, my co-supervisor, and the other 15 people in the open space). So that was the piece I was primarily concerned about – I did agree that the coffee was pretty weak, but you just don’t go out and embarrass people in front of the entire team.

          Also, it’s still drinkable! (Except for…okay, I’m bad, but there was one time where there was so little coffee put in that I thought there was something wrong with the coffee maker at first. In my defense, I hadn’t looked in the basket, so I had no idea.)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      That’s annoying. If you don’t like the coffee, make it yourself. It’s not hard to bring in a little French press or a thermos from home. I prefer my coffee to be really strong, so I have a can of Bustelo and a reusable Keurig pod at my desk. Annoying to me? Sure. But it’s more important to me that my coffee be to my liking, so I deal with the inconvenience.

      1. LGC

        Here’s a plot twist: I secretly agree with him! The other employee uses about half the amount of coffee I suggested she put in (I like it strong), but…like, it’s still drinkable. And she makes the coffee to save me and my coworker time making it in the morning, which I appreciate a lot. (Plus, she’s a little sensitive and this is not a hill I’m willing to die on.)

        Coffee guy is…a work in progress in general (I’ve actually posted about him before in the Friday thread, I think). Plus, we’re the kind of place where I’m not expecting my team to bring in their own French presses to begin with.

    3. boredatwork

      +1 If you don’t like it make your own. We have a department coffee pot, we have an “agreed” upon amounts of coffee to add, which the admin does every morning when she gets in (she doesn’t even drink it, she’s just kind).

      In a few months we have a contractor coming – he gets in EARLY. He makes the coffee X2 stronger than what we “agree” to. Guess what? we make two pots. Everyone knows pot #1 is strong AF and pot #2 will be usual strength.

      It has NEVER been an issue. You make the coffee you pick the strength

      1. LGC

        I need to be friends with your contractor.

        But I completely agree. Besides, it’s office coffee. Don’t walk in here expecting Starbucks.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          My company actually does give us free Starbucks coffee to brew (well, the building management company does), and it still never comes out quite right.

    4. CatCat

      Such a weird thing to complain about since it’s such a simple thing to resolve on one’s own.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      He sounds precious.

      “I don’t like this nice-thing someone did.”

      It’s like the people who go “Oh you brought donuts. Sigh. I was hoping someone would bring bagels.” Bro. Then go get your bagel, I will not be hurt. Also then they eat/drink what they’re complaining about…

      It’s just weak coffee. It’s going to be okay, maaaaaaan.

      Get him some of those STOK extra-shots for Christmas if you do gift exchange *grinch smile*

      1. LGC

        I’VE ACTUALLY GOTTEN THE DONUTS THING

        (Granted, this was at a time when I’d regularly bring in Krispy Kreme when they had sales – like once every couple of weeks.)

        It might sound like I work with monsters, but…really, they’re mostly not that bad and pretty appreciative! (Although I’ve had to get a thicker skin.)

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Oh I don’t think they’re monsters!

          I think they’re just a bunch of Wo/Man Children. Children whine about free things.

          If someone complains that they don’t like the donuts or whatever, I have been known to say “Oh, okay, so you don’t want yours?” And then just casually grab the “spare” and toss it in the garbage. “I saved you from having to take that, phew!” [Or I would just grab it and eat it later but the garbage move was for extra flare that day].

          1. LGC

            I think they’re just a bunch of Wo/Man Children. Children whine about free things.

            You’d…actually be right, and close to literally. A lot of them are pretty young and are still learning how to work in an office and the various rules thereof. (Coffee dude is in his early-mid 20’s, and I think the chick who announced her fatigue with my donuts to me wasn’t even old enough to drink at the time. Sometimes I forget about this!)

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              This gives me so much more hope! I have only recently in my career [despite being on the verge of old age at 35] started working with my own generation [the younger part, since I’m up here at the top of it, argh]. So I’m just used to this behavior from middle-aged folks! So I hope that these ones grow a filter, I refuse to lose hope, everyone is different and I have seen people evolve/grow up.

              Seriously me at 25, let’s forget I was ever less than 30, byeeeeeeeee. I was raised with a mother who would have unleashed her “HOW DARE YOU, I RAISED YOU BETTER” on me if I had been whiny about anything not being to my exact liking but I know that others were allowed to be picky eaters and always voicing their delicate feels.

  30. Sled dog mama

    So I just got my appointment date/time to take my board exam, work is requiring that I pass this exam in the next two years to remain employed (only offered once a year).
    I have to travel from east coast to west coast to take the exam (in person oral exam with 5 examiners). I’m planning to take the day before and day after off but is it wrong of me to assume that the actual day of the exam should not count against my PTO since it’s a requirement of the job?

    1. Sled dog mama

      Should say that my state laws and Industry DO NOT require this certification yet this is an employer requirement.

      1. this ain't a scene

        My feeling if that if the employer is requiring it as part of your job, then it should be on work time. But ask your boss how it’s worked for people in the past?

      2. Pharmgirl

        In that case, honestly they should be paying for everything – days of travel, day of exam, travel expenses, exam expenses. I would definitely ask about getting reimbursement.

    2. Namast'ay in Bed

      If they’re requiring you to get this certification and these are (PTO) expenses you are incurring due your job, then they should cover them.

      You should definitely check with your manager though, just to be safe.

    3. Antilles

      I work in an industry with a similar Professional Certification and my experience is that the answer *really* depends on your company. The answers for “do I need to use PTO” and “will my company pay for this certification” basically run the entire spectrum.
      Some companies would pay for everything and not require you to use PTO even for the surrounding days. Other companies treat it as furthering your career, so it’s all out of pocket including the PTO. And plenty of companies take other stances somewhere in the middle a stance sort of in the middle – we pay 50% of the cost and you pay the other 50%, we pay upfront and you only get reimbursed if you pass, we won’t require you to use PTO but still expect you to work the same number of hours so put in two extra hours Monday through Thursday, etc.
      That said, it’s absolutely worth asking about. It varies enough that nobody will judge you for asking and the worst thing they can say is the “no” where you’re already at.

      1. Antilles

        Note that I’m assuming this “board exam” is an industry-wide certification of some kind – the kind of thing that you’d benefit from even if you switched companies in a couple years. That’s where the whole justification for not covering everything comes from – it’s something that you’re doing partly because of your company but also as a benefit to yourself.
        If I’m wrong and this is exclusive to the company and useless elsewhere, then it’s a lot more cut and dry “yes they should pay for it”, because at that point, it’s primarily serving as a benefit to them, not you.

        1. Sled dog mama

          Yes, it’s a certification exam. There are 2-3 certifying bodies to choose from and my employer requires this one I probably would have pursued a different (less expensive but notoriously harder to get) one if work hadn’t required this one.

    4. Tara S.

      Ask for it off as administrative leave, since it is “professional development” and something you need to do the job.

      I wanted to take the whole day off when I did my final Masters Capstone presentation. I asked my boss what kind of leave I should put into the system for that day. He said “I think that would be vacation.” And I said, “Oh, I wasn’t sure if I should code it as administrative leave, since the Masters is part of my professional development.” And he said that would be fine. So, no PTO lost. (And imo, no, you shouldn’t have to take a day so it deducts from your PTO bucket.)

    5. Sleepytime Tea

      If this is an employer requirement, then you should not have to use PTO for either the day of the exam OR travel days to get to the exam if you don’t have the option to take it closer to home.

  31. Media Monkey

    has anyone ever done a Thomas International PPA test? Did anything useful come out of it?

    I had to do one for an interview yesterday and you have to choose from a list of 4 words which best and which least describe you at work. One of the words was “neighbourly”. what does that even mean in a work context? That i talk to the person i sit next to?

    1. curly sue

      I might understand that better as “collegiality,” or “plays well with others,” but I’m not entirely sure.

  32. Trying To Be A Good Ally

    Question for LBGTQ+ community from a cis het woman: what are your thoughts on a rainbow “ALLY” signature below your normal work signature? Some people at my company use it, but I’m not sure if it comes across as a white knight gesture to adopt it. We have a Pride group at work and more friends/colleagues have been coming out lately, and I want to show my support without overstepping.

    1. Amber Rose

      I’ve always felt that my work signature is for work related information only, and my personal email signature is for whatever else.

      It just feels weird to me to throw a bunch of personal stuff automatically at the end of an email about TPS reports or whatever.

    2. this ain't a scene

      Lesbian here: I hate any image in any signatures.

      I feel if you’re in a role where you might interact with the public in a way that signaling you’re an ally is relevant, then I don’t think there’s harm in it. The best way to show support is to just be supportive. Actions speak louder than sig files ;)

      1. this ain't a scene

        Oh, and about signatures: I got one recently with an “inspirational quote” at the end… that credited the sender as the person who said it.

    3. Où est la bibliothèque?

      It’s well-meaning, but it’s also identifying yourself as straight, and your email signature shouldn’t indicate your sexual orientation.

      1. Ruth (UK)

        I don’t feel it necessarily identifies a person to be straight if they say they’re an ally. Partly because LGBT+ is quite broad so you could be identifying as part of it (eg. Trans but straight, or via but gay) or be potentially questioning etc and consider yourself as part of LGBT+ but also an ally (to people identifying as other parts of the acronym).

        For this reason and others, the universy I work at recently renamed their “straight allies network” as “LGBT+ allies network” to remove the assumption that someone who is an “ally” is necessarily straight. (It’s also in line what what other companies/groups are using as the term to refer to their allies).

        As for the signature thing… My opinion as a gay woman (and part of my staff pride and allies network at work, and also the LGBT+ project in my city) is… Quite neutral. I think it depends a bit on exactly what the signature/image is/says I guess. I think work signatures are often quite long and messy as it is and often don’t display well on mobiles either.

        1. Ruth (UK)

          Ps autocorrect changed cis to via and I swear I thought I’d fixed it but apparently I didn’t. Above it should read ‘cis but gay’ not via…)

    4. Myrin

      It would feel out of place to me (with maybe one exception being if you worked for a queer-issues-focused organisation where everyone declared their “status”, so to speak, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case for you). What am I supposed to do with that information? I’m going to base my estimation of someone’s allyship on my interactions with them, not on whether or not they have a rainbow signature declaring them an ally.

    5. DC

      I think it depends on what you do. When I worked at a university and interacted with students, we all had our pronouns in our signatures and indications of safe space or ally training. If it’s not a standard where you are, that’s different.

      That said, normalizing pronouns in a signature/twitter bio isn’t a bad thing.

      1. DC

        Also, to be clear, I’m bi and I would also 100% judge based on your actions not a rainbow in your signature. I also strongly hate images and inspirational quotes, haha.

      2. Arielle

        I was going to suggest the pronoun thing too. We have had people start to put pronouns in their Slack display names and it’s nice.

    6. anon today and tomorrow

      I don’t like it the same way I wouldn’t want to see someone’s religion in their signature or their support of any other social issue.

      But I also really side-eye ally gestures like rainbow signatures or turning their social media icons rainbow colored in June. Because it just reminds me that allies can make everything a rainbow of support in a way that a lot of LGBTQA+ people can’t. A straight person can put a rainbow in their signature with no major repercussions, but a closeted or private LGBTQA+ person might not be able to because it outs them or has people default assume they’re a straight ally.

      It’s sort of like Pride. I know allies who love going and don’t ever acknowledge that there are LGBTQA+ people who still don’t feel comfortable or welcome at Pride, even more so when straight people are there in droves.

      Being a good ally is not merely having a rainbow on your social media or email signature. That’s lazy slacktivism. Being a good ally is treating your friend/colleague no differently and letting them know that you’re a safe person to talk to, and speaking up against bigotry when they’re not around to defend themselves.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        Sorry, I realized this was a long rant, but I get really, really annoyed by straight people who do the rainbows of support in their emails/social media profiles. I always have a knee jerk reaction to it.

        1. Lynne

          Agreed! If you want to show that you’re an ally (which I don’t think anyone should claim to be; just do the work, support folks, take action), put your pronouns in your signature. That speaks much more loudly.

      2. Overeducated

        Yeah, I think this is where my discomfort comes from, it’s a performative thing that marks you *as a straight person.* A rainbow flag somewhere on your desk or pronouns in your signature are different because those are things anyone could use to normalize differences at work.

        1. anon today and tomorrow

          Yes. I think why it makes me so angry is because it feels like a slap in the face to people who can’t, for whatever reason, mark themselves as part of the LGBT community.

          It’s also one of those situations where someone from the marginalized group starts a trend and then people from the majority appropriate it for their own use. That’s why so many LGBT identities have started identifying themselves with their individual flags. It’s to distance themselves from rainbow clad straight allies.

      3. The Other Chelsea

        100% this. As a queer woman, I agree and am glad someone already said so eloquently exactly how I also feel.

    7. Jess

      Are you willing to put your own job on the line for the cause? Because that’s what I would expect from someone who is advertising themselves as an ally in their work signature. Especially if I was LGBTQ+ and needed allies to step up in a particular work situation related to that.

    8. Dragoning

      Oh my God, I would hate this. It’s incredibly performative, IMO.

      I don’t trust people who identify strongly as an “ally” because a good majority of the time they don’t listen when they get called out, so it’s meaningless to me. I still don’t trust that they’re going to be safe to talk to about any of this, just that they might not…beat me up.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        I think you explained my dislike of it better than I could have. Performative is the perfect word for it. Even the people I’ve met who strongly identify as an ally who are genuinely well-intentioned often come off as though they want recognition for being an ally. They tend to be the ones, in my experience, who don’t understand why the LGBT community is upset when they feel like straight people are encroaching on their symbols, spaces, or events because they’re so deep in the “love is love” mindset.

        The people who push their “ally status” are people I tend to avoid because they generally don’t want to have a safe space to discuss the nuances of the community since they tend to default to surface level issues and assumptions.

      2. Où est la bibliothèque?

        I’ve definitely known people who proudly say that they’re allies, and mean well, but also sort of think that they’ve earned their permanent Ally-ness Has Been Achieved badge, and they’re actually less likely to be sensitive and willing to adjust their language/perspective/etc.

        1. Dragoning

          As I have seen online plenty of times: “Ally” is a verb, not a noun.

          At least in this case.

        2. Elizabeth West

          I won’t name names, but that happened on Twitter recently — a high-profile ally got called out on some problematic language and doubled down and it was….not a good look.

    9. deesse877

      If you work in a context where personal lives are salient (ex: health care or education), then do it. I spent some time in the hospital recently and I was surprised how much it mattered to me. If you work in a place where public and official homophobia is common (ex: campaign mailers that warn against the “gay agenda”; daily efforts by LGBTQIA friends to avoid violence or confrontation), then do it.

      If you’re not in one of those circumstances, use your own judgment. I don’t use flags or symbols myself, and I question a LOT of mainstream LGBTQIA political leaders, groups, etc., but if I thought survival was on the table for anyone around me I’d wear Lena Waithe’s cape to work.

      1. No Name Yet

        Yes, I think this is a good point re: healthcare and education. At our hospital we have rainbow lanyards as an option (with a specific statement of being LBGTQ supportive), and if I were a patient seeing that on a provider would absolutely make me more comfortable.

        1. Teach

          I have really pretty watercolor rainbow “Safe Space” stickers on the doors to my classroom and office for this reason. They are from our state’s organization to promote physical and emotional safety for LGBTQ+ students and teachers, which will also come train folks in starting a GSA. So a signal of active ally-ness, but also with some street-cred and where students would see it in context before interacting with me?

          1. Humble Schoolmarm

            There was a push for ally training and stickers in my district just before I was hired, but it has since disappeared. I use a 4×6 rainbow flag that’s quite visible when you come into my classroom instead. I teach 7th graders, so I feel like it is important for them (and their parents!) for me to be more direct. In another industry, I would stick with show, don’t just tell.

    10. BRR

      My opinion as a cis gay man is I don’t care for it at all. You have great intentions, but meh. I think including pronouns in your email signature would be better. I realized this is somewhat problematic but I would assume any person who lists pronouns is an ally of the trans community and would also be an ally of the other parts of the LGBTQ+ community.

      1. Joielle

        Cis bi lady here, and I was going to say the same thing. I think the rainbow is a little performative, as Dragoning notes above. But pronouns are a legitimately useful thing to put in an email signature, and including them does signal allyship in my opinion.

    11. Certified Lesbian

      Honestly, I find stuff like this unimpressive at best and borderline offensive at worst. Individuals can show their support by donating their time and money to LGBT organizations and political movements and employers can do it by giving LGBT employees good wages, good benefits, and protecting and supporting them even when the law says they don’t have to. I don’t care about your rainbow signature.

    12. LGC

      I’m 1) gay and 2) more importantly, a fan of minimal email signatures. (We have company email signatures. I only use mine on the first external email in a chain.)

      Anyway. If I were you I wouldn’t put it in your signature, especially if your signature goes on every email you send. It sounds like it’s a visually eye catching design, which can get a little overwhelming in volume. As for the politics, I think it’s a great sentiment personally. Some might see it as white knighting, but…you can’t control what other people think.

    13. Trying To Be A Good Ally

      I really appreciate the feedback and recognize it’s not meaningful in the way actual actions are. Thank you to everyone for pointing that out.

      Admittedly, I was a little weirded out when I first saw it crop up in emails from other people years ago and saw it as performative, as many commented. The reason I asked is because a friend recently came out very publicly and told me they felt so much better thanks to all of the supportive comments on social media, and thought maybe an email signature would be a way of signaling it all the time and not just when it impacted people I personally know. The fact that it would rub the exact people I think I’m trying to support is reason enough not to add it, and will continue to provide support in my everyday actions instead.

  33. this ain't a scene

    This week on a one-on-one call with my supervisor, he asked me the same question three times in ten minutes. Was he trying to get a different answer? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    This is nowhere near the first time he’s done this, but it was the first time it was so many times in so short a time, usually there’s 10 minutes before he asks me the same question again.

    (It’s not memory problems. I have experience with people with memory problems. This is someone who isn’t paying attention.)

  34. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

    My company is looking to hire an office manager, 20-40 hours a week (we don’t know part or full time yet…), but we’re not sure where to look for one. We’d like it to be a longer-term thing than an internship and with interns we’ve had, their schedules are unreliable and change frequently with their new classes, and we just need something more consistent. Are job boards like Indeed good for this? Has anyone had experience hiring somebody for this type of position? Unfortunately it’s not exactly thrilling work but we also need someone who is reliable and reasonably good. Help!!

    1. Amber Rose

      We hired ours using Indeed. Part time didn’t work out very well but full time has been going OK for the last month.

    2. this ain't a scene

      We’ve hired for these in the past using the same application website and promotional websites like other jobs.

      I’m a little concerned that this was previously considered an “intern job”. I hope once you have someone permanent in the role that they’re valued like other employees.

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

        Sorry, “intern” probably isn’t the best word for it – it’s more like students that want to work part-time while studying, the same group that would look for a job as a barista or something. The office manager jobs are spread out across everyone in the office – it’s a small office and we do a weird thing that very little students actually study for.

        I don’t have clout in any of this by the way, I’m just here for ideas that I can pass on to higher-ups

    3. Festo

      That doesn’t sound like an appropriate role for an intern anyway. Internships are supposed to provide some sort of educational benefit to the intern. You need to hire a regular employee. Office Manager is a common enough job that you should be able to recruit for it on general job search sites like Indeed.

    4. Lilith

      Look for a parent of young children who wants to work 4/5 hours a day. I don’t know how your ad would run or where but I’d bet if you could figure out that piece, you would get a lot of applicants.

      1. OtterB

        I did this once, a long time ago, back when people still put ads in the paper. I don’t know how you’d do it now. We needed someone part time but with some fairly specific skills. I worded the ad to emphasize flexibility, trying to target it for a mom returning to the workforce after some time out with kids. We hired a dad returning to the workforce after some time out with his kids, and he was awesome.

      2. Parenthetically

        I had the same thought! I know plenty of parents who would LOVE a job that fits within their kids’ elementary school dropoff/pickup times! A non-exciting, steady, straightforward job that brings in some money and fits between 8:30 and 3 is SOLID GOLD for that demographic.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago

      Use a temp agency! You get to try people out and, if they don’t work, you can end the assignment and try someone else. If they do work out, then you can hire them on (generally after a specific # of hours worked through the agency or after paying a fee).

    6. OtterB

      Can you ask current employees to publicize it? I sometimes see things like this posted on a group email for a hobby of mine, or on a neighborhood Facebook group: my organization is looking for someone with these qualifications, good place to work, etc.

      Or, work with a temp firm for a temp to perm hire?

    7. Moving to Australia

      I’ve had a similar job in the past. I found it in Craigslist. I would say advertise on the normal job boards. Indeed, ZipRecrutier, Craigslist. If your company has a Facebook page, my office has gotten decent results through Facebooks job market. I don’t know anything about hiring for this position though. The job I had was my first job out of collage.

    8. Phx Acct, now with dragons

      This is how I made my $$ when I was home with the kids. I worked with mostly small construction businesses who were making the transition from good-ol-boy-cash-only to **legitimate** businesses. Turned into a fantastic little consulting business. I’d go in, set up the books, train folks on basic accounting procedures, eventually hire an admin, and bounce. Maybe stop I quarterly to clean up the books and prep for their CPA.

      Temp companies are great for this. They’ll often have people who have no desire to work full time, but have education and experience.

      Also, tap other small businesses in your network. Ask if they know anyone or suggest a firm.

  35. T. Librarian

    What would you do? I am a manager of a small office that is one of three satellite offices within a larger office located in another part of my city. The head of the office had a death in her family. I wasn’t sure if the expectation was that each of the satellite offices would do something individually, or if the office as a whole would do something together, so I emailed the boss’s second in command to find out. In the meantime, one of my employees took it upon himself to send flowers from “Employee’s Name and the rest of the Satellite Office.” Only after sending the flowers did he send an email to everyone on my team saying he had done so (note that his email said that the “card is from all staff of the office” but didn’t specify that it was from his name and “all staff of the office” and not from each of us by name) and inviting contributions. I learned how the card was signed when I gave my employee money; I had responded to his initial email telling him that I would have liked him to check with me before taking action on behalf of the office because he didn’t know if something else was in the works, and he took the opportunity of my giving him money to tell me that by suggesting he talk to me first, I was asking him to violate his principles. He said he wasn’t acting “on behalf of the office” because our names weren’t on the card.
    So… 1. if you were in my position when this happened, would you send something else on behalf of the office that is actually on behalf of the office? 2. if you were in my position when this happened and then learned that the office as a whole is doing something, and the individual satellite offices are NOT expected to do something, how would you respond? 3. If this were NOT just another element in a long-standing clash between you and your employee in which the employee is consistently and subtly insubordinate, would this be less of an issue than I am thinking it is?

    1. fposte

      If satellite offices aren’t doing anything, I certainly wouldn’t send something else.

      And while I think it would be a bigger deal if I’d already been at dagger points with the dude, I’d in any case make it clear that his principles aren’t relevant here. If he wants to send a private tribute, that’s fine, but he doesn’t get to choose to send something privately and then shake his co-workers down for contributions, no matter what was on the card. (If you think there’s a possibility he’s inflating the cost to try to profit, request the receipt for the arrangement.) Asking for contributions stops now.

      If he’s repeatedly insubordinate, what’s keeping him from being fired?

    2. ChimericalOne

      If I were you, I’d speak with him again and make it clear that *anything* sent that says “From [Joe] AND THE REST OF THE SATELLITE OFFICE” has been sent on behalf of the office, whether individual names were listed or not, and that he is not to ever send things on behalf of the office without checking in with you first. “Is that something you think you can do?” should follow this calm, firm statement. If he says he can’t, I’d follow that with, “If that’s not something you think you can do, this office might not be a good fit for you. This is something I need you to do.” or “This is a condition of working in this office.”

      I wouldn’t worry about the rest. Don’t send a separate gift, don’t stress about whether the satellite offices were “supposed” to send something. And yes, this would be an issue even if the employee weren’t regularly insubordinate (maybe not the gift, could’ve been an innocent mistake, but the reaction to being told NOT to do it again).

      Also, you need to be calling him out firmly on all his insubordination: e.g., “I need you to listen to this feedback and change your behavior. While you might find this upsetting, this isn’t something we can have a conversation about. I need you to change this behavior as a condition of your employment here.” Then, if he doesn’t stop, you need to let him go.

      1. Enough

        What stood out to me was his claim it wasn’t from the office but he wanted contributions for the cost.

    3. Not Me

      1. If you send something else, like a fruit and cheese gift basket to their house instead of flowers to the funeral, then yes. If you’re just sending another bouquet of flowers with a different card, it may be confusing/odd.
      2. More thoughtful things sent to someone who is grieving is better than not enough.
      3. Yes, definitely. If the employee is consistently insubordinate that should be handled though.

    4. mdv

      No matter what he says, when he added “and all the other employees of satellite office” to his card, he did, in fact, decide to act on everyone’s behalf! And since he didn’t say anything until after he’d done it, I would probably just ignore his request for contributions.

      1. I probably would, and if it comes up, let whoever asks know that employee didn’t realize the office would do something separate, and overstepped his authority by signing his card the way he did. But I don’t think anyone will say anything to you about this. The surviving relatives have much bigger fish to fry beyond a “huh, weird” reaction.

      2. Again, I’d only respond if it comes up, and then I’d be honest. “Fergus sent flowers without checking in first, so I didn’t get a chance to relay that the office as a whole was doing something instead.

      3. “Violate his principles”?!?!? What a jerk. I would use this as a supporting example when you figure out how to write him up for the consistent and subtle insubordination, and work on managing him out from under you.

    5. Not So NewReader

      grrr.
      When a person signs for other people, then they are acting on the behalf of those people they signed for. I agree he can sign his own name and let it go at that. I would let him know he cannot sign other people’s names.
      Additionally, he cannot spend money or ask for money after the fact. I’d tell him that going forward, since I am the boss I am in charge of the group response or gift given to loss/personal emergency/etc. If he signs other people’s names again or signs for the entire office, that will be considered insubordination.

      1) I might send something if I was particularly fond of the person or if the person had gone to lengths to help me and my group. Also I would consider how much of this can I afford to as in what if everyone lost someone? This might help me to curb the idea of getting a gift in addition to the card.

      2) I would get a lovely card and pass it around for each person to sign. I might even escort the card around the group for signatures.

      3)I think condolences should come from the highest ranked person in the group, especially if someone is going to sign for the group. Yeah, that reads to me like he stepped on your toes. I do think that you’d be better off picking the larger problems as your focus. I would just tell him not to sign for anyone but himself ever again and after that let it go in favor of what the actual problems are.

    6. T. Librarian

      All, thanks for this feedback. I couldn’t tell if I was just being prickly because of the ongoing issues with him, or if there really was a problem with his actions in this case.

      What I didn’t add in my original post here is that I asked him what principles he thought I was asking him to violate, and he responded that if I “didn’t understand, I never would.” He had been listening to music prior to the discussion, and after he said this, he just put his earbuds back in and turned around!

      1. fposte

        What did you do then?

        (And are you Teapot Librarian posting about your nemesis under a slightly different name, or is it just a librarian curse?)

        1. T. Librarian

          What I did then was to go straight to my office and documented the conversation. I probably should have responded in the moment but somehow I’m never prepared for his rudeness. And I plead the 5th.

          1. Gerald

            I don’t think you can say anything in the moment. By putting on his music, he was controlling the situation and was probably hoping for you to push him so that he could show that he was in control. My most cynical view is that he was hoping to give a big show of “I’m being pushed around here, because I did something nice and you aren’t appreciating it, and now you’re being mean to me”.

            I don’t know much about managing people, but this one sounds like a serious problem. I think a meeting in your office is the much better way to go.

            1. valentine

              I am really tired of guys like this making women’s work lives a misery. It’s fine to fire him now and to stop second-guessing yourself.

              Don’t give him money, for anything, ever. Literally naming the office and lying is gaslighting. There is no way for him to act on information he gained via work (in this case, the bereavement) without repping the company.

    7. Knotty Ferret

      Unless this guy is in a position where he regularly sends things on behalf of the office (cards, Christmas baskets, etc), I’d agree he seems to have over-stepped. I’m really not sure how “before acting for the office, ask your boss what the office plan is” can be against his principles. Sending on his own behalf would be a little odd, unless he was especially close, but not an over-step.

      Since this is a done sort of thing, I’d treat it as done: “the satellite office” has sent flowers, though you may wish to see what was sent and send something additional if what he sent was not up to the quality you’d like to represent the office (but note that’s addition, not replacement, so it could get weird if it’s too lavish). As for organizing with the main office, let them know your office already arranged something from your satellite office (details about how that happened are dependent on your relationship there – you know whether an apology or explanation will weaken your reputation or give necessary background better than I can).

    8. Someone Else

      He can’t really have it both ways?
      If he signs it “me+office” he’s implying it is from the office, so “the office can’t tell me what to do because it’s not from the office” is nonsense. Especially if he’s after-the-fact asking for cash for thing he already purchased and sent.

      1. Nana

        Bit of a side note: In some cultures (Orthodox Jewish, for one), flowers are INappropriate and UNwelcome. And certainly no one, aside from Big Boss, should decide on an all-office response. Worth a write-up, IMHO

  36. Meredith Brooks

    This is just a vent. I’m sorry, I have no questions, but any advice, support is always appreciated!

    The circle of my acceptance, ambivalence, irritation, and frustration of my current career has rounded back to MUST LEAVE status. I’m not the boss’s favorite this week. This happens. It usually lasts a week or two and then we return to a normal ebb and flow. The difference? This time she wasn’t just short with me, but essentially made me irrelevant during a meeting last week. I don’t think it was intentional. Short version. I had to tell my direct report not to do something, which had been irritating my boss. Let’s say it was chewing gum. During the meeting, my boss not only chewed gum, but offered some to my direct report. This happened literally the day after I told the staffer not to chew gum (which boss was well aware of). In the same meeting, she also cut me off and finished an update. I suppose she didn’t like how I was telling it. I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that my boss, although generally quite a good and decent person, is a micromanager and if I had to guess, my skills are not those she needs in a manager of the department. I accept those details as being relatively factual. But, I can’t abide being made to look semi-ridiculous and then feeling regularly useless. This is all made worse by the fact that I have no desire to stay in my career and actively looking to leave it. So, I’m doing a job I don’t particularly like and have in equal measure basically been told at my organization I’m great and terrible. (multiple times — this is not the first time I’ve been pushed and pulled in different directions).

    Honestly, I’m just grateful I’ve been through worse at other companies. Because although my mental health is taking a little bit of a beating, I know for a fact I’m handling this better than I would have 10 years ago.

    1. ChimericalOne

      Can you request a meeting with your boss’s boss to talk about her? She doesn’t honestly sound like a very good person. Good people don’t undermine, interrupt, and humiliate their employees, and then act sweet to them just long enough to keep them from leaving before initiating the cycle again. Sounds like classic abuse, actually, although I can’t tell from your post if it quite rises to that level.

      1. Meredith Brooks

        That would fail miserably. My boss’s boss is a fan. As are most. As am I (generally). On the 90% whole she can be supportive and collaborative. But, she does have a mean streak. It’s not the “throw you under the bus kind of mean streak,” it’s more of a withholding of support. There’s probably some element of abusive behavior in there, but it’s not so significant that it causes me regular stress and anxiety. It just reinforces that I’m kind of done. And having to continue in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy (though doesn’t make you miserable) is not a wonderful feeling.

          1. valentine

            Why would it fail if you were to genuinely ask why she pulled the gum routine? She seems like someone who will now turn around and blame you when the employee next breaks out the gum.

            It would serve you to set aside your fan status and really reflect on her behavior to see how much you’re really dismissing and letting slide, and if she isn’t really 90+% awful.

  37. Alfonzo Mango

    Did anyone else see the 40-hours-a-week ‘freelance’ position offered by David Tamarkin at Conde Nast? He tweeted about the position (it was a very scary and unfair job posting) and was immediately ratioed, people even snitched to the NYC labor department.

    It made me very grateful for regulations and Twitter.

    1. this ain't a scene

      I saw that show up on a blog! I sat there thinking “full…. time…. freelance????” and then spent a while doubting that I even knew what freelance meant. I concluded that I knew what freelance was, but Conde Nast did not ;)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        It’s a really, really typical designation for media companies. I used to work for one of the big ones and they had a ton of “permalancers”; I was in the running for a position and turned it down so fast when I learned it was permalance, but it was so glamorous and exciting that I might have considered it if I hadn’t just recovered from a broken foot and was afraid of losing my health insurance. A guy I knew took a job with the same company and apparently had no idea that “full-time freelance” meant he didn’t have his taxes taken out of his paycheck. There was a blog article about this (maybe on The Muse?). It’s pervasive and has been accepted in the media industry for decades. I think this type of incident will go towards changing things, but it’s so tough when the industry is full of power players PLUS people who will take anything just to get their feet in the door. (My salary would have doubled if I had gone to a different company when I was mid-level; my company got away with paying so much less to junior staff because everyone wanted to–still wants to– work there.)

    2. LCL

      I had to look this up. Ratioed refers to how many people reply to a twitter post vs how many people like it. Saying someone was ratioed means someone received a number of large negative replies to their twitter post, much more than liked it.

    3. annakarina1

      I was glad that was called out. It reminded me of an old part-time freelance publishing job that I had where I was given a fancy-sounding title, but was only paid a cheap daily stipend, treated as the help, had to invoice my hours every two weeks with the finance guy acting confused about it each time, had to pay taxes because I was on a 1099 and not a W2 despite doing a lot of weekly editorial work, and let go after two years for “budget reasons.” So I had some residual bitterness, and was happy to see that crap getting checked by the Department of Labor.

    4. Annie Moose

      Oh, that one was crazy. My favorite part of the job description was “building” 30 recipes a month… claimed to be just 15% of the job.

      40 hours/week * 4 weeks/month = 160 hours/month
      15% of 160 hours = 24 hours
      24 hours / 30 recipes = just 48 minutes PER RECIPE

      This was later claimed to be purely data entry, but… no one calls data entry “building recipes”.

      (for comparison, people who do recipe development full time might develop 10 recipes a month… without also having to produce daily newsletters, do SEO, write 4-6 posts a week, and handle administrative work)

      1. Lilysparrow

        Even if you’re swiping other people’s recipes and changing the wording to dodge a copyright claim, 48 minutes each is hardly enough.

        Maybe if you’re using article-spinning software. But you’d still have to edit it properly afterward.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

          Does this explain why some recipes are dreadful or missing ingredients? LOL.

  38. Eh

    How do you get over imposter syndrome and the fear of leaving a known entity?

    I’ve posted a few times about being frustrated with how things are at my current job, including ineffective management and our department head playing favorites, and I just completed a reference check for what seems like an amazing opportunity… but I am scared to death of leaving where I’m comfortable. My current company is ostensibly good, my coworkers are great, we have good benefits, and on the whole, I like being here. You know, besides the things that made me start looking.

    How do you convince yourself that you can actually be the person you’re selling yourself to be in interviews? How can you be sure it’s time to move on?

    1. Sara without an H

      Oh, Eh, this is so, so normal. It might help if you remind yourself that the mere act of interviewing doesn’t commit you to anything. You already have a job that is OK, but not great, and you’re just looking at another opportunity.

      Try shifting the focus to what you want to get from the interview, rather than the impression you are making (“the person you’re selling yourself to be”). Remember, interviewing is a two-way process. Do some research on the company and prepare some questions in advance on things you really want to know about the job. Remember — they may be interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them.

      I frequently steer people to the AAM archives. (No, Alison isn’t paying me.) Spend some time there looking at interview topics.

      Good luck!

    2. Anonymous Educator

      How do you convince yourself that you can actually be the person you’re selling yourself to be in interviews?

      I don’t think there’s an easy solution for that. I’ve been told for almost two decades how amazing my work is (in areas I was not trained to be in during schooling), and I still feel imposter syndrome. I don’t know that you can just make it go away.

      How can you be sure it’s time to move on?

      Again, I don’t know if you can ever be sure. There have been times I’ve left a job I was comfortable in and could have stayed at for years, and I’ve thought “That was definitely the right move,” and other times when I’ve thought “Ugh. I probably should have just stayed.” Unfortunately, there’s no way to know the future.

      I wish I had better (or more comforting) answers for you.

  39. Moving to Australia

    Hello! I appreciate all the answers last week to my post about moving to Australia. It’s now official! Moving at the begining of June! Anyone have any advice for Australia CVs or job interviews? Do I need to put an objective on my CV? I’m probably going to get a virtual phone number and apply before we move.

    1. Ismis

      I haven’t been job hunting in a while but some friends asked me to proof their CVs and adding an objective looks like it’s a matter of preference or maybe even industry (these were admin/analysis roles). I think the standard is contact details at the top, a quick synopsis (I am a great because XYZ and can do ABC), then employment history, then qualifications. Try to keep it to 2 pages.

      For contact details, I would just put name, email and phone number.

      Best of luck with the move!

      1. Moving to Australia

        Thank you! I appreciate it! I’ll probably end up with an admin position. I’ve done admin positions in the past. The synopsis is going to be difficult to write, but good to know about. I do not currently have one. I’m also trying to get into health care admin or public health. I have a degree in both but wasn’t able to get a job in either.

        1. Ismis

          The ones I’ve seen are along the lines of: “I am a client focused professional with 10 years of experience in health care and public health administration.” and then a few more lines on what your key skills/interests are. Almost like a mini cover letter, but not tailored to a specific position.

          Oh – and you probably know but Australia uses British English spelling, e.g. colour instead of color, and dates are in the format DD/MM/YYYY.

          1. Moving to Australia

            Thank you! That example helps. I did know about the spelling and the date, but I did neither when updating my resume earlier. I will change that thank you.

            1. Ismis

              No worries!

              (Get used to hearing that a lot – I’m not from Australia originally; I think it’s the first phrase all foreigners pick up :))

    2. Twinkle

      Congratulations! I didn’t offer any advice last week as I’m not in Melbourne (hopefully I’m remembering the right part and that was where you said you’d be moving to) but I’m an Aussie and happy to offer my 2c re hiring practices.

      A couple of things – using objectives in CVs is very industry dependent – what industry are you in, and you may get more detailed advice? Also, we’re not so fussy about the “keep CVs to 2 pages” rule that seems common in the US. Obviously it depends on your level of experience, but many people have CVs that are 3 pages.

      For interviews, I don’t know that a lot is different except that thank you notes following interviews are not a thing in Australia. (Just the thought sounds so strange to me!) Do the interview and say thanks at the end then don’t contact the interviewers – they’ll get in touch if/when required.

      1. Moving to Australia

        Thank you! You remember correctly. We are moving to Melbourne. I’m trying to get into public health or health care administration. Preferably long term care, but at this point, I just want something related to health. If I’m not getting jobs, I’ll probably end up in recruiting or receptionist since I have experience in both. I have a degree with public health and health care administration, but I’m currently hiring construction workers for a living because I couldn’t find a job in the fields.

        It sounds like I need to completely change a resume to a CV, that is my project for this weekend. Defenently going to lengthen it. I don’t have enough work history for 3 pages. I have been writing thank you notes, so I will make sure to not do that. Thank you!

  40. Sick of the slurp

    I sit in a cube farm in a very quiet, rather confined room. We cannot have headphones of any kind, although we can wear earplugs.

    My coworker on the other side of the cube wall from me drinks soup every day for lunch. He also always gets lunch between 1 and 2 pm so I’m always in the office. And he slurps it every time. Big, smacky slurps.

    The other day I was having a conversation with another coworker and kept getting distracted by his loud slurping noises. I finally got frustrated and asked him to “please try to eat your soup without slurping.”

    He did, but seemed pretty hurt about it. I’m wondering if I should have let it go. Some of my other coworkers and I joke about noisy eating because our office is so quiet but this guy is pretty introverted.

    1. Sloan Kittering

      This is hard because in my opinion, neither of you are really “wrong” and it’s the crappy office setup that’s pitting the two of you against each other. Slurping is kind of subjective. I’ve had long debates with (crazy) people about whether it’s “rude” to eat an apple in hand versus slicing it up in an open office, or type too loudly, sigh a lot, chew nuts at their desk, get up “too often” or walk behind someone … personally I feel it’s not reasonable to expect people to maintain library silence 8 hours a day in the place where they’re working and eating, but I blame our office set up, not the people.

        1. Dollis Hill

          Actually I’ve always been taught that slurping soup and drinks is extremely bad manners, akin to chewing with your mouth open and clattering your cutlery against your plate.

          1. Sloan Kittering

            It’s just not a good argument to get into, what is “objectively bad manners” because it’s different to different people (especially things like how much plate scraping is a problem). It’s better to own your own feelings and request a change versus trying to make a moral argument like they should have known better. In this case, I think depending on tone, what Sick of the slurp said sounds okay, in that they did say please and it was a direct request, as long as everyone was able to get past it. I just wouldn’t want everyone in my office to start coming @ each other with all their petty annoyances claiming that it’s “rude” to do these things. Glass houses, etc. And it sounds very tough for multiple people to share a space without making any annoying noises especially if its the norm to eat at your desk. Shared spaces require us to live and let live, unfortunately.

          2. Wishing You Well

            Slurping is bad manners in the U.S. but expected in some other countries.
            Good manners are like good real estate – location, location, location. :)

          3. Countess Boochie Flagrante

            There’s a lot of cultural variation there, but at least in US table manners, slurping soup is considered quite rude.

            1. Dollis Hill

              It’s certainly considered rude in the U.K. too, and most of Europe as far as I am aware! I think OP was definitely right to say something, especially as it was affecting their conversation and not just an irritation.

        2. INeedANap

          Could this be cultural? I know that someone loudly slurping soup would be felt as kinda rude and gross among my circles. A quiet sip, fine, no one expects silence while eating – but an actual sluuurp, that was clearly audible from a few feet away? I’d be distracted by that too.

    2. Tara S.

      As long as you aren’t an asshole about it, those comments are fine imo. I was using gum to last between meals at one internship and had no idea I was annoying the crap out of my fellow intern until it was brought up. Yeah, it was embarrassing, but I’d rather have know than just kept driving him up the wall not on purpose.

        1. Tara S.

          LOL, it was the year between HS and college, so what actually happened was I was googling him to find out more about him and found his Twitter, where there was a recent tweet that said “if this other other intern pops her gum ONE MORE TIME I swear to God…” I wasn’t popping my gum, but I also had not been thinking about if anyone else could hear me, and my chewing was rather…indelicate. Lessons learned: be very aware of how you chew gum in public (or in my case, mostly don’t chew gum in public); and also, don’t internet stalk your coworkers. It doesn’t end well and also just no. So in my case it was more just…growing up.

          1. WellRed

            She’s sooo unaware and is otherwise a tactful and well mannered person who happens to be 41 and snaps cracks and pops.

    3. Kathenus

      In reading your post, and the comments thus far, I have a slightly different take. There could certainly be differences in culture or upbringing on whether or not this is rude or not, but that’s not really the core of the issue. The crux is that it’s distracting in a specific work environment due to the layout of the cube farm. So even if the behavior isn’t considered inappropriate or rude by the person doing it, or others, since it is affecting you there’s no problem in politely addressing it. My read of this is that it’s been bothering you but you haven’t said anything, and that when you did you might have said it in a frustrated or more snappy way, versus as a more neutral request. That’s understandable and human if it happened, but it also could be why he reacted the way he did. So maybe a separate conversation could help – “I’m sorry I snapped at you the other day about the soup. Cube farms are challenging because everyone’s so close together. I should have just asked you earlier if you wouldn’t mind trying to eat more quietly instead of bottling it up to where I spoke out of frustration.’

    4. Meredith Brooks

      I think neither of you are wrong, per se and understandably you were frustrated, but you likely embarrassed your coworker (potentially in front of others) over something that is not a big deal. It would have been kinder to ask him (preferably out of earshot of others) if he could sip his soup more quietly because it was distracting to you. Although you but a “please try” in front of your words, you essentially demanded he eat his soup without slurping and gave him no recourse but to be possibly offended, humiliated, and / or defensive about an activity that he will now have to be very self-conscious about.

      1. Lilysparrow

        If you have to be self-conscious in order to eat without making loud noises, then I say a little self-consciousness is a fine thing. One might call it “self-awareness.”

    5. Not So NewReader

      ugh. Well okay, you weren’t terrible and you didn’t beat him up with words.

      I have a rule that has helped me. The rule goes like this- I know the things that get to me after a while. So if I wait until I am ticked, then I have waited to long to say something. See, the waiting too long is on me. In your story here the soup slurping is on him.

      Maybe it is best to let it go at this point. But it could be that you’d want to go over and apologize for HOW you said it. “I could have framed that in a more polite way.” If you choose, you might be able to lessen the sting by saying, “If I am doing something without realizing and it bothers you, please feel free to tell me.” This might do a little something to level the playing field.
      And going forward, just privately vow not to wait so long before saying something.

    6. Lilysparrow

      Nobody likes to get a request like that, no matter how neutrally you word it. And introverted folks tend to have a particular dread of accidentally calling attention to themselves or having people secretly think poorly of them.

      You made a reasonable request, and he had an understandable feeling about it.

      No harm, no foul, just awkward.

  41. Fortitude Jones

    I just wanted to share some good news about my job search that I’ve been keeping pretty close to the vest (I really need to make some friends outside of my job, lol) – I had two phone interviews this week for Proposal Writer/Manager positions and one was just scheduled for Monday! I’m so excited about this because I’ve never had this much interest in my entire nine year career, lol. For every six applications I submit, I get a callback and/or email – this lets me know that I’m finally applying Alison’s advice on resumes and cover letters correctly because I certainly don’t have the experience for these positions. I’ve only been a PM for a year and three months!

    I officially withdrew my app for consideration from a job I spoke to yesterday – the HR rep’s tone during salary discussion was incredibly offputting. She asked what I needed to make in order for me to leave my current position, and I simply asked what they had budgeted for the role. She tried to volley the question back to me, but I didn’t want to throw out an answer so as not to potentially lowball myself or shoot too high, so I threw the question back at her again very politely asking, “What is the salary range for the position?” She finally told me what it was, and was extremely snarky about it as if me asking what the heck they were willing to pay was a completely unreasonable request. I was really turned off because just the day before I had a phone screen with an incredibly delightful HR rep who asked the same question, and when I asked what their range was for the PM position I applied for, she gladly gave me the answer (it was between 24-34k more than what I currently make). I don’t know why people bring up salary on the phone if they’re going to be cagey about it – just say what you’re willing to pay! Drop the cloak and dagger stuff – it’s annoying.

    Anyway, I’m still applying and keeping my fingers crossed that I can find a new position that fits the kind of work I’d like to perform, will pay me market rate (they underpay PM’s at my current company), and will let me work from home on non-ship days. Fingers crossed.

    1. The New Wanderer

      I think withdrawing from the position with the snarky HR person is a good call – if she is taking it that badly that you want to know how much the position pays (like it’s her money), that doesn’t bode well for working there. I never understand that attitude. I’ve had HR people and recruiters effectively refuse to tell me the salary range but they’ve never done it in a rude way, they’re almost apologetic sounding if anything.

      Good luck with the other interviews!

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Thank you! Yeah, I wasn’t too invested in this job, and when she was going into detail about what the role would actually require, I was even less enthusiastic – the salary piece ended up being the nail in the coffin. It would be twice the amount of work I have now with people management elements thrown into the mix (though I’d have no real managerial authority) for not much more than what I currently make – yeah, no.

    2. SunshineOnMyShoulder

      Best wishes! I’ve seen lots of postings for proposal managers recently, and the Glassdoor estimates on them have a fluctuation >$50k, so there isn’t any way to know a range without asking!

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Exactly! And thank you. The salaries for these roles are all over the place depending on the industries (and sometimes fluctuate within the same industry), so I need employers to be transparent, or at least not be smart alecks when I ask them what they’re willing to pay.

        1. Kat in VA

          Yep – in the DC area, a seasoned executive assistant can make anywhere between $35k and $120k and I’m not even exaggerating. And the salaries are not tied to the company size or number of execs – that lowest number was with a good-sized government contractor and had FIVE C-suite execs with full responsibility! (By which I mean calendaring, meeting notes, travel, expenses, the whole shebang.)

  42. Nicotene

    Feeling really bad about my job after only being here for seven months. I’m desperate to start job searching but I’m trying to at least get to one year, with the understanding that even that is a crappy tenure – but hoping it’s a little more justifiable than less time. I don’t think there’s been a month I’ve been here that I haven’t been desperate to start searching :(

    1. Nicotene

      It’s not that it’s an abusive job or anything, but it has turned out to be a big step back for me, career-wise – I went from decision maker to stooge – and there’s a lot of organizational dysfunction that renders my work kind of meaningless. It also turns out some of the perks I was counting on didn’t materialize. Unsurprisingly, morale is low here which doesn’t help, and there’s a lot of turnover.

      1. Nicotene

        But my career feels very precarious (it’s kind of a niche field, and I don’t have many hard skills to recommend myself) – I feel like the slightest miss-step will have me out on the street with no ability to get back on the ladder, even if I hope that’s not actually accurate.

    2. Amber Rose

      I would just search now. Job searches take time, and if it’s not the right position for you, then you can just say that in interviews. Unless you have a string of short tenures on your resume, it shouldn’t matter.

      1. Nicotene

        I think I get paranoid after reading this blog so much. Everybody seems to be a rock star employee making awesome career moves, and here I am screwing up some whole progression.

        1. Amber Rose

          Nah. If you read through these Friday threads, there’s a bunch of us who are just average and fumbling our way along as best as we can.

    3. Shark Whisperer

      I totally sympathize. I have also been at my job about seven months. I thought I was doing great for the first five, but lately everything seems terrible. :(

  43. WRabbits

    Advice on cultivating references strategically?

    My current position is a career change for me. I have been here for a little over 2 years, and I am planning to start up a job search in about a year. Since this is a new career, the only relevant references I have are from my current job. But I can’t really use any of them because I don’t want anyone to know I am searching. The company also has a culture of oversharing, and I’m not confident that people will be discreet.

    Previously I was self-employed, and I used some of my clients as references to get my current job. I guess I could go back to them, but I would like to have some new ones.

    I currently volunteer at an archive, and I think I could ask the head archivist for a reference.

    If I volunteer for a professional organization on a committee or working group, would it be appropriate to ask the committee chair to be a reference? If I look for a volunteer position with the aim of ultimately getting a reference, would a social organization or charity with a volunteer coordinator be better than a professional organization? A professional organization would be more relevant to my career, but I don’t know if it would be weird to start asking people for references.

    If I take a French class, can I use the teacher as a reference? I am mid-career, so I don’t know if this would be appropriate, but I could use the language skill on my resume.

    Any other suggestions? I have about a year and so I want to start building relationships now. I feel kind of selfish about doing this, but I do intend to contribute significantly at whatever activity I end up doing.

    1. Oxford Comma

      Well, I would use the teacher/professor only as a last result, unless you’re doing significant work with/for them.

      The others all sound fine to me. As with any reference, you would ask for permission, share your resume, the job posting, etc. In some cases, you may have to explain what you want them to speak to, but my guess is for the examples you listed, that it won’t really be an issue.

    2. Coverage Associate

      Yes, it’s appropriate to ask a volunteer committee chair to be a reference. Generally, it’s better to have references who are closely aligned with the profession you’re applying in, but it doesn’t always work that way.

      Will French be relevant to the positions you’re applying for? I would go with volunteer work-related references (even volunteer work not directly related to the profession) over an instructor, unless language skill is very relevant.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      You can’t let anyone know at your current workplace that you’re looking? I can understand your supervisor, but you don’t have any co-workers you trust?

      I think a current co-worker and then past clients (or past supervisors, if you’ve had any) would be a good combination.

  44. stay or go?

    I’ve had a weird work week. I did not get a job I really wanted, and so my attitude at work was pretty poor. Things came to head with my boss when he called me out on my attitude, so we had a come to jesus meeting and cleared the air on a lot of things. I got a schedule adjustment I had been wanting to ask for for awhile. So, I’m kinda resigned to sticking around in this dysfunctional environment for while longer. I have a very short commute, excellent time off, good pay for the area, and a private office. I guess that’s the price I’m willing to pay for low level toxicity? Anyone else looking at similar trade offs?

    1. Happy Lurker

      Ugh, yes. A few times. I feel your pain and hope you can keep yourself in a good space while you muddle through.

      1. valentine

        Leave when you find a better job.

        Agreeing not to kick you in the teeth one day a week in no way mitigates the overall teeth-kicking. In fact, it’s worse and it’s literal torture: The alleged reprieve lulls you into a false sense of security. Fly and be free.

  45. TCO

    I just want to give a shout-out to Alison’s book, “Managing to Change the World.” I just started my first director-level job in nonprofits and purchased her book right away. As a very longtime reader of AAM I wasn’t sure how much new content there would be in the book, but there’s TONS, and it’s also organized into in-depth chapters (with lots of practical tools like worksheets) that are much more comprehensive than what an advice-column format can really support. It’s formatted really differently than her most recent AAM book, which I also have.

    Her book has already influenced some of my work in my first few weeks on the job and I know I’ll be returning to it again and again as new scenarios (like hiring) come up. Adding her books to what I read here has given me a robust AAM-style approach to my job.

    Thank you, Alison! I’d encourage any manager, whether in nonprofits or not, to pick up “Managing to Change the World.”

    1. Dealtwiththis

      I read this blog all the time and somehow had never heard of this one. just ordered it. Thanks for the rec!

    2. Middle Manager

      I’m not in the non-profit world, but I love Alison’s advice so much. I’ve been wondering how transferable it might be. For reference, I’m in state government. Any thoughts?

      1. TCO

        I think it’s really transferable! Some of the examples are pretty non-profit-specific (for instance, an example about a fundraising event) but the principles of good management shine through those and would apply to your work.

  46. Ziggy

    I applied for a job with a well known nonprofit. I interviewed with them and told them my salary range and experience level. The interviewer said that they couldn’t match my needs with what the position offered, so they would understand if I didn’t want to continue. I continued, but after thinking about it after the interview, I thanked them and said I would withdraw my candidacy because it wasn’t the best fit. The interviewer encouraged me to apply for a higher level position that matched my skills better when it opened because that would be a better fit.

    Well! Months later, a higher level position opened today. Should I mention in my cover letter that I previously applied but withdrew my candidacy, but felt like this position was a better fit? I’m 90% sure the same person will interview me. Or should I just pretend I never applied and interviewed before?

    1. OtterB

      I think if you had a conversation about it before, you should mention it. Say something like the previous role wasn’t the right fit for you but you really liked the organization. Also, I think it would be reasonable to email the previous interviewer and mention that, as the two of you discussed, you are applying for the higher level position and have sent in your application through the regular channels.

      1. The New Wanderer

        Yes, do this! It sounds like you withdrew on good terms and it was pretty clear that it was a level/salary mismatch, not bad fit or wrong experience, so you would probably have an advantage by reminding them that you’ve already talked and stressing that you’re still very interested in working there now that this better matching position is available.

        1. valentine

          I wouldn’t mention the previous role, just that you’re following Jane’s advice to apply for this one.

  47. Fishsticks

    Does anyone have any suggestions for job boards besides Indeed and Idealist? I’m looking to move cross-country to California and am trying to widen my search as much as possible. I’m primarily looking for research assistant positions in non-profits or thinktank esque organizations, but am open to any sort of semi-entry level assistant position that I can find. I’m willing to pay money for a job board if needed. Any advice would be helpful!

    1. NotAMadScientist

      Going Global Jobs is a nice database, put in california under city and US and a keyword and it might get you somewhere.

      If you are an alum anywhere check for alumni resources. 2 of my alma maters have their own databases.

      Also check your professional society’s and clubs in your field. A lot of those host job listings somewhere.

    2. Tara S.

      HigherEdJobs and other academia job boards might have leads. I would also give a cursory glance at LinkedIn and just a plain old google.

    3. OtterB

      Depends on what sort of research assistant, but maybe the boards of a relevant professional association, e.g. American Psychological Association, American Educational Research Association, etc.?

      1. Fishsticks

        I’m looking more political focused but I didn’t think to check associations. thank you!

    4. Où est la bibliothèque?

      Maybe look at job sites specifically for higher ed? (higheredjobs.com, ChronicleVitae)

      They definitely have research assistant and admin postings, and California is particularly university-heavy.

    5. Anonymous Educator

      I know this isn’t very efficient, but I’ve sometimes found it helpful to look for specific organizations you admire and would like to work for, and then just create a bookmarks folder full of their employment opportunities or career webpages and check those periodically.

  48. Hidden Trout

    I was offered a job this week!
    After 2 cycles of searching (similar to academia, there’s a finite hiring season) I was offered a place that is a terrific fit and perfectly fits my geographic requirements. Through the whole process, I kept checking AAM at each stage, getting answers to all my questions and –most importantly–the confidence to hold my head high, treat interviews as a two-way street, and even to negotiate an 8% higher starting salary. Thank you to Alison and the commentariat. I really could not have done it without all of you!

    At several points I lost all hope that I was hirable, fell into a deep depression, and wondered if I would ever be able to share good news. I made it to the final 2 candidates a whopping 4 times before being selected, but eventually, everything came together. Best wishes to everyone still in the midst of a job search!

  49. Persephone Mulberry

    I GOT THE JOB OFFER!!!!!!!!! Two questions, before I accept:

    1) Negotiate, or no? The job was listed at “up to $50K, DOE” and I was offered $45K. I had decided $45 would be my bottom line, but is it worth asking for a couple thousand more? I’m having a hard time finding comparable salary data for this particular role (supply chain coordinator, emphasis on document control not scheduling, although I will be cross trained to do both). I bring a lot of transferable skills but no direct experience in this industry.

    2) When I applied for the job, I was still a temp, and I didn’t disclose during the interview that I had since been made permanent (less than three weeks prior). Is this going to look really bad? Do I need to address it prior to them completing their background check?

    1. AliceW

      1) Hell, yes. Always ask for more. The worst they can do is say no.
      2) I wouldn’t think so. In my experience, a background check is more focused on a criminal and financial check (e.g. bankruptcies).

    2. Tara S.

      1. HELL YES ALWAYS ASK FOR MORE. Look at Alison’s guide for wording, but absolutely ask for more.

      2. That shouldn’t matter at all. Background checks are typically more for “do they have an arrest record?”

    3. Jess

      No idea about #2, but definitely encourage asking if it’s possible to go higher on the salary. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes they can’t do salary but they can do something else. But one of the big reasons why men get paid more than women is that they ask more often, and one of the reasons why women and men are sometimes treated differently for asking is that it’s less expected from women. So my personal belief is that every time a woman asks, it helps the cause of pay equity and equal treatment for all women, regardless of the response that particular time.

      1. Spool of Lies

        I recently read a great article on The Cut that explored the widespread assumption that women don’t ask for higher salaries or raises. More recent research shows that, in fact, women do ask for more money. Employers just say no. The article is called “Actually, Women Do Ask for Money. They Just Don’t Get It.” by Otegha Uwagba.

          1. valentine

            I think it was Deborah Tanner who wrote employers offer women more leave and flexibility, but just keep throwing money at men until they accept the job.

    4. Not Me

      Question 2 – I would let them know when you fill out the background check form. You’ll have to sign off on the information you’re telling them to check. I don’t see any harm is saying “Oh, by the way, during the application and interview process my position at X Company was changed to permanent from temporary. Do you want me to list the time spent as a temp under the Temp Agency or X Company?”

      It’s not a strange or weird situation, it could slow down the background check though if they don’t have the correct info.

    5. BRR

      1) Yes!
      2) If you were previously employed through a temp agency I would let them know. If it was just your title, I’d probably just say “my title has changed since I applied, do I need to update anything?”

    6. TL

      1. I would absolutely negotiate, just because I think you almost always should. Ask for more than your ideal (let’s say $50k) and if they give you 47k then, woo hoo! I would say something like, “I’m very excited to receive this offer. I was hoping for somewhere around $50k. Is that possible?” Then just let them respond.

      2. I wouldn’t say anything about that. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

      Congrats, btw!!

    7. Anonymous Educator

      Definitely ask for more. They’re not going to rescind the offer if you ask for $47K or $49K.

    8. Persephone Mulberry

      Ooookay, I split the difference and rounded up, and asked for $48K. (Should I have shot the moon and asked for the full $50? I don’t know. Baby steps.)

      That said, I am KICKING myself for not asking the magic “what sets an exceptional performer apart from an adequate one” question, because in hindsight, that might have given a little “oh, that’s definitely going to be me!” boost of confidence. Or it might have been a reality check, but either way.

      1. Lilysparrow

        Assuming they meet your ask, you can always ask your new manager in your initial meetings.

    9. Not So NewReader

      1) Not sure how this meshes with your setting, but I was offered a temp job where the pay was x. I countered with I have schooling and Other Thing that I bring to the table, I was thinking more in the range of y-z. They raised their offer 25% and it was in the y-z range, I accepted. I think that reminding them why the extra pay and giving them an alternative range to chose from helped. It also saved me a lot of worry because what if they said a number that was less than the exact number I had named? ugh. I picked a range where I would be happy and I still thought that they would think was reasonable. So in your case, I probably would not have picked 50k as being the upper end, I would have chosen something a little short of that.

      2) I am not sure why it would look bad, three weeks ago you had no way of knowing if they were going to hire you or not. It might actually be a bargaining chip in your favor. If it bothers you, I think I would just say, “For purposes of the BG check, I wanted you to know I was very recently made permanent at my current job.”

    10. PB

      No advice on no. 2, but yes, definitely negotiate! If they can give you an extra 1 or 2 thousand, that would be pretty awesome, right?

  50. News

    What do you do if you discover one of your hires is one of the kids in this recent scandal? Yes they went to the university they said they did, but they cheated to get in.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise

      I think it’s a little debatable how culpable the kids were although there are likely greater and lesser degrees of culpability. I imagine their college grades would reflect their true abilities so you could evaluate them on that. Other students also get into schools based on factors other than academics like arts or sports. Also, teenager brains aren’t fully formed so blackballing someone for life for cheating on the SAT seems unfair.

      1. Bostonian

        Unless they cheated to get those grades, too… (the ones who knew about what their parents did)

        This is tough. I think I would have a heightened sense of looking for signs of untrustworthiness. I think the quality of this person’s work quality would factor into it, too.

        1. Wishing You Well

          Yes, this.
          Watch for performance issues for now. However, if the new hire becomes the focus of a lot of negative attention, the company will have to decide if keeping the new hire is worth it.

          If college enrollment is bribe-able, then grades, tests and finals are bribe-able, too. Really discouraging.

    2. Rusty Shackelford

      Oooh, that’s tough. Some of those kids were pretty complicit, but some of them allegedly didn’t know what their parents were doing, or to what extent. “I lied on my application about being an athlete and posed for fake photos” is one thing. “I was allowed extra time to take the SAT,” from someone who didn’t realize the “proctor” was changing their scores after the test, is quite another.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        In some cases I really don’t understand how the kid didn’t realize that getting a disability accommodation wasn’t flouting the rules – if they’d never heard of having a learning disability before?

        1. Où est la bibliothèque?

          There’s probably a middling area: “it’s against the rules, but everyone does it.” Half the graduating class in my high school fudged the required service learning hours, everyone knew it, and it didn’t ping my dishonesty alarms at all until I was older.

        2. Rusty Shackelford

          I imagine it was made out to be a little white lie. (“Honey, just tell the doctor you have trouble concentrating. All it will do is give you more time to take the SAT. Who is that going to hurt?”) And I imagine most/all of those kids were used to being treated a little better than everyone else, and/or thought “everybody does it.” This doesn’t make it okay, it just indicates some of them probably didn’t realize exactly how egregious the situation was.

          1. Arielle

            Yup. I went to a very expensive private high school and there were more kids in the extended time testing room than the regular one.

            1. That Girl From Quinn's House

              Same at my public one. They’re the same kind of kids who give vague ADHD symptoms to the doctor for an Adderall script in college. It’s a lie, but a common socially acceptable one.

    3. this ain't a scene

      I think it’s only relevant if they lied about the credentials that got them hired, like if they listed a college degree they didn’t have. But cheating to get into a school… I don’t know if that’s relevant, and I don’t know if it’s something your employer should penalize; penalties should come from the appropriate locations and authorities.

      1. pleaset

        Cheating to do anything big is relevant, particularly if it’s in the recent past.

        Someone who knowingly cheated four or five years ago on something important to our evaluation of them (which school they went to)? I’d fire them. It speaks very strongly to character and judgement. Yes, they got the education but they’re also scammers.

        Now at least some of the kids did not know – other people cheated on their behalf. That’s different and I’d let it go. But keep an eye on the news and if it turns out they knew, they’d be out.

        1. this ain't a scene

          I think, in any circumstance, if you’re holding someone to something that happened 1/4th of their life ago, it’s better to give them a chance to explain and discuss it, rather than dismiss them outright. People grow. No one should go around with an A on their chest forever.

          1. pleaset

            There’s an interesting contrast between what I wrote: “recent past”
            And what you say here: “forever.”

            That aside, even if it’s a fourth of their life – if it’s less than around 6 or 8 years ago, for an adult, it’s relevant. Cheating on one of the most important aspects of life in that time frame to get ahead and only coming clean when caught? Fxck them. They SHOULD go around with a bad mark for a few years – not explain it way right after they’ve been caught.

            And this crowd in particular won’t starve or be homeless – Screw them if they knew what they were doing.

            1. Humble Schoolmarm

              If they were adults 6-8 years ago, I would probably agree, but in this case, the cheating most likely happened when they were 16-18 and, more importantly, their authority figures were telling them that this was all perfectly okay. I would keep a much closer eye on them, sure, but firing? Not for teenage complicity with adults who should clearly have known better.

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House

          I’ve worked with teenagers- in much lower stakes situations than this one- and one thing that’s very important to remember is that controlling (abusive) parents don’t suddenly back off and observe appropriate boundaries the minute their child turns 18. Sometimes, you have to step back and look not at the actions of the young person, but the power dynamic they’re trapped in, for context. By piling on, sometimes you’re just reinforcing the abuse dynamic of their parents.

      2. Amy Farrah Fowler

        I think it definitely says a lot about that person’s integrity and honesty though. I wouldn’t want to work with someone who was a liar and a cheater. However, I also agree with Rusty above that some of these students were not aware of what their parents were doing. It is such an unfortunate situation.

    4. Marion Q

      I’m a recent grad myself, so I don’t really have the standing to give advice.

      That said, if I were you, I’d look at whether the kid was involved in the deception. Based from what I read so far, it seems that some of them had no idea that their parents were bribing people. Others, however, were deeply involved: getting cc’d on the emails, asking for “help” with failed classes, etc. If the new hire falls into the former category, I don’t think it automatically reflect badly on them – but maybe pay more attention to their work ethics and stuff?

      If it’s the latter though…

      1. Sloan Kittering

        Even the universities involved seem to be taking this on a case-by-case basis. But I’d hope that if your company had previously shown favoritism towards candidates from “top schools,” you can use this to make the case that that’s not really getting you what you paid for.

        1. this ain't a scene

          This is a really good point. It’s an opportunity to push back on only hiring people from specific schools.

          1. Rusty Shackelford

            Although someone’s going to say that if they actually graduated from those schools, they’ve still got the skills you want.

            1. Sloan Kittering

              Yeah but so do many other schools’ graduates, and I think this scandal has shown that there’s a lot of ways kids are getting access to these schools that don’t start with “being the best candidate.”

      2. Lilith

        Is there some list floating around with these students names on it? I admit this story is pretty complex & I haven’t read everything.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago

      They cheated to get in, but did they have help passing classes/graduating or did they actually do the work?

      1. Lily Rowan

        I would basically assume they cheated in school, too, just because if you have the money it’s easier to pay someone to write the paper than to write it yourself, even if you are fully capable of doing the work.

        But I’m pretty cynical at this point.

      2. medium of ballpoint

        You also have to think about whether a degree is required for their job. It’s a possibility the universities involved might yank graduates’ degrees, which could potentially be a license/compliance issue in some industries.

      3. Ajana

        Loads of students cheat to get into university.

        Living/working in China, I see thousands of students have expats write admission essays, complete forms, write bogus references.

        And then when at that foreign university, they get someone else to write essays (BIG business in the UK and the US with networks just for Chinese student – very well organized). There are also teams of exam-takers to take exams in their place, with dodgy ID cards that invigilators are too PC to question.

        A blind eye is turned (foreign students typically pay more in tuition so more $$ for tune institution), but when it is noticed professors are usually told to shut up, ignore and give a passing grade. Occasionally a big scandal comes out about admissions cheating, essay cheating and exam cheating, but it disappears and it’s back to business as usual. This one hitting the headlines involves celebrities – easy targets, while the ones involve foreign students so there is the fear of being called racist so they are typically covered up.

        Come across many returning Chinese students, with freshly minted degrees from English-speaking countries, who can’t speak a full sentence in English let alone write one. Cheating? Hell yeah, and the universities are complicit because they are in it for the money.

    6. Not A Manager

      Who cheated and what kind of cheating? If Mommy made a big contribution, or even if she paid for the dean’s nephew’s dental work, I think that’s different than if YOUR HIRE actually sat for a test knowing that someone else was going to change the answers for her.

      I wouldn’t give a job to someone who knowingly and actively cheated in such a major way. I might give a job to someone who otherwise did well, but whose family cheated on their behalf although they didn’t actively participate in it.

    7. JessicaTate

      At this stage of the game, I’d be more interested to hear how he/she is thinking about the situation now. I don’t know if it’s a fair conversation to have as a manager, but I suspect it would tell me a LOT about the person’s current character and mindset to hear how they are framing this whole situation, what they’re taking away from it, etc. Is there still a tone of entitlement around it all and upset about parents getting punished? Are they “meh” about it all? Is there real concern, remorse, or mortification? Is there perspective about why it happened and how they’re not going to help continue this kind of elitist, unethical behavior in their own future.

      Basically, I’d want to know if this person has grown up / realizes the problems of their parents’ (and possibly their own) ways, or if they think it was OK/good to have parents who would buy your way into whatever you wanted / they felt was best for you. It’s less about their culpability at the time, and more about what kind of person they are now. I don’t know if it’s fireable — but it’d tell me a heck of a lot about their character.

      1. Jerry Vandesic

        It likely that they would decline to discuss the subject on the advice of the lawyer. If they are smart (maybe not, which is why they are in this situation).

    8. CatCat

      Do you *know* they cheated to get in? If so, I’d let them go. I’d be worried about their integrity on the job and that they would fudge their work.

      If you don’t actually know, IDK that you need to ignore the elephant in the room. Dishonesty is a big deal. They know this is all over the news. “As you know, the scandal with XYZ University is all over the news. As far as you know, were you admitted to the school on your own merit?”

      Will you get an honest answer? Uncertain! But here’s what you’ve got if they say yes:

      They didn’t know about their parents’ scheming. That’s a possibility and certainly something the prosecutors have said is true about some of the kids. They’re going to make it or not on their own merit in the workplace anyway.

      They’re a lying liar who lies. But if the fact comes out during further investigation or trial, they have now also lied to you about it. Fire them.

    9. Jess

      If *they* knowingly cheated, and you know that conclusively… this is their time to experience the consequences.

      If you’re not sure about the extent of their awareness/knowing participation, I might start by asking them how they think you should handle it, and why. That will likely tell you a lot, regardless of their answer.

    10. Campfire Raccoon Horking Potatosalad

      They’re hired, right? Already working?

      What is their performance like? How is their attitude? Are they hard workers and contribute well? Does the cheating have any bearing on their current position?

      1. pleaset

        ” Does the cheating have any bearing on their current position?”

        JFC – what kind of organization should hire someone how cheated recently, only came clean when caught, and hasn’t paid any consequences other than bad publicity.

        I’m all for forgiving someone for stuff, including people convicted of actual crimes. But after they face some degree of consequences. Not straightaway, just a few years after the incident, and as soon as they are caught.

        1. Campfire Raccoon Horking Potatosalad

          I think most people wouldn’t usually want to hire someone who has a history of lying and cheating, but I wonder how much these kids knew of their parent’s activities. Even if they knew, how much say did they have? College admissions often start when you’re a minor – they might be in a place of extreme privilege, but maybe not in a place of power. Perhaps they didn’t find out until after the fact, or **eek** this week.

          I am not excusing the cheating at all, but I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

          My company often hires newly released ex-cons and folks who are recently sober. These are people who (in some cases) REALLY messed up their lives and are trying to start over. Many addicts don’t face consequences like jail time, and only seek help when caught by friends and family.

          As a company we judge by their actions as an employee – assuming they aren’t actively using or committing crimes. Don’t these new adults deserve a chance to prove themselves as well?

          1. Sloan Kittering

            Absolutely but I suspect you put safeguards in place and you don’t put someone directly from bank robber into bank teller who’s being asked to count the cash every night, if you want them to succeed.

          2. pleaset

            Ex-cons have been punished. It’s great to help them.

            If these kids cheated (that is, were complicit), and you keep them on, as far as I can tell they haven’t really suffered in a meaningful way. It’s very different. Later hire them. Now – in their first or second job out of schooling based on fraud – no, they should go. Keeping them is like letting a thief keep the cash. Nawww.

            So the question is, did they cheat – that is, did they know? If they know, they should face consequences now. Not forever. But something serious now. And that question of if they knew is very different from asking about their performance on the job.

      2. Sloan Kittering

        I definitely would think twice about having them be part of my nonprofit (since faux nonprofits were part of the scheme) or anything related to the education field. There certainly are jobs where a high degree of personal integrity is a requirement – like, uh, admissions officers.

    11. PB

      Oooh, this is tough. I’m going to come down on the side of monitor them more closely, but, for now, that’s all.

      Presumably, you hired them for reasons other than just the school they went to. They must have had some decent record of achievement, academically or professionally, and impressed you in the interview. None of that has changed now. And, as others have pointed out, not all of the kids were aware of what was happening. Even if this particular person was, honestly, we all make terrible decisions when we’re 17 or 18. These kids? They were pushed to the terrible decisions by their parents, and it is really hard not to cave to parental pressure at that age, and they were backed by significant money and power.

      None of that is to say that your employee is 100% innocent, but I don’t think it’s enough to take immediate action other than to just keep an eye out.

      1. pleaset

        Good to consider if they knew – that’s key. And good to emphasize forgiveness.

        But I have to object to this: “we all make terrible decisions when we’re 17 or 18.” I didn’t. Far fewer high-achieving black people can – it’s drilled into us from a young age, and frankly if we slip up, the consequences are way way higher than for kids like these. That’s a fact.

        Yes, consider that kids make mistakes. But kids like those kids – even if they do get canned from their work – that’s nothing compared to what a lot of us would face.

    12. Not So NewReader

      I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer.
      I know that I would give them credit if they came to me and said, “You are going to read about my parents in the paper, I wanted to tell you directly, so you are aware and if you have any concerns about my work.” Gutsy move and impressive, too.

      Attitude would matter. “Oh I am so embarrassed, this is nothing I stand for or I find acceptable.” VS “Everyone else is doing it. It’s been going on forever.”

      Anything that would show thinking. “I only tell my parents some of my plans, not all of my plans for this very reason here.”

      People who have put some thought into their circumstances say things that are very different from people who have not put any thought into their circumstances.

    13. Elizabeth

      I’d really love to hear what Alison has to say about this. Would you consider writing in and asking?

  51. Caliopi

    I am hoping for some advice, a script, or just a reality check. I have been working with my employer for six years. I was up for a promotion, an outside person got it. My department went from all female to pretty much all male except for me, and I’m just feeling down in the dumps for a variety of reasons associated with the change, including getting passed over for the promotion I wanted after about 6 years of excellent performance reviews and above average raises.

    They gave me a raise and a slightly bigger title in lieu of the bigger promotion to keep me, but I’m not really happy here. I’m trying to be, though! I want to stay, but I have career goals that I’m not sure I’ll be able to attain here. I’m on the fence about job searching or sticking it out. I am considering approaching one of the execs who was my boss about a different role for me, with a slightly higher bump in salary (after about eight months since the change). I feel the role would be useful to the organization, and it’s about half of what I’m doing now, though in a less official capacity. It would not be exactly where I wanted to be, but I think it would be a better fit for me and the organization overall. Any advice on how to approach it without sounding like sour grapes. That is what I’m afraid of happening–because I’m NOT wanting to come across as being pouty for having not gotten the big promotion (even, though, yeah, inside I’m still a little pouty, I’ve really given it my all to be professional and supportive of the new structure at work). Advice?

    1. this ain't a scene

      Can you approach it with your boss as saying “I’ve been here 6 years and done really well and I’m interested growing into this other role”? Because that seems like a natural growth.

      As for staying vs. leaving, I recommend doing a cursory job search to see what’s out there, it can help to see what’s out there and if you like it better than what you have.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        Yeah there’s no reason NOT to look around and see what’s out there. Six years is about the time I start getting super restless if I’m not seeing exciting new challenges on the horizon – it makes total sense to me that you’d be thinking “what’s next, and if it’s not here, where is it?” It doesn’t come across as entitled/pouty at all to me. (& TBH, if you got passed over, the company probably took into account that you might leave and decided they could live with that).

        1. Fortitude Jones

          TBH, if you got passed over, the company probably took into account that you might leave and decided they could live with that

          This. If they wanted to keep you, they would have promoted you – they didn’t. Go explore your options.

    2. BRR

      It sounds like your organization values you and wants to retain you so I think if you present it as wondering if your role could transform into X it will come off as being mutually beneficial. A key part is that you said it would be useful to your organization.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      Reframe thinking that leaving because you didn’t get a promotion or advocating for a position that would further your professional goals is being “pouty”; it’s totally normal and should be expected that if you aren’t getting the advancement that you want within your current organization that you’ll look elsewhere. The way you phrased it in your question is fine: “After 8 months at the new position, I realize I’m not very happy with it and I have a suggestion that I think would be a better fit for me and the organization overall.” You don’t need to include an “or else” or in anyway hint that you’re on your way out the door if they say no to the suggestion, but if you want to have a talk about your career goals in a general sense — “My five year plan is to accomplish XYZ and I hope that I’ll be able to achieve that with this company. What are your thoughts?”

  52. Clawfoot

    I’ve been at my current job now for about 9 months and it’s performance review time. Because I’m new, it doesn’t fully apply to me this year, but my manager wants us to sit down with the document and hash out some objectives and goals for next year. Totally fair. I understand that.

    I just hate doing this. I really do. I understand why it’s necessary, but still. Ugh. Hate.

    My main problem is that my ambitions don’t run toward climbing the corporate ladder. I’m completely uninterested in promotions, becoming a team lead, a manager, a director, a VP, etc. I just want to do my job and do it well. I do like keeping on top of my industry (teapot design) and I want to take courses on cutting-edge teapot design techniques and technologies, and maybe, in a few years, I might be interested in a “SENIOR teapot designer” position, but that’s 5+ years off and aside from that, I’m afraid of being seen as a complacent lump.

    Objectives? Goals? Mostly my goal is to do what I’m told and do it well. I don’t have that much autonomy in my job; I’m assigned projects, and I do them. I’m having trouble coming up objectives and goals that aren’t just “meet all deadlines” and “don’t murder anyone,” which are really just standard operating procedures.

    1. Hold My Cosmo

      I could have written this–don’t want to manage, prefer to increase my actual job skill set, etc. One of my written objectives for 2019 is to become a more active member of my professional community. I’ve started to actively network, will be attending conferences and talks, and plan to take online classes and pursue a voluntary certification.

      Could something like this apply to you? Bonus if you can ask the company for funding to do those sort of things.

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      I think this is a great opportunity to bring up Alison’s “magic question” again – from your manager’s perspective, what differentiates an exceptional performer in this role from a mediocre or even satisfactory one? What benchmarks would you need to reach in order to be considered for a “senior” title in 3-5 years?

    3. ContemporaryIssued

      I think in this kind of thing it is perfectly fine to list personal goals on how to improve on how to do your job, not necessarily climb the ladder. Like you can say, “I want to learn more about designing teapots with T-Bot 3000 software, and master that during the next year” instead of “I want to take more responsibility and lead future teapot design projects”. Goals don’t always have to be the type that expand your role, include more responsibility or leadership roles.

    4. cheesesticks and pretzels

      With some of the courses to keep your skills current, do any of them offer certification? You could maybe set goal to achieve xyz cert in blue teapot painting or something.

      If there are no certs but you want to focus on the continuing education and skills for your position, you can maybe have goal to achieve x=amount of training hours.

      Hope this maybe gives you a start

    5. OtterB

      Alison answered something like this a while back, though I couldn’t begin to find a pointer. As I recall, she said to emphasize that you wanted to be the strongest individual contributor you could be. I think your points about wanting to keep on top of your industry and cutting-edge techniques make it clear you’re not just a complacent lump. Could you have an objective/goal of preparing yourself to be ready for advanced projects of some kind or another?

    6. Nothemomma

      I’ve reframed how I think of these meetings. Rather than how to move up the ladder, I frame it as how to get the maximum raise. So with that, your goals are what you outlined here- to be the subject matter expert in xxxx, to take course ABC in teapot design, seminar ABC in teapot technology, survey production documentation library to centralize access and make sure all docs are up to date. Take the things you want to change and carve it out as your own.

    7. Lilysparrow

      This may or may not apply, but I heard a really neat talk a while back that advised, “instead of asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask what kind of problems they want to solve.”

      So if you look at your career path in terms of the type of projects you’re interested in doing more of, or the contribution you want to make to the company, or the problems you really want to address, could that help you come up with goals that aren’t tied to specific job titles or management levels?

      (Now that I type this, I think there’s a post here about this same idea.)

      Because if you are solving high-value problems or working on high-value projects, you’re going to be a high-value employee.

  53. KayEss

    I’m trying to coach a friend through the application and interview process at the company where I work, and I’m just… super stressed about it. Not because of her—she’s doing great—but I’m terrified that the unfairness of her chronic illness will reveal ugly truths about a place and people I really like.

    Basically, she needs to be able to work from home on at least an as-needed basis, and while the company is set up for a lot of remote collaboration and has fully-remote employees in more senior positions, the entry-level one she’s qualified for is one they strongly prefer to be in-office daily. They sent a bunch of questions to answer before considering an interview (a practice I have a lot of feelings about) and one of them was “are you willing to commute to the [location] office daily?” which I feel is kind of on the same level as “do you have a driver’s license?” in terms of potentially discriminatory questions in this case. (I advised her to answer “yes” and then bring up remote work as an accommodation if she gets an offer… after all, she’s WILLING to commute daily, but not necessarily ABLE.)

    I’m probably over-invested but I really want her to get this job because she’d be really good at it and enjoy it, and she’s been unemployed because of her illness for a long time and in a shitty living situation and and and. Bleh.

    1. KayEss

      I guess does anyone have any tips I can pass on for how she can advocate for herself? Also any suggestions on how I can reasonably push back if someone (like a boss/director) says something ignorant (like “I can’t believe she deceived us on the pre-interview questions!”), which is basically my nightmare rn?

      1. Sloan Kittering

        Aw that sucks but TBH I don’t find it works very often to try to get “backdoor” work from home if that’s not what the company is looking for. I also find that even if you get some allowance, if it’s not really granted joyfully, it tends not to work out. YMMV, I hope it works out for your friend and is awesome.

        1. valentine

          She should focus on her skills and work ethic, framing things in terms of what she can, not can’t, do, and reveal only what’s absolutely necessary and, if put on the spot, say she’ll get back to them (while she looks up whether x is (il)legal or mandatory).

          I hope you’ve told her your employer’s rigid on remoting. Sure, you know she’ll do the job well (and perhaps even better, because the lack of commute spares her spoons) and, on paper, remoting is fine, but if your employer values facetime or butts in seats for no good reason, they may devalue even impeccable work from her. It doesn’t look like it’s a good fit and, if she doesn’t know that, you’re doing her a disservice.

          If someone complains about her needing accommodations, you can stand up for her (I hope you’d do this for anyone and building this rep for yourself may decrease jerkfaced comments) and say the position can easily be done remotely and she’ll be in when able. Lead by example: Let them see you have no qualms about it.

      2. anonagain

        I don’t really understand. Why would you even be talking to a boss or director about your friend’s candidacy at all?

        1. KayEss

          We’re a small and casual department, and it might legitimately come up in informal conversation… though I’d REALLY prefer it not to, because I don’t want to be involved on that level. The director in particular can be quite blunt regarding her feelings, and while I believe she’s genuinely a good person I can’t be certain that she’s not ignorant about the impact of health as a privilege in hiring and work.

          (Also like… in the course of hiring for these positions, I’ve sat in on a couple interviews where other people on the interview panel were former coworkers or friends of the candidate, which I find kind of weird. I’d personally prefer to recuse myself in that situation, but the industry is small and therefore a bit incestuous so I guess there might legitimately not be enough people to put in the interview otherwise? … and I’m making this sound incredibly shady but it’s actually just a peculiar industry.)

    2. Kathenus

      Without knowing details of the role itself, the fact that they are asking if candidates are willing to commute to the office daily shows that they want (need?) someone in the office in this role. There are some jobs that can be done partially/fully remote, and others that can’t. There are also, of course, some organizations or managers that just prefer people in the office for some roles but it’s not necessarily needed to perform the functions of the job.

      So if the job needs to be done from the office, it might not be the role for her and I don’t think that asking it in advance is discriminatory if indeed the job requires you to be at the office to be able to perform the core functions. If it’s the latter, then it’s dicier because the question does pose more of a concern that she could be screened out if she answers no. Don’t know the best solution in this instance, not sure if it could be left blank, put something like TBD (either of which could be a red flag to them), but I wouldn’t say yes if that’s not accurate either because lying on an application could be used against her if she were hired and then later said she needed the accommodation for a previously-known condition. Much more complicated in this scenario.

      For me a lot comes down to why the asked the question – does the job need it, or does the manager just prefer it? I think these are two very different situations.

      1. KayEss

        There’s no part of the job I’m aware of that requires in-office face time. We already do a lot of remote digital collaboration with employees in the same role in offices in other cities, and several people in senior versions of the role are fully remote from home. My sense is that the reason they strongly prefer in-office for the position because it is junior/entry-level, and it’s easier to train/coach and monitor a junior employee when they’re in-office… which is all valid in principle (I’m personally the kind of worker who does MUCH better in an office than working from home, myself, so I get it) but IMO kind of thorny when it comes to “is remote work a reasonable accommodation (in the legal sense) for disability?”

    3. Not So NewReader

      I think you are pushing this too hard. I understand you want to help your friend. But your friend might not be a good fit for this job, in part because the company seems pretty rigid.

      I also think that some discomfort could be coming from the part about answering yes to willingness to commute in each day. If the company hires her, then you could end up being involved (at least emotionally) every time she calls out.

      You want good things to happen for your friend. You are a good friend to her. But this could be a round peg and square hole type of scenario and it sounds like you probably worry this could be a hard sell for her to get WFH time.

      My one thought is would they consider hiring her part time? That way she would only have to show up several days per week.

      1. AcademiaNut

        Yeah, it’s up to the company whether they want a position to be office based or work from home, and for whatever reason, they’ve decided this role is in office and are being clear about this. Lying in the interview about her availability and then trying to negotiate after getting an offer is risky, particularly for an entry level role. They’re likely to say no, and then she would have to choose between admitting she lied and withdrawing, or continuing to lie and hope they don’t fire her when it turns out that she can’t do the job she agreed to.

        Short version – she needs a job that allows flexible, regular working form home. This job doesn’t, so it’s not a good choice for her.

  54. Anon for This

    My husband came to me last weekend and admitted that he is an alcoholic and that needs help. He’s been an alcoholic throughout our entire marriage, so this didn’t come as a surprise. But I guess that I had gotten really good at trying to ignore it/cover it up, and now that he has admitted it and starting attending AA, I am having all kinds of feelings and anxiety bubble up to the surface.

    I have been unable to focus at work all week. My emotions are just getting the best of me, and I have not been functioning well, at work or at home. To make it worse, I am in a “helping profession” and I just feel so tired by my own stuff that I can’t muster up the energy to want to help anyone. Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can make next week a better week? How can get past my own crap and distractions and do my job well? It is okay to take a day or two off because you are emotionally exhausted?

    1. Sloan Kittering

      Oh, I’m really sorry, this is tough. I hope your job offers an EAP, or that they have generous leave – and don’t hesitate to take sick leave for mental health if you need it either. I find I often have to remind myself to feel my feelings and give myself permission to be sad/frustrated/scared before I move right into Heroic Resolve (or worse, simmering anger). I had to take a whole dedicated Feel Sad On the Couch day recently and I do think it helped me move through something I was going through. Jedi hugs if you want them.

      1. valentine

        get past my own crap
        This devalues your experience. You’ve surely been doing extra labor and, while your husband’s admission seems like it should lighten your load, it’s actually shifted and increased. Maybe you feel like he’s the one to be centered; maybe others are pressuring you to center him and to double your efforts. You’re not obliged. What if you center and prioritize yourself? Put your own oxygen mask on first.

        I agree with the recommendations for Al Anon. I see AA and Al Anon as being almost opposite, like your husband and you are now on separate paths in this regard, and I wonder if a physical separation would help.

        I don’t suppose this qualifies you for medical leave, but that’s what you need here, especially given your profession. Can you take a leave of absence or at least a week off to look after yourself? Reach out to Team You, especially anyone who’s not also Team Him.

    2. Minerva McGonagall

      I’m so sorry. It’s totally okay to take some time for you. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

      Check into your employee benefits like an EAP or counseling line. Having someone outside the situation to talk to may help you with your anxiety and feelings. Jedi hugs if you want them.

    3. Not A Manager

      Have you tried Al Anon or some other support group? I really think that should be your immediate first step.

      1. Shark Whisperer

        I highly recommend Al Anon. One of my best friends was in a very similar situation and Al Anon has helped her tremendously. You get a sponsor, just like AA, and it’s nice to have a designated person who knows what you’re going through to help you when things get to be too much.

    4. Wine not Whine

      Ye ghods, yes, take a day or two! You’re dealing with a family health situation here as well as your own.

      Addiction *is* a health matter just as much as cancer or an injury. It affects everyone in the family, physically through the effects of stress as well as mentally and emotionally. Give yourself get-up-and-walk breaks, make sure to eat properly, see if you can postpone or hand off non-priority tasks. Be gentle with yourself just as you would be with your clients.

      You have my very best wishes for healing for both of you.

    5. Lily Rowan

      I would say it’s not just OK, it’s *important* to take some time when you are emotionally exhausted.

    6. Submerged Tenths

      I know it seems counterintuitive to suggest *more* stuff to do, but Alanon (for friends and families of alcoholics) is a place with incredible support for those in your position. If you can attend some meetings, and talk with the people there, it may help you to sort through those feelings and chart a course for yourself through this emotional minefield.

    7. No Name Yet

      As someone else in a helping profession, absolutely take some time off! As Minerva said, you can’t pour from an empty cup. I also totally agree with the suggestions of EAP and/or other professional support, and Al-Anon (if you think their approach will fit for you).

      And realistically? Of course you don’t have as much care or empathy to spare right now! That’s really really normal. So also try to have compassion for yourself as you cope with all of this.

      In terms of practical suggestions when you are at work, I’ve had some success with mindfulness techniques – ‘look, my brain has drifted to My Stress again. Ok, let’s focus back on my patient…..hm, My Stress? Hey, here’s this person in front of me.’ Though for me that’s more for difficulty focusing vs difficulty caring, so might be more helpful later.

      This is such a hard process for everyone, my thoughts are with you and your husband.

    8. Parenthetically

      This is a family health situation that has gone from chronic to acute. Mentally reframe it accordingly. If your husband had had a massive stroke or broke both of his legs, you wouldn’t hesitate to take some time off to care for him, right? Take the time you need off of work to rest and recuperate. This is a big deal, and it’s best for you, your husband, and the people you help at work for you to be as rested as you can be!

      Do you have an EAP to help you with therapy? What you’re experiencing with your husband’s alcoholism admission bringing up a lot of your own issues is SO VERY NORMAL, and having someone experienced to walk with you through this emotionally complicated process could be super valuable.

    9. Creed Bratton

      What’s the phrase – you can’t pour from an empty cup? Take a day or two. Clean the house or do some soul searching or just play 12 straight hours of candy crush. But do not feel that you have to keep giving and giving of yourself when you are emotionally drained. I might also recommend seeking out Al-Anon resources to help you process what you are going through.

    10. TheOtherLiz

      Family of a recovering alcoholic here. PLEASE take time for yourself. Last year my sibling called to tell me they were going to rehab FINALLY and I was overjoyed, and immediately couldn’t stop crying. I took the day off. So many people including our parents couldn’t understand my tears – after all, admitting that they’d fallen off the wagon and needed help was a GOOD thing. But my emotional reaction was more complex than that and TOTALLY valid, and I needed time to process and deal with it. You absolutely deserve the same. And you probably know this as a professional helper: compassion fatigue is real. You need to fill your own cup before you can help anyone else. I suspect you know the answer to your own questions, but YES. It is ok to take days off. It is even ok to make yourself unavailable to your husband and process and cry and eat ice cream or WHATEVER you want and need to do. And I also encourage you to seek out counseling and an Al-Alon meeting – they’re for family members of individuals struggling with alcoholism. You’re not the only one dealing with this pain and you don’t need to tackle it in silence or alone, and you don’t need to put on a brave face, shove the feelings down and try and carry on for others’ sake. Take care of yourself!

    11. IT-guy

      I’d recommend looking into Al-Anon for yourself and possibly counseling as was mentioned by Sloan Kittering. That’s really hard. And I agree with Sloan, there’s nothing wrong with taking a day or two off to do something for yourself. Self-care is important!

    12. Away Team Redshirt

      Support and Kittens to you both! It’s fantastic to hear that your husband is reaching out to treat his health condition. (I work in a helping profession where all my clients have a mental health diagnosis or an addiction). Based on what you’re saying, it sounds like you could use some time off. “Being there” for clients requires a lot of energy. Your emotional energy is being focused on processing “all kinds of feelings and anxiety”, and that’s very normal! So yes, take a day or ten to focus on self care.

    13. Not So NewReader

      People in helping professions often forget to help themselves.
      Now is a good time to start looking at your self-care. How’s that going?
      Yes, take the two days off to sleep and read and to ponder how you are going to put fuel in your own tank. How are you going to recharge you?
      If you don’t start finding ways to build yourself up you could start feeling more drained than you do now. This is not fun, I know first hand.
      On the good news side there is plenty to look and consider. A healthy diet, walking, adequate rest and hydration, time with friends and family and even time spent planning your own life. What would you like to add to your life that you do not have now?
      When we allow ourselves, to drain and drain and drain eventually we become depleted. That depletion can be pretty scary, it can look like heart issues or cancer or other illness. Now is the time to take steps to prevent that crash landing. I think now is an ideal time because your hubby is investing in himself. He is actively taking steps to make a different and better life. You can do it together.

    14. Ham and mayonnaise!!

      I’m so sorry. I was in a relationship with an alcoholic, and it can be brutal for all involved. I second going to Al Anon, and an EAP if your employer provides it. I was fortunate that the health insurance we both had (Kaiser Permanente, and mine was through work) had an substance abuse program. There was a component for codependents like myself, that involved once a week group therapy and weekly individual therapy. It was simply life changing. I broke up with the alcoholic, but if I hadn’t had all these supports, I probably would have ended up with another one. Look into your options, take care of yourself, and remember… it never was your fault!

    15. Mazzy

      Maybe look for the positive? You’ll get used to the shock and stigma pretty quickly. In my city, anyways, many of the “members” of AA are super successful, not to mention goodlooking and active and healthy. There is something to be said for complete abstinence. I’ve been pleasantly surprised on many occasions with people I’ve met through AA. Remember that now that people aren’t drinking and partying at all, they’re putting that time and energy into something else. And even if they were a complete mess, they’re trying to mend relationships with their family or children or whoever. I don’t see how any of these is bad news that should be stressing you out.

      Maybe you could help your husband keep his day count? He may have random food and sugar cravings or caffeine cravings because his body is going to be craving something to fill the void. He may also have random bursts of energy so go on a hike or long walk to work it off.

    16. Nana

      Highly recommend Al-Anon, for partners/family members of alcoholics. Lots of support (you may have to try a few different meetings to find a good ‘fit.’

  55. Conifer

    I’m applying for jobs and had to fill out a 35 minute survey to get my application through. Can I just share that these are the DUMBEST questions to ask on a job application?? Here are some, I wish I could post screenshots:

    – should a person quit their job if they cannot be loyal to their employer?
    – excluding extraordinary circumstances, how many times did you miss work last year? (Include vacation and sick days.)
    -how often do you tear up at celebrations?
    -when you are angry, do people normally know it? Or do they just know at home?
    -you are watching a seven year old hammering. He hits his thumb and cries and cries. What would you do? (One of the options to answer was “Let them cry, it’s a life lesson.”)

    The fresh Hell?! I am honestly turned off from the job just from this ridiculous survey. It’s for a medium sized hospital in town. Anyone else have weird survey questions for a job? And it turned out to be a great job?

    1. Sloan Kittering

      I had one that almost killed me: “my ideal job would be 100% vacation leave.” I had to physically force myself to lie and be like NO I LOVE WORRRRK.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        It’s like the “If you could be doing anything, anything at all with your life right now, what would it be?” Well, truthfully it’d be cantering down a beach trail by the ocean, not a care in the world and with a thermos full of old fashions, and a craft shed full of all the yarn I could ever want, but ya’ll probably don’t want to hear me wax poetic about it, now do ya?

        1. Sloan Kittering

          Yeah I’d be 100% not doing anything job related or that you could even stretch as a job related skill, like … sleeping in a hammock on the beach. Not winning any jobs that way!

    2. KayEss

      The place I work now is awesome… except they make everyone answer a bunch of questions in writing before even scheduling an interview. They aren’t weird questions like that (that kid/hammer one is like something out of Blade Runner, what the hell?), more standard interview questions like “detail your experience in x, y, and z areas” but I was still so turned off by having to spend time on a one-way process like that before they’d even call me that I almost didn’t proceed.

      I’m hoping someday to have standing to be like “you should really reconsider this, because you’re probably losing out on candidates who have options that don’t include up-front homework.”

    3. this ain't a scene

      Ahahaha, god, I hate those. There’s a place I will never apply for a job at again because of that. It was also at a hospital, I wonder if that’s a trend.

      1. Always a nurse

        It was a trend 6 or 7 years ago in healthcare. The test was supposed to identify people that would “fit in” with corporate culture and my organization, at that time, would not even interview anyone who didn’t “pass.” The nurse union objected strongly, and from the documentation the union got from the sales promotions of the company that sold the testing to the healthcare industry, it was primarily designed to weed out independent thinkers and those who were more likely to contest management.

        1. this ain't a scene

          The nurse union objected strongly, and from the documentation the union got from the sales promotions of the company that sold the testing to the healthcare industry, it was primarily designed to weed out independent thinkers and those who were more likely to contest management.

          Ah, yes, the last thing you want in a nurse is someone who can think independently. I can see how that would not be something you want in a healthcare professional. ???!!!???

          1. Not So NewReader

            OTH, if you don’t contest a bad boss then the bad boss will fall on his face sooner rather than later./s

    4. Amber Rose

      I will recount for you a story from when I was 12 years old that may or may not be relevant. I’d been working as part of a school program at a major chain pizza place. When the school program ended I thought it would be cool to get actual money and applied for a real job there.

      I had to fill out a 200 question exam. I’m not exaggerating, it was a full 200 questions. One question went something like, “You are required to ask people if they want fries with their order. A customer orders fries. What do you ask them?”

      I felt like it was designed to weed out robots with logic errors. The pizza place didn’t sell fries. All the questions were that preposterous. It was still the most fun job I had as a kid. Things like hospitals and big chains and stuff sometimes get caught up in ridiculous ideas for hiring, but can still be OK places to work.

      1. NotAMadScientist

        Wait so do you ask them if they want extra fries? What’s the “correct” answer supposed to be?

        1. Amber Rose

          I never found out! They were all multiple choice questions, and I think my options were to say nothing, ask if they want fries with their fries, or try to sell them a side salad. They didn’t sell salad either, for the record.

          The exam never came up again, and I don’t think anyone actually read it. They were gonna hire me anyway because I’d been working there for three months already and they wouldn’t have to teach me anything.

    5. Catsaber

      Those are insane! I had to fill out a 30-page online form like that once, and it had similarly bizarre questions. Such as (likert scale questions):
      – when I get angry, I like to hit people or throw things
      – it’s okay to step on other people to get to the top
      – it’s okay to steal things from work if I need them
      – I feel this survey accurately assessed my skills and experience
      And then they asked me if I had experience doing inventory and cash register close outs.

      It was for a mid-level business intelligence analyst position…but all the questions indicated it was for something like a food service cashier. I answered “definitely not” to that last question and entered in the comments box that it was a bizarre and useless survey, and got an auto-rejection. My job at the time was….mid-level business intelligence analyst. So who knows what was going on there.

      1. Now I Have To Do That Too

        I think we may have applied for the same place. Did it also ask questions about if/when it is OK to come to work still under the influence of heroin?

        1. Catsaber

          It was 2 years ago, so I’m not totally sure, but that sounds familiar! I was applying at UT Southwestern.

          One of my friends, who has worked as a job placement counselor for many years, told me that kind of survey is very common in entry-level food service and retail positions, but it seemed really odd that it was being used for a mid-level IT position. Maybe they got it mixed up?

    6. LizB

      -when you are angry, do people normally know it? Or do they just know at home?

      Well that’s terrifying.

    7. Bostonian

      WTF? I… consider myself a good test-taker, but I can’t even tell if the “correct” answer to #1 is Yes or No.

      And does “tear up” mean that you get misty-eyed, or that you’re funneling beer?

      Why are they asking about whether I get angry at home?

      I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.

      1. Conifer

        I don’t know!! The answer options were never, rarely, sometimes, frequently, and If it is celebrating me. I…*insert gif of woman laughing and taking off her glasses*

    8. Annie Moose

      1) no they should remain in the job and try to bring down the company from within
      2) 0 days (however I missed 365 days due to extraordinary circumstances)
      3) i have personally drowned several children due to my extensive sobbing at even mildly celebratory occurrences
      4) none have witnessed my true anger. once in 1997 i frowned slightly in the direction of a poorly-frosted cupcake. fear me.
      5) weep child. for the days shall come in which the earth is consumed with fire. the trees themselves shall flee to the mountains. cities will shake and crumble and the stars will fall from the heavens. weep now, child, for in those days, there will be none left to weep

    9. Natalie

      I took one of those once, for a professional job, and a full quarter of the questions were about selling drugs to coworkers. It was… incongruous.

    10. Environmental Compliance

      When I was in high school, I applied to work at a Menards in the livestock section. They forgot somehow that they had scheduled me to come in, shoved me in a dark little office to take a personality test while they tried to find someone. I finished the test in about 20 minutes, and it was full of real dumb questions like the loyalty question above, would you hit someone (?!?), have you ever yelled at someone…etc, etc. Then I waited another 20-25 minutes, no one came to get me. I got up and walked out the room, tried to flag down anyone to ask if I should keep waiting or what, since I was done….everyone ignored me. I walked out.

      Got a job at a DQ about a week later, but did get a call back from the Menards about 2 months after asking when I could come in. Um, never?

      1. The New Wanderer

        1) Loyalty is a core competency.
        2) 0 missed work. I do not require vacation or malfunction repair.
        3) I do not feel sadness or happiness to excess. Only to the normal human level.
        4) I cannot harm, or allow harm to befall, a human. I mean a fellow human.
        5) I am told small children require comfort. There there, small child.

    11. Clawfoot

      Jeez, I’m not even sure some of those questions are legal! How many days have you missed work? Are they fishing to screen out people with chronic illnesses or something? I mean, I just took a month off through our company’s short-term disability benefit to have surgery, and then later a few days for bereavement, but I’m not going to tell them that, though! It’s none of their business! What the hell!

    12. Zephy

      Jeez, what kind of assessment is this, the Voight-Kampff? Sounds like it’d be hilarious if you weren’t applying for a job while taking it.

      I had to take the Predictive Index (“PI”) assessment for CurrentJob. The format of the test is just picking adjectives from a list – IIRC, first it’s “pick the words that describe you,” and then, from the same list, “pick the words that other people think should describe you” or a similar epistemological nightmare of a sentence. Those answers are supposed to yield scores on 4 personality dimensions. I saw my results a few months after I was hired and it felt like reading a horoscope – specific enough to feel truthy but generic enough to apply to most people.

    13. Pinky Pie

      I was once asked if what I liked best about a job, having leave, making a difference, affordable healthcare or a good salary. I clicked off the application.

    14. stellaaaaa

      HOLY MOLY those are crazy questions!! I guess I should consider myself lucky that I’ve never had a job interview or application ask me anything like these.

  56. BTO

    I manage a team and as part of their roles they have to do data entry. I’ve given a goal of 15-20 entries/week, which given the complexity of our system should take 2-6 hours. One of my employees on his “weekly report” shared that he did 10 this week so I went to check it out in our database. He did not do 10 this week. He did 9 all month! This is not the biggest deal in the world except that I cannot stand being lied to about this. I’m so irritated regardinf the lack of honesty and find it so unacceptable. I have a check in with him today and I want to keep my cool but I feel like he also needs to know that lying will not be tolerated. Do any of you have experience having to call out an employee on misrepresenting their work? How did you do it?

    1. Not Today Satan

      I try to give them an out in the beginning. “You told me you did 10 this week, but I checked the database and saw that you’ve entered 10 this month. Can you help me understand this discrepancy?” You never know, maybe he was logged in under someone else or something (doubtful, but I try to err on the side of caution when accusing people of stuff). If he doesn’t have a good excuse, I’d make clear that his job is on the line if he lies about his work again.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        I agree, don’t come in hot with accusations but just ask him to explain how he calculated his hours, and keep your evidence in your back pocket. Hate to say it, but if you give him the chance to lie again and then catch him red handed, you may end up firing him within this conversation, because you can’t have employees who are willing to lie straight to your face. What else is he lying about??

        1. Parenthetically

          Ah, no, I wouldn’t do this. Even if he did flat-out lie, you need to deal with that as dispassionately as possible, not set a trap for him. Just tell him that you saw the discrepancy and see if there’s a reasonable explanation. “Hey, Bob, I was so excited to check in on those ten entries you did last week, but when I looked, it said you’d only done 9 so far this month! That’s weird! What’s up with the difference?” His response is going to tell you everything you need to know, without having to ambush him.

    2. RandomU...

      ohhh… I’d be mad.

      I think I’d go with the “I was auditing the TPS entries this week, and I’m a little confused. According to your report you completed 10 this past week but that doesn’t match what was in the system. Can you explain that?” Don’t mention the 9 in the past month, because you want to see what he says and if he lies to you again.

      Now, I’d do this for the slim chance that there was a legit reason for the discrepancy, knowing that there probably isn’t one. Then I’d have the stern talk about falsely reporting completed work and how that won’t be tolerated.

      The last thing I would do is to require him to include proof of some kind going forward of what he has actually completed in his weekly reports to you.

      1. Melody Pond

        Oh, I gotta vehemently disagree with that last item. Changing the requirements of a process because you don’t trust your employee doesn’t fix the underlying problem – an untrustworthy employee. I think that mentality (“I can manage this by just adding more work to my employee’s process”) is how many workplaces wind up with huge inefficiencies. (Even worse is when employers then impose that new requirement on an entire team, as the result of one untrustworthy employee.)

        In this case, I think the solution is that the manager actually has to, you know, manage, like Alison talks about. If the employee isn’t trustworthy, requiring him to go through extra steps to show proof of his work doesn’t fix the fact that you have an untrustworthy employee, it’s just likely to create more administrative work for both the employee and the manager (who then has to review and verify that extra work) – and again, without actually fixing the problem.

        1. RandomU...

          No, but an untrustworthy employee needs to prove their work. That is part of managing, instead of the OP spending their time digging through the database, they would be putting the onus on the employee to prove they are keeping up on their work.

          This isn’t the case of an employee making a mistake and adding stupid double checks. This is a case where the employee has lost trust, so they need to prove they are doing the work they say they are doing. Again, this is to avoid the manager having to seek out and verify the work the employee has claimed.

          This is in addition to setting the clear expectations of what is expected regarding fraudulently claiming completed work or any other lies.

    3. Tara S.

      Start out assuming that this was an honest mistake – like somehow his entries were coded wrong. When you meet with him, say that you saw in his report he had done 10 entries, but when you looked in the database you only saw 9 for the month, does he know why there is a discrepancy? Maybe there is a crazy but true explanation. maybe he lies his pants off, but at least give him the opportunity to explain or come clean.

      If he doesn’t have a good explanation, you don’t need to get angry or berate him (although you may feel like it). You can tell him calmly that misrepresenting his work in the logs is a fire-able offense, and you take this very seriously. Let him know that you will check in with him in another week, and if you don’t see honest improvement, he will be let go. If he does somehow shape up, and you decide to keep him on, then you can have a conversation about how lying on his logs (and his apparent slow pace) have damaged your trust in him. Let him know that you will be watching his work until you can see consistent improvement, and if you do not see that, he will be let go.

      There doesn’t need to be any accusations, just a question, then a laying out of expectations and realities.

      1. Parenthetically

        Yep, this exactly. Getting emotionally worked up because you don’t like being lied to is not going to get you the outcome you want here.

  57. Marion Q

    Questions for those who are contract-based: how do you find out if your contract is going to be renewed or not? And broadly, what should someone ask during the initial offer?

    The ad for the position didn’t mention anything about contract, but during the final interview they explained that the company would contract me for one year. Today I got an offer, and I’m wondering what will happen at the end of the contract. If my work is good would they offer renewal? Or should I just started looking for jobs a couple of months before the contract ends? This is my first job out of university and I’m not really sure how to navigate the whole thing.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.

      You will probably have a number of check-ins or evaluations over the course of the year where you’ll get an idea of how likely it is that you’ll be renewed or let go. In the weird case that you get no feedback at all, put a tickler in your calendar to proactively schedule something with your supervisor at least halfway through, and in any event two months or so before the end of the term, so you’ll know whether or not you need to start looking for a new gig.

    2. Sloan Kittering

      Oh no, if I understand correctly this is super crappy!! In fact, I would call this a red flag. If you’re a contractor (at least in the US), they may be using this as a way to get out of paying benefits and taxes, shifting those expenses on to you – so be sure you understand exactly how this all would work. Typically a contract needs to pay more per hour to absorb those expenses, but lousy companies do it that way to exploit workers. Would you be a 10-99? Would you be classified correctly? Check the tax implications. You’re right to be suspicious, and I think you could ask before you sign (preferably in an email?), how the decision works to renew a contract and what factors go into it.

      Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take this job though. It might be a great way to get started in the field. But since the company isn’t committing to you long term, you shouldn’t feel committed to them – they are saying they want to be able to let you go on a moments notice, so you should probably be ready to drop them just as fast if you get a better offer down the road …

      1. Sloan Kittering

        To clarify, the red flag is that you didn’t understand it was a contract position until you got the offer.

        1. lulu

          I understood that they mentioned it was a contract position during the final interview, which is a little late but not as bad as after the offer. They should have been more upfront about it, but you (OP) should have taken the opportunity to ask more questions at that time. I understand it is difficult to do on the spot, especially for your first job. But you can ask for clarifications even after receiving the offer, saying something like:
          “before I accept the position, can I ask you to clarify a bit what you mean by a one-year contract. Is it possible that it would be renewed? if so at what point during the year would that decision be made, and based on what criteria?”
          If you convey that you’re excited about the opportunity but you just need to clarify this part, they should be open in responding to you. If they are not, then I would take it as a red flag. good luck

          1. Sloan Kittering

            Perhaps this is regional, but I would expect a contract job to be posted that way, as someone who already has a salaried job likely wouldn’t want to apply and risk the uncertainty of consideration. However maybe I’m getting contract job confused with a contracted employee, there may not be much of a difference in terms of wage/benefits for this position. In my field (nonprofits) most jobs that are grant funded, meaning have a good chance of ending at the end of the grant, self-identify that way so that people know what they’re getting into.

          2. Marion Q

            Thank you! Yeah, in hindsight I should’ve asked more, but I’m not good at thinking on my feet. I’ll keep that script in mind.

        2. Marion Q

          Whoops, sorry, should’ve specified that I’m not in the US! They’ll be paying my insurance and tax, so I’m not really worried about that. The weird thing is that they actually asked me in a roundabout way how long I was planning to stay with them, and my answer is basically, “If everything’s good I don’t see why I should move on.” But it seems like this is just how they roll.

          The contract is two-way street actually. If I quit before a year then I’ll have to pay penalty, but if they let me go before a year they have to pay me the same penalty.

  58. Kitty-Kai

    I just finished my fourth week of my new job, and everything is going well! This is my first job that’s not retail, and I’m still adjusting (in a good way). I sit in a chair instead of standing all day, I have a regular set schedule, and I will have benefits in April. Honestly it’s a relief!

    1. Syfygeek

      It was sort of bizarre for me when I had my non-retail job. The same days off EVERY WEEK? I could make plans and didn’t need approval for taking the time off because I knew I’d be off? And benefits?

      Congratulations Kitty-Kai!!

    2. Mellow

      For me, one of the best things about leaving retail and getting a professional job was being able to use the restroom without asking permission and without being frowned upon for taking too long. When I did have to ask and when I was frowned upon, I felt robbed of my dignity.

      Of course, the good managers I had didn’t do either, which is partly why they were good managers.

  59. Mbarr

    I’m excited. In February, I had a second interview with a company, but haven’t heard back from them since. I assumed I didn’t get the job. Today though, a friend at the company asked around and found out they’re still interviewing, and thus I’m still in the running! Yay!

    1. Zephy

      Good luck! It probably can’t hurt to send a short follow-up email to the person you interviewed with to check on the status of your application. Worst-case scenario, you get a definite “no” and can direct your energies elsewhere.

  60. WellRed

    Just came from announcement my company has been acquired. Supposedly no changes to staffing or what have you, but supposedly better benefits, etc (they are much bigger). I shall be on pins and needles waiting for the onboarding to begin next week. The only thing we have learned so far is they put vacation and sick time in one bucket. I hope that doesn’t mean they offer less of it.

    1. Mellow

      Sounds like the news is good overall, yhough I understand your trepidation. Let us know how it goes.

  61. Sunflower

    Just told my boss I was putting my 2 weeks in. She was totally supportive until I told her the name of the company and said ‘oh…i know someone who worked there and hated it’. WOW thanks. She was great besides that but just wow thanks!

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?

      Congrats! And take comfort in the fact that there’s a good chance that she’s cringed in hindsight at her lack of filter.

      1. valentine

        For all you know, they were a terrible employee. I hate when people rain on a parade just to share their sole tidbit.

    2. Catsaber

      I had a similar response from my former boss, when I told him I was leaving our department for the IT department. The IT dept used to have a bad reputation, but it’s gotten a lot better over the past few years. So his response wasn’t totally unwarranted….but it turned out to be a WAY better job for me, and I love it over here in IT. :) Best of luck in your new position!

  62. KarenT

    Tips for scaling back makeup looks at work? I usually wear a full face of make up (not heavy, light and natural but the full deal) or tinted moisturizer and nothing else at all. I’m looking for an inbetween look. I’m just not a morning person so I don’t want to do my full routine–looking to jump out of the house quicker.

    1. Karen from Finance

      Practice skipping different steps in your routine, focusing on your favorite areas.

      Some possibilities:
      – eyebrows, mascara, lip gloss (nude color)
      – lipstick (bolder color), concealer and mascara
      – liquid liner, mascara, powder foundation (this is my usual one)

      I’m putting mascara in all of them because personally I think it’s great for making you look more awake. Or for concealer, it really depends on how much you need it. I find that doing around 2-4 steps of makeup is a good level for a day look.

    2. londonedit

      My everyday make-up look is tinted moisturiser, mascara, dark grey eyeliner (I find it looks more casual than black), pressed powder (mine is The Body Shop’s All-in-One Face Base) and a tiny bit of blusher. Takes me less than five minutes in the morning. To be honest, my going-out make-up is the same, with the addition of some shimmery eyeshadow and maybe some lip tint!

    3. ContemporaryIssued

      Sheer out your foundation with the tinted moisturizer, or a regular moisturizer. Go without eyeshadow (if you want to even out your eyelid color, use a powder). For eyes, just mascara, for the lips, a sheer lipstick. A bit of blush.

      My “five minutes or less” look is mascara, eyeliner pencil, a pop of concealer in the corner of the eye, and a dab of cream blush on the cheeks. I forego foundation in this routine, which I realize is a luxury because my skin is largely fine, no major blemishes or spots.

    4. ThatGirl

      Maybe just tinted moisturizer, concealer if needed, and mascara and/or lip gloss? That can help you feel more put together without adding much time to your routine.

    5. CupcakeCounter

      Stick with the tinted moisturizer and mascara with a light gloss. Mascara is a must for me as otherwise I look half asleep and I love a tinted chapstick/gloss for moisture and a little color (to look alive some days!)

    6. Saradactyl

      I wear tinted sunscreen and do my eyebrows at minimum. If I have more time I do undereye concealer and mascara and some blush. If I have lots of time I do foundation and eyeshadow.

    7. Marion Ravenwood

      What kind of products do you use at the moment? If you use a lot of powder formulas, I’d switch to cream formulas for things like eyeshadow and blusher – I find that applying creams is a lot quicker for me. If they come in a stick or chunky pencil, then even better. It might also be worth looking at multi-tasking products for lips and cheeks, although I have to admit I’ve personally found these often work better for one than the other.

      If I’m in a rush to get ready, my general go-to routine is foundation, concealer, eyebrow gel/tint, one eyeshadow (usually something brown and with a slight shimmer), mascara and a neutral or nude lip balm. Sometimes I’ll also ditch the eyeshadow and swap the balm for a red lipstick. I like this because looks quite fresh and youthful, and in the case of the red lip makes it a bit ‘punchier’, but it takes me five minutes tops. You can skip the eyebrows potentially but mine look like a hedge if I don’t do something to tame them, and I think between that and the concealer (and lipstick) I end up looking a lot more ‘groomed’ in relation to the amount of time I’ve put in.

      Also, if you get public transport to work can you do your makeup on the bus/train? I do my foundation before I leave, then the rest on the train to work (using an antibacterial wipe on my hands first and nothing messy, so no brushes/loose powders etc). Obviously if you drive then this is moot, but it does make a difference in terms of time and is a pretty effective use of ‘dead’ commuting time.

    8. NaoNao

      I do a quickie routine that includes cream blush in a stick (easy apply and blend), “no makeup” eye shadow primer by Dr. Perricone (evens out your eyelid tint and prevents oils) a smidge of dark brown eyeliner on top lids, and a dusting of “Hollywood Sorcery” powder by an indie maker. Sometimes I’ll dust on some soft neutral eyeshadow if I’m feeling sassy. This is all over Dr. Jart’s Tiger Balm Cicapair drops (they reduce redness and calm blotchiness).

      I then use a tinted lip balm or soft lip crayon and boom, done. :)

    9. Lily Rowan

      When I wanted to start wearing makeup, I went to a counter and asked for the least I could do (obviously, the least I could do is nothing, but she knew what I meant). So my everyday routine now is foundation, blush, and eyebrows. (My eyelashes are dark and I wear glasses, so I never wear mascara.)

    10. philosophical_conversation

      Personally, an in-between look for me is a light-coverage foundation, concealer, a cream eye shadow, mascara, and eyebrows. For foundation, I’ve found that the Givenchy Teint Couture Balm is the best in terms of a light, glowy coverage, but I also really like the ELF Flawless Finish foundation for a more matte look. Both of these products blend out really quickly, which is something I really look for in the mornings. I use the Morphe M439 or a Real Techniques foundation brush to apply the product, and then finish with a Beauty Blender. I pop on a bit of under-eye concealer (Maybelline Instant Age Rewind) and blend out with my BB.

      If you’re looking to save time, but still want to do your brows, I totally recommend the Wunderbrow product. I apply it the night before and I don’t have to spend time on my brows in the morning. For eyes, I usually use a ColorPop cream eye shadow or a MAC paint pot and just pop it on with my fingers. I finish with mascara. All in all, I end up with a really natural, polished look and it takes me less than six minutes.

    11. KR

      I usually just wear eyeliner to work. Eyeshadow & brows if I have time. If I’m extremely ambitious I will do concealer and the whole bit. If I’m a little bit ambitious I’ll just put a little concealer over trouble areas.

    12. Bex

      My “daily face” for work is tinted moisturizer, a quick swipe of sheer blush (doesn’t need blending!), a couple dots of under eye concealer, mascara, and grooming/filling in my brows. I have actually timed it before, and it takes 2 minutes.

  63. Jess

    Is there anyone else who feels angry and disrespected when someone who is clearly being compensated well enough to own property and raise a family offers you a job with a salary that is barely enough to support yourself???

    What do you do with that anger?

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise

        So I would say specifically:
        1. negotiate for a higher salary
        2. fight for political reform

        1. KayEss

          This is definitely more useful advice than my gut response, which is “unhinge your jaw and eat them.”

          1. Parenthetically

            Destroy them using your newly-discovered capitalist-rage-based telekinetic powers.

      2. Jess

        Yep. And every time I hear a question about “salary requirements” I want to take off the “rules” about how we talk to potential employers about salary and translate it into these human terms.

      3. Jayess

        No, this isn’t all of us. Capitalism is a far, far better economic system than any other. In capitalism, you can rise above poverty, lack of education, and even lack of obvious opportunity; my family has done so. This not an option in controlled and heavily regulated societies. I am truly thankful to live in the U.S. and be able to make decisions and choices that determine what my life will be like.

        1. Sam I Am

          I find capitalism and communism to be opposite ends of the same pendulum. Neither extreme is good for society, mostly because human nature makes humans behave in a selfish manner. But if we work together with respect, we can allow for the good parts of economic systems that allow for things like innovation fed by competition, and saying that each human has a say in resources, as well as basic rights to food, shelter, clean air and water, education and medical care. In a broad sence, social democracy that’s geared towards taking care of the basic