open thread – August 30-31, 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 do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,881 comments… read them below }

  1. Evil HR Person

    I’ve been contacted 3 times by 3 different recruiters for the same exact job. And I’m sure I’ll be contacted a fourth time if the company doesn’t find anyone to fill the position. The first time I was contacted, the recruiter did a bait and switch; however, I don’t think it was his fault. He sold me a role that was way above what the company is hiring for. When I interviewed with the company, I found out that the role is doing something that I essentially know how to do, but don’t want to do. But, since I have a highly coveted skill set, the recruiter was really excited to push me forward. The company never called me back – and, by the way, that’s typical for how they do business, which is another reason I don’t like the company.

    The second recruiter tried to sell me the same highly inflated job as the first, and I told him a quick “no thanks,” without much of an explanation.

    The third recruiter got a little more information from me – mainly because I was pissed off. Three times with the same song and dance! Really?! So, I told him that I’d already interviewed with the company, that the role he was trying to hire for was vastly different than what the company was actually hiring for and that, by the way, they have never contacted me back to at least say thanks but no thanks. I was a bit out of my wits that particular day, I’ll admit.

    The next time this happens, what should I say? I quick, polite, no thanks? Or should I go with something between polite and the nuclear option?

    Also, what’s up with interviewers asking, “why do you want to work for us?” if I was the one recruited? I should be the one asking that question. It actually took me by surprise, AND I WORK HR!
    *end rant*

    1. ThatGirl

      I would say “I’ve already interviewed for this role and been contacted several times since then, I am not interested, thanks anyway.”

    2. Wearing Many Hats

      I think the ‘Why do you want to work for us’ question is valid (although I would personally rephrase it) even if you are recruited, as you can easily not respond to recruiters.

      And obviously I want to go nuclear with responses but it’s probably best to give a polite version of your third response, even if it’s not as initially satisfying. Sounds so annoying, good luck!

      1. Leela

        Agreed! If you accepted an interview/phone screen, they’re going to think there’s some interest there and they need to know what it is. If you say “I love your company’s mission to X” and they’re about to cut X, or X is wildly important to them, they want to know that. If you say “I really want to work with ____” and they know that in this role you never will, they want to know that too. It’s helping them assess the fit which is something you definitely want them to be doing, versus just pulling in any candidate who will say yes.

        I agree that it’s a weird phrasing for how this went down though!

      2. Me

        Yes, I don’t understand why it’s a strange question. If you decide to interview I would think you are at least somewhat interested in working there regardless if you found the job opening on your own or were recruited for it. I certainly wouldn’t go to an interview for someplace I didn’t want to work.

        Maybe I’m missing something about the recruitment process.

        1. Anon for this

          I am here very late, but I have interviewed at places where I was recruited and I’m not sure I want to work there! The whole reason I’m coming in is to decide whether I might!

          I have answered that question before with, “You guys called me. I’m not actively looking, but I heard enough from your recruiter [perhaps including one specific example] to be interested.”

    3. Rusty Shackelford

      Also, what’s up with interviewers asking, “why do you want to work for us?” if I was the one recruited? I should be the one asking that question. It actually took me by surprise, AND I WORK HR!

      “That’s a good question. Why *do* I want to work here? Give me some reasons.” ;-)

      1. Evil HR Person

        Ya know, I think I did respond with something along those lines. I think I said, “As you know, I was recruited, though I know your company rather well and love your products.” They make windows. I actually have their windows in my house! LOL!

    4. RabbitRabbit

      Regarding your last point, I wonder if the interviewers know that you were actively recruited. Alternately, they may want to know if you find their job/organization appealing? If they do know you were head-hunted, they should do a little better job of “selling” their organization and opportunity. I do so when interviewing regardless of how the candidate came to us.

      1. Evil HR Person

        I guess that’s my point: I didn’t feel that I had to “sell myself” like I usually would, perhaps because I expected the recruiter to have done that. It took me by surprise because, having done these type of interviews, I usually don’t ask this question from someone who we have actively recruited (either ourselves or through a head hunter). Another reason to not work in their HR department, I suppose.

      2. ChachkisGalore

        The interviewer most likely does not know that the candidate was actively recruited. Whenever I’ve worked with external recruiters to source candidates I give them job specs, then they send over resumes with a little blurb about each candidate. That blurb rarely includes whether the candidate was actively looking for a new role or whether they specifically sought out that candidate. Sometimes you can figure it out from context clues – but not all that often.

        Plus like you mentioned, even if they were aware that the candidate was actively recruited it’s still very normal to want to know what about the role/company is making the candidate consider the position. The candidate might say they love doing x and don’t get to much x in their current role, but they saw x listed as part of the job description and they were interested in moving to a role with more x. Except x is only a small part of this role as well, so this probably isn’t a great fit after all.

        1. Evil HR Person

          I guess what threw me off my game while interviewing is that I had prepared to be interviewed for a position doing X, which I love, and when the interviewer described the title and position – it had nothing to do with X and everything to do with Y, which I don’t love and might actually hate if I had to do it every day. So when she asked the question, I was already annoyed. I promise that I’m normally more level-headed. What I really should have done (hindsight being 20/20 and all) is to politely decline the rest of the interview, expressing the fact that I was looking for a role doing X, which was what the recruiter had sold me on, but that a position doing Y was not something I was interested in. It just goes to show that even HR professionals have feet of clay when it comes to interviews.

          1. ChachkisGalore

            Totally understandable and that definitely is frustrating! It sounds like it’s more that company’s fault than any of the recruiters though. If it were just one occurrence it could have been the recruiter twisting things to get a candidate through the door, but if multiple recruiters were describing the role the same way then it sounds like it’s the company who is giving out incorrect info (who’s ultimately at fault – who knows! Could be the hiring manager deliberately twisting things, could be some sort of lost in translation thing between the hiring manager and someone else who coordinates with the external recruiters).

            I’m going to keep this in mind and start asking external recruiters where the candidates that we want to bring in came from (as in were they actively looking or were they approached by the recruiter). I’d still want to know why they’re interested, but it definitely could be worded or approached differently based on the scenario.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar

      It’s not really the recruiters’ fault, even though they should be much better at conducting ntake and strategy calls with their clients – how long has it been open, why haven’t you filled it, who’s worked on it besides us, etc. I would be annoyed, but still polite. One never knows where today’s recruiter will wind up, never hurts to leave a positive impression. ThatGirl’s response is the one I came to share.

      I’m in corporate staffing and have rarely asked ‘Why do you want to work for us?’ even of applicants. Instead, I ask, ‘Why are you open to new opportunities?’ or ‘What’s prompting you to look at new roles?’ or some such. That’s a more valid question that offers more enlightening answers, IMO.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I would just keep it short and sweet with them. I only say that because I don’t think the recruiters are connected or are they? You risk lashing out at someone who is essentially just doing their job, so I try not to lose my mind on them even though it’s a real struggle on some days [I would be struggling to stay civil in your shoes as well, that’s for sure!]

      1. Evil HR Person

        The last one tricked me – he called me at work and they’re a well-known company with whom I’ve done business before. Otherwise I’d had put the unknown caller through to voicemail.

        1. EH

          I get so many cold-calling recruiters ringing me that I save their phone numbers to a “Cold-Calling Recruiters” contact. That contact is set to go straight to voicemail. I put an eyeroll emoji at the front of the name so it’s at the top of my contact list and easy to add to when I am checking my voicemail later.

    7. hbc

      Are these external or internal recruiters? If external and it’s realistic for them not to know, I’d just say, “Thanks anyway, but I already interviewed and FYI, the job you’re describing doesn’t match up at all with the way it was described in the interview.”

      If they’re all internal, I would go all in on the company at a fourth contact. Not mean, but pointing out that you don’t appreciate being bothered about this again, and that their time would be better spent making sure the recruiter and hiring manager were aligned, keeping records of who they’ve already dealt with, and sending out timely rejection letters.

      1. Evil HR Person

        They’re external. This company has been looking for someone to hire for at least 5 months now, and I’m one of the few professionals in my area with a particular skill that they desperately need.

    8. Not So NewReader

      The next time a recruiter calls tell them that they need to go talk to [names of the three previous recruiters]. Then sign off- “Gotta go, good luck in your search!”

    9. voluptuousfire

      Hah. I had a similar thing happen years ago during the Great Recession. I was contacted by an agency for a temp recruitment coordinator role. I interviewed and didn’t get it because I didn’t have a solid year’s experience with the ATS (I had 11 months vs 12 months). Fine.

      After that, I was contacted 12 separate times in addition from Easter to Memorial Day for a role that was due to last until the end of the year. All from different agencies. The company was still using the same job description (that didn’t include the year experience they wanted) for each of the agencies. I was at the point where I was able to give the agencies more guidance on the role than the blasted company!

      I did leave a review on their Glassdoor to chronicle this. It felt like a friend going “I know someone who would be a great fit for you!” and ends up setting you up with an ex, not realizing you knew each other.

      I think I may have even been contacted by another recruiter when the role was opened again in the spring of the following year. LOL

    10. azvlr

      I came here to post something very similar. I received ten calls about the same roll in the space of a few hours on Monday. I signed on with the first recruiter, but have not heard back from him since. Did he submit my resume? I have no way of knowing, and I’m now unable to have my resume submitted by the others.

      A recruiter I spoke to yesterday gave me some advice. If you have a recruiter who has gotten results for you in the past, and you learn of a role through an unknown recruiter, ask “your” recruiter if they can submit you. If the unknown recruiter has a relationship with the employer, then it might not be to your advantage, but at least you would know the status of your application.

      1. EH

        This. When I’m actively jobhunting, I have a handful of local recruiters I work with and actually know and trust. They usually have a couple companies they recruit with and don’t overlap much, so when I find out about a new role, I know which one to ping and ask about it.

        I also ping these recruiters about once a week with an updated resume (if I’ve made edits) and a sort of general “heya, I am still looking, here’s what I’m looking for, thanks for keeping me in mind.” Got that tip a while back from my mentor and it has served me well so far.

    11. LilySparrow

      I once had a series of interviews for a job that I was cold-called about – a face-to-face with the recruiter, one with the head of the recruiting firm, one with the HR rep at the company, and one with the hiring manager.

      Every single person at every stage asked me, “Why do you want to work for Company?”

      Including the recruiter who cold-called me in the first place!

      I replied with variations of, “I’m actually very happy at Current Job, but Mary approached me with an opportunity that sounded too good to ignore. So I’m here to find out as much as I can about the position to see if it might be a good fit.”

      I wound up getting an offer, so I guess it was a good answer.

      1. LilySparrow

        Oh, and in my situation, it would have been a lateral move to the same role at a larger firm for substantially more money & PTO. So it was understood that “good opportunity” meant the compensation package.

    12. Jennifer Thneed

      a) I hear about the same position from multiple recruiters all.the.time. If they’re internal recruiters, then *maybe* they have access to information from previous recruiters and maybe they don’t. If they’re external recruiters, there is no way they know about the recruiters from competing companies. So I just use one of my stock responses. Sometimes that is “I have already been submitted for this position”. Sometimes it’s just “No thank you”. Sometimes I include more information, like when it’s out of my field or out of my geographic area, but honestly the only time they get more information than that from me is when they’re recruiting for a specific energy company with very bad maintenance practices that led to pipeline explosions that killed schoolchildren and power lines that burned down entire neighborhoods.

      b) You seem to be interpreting “why do you want to work for us?” as “why did you contact us?” and perhaps you could interpret it as “why were you interested when our recruiter contacted you?” Because if you weren’t interested in what the recruiter had to say, you wouldn’t even be hearing the question, right?

      1. Evil HR Person

        Totally right – and maybe what I’m hoping for is perspective. I’m too close to the situation and need a fresh set of eyes to reframe this for me ;-) so, thank you!! Truly.

    13. Emmie

      I was once contacted by 4 outside recruiters for the same position. Recruiters and the company had interviewed me, and two friends. By Recruiter 3, I asked if the position was with that company. They were usually shocked that I knew, and asked how. I told them about my experience and my friend’s too. Recruiter 3 & 4 thanked me. Turns out the company had a hard time with staffing choices, but was also kinda recruiter shopping. That was helpful for those recruiters who work on commission.

    14. HBJ

      To your last paragraph, Alison has actually answered this. She said to respond along the lines of “I’m not sure I am, to be honest. Since you reached out to me, I was hoping to hear more about the role from you.”

      I can’t find it in searching. This says they shouldn’t ask it, but I know there was a more specific question she answers about it. askamanager.org/2017/11/how-is-being-recruited-different-from-just-applying-for-a-job.html

    15. Silvercat

      I’m apparently the only graphic designer in my county because I got called at least a dozen times about the same job, after I was working with a recruiter for it, the day I was interviewed, and after I was hired.

      Recruiters, I don’t even know.

      1. Jennifer Thneed

        It’s sales. They’re salespeople, not HR people. And if they’re external recruiters, they’re playing a numbers game.

        1. whatthemell?

          Yes! I worked in HR at one organization for about 12 years and the one area I really didn’t enjoy was recruiting. But since recruiting was only about 1/10th of the job, it was Ok. My cousin just switched from teaching to a recruiting job and apparently makes tons of money and LOVES the job. She keeps trying to convince me to transition to a strictly-recruiting position by telling me how much she makes, how easy it is now with LinkedIn and basically being able to pluck anyone from anywhere at any time…..and she basically contacts people on LinkedIn and sells the jobs she’s trying to fill (I think she works with higher-up executive positions so the commission is quite good) and it’s a numbers game. She had a never-ending pool of applicants and as long as she keeps plugging away, she’s making tons of dough.

          It sounds very unappealing to me personally BUT she’s incredibly passionate about so I’m happy for her. I’m not interested in sales jobs and know I’d be bad at it.

  2. Eillah

    How can the admins at my company (myself included) successfully convince management that admins should be permitted to work from home?

    1. A Simple Narwhal

      Alison has recommended asking for a trial period, and that people are more willing to try changes out if they’re (initially) just for a few months as opposed to an outright switch.

    2. Psyche

      Are you trying to get the position to become remote or just have the occasional work from home day?

        1. Psyche

          In that case I would compile a list of the tasks you do and put which ones can be done remotely just as well, which are better in the office but can be done from home in a pinch and which need someone in the office. Then you can keep a log of how often each comes up and show that usually it won’t matter if you are there or not.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen

            Noting how often your attention is distracted from (routine remoteable task) by office noise etc could be useful.

            Spouse used to do a day a month from home purely for his reports’ timesheets – it was the difference between reliably submitting them on time, or not.

            Are you wanting to work remotely for a particular reason (e.g. when the AC is being serviced) or just as a general perk (e.g. not having to pay a dog walker for the midday walk)? If the timing doesn’t matter to you, you could tie it to a particular recurrent task or work phase to begin with.

    3. MissDisplaced

      Like all the time or just one day a week or as needed?
      I think all the time would be tough sell for an Admin. I’d suggest proposing a trial of say 1 day a week, alternating days if there are more than one of you. It will sort of depend on your duties too, so you’d want to carefully map out any coverage issues if someone must be at the office for certain things.

        1. Snark

          Under what circumstances would the option be needed? Obviously I don’t really know all the ins and outs of your particular position, but I think of an admin as being an onsite position unless the office is closed for weather or something.

          1. Eillah

            It’s good for the soul, we have obligations outside the office like everyone else, company is big on work/life balance. What’s the point of having such a large team of admins if they can’t cover for the few tasks an admin needs to be in office to do?

            1. Snark

              I mean, I don’t disagree, it’s definitely good for the soul and everyone has obligations. As someone who could totally telework but who is prevented from doing so by a hidebound Boomer who likes seat time, I understand the frustration.

              But if an admin has in-office tasks, then that’s what they need you for. Obviously, there are admin positions like Elizabeth describes below that don’t, but.

            2. LGC

              So, I think what Snark was getting at is…is a substantial part of your job being in the office? (You make it sound like a no, but who knows? I do want to point out that admins can be lots of different things – from filing to reception to aiding executives to managing an office.)

              To answer your actual question: the Alison answer is, “go to your boss as a group.” Beyond that, figure out the tradeoffs. Are you in the office because you’re on call for errands? You say that only a few of you need to be there…how many people are needed from your team?

              And what are the benefits? Morale is one. Another could be that you need fewer desks and smaller workspaces.

              This is a lot of high level stuff, and really they’re things your bosses need to consider. But it’s also good to think through these things yourself because there’s tradeoffs!

              For what it’s worth, though, it sounds like you probably could lobby for limited WFH (like, a couple of days a month). Good luck!

            3. fhqwhgads

              I wouldn’t use those as part of your argument. Working from home may make some obligations outside the office easier, such as if your house is closer to Thing You Need To Do After Work than work is. But, at least everywhere I’ve worked (and I’ve been 100% remote for a long time), you’re expected to be as “on” as you would be in the office. So WFH doesn’t replace a need for childcare. Doesn’t mean you can do other stuff in between tasks (unless it’s the sort of thing no one would mind you doing in the office too) etc. Need to answer the door for the cable guy? Sure. But otherwise, for the most part WFH doesn’t actually facilitate the doing of outside of work obligations, nor should it.

            4. Groove Bat

              I don’t understand your question: “What’s the point of having such a large team if admins if they can’t cover for the few tasks an admin needs to be in the office to do?”

              If there are tasks you need to be in the office to do, are you proposing that others do them for you so you can attend to your non-work obligations?

          2. Elizabeth West

            It depends on the job, but if you’re not answering the phone, it totally can be remote. Exjob was a departmental admin position; I was not on the front desk, and almost everything I did was on the computer. I could work remotely if I wanted — most commonly if I had a repair person coming over, if the weather looked sketchy, or if I wasn’t feeling well. Sometimes clients would come into the office (mostly in other departments) and people worked from home so they didn’t have to dress up, lol.

            I took my laptop home with me the night before. The consultants I supported could contact me by IM. I even worked remotely while traveling once. It was totally doable.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              Even if you’re answering phones, lots of places can forward calls to other sources. I have a code to punch into the phone at my desk and then everything goes to my cell phone. Including when someone forwards me a call from inside the office and such.

              1. Yorick

                Yeah, as long as you’re not a receptionist at a desk people will go to for questions, WFH sometimes should be ok

            2. Gaia

              Even if you’re answering phones, softphones are definitely a thing and this can easily be done from home.

    4. allison

      Has management brought up reason why admins shouldn’t be allowed to work from home? Is there an existing wfh policy that applies to the non-admin employees?

      At my workplace, everyone can choose either Monday or Wednesday as their work from home day. I asked for Monday, the same one as the other admin on my team and they said no, one of us has to be in the office at all times. Now that it’s been a few months, I brought it up again. They said since they haven’t needed us for in-person things and I am willing to switch wfh day if one of us is needed, it would be okay for me to switch to Mondays.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Has the subject been brought up before? Is it something that’s been shot down before or is this a brand new discussion?

      If it’s a brand new discussion, things are a lot easier. If you’ve been told no before, then that would be another kettle of fish.

      If you just go in there with the logistics planned out, that’s a huge help. With duties that are easily done remotely, etc. But also keep in mind that remote access is a security risk and that may be the reason they are picky about who can have access to the system from outside the home office.

    6. Mama Bear

      I think it partially depends on why they don’t currently have a policy or why admins are excluded. Do they want you there for face time/easier to swing by your desk? Does it seem like there aren’t many tasks that can be done remotely? Did someone in the past abuse the privilege? If you want a specific work from home day and you know other departments allow it, I’d angle for case by case approval. I like the idea of pointing out the things you can do remotely and how any other contingencies would be handled so no one was left hanging. In my case, we need high-level permission for Reasons, and I simply picked my day carefully, made my request, and then made sure I was responsive when I was out of office that day. I want to build reliability and maybe eventually get one regular day a week. If, for example, you want the option to work remotely if there is inclement weather, I’d specify that as well.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Do they want you there for face time/easier to swing by your desk?

        I think it’s a face time/optics thing for sure. A lot of companies have admins that are “the face” of the business if you will. Many of them have desks that are either out front like a receptionist or sit very close to the exec they’re supporting. If that desk is empty when visitors come or when someone internal drops by to ask a question, I’ve seen many execs get bent out of shape about that.

        Still, OP is right that a lot of what admins do can be done from home. Probably not full-time, but a couple times a month or so shouldn’t really be a big deal (unless of course the boss is like the execs mentioned above who value that “face of the company” thing). I like the idea of making a list of all the things that could be feasible to do from home and going from there.

        Good luck!

    7. hbc

      See if you can anticipate all of their objections and have rules or parameters that address them. Make it a trial period, no more than X people WFH at a time, no one person WFH more than once a month, here’s how the calls get routed, maybe you’ll designate someone as your default “alternate” for random in-office things, planned X days in advance, here’s how you indicate in and out for lunch, a successful WFH day means responding to all calls in X minutes, all emails in Y minutes, and tasks A-F completed, etc..

      Basically, make them feel like the risk is very low for them giving it a shot.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Coverage scheduling may be key: Your WFH schedule & contact info will be posted. Someone will always be on site. X number of days a week everyone will be onsite for team meetings. If a hands-on special project requires you be onsite on your WFH day, you change your WFH day.
        Also considering proactively volunteering pictures of your home office location to show it meets general office requirements.

        Good luck!

    8. Bluesheart

      My firm allows admins to home as needed but when I first requested it, I had to show the tasks that I would be doing at home and I had to provide my cell phone number so people can reach me if needed and now I can send a email saying that I will be working from home. It really helped when I was going with my mom for her doctor appointments for her upcoming surgery.

    9. Red shirt squad

      I think it depends on the type of work you do. Part of our admin’s job is greeting visitors, filing, and processing/handing out reimbursement checks. None of that can be done from home. However they also do a lot of updating of computer records and files which could be done from home. So, if they needed an occasional day to work from home we could work that out but its not something they could more than once a week.

      1. LilySparrow

        Related to this, it also depends on the work style of the people you’re supporting. Are they willing and able to batch assignments in a way that’s feasible for remote work?

        I have a freelance client right now who is highly collaborative and deadline driven. If she, and the designer, and the other stakeholder and I were all in an old-fashioned pressroom huddle right now, we could have knocked out our project in a couple hours this morning and gone to lunch. And I’d be happy to go onsite and do that.

        But no. Having us all on different ends of town is “high tech” or “convenient” or some bullshit like that. So now I’ve got feedback and questions coming in from 3 different people who decide on the fly whether to send it by text, or email, or sometimes my personal email (HOW? WHY?)

        It’s crazy making and ridiculous. So it’s not just a question of whether the person you’re supporting is onboard with WFH in theory. Are they going to make it worse than being in the ofgice?

        1. TechWorker

          This is so interesting to me because there’s a section of my work that is almost always ‘remote’ due to time zone/location differences, and whenever we have a team member in the same time zone we notice the company as a whole is really keen on ‘war rooms’ to solve problems. Whilst *sometimes* these are useful the vast majority of the time they involve people talking over each other and everyone being involved at every level of the problem, rather than the async, over email standard where you get as far as you can with the problem, work out the right team and hand it over. I see war rooms as ineffective and a waste of time (although liked by some folk in senior management because if they can *see* people working then it must be quicker, right?) so it’s interesting to hear from someone with the opposite view!

          1. LilySparrow

            That’s exactly the problem – everyone is talking over each other and being involved in every aspect, bu TV with the added lag time and lack of version control of waitng for people to check their messages and reply while someone else is already running ahead.

            Hence the batching aspect. If I could deliver the 5-6 short documents to everyone at once, get one round of feedback at a time on a single channel, turn them for Round 2, and so forth, this would be far more efficient.

            But the senior exec just doesn’t work that way, and they don’t use slack or google docs. If you’re going to be old-school, you’re better off being 100 percent oldschool.

            Being halfassedly digital is worse than analog.

  3. D.W.

    I recently applied for a job at KPMG. Most companies now require that applicants setup an account with on their application program. I created the account and clicked “submit” and the system took me to the application page for the position.

    The system said that the application process would take approximately 10min (Yay!). I entered my bio info and uploaded my resume and clicked “submit”. The application was submitted! I spent three days writing a cover letter and I didn’t have the chance to submit it. There was no way of attaching more than one file. Was I supposed to include my cover letter and resume in one file? Have I ruined my chance of getting this job because there is no cover letter attached? Or did they not want a cover letter at all?

    Has anyone gone through KMPS’s application process?

    1. DaniCalifornia

      I have! I didn’t submit a cover letter with them either and got contacted. I’ve experienced the same thing with other companies though. If I don’t see a place to submit the cover letter and resume on a page before hitting submit I will sometimes combine them and upload the 1 file.

    2. De Minimis

      I did years ago, can’t remember about the cover letter.

      I don’t think it will hurt you too badly to not have one. I’ve applied for a ton of accounting firm jobs over the years, and I’ve only seen one where any real attention was given to the cover letter.
      Is this for an entry level position?

      1. D.W.

        It’s a mid-career level position. It’s also not an accounting position. It’s in business operations.

        This was my first time applying for a position at an accounting firm, so it’s good to know cover letters may not be a thing in this industry!

        1. De Minimis

          I think people tend to just quickly scan resumes to see if they have what they’re looking for. The only place I’ve seen where anyone cared was at a small firm. I doubt you’ll have a problem. Good luck!

        2. M

          A relative of mine worked for KPMG in similar department (not accounting). Just an FYI these are not 40 hour week jobs no matter what they say. My relative got work done a lot quicker than others but was still expected to stay long hours. They left and are happier at another organization for a bit less money but WAY better benefits. Some people love the environment some don’t, it most likely isn’t 40/hours a week though.

          1. M

            Also if really interested may want to look at recruiters. My relative applied through the website and wasn’t contacted until they reached out to a recruiter. Then the process went quickly. Hope this helps!

      2. Not in US

        I personally screen out people who do not include a cover letter. I’m not in the US, do not work at KPMG (but in the same field), and it’s a deal breaker for me. I get enough resumes that I cut based on the inclusion of the cover letter and you go to the top of my pile if its actually good (assuming basic skills are there).

        Back when I was first starting to look for a job out of Uni the best piece of advice I got was to put it all in one file – and ideally do it as a PDF. I’ve always done so since. That’s what I would recommend. I would rather have it twice than not at all.

        Our system only allows one file.

    3. Alana Smithee

      I came here to ask a similar question, though not for KPMG. I spent a week fretting about a cover letter, only for there to be no place in the company’s application system to submit one, only the ability to upload a resume (in addition to manually typing everything out, of course). I’m wondering if I should have included the cover letter in the resume document. In this situation, do I send a cover letter/email to hiring manager? Do I just assume they don’t want one and hope my resume will speak strongly enough for me to get an initial interview?

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House

          This would cause a problem with the resume parsing stage, though, where they pull the bits of your resume into forms, right?

    4. austriak

      I’m a CPA and worked in public accounting. I’ll be honest. The only time I’ve ever submitted a cover letter is when it is specifically stated in the posting that it is required, which isn’t often, and I’ve never had issues getting interviews or jobs. Maybe some industries or fields are really big into cover letters but I don’t see it in the accounting industry.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      Putting the cover letter in the doc with the resume is good practice when so many systems only allow one document. But remember, cover letters work best if they are NOT generic and don’t just regurgitate your resume.

      But while we’re on the subject, yesterday I worked with a job seeker who submitted only the resume because that’s how many slots there were, and the employer actually called up and asked her to write a cover letter for the job.
      Just when I thought I had heard everything!

      1. D.W.

        This was the first time I’ve run into this situation. I thought I would have the opportunity on a separate page. It wasn’t until it was submitted that it dawned on me. Lesson learned! I will definitely look out for this in the future.

        1. Autumnheart

          If you have the ability to log in and check the status of your application, you may be able to resubmit the file. Worth a look.

    6. Elizabeth West

      Not theirs, but it’s hard to know when companies will do that. So what I do is make a cover letter / resume with the letter as the first page.

      If I get to that point and see there is an option to upload more than one document, then I can go back and remove the resume from the document and just upload it as a cover letter. Then I upload my resume separately.

    7. NJAnonymous

      I currently work there on the advisory side and have worked at other Big Four Firms in similar capacities and have serve on hiring committees/interviews. Not once have I submitted a cover letter nor have I ever read one in my capacity as a manager or interviewer.

      Separately… if you don’t have keywords they’re looking for on your resume, it is tough to get into the hiring pipeline. Referrals always get bumped to the top of the queue, though, so if you know anyone there I’d recommend going that route.

    8. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      I did this once and just reached out to the company HR contact with an “I didn’t realize I couldn’t add a cover letter! I’m used to it being two different fields. Is there a way to have a cover letter added to my submission?”

      They had me send it to that person and it wasn’t a big deal.

    9. Sassy

      When I get to one of those application systems with only one upload field, I merge my cover letter and resume both into a .pdf document and upload it that way. I also name the file “MyName Cover Letter and Resume” to be sure they get what I’m up to.

      That said, if they don’t provide a separate field for a cover letter, they should focus on your resume and follow up with you accordingly.

  4. Wearing Many Hats

    Quick update to my question last week about letting my co-workers know my spouse has transitioned to female: I told the senior team (of which I am a part) via slack on Friday and they were very supportive. I haven’t really had the opportunity to talk to my co-workers about it, as I’m not much of a sharing lots of details about myself at work person and it just hasn’t come up. I did mention it to my ‘work friend’ and I’m sure it will come up at the next monthly diversity and inclusion roundtable, which I lead. Thanks for all your suggestions and feedback!

    1. Doing too many things

      Yay! I’m so glad when I hear things went well for another member of the “my spouse has transitioned” club! (Hmm… that should be an actual club, with membership cards and a lounge with free massages and fancy drinks…)

    2. Penny

      Congratulations, and glad it went well!

      I’m in this weird in-between place where we are mid-transition and still working out names and pronouns and all of that, so I feel fraudulent using old name and pronouns but don’t have a go ahead on new ones yet. It feels really awkward to me, but I need to remember that it would be a lot more awkward for the people around me if it were presented to them piece by piece the way it’s happening in our lives at home. Patience, self.

      1. Doing too many things

        Yeah, I ended up saying “spouse” a lot during that time. And using awkward phrasing to avoid saying a name or pronoun, just because it felt so wrong to me.

    3. Zzzz

      I’m another member of this club! My best advice is to find yourself a few really great allies who are willing to take on some of the work of spreading the word and correcting people for you. It does get exhausting “coming out” for your spouse over and over again.

      1. Wearing Many Hats

        Uf I feel that. I brought it up in passing at lunch today and stumbled over myself.

    4. DreamingInPurple

      If you don’t mind me asking, how did your round table discussion get started, and what level of employees are involved in it? Was it something that came down from a director of diversity and inclusion? I’d love to start some diversity and inclusion discussions at my workplace but I’m not sure who to reach out to for that.

      1. Wearing Many Hats

        I work for a tiny start up and tech companies generally have terrible stats when it comes to diversity in staffing. When I started we had a women’s group, as we had few women in the company. In the past year we have significantly more women (about 40/60 with senior team split 50/50), but the demographics have changed and almost everyone at the company is white. I changed the woman’s group to include more perspectives and address our issues in recruiting candidates of color. We definitely have a ways to go, but I hope that by making people pay attention to these shortcomings we may make progress.

        It takes an entrepreneurial spirit to work here, so I wanted to start something, sold it to the senior team, and started it. We don’t have a lot of red tape in that regard, so my experience may not actually be very helpful.

        1. DreamingInPurple

          You’re right that the specifics of our situations are pretty different, but you’ve given some great ideas to start from! I think putting the focus on recruitment would be helpful, and there might be some programs going that I could take advantage of. Thank you!!

  5. Toloanorno

    Did you take out student loans for education (graduate or undergrad)? If so, how much and was it worth it? I want every side of the story! The good, the bad, the just fine, and the still paying off :)

    The backstory: I’m completely stressed out about taking student loans out for my husband’s education. We currently are in no debt, but we’re thinking of taking out >$100k in 3 years so he can go to graduate school (most likely law). By the time he graduates, we’d be early 30s and I’m worried about our net worth.

    Would love realistic input so I can stop freaking out – all I usually get on other sites is horror stories or from people now making hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    1. TotesMaGoats

      Worked in higher ed for the past 15 years. I would make sure to examine all your options for funding before you commit to loans. You may be eligible for state funding from various sources including senators and delegates or your local higher education commission.

      If you do take out loans, consider where you are getting them and talk with a financial planner about all the options for loans. You don’t have use the loans you get through the normal application process. Is a second mortgage the right option for you, for example instead of Sallie Mae.

      If you take them out, you don’t have to accept the full loan amount. This is the biggest mistake I see students make. You may be eligible for more than school costs but that doesn’t mean you take it all out.

      1. Yorick

        Depending on the type of law he wants to practice, there are forgiveness programs for public service, for law enforcement (prosecutors count), and for public defenders. Since only some loans are eligible, keep these in mind when you look at the different options.

        1. MeM

          Most people (one article I saw said 99%!) have been denied for that program even when they qualified and thought they did everything right. You should be wary to rely on it.

          1. Gaia

            Not quite. Most people *thought* they did everything right but we’re misled by their loan servicer. The rest haven’t been denied, their application hasn’t been processed for months.

            1. MeM

              “Thought” was in my comment.

              Also according to Forbes.com:”The latest student loan debt statistics show that more than 99% of people who applied for public service loan forgiveness have been rejected.”
              Not processing, rejected.

              1. Mellow

                Because (from the same Forbes.com article):

                “Of that total, more than 73% of applications have been denied due to student loan borrowers not meeting the program requirements. For example, borrowers did not have eligible student loans, make 120 qualifying payments or have qualifying employment.”

                “Another 25% of applications for public service loan forgiveness were denied due to missing or incomplete information on the employment certification form.”

                “The most recent data reflects some of earliest applicants to the program, which started in 2007, and required 10 years of student loan payments. Over time, the approval rates should increase as more borrowers become familiar with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.”

                Here are 4 things to remember:

                1. Complete the Employment Certification Form

                You must complete the Employment Certification Form. How often should you submit the employment certification form for public service loan forgiveness?

                You should submit the Employment Certification Form to the U.S. Department of Education:

                when you begin a job in public service
                when you switch employers
                annually to ensure you’re on track
                2. Enroll in an income-driven federal student loan repayment plan

                To be eligible for public service loan forgiveness, you must be enrolled in an income-driven federal student loan repayment plan. Remember, only federal student loans are eligible for public service loan forgiveness. You also must make a majority of the 120 required payments while enrolled in a federal student loan repayment plan.

                3. Consolidate your federal student loans (if necessary)

                Only Direct student loans qualify for public service loan forgiveness. If you have Perkins Loans, FFEL Loans or you borrowed student loans before 2011, you may need to consolidate these federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan. You can consolidate federal student loans through StudentLoans.gov.

                4. Refinance your student loans

                If you plan to have your federal student loans forgiven, you still need an action plan for your private student loans. The good news is you can refinance private student loans and lower your interest rate – even if you are enrolled in public service loan forgiveness.

              2. Gaia

                A rejected application does not mean the forgiveness is denied. This is important to the ongoing lawsuits. This program has been handled horribly, there is no two ways about that. But to say 99% have been denied is just not true.

          2. ampersand

            This. I would not assume PSLF is even an option given how poorly the government is handling it.

        2. Lobsterman

          It is very important to understand that the forgiveness programs are straight scams. Nobody gets that money.

      2. Kotow

        If you’re part of an underrepresented group, you can do the whole three years for next to nothing, at least that’s how it worked at my law school. I wasn’t, and had the “privilege” of paying for it via loans in inflated amounts so that others could go to school for free. And I grew up in a blue collar town with parents who did nothing to help pay for college let alone law school. Unless you can pay for it out of pocket, don’t do it. I graduated in 2011 at 25 with $150,000 in debt, did document review for the first three years at $20 an hour ($40 if I was able to land a foreign language gig) and now by default have my own practice grossing about $70,000 a year. About 55 percent of my class was unemployed a year after graduating. Many of my loans were private because of maxing out the federal limits so income based repayment isn’t an option. About 33 percent of my income goes to my loans and I live paycheck to paycheck as a result. But, because the gross income is so high, you won’t be eligible for any assistance and there’s the social perception that lawyers are rolling in income. I pay my Affordable Care Act “tax” each year because that’s more manageable than paying for insurance I won’t use. This level of debt means you don’t own a house, you don’t travel, and every decision is based around when the payments come due.

        I won’t say I regret my career choice, but the debt is crippling and if you go to law school because of the stereotype that “lawyers make money,” the reality is that most just aren’t doing that well. The people I went to high school with who never went to college are doing much better than I am.

      1. Short & Sweet

        ^This^ is the most critical question! Take out loans to be able to make much more (than the loans), doing something you want to be doing! and something that will be in demand. If you’re not sure about the job outlook, or if it’s something you’re not sure you’ll want to do for the long haul, then it’s crazy to go into huge debt to get there.

        1. The Original K.

          I know a lot of lawyers and very few of them would recommend entering the profession. None of them would recommend going into debt for it. All of them had loans; some still have them, some have paid them off.

          I think people hear lawyer and automatically think high salary, and that’s less true than people think.

        2. Fortitude Jones

          Every lawyer I know, and I know many because I worked at a law firm for three years and then in insurance claims with a bunch of former attorneys turned adjusters, has said that if your schooling isn’t already paid for by scholarships/grants and if you’re not planning to go into litigation, skip law school. All but one of them think it’s not worth it, and most of them regret getting that JD and passing the bar. It’s so sad.

      2. Parenthetically

        Yep, this. If you can’t be VERY SURE that you’re going to have an easy time finding steady employment in a field, borrowing six figures to enter that field is the DEFINITION of a bad financial decision.

    2. Blue Eagle

      Do you ever listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show (he is a financial guy)? So many people call in about their debt problems and the difficulty of paying them off – the main culprit is student loans.
      Before taking on >$100K of debt for anything other than buying a house, I would be very careful to do a cost-benefit analysis – (1) are you certain that your husband will be able to make a salary to allow repayment without impacting the other things you want to do in life and (2) is your husband certain that he will want to do that job once school is done. Some AAM commenters have written in that after completing their schooling and doing the job for awhile, they don’t really like it and want to do something else but are saddled with school debt to repay.
      Just some things to think about.

      1. AnotherAlison

        Revealing my full Dave geekiness here, but Anthony ONeal (one of Dave’s “Ramsey personalities”) has a new book coming out about how to go to college without debt. It may not be great, but I would spend $15 to check it out before committing to student loans. Not sure if it has anything on law school or grad school.

        OP didn’t ask for opinions, but I would be in camp “find another way”. I think a lot of married students want to have their cake and eat it too. I went through undergrad as a married mom, and my husband carried all the household expenses, and with my scholarships, I did not have to take on any debt. . .but we lived in a pest-infested rental and he worked 70 hrs a week. I took a massive amount of hours/semester to get through as fast as possible, too, and I would have worked if I didn’t have the baby. I don’t know what lifestyle flexibility you have, but if he could work another year or two, and work like he’s lost his mind to save up, I would do that. I’m 41 now and can say the old person advice that a couple years deferred is not that much. Being trapped by >$100k in debt seems a lot harder on people and marriages.

      2. Samwise

        Other questions: Which schools is he looking at, how much do they charge, is there a substantial difference in your education at a cheaper school, is there a substantial difference in your career prospects at a cheaper school, does your husband have an idea of the career he wants to go into: if yes, then how important is it to have X graduate degree (=does it have to be X graduate degree or could it be in a range of fields or any field), why is he interested in this career, does he understand what people in this career do all day and is he interested in doing those things. If he gets the degree and then can’t get a job in that career area, what’s his plan? If he doesn’t know what he wants to do for a career, why is he aiming for graduate school? Can he do other (less expensive) things to get a better idea of careers he’s interested in?

        That’s a crap-ton of money. Don’t spend it until you/your husband have the answers to these questions.

    3. Emmie

      I am not comfortable posting how much student loan debt I have. I am a lawyer, and the degree is not worth $100,000 debt. That much debt is crushing, and life altering. Despite popular belief, law is not a lucrative career especially with that much debt, overpopulation of lawyers, competition for limited jobs, etc…. There are, however, ways to be a lawyer without so much debt. I recommend these things – and wish I would’ve known about them to reduce debt:
      * Get the highest LSAT score possible. Take a prep class (like Kaplan’s), and replete it more than once if you have to. Schools work to encourage high LSAT scorers because it boosts their rankings.
      * High LSAT scorers get into good schools. Go to a school with the most scholarship opportunity. Look for schools who offered him scholarships for all years of law school that are NOT tied to grades or class ranking.
      * Look at schools who have cheap in state tuition, and consider establishing residency in that state. This may present some risk because it assumes you will get into the school. In hindsight, I wish I would’ve gone per time to Florida A & M (the in state tuition was great then!)
      * Do not take out extra student loans for living expenses, or other stuff.
      Good luck.

      1. Yorick

        I agree with the last point. My student loan debt is higher than necessary because I took out extra for living expenses, and I do regret that a bit.

        1. Mid

          Some people don’t really have an option. It’s different if you have a spouse/partner who can help support you, but most schools strongly encourage 1Ls not to work, and everyone I know who is in law school says it’s really not possible to work enough to support yourself while in law school. Which is partially why so many people take out loans to live off of.

          More to the point of the question, this is something I’m debating as well. I want to go to law school, and have for some time, but I have undergraduate loans that I want to finish paying off before I take out more loans. And by the time I finish paying off my undergrad, I’ll be 30 years old. Then, I’d be looking at taking out $100k in loans, which will take decades to pay off.

          I think you should really think about the quality of life you’re looking for. If you have $100k in debt, will you get to take vacations in your 30s? Buy a house? Have a family? Save for retirement? Will law school be a beneficial choice for your entire family?

          1. Federal Middle Manager

            “[M]ost schools strongly encourage 1Ls not to work, and everyone I know who is in law school says it’s really not possible to work enough to support yourself while in law school…”

            There are evening / part-time programs that make this do-able. I consider this to be just one piece of many pieces of bad advice I got in law school. /sigh

      2. MsChanandlerBong

        My friend is an attorney with $70,000 in loans. Firms in her town are advertising openings for $14 an hour. And they’re not “Recent grads, come work with us while you study for the bar” openings. They want bar-admitted attorneys with some experience to work for $14 an hour. It’s ridiculous.

        1. AnotherAlison

          That is insane. I see job openings at warehouses for that and think it’s ridiculous, nm for an attorney.

          My son’s roommate’s sister is in law school at Georgetown & is taking out loans like they’re candy. Their parents aren’t particularly good with money, and her dad is a low-paid lawyer (has his own firm, works a light schedule, enjoys life and relaxing). They give their kids pretty poor advice.

          Anyway, she had an offer for a paid DC internship last summer & turned it down and work for free in her hometown (living with her boyfriend). It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Tons of loans, not pursuing the right career opportunities. Yikes.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            She turned down a paid internship?! I would have killed for one of those when I was in college (both of mine were unpaid, so I also had to work part-time and take classes). This child is special.

      3. LawLady

        “Go to a school with the most scholarship opportunity. Look for schools who offered him scholarships for all years of law school that are NOT tied to grades or class ranking.”

        OP, this is really important. As enrollment as plunged, law schools are engaging in shadiness. It’s a fairly common practice for a school to offer many students scholarships and then require that you keep a certain class rank or GPA in order to maintain the scholarship. Law school is graded on a curve, so regardless of how hard everyone works, the same percentage of people are going to lose their scholarships each year. But those students feel like once they’ve started, they can’t stop, so they end up paying full freight for two years, when they had thought they’d only be paying half. Really common trap!

    4. Wing Leader

      Student loans are a big no for me. We have six-figures of student loan debt between my husband and me, and neither of us make enough money to pay it off. Complete waste of time and money.

      That said, if your husband genuinely intends on going into a career that could (at least eventually) be high paying, then it could be worth it. But DO NOT take out loan money just to try a few things and figure out what you want to do, only to realize that you don’t want to do any of it. That’s what happened to both my husband and me. We were both were sold the narrative that going to college was the only way to get a job–different schools, different majors, two degrees for me and one for my husband. All for nothing.

      Just make sure your husband is clear on what he wants to do. Also, I would start making a plan now–before you even have the loans–on how you’re going to pay them back. And take into account some risks that may pop up, like your husband not getting a very high salary to start with or whatever. Then you can see where you really stand.

      1. Yorick

        I agree. Only take student loans if you have a career plan that you’re very sure about and the degree is necessary for it (especially later in life).

      2. Federal Middle Manager

        This is great advice. Know what you want to do (and, better yet, get some experience in that field) before going to grad school. Turns out, idealist law students who want to work in “environmental law” or “with civil rights” are a dime a dozen.

    5. austriak

      Everyone thinks that lawyers make a ton of money. The truth is that a minority of lawyers make a ton of money and those are usually the ones that go to top schools. If this isn’t a top 20 law school, I wouldn’t go into that much debt. Also, are you and your husband prepared to live the lawyer life which is essentially 80+ hours and high burn out for the next many years?

      1. LawLady

        For people interested, googling “bimodal lawyer salary distribution” will give you some really helpful graphs. Basically the “average” salary is $80k, which sounds great. But no one is making $80k. There’s a huge set of people making <$50k and a small set of people who start at $190k (BigLaw). So people are wooed by the "average" when in reality that average isn't achieveable.

    6. MissDisplaced

      I took out student load when I returned to collage at age 40.

      Fortunately, I only had one year undergrad to finish and then 2 years grad school. The total was $50k, because I took out some extra because I was unemployed at the time and needed to live while in school (plus I also worked part time). It’s not great because I’m 50+ now and paying student loans when I should be saving for retirement. However, I would never have gotten the well paying job I have now without that graduate degree.
      It is what it is.

    7. DaniCalifornia

      Following only because I am in a similar boat! I am trying to finish a combined undergrad/grad while working FT and I just want it done. It’s all online but to finish up my 18-22 classes in the next 2 years we are thinking of doing a smaller loan instead of paying for 1 class at a time. My husband had his postgrad paid for by work and we don’t qualify for any kind of need, and with my PT school status I can’t get scholarships. But if I can up it to FT I can qualify for loans/scholarships.

    8. De Minimis

      It was worth it for me, but I had a very concrete career goal–I went into a graduate program in accounting in order to do a career change. My only regret is I probably should have borrowed a bit less, but my school unfortunately did not have things set up very well for working adults, and I had a lot of classes that were only offered during the regular workday.

      One guideline people use is that your student debt shouldn’t be more than what you expect to earn per year after graduation. I met that, but just barely, and my income has gone up and down. My student loan is currently manageable but I’m on the worst possible payment plan as far as interest. The goal is to get other debt taken care of and then focus on the student loan–or possibly change payment plans to where I’d qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness some day [my career is in the non-profit/govt sector.]
      >100k is a lot of debt, and I’d be concerned for a field like law where employment seems to be an issue. Though if it was your only debt, it might be more manageable.

    9. facepalm

      My wife owes more than 125k from law school. Her loan payments each month are nuts. She has developed a somewhat niche expertise in a lower-paying specialty and makes around 65k a year being self-employed (before taxes). She was previously employed by legal aid (maybe at 35k? with loan repayment/assistance through grants) and by the state (about 50k). She is in court multiple times weekly, lots of face time with judges and is very well respected and regarded in our area, which makes her solo practice possible.

      Also, for income based repayment plans, the government requires my information as well, so I guess my income is considered because we’re married, even though we keep our finances separate. Unless your husband has a burning desire and lifelong dream to be an attorney, I do not recommend this route at all. Especially if he doesn’t have any connections in the legal field. A ton of people my wife went to school with have already left the profession, either because they couldn’t find meaningful work or they hated it or couldn’t handle the stress. And there’s a lot of stress. Each year they have to take continuing education hours about substance abuse and there’s a special resource at the state bar for helping attorneys with their substance abuse problems.

      Of course, it’s entirely possible to graduate with the debt and have a successful career, but I would also suggest you search “legal profession oversaturated” or something like that. Of course the law schools will keep accepting applicants and churning our graduates, because at those rates, it’s a gold mine for them. If he choose to pursue this route, make sure you live somewhere long enough to get in-state tuition.

      1. Natalie

        Also, for income based repayment plans, the government requires my information as well, so I guess my income is considered because we’re married, even though we keep our finances separate.

        You can avoid this by filing your taxes as married-filing-separately. However, that filing status disqualifies you from a bunch of credits, so it’s not always a given that you’ll be better off that way. Particularly if you have children, it can end up as a wash once the lost tax credits are factored in.

        1. Officious Intermeddler

          This is only true for some income-based repayment plans. Revised Pay as you Earn (RePaye), the plan that I and many other lawyers I know use, counts your spouse’s income *even if* you file separately.

      2. Another JD

        My husband has law school loans and is on the income-based repayment plan for public service. We have to file taxes as married filing separately or they take 15% of my income.

        1. AnonLawyer

          Same here. We do get a huge hit on annual taxes filing separately. It’s not perfect by far, but it’s manageable.

    10. LadyByTheLake

      I’m a lawyer and it was a mixed bag. I came out of law school with a huge (for the time) debt — had a good job for two years and could pay, had “just getting by” jobs for two or three years and could not pay so everything was in forbearance for a couple of years with interest accruing (it was critical to be in forbearance so that it didn’t hit the credit reporting too hard). I got a better job and was able to catch up (plus buy a modest house) and once I had a really good job I was able to accelerate payments and be debt free in about 12 years after graduation. I make a ton of money now and I’ve never regretted taking out the loans. I will also say that law was a good choice for me, I had every confidence that it would work well with how I think, I did extremely well in law school and have done well in law. Your husband’s mileage may vary.

    11. Quill

      I did loans for undergrad but based on my scholarship situation I’m not sure I have a very typical experience. I managed to pay all my loans back by 26 due to a combination of living rent free at my parents’ place, the amount that they paid out of pocket, and a scholarship that meant I paid less than half of what I would have paid at a local state college.

      My advice: investigate all possible avenues to not take on the whole thing in loans.

    12. tcro

      I have a few comments, and hopefully they are helpful… (background: my husband has been a lawyer since 2011)
      -I think that your husband wants to be REALLY CERTAIN that law is the profession for him. In your initial post, it seems like he’s not fully committed to what kind of graduate degree to get… and people who are SURE they want to go to law school end up bailing on it as a profession after a few years. That doesn’t mean that the skillset won’t translate into another job, potentially another well-paying job at that, but…. you don’t want to choose law school on a whim.
      -When my husband graduated, there were a lot of people in his class who struggled to find positions. I’m not sure if that’s changed more recently, but definitely would want to look into placement numbers.
      -His first job out of law school, he was making around $50-60k. If I remember correctly, for a brief time, I was making more than him (I was in retail management). Depending on the firm, and how well your husband does in his job, you can get large raises fairly quickly and decent-size bonuses, depending.
      -It can be hard to find a law job that actually matches with the part of the law you want to pursue and you might get stuck doing something that is very rote and boring (which can be said of many jobs).
      -He is making a 6-figure salary for the first time after 7-8 years in the field, but only after he moved to a big-name, large firm. It can be tricky to get a job in one of those kinds of firms without some kind of foot in the door (typically, they’ll make job offers to many of their “Summer Associates” (ie interns) but it’s very competitive to get those slots) and/or if you have a friend who already works there, they can sometimes put in a good word.

      The chance to make a lot of money in law is definitely there…. but it’s not as easy as many people might assume.
      (*I failed to answer part of your original question…. my in-laws paid for his law school tuition. We often think that if we’d had to take out loans for it, we would definitely be struggling financially).

      1. Wing Leader

        Totally agree with everything said here. I’m not a lawyer, by the way, but I’m an assistant in a law firm. Like tcro, it sounds like your husbands is not fully committed to law. That’s a very serious conversation that the two of you need to have. You don’t go to law school just to try it out. You go because you want it no matter what.

        Also, as mentioned, it’s a huge myth that lawyers are rolling in the money when they come out of school. First, getting a job is very competitive. He will have internships and things that can help him get a foot in the door, but it’s still tough. Second, lawyers are not offered a shiny, six-figure salary along with their diploma.

        The firm I work for, while well-respected for our area, is not overly large or flashy. We do have some partners that take home a very pretty paycheck, but that’s only the guys that have put in 60+ hours a week for the majority of their adult life. Most of the newer, younger lawyers make about 50-60k.

      2. wittyrepartee

        As I understand it- a lot of times Law School isn’t the problem, it’s that a lot of the career tracks in law are just… very unappealing. It seems like this is especially true for the really Type-A people who really wanted to be the person making legal arguments but who needs to work in corporate law in order to pay off loans.

    13. ThatGirl

      I am lucky enough to not have student loans. My husband has some loans and he has a master’s degree in counseling.

      For him, it got him into the field and job he wanted and the amount wasn’t crushing (the repayment is $200 a month) BUT he specifically wanted to go into college counseling. Which is a wonderful path to take, and I’m extremely proud of him, but if he didn’t have a wife/second household income I don’t think he’d be able to support himself. He definitely couldn’t live alone; his salary is pathetically low and he’s never had a raise. Of course there are many other career paths he could’ve taken though private practice has many foibles of its own. For *us* it was worth it but the career path he chose might not have been, were he single.

      Also, I have a friend who’s got a law degree and a lot of loan debt and I think some days she regrets it – she didn’t really want to practice law; she wanted to get into HR (and focused on employment law). She is in HR now, but she didn’t really need the law degree to get that job.

    14. CatCat

      I did. Over $100k. I owe more now than when I graduated because my payments do not keep up with the high interest rate. I am working toward public service loan forgiveness. Worth it for me. I enjoy my line of work (law) and could not have done it without the education. It has delayed some things for me like the possibility of home ownership, mostly because I am unwilling to take on more debt until I am done with the student loans. Dealing with the loan servicer can be an exercise in madness sometimes.

      I do have former classmates who haaaaated law practice and regretted doing it (happy when they got out, but still had to pay back those loans).

      1. AnonLawyer

        I will say I love my job but I work a flexible government job that still pays well. I would probably make twice as much at a firm but it wasn’t worth it for me.

          1. AnonLawyer

            You get a lot of negative voices about going to law school (and Inwould be cautious right now, given I think the economy is about to take a hit).

            I am generally very very happy I went to law school. My undergrad degree was in a lab science but I was burned out on lab work and really unhappy. I am much happier writing legal memos all day. I did graduate near the top of my class, which probably made a difference. If you’re going to law school, commit 100%.

    15. AnonLawyer

      I did. I made sure to borrow everything federally and met with a financial planner. I consolidated federally and entered IBR. I work for the government and have been dutifully sending in my verification statements every year for PSLF. Be careful, I get solicitations at least once a week to refinance privately. That would destroy PSLF status.

    16. Trek

      It’s not worth it to take out student loans for law school or any other degree. Pay cash for the degree even if it takes longer but don’t go into debt. There are too many what ifs involved. What if your husband doesn’t pass the bar and cannot work as an attorney? What if he can’t finish school because of medical or some other reason? Student loan debt is not bankrupt-able. I would also make sure you are not on any of the loans, co-signer or join applicant or anything. Talk to an attorney. If you and your husband split up you don’t want anyone coming after you for the repayment. There have been parents who co-signed loans and their child died and they were still on the hook for the loans.

      1. LawLady

        I don’t think “no education debt ever” is a reasonable brightline rule for everyone. Like with any major life decision, you have to weigh your potential earning power against the cost.

        If everyone followed your rule, the only people entering medical school would be the kids of the rich or people 50+ who have saved every penny to pay $300k cash (what medical school tends to cost).

        1. Natalie

          Right? Good luck earning enough money for college at the kind of minimum wage jobs 18 year old high school grads generally qualify for.

          There’s certainly a balance to be struck as far as how much student loan debt is prudent, and whether private loans are ever a good idea, but “no student loans ever” is unrealistically rigid.

        2. AnonLawyer

          Pretty much no one would go to law, medical, dental, or vet school unless they had family money.

          My Dad had his med school paid for by the Navy but that program is unbelievably hard to get into today.

        3. tamarack & fireweed

          The only people *in the US*. If that happened, the US would import (even more) doctors who were more cheaply (to the student) educated elsewhere.

      2. Megan

        I took out loans for undergrad (~40,000 for four years) and a couple of loans to help ease the financial strain in grad school. I was in a “fully-funded” PhD program making ~$23,000 /year, which was doable but didn’t stretch to cover things like seeing my family across the country or repairing my car. The last two years there I took out an additional 10,000 each year because I had a sightline on my future job prospects and earning potential and figured the amount would make more difference to me now than later. I was right. So all told, I took out about 60,000, but it ballooned to ~90,000 by the time I started paying back (interest still accumulates during deferment).

        I’m still paying it back but I work in a field I love, am very well compensated, and can easily make the payments and afford the rest of my life as well. I was 100% the right choice for me to take out loans, but I did it with a few key things in mind:

        1)How much is my earning potential likely to be boosted by this education? Both schools I went to for undergrad and graduate school were highly ranked (#2 and #1), and placement stats out of each were good. It made more sense for my lifetime earning potential to take out reasonably sized loans than go to a less elite school and potentially take a hit on lifetime earning.

        2) Will this work make me happy? For grad school, I specifically chose a PhD partially because I didn’t want to go into debt for a masters. Its a larger time commitment that takes you more years outside of the workforce, but for me it was worth it, particularly to do work I love. I got my PhD and did not go into academia, and I have found a good fitting job making good money in my field. It was definitely worth it.

        Everyone’s personal calculus will be different! Go into loans with eyes wide open.

      3. krysb

        Yeah, that’s not really possible. I work full-time at a decent-paying job, but if I had to pay my tuition out-of-pocket, I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage. When standard, low-cost tuition is running $10,000 a year…. how many of us have that much expendable cash on a yearly basis?

    17. CupcakeCounter

      Hubs and I were in the lucky bucket. His parents paid for all tuition and books so he only needed to pay for living expenses. He worked summers and school breaks and saved everything to fund his room and board – $0 loans, $0 debt.
      I was a bit flakier. Had a school fund from my grandmother and my parents paid for local community college tuition and books (all living expenses were on me if I decided not to live at home). When I transferred to 4-year university, same deal. Books and tuition paid for by trust (which I now controlled) and all living expenses on me. I hated that university so dropped out for a bit and Hubs and I used remaining college $$ for the down payment on our first home.
      Several years later I finally went back to school in a totally different major and had to retake a few classes that wouldn’t transfer. Had an AMAZING professor who advised me to try to test out of a few the classes which I did easily and at about $50/test. Saved approximately $5k in books and tuition there. Worked and went to school part time (and worked for a school district as a full time equivalent which meant full benefits for about 30 hours/week) for a while until I only had my major coursework left and the available schedules didn’t work with the job. During this time we paid cash for all tuition and books.
      When I had to leave that job in order to finish my degree we decided to take out loans and have me go FT to get it done ASAP. About $25k was approved and I ONLY used what I absolutely needed so still had a little over $5k left at graduation. Immediately turned that back over to the loan company and since we were used to living pretty bare bones nearly all of my post-college paychecks went straight to the loan. Paid it off in just under a year then took a great vacation.
      The reason that worked is we were in a dual income household and had slowly migrated our bills down in anticipation of temporary loss of income. If you can swing it, put off law school for a bit and immediately start putting 100% of his salary into a savings account and live off just the one income (do not change your regular savings or 401k contributions as well as anticipate an increase in insurance costs if you are now covering spouse).
      Use that savings to pay for as much of his expenses as possible and look into alternative financing other than a traditional student loan (such as a second mortgage or HELOC if you own your home and have equity). Others have given more specific ideas about ways to minimize the law school costs.

    18. Ann Perkins

      We’re still paying off my husband’s master’s degree. I’m not sure how much the original loan amount was since it was before we were married but around $80K I believe. He regrets it and does not feel as though it’s been worth the money. He’s a federal employee, so his GS level is what it is regardless of whether he has a master’s.

      I work in a compliance role and some of my counterparts have a JD, but my job can be done without it. I thought of law school myself or a masters in public administration, but I graduated undergrad in 2009 and I’m glad I did not go that route, as the market became oversaturated with recent law grads in my area at least. I worked as a paralegal for a few years and the associates at the firm where I worked (LCOL) made around $60K I believe.

    19. anon MBA

      Here’s my take on this – if you’re going to take out a TON of money for grad school loans, you should be going to a top school with pretty clear career prospects. When I applied to MBA programs, I applied to 6 schools in the top 20 (most in the top 10). I figured I’d just go for it and if I didn’t get in, I’d skip the MBA and figure out something else to do for my career. I ended up getting into 2 of the 6 programs. I came out of school with a good 6-figure paying job and a good name on my resume that has definitely helped me when looking for new jobs. I also had savings to cover my living expenses, and got a 40% scholarship (which was the deciding factor in deciding between the two programs, since they were roughly equally ranked). It made it much easier for me to get out of debt quickly after school.

      So if your husband is planning something similar, I think it can be worth it. But I see a lot of people spend a LOT of money on no-name programs that don’t really help them get anywhere in their careers. If he doesn’t think he has the qualifications to get into a big-name school and doesn’t have a very clear idea of his career path, I’d be very hesitant to get into that much debt.

    20. Fikly

      I am currently considering this for myself. The rule of thumb I am using is, based on salaries for post-grad jobs, how long will it take me to pay back the loans?

      Currently, the tuition for the degree I need is less than the annual starting salary I can expect to get in my first year working with this degree (it’s a field with a huge lack of supply, hence this lovely disparity). That’s the kind of situation I’d feel comfortable with loans in. But not something where it would take more than 5 years to pay them off.

    21. CheeryO

      Is your husband POSITIVE that law is for him? I work with a lot of attorneys who couldn’t hack it in the private sector (their words) and moved to state government because it’s less soul-sucking, the hours are normal, etc. The only problem is that they make probably $70K on average, which is a nice salary but may not be enough to comfortably make big loan payments alongside all the other life stuff – YMMV.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        I make this much and have huge loan payments, plus pay the rent on a luxury apartment – as a single person with no kids or pets, it’s manageable. I’m also still saving, still investing, and I have play money, so I think that a salary around that point would be okay for the OP’s husband with the debt factored in. The only problem is, there’s no guarantee he’d get one of the $70-80k a year law jobs fresh out of law school/passing the bar.

    22. 867-5309

      All my friends and colleagues who are attorneys said they would not recommend someone go to law school. The earning wages are generally not high enough to pay back the loans with a significant burden and there is an over abundance of attorneys.

    23. I'm A Little Teapot

      The really important thing to do is to very practically, realistically, and harshly evaluate potential earnings and job market. If you want to go to law school and then do x, which is already a saturated market, then no. If x is short on people, then maybe. If x pays enough to repay loans, etc, that strengthens the argument.

      Lots of people want to be actors or artists or pro sports. Very few people actually succeed. Dreams are good. But reality will win. Don’t let reality destroy you.

    24. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Student loans can be worth it.

      However the horror stories for you:

      BFF 1 has +/1 50k in debt. Cannot find a job in the field of study and is paying those back working a retail job.

      BFF 2 has more debt. Cannot find a job in the field of study. Is paying those back working retail. Thankfully she has a spouse to help with their household income. Only the spouse also has student debts. And again working in retail.

      Good friend went to med school. So 250k debt in the end. Decided it wasn’t for them and had to find a job elsewhere. Thankfully they found a high compensating job after going back for their MBA so they’re able to float through comfortably enough.

      Colleague went to get his law degree. Graduated. Didn’t find a law job for almost 8 years.

      It depends so drastically and everyone is different. Is he already working?! Will this advance his already started career? If it’s to advance, it’s more worth it than if you’re just thinking of dipping into law in your 30’s.

      1. AnonLawyer

        Yeah I know someone who failed the bar repeatedly and works as a waiter.

        It worked out for me 100%, but not for all of my classmates, for sure.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          My colleague didn’t even fail the bar, got it on the first try. He’s incredibly smart and well equip for lawyering but just getting a firm to give him a shot, so drastically hard. It can be a regional thing as well I’ve learned.

    25. LawLady

      I took out almost $200k in loans for law school. I’m now 2 years into practice, have paid off more than half of it, and absolutely love my job and am thrilled I made that choice.
      BUT there are caveats. I went to a law school where BigLaw was basically a guaranteed outcome. I had worked in finance tangential to BigLaw, so I knew what the job actually looked like. And I absolutely love corporate finance. Like, love it in my bones.
      So, so many of my classmates and colleagues are unhappy. They went to law school with vaguely justice-y, academic inclinations. And then graduated and discovered that the choice with that kind of debt is either BigLaw or public interest (with eventual forgiveness, but debt hanging over them for 10 years). BigLaw is an absolutely awesome job if you love it. But it’s soul-crushing if you don’t. It’s often 80-100 hour weeks. And not everyone loves corporate finance (or another of the BigLaw specialties). You have to be SURE.

      1. emmelemm

        Echoing the “vaguely justice-y or academic interest” = probably end up not satisfied with your career in the end. So many people I know were interested/motivated by that sense towards law. And it’s a great motivation! But not a great life path.

        My partner went to a law school with a highly regarded environmental law program (not his specific area of interest, but the draw for many of the students there). The thing is, the Sierra Club might be hiring max, 1 lawyer per year. Is it going to be you? Well, are you going to win the lottery?

        There are only so very, very few justice-y jobs to go around. So, the rest of the people with those inclinations end up in less fulfilling jobs, with less money because they didn’t BigLaw track themselves, because “ugh, BigLaw”.

        1. LilySparrow

          Yeah, I worked as an assistant in different legal specialties for a lot of years. Idealism will get you into law school, and maybe even through law school, but it will not get you through a viable law career.

          To successfully navigate a law career, you must be comfortable with a pretty high level of cynicism and pragmatism, just because that’s the way the law works. And that’s what a lawyer is for, really – to serve the client’s interest in the most practical way without violating ethical rules. That is not always easy to do.

          The only stubborn idealists I ever met who stayed in practice were either adjunct teaching to pay the bills (think about that for a minute, if you know anything about adjuncting), or else they were using family money to basically run a pro-bono practice.

    26. Another Lawyer

      I’ll add a slightly different perspective. I’m a lawyer with huge student loan debt, and while it’s certainly informed my choices, I do not find it crushing or life-altering. I’m 7 years out from law school and I love my career. If I didn’t have any law school debt, I’d probably be doing the same job I am right now. However, I don’t think I would be in the place I’m at in my career without the debt, because that’s what made attending a top school (and the very top in my specific field) possible for me.

      I think the most important thing to do is research and be realistic. I knew what I was getting myself into, both debt and career-wise, and I don’t regret it for a second. I do fine financially (though I do not make hundreds of thousands of dollars!), I work a reasonable number of hours, and I love what I do. For me, attending a top school and taking on a lot of debt was worth it for the network/job opportunities, but that’s not going to be the right choice for everyone. For me, both the actual cost and the opportunity cost of law school was worth it, because I enjoy practicing law and I can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s not going to be true of everyone.

      I’d suggest your husband do his research and make sure he’s actually going to enjoy the day-to-day work of being a lawyer and that his post-graduation plan is realistic based on the schools he’s considering and the realities of his life and what he wants to do for a career.

    27. DataGirl

      I had student loans for undergrad (age 18-22) and graduate school (age 30-32). I mention age because my parents paid off all my student loans from undergrad, which was a great gift. For grad school I was on the hook. 11 years later and I still owe as much as, if not slightly more than, I took out in loans. I had a few deferments and most of the time I could only make the minimum payment, if that ( I was working at a non-profit making terrible pay, and my husband was out of work for 3 years, so our financial situation was bleak). When you do that you are paying interest only- sometimes not even the full interest accrued that month- so your balance never goes down. I highly recommend making larger payments- as large as you can afford, to get the balance down. Personally I don’t think student loans are as evil as many people make them out to be- for me (and now for my college age children) they were/are the only option for higher education. But they definitely should not be taken lightly as they are a huge expense that stick around for a long time.

      1. sunshyne84

        Agreed, continuously deferring especially after you’ve paid on your loans will have you right back where you started. Definitely as much as you can afford towards them even while in school. I never went to law school, but I have paid off a loan and am paying them now while in school again.

    28. MCL

      I’m not a lawyer, but spouse and I are in mid-late thirties and still paying off student loans. It was worth it for me because my loans aren’t huge (I took out about 20K for grad school, fingers crossed PSLF wipes out my remaining in a couple of years). My spouse took out over 50K for undergrad and is still paying that off. It’s a huge financial burden and it is definitely affecting things in our lives (it was a non-zero factor in delaying having children). Think about the earning potential he has after he has his degree, and how that’s going to play with paying back over 100K long-term. What is your earning potential, and how will that impact things? Are you planning on having kids ($$$), buying a house ($$$), saving a lot for retirement ($$$) or any other long-term financial plans? Student loan debt is going to really impact those plans. Are there cheaper options for him, such as going to a state school with in-state tuition? I think people sometimes get really caught up in the prestige of grad school programs and turn up their noses at perfectly good and more budget-friendly options (I can’t tell if that’s happening here, but if it is please really, really the cost/benefit). I don’t mean to scare you, but I would also be super wary of taking on that kind of debt.

    29. Gatomon

      That’s quite a bit in loans, but I will let someone in that field offer advice, since it is rather unique. I will say that in my experience, student loans can balloon quickly if you aren’t able to keep on top of them. Take as little as possible, keep up on the interest if it is accruing while he’s in school, and try to get into the field ASAP to start paying back.

      I took out $21,000 in my name for my first degree in journalism. It was not the right choice for me, but I was too young to push back. I graduated in 2011 and didn’t find full time work until 2012, and couldn’t ever afford standard repayment until I went back to school and switched careers. So 8 years of no payments or interest-only payments haven’t been effective at chipping away at the balance, haha. At one point I consolidated mine hoping for PSLF and the new balance was $26,000, though I’m glad I’m not still hoping for that to work out. I’ve managed to avoid capitalizing more interest while on in school deferment, which is the only reason I’m not drowning under these loans. I’ve paid about $18,000 towards principle and interest and owe $16,000 in principle now. I’m pissed. I didn’t take out a crazy amount of loans, but I was still crushed by the 6%+ interest rate and inability to find a job that paid more than $30,000. Living at home to save money was not an option after graduation.

      Went back to school in 2015, took out $18,000, almost all subsidized. Paid last year in cash because I moved into tech in my second year and have done well with promotions since. The interest rates are half the old ones, so these are $190/month. I’d say this was worth it but I am spending most of my high wages paying off my loans now. Basically everything went right for me with this gamble, but honestly had it not, I wouldn’t have been any more screwed than I already was.

    30. Wild Blue Yonder

      I had $40k undergraduate loans that I paid on right away after college and finished paying while on active duty. I earned my master’s with my GI Bill. My husband had no loans/debt as he was enlisted and earned his degree with tuition assistance and then ROTC, and then the Army paid for his Masters.

      Go Officer Corps, go to school and then transition into the JAG Corps. (the plan isn’t that easy of course). While it’s not traditional and it’s not for everyone (why people overlook it is surprising), and it’s not easy, it’s definitely satisfying to not be in debt and earn a great living.

      – Army Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP) https://www.goarmy.com/jag/funded-legal-education-program.html
      – Navy JAG https://www.jag.navy.mil/careers_/careers/opportunities_sp.html
      – Marine Corps JAG https://www.marines.com/becoming-a-marine/officer/marine-corps-law-program.html
      – Air Force JAG https://www.airforce.com/careers/specialty-careers/jag/overview

    31. Mama Bear

      I did for undergrad. I was “lucky” and only had about $15K in total loans (from both Dept. of Ed and the school itself). I paid it off in less than 10 years, including the 6 months I asked for reduced payments on one loan so I didn’t default when looking for a new job. Sometimes the salary you get isn’t the one you were expecting.

      One thing to consider is how much will the salary increase over time? Some fairly high paying jobs start out fairly high and then stagnate for a long time unless you own your own business/office. The high loan estimate seems like you have no money to contribute to the tuition and maybe the place to start is trying to find out what scholarships, etc. he could qualify for before taking out basically a mortgage. What options has he considered?

      I agree to only take the amount you need and try not to use it for living expenses. That’s one way to make it add up more quickly – and you’ll just end up paying interest on it later.

    32. Memyselfandi

      I will give you the same advice I gave my nephew when he was deciding whether or not to pursue a PhD, which was that if he absolutely could not live without pursuing further study on the topic which interested him and had no concern about the return on the investment, then he should go for it. However, if he saw this as a career, then someone should pay him to go to school. He had the passion implied in the first, but the second consideration changed his mindset about how to go about it. He asked for funding and got a teaching assistantship, instead of assuming he would have to pay to achieve his dream. I don’t think law school has graduate teaching and research assistantships, but the philosophy is the same. You need to look at the return on investment if the amount of passion you have for the work does not balance the financial burden you will take on. I run a loan repayment program for a wide variety of health professionals at various levels of pay. Not only is the debt load astounding, but the morass of loan servicing agencies and their complicated and shady policies is appalling. They don’t really ever want you to get out of debt because that is where they make their profit.

      1. Clisby

        When my daughter was applying to MA/PhD programs in computer science, we (both computer programmers) told her, “If they won’t pay you to come, they don’t really want you.” This probably isn’t true in a lot of other disciplines, but in tech fields like CS and engineering, it absolutely is. If that school wants you to come for a post-grad degree, they’ll waive tuition and give you some sort of paid fellowship/assistantship.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

          Ha! We say the same thing in my field. I had an old boss complain about her student loans from getting her PhD and I blurted out, “Who pays for their PhD?!?!? If you have to pay, you aren’t cut out for it.”

    33. blackcat

      My dad is in BigLaw.
      He tells people not to go to law school unless they…
      1) want to go into BigLaw (and are sure!) and get into a law school that makes that easy
      2) have a good public law school option and will have <30k in debt
      3) want to do public interest law and are sure about their loan forgiveness program (ex: a friend who went to a top law school has loan forgiveness *through her school* she trusts her law school more than the government for forgiving the debt)

      Do not go into vast quantities of debt for a "maybe I'll like being a lawyer and here is an middling, local law school that will accept me" situation.

      Why law? Ask that question really, really carefully. Work in a law firm. Talk to lots of lawyers. I come from a long, long line of lawyers and judges (like civil war era). I know what being a lawyer is like, and how that has changed over time.

      I am not a lawyer. And, notably, because my dad does corporate litigation, *I* have zero student loan debt. I expect the same for my child (because my dad will pay). This is a tremendous gift, and it was very much an aim for my dad to provide financial freedom to his children. A law career doesn't guarantee that, though! And the things I'm doing in my early 30s (have a house, kid, etc) would not be possible with a massive loan debt.

      1. blackcat

        Oh, and my dad has a #4 that I forgot
        4) Undergrad degree is in something technical (particularly computer science), you want to do IP law, and get into a school that is good for IP law.
        IP/patent law is easier to make it in if you have the STEM chops and background for it.

      2. Marissa

        Soooo true. I went option 2, and lots of law schools give scholarships (or at least that was my experience 10 years ago), so if you do well on the LSAT you may not need loans at all for a good public school. I went to a fantastic state school, and the truth is if you don’t want to go into BigLaw (totally not for me), the good state school in the state where you want to practice will have connections and alumni in that state in the places you will likely be looking for work. If it’s the route you and your husband decide to take, my advice to him is to take the LSAT seriously and really study for it to do well, and hopefully it’ll put him into a position for scholarships so that $100K debt is avoided altogether.

        1. blackcat

          “if you don’t want to go into BigLaw (totally not for me), the good state school in the state where you want to practice will have connections and alumni in that state in the places you will likely be looking for work.”
          ^This is particularly true for things like real estate law or family law. Fancy law schools won’t prepare you well for those jobs, won’t give you the right connections, and will (generally) give you a mountain of debt. For many people, those are enjoyable, rewarding careers. A bit of debt for them makes sense. But not mountains!

      3. Guacamole Bob

        I was coming here to basically say this. It’s not a blanket “law school is great and you should do it” or “never ever take on debt for law school” situation. The details matter.

        I’d modify #1 to say “If you’re happy to work in BigLaw for a while and get into a law school that makes that easy.” If you’re a great student and get into top schools and can clerk for a year or two afterwards, the clerkship bonuses will really help put a dent in the debt, too. You don’t have to commit to a partner track and decades of 80-hour weeks, necessarily – a ton of people do it for a few years and then move on.

        My spouse took that route – top school, federal district and appellate clerkships, 4 years in BigLaw, and now she’s at a non-BigLaw job that she loves. I worked through her time in law school so she took out less in loans than if she’d had to cover all her own living expenses, but it was still a ton of money, which we paid off fairly easily well before she left BigLaw.

        My aunt did a combination of 2 and the #4 below – I don’t know how much debt she took on when she left the sciences to go to law school mid-career to do IP decades ago, but it was a state school and it all worked out pretty well for her.

        But there are a lot of really crappy attorney jobs out there – contract doc review can be pretty painful and doesn’t pay well, for example. Even with public interest jobs where you might get the loans forgiven, take a serious look at how easily the graduates of a particular school are able to find interesting work that pays enough to live on. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who still have a ton of debt and don’t have great job options and it’s really limiting. Even if they wanted to do BigLaw, it’s not like everyone can get those jobs, and for many people the timing works out so that they’re coming out of law school and the need to work a ton of hours at a job that can pay off the loans coincides with life stuff like getting married and having kids and dealing with aging parents, and making it all work can be really, really hard.

        The advice to avoid taking on huge debt for a middling school without a clear plan is really solid, and is the #1 thing I hope the OP takes away from this thread.

        One option that I’ve seen suggested is to look at formal training to become a paralegal. There’s less potential to make a whole ton of money, but there are solid, interesting jobs in the law that don’t require six figures of debt.

        1. blackcat

          “I’d modify #1 to say “If you’re happy to work in BigLaw for a while and get into a law school that makes that easy.” If you’re a great student and get into top schools and can clerk for a year or two afterwards, the clerkship bonuses will really help put a dent in the debt, too. You don’t have to commit to a partner track and decades of 80-hour weeks, necessarily – a ton of people do it for a few years and then move on.”

          True! A friend of mine did this. Fancy law school + 4 years of BigLaw + living with her parents paid of ~150k of debt. She is now in-house counsel for a media corp doing arts IP and LOVES IT. She makes less but enough, works regular hours, and is generally quite happy. But I also think this is a better plan if you are younger. She was only 23 as a law school grad, so the idea of spending ages 23-27 working 80 hour weeks seemed doable. She’s now a 32 year old mom, and would definitely not make the same deal now.

          1. Guacamole Bob

            Yeah, we had a couple of rough years in the BigLaw stint because we had kids in the middle of that. On the one hand, 4 months of fully paid maternity leave! On the other, once you you’re back to work the hours + young kids thing is brutal, though the firm did offer the option to drop down to 80% hours for 80% salary. We were only doing that for a fairly short time, but I do not remember that time fondly.

            (The exact sequencing of how we lived our 20’s and 30’s in terms of moving cities, grad school for both of us, having kids, etc. isn’t exactly what we might choose if we could map it all out perfectly in retrospect, but we lived through it and we’re both happy in our careers with a couple of great kiddos now.)

            Very few of the colleagues my wife became friends with at the firm are still there. They’ve largely gone in house, to the government, or to other less intense options. The firms hire way more associates than make partner each year, so the system is set up to churn through young attorneys. If you go in eyes open it can be a reasonable option.

      4. Tema

        Agree with this completely. I took on enormous debt for law school (16ok), but went to a top tier school that offered public interest loan repayment. I got into other schools that would have ended in less debt, but because I knew I wanted to do public interest law, it was cheaper for me to go to the more expensive school since that school paid my debt off. I love my job, and it was worth it for me.

        Do a deep dive on calculating what any debt means. Figure out what your monthly payments would be for a 10 year pay off, 30 year payoff and income based repayment. If your husband wants to do public interest law, look st the repayment programs. Figure out what his income would be at the job he wants, and compare that to debt payments and other expenses. It’s possible to made an educated gamble on student debt, and that’s what you need to do.

    34. Art3mis

      For me it was not worth it. I have no experience other than low level support roles and everything wants a degree and specific experience. I went back in my 30s to finish my BS, I already had an associates. Seven years after finishing the degree I can’t find a job making more than $15/hour, which is about what I made when I started going back to school and now I have a $500/month student loan payment, so a negative income effect. I wouldn’t be able to make the payments if my husband, who has no 4 year degree, didn’t make twice what I make. I tried to do internships but none I could find were paid and at the time husband made less so taking an unpaid one wasn’t an option. Refinancing isn’t an option because I don’t make enough and I don’t want his name on the loans so he’s not stuck with my massive mistake should something happen to me. I know finishing your degree is largely seen as a good thing and it works out for a lot of people but for me it was the number one worst mistake of my life and I wish I had never done it.

    35. Nacho

      I took out 25k and it was not worth it at all. Ended up with an entry level job that didn’t even need a college education.

    36. Agnodike

      I think there’s a distinction to be made between graduate school and professional education. I got through my undergrad (graduated 2009) on a combination of scholarships and working, but I took a loan to pay for my professional education (graduated 2014). The loan was $65k and it was paid back 20 months after I got my license and started working. But I’m in a profession that pretty much guarantees a job making ~$90k/year upon graduation and I had an employed spouse and no dependants. If your spouse wants to go to law school so he can get a guaranteed job at his dad’s firm making $150k/year, that’s probably not an unreasonable investment. If he’s contemplating entering an uncertain job market carrying six figures of debt, that’s a whole different calculus.

    37. Lindsay Gee

      I’m in Canada so I know our systems are very different, but in my experience getting a student line of credit with a co-signer at a bank had a much lower interest rate than the government run student loan agency- like the government interest rate was double. So if you have a parent or someone who is comfortable financially, you’ll pay less in the long term. Also, definitely look at salary in his projected career after school and scholarships from everywhere and anywhere. My debt was significantly reduced because I had an entrance scholarship that i held up every year with my grades, and it cut my tuition in half. I didn’t appreciate at the time how significant that was, but it made a huge difference in my final debt load.
      Don’t do grad school for the sake of grad school either. I know lots of people who didn’t use their degree, or didn’t finish, or ended up doing more school after because they didn’t enjoy their original field. Since you’re in your 30s and have other life stuff you want to make sure you manage, i would balance the pros of cons. I think education for educations sake is great, but only if you can afford the debt load after.

    38. LawyerWrangler

      I took out loans for a Master’s Degree- 10 years later, I’ve barely made a dent and am in an unrelated field and haven’t used the degree at all. If I could do it over again, I’d pass.

      My husband and I can afford the monthly payments but I daydream about how much we’d have in savings if they were going to that instead. At this rate it’ll be paid off when I’m in my 60s.

      I’m not a lawyer but work with them and almost all would tell people NOT to go to law school, or at least right now.

    39. Polaris

      It reeeeeeeeally depends on what the degree is and how you expect it to improve your job opportunities. My graduate degree is pretty much entirely worthless, and I took out about $60k in loans to afford it. It’s in a very specific field (Archives), and despite years of searching I was never able to translate that to a job in archives.

      My undergrad was about half grants/half student loans, most of which were under my parents’ name. I have about $20k debt from that, but I absolutely loved undergrad and learned a lot (both factually and in terms of life skills and ways of thinking).

      1. Random Concerned Citizen

        @Polaris: I also took out loans for an archives degree. Went for the degree because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and it was 2009 and jobs were hard to find. I regret going to grad school and taking out the loans. I loved school, the subject was fascinating, but had no long-term value and I didn’t have the passion necessary to succeed in the field. Now, I have $47k+ in student loan debt, no desire (or ability) to enter the archives field, and a job in a call center. I tried to purchase a small condo, but cannot because of my debt to income ratio (I am single with no dual-income prospects anytime soon). I think I’ll be renting for the rest of my life, and have almost nothing saved for retirement.
        Think really, really hard before taking on student loan debts. Do not use grad school to escape from lack of work, dead-end career or anything else. Grad school seemed like the answer for me at the time, but that was only true for the short term. It did not solve the problems I went to school to escape.

    40. little orange teapot

      I haven’t read through all the comments yet, so this may have been covered, but: before he takes out big loan $$ for education, run the numbers on what he contributes to your family living expenses and what you contribute. Attempt to get in writing that should you break up, he needs to pay you back $X amount, so that you don’t end up in a worse position financially should you break up.

    41. Canadian Attorney

      I’m in law. Very little debt, fortunately, in part because I picked a cheaper but still good school and decided to stay in Canada rather than doing law school in the US as I had initially planned, because debt.
      A few thoughts:
      – Discuss career prospects with your husband. People tend to assume lawyers will make a ton of dough, which is true for some people, but definitely not all lawyers. Is he going to do corporate law at a big firm? Or does he plan on doing public interest work, go into government, or start his own litigation practice? This drastically impacts future income. Note that if he plans on going the biglaw route, he will need to (1) attend a good law school, (2) work hard and get good grades, and (3) put in insane hours in a stressful environment after that to get paid those $$$.
      – Another question is – does he actually love the law? Or does he want to boost another career? If so, consider possible alternatives that might be cheaper.
      – Are loans the only option? Did he get offered financial aid anywhere? Depending on the type of career he wants it might be worth it to go to a cheaper/less prestigious school.
      – Depending on marital laws where you are, does this debt become yours? What if, heaven forbid, things don’t work out between you? What are your plans for a starting a family, home purchase, or other applicable future plans and how does it impact that? I know this is a depressing conversation to have but I think honesty is the best policy for this.
      I know people who reimbursed their debt easily and other who struggle with it. I think the basic rule is take out as little as possible and make sure your career plan adresses debt reimbursement.

    42. Unladen European Swallow

      I had undergraduate debt (from 1999-2004) and graduate debt (2013-2014). I was flaky about paying my undergraduate debt immediately after graduation and it affected my credit. When I got around to being an adult and actually paying attention to my undergrad school loans, I was working in the field I’m in now and worked with the loan servicers to get back on track. I knew that I would need a master’s degree to advance in my field so I waited a few years to save up money, have my undergrad loans paid down more, and get a clear idea of what a realistic post-grad degree salary would be. I took out $26k for my grad degree, saving money by choosing a program that was local so I could live at home and wouldn’t have to move. I was living with my boyfriend at the time (now husband) and we made the commitment to be fiscally responsible (no eating out, no new purchases beyond food and household goods, etc.) for the duration of my grad program. Additionally, I started making payments to my graduate loans while I was STILL IN SCHOOL so that the principal was smaller once I graduated. I have no regrets on my education debt. We paid off all of my loans (undergrad + grad) 3 years ago. My income is now 78% more than what I was making when I went to grad school, so the degree has paid for itself and more. I will echo a lot of the advice and say that your husband needs a very clear idea of why he’s going to law school, what he will do afterwards, and understand the likelihood of obtaining a job with a salary so that the loan can be paid off comfortably. Graduate school should be a clear step towards a specific goal, not something to do “to figure out” what you like or what you want to do.

    43. Sue

      I am an attorney and work in the courts. I see so many new attorneys come and go and am surprised by how many seem unsuited to the profession.
      My best advice is to have your husband work at a law firm for at least a year, see what it entails and decide if he really wants to be a lawyer. Family member who did this found a full half of the prospective students chose not to go after working at the firm. Law is very different from what is portrayed on screen and requires a high degree of diligence, attention to detail, clear logical thinking, self confidence and good writing, speaking and people skills (some specialties may not require much client interaction or courtroom work).
      Unfortunately, many of the new attorneys I see lack some or many of these skills and I wonder what made them think it was a good choice. Lots of turnover after they realize it was a mistake.
      If he is a good student, sure of his desire for the law and has a plan for employment, it may be fine to take on some debt if you are working to support the two of you. But $100,000 for 3 years may be a low estimate, many schools are now $50,000+ per year just for tuition (some are $65,000+). A young attorney recently told me that she and spouse each had $250,000 in student loans. That may have included undergrad as well but that’s obviously a very tough way to start out. Good luck.

    44. Temporarily anon

      I agree with those who said that your husband should develop a concrete career goal before considering grad school and selecting a degree to pursue. Does he really, really want to be a lawyer, or is he thinking of it as a versatile degree?

      I pursued a masters in a specific professional field because that was my career goal, and did so in my late 40s. That was worth every penny, but I was also careful about choosing where those pennies were spent. My degree is from a well-regarded state university and my federal student loans totaled about $13,000. My monthly payment is now less than $150 and the knowledge/skills gained is currently worth over $6,600 a month before taxes. It was a good deal.

      Graduate school can be a great investment IF you choose your goal and school wisely. Just going to law school because it seemed like a vaguely good idea is risky as hell.

    45. I never should have gone to college.

      You should be freaking out. I have $80,000 of student loan debt I will never pay off. Every year the amount goes up because even though I am making payments, they aren’t even enough to cover the interest.

      I’m in my mid-40s, lost my corporate job I was at for 10 years to downsizing, and now work a full time job not at all related to what I want to do and that barely pays the bills and a part time job so I can eat. If I could go back, I never would have gone to college.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Same. I’m a writer – I could have taken online writing workshops and been just fine.

    46. Coverage Associate

      I took about $60,000 for law school at a top 10 school. Graduated in 2008. Earned less than $55,000/year for the first 5 years, living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paid loans all through that. After 5 years, I got a new job making twice as much. Still not as much as my friends who went straight to Big Law made straight out of law school. That job only lasted a year, and I went into deferral for 6 months. Got my current job and paid off my loans more or less on time.

      Honestly, the loans were never a huge deal to me. They were my second biggest bill after rent, but just another fixed expense. Except unlike rent, they could be deferred in the event of layoffs.

    47. La Framboise

      My family’s store is very similar to other comments. Let be talk about a couple things:
      1. Finances and not being in debt. My husband changed careers in his mid 40s, and decided he would do well in law school–which he did. He also went to a school that gave 1/2 off his tuition if he achieved a certain score on his LSATs, which he did achieve. That helped. We (double income, 3 kids, 1 currently in undergrad) paid by selling stock we had, and also we did not have a mortgage, which meant we did not have that debt hanging over our heads. I thinks our situation is unique in that we had savings, in terms of the stock, and so we did not take out any loans. That means, however, that we don’t have that equivalent money in retirement savings, and although we save a lot between the two of us, we are also thinking about making sure that our children don’t have college debt, so in some regards our money is tied up in retirement savings and childrens’ undergrad (and probably grad school) education for the next 15 years.
      2. Practicing law. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know the finer points of practice, and I will tell you as a spouse, law practice is hard, constant, and possibly not as remunerative as anyone thinks (although I will also tell you, as a 50 year old, every job is mundane, and if you stick with something, you tend to accumulate more money–stick with the career, not necessarily the same job). My husband easily works 80 hours a week, he’s tired, and there is, continually, about 80 hours of work on his desk going forward on any given day. Hurray for consistency, I guess. It does make it a slog. Burnout is real, all the lawyers discuss it on the DL. He should shadow someone, or look at blogs, and ask around to find out how people feel.
      3. He made far more money as a pharmacist, but he’d topped out, and was bored with the profession. He is, however, doing much better as a first-year lawyer because of his skill set, and so is making more than other newly minted lawyers. Can your spouse combine careers so that it is more niche/specialized, and desired? That might be worth it.
      4. Please listen to all the above about finding a way to NOT pay full tuition, it will be worth your peace of mind, regardless.
      Best of luck to you. Being a law school, and lawyer, spouse, is hard work. I am solo parenting a lot of the time, while holding down my own full time job that requires a lot of my emotional attention, and trying to get enough sleep. Make sure you go into it whatever it is, with your eyes and ears and psyches attuned to what people are not saying, know what I mean?

    48. Goose on the loose

      My husband and I are both lawyers, and both graduated with debt. My parents paid for two of the three years and then loaned me the money for the third year while my husband took out federal loans for all three years. I had $60,000 (I also borrowed some money for living expenses between law school and starting my first job) and he had about $150,000. We went to a top 10 law school and both got 6-figure jobs out of school. It took us 6.5 years to pay off our debt. We made some sacrifices to do it that quickly (renting, no car, strict budgeting for vacations), but we were able to live a full life, contribute to retirement and savings, and save enough for a down payment on a condo.

      We both love being lawyers, and both have made 6-figure salaries since graduation. This is not a typical story, but it can work IF your husband is committed to the graduate school, the graduate school is ranked highly enough for good job prospects upon graduation, and the salary is high enough to justify the debt. We’ve worked our butts off at big law firms for years to afford this – 80+ hour weeks, ruined vacations, you name it. But I’ve since moved in-house and my husband will likely make partner this year, and we both very much like our jobs. So definitely worth it.

    49. Bananatiel

      Personal finance is personal! Sounds obvious but… definitely make sure you both are thinking about the lifestyle you want to have once he’s done with school. I hear about a lot of people that make good money after taking out huge amounts of debt and they live on absolutely nothing to get it paid off quickly and move on with their lives. Is that something you’d both be willing to undertake? Or are you both okay with a repayment plan of 10, 20, even 30 years to live a nice lifestyle but sacrifice things like vacations, a house, savings for possible future children’s educations, etc?

      Of the people I know living with $100k+ in student debt– they are all making BIG sacrifices one way or another for their debt. You just have to be okay with it going in. Very few people have their cake and eat it too in these scenarios.

      1. Baru Cormorant

        I’ve noticed this as well. My partner and I are fortunate enough to have no debt and it’s the biggest difference in lifestyle choices between us and our friends.

    50. MoopySwarpet

      In retrospect, I would have chosen an entirely different college path to avoid loans . . . or to have reduced them.

      I’ve also heard from a handful of lawyers that they wish they’d never chosen that path at all. Since you say “most likely law,” I would advise that he is more than 100% sold and excited about whatever degree he chooses at a minimum.

      I agree with the others encouraging you to find another way, if possible. If you can scrimp and save and struggle for 3 years vs scrimp and save and struggle for the next 20-30, that would be a lot closer light in a much shorter tunnel. Paying off $100k in loans is a long, expensive, relentless process.

    51. Staja

      If you can find other ways of paying for school, I highly recommend. I’m paying off (a small amount in comparison) of student loan debt – down to 18k, but no degree to show for it. My husband’s BA was paid for years ago, between his parents, and years of him living at home. His MS, that he hasn’t used yet, was paid for by by the Trade Act/Unemployment.

    52. Parenthetically

      Please please EXHAUST your other options before taking out a small mortgage. It took me more than ten years to pay off less than $10k. My husband has twice that and he’s still going 15 years later.

    53. designbot

      I took out about 60k in student loans, combined grad and undergrad, and it was just a bit over my comfort level. I would recommend tying the amount you’re willing to take out with realistic expecting starting salary—I made 50k/year coming out of school, and my loan payments felt like they were just over a reasonable amount.

    54. EH

      I took out about $40k for undergrad and another $40k for my MA. It was worth it in most ways, but I didn’t know how to budget around my huge loan payments after graduation and made ends meet with my credit cards instead of looking for higher-paying work or budgeting every last penny. NOT SMART. I paid off my loans but still am working on the credit cards.

      Student loans are “good debt” when banks/lenders look at you, so you don’t need to worry too much about net worth. Just make sure you’ll be able to cover the monthly payments when he graduates, and if that means budgeting super tightly, do it. Going into debt to pay off debt is Not A Good Idea. Learn from my mistakes!

    55. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      I don’t know about law, but I took out loans so that I could do my PhD. I will never, ever come close to paying them off. I did not really do my homework beforehand and I didn’t realize just how abysmal the pay and job situation actually is.

      Actually, I probably would have done it anyway, given my mental state at the time I applied. And I also had a much rosier view of my own abilities plus the likelihood of getting an academic job until it was too late (and the 2008 crash and subsequent austerity in the UK gutted the heritage industry). On the bright side my loans are in income-based repayment and as long as that survives the balance will be written off after 20 years of payments, so I’m not in default. But it is a bit depressing.

    56. ellie-anon

      I went from graduating undergrad straight into law school. I had taken loans for undergrad (all federal) that then got combined with my law school loans (also federal). I went to a decently ranked law school in the city I knew I wanted to end up working in. I had a scholarship that allowed me to go for the first year of law school tuition free and then at a significant discount the two following years. I was lucky enough that I could live with my parents to diminish my living expenses.

      When I got out of school in 2014, between undergrad and law school, I was about $65k in debt. I had a law clerk job at a small firm that I worked my last year of law school and after I graduated. After I passed the bar, I was super lucky that they hired me as an attorney. I’m still there. I love my job. I don’t get paid a lot. My employer does not offer a health insurance plan; I have to pay for it myself. I paid off all of my loans last year. I’m still living with my parents as I work to save up enough money for a downpayment on a house/condo.

      If I had to make the decision again, I don’t think I would have decided to go to law school unless I was 100% sure of my employment afterward. The legal job market is just too tough.

    57. 1qtkat

      I’m a lawyer (2016 grad) and job outlook really depends on the school and location. You’re more likely to get a decent job in the state where the school is located because that’s where the connections are. So really choose a school in a state you plan to live. However if you go live in a state different from where he earns his JD after he graduates, it’s going to be much harder to find a job because he has to make new connections in the new state. The legal field is really dependant on connections and local. Of course if he goes to a top tier school like Harvard then the options are infinite.

    58. Anon with no name

      Student loans are never worth it. Going to college using student loans is just a waste of money in the end.

      1. TL -

        I had $25k after my undergrad – about the price of a slightly modest new or good used car. I paid 15k off in six years without many problems – I wasn’t making a whole lot but I budgeted and was genuinely happy with my pretty modest lifestyle.

        My grandma paid off the last 10k so I could go to grad school overseas. I now have 55k + some credit card debt (worth it but top financial priority is to pay them off fast) and I’ll be living pretty modestly for a while but I’ve so far been pretty happy with what my loans have gotten me.

        That’s not true for all my friends – some of them have been pretty miserable on a modest lifestyle so have spent their budget elsewhere and pay back their loans slower, some have moved back home to save, some thought any amount of debt was too much. It’s more about what you want from life than a one size fits all answer.

        1. TL -

          Oh, I should add my parents bought me a brand new $12k car for high school graduation. I’m still driving it, 12 years and 145k miles later. It has nothing fancy except electric locks, windows, and a spot for an aux cord, but it runs great and the keys are $7 to replace.

          I’d rather have my student loans than a new car and I’m genuinely happy with that decision. Hail the mighty Yaris, may it putter on another 100k!

    59. Gaia

      I took out $50k, currently owe $90k (thanks interest rates while I was making too little to pay!)

      Was it worth $90k for an undergrad degree? No. Was it worth $50k for an undergrad degree? No. Was it worth it so I can check a box that says I have a degree? I mean….I guess considering the alternative. But if I could go back, I’d make very different choices.

    60. emmelemm

      As someone whose partner is 50 and still has a mountain of law school debt, I’d say consider really carefully what type of law he intends to practice and what his realistic outlook of getting a job on the other side is. My partner has had periods of unemployment – law jobs are just not that plentiful these days.

    61. Non-Practicing JD

      Non-practicing JD here, with a practicing attorney partner. If he isn’t completely sure he wants to be an attorney he shouldn’t go to law school unless he can go for free. We have a ridiculous amount of loans combined. Partner’s loans will be forgiven in a few years because he’s a public defender. I’m just on the 25 year-forgiveness track. I really think going to law school and becoming an attorney is only something you should do if you REALLY want it – it costs too much money to get a job you won’t end up even enjoying.

    62. Not So NewReader

      I know my friend, who is a lawyer would advise against going to law school. She said you can have law or you can have a life but not both. In the end, she said it plays out that you don’t read, you skim. And you hope against all hope that you retain something/anything. There are days where you get lucky, you actually remember “reading something” about this or that, and you wonder why you were able to remember.

      Not all the time/ But some situations at work can be very cut throat. Lawyers can really dig into each other and it can get NASTY. Sometimes it can be hard not to get caught up in the nastiness./ Again, not all the time, not everyone.

      Finally, there still remains a lot of sexism in law. You husband will have one more thing to be on the watch for avoiding.

    63. Luisa

      I’m in a completely different field (K-12 education) but for what it’s worth, here’s my story.

      Took out $20k in loans for graduate school to cover living expenses, books and supplies, etc. (I had a full tuition waiver.) Worked as a tutor 5-10 hours per week during the year I was in school. First job out of school paid $28k, made minimum loan payments. (I felt it was too much of a hassle to do IBR or other repayment options.) Stayed at that job a year, my position got eliminated in budget cuts; got a new job where I started at $65k and am now up to just below $90k 5 years later. When I got my new (current) job, I started paying down my loans more aggressively. My Stafford will be paid off at the end of this year, and my Perkins will be paid off next summer.

      I don’t regret taking out loans, but if I hadn’t been lucky enough to get hired in my current district (which is one of the best-paying school districts in the US), I would be sweating my loans a little more. If that had been the case I’d probably have looked into other repayment options.

    64. Gumby

      Undergrad: Took out ~$20k (mostly federal subsidized loans). Paid off in 4 years after graduating via:
      * Shoving every single extra cent I could towards it
      * Shared living situations to save on rent
      * Not having a car at all for 6-months (biking using bike from college) and an inexpensive used car afterwards
      * Having a job that didn’t pay spectacularly but also was completely cool with me wearing jeans and t-shirts (so no new wardrobe expenses)
      * Keeping to free or very inexpensive social events (no eating out, no movies, no going out for drinks – mostly amused myself via the library, hiking, and the occasional $2 – 8 social dance, but also so much sleep debt to pay off… so much)

      Watch out for lifestyle inflation. I kept living essentially like a poor college student. Being debt free felt better to me than 4 years of new clothes or restaurant meals ever could have. But that was me. And I was already used to that since it’s basically how I grew up.

    65. PassionSmashion

      I went to college at age 40 because not having a good job meant not having the means to raise my family if something should happen to my husband or our marriage, and that was keeping me up at night. At first, I went slowly but then the economy started to tank and I was afraid I would lose my job and I realized I had to pick up speed. It still took me about nine years.

      Major: Accounting (If I had been young and not so focused on worst-case-scenario I would definitely have been a Liberal Arts major because that’s where my heart is.)
      Community college: first 2 years of school-took me 5 years.
      Local state university: next 2 years of school-took me 4 years.
      Total loans: about $25,000. Most of it was tuition, but we had to use about $5,000 for living expenses at the height of the recession when we both had to take 25% pay cuts.
      Loan Payment: 350.00/month
      Payment Plan: standard 10 years
      Worth it? Yes.

      I figured if I could increase my salary by at least the loan payment then it would be okay and I could get a better job if necessary in the future. The degree has allowed me to increase my salary by about $3,000 a month(at first it was only $1600/month.) I know that’s not a ton of money, and I work a lot of hours, but it was worth it for peace of mind alone.

      We paid for the community college classes as they came up, but couldn’t keep up with the costs of the university. The only loans I took out were government subsidized and unsubsidized loans, no private loans.
      p.s. we are still married and the kids are grown.

    66. Marny

      I’ve been a lawyer for 18 years and was fortunate to graduate debt-free. If your husband doesn’t want to be a lawyer with every fiber of his being, don’t do it. Becoming a lawyer was all I wanted to be and I loved it for the first, maybe, 10 years. I’m now tired of it and looking to change careers, and I think most attorneys feel the same way at some point. I can only imagine how angry I’d be at myself if I was still paying off those damn loans at this point (which you absolutely might be).

    67. School Psych

      I took out around 60K for my graduate degree and it was fine. I’ve since paid it off. I researched the average salary for my field and my school’s job placement rates before getting the loans though. Even though I didn’t have a hard time paying it off, I wish I’d done more to try to get into a funded program. I was really committed to staying in the geographical area where I lived and probably could have gotten into a funded program, if I’d been willing to relocate. The money I spent repaying my loans could have been used for lots of other things. I also have several lawyers in my family and it’s quite competitive now to find a law job. There’s no guarantee he’d be able to find a job right away after he graduates.

    68. Starving SRNA

      You’ve gotten a lot of good advice relating to your husband’s field of interest but thought I’d give my $0.02 anyway.

      Graduated with my bachelor’s in nursing with not quite $30k in debt. I went to a pricey private school in a small, midwest town with low COL, but received a scholarship. And I say pricey, but it’s relative. It wasn’t “top 20 nursing schools pricey.”
      Moved out of the midwest immediately and got a job in Alaska at an Indian health service facility – complete with loan repayment. Didnt get a new car, used the old beater family car, didn’t take vacations, and the loans paid off within three years. I bought a home my second year out of school.
      Currently: five years out of school and just sold the house as im going back to grad school. Moving again, to a non ivy league, private school in a small town with low COL. It will be at least $120,000 in loans, but starting wage is around $170k. I plan on having them paid off within three years of graduation.

      Loans are the only way I would have ever been able to achieve my career goals, people that don’t believe in taking out loans are unrealistic for some degrees. The other side is you have to know your job market, and, I’d suggest, be willing to move.
      I would not take out loans like this if I wasnt confident in my choice, myself, and the ability to get a job even if we hit a recession. If worse comes to worse, we will literally move in with my parents for a year to get them paid. We do have contingency plans in case something terrible happens. Also, life insurance on both of us. If I die, there will be no question that my husband will be able to pay off the loans without me.

    69. CastIrony

      My parents gave my sister money to pay off her loan for her masters while she paid what it didn’t cover with refunds and money she saved from her assistantship (sp?). It was a great sacrifice, but she is debt-free.

      I helped pay for school items.

  6. Goldfinch

    My small department is shopping for an online learning subscription (Lynda, Udemy, Coursera, etc.). We need a catalog that’s media-centric, but most options seems to skew heavily towards coding while lacking in other subjects. Any recommendations for programs with strong coursework in photo and video editing, graphic design, web design, and so on?

    1. Nowhereland

      FYI: Lynda is now called LinkedIn Learning. I don’t think it’s good for the purposes you listed.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        I’ll push back on Lynda unless LinkedIn drastically changed it.

        Their Adobe & Microsoft courses were very thorough. I had to learn Sharepoint and their course enabled me to set-up an entire site and teach other people from the ground up. The Adobe stuff covered by graphic design through Photoshop & Illustrator as well as video editing through Premiere.

    2. ET

      Skillshare.com, maybe? They seem more individual-focused and less enterprisey than LinkedIn Learning, etc., but they are focused on arts moreso than tech.

    3. MissDisplaced

      My company just got LinkedIn Learning.
      But if you’re looking for more creative marketing skills, try MediaBistro or Hubspot Academy.

    4. 8DaysAWeek

      We have Coursera but it is very heavy math and science/medical focused.
      I just checked it out and I don’t see anything for what you are looking for. They have art classes but it is more art history. They offer some computer science classes which include some programming languages. It is light though.

    5. DaniCalifornia

      Why not Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning? I am studying web/graphic design and some of our professors have used it. They have a ton of videos for the things listed, but I know from using it it’s not extensive. But it’s been helpful in aiding some of my classes.

      I also don’t know what your office situation is and why your department is looking to learn these skills, but in some cases (I say this with bias as a student) it might just be less stress or easier to hire someone/contract out the labor to someone who does all those things. But again, you know your work situation better than me. Good luck in finding something that works!

    6. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

      Are you looking to augment skills that people already have–like a continuing education program for professionals–or start from scratch beginners. For CE I think LinkedIn Learning (Lynda) is ok. I’ve got through some of their graphic design tutorials over the years and I usually pick up a few new bits of information but they’re not great for comprehensive learning of a whole new skill.

      1. Goldfinch

        Definitely augmentation. We have people who spend a large part of their day doing using things like Photoshop/Premiere/Invision, and they want to “level up” their skills by increasing complexity and decreasing time expenditure.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

          I’ve only used Lynda and not the other two you named, so I don’t have anything to compare on those. But for other design resource options I’ve found How Design (howdesignuniversity dot com) and the resources on through AIGA (aiga dot org slash professional-development) to be useful.

    7. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      You might luck out and get to check around yourself–some of those places have paid-for subscriptions with local libraries. Any one that has a library card can use them.

      Lynda does this near me, I’m assuming the others may do similar things elsewhere. Apologies if I’m wrong.

      1. Lalaith

        Yes, I have access to Lynda/LinkedIn Learning through my library. Also, if you just want to check its suitability for your company, you can (or at least you could as of a year ago) get a free month of LinkedIn Premium, which gives you access to LinkedIn Learning. If you have anyone who’s willing to do that just to take it for a test drive :)

      2. Dja Dja Gabber

        Libraries may soon be moving away from Lynda/LinkedIn Learning because LinkedIn is forcing library users to create a LinkedIn account (instead of just the Lynda account) and won’t allow libraries to protect patron information.

    8. Nora

      Ask at your local library! They probably have experience with all kinds of programs like that, and you might be able to test drive them before committing.

    9. Grey Coder

      My company has a Pluralsight subscription. They seem to have a lot under that general category but I can’t speak to the quality.

    10. CM

      I haven’t used it in a few months, but I really like Lynda. I work as a designer, and that’s where I first learned InDesign. The beginner level courses give a really good tour of the software, which I find helpful, and they almost all have the option to follow along and do a sample project as you learn, which is (at least for me) a really good way to figure out where the controls are and start to build a mental picture of what the software’s capabilities are.

      For the more intermediate/advanced stuff, how helpful you find it will depend on what specific things you already know how to do or are interested in learning. But they cover a wide catalogue of software and also have courses on marketing principles, etc.

      Also, someone already said Skillshare, but I learned some good After Effects tricks from Skillshare. My experience with that site is that it’s more targeted to learning a really specific thing rather than getting an overview. So, one course I remember doing on Skillshare for After Effects was just about how to use the graph editor to give an animation more personality — it wasn’t a crash course in the whole program, the way Lynda.com courses often are.

    11. LunaLena

      I am a graphic designer, and occasionally give others crash courses in Adobe programs. Those people have told me that the hour crash course I give them was more helpful than the hours they spent on Lynda. Not saying Lynda is useless, but it’s definitely not for everyone (I personally didn’t get much benefit from it when I was figuring out web design and development).

      If you are looking to learn to use Adobe products or further your knowledge of their functions, I highly recommend the Adobe Education Exchange. They have a ton of free workshops and live classes that are geared towards beginners who are looking for ways to learn Adobe programs through practical application. Each live class is 2 or 5 weeks, depending on the course, and includes how-to videos, examples of practical applications, up to three live classes with instructors and professionals where they demonstrate things and answer questions (the three classes cover the same materials each week, but are at different times for people living in different time zones, and every class is recorded and uploaded to the class site if you want to review it or missed it), and a “homework” assignment that is peer-reviewed. I’ve taken classes for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Dimensions, Animate, Character Animator, and Spark so far, and by the end of each class, was able to produce something that far exceeded anything I dreamt I could do. One class showed me that even Photoshop can now be used for basic video editing.

      The classes are meant to be for educators who want to create their own materials to use in the classroom, but anyone can join and learn. They have classes for a large variety of subjects, are pretty easy to follow, and are fairly flexible on timing. I took a class on Character Design not too long ago in which I did all five weeks’ worth of assignments a week before the class closed, and am currently signed up for 60-Second Documentaries and Design for Social Media. You even get an official Adobe certification after you complete a course.

      They also have workshops that are basically self-teaching courses for beginners, and are available any time. I seriously can’t recommend it enough.

  7. Perks!

    A fun Friday thread: what is your favorite perk your company provides? I may be in a position soon to suggest some things to my bosses, so I’d love to crowdsource ideas. I’m more looking for things that work in standard offices than start up type things (we aren’t getting a foosball table) but feel free to share anything!

    Assume for the purposes of this we are paid market salaries and have pretty decent PTO/sick time for the states.

    1. Nowhereland

      The biggest perks at our building is 1) free parking 2) filtered water. It’s a little strange how people are obsessed with the water cooler, but if people had to fill water from the sink, they’d riot!

      1. GigglyPuff

        This is basically our only perk, the water cooler. For years it was in the basement next to the ice machine, okay, but kinda annoying especially when the elevators act up. But suddenly it was running out of water (reverse osmosis one that has a limited tank), and the service company was telling us not to fill up over 6oz, yeah right. Anyway it became a problem and they finally bought a machine for every floor, it’s amazing and so convenient, and has a hot water feature for when I want tea easily!

      2. T. Boone Pickens

        I totally echo the water perk! A former employer of mine had this incredible reverse osmosis water system setup thingy and it was like drinking Fiji water. When the system needed to get repaired people would get super grumpy.

        1. Nowhereland

          I don’t know how many people here have tried the tap water in this particular building. The previous office building had a water cooler, so I’m guessing it’s a preference holdover from there. And many staff used to work in another office building; not sure if they had water filters there. The old OLD building was big enough that perhaps it had water fountains.

          The funny thing is that the water cooler service is actually a prohibited purchase….it’s paid for by the Chair’s discretionary funds. It would be a prohibited service for general purchase (gov’t job)

        2. GigglyPuff

          To me, yes, everywhere I’ve lived has had crappy tap water, all major cities. In my building too the water fountains suck, some of them have been updated, but the ones on my floor haven’t, and the coolers don’t work anymore. I can stand water fountains when it’s cold, but once it turns lukewarm it tastes gross. So if I’m drinking more than a few sips of water, I go for filtered.

        3. Wishing You Well

          My city tap water is so bad the analyst thought it came from a well. It is surprisingly high in bacteria BUT it passes government “quality” tests just fine. Tap water is not safe for people with certain health problems. I drink filtered water and avoid tap water whenever possible.
          Good health, everyone.

      3. RobotWithHumanHair

        Yep, water cooler, definitely. Considering I tend to drink at least 128oz a day, I take full advantage of that perk.

      1. CupcakeCounter

        Yes! I got my car over $5k less than the dealer price with no hassle. Just did the test drive, pulled the details up on my phone, showed the salesman and manager and they went “good deal!” and it was done. No fuss, no muss. Currently working on helping my MIL with a new car. Its been great.

      2. Kimmy Schmidt

        Seconding this! We have all kinds of discounts ranging from the very small (office supplies, admission to state parks) to pretty big (mostly travel related).

      3. abcdefg

        Oh cool. Do you work for a large corporation? I’ve always worked for small nonprofits or gov’t, so I haven’t encountered this.

    2. Purt's Peas

      Summer hours (half-day Fridays) that essentially make it a 35-hour workweek. It is, in a word, fabulous.

      1. ThatGirl

        See, we have summer hours but we have to make the time up. So it’s more like a shifted work week. I still like it but not as much as I’d like a 36-hour work week.

      2. londonedit

        We have summer hours in July and August but we have to make up the time (so you work longer Monday-Thursday and then take Friday afternoon off). I’ve only done it a few times as it doesn’t really feel worthwhile to me unless I have something specific happening at the weekend, but I don’t mind the system itself (then again we have a standard UK 37.5-hour work week anyway!)

      3. TiffanyAching

        We also have summer hours, but it’s a half-hour early release at the same pay. All the administrative offices close at 4:30 instead of 5, but our hourly employees are paid as if they worked until 5.

      4. Fortitude Jones

        I had summer-ish hours year round when I worked for a major insurance company (we got to leave two hours earlier on Fridays than whatever our individual start time was) – I miss it so much.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        That’s the one we lost that I love.
        A former company had a very small gym with locker rooms — just a handful of treadmills & exercise bikes, and some lift&stretch equipment I didn’t use. We had to schedule our time in advance, and they let us flex our lunch breaks to use it conveniently. A lot of locals rode their bikes to the office and could store their exercise gear in lockers.

      2. KimberlyInOhio

        Yep. My division gets to work from home 2 days a week. It is a boon! I spent some time in another division with higher stress levels and they lost their work-from-home days early this year. It’s been really rough on those folks.

    3. Data Maven

      Our institution does half-day Friday’s during the summer. It’s kind of nice to be able to get some “free” PTO for those weeks (But does not solve people generally feeling over-worked and underpaid if that’s something your company provides).

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

      My employer reimburses me up to $100 per year for my gym membership and we also get discounted membership prices for the 2 big national chain gyms. We also have an exercise incentive program that is pretty much on the honor system. We submit a form that shows we spent a minimum of 30 minutes 3 times per week on the physical activity of our choice.

    5. austriak

      I love my 9/80 schedule and “dress your day”. “Dress your day” is the policy that unless you have a reason to dress business casual or more professional, you can wear jeans.

      1. Tiny Magnolia

        Does the company override you if they have a big-whig coming in from corporate / major client / etc? I dress my day (if I’m going to one of our factories, I dress appropriately for the venue) but we’re all expected to look “nice” on Board of Trustees day.

    6. EGA

      A decent amount of flexibility with your schedule. We have official flex time, but most supervisors will let you flex beyond that from time-to-time. This is nice so that you don’t have to eat up vacation or sick time for something unnecessarily. Also being able to take sick and vacation time in small increments (as small at 30 mins at a time).

      Company contributes to employee HSA accounts to offset the cost of the deductible (about 70%).

      some flexible holidays

    7. Quill

      Flexible schedule, work from home possibilities, free coffee.

      I’m overall so much more physically comfortable here than I was as a labtech…

    8. KR

      Food! Our org definitely isn’t shy around doing meetings over lunch, getting delicious food catered, and team events with amazing food. Every once in a great while they’ll tell us to go out to eat with our families and pay for it with the company card as a thank you.

      Also, I can bring my dog to work which I love. And since I am in a remote office I’m not required to adhere to the dress code or a specific schedule and can flex my hours quite a bit. Basically I’m allowed the freedom to do what I need to do to get my work done correctly and enjoy myself and I like that about my company.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          Oh yeah – I almost forgot about that one. My company does tuition reimbursement as well, up to $7500 a year. It’s really nice. I’m considering doing an MBA program that’s $24k for three years, and this reimbursement would only leave me with about $1500 out of pocket.

        2. KimberlyInOhio

          Yes! I’ve got my bachelors and MBA and am working on a doctorate thanks to tuition reimbursement! I wish they’d raise the annual max, though–I can only take 2 classes per year.

    9. Well hello there...

      -Significantly subsidized membership to the local bike-share program (there’s a rack of docked bikes on the street adjacent to campus).
      -Subsidized lunches for staff in the on-campus buffet-style (not a la carte) cafeteria, brings it down below cost of any of the sandwich joints nearby.

    10. S-Mart

      A bunch of coworkers love our flavored/fizzy water cooler. I literally couldn’t care less, personally.

      My favorite perk was the (former) company that stocked free snacks in the kitchen. I don’t remember what exactly, but decent shelf life. IIRC granola bars, chips, crackers (individual sizes of all things, not big communal bags). Same company also had beer in the office on Friday afternoons, which I disliked for several reasons but other people liked.

      I’ve had a couple companies that had a deal with a food truck to come by either occasionally or daily.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        My current company does the food truck thing for people located at the US HQ office – they seem to love it. My last company also had two large shelves of snacks they kept in an empty office – they put that in about a month before I left. I gained so much weight from snacking all day, lol.

    11. LessNosy

      Half-day Fridays year round. We work 7:30-5:30 M-Th to make up for it. The nature of my workload means I don’t always get to take advantage of this but it is by far the BEST perk.

        1. yala

          At our place we have to.

          as I heard it, half-day fridays kicked in because of a furlough, and then everyone liked it enough that it stayed and we work 8.75 hours the other four days.

          Our area is pretty shut down on fridays. Maybe managers can stay late, but most of us can’t.

          It’s fine, tbh. A little earlier in the morning than I’d like, but the half day is worth it.

      1. aurora borealis

        Breakfast every friday
        donuts every Thursday
        Free snacks and drinks
        lots of cool swag
        lenient leave policy
        set your own schedule
        reimbursed for parking
        merit driven bonuses & raises
        I love my company!

    12. Nancie

      We get a yearly $300 fitness allowance. It’s good for any fitness related membership, classes or equipment. Even smart watches, as long as they have a fitness tracker.

    13. Third or Nothing!

      We get off every Friday at 3 PM and at noon the day before a holiday. It’s so nice (we’re all salaried so no dock in pay)!

      1. Adlib

        That sounds amazing. My husband is leaving work now (almost Noon), and I’m working all day like a chump. Heh.

        1. Third or Nothing!

          It is amazing. I’m about to go organize my daughter’s closet and have a lovely date day with my husband after he wakes up (night shift).

      2. Gatomon

        We usually get an early release the day before a holiday too, but it’s always kept in suspense! No one gets docked even if hourly, but if you took PTO you do need to mark 8 hours.

        It doesn’t seem to apply when it’s a Friday and the holiday is recognized on Monday though – this happened a few years ago with Christmas and we were all so sad.

    14. M

      Not my office, but a friend-of-a-friend’s office has a book-budget for each staff member – they’ll reimburse up to $250 of books, any books, whatever books you want, each year.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        WOW! I would love that! We only get reimbursed for books if it’s related to an approved degree program or some sort of professional development course/program.

        1. CatCat

          In a two week period covering Monday through Friday, work eight 9 hour days and one 8 hour day for 80 total hours and get a day off.

    15. AnonLawyer

      We have a terrific on site daycare that is subsidized if you are employee. The same daycare unsubsidized is, no joke, $800 more a month. I can’t overstate what a great benefit it is.

    16. OtterB

      Substantial flexibility with start/end times and wfh. It is, in a word, fabulous.

      Families included in occasional out-of-office activities: e.g. tickets for staff member and spouse/significant other plus kids to a baseball game once a year in a nice section, with dinner beforehand expensable.

      Lunch catered in for the monthly staff meeting.

      1. KimberlyInOhio

        Yes! I can pretty much set my own hours too and it’s fantastic. Sometimes I need to be online at 6am to do system updates, and can then go back to bed and come in later. I work from home 2 days a week, and when I go into the office, I usually get there around 9 then leave at 4 and log in again when I get home. Some folks on my team work from 7-3, too. And my boss and grandboss are just super awesome and don’t really care when we roll in as long as the work gets done and stuff that has time crunch is done on time.

    17. Mbarr

      As a Canadian who works in Software, I’ve been pretty spoiled… Basics like:
      – Great benefits package (including a fitness allowance)
      – Having a treadmill or bike desk that people can book in short increments
      – Fancy coffee machines (a friend’s workplace even has a machine that creates carbonated water)
      – Free snacks (current company offers pops, juices, fruit, granola bars, and in the summer ice cream bars – though in other companies, we’d have ice cream Wednesdays in the summer)
      – Better parental leave
      – Team building activities (e.g. do an escape room together)
      – Office shutdown during the Christmas holiday (many of my companies shut down from Christmas to the day after New Year)
      – Vacation increases after increments (e.g. Either 1 extra week after 5 years of service, or 1 day extra for every year of service, etc)

    18. Murphy

      I’ve been in my job just over 2 months an I just got told that I can work from home one day a week. I work 45 minutes away, so I am thrilled!

    19. CH

      Summer Friday hours
      breakfast at our large monthly meeting
      regular treat days, birthday/anniversary treats monthly
      large product discount
      quarterly large lunches (summer employee picnic, Thanksgiving meal, Superbowl and fall BBQ)
      encouraged quarterly teambuilding that are actually fun
      March Madness bracket with opportunity to win $1M a year from Warren Buffet

      My workplace is really awesome.

    20. Catsaber

      – flex time, as in, being able to work your schedule around things like dependent care pickups, appointments, etc as needed (while still working a core schedule)
      – work from home days

      Basically I just want to be able to drop off and pick up my kids from school without doing obscene logistical gymnastics. Like, being able to leave work at 3pm, pick up the kids, then work my remaining 1.5 hours from home. This can work for a variety of situations, not just for people with kids.

    21. Ann Perkins

      We get an extra half day paid off per month if it’s used for volunteer purposes. I’m on a nonprofit Board and so I can leave for an afternoon Board meeting and it counts, so I don’t have to flex time or take PTO for those.

    22. Aquawoman

      I like things that add to work-life balance, telework, comp time. I also get a metro subsidy which saves me $1000 a year, which is nice.

    23. Fikly

      So, this is city specific, but my company pays for a free Citi Bike membership for anyone who wants one!

    24. theletter

      we have bagel Fridays, twice a year all-company parties, and a company band. Last job had ‘summer hours’ which was: Fridays closed before labor day and memorial day, and every other friday afternoon off in between. I noticed on the Fridays were people were supposed to finish the whole day, people would subtly sneak away after about 3PM.

      I think a great perk would be some implementation of a Friday roundtable around 2 or 3 PM, and then allowing eligible workers who had finished their projects for the week to pack it up for the weekend if they wanted to.

    25. Clisby

      Before I retired (and before I went to full-time telecommute), by far the best perk was flex-time. In my job (computer programmer) I initially was expected to come to work between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.; take a lunch period of between 1/2 hour and 1.5 hours; and work 8 hours outside of lunch. So I could work 7 a.m. – 3:30; or I could work 9 a.m. – 6:30; or various combinations in between. There was an unwritten rule that unless there was an outright emergency, nobody scheduled a meeting after 3 p.m., because many people would be leaving at 3:30. The reality, once you had been there for awhile and you had a decent manager, nobody cared if you came in at 6 a.m. and left at 2 p.m., or took a 2-hour lunch, etc. as long as you got your work done.

    26. LilacLily

      at our office we have a weekly quick massage session; the calendar to schedule the massage opens Monday morning online and three masseurs come Tuesday morning and stay all day giving out fifteen minutes long massages to everyone who managed to schedule (there aren’t enough openings for everyone in the office). I personally love it! I would prefer if the massage was 30-minutes long but at the same I’m not complaining :P

      we also have some basic stuff: machines with free coffee, milk, hot chocolate (nothing really tasty but good enough to scratch an itch) and hot water in case you want to make some tea, sugar packages and artificial sweeteners on the side, water coolers, and a kitchen with fridges, freezers, microwaves and a sink for people to do dishes.

      1. Doug Judy

        We have a masseuse come twice a month. Sometimes it’s free (like after the busy season) but most time you have to pay $10 for 15 minutes or $20 for a 30 minute one. Even having to pay it’s still a nice perk because it’s not too expensive and I can do it on a break.

        Other perks at my job are an on-site fitness room and our building is on a nature trail. The company definitely encourages taking a walking break or doing walking one-on-ones. I love it because after work I’m busy at home with the kids, but I can fit in a workout over lunch.

    27. Princesa Zelda

      My city gives all it’s employees a free bus pass for personal use. It makes my life a lot easier and saves me at least $50 a month!

    28. Nicki Name

      Free monthly transit passes! We have the choice of that or subsidized parking, but in a downtown area the parking is still pretty expensive even with a discount. I get a lot of use out of my pass outside of work, too.

      1. Bostonian

        Ditto. I would take the public transport option over parking any day. But that’s because there’s no way I’d drive to work every day :-)

      2. Yuan Zai

        We have those, too. I live so close to my office that I walk to work but the transit pass we get is for our regional organization (which includes five different transit agencies) and I make use of it all the time.

    29. Bostonian

      1) regular work from home options (with no strict rules or monitoring) At this point, I don’t think I would take another job that didn’t allow it
      2) commuter reimbursement that essentially covers my monthly pass for when I do go into the office

    30. Art3mis

      Free onsite gym
      Dress for your day means jeans if you aren’t having client meetings
      Flexible schedules
      Discounts to area businesses, cell phone plans, and AAA
      Tuition assistance program above tuition reimbursement that’s also available to spouses

    31. it's me

      Healthy snacks! Yogurt, granola bars, almonds, oatmeal, cheese, applesauce, pita chips and hummus, juices, packaged salads, and fruits (avocados, bananas, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, oranges, etc.).

    32. new kid

      I just moved from a start up to a large non-profit and the core benefits at my new job outweigh any of the old “start up” perks by a long shot, though I definitely get why some of that stuff can be morale boosters in the moment (and was for me too at the time).

      But ymmv, so here’s the comparison of some of my favorites at each:
      * start up: catered lunches (3 days a week at our best, 1 day a week when we were struggling), self-improvement/industry book credit ($100 per book read with really quick 1 page submission form, up to $500/year), quarterly bonuses based on shared company-wide goals
      * non-profit: waaay more PTO (start up had ‘unlimited’ technically but that’s such a crock) + tons of holiday time including the entire week of xmas thru new years, outrageous 403b matching (100% of 10%), telecommute 1 day/wk after 6 months

      1. Bananatiel

        Scrolled to see if anyone else had this– it’s one of my personal favorites. Especially since the classes are offered in the building which really does help keep me active. I would never be able to keep up with driving to a gym just to work out. A year’s worth of yoga classes is only ~$150 to me because of the subsidy.

      2. NW Mossy

        Ditto! The trainers who lead the classes are wonderful, and they’re a big reason why I’ve been able to stay in a stable exercise routine for the last 7 years. While I’m not looking to change companies anyway because I really like my job, the loss of this particular perk would be a big reason not to.

    33. D.W.

      Flexible schedules! We aren’t quite at compressed work weeks (which would be awesome) but there is a lot of flexibility around telework and needing to come in early/leave late.

    34. Lovecraft Beauty

      My employer will pay for a cab home or wherever you need to go if there’s a family emergency. Obviously, you hope you never need to use this, and I can’t speak to how the process actually works, but as someone who just had a major family medical emergency (it happened over the weekend), I’m really glad to know I wouldn’t have had to do logistics right after getting the call if it had come when I was at work.

      1. Lissajous

        Related to this, I was able to use our company’s (very good) travel agent when I had a family emergency and had to get my mum and I to the other side of the country ASAP. To be able to say “I need two seats that get me to X city as soon as possible, and by the time we land we need somewhere to stay for at least a few days,” and have it just happen was the absolute best possible thing at that particular moment. We were on a plane within an hour and a half of the initial phone call from the hospital, and that included an hour’s driving for me.

        Travel agent just put it all on the company account and I paid them back when the invoice came through a month later. This wasn’t anything official, more the perks of working at a small company and having been there for several years.

    35. Sarra

      it’s a really small thing, but I like it – we have a tall table set up near the entrance to the office space, and the bosses buy jigsaw puzzles and we do puzzles there. sometimes it’s just a quick “put a couple pieces in on the way back from a meeting”, sometimes it’s “talk about this thorny work issue that’s come up while doing a third of the latest puzzle”, sometimes it’s “take your lunch to the puzzle table and talk about trashy reality shows”.

    36. RMNPgirl

      We have a care committee that puts together events throughout the year – a tailgate, halloween party, holiday party, etc. Those are pretty fun.
      However, the most popular thing we have is the free birthday candy bar. Everyone gets a candy bar wrapped in paper that says Happy Birthday on it in their mailbox or on their desk. When a survey went out about employee recognition, this was by and far the number one thing people chose.

    37. Ihmmy

      Canadian, so ymmv a bit but what I like most about the perks at my current gig are:
      -discounted bus pass (it’s a City/employer program), plus automatically paid for before my income makes it to me
      -flex spending account that we can dedicate once a year to either health (gym, runners, etc) or paramedical (additional acupuncture, massage etc in addition to the basic amount covered)
      -catered meetings/events – the leftovers are set up in the kitchen and staff are notified when something is there
      -comfy chairs to go hangout on for break times
      -windows / natural light
      -filtered water (like others have mentioned)
      -pancake appreciation breakfast once a year
      -appreciation burger lunch once a year
      The union I’m in also has some specifics to just our group (there are a few different unions under my employers umbrella)
      -one ‘earned day off’ every third week
      -expectation of no overtime -> work/life balance

      1. Mama Bear

        Most of us have an office. Not everyone has a private office. Many of the offices have a window/natural light. I worked in an open office and I love having a door.

        Work/life balance is HUGE. Being able to take care of family (so long as we don’t abuse it) makes people happier to be here.

    38. Youth

      Team leaders order catering for their teams and then leave it public areas for others to finish off. I didn’t have a lunch on Wednesday and ended up scoring some yummy Greek food from outside a conference room near my desk.

      I also work in an area with almost no restaurants. My company brings in food trucks every day so people who want to eat out can.

    39. Coloredpens

      Casual Friday is my favorite. I also love that my office will buy you any (within reason) office supplies that you want. Not just the regular stuff but a 20 pack of my favorite colored gel pens, every size and color of post-it notes, desk organizers, specific office chairs, whatever size and shape of notepad that you like, etc. It’s really nice to have all the supplies that you need/want.

    40. TurkeyLurkey

      1. Echoing what other folks have said about flexibility about working from home as needed and starting or ending early as long as you are available during “core hours.” I feel trusted about handling my time and the parents on my team seem less stressed about kid pickups and dropoffs.
      2. Electric sit-stand desks for everybody, paired with very adjustable office chairs. I’m below average height and being able to type comfortably while having my feet on the floor is magical.

      1. Bostonian

        Oooooh I’m jealous of the sit-stand for everyone! We have standing desk conference rooms, but it can be (or just feel like) a pain to transport to and fro and not have everything that you usually have at your desk.

      2. Fortitude Jones

        Electric sit-stand desks for everybody, paired with very adjustable office chairs. I’m below average height and being able to type comfortably while having my feet on the floor is magical.

        My company has these as well at the HQ location. People seem to love them.

    41. Kare Bare

      At my firm admins can work from home two days a week (if their job permits).
      Wednesdays are Fruit Day and Thursdays are Veggie Day. The produce is provided by some company that delivers.

    42. Ginger Baker

      Lots of great suggestions, many of which I also have/appreciate. One I haven’t seen mentioned yet is some sort of concierge service. I never used the one at my last place, but my current job (also BigLaw) has CareConnect which is like…therapy-related stuff but also they can research other things for you (plan vacations, etc.). So for instance, when my older kid said they wanted to see a therapist, I was daunted by the “how do I locate one who takes our insurance and [other requirements]??” question, and I was able to call CC, tell them what I wanted, and they did all the legwork for me. It. Was. Amazing. And I am about to utilize again for Kid 2!

    43. Sassy

      Every other week a masseuse comes and gives employees a 15 minute chair massage. Totally optional for those who want it, but I LOVE it.

    44. dumb dumb

      Flex time for salaried non-exempt workers!!! An important perk for me is not getting nit-picked over being at work exactly 7.5 hours each day, 5 days a week, at the same start time and end time each day. I’m salaried, non-exempt which means I only qualify for overtime if I work over a full 40 hours a week. Since lunch is unpaid 30 minutes a day, I have to put in an extra 2.5 hours to add to the 37.5 I have to work in order to get overtime. So, my point is that since most salaried, non-exempt rarely actually qualify for overtime, don’t be picky about 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. That is a huge perk for me! I don’t want to have to stare at a wall for 20 minutes just to satisfy the 7.5 hours I should be at work. This also goes along with don’t be a jerk about starting times and ending times. As long as someone does good work and gets all their stuff done, who cares if they are in the building at exactly 8:30am each day. If I come in late by a few minutes, I will stay a few minutes late – especially if there is a project on the line. Granted, if it is going to be more than 10 minutes, it would be nice to let your manager know so they are thinking you were hit by a bus. But the manager shouldn’t be a dink about a little flexibility.

    45. MoopySwarpet

      We’re too small to get any perks beyond free company product and pretty good flex time, but some things I would enjoy:

      – Public transportation passes
      – Gym or rec center memberships (probably rec center over gym since they tend to offer a wider variety of classes and different ones have different equipment options usually all on the same pass)
      – If your parking’s not free, free parking (and/or covered parking – I’d love covered parking, but that’s not happening here)
      – If you are large enough, weekly/monthly food trucks might be fun even if it’s just to schedule one, not necessarily free. (Although free or discounted would be awesome, of course.)
      – Streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, etc.) for use not at work. ;)

      1. Bananatiel

        One thing I miss about my old job were the periodic food truck surprises. Though in that case, everyone was underpaid so sometimes those could be a little bit chaotic with people clamoring to get their “fair share”. Nonetheless, the ice cream truck visit we had on a particularly hot summer day one year was fabulous and great for morale!

      2. Mama Bear

        For working parents – daycare/preschool on site or nearby and/or a clean, convenient and private pumping space that is not someone’s borrowed office or a bathroom. We had a shower/sink/bench setup at my old office that was almost ideal. Runners could use it as well as nursing moms. No toilet meant you weren’t so worried about germs.

    46. designbot

      We get up to $500/year in education reimbursements. Some people take ceramics classes, I’ve taken sign painting classes, gone to conferences… we’re a design studio so we can take a fairly broad view of what constitutes a work-related class. The only drawback is that we then have to do a presentation on the topic to the office.

    47. Jaid

      My Federal job provides transportation subsidies and parking spaces. For me, that’s about $175 a month for a transpass, your version may vary.

    48. Green Goose

      My org has the most generous PTO I’ve come across. We’re not a school but we get nine weeks off a year (closed for two weeks in winter and one week in summer, then I get 30 PTO days) and then we get another 8-10 holidays. For example, we have today off for a 4-day Labor Day weekend.

      We also have a social budget and can organize happy hours or lunches at our office periodically which is good for bonding/morale.

    49. DreamingInPurple

      Tuition reimbursement or assistance that ISN’T “at your manager’s discretion”.

    50. EH

      We have sparkling water on tap in the break room and love it. Also, we have a bank of those bulk-grains-style snack dispensers, where you pull a lever and M&Ms or whatever fall out. There’s cereal, candy, trail mix, etc, and it’s pretty rad.

    51. Mama Bear

      We have FREE coffee/Keurigs and a water cooler with hot, room temp, and cold water. I never realized that a sink was a perk until I worked in a client office without. A kitchen with more than one microwave is good, plus the standard fridge/freezer.

      I also worked in an office that had this incredible water machine where you could get flavored water. They also had nice snacks.

      Discounts are nice, too – tickets, insurance, phone…our cell plan was started under a company discount plan, so we continue to save $ even though I no longer work there.

      I miss teleworking on a regular basis. But currently my company pays 100% of our healthcare if we choose a particular plan and that’s phenomenal. I’ll take the trade.

    52. Fortitude Jones

      My biggest perk is the ability to be a fully remote employee. My company also has four weeks paid parental leave at 100% of your salary, quarterly bonus potential for everyone in the company (not just sales/sales adjacent folks like at my last employer), and our US HQ location has a cafeteria that’s almost 100% subsidized so that breakfast and lunch are dirt cheap (e.g., when I visit HQ, their huge three egg omelets are only $3!). Oh – they also have free Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee.

    53. Libretta

      They’ve partnered with a well-known organization that provides (vetted, background checked) child and adult caregivers. I get 10 days per year where I can get emergency backup care for my kids or adults that I would have to skip work to care for. Cost is $5/hour. I have both children and adults in my life who need care and this has been an awesome benefit.

    54. Lurker2209

      Free childcare once my baby is 12 months old!! I’m a preschool teacher and it really makes up for the low pay in this profession.

      From a business perspective, there are issues. It’s a huge benefit to our staff who have young kids, but makes it harder to attract and retain staff who are outside that demographic. I’m considering moving to a different role in education when my children are in elementary school. I think my boss is trying to move towards a model where they offer a discount for staff children but increase pay for everyone so it’s more equitable.

    55. TechWorker

      1) we can wear basically whatever we want (sometimes I dress smart-ish, sometimes t-shirt and Jean shorts. When’s it’s hot, this is welcomed)

      2) the ability to work bank holidays and take the time another day. This is really useful if you don’t actually have any specific plans and would rather use the day as part of a longer holiday another time. Or even just to shift the day off by a week so you can go to a tourist attraction or whatever on a day when it’s not manically busy.

    56. Quinalla

      Very flexible schedule and WFH as needed. As long as I am getting in minimum 40 hours (as we have plenty of billable work to do) and getting my work done, I am good to go to leave early or come in late because of appointments, WFH to meet with plumbers, etc. Very helpful for dealing with house and kid stuff!

      It’s a small thing, but we get free fruit. Its such a simple but thoughtful thing to provide so I’m not going for that candy bar in my drawer when I’m super hungry, I can eat an apple or banana instead.

      I also enjoy our casual dress code. If we aren’t meeting with clients, etc. we can wear jeans and even shorts some days in the summer. I still will wear a dressy top so I can feel more put together, but being able to wear jeans is nice as I don’t have to have so many dressy pants anymore.

    57. Robin Ellacott

      The most appreciated things of course involve work hours, vacation, and working from home, but those are not always possible.

      We work under a government contract which stipulates we can’t alter our open hours or work from home, but we make a point of approving any day off / leave early requests we can (almost all), and we have a strict no overtime policy. At 5:10 everyone is GONE, except me locking the doors and anyone lingering to chat with me. I will prod anyone still working to leave, as will the CEO. People seem to really appreciate that clear expectation that you only work your set hours.

      We do have more vacation after 5 and 10 years, and in the case of long illness we often pay out more sick time than people have accrued. We sometimes will pay for college courses if there is some relevance to work.

      On a more minor level: the coffee machine that makes each cup from freshly ground beans seems popular, as does green/black/mint tea provided. Also we buy a few big bags of chips every Friday, which is apparently much more exciting and appreciated than I ever could have predicted. Ditto some freezies I put in the communal freezer when the weather was hot.

      We have periodic pizza lunches and such when there has been a busy time or to celebrate something, and quarterly training/learning sessions in which we have a presentation on something of general interest or learn about a life skill type thing like communication or contentment, not too touchy feely – this seems to be popular. Occasionally we’ve let volunteers do something like beach cleanup on company time. We also invite staff to fill in anonymous forms nominating a colleague who went above and beyond, and do a random draw for a gift card each month.

    58. stitchinthyme

      A few that my company has:

      – One catered meal a week
      – Free snacks and drinks
      – Casual dress code (jeans and t-shirts are allowed)

      But the biggest one for me, and one of the main reasons I’ve stayed this long, is having an office all to myself. Not being in a cube farm is REALLY nice.

    59. HNL123

      Not all from the same employer, but perks my husband or I have had:
      1) 401K match
      2) tuition reimbursement
      3) work remote when needed, flexible time as needed
      4) unlimited hot yoga!!!!
      5) weekly fitness classes (I could get up to 2 classes a week, kind of worked like ClassPass at a bunch of cool studios and gyms around town)
      6) Suuuuuuper casual dress code
      7) weekly free breakfast
      8) Free GOOD coffee
      9) a good health insurance plan that included things like chiropractor, acupuncture, Invisalign, etc
      10) on-site fitness classes and as long as you didn’t have meetings/finished your work, you could take as many as you wanted, even during the day.

    60. only acting normal

      True 100% flexible working.
      A standard week is 37 hours, but you can work less or more as needed, as long as you don’t go too far into flexi-debt (or credit). You can use flex-credit to take up to 3 days off per month, and the “accounting period” is a year (you can roll over a few days worth of credit, but no debt).
      We also have overtime (UK, so exempt/non isn’t how it works) – if you work more than 37h in one week you can book it as OT (and get paid for it) or regular time (and it adds to your flex-credit).

    61. WorkingGirl

      Flexible schedule. My “standard hours” are m-f 9-5, but this week on Monday I worked 8:30-4:30 so I could go volunteer, and 10-6 Friday (I was out late Thursday). Working shifted hours next week so I can take the dog to the vet. It’s absolutely wonderful that I can flex as needed, almost no questions asked.

    62. Effective Immediately

      35 hour work weeks; generous PTO; flex time; occasional work from home; a lot of holidays and half days prior to them.

      I’m making ~30k under market value for my role, but it was worth it to be able to recover from burnout at my last one.

    63. Ambivelant Advertiser

      I like this thread. It’s making me feel more positive about my company after a crummy week!
      – weekly work from home days
      – they pay for parking and our membership to a prett nice gym in our office building
      -weekly team breakfast
      -relatively frequent happy hours at nice places
      – occasional team social activities like indoor sky diving and corporate runs

  8. Curly Girl

    I (mid 30’s white women) recently moved across the county and my hair hasn’t caught up. I used to blow it out straight, but it’s more humid here and that doesn’t last very long.
    I’m thinking of just leaning into whatever natural texture I have (somewhere in 2b/2c?) and trying a like DevaCurl or the Curly Girl Method.

    Is curly hair unprofessional?
    What about the start up or adjustment period when trying a new style?
    Any general curly girls in the office advice?

    1. A Simple Narwhal

      I have thin wavyish hair and therefore have no practical advice, but I want to tell you with 100% certainty that curly is not unprofessional, and anyone who says so is wrong and may they step on legos barefoot.

    2. Wearing Many Hats

      Curly hair is 100% professional. It is the way your hair naturally comes out of your head. People who have an issue with this have their own underlying problems.

    3. Rusty Shackelford

      I think curly hair is fine. If you decide *you* don’t want to wear it curly (because let’s face it, in my experience, curly hair worn curly doesn’t like humidity any more than curly hair worn straight), you might look into a keratin treatment.

      Also, anti-frizz products are your friend. I like anything with a ‘cone in it (generally dimethicone) but different people have different results.

      1. Natalie

        Be cautious if you switch to Devacurl or another low/no SLS shampoo, though – those generally aren’t compatible with silicone based products.

    4. Semaj

      Curly hair is not at all unprofessional!

      I do the curly girl method. There will be a few weeks at the start when your hair is adjusting to the change and regulation of oil where your hair will feel more gross than usual, but persist, it gets better! There are definitely some go-to curly styles with your hair in a bun and pinned back that look cute and professional and hide days where you’re a little oily. I’ve had good luck searching for curly hair styles on pinterest and there are lots of photo-guides of how to do different buns/updos.

      Dry shampoo is your friend. After I adjusted to the curly girl method it’s honestly easier than what I was doing before. Less washes, less upkeep, and my hair dries presentably rather than having to be blowdryed, straightened, etc.

      Good luck!

      1. New Job So Much Better

        Mine is curly due to a medicine I had to take. I just wash it and let it dry naturally, pull back with little combs. Nothing unprofessional about it.

    5. Curly Mane

      I have always worn my hair curly (2b/3a-ish) in a humid climate. My hair is professional because I’m a professional. It’s not tangled, and it sometimes gets a bit too poofy so I’ll put it up, but some amount of frizz is something I accept at work. I refuse to damage my hair straightening it because people think my mane is out of control.

      I’m a white early 30s woman Project Manager in tech, btw.

    6. Natalie

      You might try the LCO/LOC method for frizziness – liquid/oil/cream or liquid/cream/oil depending on which works better for you. With #2 curls just use a light hand with the products at first, it’s really, really easy to over oil your hair.

      1. JoJo

        I personally fell in love with Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner after trying all sorts of things that cost several times more. Plus, places like CVS and Target have trial-sized versions if you don’t want to pay $20 to see if you like it.

    7. Rey

      Curly hair is not unprofessional!! It is how it comes out of your head, it didn’t ask your permission, and I assume it doesn’t affect your ability to do your job (unless you have to put it up in food service or manufacturing, which is still normal).

      I use some aspects of DevaCurl and Curly Girl Method, so I don’t adhere strictly to a particular thing, but its more about finding products and application methods that help, not hurt, my natural texture. If you are on instagram, there are tons of accounts that deep-dive into all of these things. And they often have comparison photos that show the adjustment period, which I think you’ll see differs dramatically and will continue to change for at least one year. It will be noticeable to you, because its your hair, but I highly doubt that coworkers will notice that much.

      I prefer letting my hair air dry, which usually takes 2-3 hours. I’m not willing to wake up that much earlier, so I wear my hair wet into work. It works for me, but I know that some people don’t like that. If that’s the case, you might still find yourself using your blow dryer to get mostly dry, and there are lots of great diffuser options that you should be able to attach to your current blow dryer. And again, instagram has demo videos of different blowdrying techniques for curly hair.

      1. Reba

        Yeah, I also do the air drying thing on days I wash my hair. It seems fine in my current workplace but I do wonder how it reads to people. (I also have really long hair, so I feel like maybe it’s more noticeable that it’s wet.)

        I also follow some aspects of Curly Girl. Of the Deva products, the Mist-er Right is the one that is truly [flame emoji] for me!

    8. Seven If You Count Bad John

      I have a big pre-raphaelite mane. If I was told I had to straighten it for the office I’d quit and sue.

    9. Linda L

      No, curly hair is not unprofessional. But you want to feel good about your style so you can be confident at work. Is your hair long enough to put up in a bun or twist? If so, I’d suggest practicing with the DevaCurl or Curly Girl Method on a weekend until you perfect it and have a fallback updo for days when it’s just not working. It took me a few tries before I learned the right amount of product to use. I had my stylist put long layers in my hair when I started to wear it curly and it looks a lot better than just wearing it blunt cut and curly.

      1. Goldfinch

        Do an image search for “waterfall layers”. In my experience, not a ton of stylists are good with curls, so providing a lot of photo examples is a must.

        Also note: I was really disappointed with my DevaCut, so buyer beware. They’re very pricey.

    10. EGA

      I live in DC (read: very very humid) with big, curly hair. Yes, sometimes my hair looks a little worse for wear at the end of a summer day, but overall I don’t have any workplace problems with it.

      I use heat on my hair about once a month, and use some aspects of the curly girl method.

      Mostly, I get a ton of compliments on my hair! Good luck and have fun!

    11. Quill

      My curly hair better be professional, it takes 4+ hours to do anything but let it curl.

      I more or less use the curly girl method (not down to the product but religiously never applying heat to my hair, keeping it as conditioned as possible) but I have very thick, coarse hair. You’re going to have a transition period, wherein a ‘messy bun’ will be your best friend, before you find a routine that works.

      Also if you want to get it cut to get rid of split ends you’re going to have to be VERY SPECIFIC in finding a stylist that works with curly hair.

    12. KR

      Ok first if you’re into Reddit at all I’d check out r/curlyhair. They have a lot of good tips on there for all types of curls. You can lurk without making an account I think.
      Curly hair is not unprofessional! I have wild curly/wavy hair with a mind of its own. Though this may not work for your office I found the best way is to just embrace it! Yes I have a lot of hair, yes it’s crazy, but when I started letting it do it’s thing naturally I got so many complements on it.
      My advice for humidity (and curls in general) is to find a good conditioner that doesn’t weigh down your hair. Only wash when you have to but condition every time you wet your hair. Do not comb or brush your hair unless you have to! Some knots are ok and they will probably work themselves out – I only brush when I’m straightening my hair or it is literally getting matts in it. Brushing/screwing with it will separate the curls and then when the humidity hits they will poof up and separate even more. After I get out of the shower I try my hardest to not toucu my hair other than gently setting my part. If you run mouse through it, scrunch and plop it instead of combing through with your hands.
      Finally bumble and bumbles curl primer is a life saver. Spray it on your hair when it’s wet and it will dry amazingly if your hair is anything like mine. I also used the shampoo when I lived in a humid environment, though I haven’t tried the conditioner (kind of pricy). Now I live in the desert and my curls recover easier so I don’t need to be as careful.

    13. curly sue

      I will tell you that I have never leaned so hard into curly hair as I did after I had a blow-out on a whim and an acquaintance *gushed* over ‘how professional you look for once.’ Screw that. I’ve been boosting my curls with mousse ever since and no-one at my actual workplace has ever blinked.

      I do tend to carry a few bobby pins in my pocket or purse for the days where the weather or the wind kick up; then I can take a moment in the bathroom, twist everything up into a loose bun, and carry on.

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Ugh. When I first straightened my hair, it was kind of a big deal at work, but no one ever said it was “more professional.” I love the way you pushed back.

        1. curly sue

          Thank you! I was ambivalent – leaning to – happy enough with my hair before that, but I found that righteous indignation is a great font of self-love for me. (There’s also a racial component involved for me personally. I’m not Black but I am from a minority group which tends towards very curly hair and discrimination based on stereotypical features, so part of my reaction was triggered by my fear that she was associating ‘working towards being white-passing’ with ‘professional’ and assuming I would agree. HARD no.)

          1. cmcinnyc

            In our most recent HR annual anti-discrimination mandatory lawyer-talking-at-us-with-seriousness session, we were reminded that you cannot discriminate (at least, in the City of NY, and possibly the whole state) on the basis of “natural hair.” Meaning, however your hair grows out of your head is officially *professional.* If you dye it blue or rainbow maybe your boss can fuss but if you want to wear it straight and flat or in a giant afro, if it’s your hair it’s all fair. No dress code can legally mandate what kind of hair you grow nor prohibit braids, dreads, buns, bangs, afros, long, short, bald. Any limits must have a business rationale (as in, must be in a net for food service, etc.).

      2. Hope

        WTF. Your acquantaince is an idiot.

        (I have boring straight hair and would LOVE to have curly hair. Curly hair looks a hell of a lot better/more professional than my limp-ass hair ever will.)

    14. writelhd

      It’s your hair, and the whole “curly hair is unprofessional” thing is just so tired. The curly girl method is way better than whatever else I ever did my whole life (I have 2c hair)–especially in a humid environment. Just do it, be happy with your hair, and use that confidence to do better in your job, and THAT’s super professional.

      However my general tips (my game on this was actually upped recently by a strong networking connection I made with a very coveted professional in my field…who also has long curly hair and doesn’t give a crap about it. We got to skip the small talk and go straight to bonding cause of the hair. We even met up to swap products, and she would not give that kind of access to most people my level for actual work related stuff):

      1) Keep a tube of your favorite curly haired styling cream in your office drawer for a mid-day frizz fix. You could try a squirt bottle of water too but the cream does better. My current favorite is shea moisture curl maker max hold, but the one for you depends on your hair porosity and thickness. You do have to do some trial and error. The diva curl one is good too, it’s just pricey.

      2)The curly girl method rules that can be hard for people to bring themselves to do, but that give you results you won’t see unless you totally commit to them, are a) absolutely no burnishing/combing while dry, and very minimal combing while wet only to de tangle with the fattest tooth comb you can mentally stand to use, and b) really don’t wash your hair but once every few days. maybe even once a week. (and when you do, follow all the rules about allowable products, deep condition the heck out of it and shampoo only minimally or not at all) It took me a while to actually commit to the latter one (I transitioned by dunking my head in the sink real quick in the morning to try to “re-shape” the weird night shapes it got into, but I recently just weaned myself off doing even that), but it really made a difference fast when I finally did it. Instead, just pat your hair down with a mix of water and conditioner or even with just a curl cream or styling gel again to kind of shape it how you want it, then let it go. I was surprised at how much less frizz and better shape I had on days 2, 3, 4, etc after a wash that I had when I did this. That leads me to my next tip…

      3.) Day 1 after a wash with a diva curl type products is actually not the best hair day for many. It’s ok, but subsequent days are actually often better.

    15. Lizzy May

      Curly hair is not unprofessional. That being said, I’d probably still try out any new style at home on the weekend just because if I discover I hate it part way through the day, it’s easier to fix at home.

    16. Paralegal Part Deux

      My sister and I swear by Miss Jessie’s curl cream from Target. I’ve used DevaCurl, too, but Miss Jessie’s is easier to access and works better, IMHO. I haven’t ever had anybody say anything about my curly hair other than they like it and to ask if it’s natural. So, I don’t think it’s unprofessional at all. I wear mine both straight and curly depending on my mood.

    17. Kay

      I love wearing my hair with the natural curl, and it always looks more professional than a “lost the battle” blow dry, imo. The key is to experiment with shampoo and get a good leave in conditioner. I wash at night a couple hours before bed (key to prevent the worst of bedhead!!), scrunch with the conditioner, and let it dry fully overnight. Five minutes with a curling iron in the morning to add some neatness and I’m ready to go straight into a meeting. Enjoy!

    18. LizB

      Curly hair is not unprofessional! I’m also in that 2b/2c range, and honestly I look way more professional now that I take proper care of my curls instead of trying to ignore or work around them and ending up all frizzy and blah.
      I took the following steps:
      – Found a salon that specifically cuts curly hair; mine isn’t a DevaCurl salon, but they do dry cuts for curly hair so they can actually see what shape and length you’ll end up with
      – Switched to a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner and found a leave-in product I like; I use the Coconut & Hibiscus line from Shea Moisture, and their Curl Enhancing Smoothie for my leave-in
      – Once a week, replace shampoo with apple cider vinegar diluted in water
      – Stopped doing towel turbans and started just scrunching with a towel and then letting my hair air-dry (I could diffuse but am too lazy)

      There was definitely an adjustment period in switching to sulfate-free products. For the first few weeks, I did a few days with the new stuff, then one day with my old sulfatey stuff to cut some of the built-up oils, and gradually reduced the frequency of the old products as my hair got used to it and stopped overproducing so much. I’ve recently started transitioning to pretty much only using conditioner, with shampoo once every week or two, and it’s been a similar process of management.

      My biggest issue is if I don’t wake up early enough, my hair will still be slightly wet when I get to work, which isn’t the most professional vibe. I could avoid this by diffusing, but my workplaces have never really cared as long as I’m not dripping wet.

        1. LizB

          I just kinda eyeball it, to be honest. I’ve seen advice online to do 2 parts water to 1 ACV, but that doesn’t seem to work as well for my hair, so I put closer to half and half in my spray bottle.

        2. The Original K.

          I do ACV rinses every other time I wash my hair and I use 1 tablespoon of ACV with three tablespoons of water. (I’m Black, with 3C-ish hair.) I don’t use it as a shampoo replacement though – I shampoo, apply the ACV rinse, leave it in for about five minutes, then rinse it out and condition and style as usual.

          1. Parenthetically

            ACV rinses are so great, even on my hair which is dirty blonde and 2A at its most wavy.

    19. JoJo

      I too am a white woman with that texture, and truly hated DevaCurl (but maybe I just had a bad stylist). It turned out to be purely hacking my hair using nothing other than that thinning technique (you know, where your hair is basically shredded with a razor)? I always found long layers to work wonders instead.

      Also, curly/wavy hair is coming back. It has taken the better part of 15-20 years, but suddenly, within the last 6 months to a year, stylists are no longer imposing what seemed like mandatory Keratin treatments and blowouts. Shaggy hair is coming back too.

      1. Catsaber

        A shag can be great for wavy/frizzy hair! My friend did a shag and she looks fabulous. It really embraces the erratic non-pattern that some wavy hair has (like mine) and makes it look more intentional.

        1. AnotherAlison

          Proceed with caution! I’m ~2b, but probably leaned closer to 3a in high school, and my hair was thicker in HS (still thick). So, it was the 90s, and I had a shag haircut, and it was a hot mess.

          Right now, my hair is just below my shoulders (long layers, no bangs), and I can wear it curly/wavy or straighten it. But, go 1″ above my shoulders or have short layers, and it hits my wave pattern in a weird way so that my hair sticks out all over. When I was a teenager, family members said they thought it would be curlier if I cut layers/went shorter. Nope.

      2. JoJo

        OH CORRECTION: The cutting technique used on my hair was a Ouidad stylist, not Devacurl, and man, was it awful for my hair — I mean it nearly destroyed it (and I have super-thick hardy wavy hair).

    20. Catsaber

      My hair is about that texture and no amount of curly hair products ever worked for me, but that’s probably because the hairs are fine (despite there being a lot of them). So anything that puts even a tiny bit of weight onto the hair just makes it all lanky and mushy.

      What works for me is covering my hair when I’m outside for the brief period of house > car > work. No amount of product or styling or whatever ever made my hair stand up to the humidity. But a light cover typically solves all those problems. Like those little old lady hair bonnets. You’ll feel dumb, but embrace it.

      I do that when I really want to maintain a certain style. But most of the time I just embrace the frizz. Recently though, I shaved my head and am now at the 6 week grow out “crop pixie,” and I’m loving it. I have a very Twiggy/Mia Farrow 60s vibe going on, and my hair cares not one whit about humidity or rain.

      P.S. Curly is definitely not unprofessional!

    21. Honoria Glossop

      I adamantly agree with everyone else and curly hair is not unprofessional in any way. However, I personally like my hair better when it’s straight and should you feel the same, I find straightening lasts WAY longer if I use a straightening iron instead of blowing it out.

    22. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’ve never straightened my hair. It’s professional.

      I use frizz control sprays but that’s so I don’t have fly aways and to keep it neat but the damage heat and chemicals used in straightening processes scares the heck out of me.

    23. Kimmybear

      I’ve got 3a/3b hair in humid DC. Curly hair is not unprofessional. Is it clean? Is it styled (either up or down in a way that is neat)? That’s what matters.

    24. CoffeeforLife

      Just came to say I’m jealous of all your curly haired goddesses. I inherited a massive amount of stick straight hair that won’t hold a curl or achieve any sort of volume. I regularly fantasize about getting a perm (then I remember my 80s school pics) and pretending to be in your cool club.

    25. Clisby

      I don’t have curly hair, but … how could curly hair be unprofessional? Isn’t that kind of like saying red hair might be unprofessional?

      1. curly sue

        There’s often an unspoken and/or unconscious racialized element that comes along with seeing curly hair as ‘untamed’ and so on. Sometimes, as with natural Black hair, it becomes very conscious and spoken, but a lower-key version of it definitely exists for other groups. Some of it goes back to Enlightenment-era ideas, where the deliberately controlled and contained body (corseted, bewigged, artificial, etc) was the noble, appropriate body, and others were less-civilized.

    26. I'm A Little Teapot

      As long as your hair is cared for and clean, I’m good with it. Straight, curly, in between, permed, dyed, wigs, whatever.

    27. big X

      “Is curly hair unprofessional?”

      Absolutely not – typically it’s black hair that people want to regulate & that has a whole lot of history. Since you live in a humid place, I would also do a quick porosity test. I have low porosity hair and surprisingly, Trader Joe’s Tea Tree shampoo + conditioner work wonders for me. Costs about 4 bucks each (I used to spend like 11-15 dollars on just shampoo or conditioner alone for my hair…). Be sure to also have a moisturizer as well – I use some Shea brand low porosity leave-in (does have an intense smell though or maybe I use too much) with a little argon oil, which won’t weigh down my hair.

      You kind of just have to experiment a little bit and see what your hair likes (esp how often you are washing – people still have this notion that everyone has to wash their hair everyday). You can adhere to a method but I am skeptical that these methods are “one size fits all.” They are a good starting place and knowledge base though!

    28. theletter

      I feel like a statement that curly hair is unprofessional is . . .. problematic.

      I have had no options but to rock a big ‘Long Bob Ross’ hairstyle my entire life, endured extensive bullying, felt like it was holding me back from things I wanted to do, gotten all kinds of weird comments on it. But reading other stories about hair care taught me a deeper level of empathy. When the army tried to ban natural hairstyles such as twists and braids, I understood why people were so upset.

      We seem to have a societal norm of “women’s hair is never good enough.”

      Get a satin cap, thick conditioner and a hair mask, and find a hair style that works best for your hair and your lifestyle. Do not fear the volume. It is disruptive for a reason. It is bold for a reason. It is the curl the future.

    29. Daydreaming

      I have curly hair, and I have never been accused of being unprofessional with it. No idea the texture of it…
      My approach: Wash, dry in a towel for a few mins, use some “toussel me softly” mousse, and then “plop” my hair until I have to leave for work. To do this, I take one of my husband’s white tshirts, put it on the bed in front of me with the bottom facing me. I flip my hair over onto the shirt, wrap the bottom around so the corners meet at the back of my head. Then I flip the neck of the shirt over to the back of my neck, and wrap the sleeves around so they knot around my forehead. Makes for great curls!!

      1. LizB

        I’ve tried the plopping method and I so wish it worked for me! My problem is, my hair is too short (chin-length layered bob), so while my curls get great definition, they end up sticking out every which way because they’re not quite long enough to weigh themselves down into the right direction. I think if I kept my hair longer it’d make it look awesome.

        1. Zombie Unicorn

          I have very thick wavy/curly hair (no idea what all this 3b stuff means and am off to google it) and I tried the plopping method once. It made me look like Animal from the Muppets after being caught in a thunderstorm, and my hair felt really weird, wiry and thin. Never again!

          My main tip is to never ever brush or comb your hair while it’s drying.

    30. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      Curly is fine, as long as it’s not in your face. I have waist-length curly hair and keep it in a bun, but that’s because I’m not willing to put in the effort to keep it tamed and even if it starts out polite and well-behaved in the morning, by lunchtime it’s frizzy and expansive and shrieking like a fishwife. (Which is not really helped by the fact that it’s Merida red to begin with, and then I dye the bottom 18″ of it in bright greens and purples.) But if you’re willing to do the maintenance on it, keep it clean and reasonably tidy and not-shedding as much as possible, any type of hair can be professional. It’s all in the styling.

    31. Ciela

      Curly hair has a rating system? Well you learn something new every day.
      I would say that mine is a solid 3B (Google is my friend)

      I have found that brushing and putting it in one braid before I go to sleep does help is be less curly, most days. And then when the humidity is 90% +, it’s like my hair says, “Screw you! I do what I want!”

      But seriously, you do you. And if someone has an issue with your naturally curly hair being “unprofessional”, first they’re the one with the problem, and second, you can always tell them, “This is the hair God gave me.”
      I have used that a few times to people who just didn’t like my hair (WTF?) and it shut them all up pretty quick.

    32. Samwise

      Curly hair better not be unprofessional, because the only way I don’t have a mop is if I go full Sinead O’Connor.

      As long as it’s not unkempt, curly hair is fine. If it’s long, you can put it up if you need to look super polished. If it’s short, find a really good hairdresser who understands short, curly, professional, and don’t skimp on how often you get your hair done.

    33. NW Mossy

      I’ve been wearing my hair curly at work for about 5 years now, and it’s been totally fine.

      The only negative ramification I can think of was an incident so bizarre that my hair’s involvement is really tangential to the main issue. I was sitting in a 1:1 meeting with my boss with her office door open. During our meeting, the head of our division walked by and saw me. He stopped, reached out and picked up a curl, said something complimentary about it, and left. Meanwhile, my boss and I were too dumbstruck to say anything, because who does that?! Weird AF.

    34. Wavy Haired Girl

      I’m a 2b/2a wavy/curly type (white lady), and extremely susceptible to frizz. I have found that silicone products are too heavy, and don’t let the curls form. I use Fekkai’s Glossing Cream (available at Target/drug stores) and air dry on curly days. It’s a great texture and light-weight. It’s not fully humidity-proof, but it’s pretty good. And I’ve never found anything that can perfectly beat humidity AND allow my waves to form.

      As for professionalism, of course curly hair isn’t unprofessional. That being said… if I am headed into a setting where I need to FEEL really professional and put together, I straighten my hair. It’s a control thing, for me. When I straighten it, I have a much better idea of what my hair is doing and will look like at any given moment. When I go natural, with my particular hair, sometimes it’s super-cute, and sometimes it’s wild and crazy. So, it’s a feeling of control thing for me.

      Oh, and I splurged on the Dyson hair dryer this year. Worth it! Dries and straightens my thick mane so much faster.

    35. AliceBD

      I also have hair that is 2b/2c-ish. I exclusively wear it curly and always have. It’s also very short (varying from 90s power hair short-looking when dry to still being no longer than my chin even wet) so I can’t pull it back or disguise it at all. Just figure out what works for you and do it.

    36. Kuododi

      Most of my adult life I had waist length, thick curly hair. I never had issues with it being perceived as “unprofessional.” I did cut it up to a shoulder length bob while I was on contract with the military. I then had it cut short (modified pixie) about 5yrs ago. My only real issues with long hair was during the summer when I felt as though I had a fur wrap around my head and neck. I was very careful to use anti frizz products to keep the hair in check.

  9. Bus Rider

    My city has a small (but serviceable) public transit system. Fine to get downtown, challenging to get anywhere else. It’s not widly used by people in my office, and over all driving is king in this town.
    I HATE driving. I’m not comfortable doing it, I don’t like it, and I purposely chose my apartment so that I don’t have to drive to work. (I’m actively working to get over this/get more comfortable, but it’ll take time)
    In a heavily car dependent town, how would you react to someone saying “I don’t drive so your office is inconvenient for our meeting, but I’m happy to host at our office”?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      What kinds of meetings are these? If you’re the vendor and you’re meeting with a client, then I think you have to figure out an alternative (like Uber) to get to them, or you can suggest a lunch meeting if that’s do-able, though I imagine it’s not if you have materials to show. You can always ask them to come to you– “We prefer to do the initial meeting in our office” might work–but you should have a plan B. If you’re the client and they’re the vendor, then you prefer to have the meeting in your office.

      If it’s more of a collaborative thing, then I think you can ask to do the meeting at your office, but be prepared if it’s inconvenient for them, too, and you have to compromise with an alternative.

    2. M. Albertine

      I was in the same situation for a long time (not that I didn’t drive, but parking downtown was expensive and public transportation was extremely more convenient). I put it as “I am dependent on public transportation during the day, would you be willing to come to my office?” and most people were happy to, or to meet at a downtown-adjacent place with parking that I could still walk to.

      1. Ihmmy

        Yep, this is how I would phrase it initially (assuming this isn’t a scenario where you’re a vendor trying to convince them to come to you), and otherwise get a taxi or an Uber and expense it. That said, meetings off site aren’t a common occurrence for my job, and most of the ones that do take place have multiple attendees and one of them has a car.

        I definitely wouldn’t slag on driving as a bad choice or their office as being inconvenient though. Centre the behaviour around your own using public transport during the work day like M. Albertine suggested

    3. Alianora

      I think you’ll need to use a taxi or ridesharing service sometimes. In my experience, there are some politics around who comes to who, it isn’t as straightforward as just deciding based on mutual convenience.

      If you’re the one requesting a meeting or if you’re more junior (like an associate trying to meet with a director) it wouldn’t come across well to insist that they come to you. Saying, “I’m happy to host” is fine, but saying, “I don’t drive so your office is inconvenient for me,” would make me (as an administrative assistant managing executives’ calendars) think, “Well, that’s really on you to solve.”

      Even if it is a mutually beneficial meeting between peers, you’ll still probably have to compromise sometimes just on the basis of scheduling. Often, my manager has time for a meeting, but not time to travel back and forth.

    4. LQ

      It depends. If a vendor wants me as a client to come to them I’m mostly going to be annoyed. If it’s a partner I’m going to be much happier to go to them.

      As someone who doesn’t even have a car and has to either public transit or lyft everywhere (or walk, lots of walking) I try to be aware of this. But if it’s a Meeting that’s a big deal and requires a bunch of set up and you’re offering to do all the scheduling and room set up and you’ve got space for it? Yeah, I’m going to be fine with it. Make sure you consider parking (BIG HUGE deal if you are in a car town) you need to have enough of it for everyone, ideally cheap/free. Also how many people from each place are going to the meeting .

    5. Psyche

      Are you requesting the meeting or are they? I think if you are requesting the meeting, you really need to make it as convenient as possible for them. If they are requesting it then you can suggest your office when making the appointment. I don’t drive either and I realize how hard it can be sometimes, especially in the middle of the day. If public transportation won’t work, you probably need to look into taxis or rideshare options.

    6. CatCat

      I’d be like, “I don’t drive either so….”

      I also hate driving. Car commuting kills my soul. I think the solution here is for you to Uber/Lyft/taxi if those are options.

      1. ChachkisGalore

        I agree with this! I’d leave off the reason, because people can be super judgey about non-drivers in a driving centric area. I would just be apologetic and ask them to meet at your office. At most I might say something like “Apologies, but meeting at my office would be much more convenient for me – would that be possible?”

    7. Antilles

      One alternative that’s always worth considering (even if there’s no transportation issue) is whether an actual face-to-face meeting is truly necessary. Sometimes it really can be a lot easier to meet in person…but you can often ‘meet’ just as effectively with a conference call and screen sharing.
      This also has nice sides benefits – not wasting 30 minutes each way on travel, letting you mute the call and do other things if there’s a portion that’s not relevant to you, etc.

    8. Bagpuss

      I think it depends on the meeting.
      – Vendors – I would normally expect them to come to me
      – More senior person within my org. – I would expect to go to them
      – peers / people at other organisations – tyopically would expect meetings to alternate or be split in a broadly equal way.
      – meetings involving multiple people – would normally expect them to be held someone central / convenient to all participants
      – clients – very dependent on the work you are doing. I am a lawyer and I always meet my clients in my office, (unless they ned a home / hospital visitdue to disability or health issues) but I deal with divorce and family law so clients are seeing me in a personal capacity. If I worked in Corporate Law I suspect I would have more meetings in the client’s offices, and in that scenario, if they are paying me, I would go to them if that is their preference.

      One thing to consider is that it is almost always more convenient to host, and it is itypically more expnsive (either personally, or for your employer, or both) to travel to metings, as as well as any actual travel costs, you are spending longer out of the office – if you are billing that time to a clint, thy mi9ght not be happy at the increased costs if you are always the one travelling, and if not, your employer might not be happy.

      So I if I were meting with you, I would be OK with coming to your office for some metings, but if we were going to be meeting more than once, I would probably push back and not be OK with them all being there.

    9. MoopySwarpet

      It depends on if I want the meeting or you want the meeting. If the meeting is for your benefit, I would be annoyed at having to do all the driving. If the meeting is for my benefit, I wouldn’t mind making it convenient for you. If it’s mutually beneficial and/or mandatory (meaning neither of us wants to do it), if it’s a one time meeting, I’d probably grumble to myself and/or those close to me, but accommodate you. If there are several, I’m not going to be a fan of doing all the driving.

      Other factors are parking, drive time, if I’m being reimbursed for those things by my company, etc.

      Part of that is that I also hate driving in certain areas/directions/times of day.

      In general, you might be ok if they know upfront that’s the way it is AND you let them choose the day/time and make your schedule more flexible to offset their driving. (Don’t insist on 8am or late afternoon meetings, for example.)

    10. CM

      I actually think this is an issue you need to work out with your manager and not the people you’re meeting with. Like, in some cases, it’s fine to propose that people meet at your office instead of theirs, but if the normal expectation is that people from your office go on calls to other locations, and you don’t drive, you and your manager need to figure out how you’re going to get there.

      Ideally, that means your company is paying for a taxi, but it’s possible the answer will come back that having a car and a driver’s license is a requirement of the position. In either case, the answer shouldn’t ever be “You have to pay for your own taxi,” and, if you’re expected to drive your own car, there should be some provisions about reimbursing you for gas and miles, and maybe some insurance paperwork, depending on the situation.

      But if this is something that comes up more than once or twice a year, I don’t think you can just rely on inviting people to your office without having a more solid plan for how you can get to their offices.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreed. Only once did I say something. I was Not Well at all and needed to meet with a higher up who was not in my building. I put a lot of energy into apologizing for my inability to drive. She agreed to travel to see me. When she arrived I thanked her profusely. (I do ordinarily drive so this made it hard as I had to explain I was Not Well.)

        Have a work-a-round figured out and perhaps have a plan B, also. It’s not the non-driving that is a big deal, it’s the lack of having a plan of what to do that is off-putting to some folks.

        From the life side of the story, my elderly friend just gave up her driver’s license. And she could do so quite comfortably because she has a plan for how to get herself almost anywhere. She has spread her plan out over 6-7 people. This way one person is not doing all the driving. She also walks to places that are nearby which gives her more flexibility.
        There’s a parallel for work here. Keep your eyes wide open at work, perhaps there are times where you could hitch a ride with someone or you could use a ride/walk combo. Involve more than just one or two people. This way you never have to worry about leaning too hard one someone. Offer gas money, or offer to pay for coffees/snacks/etc. Even if their gas is paid for by the company, they are still doing the work of driving. If say you recognize that driving is also work, people might be delighted by your awareness and be more likely to be available the next time. Don’t let your reasons why you don’t drive get to you, there is a wide variety of reasons why people don’t drive. When my friend filled out her form for a state ID instead of a license, she had to say why she was giving up her license. She wrote one word on the blank line after the question: “age”.
        As you are working through your driving issues, think of my elderly friend and realize we don’t do something (like driving) forever and ever, we do it just for a while.

  10. AliV

    I’m so tired of doing the jobs of half my coworkers so I can get my own work done well. And then to have my feet held to the fire constantly about performance metrics. Wish my colleagues had to go thorough the same.

    1. Construction Safety

      The age of Uber & Lyft has arrived.

      We have e-scooters here, I wouldn’t recommend them for non-bike riders.

    2. 2 Cents

      I could’ve written this post 5 months ago. That’s why I left OldJob. I was held to stricter standards than half of my coworkers and regularly had to do their work on top of my own—but they got the credit for it. I left and haven’t looked back (and got a 33% pay increase too).

      1. AliV

        Ugh. Congrats on the new job!

        Basically I just try to say as little as possible in meetings, for fear I’ll blow my top.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD

      Oh man, I feel this. I hate that competent employees usually end up with more work and incompetent ones just get to coast. Im in a similar place right now and it sucks. You have all my sympathy, AliV.

      1. Bring Hawkeye to the Details

        Me too! Not the feet to the fire part, thankfully. My immediate boss is fantastic and knows what I do. But the powers that be do not understand how hard it is to do my job with the crap info I get from the other department. They’ve been looped in, they’ve been told, they’ve been cced on emails and admit there’s a real problem. But they will not do anything about it. I know they don’t want to lose me, and that was the reason for my raise and promotion recently, but they’re kidding themselves if they think I won’t leave because of that. It wasn’t enough of a bump for my new, added duties that, btw, I don’t have time to do on top of my continued duties from before (all of them. Literally.). I WANT to stay, but I can’t put up with the nonsense much longer.

      1. AliV

        Basically I have to:
        – track the work of multiple coworkers (that I should be able to trust to do their jobs)
        – let them know when they screw up
        – then CONTINUE to track to ensure they actually fixed the error.

        But I’m the one who has to sit in multiple meetings about goals, have my performance metrics tracked and shared, etc etc.

        1. LGC

          So basically, you’re the boss without actually being a manager. Lovely. (Or as someone eloquently put a year ago or thereabouts, they gave you the management bathrobe without the fuzzy management slippers.)

          You have my full permission to ghost your company because that is some HOT garbage.

    1. Venus

      This has been asked quite often, so I might suggest looking at open threads from the past couple months.

    2. Double A

      Online schools are growing and they don’t just need teachers. I just started a wfh teaching job (high school). Maybe check out the online school situation in your state.

    3. Tabby Baltimore

      Some of this information is about 2 years old (found on the AAM site in April 2017), but here are the names that have been recommended on this site in the past. (Since I’m providing some links, this will go into moderation, but you should see this eventually):

      FlexJobs
      We Work Remotely http://weworkremotely.com
      Working Nomads http://www.workingnomads.co
      Jobspresso (for programming/design/marketing jobs)
      Amylynn/Annika http://www.amylynn.org/home/ (Effie who posted this in 2017, added that it lists legit sites for free and has a blacklist of scams)
      Dream Home Based Work http://www.dreamhomebasedwork.com
      rev.com (a LOT of readers have recommended this over the last couple of years)
      National Capital Contracting (this was posted in June 2019 by Lilysparrow, who said it does transcription work, but that most are short assignments with an overnight turnaround)

      1. Gaia

        Also when looking on more traditional sites, see if there is an option for “Remote” or “Work from Home.”

        1. Fortitude Jones

          Yup – I found my current fully remote position on Glassdoor or Indeed, I can’t remember which. It said “Remote Option Available” in the location field along with the company’s HQ location.

  11. Fiona

    My husband is about to start a boot camp for UX/UI next month. He’s really excited about this new career (he has a background related to tech and a longstanding interest in design) and I was curious if folks could weigh in on any of the following:

    – If you did a UX/UI boot camp, is there any advice you might share? (His program is 6 months). Things you wish you had known?
    – If you currently work in UX/UI, any general advice for starting out in the field?

      1. Fiona

        Skiing, fjords, universal health care, and one of the highest ranked countries for happiness? Sign us up!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood

        Tempting… jeg var en amerikansk student i Aalesund….but so many years ago I can barely count to ti now.
        What happens when both members of a couple want to work but only one has the particular technical skill being recruited?

        1. AcademiaNut

          Depends on the visa laws of the country, and the type of visa.

          Generally, the primary visa holder can bring in a spouse on a spousal visa. They may have the ability to work relatively freely or up to a certain number or hours a week, or they may need to find an employer to sponsor a work visa independently, or they may be prohibited from working at all. If you’re not married, the spousal visa doesn’t generally apply, and you’d need a completely independent visa for residency. The chances of getting a visa sponsored do depend strongly on the type of work you do; the chances of getting a job even with work permission does as well.

    1. The dude

      A good way to stand out in UX interviews is to know the difference in UX and UI. We get a lot of UI people applying for UX jobs and we ask questions to filter out people who don’t know the difference.

      Not saying you can’t have skills in both, but be very clear on the differences. We’ve said more than once we’ll just hire the next candidate who understood the difference.

      1. Fiona

        That’s great to know and he’s thought a lot about it – his program makes him choose a path, so he’s most likely going to be focusing on UX. That’s wild that people are interviewing without really distinguishing. Thank you for weighing in!

        1. The dude

          It’s totally common for people to be proficient in both. It’s even more common for people to think that because they’re proficient in one, they must be proficient in both.

    2. Mainer

      My husband completed a coding boot camp two years ago. He loved the experience and gained a lot of new skills but unfortunately never landed a developer gig. My advice is to make sure you know your local market for UX/UI and network like crazy. We live about an hour from a major east coast metro and my husband was assured many companies would allow remote work. We found out this was not the case too late. Most major employers want new employees to have way more experience than a 6 month program allowed or want someone that could work in the city full time. Everything worked out and he now designs websites as more of a hobby/side hustle but it definitely wasn’t the ROI we were sold on.

      1. Fiona

        Thanks, that’s really helpful. We luckily do live in a major city but I don’t actually know what the job market is like, so he should definitely start researching that sooner rather than later. Glad it worked out ultimately for your family!

      2. AcademiaNut

        That actually makes a fair amount of sense to me. If I were hiring someone trained at a bootcamp I’d want to have them in a closely supervised environment until their programming skills matured. You can learn a lot in six months of intensive study, but it takes time to really master the stuff, and learn good style and practices.

      3. wikikatie

        Mainer, can we chat via email? I live in NH and have been thinking of taking (probably that same) boot camp.

    3. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Less UI and more all-round development (not through a bootcamp though): I found out that a lot of my interviews asked about GitHub (or other) repos. They also asked about coding I did on the side. It may serve him well to build up some dummy sites for people to page though (or download and look through). It wasn’t super-critical or keeping me out of the running, but they did ask. I think it’s to make sure that the people working in the field are interested and continue to learn.

      Also–for me (semi-big city, not-costal) there were a lot of temp-to-perm jobs on offer and not a lot of full-time employment offers (at least for fresh grads). Might want to check that out locally.

      Finally, Linked in is your friend. I turned that thing on and listed my IT experience and I got all sorts of recruiters bugging me pretty quickly.

    4. voluptuousfire

      I work in tech recruitment and I see bootcampers all the time. The best way to gain experience is co-ops and internships. Even contract work for a few months builds up experience. Many places won’t hire someone without at least a year’s experience under their belt unless they happen to have junior roles that can be filled by the bootcamp.

      If you’re adjacent to a tech hub, meetups to network. There are usually tons of UX meetups in the evenings during the week. Also if the bootcamp has a designer-in-residence, they’d be a good fit to make friends with. Mentors are always a good thing to have!

      UX/UI Designers are always in demand but moreso for more senior designers vs. those out of bootcamps. Once your husband gets his chops and builds up a rep, he’ll have many options. Software developers and engineers are always needed but I would say from my experience, it’s definitely harder to find product people–designers and managers.

    5. rinkydink

      I did a 1-year program rather than a bootcamp, but I’ve worked & hired in the field. My advice:
      1. Make sure you’ve researched the program. Do past students (preferably ones you found on LinkedIn, not via the program itself!) think it was worth it? Do the instructors work in industry (so they’re familiar with the real world and can help with networking), or do they just teach? Some programs are good, some aren’t.
      2. Per thread above about student loans – make sure you’ve vetted this career decision and understand the financial implications! Talk to current designers and understand their day-to-day work – does it all sound appealing? Including frequent critique, and importance of good communication skills for justifying designs? Also, first UX jobs pay decently but not a ton (especially without advanced degree or experience – bootcamps are more a foot in the door than a justification for higher pay). Make sure you’re in a position to pay costs given typical entry-level salaries in your city.
      3. While in school, it’s all about building a strong portfolio! Work hard on all projects so you have something good to show future employers. Look at UX/UI portfolios of those successful in the field so you know what a good one contains. Build it out in a website so it’s ready to go when you start looking for jobs. See if instructors know of any paid side-gigs you can do to add in the portfolio.
      4. Also while in school- network! Very important! Go to UX events around town and talk to people. Ask for informational interviews. Ask instructors for connections. Knowing someone significantly increases chances of getting a gig.

      Also, I agree with dude’s comment that UX and UI are different…but most companies treat them as conjoined these days. At minimum, they want UX designers who can still turn out visually appealing work (especially at entry level). But good still to understand both areas.

      Good luck to your husband! It’s an in-demand field and really enjoyable for many people – like all careers, just important to really understand the job so you know what you’re getting into!

    6. ErgoBun

      I’m a UI/UX manager and the advice in this thread is already quite good! I would also add:

      – Try to build your resume/portfolio with examples of interacting with people and clients. The UX designer is usually the first person who really starts to make the client’s needs come to life beyond sales and requirements gathering. You have to be able to listen and communicate. Look for opportunities to participate in or facilitate design workshops to learn how to partner with people and guide non-designers through the design process (or non-researchers through the research process).

      – Check to see if you have a local chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) for seminars, networking, and general commiseration with others. All my experiences with my local chapter have been great!

  12. Not hungry, just bored

    How do you avoid mindless snacking when your office is FULL of free food?
    In the morning’s it’s leftover doughnuts and muffins from breakfast meetings, that’s replaced with chips and sandwiches after lunch, all this on top of the healthy seeming (baked-not-fried chips, protein bars, granola, trail mix) snacks we always have available….

    1. Wren

      I set a timer and don’t allow myself to eat until the timer goes off. Then I get my snack and eat it in the kitchen, never at my desk.

      A mug of tea to sip on at my desk helps fill my need of mindless eating: peppermint tea is especially good for this because it’s good unsweetened, and doesn’t change taste as it cools like some herbal teas do. Good luck!

      1. Third or Nothing!

        Drinking tea is a great idea! It mimics the hand-to-mouth motion and you’re actually consuming something, but it’s basically calorie free as long as you don’t load it up with milk and sugar.

        I’m partial to flavored rooibos myself. Celestial Seasonings makes a delicious vanilla rooibos that’s great unsweetened. Tazo also has a dessert tea line that I’ve heard good things about.

        1. Sled dog mama

          This is how I lost 15 lbs in 6 months. I have 4 boxes of herbal tea in my desk and I tried every liquid no calorie sweetener I could get my hands on until I found my perfect snack replacement (I don’t sweeten all my drinks just the black tea which I only drink 1-2 times a day). Now any time I get the urge to snack I get a cup of tea.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen

        A timer worked for me too: in my case it was a personal rule “not before 3pm”. Often the best things would be gone by then anyway, and I am picky enough to care; and often after 3pm you’re just wanting to get stuff done so you can leave on time, so you don’t want to leave your desk.

        Peppermint tea is great. I’ve recently been drinking a peppermint and liquorice infusion (nothing added) which is smoother.

    2. Emi

      The only thing that’s ever worked for me, for keeping me from snacking, is chewing gum. And, that’s not always possible, like if you’re on the phone a lot.

    3. Tris Prior

      We seem to always have a lot of visibly sick people in our office and usually that’s enough to keep me out of the food – at least the stuff that’s not individually wrapped. Thinking about other people sneezing and snotting and coughing all over it kills my appetite right away. So, maybe picture that guy who has the nasty cough touching all of the food after coughing all over his hands and not washing them?

      1. Wren

        Good advice! I know when I’m thirsty it first feels like hunger until I take time to really listen to my body.

        1. EH

          Yes! Hunger is often actually thirst. Plus, by the time you’re noticeably thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so it’s good to get ahead of it. If I have water at my desk I drink it pretty mindlessly, and it helps me to stretch my legs when I get refills (and also when I have to go to the bathroom, heh).

        2. JustaTech

          I wish my internal thirst indicator were consistent. When I’m in need of water I get (in no order or consistency) thirsty, hungry, filled with rage at the world. That last one is not super helpful for letting me know I need a drink.

    4. Mbarr

      Oh man, I’m in the same boat at my new company – especially since we get stocked up with fancy ice cream bars every Monday. :(

      Chewing gum, and having my favorite teas seems to help. I have both spearmint gum and bubblemint gum so that I can alternate between refreshing and sweet flavors. And the same goes for my teas – I have my boring green teas, then I also have tangy orange teas to satisfy other cravings.

      Sometimes giving in also helps… I was starving and got myself a package of Ritz crackers that’s combined with “cheese flavored dip” – I haven’t had those since I was a kid. I barely made it through 4 crackers. Apparently they’re gross to my adult palate.

    5. MaxiesMommy

      Do “if/then”—IF I eat this, then I’ll gain weight. IF I eat this, then I’m taking it from a colleague. IF I eat this, it will jack my blood sugar. Then do “if I don’t/then—If I don’t eat this, I will feel thin and virtuous, I can skip the gym tonite, or whatever. If/then helps me get to the root of food AND money stuff, I’m finding.

      1. yala

        “If I don’t eat this, I will feel thin and virtuous”

        mm… that seems like a REALLY dangerous line of thought to start falling into.

      2. Toothless

        Ditto on the “if I don’t” examples being a dangerous line of thinking… thin is not virtuous, and exercise is not a punishment for overeating. “If I don’t eat this, I won’t get a headache or feel sick to my stomach” is usually what my logic ends up being.

    6. !

      Pretend all the food is covered in bacteria from people touching it before you with their unclean hands.

    7. ThatGirl

      I work for a company that sells baking and decorating supplies and we have a test kitchen that’s constantly churning out baked goods of all sorts. It’s dangerous. Drinking water and tea and keeping actually healthy snacks in my desk helps some.

    8. Yuan Zai

      Distraction works for me. If I find myself reaching for those chips or that muffin or whatever, instead I make myself do something on my to do list, check my email, or go check the mail. By redirecting myself, I tend to forget about the food being there.

    9. Parenthetically

      Counterintuitive advice: give yourself 100% permission to eat any of it, whenever you want it — today, tomorrow, every single day forever, etc.. Don’t try to resist it. Then dig in to whether or not you actually DO want it. Does it sound good? Will it make you feel good? Will it taste as good as it sounds? If so, eat it! If not, don’t!

      Either way, you’ve made an empowered choice based on your own desires, rather than setting up a daily willpower standoff with a bunch of food that will still be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

      And maybe you decide you DO want to eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks from the Free Office Food today, and tomorrow, and the next day, but eventually, if it’s never off-limits and you’re never trying to “resist” it, just deciding if you actually want it, it’s going to lose its pull. Maybe it doesn’t make you feel great. Maybe it’s annoyingly samey and you’d rather bring in more variety from home. Maybe you’re sick of eating packaged stuff. Maybe it’s delicious and varied and fresh, but you find you’re wasting food at home. But the less of a hold it has over you, the more you can make mindful, intentional decisions about it. Let the ubiquity make it boring.

      1. Toothless

        +1, a lot of free packaged junk food is objectively just not that great and if it’s not forbidden fruit you don’t want to eat it anyways!

      2. LunaLena

        I agree that counterintuitive solutions can work. I am a type 2 diabetic, so I have to be careful of how much I eat. It sounds incredibly counterintuitive, but I keep my office stocked full of snacks – soda, chips, cookies, etc. – to counter this. It deters me from going out and buying snacks (“I have snacks in my office, I shouldn’t spend money on more,”), and when I’m in my office, knowing that they’re always there and not going anywhere makes me feel like I don’t have to rush out to get something good before it’s all gone. I just try to keep myself busy to keep from thinking about them too much.

        It also helps that they’re far away enough that I have to physically get up and walk across the room to get them, so I have time to think about whether I *really* need to get up and get them. And as a bonus, if me or my office mates are truly so hungry that the hunger is distracting, they’re right there waiting for us.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood

      I stopped eating at my desk (mostly) after I cleaned out someone’s desk & keyboard who snacked on those healthy options at her desk instead of taking a full lunch. All the crumbs!
      Beyond that I try not to go down to the cafeteria except at specific times of the day. And I try to have a big glass of water before going to any meeting that has snacks provided.

    11. Mid

      I have a water bottle with a straw (which isn’t the most professional looking thing, I’ll admit) and that helps. I don’t eat at my desk. And chewing gum works well for me, if you don’t have a phone-heavy job. Mint gum means less food cravings, nice breath, and you can chew on something all day long. Also, I eat really big breakfasts, because that’s what my body likes. You could also make smoothies for breakfast and sip on them all day, maybe, f you’re getting genuinely hungry.

    12. Not So NewReader

      Boredom is a huge thing with snacking. If we are snacking we are forgetting the boredom… for a minute. When the chewing stops the boredom is BACK. You might ponder this boredom problem, is it time to move on?
      Going the opposite way, how do you create your own challenges to stifle the boredom?
      How do you lay out your work and your work day? If you have daily goals that you aim for this might help distract you enough.

      I have often told myself that once any job becomes familiar, it will get boring. So what is my response going to be about that boredom? Currently, I have repetitive tasks A through G. I try to get A, B and C done in my first hour. (This means I have to move along and sometimes multi-task.) By my second hour, I want tasks D through F done. I grant myself a half hour to get through task G. There! Now I made it to the interesting part of my day where I can work on bigger, long term stuff that is definitely more interesting.

      I bring my own snacks. Currently, I seem to be really enjoying peas in edible pods. They taste like candy to me, so very sweet. Fortunately, if I want something else, I have to leave my building and drive to a nearby store. This is helpful because most days, I just don’t want to spend the energy doing that.

      Try to help yourself to understand that the real problem is not the food, it is the boredom. Eating something just postpones finding the solution to the real problem.

    13. Not A Manager

      For myself, I made a rule that I simply don’t eat the free food, ever. It’s pretty easy for me to overlook stuff that’s “not for me” and soon I just don’t notice it or think about it.

      Having to make daily (or hourly) decisions about “am I hungry? Am I hungry for that thing? Will I feel good or bad after eating it?” etc. is distracting and stressful. And I’m not good at answering the questions honestly. When I’m stressed but not hungry, or hungry but not for Twinkies, I’ll just be like F*CK YEAH! and eat the thing and then feel crappy afterward.

      I’m better off planning my own food, eating it when I feel like it, and just ignoring all the other food that’s around.

      I understand that there is a lot of privilege in this, not only about food access but about time management and privacy, so I know it won’t work for everyone.

  13. ThatGirl

    So, I’ve been with my current company two years, and about 5 weeks ago I changed positions from an external-facing customer service role to a copywriting role that’s much more in line with my long-term career goals.

    Since I left CS the department has basically fallen apart. First I heard my old manager left (presumably got let go), then yesterday my former coworker told me the third woman on our team had been fired. Which, the manager was a bit of a surprise, but the third CW was not – she honestly was not good at her job, rude to customers and didn’t take correction well. But that leaves my poor friend with just her and one temp! The larger department is trying to support her, but they’re not well-trained in things, and it’ll be two weeks before the person filling my old spot starts. Yeesh, what a mess.

    1. Anon for this one

      Brace for being asked to “fill in” over there – on top of your workload for your new job of course…

      1. Been there done that

        Yikes – yes I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask you to help out and you’ll end up doing two roles for months with no end in sight. Maybe proactively load your schedule for the next month or two so that you clearly have no time available to help out. And give your current boss a headsup so hopefully they’ll have your back.

      2. ThatGirl

        Nah, that’s not gonna happen, though I may get consulted on procedure occasionally. I totally changed floors and departments.

  14. DaniCalifornia

    Guys! I heard back this week from a great job after 4 rounds of interviews (big leadership team) and it’s not just a matter of “if” anymore! I should be getting an offer next week!!! I’m doing a small happy dance and will have the full-on celebration once it goes from 99% to 100% confirmed.

    My problem is at my current toxic job. I’ll be happy to leave. I regularly cry about how bad the situation is. Health has plummeted. Nepotism, good employees punished with more and more work while bad employees are free to do whatever, owner wants to be ignorant of it all and uses our salaries as carrot sticks.

    We just hired a new employee and my supervisor did not hire well (3rd bad hire this year!) and after several months new employee is just not getting it. Everyone has complained to supervisor and they are hesitant to do anything. Ironic that it’s now my bad coworkers complaining about new employee for the same stuff they do. I still have a bit of guilt about leaving. I know I shouldn’t, friends/family have told me I shouldn’t feel guilty at all. But it’s like 10-15% there and when I leave it will not be taken well. In an “Oh $h!t” panicky mode + an angry mode. We made recent changes where I was promised that with hiring an additional employee I would have less do do…but now I have more to do. My coworkers are not trained/refuse to learn so I’ve been there the longest and know 100% of all their jobs. They know about 25% of my job and will be left hanging. There will probably be some hostility during my notice period. Any tips to deal with this? It’s not my fault I couldn’t get them to agree to cross training. I have an extensive OneNote with SOPs, templates, instructions with screenshots ready to go. But anyone have this happen to them before? Mantra’s to silently repeat to myself to not feel guilty in the moment? When I come home raging/crying after a bad day it’s easy to think “So long suckers!” but in the moment at work I tend to deal with it quietly and don’t press back on confrontation. It’s also going to be hard to give notice and say “Oh this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up” when everyone is sick of new employee/recent changes. I think it will be obvious why I’m leaving as I’ve expressed my frustration appropriately when needed and I was ignored. We are a small office so with me gone they are looking at losing 10% of their staff.

    1. austriak

      Loyalty at work is a dead concept. That company would lay you off without any regret if they wanted or needed to. It is not your problem how they react. All you can do is give a good last 2 weeks where you take care of things that need to get done and document things for the next person. Don’t feel bad. Focus on the new opportunity.

      1. Mama Bear

        ^^ This. You care because you’re a good person, but this is not your problem once you leave. I left knowing there was still a bad manager behind me, and the fact that three people quit in one month was NOT my problem – the funny thing was we were all looking but hadn’t told each other so it was like dominos. Anyhow, they learn your job or they don’t. It’s on them if they are unprofessional. It’s on management if they can’t keep people or hire good ones.

    2. Sighhh

      Yes, sort of. I recently transferred from one branch to a different location in the same company, and even though I was staying in a similar field (with an elevated title), there was a fair amount of hostility and frustration. In my case, I handled an area of our business independently that required specialized knowledge and had really frustratingly terribly training resources. It required you to not just follow a set of directions, but to be able to think critically and make decisions based on deeper knowledge of services and logistics. It was a pain in the ass to train me originally, and though I tried to bring others in when I could, they expressed frustration with how dense the learning was.

      When it was finally announced that I was leaving (our manager made me wait a whole week, giving only 1 week’s notice to my coworkers), there was a lot of grumbling and silent treatment because they knew I was giving them a lot more responsibility. They had the bandwidth, but were comfortable in their routines and liked having a lot of downtime. They’re all great people, and the toxicity of other parts of the office have really been affecting them, so this was just adding more straw to the camel’s back. How I mitigated it:

      -Solid SOPs. Every time I touched my mouse or keyboard to do something that is part of the process, I wrote it in an SOP. Took lots of screenshots, too. Sounds like you have this down, but making it easy to read and saving it in an easy-to-access location is key.
      -Lots of hands on training. Make yourself available for any and all questions, no matter how irritating they are. Make it impossible for anyone to blame you for not training them enough before you left.
      -Leave on a good note. Don’t engage in any office gossip or foolishness before you go. In my toxic workplace, gossip was commonplace. Leave in good graces by redirecting conversations.
      -Don’t talk too much about your new position. People might take it as bragging and feel really resentful. I made the mistake of showing a coworker a photo of my new desk (she asked!) and she was snippy with me for the rest of the day.
      -Let it go. If you do the above, if you prepare all you can, then you’re better than 90% of other folks who leave a job. You’ve done what you can, now it’s time to take care of YOU. I’m still somewhat plagued by the memories of the toxicity in my old position, mostly because I’m shocked at how wonderful this new one is, even though they’re in the same company. Don’t let these folks live rent-free in your head. Help how you can, and enjoy the new position!

      1. DaniCalifornia

        Thank you for sharing! I am definitely keeping mum on the new role. The only thing I plan to say is that it’s geared more towards my degree on working on and they reached out to me first (both are technically true lol) even though I’ll still be in admin and I was heavily searching for jobs at the time.

      2. DaniCalifornia

        Also “Don’t let these folks live rent-free in your head” that is amazing advice! I will keep that written down on my mirror. Also glad you are now in a better branch!

    3. Trek

      Picture what would have happened if you suddenly could no longer work or could not come to work for six weeks? In those situations they would not have had any warning and possible not have the guides available to access. You are now giving them two weeks notice to prepare for your departure. If they become difficult and make comments respond back cheerfully ‘I’m glad I was able to give two weeks so everyone can prepare.’ If they act like this is not enough time focus on it being standard. If they continue being difficult use Allison’s script ‘I want to finish my notice period but if we can’t agree to be civil then I will need to make today my last day.’

    4. Dreamer

      Honestly, when i was in a similar boat it helped just to know i was leaving. I smiled more and dealt with stuff that was weighing on me with a bright smile because ‘it not my problem after these 10 days’. Just remember that you do not need to deal with outright harassment. 2 week notices are nice to give but not at the detriment of your health.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        That’s how I always deal with leaving a job, too. I’m suddenly happy again and full of lightness, I’m smiling, and things that annoyed me just roll off my back at that point because it’s no longer my problem.

    5. Nope, not today

      It sounds like you’ve done everything you can to get your job to deal with the issues in the office – when you start feeling guilty, just remind yourself of that! You’ve tried to get them to cross train. You have documented everything you can to help them. The decisions made that make the job unbearable are not your decisions. They’ve made their bed; you tried to help them and they have refused to take any action. You can’t help someone, or an employer, if they refuse to listen. You’ve tried looking out for them and now its time to look out for yourself. Good luck with finishing things out there and in the new job!

    6. Practice a poker look

      >> It’s also going to be hard to give notice and say “Oh this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up” when everyone is sick of new employee/recent changes.

      This is just in your head. Practice a few times on how you’ll give notice and how you’ll respond to comments. And no need or reason to feel guilty! Maybe your current colleagues might be motivated by you to leave as well.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        + 1 on the motivation front

        Three months after I left my last company, my cubemate also left for a new job, lol.

    7. cmcinnyc

      Guilt is for when you did something wrong. You don’t like this job; you got another one. When you hear that someone isn’t happy in their current job, looks for another one, and gets it, do you think, “Wow, I didn’t realize Jane was such a terrible person!” Or do you think “Good for Jane!” or “If Jane can do it, I can do it.” If it’s OK for Jane, it’s OK for you.

    8. Filosofickle

      I’ve always felt a little guilty for leaving jobs, and often sad even when the job sucks. I don’t understand why, but I always do! But the moment I’m gone, the relief and happiness at being out kicks in and all the guilt has just evaporated. Hopefully that will happen for you, too!

    9. Samwise

      Sucks to be them, doesn’t it.

      It’s easy for me to say, don’t feel guilty, but…you have no reason to feel guilty. All of this is on them, they had plenty of opportunity to do better and THEY CHOSE NOT TO.

      Go forth and be happy. You can feel sorry for them, but personally I would not.

    10. Wishing You Well

      If, after you give notice, your work environment becomes too hostile, AMA has great advice on how to cut your time short and physically leave early. Sometimes people have to do this to preserve their mental health.
      I hope your departure is easier than you anticipate.

    11. Zephy

      First: Congrats on getting out!

      Not your circus, not your monkeys. This company obviously doesn’t care about you, so you don’t owe them any more consideration than “my last day will be x.” Management can feel how they feel about it, it’s not your problem. What are they going to do, fire you?

    12. Not So NewReader

      It’s two weeks. Think. It’s two weeks. Us human beings are awesome, we can do anything if we know there is a time limit.

      So here you have a situation where NO one is pleased with you. Your cohorts, your boss, etc. are not happy with you. You know what this means right? You have FREEDOM. See, no matter what you do they will be unhappy. This means your target has shifted to JUST YOU. Are you happy with your work? Do you feel you have been as fair as possible given the givens? Can you sleep at night if you think about how you handled this transition?

      I have had need to ponder the question, “What happens when a boss and cohorts do not express appreciation for our work?” Appreciation has to come from some where else. The easiest place is inside ourselves and finding our own appreciation for our own efforts. Tell yourself, “I am handling things in such a manner that ten years from now I will still be able to say that I did my best.”

      I LOVE it when people tell others how they SHOULD or SHOULD not feel. /Snark.

      Emotions are just that, emotions. And it is normal to have opposite emotions all mixed together in the course of one day. You feel guilty because you are a SINCERE PERSON. Only a cold-hearted beast would have no pangs here. But they do not deserve your sincerity or your concern. Ironically, I am going to tell you that you need to keep that part of you. If you lose it then you become one of them.
      So when you feel guilty, feel the feeling.
      When you feel anger, feel the feeling.
      Then tell yourself that you are a normal, thinking human being.
      The quickest way out of an emotion is to address it head-on.
      As you feel yourself go up and down on this rollercoaster, remind yourself that this is the exact reason why you are leaving. Jobs should not require this much emotional energy just to get through the workday.

      It’s two weeks. Practice picturing yourself at your new place. They are nice. And oh my, they work! And you are happy there. Keep working on this picture in your mind’s eye.
      Come back and tell us how the new place is.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Only a cold-hearted beast would have no pangs here.

        No. I have never in a million years felt guilty about leaving any of my jobs, and I’m not remotely cold-hearted (though I sometimes wish I was). I’m pragmatic – if something is no longer working for me or my life, it’s time to move on regardless of how others feel. They’re not living my life for me after all.

        1. Anonymous Celebrity

          Same here. No guilt at all, even when the job I was leaving was a decent job. Because it’s a JOB, not a love affair, or a best friend, or a marriage. It’s labor (intellectual labor, but that’s still labor) in exchange for money. Period.

          Does that mean I won’t have warm/friendly relationships with folks at work? Of course not. But in the end, it’s just a job, and that’s always been how I’ve viewed it. When I need to leave, I leave. And that’s it. No guilt. I may miss some folks at the job I’m leaving, but that’s a whole different story.

    13. Warm Weighty Wrists

      Congratulations!
      In situations like this, when I am moving away from a responsibility that should never have been mine, my mantra is “my first responsibility is to myself”. Weigh any requests/demands you encounter during your notice period against this standard–the question is not how much it would help them, but whether it would harm YOU. If it would stress you out, make you unhappy, cost you late nights at work, delay your start date… it’s a no. They will almost certainly try to make you feel that you are abandoning your responsibilities to them, but you are not. You are honoring your most important responsibility–to yourself.

  15. Toxic waste

    I started a new job 4 months ago. When I started, I worked some over time, so my boss said that I can take a half day when I need to. Well, the holiday weekend is coming up and I asked boss a week ago if I could take my half day before the long weekend. Boss said yes.

    Today I was in a meeting with boss and “Fergus”. They were going over the plans for the week. I reminded boss that I was leaving early that day. Fergus looked surprised. He then asked what my plans were for Friday and I told him. He then said, “That’s not a good enough reason to take off.”

    I didn’t know what to say. He said it in front of boss and boss said nothing. I was shocked, so I just sort of said, “Oh really?” Fergus then said that he was “just joking”.

    First of all, Fergus is a co-worker, not my boss. Second of all, what constitutes as a “good reason”? Third of all, other people are also taking off that day, so why single me out?

    Another co-worker said that Fergus is just jealous because he can’t have off, but still. I’m sick of these comments. I’ve dealt with stuff like this at previous jobs and I never know how to handle it. It catches me off guard and I don’t know what to say. I also don’t want to say some things that come to mind because I don’t want to get in trouble or get fired, lol.

    It’s not the first time that he’s said something snarky towards me. Now, I’ve been in toxic environments, so maybe that’s just triggering for me, but the things that Fergus says bothers me and the fact that boss does nothing about it is upsetting.

    Is 3 months too soon to leave early from a new job? Am I missing something here? Has anyone else experienced this? What did you do? Any input or advice would be appreciated.

    1. Armchair Analyst

      Whoa there!
      Have you mentioned it to Fergus? “Hey Fergus, I know you said you were joking about me not having a good enough reason to take a day off, but that’s a touchy subject to me because of past workplaces. I don’t deal with snark and sarcasm well, so if we could play it straight for awhile, I’d appreciate it. You seem like a good guy and I’d love to grab a coffee or something together so you can tell me more about your time here at this office, if you want. If not, that’s cool, too, we can get along professionally, but just please know I’m sensitive to your sense of humor.”

      1. TechWorker

        I mean from this conversation about the last thing I’d want to do is submit myself to a coffee with Fergus but I guess that’s a mature way of dealing with it…

        1. Fortitude Jones

          Cut the part out about inviting him anywhere – he’s annoying and you don’t like him, so you shouldn’t have to subject yourself to spending time in his presence that you aren’t being paid for.

          That said, definitely tell him to stop making snarky asides to you about your work or your time off, especially in front of your boss. You should not be contemplating leaving a job over one person whose only sin you’ve mentioned is not knowing how to read a room.

    2. Beryl

      This sounds like it has everything to do with Fergus and nothing to do with you.
      You’re not missing something; Fergus is a snarky coworker. Unless Fergus’s conversation has something to do with your work, assume that Fergus has their own stuff to deal with that they like taking out on others. You often cannot do anything that will change behaviour like this.

    3. Blue Eagle

      A co-worker once told me to never overshare about time off. When someone (even the boss) asks about what you are going to do with time off just reply – some family stuff that needs to be taken care of. Even if the family stuff is you going on vacation with your own family – or just you by yourself because you are your own family.

      1. Evil HR Person

        +1 so much this! I wouldn’t have answered him, or answered what Alison always says to say: “What a strange question to ask me about my time off?,” implying that it’s none of his business because it’s your time away from work and he’s not the boss of it, or of you. Don’t make rash decisions because of one jerk.

        1. Double A

          I think it would be weirdly hostile to respond to an inquiry about your weekend with, “What a strange question” because it’s… not a strange question? It’s totally normal small talk. It was Fergus’s response that was weird, so it seems reasonable to respond to his comment with, “Oh, I wasn’t looking for commentary about how I use my free time” or “Oh, I thought we were just making small talk.”

          That being said, reacting to a snarky comment by thinking about job hunting seems disproportionate. The comment was pretty clearly about Fergus’s issues. OP, this may seem like an overreaction to your overreaction, but does your new employer have an EAP? If you come from a toxic environment, it really might worth working through some of that with a counselor. It’ll help you re-calibrate your sense of normal and ability to differentiate run-of-the-mill office BS (e.g. occasional obnoxious comment from coworker) from actual toxic patterns.

          That being said, hooray for escaping a toxic office and for having fun weekend plans!

          1. Freebird

            Toxic waste wasn’t talking about quitting. They were asking whether it’s too soon (3 months) to ask to leave early for the day. :)

      2. Mama Bear

        Agreed. While a lot of people do share, because they’re being friendly, it’s also perfectly fine to simply say your boss approved the time off and all he needs to know is that you won’t be there. I wouldn’t quit just yet, but I’d start trying cut Fergus off when he gets into snark mode.

    4. Turtlewings

      Thinking of leaving because of one kinda stupid comment from a coworker seems over the top. Even if Fergus is being a consistent annoyance, it’s better to find a way to deal with that (ideally, to make him stop) than to immediately jump ship. After all, you’re just as likely to have an annoying coworker at your next job.

      As far as the comment itself, a cool and somewhat bewildered “Thanks for your opinion,” said in a tone that communicates ‘that was weird for you to say since you get no vote in my decisions,’ and going right back to the work conversation without letting him continue, might have been a good reaction.

        1. TechWorker

          Yep this was my read too, they’re just saying ‘is it weird to leave early when I’ve only been there 3 months’ – to which the answer is ‘absolutely not’ – your boss ok-ed the time off and frankly it’s precisely none of Fergus’ business what your reasons are.

      1. stitchinthyme

        Doesn’t sound like it’s just one comment: “It’s not the first time that he’s said something snarky towards me.”

        Seems like it’s time to stand up to Fergus. Next time he makes a snarky comment, address it in the moment, politely. “Excuse me?” is a good start. To the above comment, I’d probably have said something like, “And since when do you get to decide what’s a good reason for me to leave early?”

    5. Chocolate Trinity

      My recommendation is to next time, just say “Well, this is what I like to do with my time off and I will be sticking to those plans” and be super matter-of-fact about it, like his opinion makes no difference and that you stand by what your plans are. It’s your time off that you earned to do with what you please.

    6. DaniCalifornia

      Would replying “What an odd thing to say?” with a tone of half cheery/half wonderment to him work? And then changing the subject. I know that Alison has suggested that script before for rude or unwanted comments.

    7. Psyche

      Next time you can just give him a confused look and say “Why does it matter what I am doing? I go the time off approved.” If he pushes you can follow up with “In the past you have been very judgmental about how I use my time off which I don’t appreciate so I no longer feel comfortable sharing my plans with you.”

    8. Princess Scrivener

      Next time, brag on your boss… “Why YES, yes, I do have the *best* boss, who looks out for me, and ensures I get time off when I need it.”

      1. MaxiesMommy

        And Boss not reprimanding Fergus seems to mean “Fergus? No one pays any attention to Fergus!”

    9. EA in CA

      As long as your boss has already approved it, there is nothing more that Fergus can contribute to the conversation. Whatever the reason for time off, it was approved and owed by Boss, Fergus’ opinion is just that, his opinion. I think you feel targeted because of your past history and that you are new. There is heighten awareness around you that you need to make sure you perform well and to gain the respect/recognition of your coworkers as you establish yourself within a group of new people. Fergus could be the office jerk, lacks social skills, has a weird sense of humor, or is targeting you because you are the newest, and easiest, person to focus on.

      But why leave just because of one person? You’ll always find that in every job there will be someone you don’t like or doesn’t like you, or a task/responsibility that you don’t like. Is that really worth leaving an otherwise decent or liked job? Boss didn’t address it because he doesn’t think that this is all that big a deal, especially since the time off was already approved by them. You are seeing things through a very skewed lens due to your past experience.

      My advice is to not share any personal details with Fergus from here on out. The less info he is provided, the less fuel for him to use. it sets a boundary to keeps his snark more contained and gives you more power over the situation. Keep your interactions with him neutral, as a matter of fact, and entirely work related while being civil. If this were me, I would say all responses to his snark with a big smile on my face. It totally disarms them and makes them feel uncomfortable.
      Me: Oh I am leaving early Friday, remember?
      Fergus: *surprised* Really? What for?
      Me: I’m leaving early to go llama riding with my family.
      Fergus: That’s not a good enough reason to leave early.
      Me: *BIG SMILE* Oh really? Is that a problem?

      1. Parenthetically

        Even less info.

        Fergus: *surprised* Really? What for?
        Me: Nothing major, now did you want to take a look at these TPS reports before I go?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood

        Me: Oh I am leaving early Friday, remember?
        Fergus: *surprised* Really? What for?
        Me: It’s comp time because of the OT I worked to get the new product out last month.

      3. Baru Cormorant

        Agree about not sharing information. I think you should either take this tactic–no info, totally neutral, let your natural shock trigger your wording but not your emotion.
        Fergus: That’s not a good enough reason to take off.
        OP: Really? I think it is. (Or: Boss thinks it is.)

        Fergus: I would never take off work for that.
        OP: OK, well that’s your choice. I’m still going to be out Friday.

        Or, kill him with kindness and spin it into a compliment. I use this with bosses and other people who do this kind of performance about how much they need you, or how hard they work, or otherwise are hard to push back on.
        Fergus: That’s not a good reason to take off.
        OP: Well I think it’s really generous of our boss to trust us to manage our own schedules! It’s so important to have a good work-life balance!

        This is especially good for comments like:
        Fergus: I don’t know how we’re going to handle everything while you’re gone.
        OP: But you’re so talented at llama grooming! I know I can trust this to your capable hands.

    10. MissDisplaced

      Fergus is being a jerk.
      “He then asked what my plans were for Friday and I told him.” WHY would you tell him? Don’t share that.
      Maybe he really WAS joking (some people have weird humor like that) and wanted to razz you by sounding all serious, “sorry, vacation is cancelled… NOT! yuck, yuck” But it can come off as super jerky if you don’t know the other person well (says a person with that type of snarky humor).

      Why boss didn’t say anything: Could be boss is fine with snarky humor? Could be boss is waiting to see how you handle interpersonal relationships? Could be boss didn’t think such banter is a big deal? Could be the whole place is sexist? (but let’s not go there yet ok?). I mean, managers generally won’t intervene in this type of banter unless it rises to it getting heated or people getting upset.

      But basically, you let it go, or speak to Fergus directly that you don’t get this type of “snark humor.” Truth is Fergus probably was envious that you asked off Friday and thus get a longer weekend and he didn’t. At least for now assume it was that and not read anything deeper into it. Try to take a step back and think about it without allowing the PTSD from old toxic job.

    11. Oh No She Di'int

      I think coming up with witty comebacks is all well and good. The problem is that next time he won’t comment on your time off, it’ll be something else. And then you’ll be equally caught off guard.

      You have two underlying problems:

      1. Fergus does not respect you. I think the best way to deal with this is directly with Fergus. I would go to him and say in a very casual, non-confrontational environment, something like: “Hey Fergus, I’m excited about us getting to work together. I think we could work out a great partnership. Something you said the other day really bothered me though. (Describe the comment.) I know you said you were just joking, but it’s really important to me that we respect each other and that I can trust you not to make me look bad in front of my boss. And I won’t do the same to you. Can we agree?”

      2. Your boss may be a wimp. I say “may” be. It’s possible that it’s too soon to say. She might just be more of a hands-off type who wants to see if you two work it out between yourselves before getting involved. Either way, I think it’s worth keeping an eye on to see if she’ll have your back when things go sideways in the office, which they inevitably do at some point.

      1. Observer

        Well, really the OP needs to come up with a basic template for Fergus’ snarky comments about stuff that’s none of his business.

        I think that there are some good suggestions that work well for a large number of situations “Why would you say that?” “well, it’s been approved” “this is not up for discussion.” “I don’t recall asking your opinion” are all possibilities that work with a very wide variety of situations.

      2. LilySparrow

        My first assumption wouldn’t be that the boss is a wimp, but that the boss has a healthy sense of perspective.

        Fergus’ comment didn’t require a reply from the boss because it was a blatantly stupid and irrelevant thing for him to say. So the boss ignored him.

        Now, it might have been nice for the boss to check in on OP and maybe notice that OP was looking for guidance. But I think OPs past bad experiences have resulted in a very strong reaction that’s out of the norm. Many perfectly fine bosses might not expect or pick up on OPs need/desire for intervention here.

        Not that she’s waiting to see if they work it out, but it might not occur to a lot of bosses that there is anything to work out.

    12. Wannabe Disney Princess

      I wouldn’t jump ship after three months because of one coworker.

      Every workplace has a Fergus. Just ignore the comments. “That’s not a good enough reason!” [beat] “Where are we at on the teapot redesign?” Or pivot. “That’s not a good enough reason!” “I’m still leaving early. So, where are we at on the teapot redesign?”

      As for your boss not doing anything, there’s no need based on the information here. If your boss gets involved, it makes this a bigger deal than it is. I’m guessing Fergus is known for being snarky and your boss probably didn’t even notice the comment (this happens when you work with someone like that – you just learn to tune that out). The time off was already approved. Now, if Fergus says something truly heinous and your boss doesn’t get involved, that’s a bigger issue.

      1. Double A

        Yeah, isn’t that the kinda point of the name “Fergus”? Like, when we use that name in posts it’s to indicate it’s the office “that guy”?

        The fact that you’re already calling this guy Fergus is good! It means you’ve kind of mentally ID’d him as the office Fergus and you can treat him accordingly (i.e. politely, professionally, but somewhat distantly and don’t take anything he says personally. You can mentally eye-roll at stupid comments he makes, because he’s Fergus).

    13. CatCat

      Seems like a situation where you should start dropping an icy, “Wow.” after Fergus drops a snarky comment and then either walk away immediately or just be quiet and let it get real awkward.

      1. Clisby

        To me, it seems like a situation where LW should be saying, “Oh, I’ll be enjoying my time off.” The End.

    14. Space Cadet

      “This is when you learn you are my coworker, not my boss”
      (No, don’t say that out loud)

    15. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Pump the brakes!

      I know that you’re coming from a toxic environment and you’re triggered right now. So I want to say this really nicely but you don’t bail over this kind of one-off thing.

      Fergus said something silly and rude but he back peddled, he doesn’t have any control over you, he just has a lip on him. So you just go “LOL well I didn’t frigging ask you now did I, Fergus? Good thing you’re not my boss, bro!” and you move on. [Say that inside your head, just say “I already got it cleared with the boss so it doesn’t really concern you about why I take time off.”]

      Don’t leave for this. You’re going to be running forever if you leave over this kind of thing. Please, take some deep breaths and refocus. Don’t let a random Fergus chase you away unless they’re making a habit of being awful. Even if he’s constantly nitpicking your vacation requests, as long as your boss is on board and gives you no issues with it, Fergus and sit and spin on his throne of lies.

    16. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Yep, been there with the “joke” aimed at me that I didn’t find funny.

      This may just be Fergus (not that it’s not rude). He may be joking, he may be backtracking because he knows he was inappropriate. You just need a script for dealing with him.

      You can use the one above that’s mentioned (about “playing it straight”), or you can put him in the “noncommital answer” column. Whenever he asks you something not work related, basically dodge the question or give him nothing.

      Ex1: “What are you doing after work?”
      “Oh, I’ve got some things to take care of.”
      “What kind of things?”
      “This and that. What’s the status of the TPS reports?”

      Ex2: “Oh, you’re out? What are you doing?”
      “Oh, I took off to get a few things done.” (breezy tone or disinterested tone)
      “Oh? Like what?”
      “Eh, just a few things. What about XYZ thing we were talking about before this?”
      (or “What about you?” <–even though you probably don't care, it closes the discussion loop)

      Ex3: "Oh, you did that?! Really? I'd never do something like that."
      "Hm. (Flat tone.)" <—you can even skip this line, because the next one works regardless.
      (pause for awkward)
      "Anyway, about x…"

      If he really had an "I shouldn't have said that" moment, you won't need these scripts. If he's a jerk, these are good ways to dodge. Give him no info so he can't start up with his opinions. You can use variations on script 3 for multiple things.

      It's all about returning the awkwardness to sender and being a grey rock (uninteresting, so there's nothing to pick at you about).

      Captain Awkward may or may not help you with scenarios like the above–worth checking out.

      I've also been the person making the awkward joke (not about vacation days, but I thought it was funny and the person didn't really). I made a mental note not to go there again immediately.

      I don't think this is a workplace thing yet–Fergus is just one bullet point. Keep your eyes open and see if there are signs from other people (or from management) that are similar enough for you to know this is the office culture.

    17. Sassy

      I’ve worked with “Fergus” before. The best thing I could do was focus on the coworkers I liked and ignore him. I’ve responded occasionally with a snarky comment like “didn’t realize you need to approve my time off” or something just to make him aware I didn’t like his B.S. If he says “just joking” say “I don’t care for that type of joke” to shut him down.

      My “Fergus” was a salesperson who was like a snake oil salesperson but brought in tons of sales, so the Owner wouldn’t get rid of him.

      I recommend see what other employees do to deal with him, and see if they get the same vibe off him. If he’s being a jerk to everyone equally, that’s one thing, but if he’s singling you out, then it’s time to look for a new place.

    18. Aquawoman

      He might just be a sarcastic guy, or he might be the kind of guy who is basically doing the professional equivalent of negging. Either way, he was not genuinely trying to communicate with you about the proper uses of leave. He was either tone-deaf kidding or trying to annoy you. I think you handled it just fine, because he backed off. Don’t take things he says seriously and question yourself about them.

    19. Not So NewReader

      The way I have seen this one handled is either:
      “Too late, Fergus, the boss approved the time.”
      Or
      “Well, you’re not the boss so there’s that.”

      You can get really crafty and say, “Gee, Boss never indicated it would be a problem.”

      Until you know what you are dealing with in Fergus, a good safe bet is to point everything back to the boss as often as possible.
      “Boss approved my overtime. So if you have any question I guess you will have to talk with him.”
      “Boss just gave me this file with new instructions on how this form is to be completed. I think if you have questions about how I am handling this that you will need to check with the boss.”
      “Boss got me a new chair because I showed him mine was unsafe. You will have to talk to the boss, not me, if you are concerned about your chair.”
      Keep pointing things back to the boss where possible.

      Honestly, you are a day older and a day wiser here. Next time, you can say, “Fergus, I thought you were asking a friendly question so I responded in kind. I did not realize you were asking me as if you were my boss.” Notice here you never answer the actual question or statement.

    20. Observer

      Your coworker made a stupid comment and you’re already thinking of leaving?

      Look, Fergus was acting like a bit of a jerk, no doubt. But he is NOT your boss, so you don’t need to take his comments on board. Keep in mind that there is no workplace where everyone is perfect all the time and even good workplaces can have jerks.

      Now, if Fergus actually tried to make stay at work, or tried to get your boss to rescind permission, you would have a real issue although I wouldn’t leave over that.

      If you have to work with Fergus, stay polite and professional. You don’t need to justify your plans or “reasons” for taking off to him. Don’t explain why you are taking off, even if he asks, and if it comes up somehow and he expresses an opinion either just don’t answer and explicitly move back to the work topic at hand or tell him that this is not up for discussion.

      But, if you can, avoid him as much as possible.

    21. Reliquary

      I’d say a snarky thing in reply to any Fergus-like comments, but since that’s not your style, and this seems to be a recurrent issue, I think your greatest weapon is the silent blink and pause.

      Every time Fergus (or another Fergusy sort) says something you don’t appreciate, just turn directly toward them with a complete deadpan expression on your face and blink. Once. Pause. Twice. Pause. Then turn back to your prior conversation as if the Fergusy statement was never made.

      (In extreme cases, you can do three blinks and pauses. But that’s going nuclear.)

  16. panic button

    I reached out to a person who has been in the field I’d like to go in for an informational interview. I’m not asking for a job or anything, I just want to know if I have any misconceptions and what kind of expectations I should have while pursuing this career.

    So basically it’s super low stakes but I’m so so so nervous. The call is in 3 hours and I can’t focus on my work AHHH!!

  17. Armchair Analyst

    I am 40, in a large Southern city, with my MBA. Trying to switch careers from a specialist to a more generalist.
    Advice, encouragement (not currently employed, but applying and networking EVERYWHERE!) welcome and appreciated.
    Please tell me summer is hard and it’ll pick up in the Fall! Any references to recruiters are also appreciated — my resume is good, gotten a few interviews, need to write more cover letters…..

    thank you all!!

    1. 867-5309

      Summer IS slow.

      Also, I’m a generalist and it IS more difficult to find work. Go with smaller companies or startups. They more often need people who can wear many hats.

    2. Filosofickle

      Agree, summer is the worst to get anything started at work due to all the overlapping vacation outages. I’m really looking forward to September this year! Keep at it. Job hunting takes time.

      I used to be a generalist in my field, and it helped me to reframe it mentally as a specialization in whole-business. That sharpened my story. That thinking didn’t change what I was qualified for, but it kept me from feeling apologetic or or like my skills were vague / less useful. Not everyone can see the big picture or have cross-functional skills, this makes you more useful to the right company or role.

  18. Big Al

    Long time reader/first time poster.

    How concerning is it if I only have 2 references?

    I’ve worked for the same company for 25 years. I’m kind of poking around at new positions in other companies. My current company has a strict “no reference” rule. No one in my current company is allowed to be a reference for me. I’m not even allowed to be the reference for the interns I had this summer. We are supposed to refer people to HR who will only say “Yes, they worked here from this date to that date.” We are a company with low turnover, so most of my former managers are still here. Consequently, I only have 2 references – a former manager who has retired and a former coworker who works for another company. How much of an issue do we think this will be?

    1. Angelinha

      I worked somewhere with a strict “no reference” rule. Almost every manager, including the executive director, disregarded it. You probably don’t want to use a reference from your current employer anyway, but in the future I’d consider asking them personally if you think they would speak well of your work.

    2. Nonny-nonny-non

      My company has exactly the same rule, but usually people are happy to (quietly) ignore it for good employees. If you have a good relationship with any former managers at your company try having a quiet word with them – there’s a good chance they’ll give you a reference anyway.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep, this. It’s not a realistic rule. That’s just not how things work. So usually there are people who are willing to quietly talk with others on your behalf. Look around, who seems reality based? Who seems to be in your corner often? These are the people to check with.

    3. CupcakeCounter

      Same boat. Been here 7 years working for the same management team. One guy did leave but he is still working for the overall company so I don’t feel comfortable asking him since I would need to use work connections to get a hold of him. Boss at Old Job retired when I left and hasn’t responded to any LinkenIn messages and I only ever had his work cell number. I worked directly for him my entire time at that company (5 years).
      I have a former colleague from Old Job who was senior to me (but not a direct manager) and 2 people from current job but they are only peers. So far no one has requested references so we’ll see have this goes.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Yeah, I’ve never actually seen the “no reference” rule enforced personally either. My toxic boss tried to make that a thing by reminding people constantly that they were supposed to route that all through HR. They just smiled, nodded and gave out references whenever necessary. Just don’t have them call the office, you need to have cell phone numbers.

      If you have a close client or vendor, those are always a good choice. I’ve used clients and they’ve used me before for references.

      Do you have any volunteer work or other professionals that could give you a personal reference if not a professional one? Really if you have 2 professional references, a lot of places won’t really flinch too much with a personal reference as your 3rd.

    5. Blarg

      I would still list your current manager or whatever and let them deal with the stupid policy. I had an employer like this — refused to do references. I listed two managers at two different sites. One gave a ref and one referred to HR. it was fine. Even the one who referred to HR understood applications demand current supervisors and such as references.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood

      I don’t suppose you kept in touch with any of those former interns did you? Because someone who worked for you would be a very interesting reference. (And if you don’t work there anymore, you can be a reference for them from your next job.)

    7. Just Another Manic Millie

      My first job lasted less than a year. I was at my second job for more than eleven years. They had a no reference rule. Not that I would have asked anyone to be my reference, as I was still working there while I was looking for my third job. Prospective employers were annoyed with me because I couldn’t provide any references, even though they said that they understood that I couldn’t use my current company. I offered to give them the names of people to contact at my first job, but they refused, claiming that nobody there would remember me. They wouldn’t have been satisfied to get confirmation that I really worked there – they wanted references, and they claimed that they couldn’t get them because no one would remember me. I offered to give them personal references, and they refused, saying that I would give them only the names of people who would say good things about me. The only way I got a third job was that I applied to a company where the CEO was a close personal friend of the CEO of my current company (I had no idea – I didn’t work for the CEO and I didn’t know whom he was friends with), and the CEO at my third job told me that he respected his friend’s judgment, and if I was good enough to work at his friend’s company for over eleven years, then I was good enough to work at his company.

      References are a pain.

    8. Thankful for AAM

      I really have the same issue. I have worked at current, no-reference employer for 5 years. I worked for 7 years b4 that at a private high school which has moved and been renamed. My direct supervisor there retired and I have lost touch. My coworkers have all moved on and I have lost touch. Even the principal there moved on. I basically have no contact I go for anyone who used to work there.

      So who could be a reference for me? I think my previous supervisor who works in a different department in current company would do it despite the no-reference rule but I do feel your pain.

  19. Amber Rose

    Coming to work today was a bad idea. The worst idea I’ve had in a while. I’ve been here an hour and half of that has been in the bathroom. I’m not even keeping water.

    My boss is in a meeting with all the big bosses so I can’t ask to go home. Also it’s the Friday before a long weekend and I’m gonna look shady.

    I have way too much anxiety right now and I can’t think straight. Also things that I normally brush off, like my coworker making weird noises while foam rolling her sore glutes and my other coworker whistling and banging on his desk, are driving me to madness.

    Why is everyone in the world so weird, creepy and annoying?!

    1. Purt's Peas

      Oh my goodness please look shady instead of pushing yourself so hard to stay at work! This sounds like a great opportunity to email your boss and then go home. You’re sick enough that you’re spending that much time in the bathroom, it sounds like it’s spiking your anxiety, and you can’t deal with the normal office.

      Feel better soon!

      1. Turtlewings

        Agreed. Mention to your coworkers what’s going on so they know why you’ve suddenly disappeared — hopefully they can vouch for you not looking well if anyone asks. Go home!

    2. Alianora

      If you’re that sick, go home! Your coworkers will probably be happy not to be exposed to the germs too.

      1. Amber Rose

        I left. No germs, I’m not that kind of sick or I never would have gone in.

        Seems like an issue with my guts, doc made me get an xray.

        1. Mama Bear

          I hope you feel better soon. If you have a follow up appointment, you might reference today. “I have a follow up from when I went to the doctor on Friday” just to reiterate that yes, you were super sick.

    3. Former Govt Contractor

      You’re not doing anyone any favors by staying there while you’re sick as a dog. Leave your boss a note or send an email and go.

    4. AnonLawyer

      Don’t ask, email them and just leave. You can’t keep water down. No one wants you at work like that.

    5. Doug Judy

      Email your boss and go home. Or tell a coworker you’re leaving. It happens. Once I got a call that my son was ill and I needed to get him. My boss wants going to be back for hours, so I just sent him and email and left. It wasn’t a big deal.

    6. ChimericalOne

      I hope you already left! If not, please go — just send an email or leave a note. It doesn’t look shady to come in & then leave sick. If you were faking, you’d just not come in at all! (And even if it does, far better to look shady than to gross everyone out and/or make everyone sick!)

    7. I'm A Little Teapot

      Well, you can always arrange to miss the bathroom and vomit in the hallway. Everyone will be happy to see you go home then.

      But really, don’t do that. Send an email/im to boss letting them know you’re ill and need to go home. Go talk to whomever it makes sense to talk to, tell them you’re ill and going home. Then go home.

    8. Art3mis

      You’re a grown up. Unless you’re in some kind of job where someone not covering you would be a safety issue or some other kind of coverage problem, then you don’t need to ask, just go home.

    9. tamarack & fireweed

      Good lord, yes what the other said. I hope you made it home early. At my current workplace, I am trusted with setting my own work hours (and work in several locations all over campus anyway). But in my previous jobs, it would just have completely ok to email a note to the boss or, worst case, leave a note with a trusted co-worker, admin, even the receptionist to pass on: you were sick, you needed to leave, sorry about that. That’s what any humane workplace should allow…. so sorry you’re stressing about yours.

      And feel better!

  20. Your best tips please!

    What are your best tips and advice for surviving a toxic job? (Minus looking for another job, already on the list.) How do you all compartmentalize?

    1. good old times

      This is not Therapist Recommended, but I disassociate. Look on my body from outside of it, that kind of thing. I focus on that our time in the world is short compared to the lifespan of the universe. All will be irrelevant in 50 years. Everything changes and ends. This current situation does not matter and will not exist in a short time in a geological time frame.

      This doesn’t stop me from crying, but it does give a good perspective on it.

      Also sometimes I watch cat adoption shelter livecams.

    2. Frankie Bergstein

      When I have had toxic jobs, I’ve also had a gym membership and done a whole lot of exercise each day right after work. It helped me leave my stress somewhere other than home. It didn’t solve the toxicity, but it did help me to feel better each day. And I also reminded myself, “this is JUST a job”. And have a very active social life so people can look at you and see value and like and enjoy you. That didn’t happen a lot in my experience of toxic workplaces.

      Good luck to you. I’ve worked in two toxic workplaces, and this is hard!

      1. Sassy

        Likewise, I run or exercise after work to get my mind off things and get the endorphins going. Punching bags are super great for that, just picture Coworker X on it and you’ll get a fantastic workout.

        I also have a few Angry Song playlists on my phone so when I’m really annoyed I play those so I can wallow in it. At least for me taking 10 mins hiding in bathroom or walking outside office and just being really really pissed can help me. I recognize the anger, vent, and then can better move on.

        Also best of luck to OP in your job search, and hope you find a new, better place soon!

    3. Not really a waitress

      I keep a bottle of whiskey next to my bed and take a swig from it when I get home. I wish I was kidding. My current boss is just…. wow.

    4. LessNosy

      – Whenever at all possible, don’t do any work outside of work hours.
      – Reframe any toxic behaviors you observe in other people as “how weird, what a fun social experiment I get to witness though!” (Thanks Alison for that reframing)
      – Have someone, at work or not at work, who is willing to listen to you so you can get everything out when you need to. Also helpful if they can offer you advice when you want it!
      – Make sure you have hobbies or an event something to look forward to after work. Even if it’s just a TV show that day. “Heck yeah, Llama Yoga tonight, just gotta get through X more hours of work! Getting excited!”
      – Read AAM every day as an escapism and for commiseration purposes :)
      – Agree with Frankie Bergstein, “It’s JUST a job” is a helpful mantra to keep repeating!

      Good luck on your job search!!

      1. The Original K.

        Seconding all this, especially the idea of looking at the toxic job as though you’re watching a National Geographic documentary. “How unusual, Annoying Colleague is in her natural habitat and cutting her toenails in full view of the office.” And exercise really helped me, if you’re into that. I would go straight from work to the gym or on a run or bike ride, and it helped a lot because it was something to look forward to (I like exercise) and it helped with stress.

        Also, don’t take on anything extra if you can help it. Not just not doing work outside of work hours (which I agree with), but sticking to your job description and duties and ONLY those as much as possible. That way at least you have stuff you can say “not my problem” about.

    5. LadyByTheLake

      “This too shall pass”
      “This isn’t about me, it’s about them”
      “Not my circus, not my monkeys”

    6. DaniCalifornia

      Exercise. Good venting buddies who are willing to let you rage for 5 mins and go “That sucks!” Podcasts at work if you can that are enjoyable or calming. When our busy season happens everyone gets stressed and I play classical music for them. It seems to keep the mood calmer. Literally saying out loud in the car “My job is toxic. I cannot fix XYZ or change ABC. I cannot control it. I can respond appropriately, be professional, and continue my job search.”

      I feel you and empathize! I’m right there with you and about to leave mine.

    7. Anon For Today

      I know it sounds like a strange technique, but I take the “I’m not actually (job), I just play one on TV” approach, in which this is what I do for X hours per day for a paycheck and then the second I clock out, I’m not that person anymore. I have a specific phone (not company provided) for work that I turn off at the end of the day, which helps a lot with detaching once my work day is done. Good luck with the new job!

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Find someone or someplace to vent to for starters. Don’t abuse the source and only talk about work but a good friend or spouse is going to want to be there to listen to you.

      I saved myself from utter destruction by talking about it with my mom and my partner.

      Journaling also helps some people. Anything to just spill all the toxicity that you have built up inside out into some kind of void. Bottling it up and just internalizing it is what really guts you the fastest a lot of times.

      Finding an activity you really enjoy and can detach from work would be great too. Join a bowling league or a softball team if you’re into that kind of thing. Anything that gives you that thing to look forward to during the week. “It’s fine, I’ve got bowling tonight and I get to see the gang and it’ll be a great time.”

      I try to make sure it’s a healthy outlet so that you’re not self medicating with drinking or something else because it will only make things so much worse, you can’t drown out the stress, it simply doesn’t work.

      Though if you’re being triggered with anxiety or depression due to this, which is common, a doctor and medicine that they are monitoring is an option if you reach your maximum.

    9. Yuan Zai

      Are you good at multi-tasking? Do you have regular tasks that don’t require a lot of thinking, like filing or routine data entry sort of things? I got through a really awful job period once by writing stories in my head and when I’d get writer’s block I’d basically just replay movies I’d watched or books I’d read or play songs on my mental radio.

    10. Double A

      Pretend you’re on a sitcom and watching from the outside, then when you interact you’re playing a role.

      If you’re having trouble sleeping/destressing, watching Bob Ross is really helpful for me to stop my mind spinning and relax. There’s a million episodes of the Joy of Painting on YouTube.

      Also I recommend getting a therapist. I had an extremely stressful job (it wasn’t toxic exactly, but working with extremely difficult clients) and I ended up having basically a nervous breakdown, but because I had an established therapist he was able to help me navigate going on FMLA leave. Hopefully you won’t need anything like that, but having that as a resource was really helpful.

      1. Windchime

        Bob Ross videos are very helpful. There is also a guy that restores paintings on YouTube, called Baumgartner Restoration. It’s amazingly soothing and peaceful to watch him work on the paintings as he softly narrates. (It’s not creepy like ASMR). Things like that calm me down after a stressful day.

    11. Not So NewReader

      Keep in mind that toxic places are a huge energy drain. It takes mental and in turn physical strength to get through this stuff.

      Pull out all the stops:
      Self-care is huge. Regular hydration, whole foods, REST!, short walks. If you don’t recharge a battery it won’t work. Likewise with our bodies and minds. Put stuff into you as often as possible. Recharge your body and your mind.

      Give yourself small rewards often. But watch the reward, ten boxes of cookies is comforting in the moment but the next day those cookies can be a belly ache. Pick rewards that are beneficial to you and yours in the long run.

      Get a vision in your mind’s eye of where you are going. You are going to a new place, people are kind and they work at their jobs. You get thanked. You get compliments. Keep working on this mental image, tell yourself “this is where I am going”. Work on this vision daily, you can do this in the shower or on break, or whatever.

      Don’t make every battle a hill to die on. Likewise, don’t make every concern a battle. Survival says that you will still have to fight some fights, but you can pick the fights. Pick the ones that are winnable. Pick the ones that impact you the most. But let the rest go.

    12. Tenebrae

      Marconi Union’s Weightless. It’s been scientifically proven to be some of the most soothing music in the world. Listening to it on repeat got me through the last few months of Workplace Bullying Toxic Ex-Job.

      1. Glad I Don’t Work There!

        Personal projects; I paint old furniture.
        Daily exercise.
        A balanced diet.
        A to-do list. Check the boxes.
        Regular habits.
        Get-togethers with friends.
        Everything everyone else has suggested.

  21. angry boss

    Someone I called for a reference about a potential hired lied. The reference was false. They wanted the potential hire gone because they were a bad employee. They also roped others from the company into also giving false references. They all wanted this person gone. It’s my word against theirs. Now the bad employee has cost the company big money from mistakes and my team will be down a person going into our busiest season for months while the hiring process is done all over again (as the other candidates we looked at who were potential hires are no longer available. I’m so mad and there is nothing I can do for my team and I got into trouble with my boss for “ignoring” bad references when hiring.

    1. good old times

      Do you have documentation to back you up that actually you got GOOD references for this person?

    2. AnonLawyer

      That’s utterly insane. Of course you didn’t deliberately hire someone bad. Why would your boss take the word of an outsider over your statement? If this is a pattern, would job hunt. Your boss shouldn’t be undercutting you like that.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        All of this. Man, this situation sucks, angry boss. Try to find your original notes from your calls if you can.

    3. WellRed

      Your boss is an ass, but honest question: Why did you get multiple references from the same company?

    4. Oh No She Di'int

      Out of curiosity, how did you find out it was a lie? I suspect this happened to me once; if you have sleuthing techniques I’d dying to know what you do!

    5. Wishing You Well

      I am sorry your boss is giving you grief about this.
      Good references to get rid of bad employees is not unknown. My company did just that for a manager who was systematically getting rid of all the women under her. I wasn’t involved, mercifully. The best thing to do is fire the non-performer quickly which it sounds like you did.

    6. Not So NewReader

      How many references did you get total?
      How many were bad?

      Hiring is a gamble. I am wondering if your boss somehow set you up to fail by not giving you enough guidance. Or I am wondering if your boss just wants someone to kick and you are it for this particular problem.

      No one ever, in recorded history has always hired perfect people. EVER.

      I think I would put those people who lied on my s-list.

  22. CatCat

    Had my review this week and it went great. I’ve been at Current Job for 3 years and am still happy here. It’s the longest I’ve stayed in one position in my line of work (though not quite the longest I’ve been at one organization). I was a little concerned that I’m stagnating a bit, but I came up with an idea to work on a new subject area and my boss was very receptive to that. This is really the first place in my career that I could see myself staying for many years.

    1. Princess Scrivener

      Congrats! Are we twins? Because same. Thanks to AAM, I even got the braves to ask about my next promotion and wfh one more day a week. Yay for us; have a great weekend, CatCat.

  23. morning glory

    I am having a serious issue with my intern making a lot of mistakes, and becoming very defensive when I ask him to do things like read emails more carefully. He is ESL and I think gets embarrassed when he doesn’t understand something. He never asks questions to clarify when he is confused.

    I have proactively tried to accommodate the language barrier, like telling him something in person and then repeating via email so he can go back and read again later if he didn’t understand it – but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. The quality of the work he is turning in is not just bad from a language perspective – I could fix grammatical mistakes – it shows he did not have a good understanding of the instructions to begin with.

    Does anyone have experience working through a language barrier when the other person won’t admit there’s an issue?

      1. valentine

        Suggest he Google Translate your emails. If his primary language is Spanish, he should be able to correct the translation, if necessary. You can also translate, then translate back, to see close it is. If he still can’t explain it to you, it’s not a language barrier. He should at least be able to say, “The words on the tip of my tongue,” or “I can see it; I just can’t say it.” Tell him he needs to help you help him and that this doesn’t bode well for his future.

    1. Quill

      I currently do my work with a colleague split between English and Spanish but we both know that there’s a gap in communication sometimes, so I don’t have advice on the defensiveness bit, but overall I think the way to do this in a healthy way is to establish up front that there will not be reprecussions for asking for help. Based on the fact that he’s an intern, he’s likely been pretty stewed in a culture of not asking for help throughout school.

    2. Mbarr

      Are you 100% sure it’s a language issue? We had an English speaking co-op student who was the most freakin’ personable person in the world (he wanted to be a law student) but he was ridiculously unreliable at following written instructions. We had to double and triple check his work constantly cause we couldn’t trust him to get it right.

      Consider looking at it from an “attention to details” point of view. Alison’s written some posts coaching people on this might work.

      1. morning glory

        I think it is a language problem. There have been a few times when I’ve asked him to explain my instructions back to me, verbally to check whether he understands them – and he cannot do it. He gets visibly upset and embarrassed when I do this and tries to change the subject to get out of responding.

        I’d noticed during his interview that his English was a bit hesitant, but he said it was because he was very nervous, and since it was an internship we were hiring on a short timeline, I decided to take a chance.

        1. Yohohoho

          Would it help for him to write down the instructions in his own words (in English) and then come back to you to ensure he’s understanding it as you intend? If it is a language issue and depending on the field of work it may be he’s having difficulty on meaning and intent. Although I imagine this could be difficult if he’s already defensive.

        2. Jennifer Thneed

          There are cultures where people just don’t ask questions at work. I know this has been an issue in the past when I was on a team that worked with an Indian team (meaning, they were IN India and had never worked in the US). And I learned recently, I think here, that there are cultures where students don’t ask a lot of questions in school. And then, there are people who just.won’t.ask for whatever personal reasons. So he might be pretty much unable to ask questions, no matter how much you tell him to.

          Regardless of the reason he isn’t asking questions, internships are about learning to navigate the working world. You get to tell him that this is unacceptable in a work setting. That if he can’t do the work because he isn’t asking questions, it counts as “not able to do the work”. That he must figure out a way to ask questions, perhaps in writing later if he’s unable to ask them in person. And that not figuring this out will lose him jobs in the future and might lose him this internship.

          1. Baru Cormorant

            This. I work in a similar culture and it’s kind of hilarious to hear the Americans encouraging us to ask questions on a department-wide call, as if anyone would speak up and ask for clarification in front of the whole department, or worse, offer suggestions to someone that high up the chain!

            In this culture, the way to get questions answered is to discreetly ask someone close to you, a peer or immediate supervisor or someone lower down in a more private or lower stakes situation. Questions and objections are vetted before being presented.

            If language understanding and personality issues aren’t also in play, this could be one reason he’s hesitant to ask for clarification.

    3. PollyQ

      How long is the internship for, and do you have the option of terminating it early? Language barrier is no small thing, but an inability to admit that he has a problem at all is fatal.

    4. Double A

      Honestly, the defensiveness is the biggest problem, and I would start with a conversation about that. There could be cultural expectations he’s grappling with as well (although defensiveness really knows no nationality as a maladaptive response to feedback). If you can’t work through his defensiveness, you can’t address any other issues. Defensiveness will also hinder his career and growth, so coaching him on this issues is really an essential task as a manager.

      Some points you can talk about with him:
      -Defensiveness is a counterproductive response to a manager, but it CAN be a useful cue that there’s something you need to be reflective about, and probably that you need need to ask for help about something.
      -You will make mistakes, but how you deal with these mistakes will make or break your professional reputation.
      -In any office environment you’d actually want to work in, not asking for help or asking clarifying questions makes you look bad, especially when you’re making mistakes.
      -Talk about the difference between traditional school learning (study for the test, get a grade, move on) and in a job.

      Give him some scripts for when he’s feeling defensive.
      >”Can I have a some time to think about this feedback and we can follow up this afternoon/tomorrow/in a few days?”
      >”I’m having trouble understanding where I went wrong. Can you help me figure it out?”

      1. LilySparrow

        This is a great approach, in terms of addressing the defensiveness as the main problem.

        But if his inability to follow direct instructions on intern-level tasks is in fact due to a language barrier, I can’t help wondering what he will be able to process from such an abstract discussion.

        But then, perhaps it would be a helpful way to assess if communication is the problem or not. Often, people who are weaker on attention-to-detail stuff can be stronger in abstract/relational stuff.

        So if he’s right there with you on this type of conversation, you can be pretty sure language isn’t the issue.

    5. Policy Wonk

      When one is working in a foreign language, one can often understand more than one can say. It’s recognition, vice recall. So the fact that he can’t repeat it back to you doesn’t always mean he doesn’t understand. (I’m not saying he did or didn’t understand, just that his inability to repeat it back may mean he struggles with the language, not with understanding.)

      In my experience some people have problems following multi-step directions. He may be one of these. Add language difficulties, and you compound the problem. I’d give him instructions in bullet points – lay out each step for him. Both verbally and in writing. See if that helps.

  24. Achoo

    I think my newish employee is lying to me. Not for malicious reasons and not even for serious things, but because he doesn’t want to admit he doesn’t know something.

    This week I asked him to update a department database. After I discussed some errors to correct, he mentioned he had never updated the database before. I knew for a fact that one of the first things I had him do when he started was update the database (because it’s a good way to learn what we do). But he refused to admit he’d seen it before and that he knew how to do it because of his previous job. I then opened the back end and showed him his entries.

    This kind of things happens probably once or twice a month. I ask him to do something. He tells me something that feels off. I find out that he forgot something or didn’t do something. And he refuses to acknowledge responsibility. I’m getting frustrated by it because most of these issues are because he lacks attention to detail and refuses to ask questions, which I have discussed with him before and will be doing in a performance review next month. But as none of these situations are egregious, it just feels wrong to make a federal case out of it. And so, I have doubts he’ll change and I’m tired of repeating myself.

    1. Armchair Analyst

      Is it possible he really doesn’t remember? Could be a lot of reasons for that. Regardless, you should bring it up not in a context of, “I think you’re lying” but in a context of “Facts show A, but you told me B. What can we do to get on the same page with A?”

      1. Achoo

        He doubled down and said he didn’t remember. Which may be true. But, that doesn’t make me feel any better.

        1. TechWorker

          ‘One of the first things I had him he do when he started’ – I’m not downplaying your other concerns here but I do think it very likely he forgot, in this context.

          I’ve been at my company 5 years. I can remember pretty good details from the projects I worked on most of that time but near nothing from the first few months, I think because all my brainpower was focussed on learning new stuff and taking it all in. Similarly I can remember exactly what my reports worked on when they joined the company but on multiple occasions it’s come up they simply don’t remember.

    2. Turtlewings

      I think this calls for a really serious talk with about whether you’re going to keep him on, honestly, because if he’ll (repeatedly!) lie about little things, he will absolutely lie about big things later. He’s showing you that he will use dishonesty to cover his butt even from mild embarrassment — imagine what he’d do if he made a big mistake that costs thousands of dollars, or even people’s lives (depending on your work). It may not be too late to turn him around, but this is not a problem that’s going to resolve itself, and you absolutely should “make a federal case” out of it. (Alternately, he has a severe memory problem that may make it impossible for him to carry out his duties, at least without treatment! That has to be addressed, too.)

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Agreed. You’ve got to make it really clear that this isn’t okay and see if he’s able to stop doing it or not. When it happens, call it out directly: “It concerns me that you said you’d never done this when, as we can see here, you had. What happened there?” … followed by, “We’ve had a few instances like this now. It’s really important that I be able to take you at your word when you tell me something. If I can’t, I’d need to check into everything in a way that’s not practical.” Depending on how this goes, you could even say, “Sometimes people shade the truth like this because it feels easier in the moment, so I need to be very transparent with you that it’s absolutely not something you can do while working here. I need to be able to trust what you tell me, and if I can’t, I couldn’t keep you in the role.”

      2. Psyche

        I agree. This is a big deal. Either he is having significant memory lapses or he is dishonest. The fact that he would lie to cover up a small mistake is a problem. I actually did have severe memory problems in my early 20s and did claim (with complete sincerity) to have never done tasks that I was shown I had done before. However, if that were the case he probably would have decided to go to a doctor when you showed him the entries he had made.

        1. Myrin

          Yeah, my sister is dealing with this at the moment. She suffers from memory loss/bad short-term memory because of her PTSD but her medication actually worsens that factor. She is very proactive about it, though, and, coincidentally, will be talking to the boss at her new job about it tomorrow to see if she can get some accommodation for it.

          1. EJane

            oh god I have CPTSD/med-induced STL too.

            I came clean to the team I lead about two months ago, which has been a godsend because now they know why I insist on being Slacked everything, even if they literally just told me in person–and my boss has stopped questioning my post-it note habit. But there are times where I will look at a ticket, or read a note, and I have NO recollection of it. Like, wondering who the hell logged in as me to email this client levels of forgetfulness.
            It’s really distressing. Having an understanding workplace is a godsend.

      3. Achoo

        Thanks everyone and Allison! We did have a conversation a couple of months ago because I noticed that he would push back when I had questions about a project. Basically he would state what he knew rather than finding the answer. I told him I did not expect him to always know the answer and that when I had a question, it wasn’t necessary to respond immediately, but to find the right answer instead. He acknowledged what I was saying and even agreed with me on why I thought he was doing it (that he felt it was his responsibility to know the answer, when it was not). But that insecurity obviously still remains.

        We have a performance review coming up where I will stress the importance of asking questions when he doesn’t know something, as well as better attention to detail (both of which I think are the underlying reasons for his behavior and both of which have come up in conversation). And will also highlight the problems this can cause in the future.

        I don’t have complete autonomy over hiring and firing however. He reports to me, but it’s my boss who would essentially decide whether his behavior is detrimental and at the moment, she just feels he’s green and therefore needs more management. She has seen my evaluation though and has agreed with my assessment.

        In the meantime, unfortunately I don’t completely trust him. There are some areas that he is comfortable with, so I give him projects that play to his strengths or low-level projects that don’t have serious impact if he should make a mistake. And although, that won’t work long-term, I think it will identify areas of improvement and opportunities for him to correct inappropriate behavior. (Which I realize this is, even if it stems from insecurity.)

        I appreciate the validation of all of this and also advice on correcting/managing it!

    3. DaniCalifornia

      Yikes! All the little things in the moment may not seem like much but if they add up to major concerns it’s worth documenting and discussing with him. If he truly is lying then that’s bad. If it’s something he needs to be retrained on and he’s embarrassed, or he needs accommodations etc then you’re giving him a chance to let you know. Then at least you’ve made him aware of a pattern of “This Happened” and it can’t continue to happen, let’s figure out how to do better going forward. If you offer assistance of “How can I best help you going forward?” and then it keeps happening/he refuses help then you have cause for dismissal.

    4. writelhd

      This reminds me very strongly of situations I’ve had with other pathological lying coworkers, who in all cases did lie and obfuscate because they knew they were messing up but were not willing to bring that up or address that directly. Those situations *never* ended well, *always* immediately improved after lying worker had finally done something so egregious as to be shown the door, and in all cases the there is institutional damage that still lingers from having someone in the role who obfuscated and lied. Client relationships destroyed, huge cost sunks of mistakes uncovered, etc. Once or twice a month is definitely enough to be a pattern. Work is too important to tolerate this, in my opinion.

      I think if it feels off you do have to address it head on. You’re not crazy. If he doesn’t remember, it’s concerning that he doesn’t remember things he asked you to do. If he’s lying because he doesn’t know, then he’s failing at a core aspect of his job, which is learning what he is trained to know and admitting it when he doesn’t. One doesn’t have to fail egregiously, to still fail.

      But agree that calling it lying will get you nowhere with him. YOu have to address it head on as Armchair Analyst said, escalating to “when I ask you to do something I need you to do it, and if you can’t you need to come to me so we can figure out why, too many strikes and you’re out.”

    5. LadyByTheLake

      I’d hesitate to call it “lying” so much as not paying any attention and being defensive in ways that make no sense. I would call it out in the moment to try to figure it out, so when he says he never did something and you know he did call it right there “I know that you did this previously because you worked on this XYZ. Do you not remember that?”

    6. !

      In the interim, can you have him add the tasks to a calendar that he can then check off when he’s done or some other way of solidifying that he’s done something that he claims he has not? It should be a shared calendar that you can see as well.

    7. Sassy

      I’ve managed a similar person before. She would tell Owner she did X, me she did Y, and another manager she did Z all to look busy and like she was doing what she was supposed to.

      I do website work so you can verify if someone logged in, so after hearing a lot of odd inconsistencies, I did that once. Caught her red handed in her lies. Get her a four-page written warning including five offenses, and she decided to quit the next day. Good riddance.

      I recommend start building a paper trail. Document the issues in writing, and then bring those to the performance review and formally put them on a performance improvement plan. It’s a waste of your time to continue to try with someone who obviously isn’t trying themselves. If they can’t improve after formal write up, move ’em on out. Sounds harsh, but it’ll probably be best for everyone in the long run.

      1. Achoo

        I’ve started documenting and even offering instructions or corrections via email first to establish a paper trail and also keep track for myself patterns of behavior and issues.

    8. tamarack & fireweed

      “The problem is not that you didn’t know how to do X, or that you didn’t remember. The problem is that you claimed you had never done it. And it’s not just a one-off fluke: it has happened a few times. Is there a problem that I need to know about? If not, we really need to agree on this: We can fix not knowing something with training, but I don’t know how to fix it if you aren’t straightforward with me.”

    9. MrGrey

      My newish coworker is the same but she seems to lie even more often. Sometimes it’s work related, other times more personal. I’ve never met anyone who has such a quick response for anything you say, and it’s often simply not true. Anything. She can’t seem to control it and when I question her, she never backs down either. It’s incredibly frustrating.
      My manager sees it, but is just keeping an eye on it for now. Sadly, I have to deal with it all day.
      I’ve started putting more conversations in email- saying, “here’s a cheat sheet for the process we reviewed today”, or a link to the folder with the info we worked on. At least I’ll have a paper trail if need it. I also find it helps to have a 3rd person looped in when we discuss things.

  25. Can we talk about the menopause?

    TL:DR Would anyone be happy to share their tactics for coping with menopause in the workplace?

    Hoping that I can tap into the collective wisdom of the commentariat.

    I’m a C level Exec still establishing myself in a role with a high profile. While I don’t mind people knowing that I am menopausal, I don’t want to get the reputation that ‘she had such promise but let herself down when the menopause struck’. And I’m struggling.

    Specifically, fatigue, anxiety (my imposter syndrome has gone through the roof), inability to concentrate and some woolly mindedness/forgetfulness. Nothing irrecoverable yet, but I don’t like the pattern developing.

    I’ve been open with my boss, and she’s understanding, but at the same time I’d rather get back on top of my game rather than look for accommodations.

    So please, what worked for you/yours? Any tactics/tips gratefully received.

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie

      Right there with ya sister. For now, I’m managing my symptoms, but my doctor said if they become too much we’ll explore medicine. My worst is the fuzzy brain, I have to write EVERYTHING down these days!!

    2. Kama'aina Kitty

      Don’t be afraid to discuss bioidentical hormone replacement therapy with your gyno. It may not be right for you, but it made a world of difference to me.

    3. little orange teapot

      It felt like I didn’t sleep for a year after menopause, and then I did the drugs (HRT). Several years later, I’m still on HRT, but am at the losing nouns stage. Good luck!

    4. tab

      I found that a daily workout schedule significantly reduced the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. Also, I used more technology (calendar reminders and detailed notes) to help with the memory issues.

    5. It's a Living

      It’s been 7 years since I went through surgical menopause. The fuzzy-headedness hasn’t completely gone away, so I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I’m now someone who has to write everything down and look everything up. Things just don’t stay in my brain the way they used to! Also, pay attention to your emotions and take mental breaks as needed. I brought work to a screeching halt for 3 people for over an hour because I didn’t like the picture they chose of me for our intranet. Looking back I can laugh at it, but I’ll never forget how my boss sounded as he was negotiating with the highly emotional, completely unreasonable beast I was that day.

    6. Aquawoman

      I take a supplement called estrovera and have few symptoms (run warm, a couple of hot flashes a week) and the ones I was having went away. If you’re able, I’d suggest a holistic/integrative doctor because all kinds of things can go wonky at that point and there can be all kinds of different ways to deal. Just e.g., my brain function depends strongly on what I eat.

      1. Can we talk about the menopause?

        This definitely chimes with me. I’ve been to see my GP (UK based) but hadn’t thought about a more integrative approach – will see if I can find someone

        1. UKCoffeeLover

          I’ve used homeopathy very successfully. I don’t self prescribe though, I see a registered homeopath.
          Also evening primrose oil is good.

          Another tip (much harder this one) is cut down on carbs but especially sugar. Carb heats your system, you don’t need extra heat at this time !!

    7. It gets better

      Diet, and acupuncture.

      I’ve always been sensitive to diet, so this wasn’t a surprise, but eating all the time as if my cycle was tough that month helped. For me, that meant upgrading protein and greens.

      Acupuncture was a revelation. Happened into one who does a lot of work with infertility, which in his case means that he has particular attention to the reproductive system. Much more stable overall, and frequent input on dietary adjustments through the process.

      Good luck. It does get better.

      1. Formerly in HR

        I second acupuncture – if you believe in it and are not afraid of needles. In my case, it required some sessions at the beginning and now I might go every 2 months for managing the heat.
        Before acupuncture I was sweating at night, had hot flushes several times an hour, had the worst case of fuzzy brain I ever read about to the point I would start going somewhere and forget why I was doing it.
        I am also trying to actively manage my stress – I have no symptoms when I am away from work. Something like MBSR might work with the stress.

    8. Lora

      Menopause due to chemo, which is a little different because it’s all at once:

      I must write down everything. Must. I have to draw everything out with different color magic markers and highlighters and it felt like going back to 10th grade.

      Started wearing clothing that was more compatible with, um, sudden gushing of blood, so if I had to wear multiple pads or heaven forfend adult diapers to catch the Red Tide, it wasn’t as obvious. Also layers, because sometimes you will want to wear a summer dress in December. Summers were unrelenting torture for a while. Many weird weight changes, knit fabrics were great. I needed something with stretch to accommodate changing body shape without having to buy a new wardrobe all the time.

      Large water bottle full of ice water. They have really good insulated bottles now, I got one at World Market / Cost Plus the other day that is pretty cute, holds a lot and stays cold all day. I can easily chug a quart of cold water in a minute. Fortunately everyone has water bottles now and it’s normal.

      Can’t have estrogen replacement due to the cancer history, but I could have progesterone-only replacement which helped with both the flooding and the weird weight changes. My weight stabilized about 10 pounds more than I’d like it, but I wasn’t fluctuating between a B and a DD cup anymore.

      First Aid Beauty things (I got mine at Sephora) for the adult acne and weird patchy dry skin. The prescription crap for rosacea AND adult acne didn’t do a darn thing for me. First Aid Beauty products helped a lot though.

      It got better after about 5 years.

    9. Bibliovore

      It was my supervisor who diagnosed me. Early onset. Got off the subway, walked in her office and said, I am running a fever, I’m nauseated and dizzy, and I am going home sick. She said sit down, take off your coat, take off your sweater, you are having a hot flash. She was right.
      My symptoms included insomnia, hot flashes, brain fog, anxiety, and anger. I waited way too long to get help. The worst things were obsessive thoughts and not sleeping. Seriously, birds in the morning. WTH? I turned myself into the therapist for coping strategies- meditation, time-outs, counting to 10. Is it kind etc. I felt like I was 16 again and not in a good way. Premarin and Progesterone helped with the hot flashes and the insomnia. New wardrobe. A sleeveless shell or tank, a cardigan or sweater, a sweater or fleece vest like that. Portable fan in my office. Peppermint wipes. Going easy on myself.

      I did not discuss with anyone else at work except my direct supervisor.

    10. Not So NewReader

      The before time was the worst part for me. Once it was over, sanity resumed.

      Rest became way too important and that was when I learned to pay attention to my feet. If my feet are too hot or too cold in bed, then I am going to be miserable. I also learned to turn off the tv and go to bed. If I am too tired for anything but tv, then I need to be in bed.

      So for me, extra rest, plenty of whole foods which meant many veggies. MANY. I avoided red meat and that helped.

      Minerals are good for the brain and good for muscles. But it is wise to work with a doc or a practitioner because going on your own you can end up even more tired. Minerals will help with concentration, anxiousness, forgetfulness, fogginess, etc.

      I second the suggestion of homeopathic remedies for calming. Again, work with a professional so you take the correct amount and have someone who knows when you should stop taking them, if you chose this route.

      For immediate purposes craft routines or habits that will help you through out the day. I have a clip on my key ring that I have used for decades. I can clip my keys to something and I spend much less time looking for them. Even though my brain came back, I still like the idea of simplifying and streamlining as much as possible. It just makes sense to do some of these things anyway.
      And I checked out where my weak points are, such as I am very good at losing keys. I have a spare door key in my wallet in case I lock my keys in my car. I have a spare house key hidden in case I lock myself out of my house. I won’t say how many times I have used these keys. You know you best, you know your weak points, take steps to buoy things up along those weak points.
      It’s amazing how much of a relief it is to have a plan for the recurring annoyances that can come up. There will always be unforeseens and one-offs that we cannot plan for. The idea here is to have enough brain capacity left so we can deal with the stuff that blindsides us. This works into just a good life habit, too.

    11. Quandong

      I wasn’t able to take HRT due to my medical history, and I live in a climate where it’s very hot and humid in summer. Unfortunately I couldn’t take time off work, which would have been my ideal solution to the worst months of symptoms.

      This is what helped me cope with hot flushes:
      Always carrying a folding fan, wearing natural fibres, getting more than one cooling evaporative towel, carrying a large handkerchief for intense bursts of perspiration (this was really so other people didn’t feel uncomfortable, not so much for me).

      My hot flushes were less severe when I completely stopped drinking coffee and black tea, and any alcohol, and foods with chilli or hot spices. It took 10 minutes for food or drinks to bring on a hot flush and I learned pretty quickly what to avoid.

      I did my best to build in more breaks during the day to get into the coldest environment possible for 10 minutes or more.

      Also, I accepted that I couldn’t function the same way as before, and paid attention to my emotional state more carefully, since I had the very common experience of getting in touch with my anger. I found therapy really beneficial at this time.

      There’s no getting around the fact that it’s a tremendous strain to go through menopause at work.

      Honestly – and you may prefer not to hear this! – it may not be possible to ‘get back on top of’ your game due to the way your body reacts to menopause. Or, to put it another way, the effort required for you to perform the same way as before may be unsustainable, given what you’re going through.

      Please consider using any accommodations available to you, including counselling or therapy if necessary. More than one of my friends and family found their mental health severely impacted by menopause and they needed professional help to cope.

      I hope you get a lot of good suggestions from this thread!

    12. Dancing Otter

      My doctor recommended ginkgo.
      Turned out, my problems actually had more to do with fibroids, so I can’t say whether the ginkgo was helpful or not. If one of your symptoms is heavier or longer bleeding, get checked for fibroids: there’s straight forward treatment for that, at least.

      For night sweats and trouble sleeping, I switched to the duvet model – not having the sheet and blanket tucked in made it easier to kick off the covers when I was too warm – and lowering the thermostat at night. Getting (or not getting) enough sleep makes a vast difference in mental acuity and irritability.

    13. Can we talk about the menopause?

      Thank you all very much for sharing. I’ve bookmarked and will keep referring back.
      Am going to look for an alternative practitioner, look at my diet and improve my exercise routine to attempt to improve things overall. It sounds like habits/routines/checklists are going to be my friends at work. It’s going to be ‘interesting’ trying to create them from scratch as I’ve always relied on my memory. But, needs must.
      Many thanks all.

    14. Ralph the Wonder Llama

      Fully menopausal now, perimenopausal for nearly a decade. It sounds more than a little woo-woo, but the less dairy and meat I ate, the better my body regulated it’s temperature. Fully vegan, when I could stick to it, equaled no hot flashes whatsoever.

  26. Blarg

    Well known/well respected non-profit with a position posted since March. It isn’t super specialized and the listed pay is excellent. So why is it still open? Seems really unlikely that *no one* who is qualified applied. So do they not consider it important enough to fill? Sign of dysfunction? And is there ever a way to ask “ummm, is this job actually going to be filled?” before taking time to apply?

    (I did apply but seemed like an exercise in futility).

    1. AndersonDarling

      It could be that the non-profit is looking for a special personality match. They need someone who is dedicated to the mission and it’s hard to come by.
      Or they did a really bad job with the job description and applicants are matching the description but not what the recruiter is actually looking for.

    2. Bex

      I work at a well managed nonprofit that pays well for the field. We’ve had a job on my team open since the end of April. Wanted to get a good pool, so we started interviews after it had been up 6 weeks, so early / mid June. The interviews (3 rounds) took about a month, so in mid-July we made an offer. The candidate had some personal things going on, was minimally communicative for 2 weeks and then ghosted on us! So now it’s early August and we reach out to the #2 candidate, who has accepted another job.

      And now we’re starting the process over with a new pool of candidates. The job has been on our site continuously, but we’re reposting on linkedin, idealist, etc.

      Maybe they are dealing with a similar situation?

      1. Blarg

        Ok, yea, this is actually a really helpful timeline. Fingers and toes crossed that this round finds the right fit for you and that my potential position works out. Cause it’s the first job I’ve seen that I actually got excited about. I would be so proud to work for this org.

    3. M

      when I worked for non profits most left up the job even after it was filled. Either because they had set it up to be online for X period of time, or the person in charge of putting jobs online was incompetent it just too busy. Usually non profits need roles filled quickly so personally I would always apply ASAP.

    4. Ama

      When my org has had positions open for a long time it has been for a couple of reasons. One is that there’s some underlying administrative holdup — the hiring manager was suddenly unavailable for a long period of time due to illness or a family member’s illness (this has actually happened on two different occasions), other positions were also open and filling those needed to be prioritized, etc.

      The other is when it is for a position where even well qualified candidates might have vastly different philosophies from the org’s senior management/board on the priorities for the department – if a program is working well here, they are going to be looking for a candidate who is excited about working on and enhancing that program, not someone who is going to propose tearing everything down and starting over. Since we’re a smallish org, we also end up speaking with candidates from larger orgs who don’t always seem to understand that there’s a vast difference in scale in terms of what we can feasibly try to do (we made the mistake once of hiring a candidate like that assuming they’d get it once they were on board and it was a disaster).

      They could just be bad at hiring or have a really picky board that needs to approve the hire but I just wanted to mention a couple of reasons why that might not be the case.

    5. Zephy

      They might also just leave their listings up for a long time. My job and my boss’s job are still posted on my company’s website; I’ve been here a year, she’s been in the role 18 months. I got an interview more than six months after I applied. Some places just like to collect resumes, just in case, I guess.

    6. PollyQ

      Obviously, it varies depending on region & industry, but we’re in a period of very low unemployment, not just in the US, but in many other countries. In the same way that people were having difficulty finding a job during the height of the recession, employers are now having difficulty finding qualified people to fill their roles.

    7. Anonymouse

      A few options:

      A) The office culture could be horrible and they could have had multiple spots open because of bad leadership (it has been known to happen in the nonprofit realm)
      B) The role could be a dead end one with high turnover and as a result they look over applications on a rolling basis
      C) They could have a ridiculously long interview process with specific requirements for applicants

      Wishing you the best in your search!

  27. When apologies make it worse

    My boss made a mistake this week. I don’t want to get too specific in case work people read this, but fixing the mistake turned into an all hands on deck scenario. It took a lot of time and I ended up missing a meeting I really wanted to go to. I know it sounds weird that I was looking forward to a meeting, but it was supposed to be the first step for me to learn about a sub-field I’m really interested in and I had to miss out because my boss failed to check something really simple and the ripple effects ruined our week’s plans.

    This isn’t the first minor mistake with major ramifications she’s made in the year I’ve been working for her, and I guess now I’m feeling the cumulative effect of always having to double check and clarify everything and drop what I’m doing to fix things.

    So anyway. After this week’s mistake and having to miss my meeting, my boss has apologized to me about 7 or 8 times. And it just makes me feel worse because I can’t tell her it’s okay like she wants me to. Because it’s not okay. But she won’t stop apologizing, and I know it will be the same way in a few weeks when she forgets to check something else.

    I traded a lot of social/political capital to get transferred to this team because there are great people here doing interesting work. But now I’m stuck in this loop and I don’t know if I have enough capital left to get out. I don’t know what to do from here.

    1. writelhd

      I’m sorry, that sucks.

      I will say that something similar to this happened to be earlier this year. Someone above me in the chain of command made a huge, costly mistake, and I was the one who ended up catching it, as it affected work that I did pretty majorly. As a result I had to re-work something I had worked really hard on, AND investigate how to solve the problem of the mistake more generally, because boss who missed it was too busy and overwhelmed to even deal. It sucked, I was mad, and it edged me one step closer to burnout. He never thanked me, or apologized, and I came to the realization that while he was there, things were always going to be that way, and I started job searching. There was some freedom in realizing that it wasn’t me, it was the system, so I could try to act.

      But…then that guy quit. He was clearly very burned out himself, that incident had not helped him either in that regard, and he reached a point shortly after where he just couldn’t take it anymore. And of course him leaving left a stressful hole…but it’s been filled by someone so much more competent who is not burned out, all the broken systems are getting visibly mended…and as a result my own excitement about work took a total 180, and I turned down a job offer to stay and I’m still pretty sure, most of the time, that was the right decision.

      So…all that to say, things can change all the sudden, but coming to realizations like “this is how it will be here” are still valuable realizations in their own light.

    2. Oh No She Di'int

      Her profuse apologies clue me in that she doesn’t simply consider it part of your job to cover her mistakes. So that’s a good starting point.

      Beyond that, I think this has to be handled delicately because she is your boss. Would it work to approach her and say something like: “Claudia . . .” No, she feels more like a Doreen. “Doreen, I want to make sure I’m there when the team needs me and that I’m fully participating. But part of the reason I got myself transferred to this team was because I was looking forward to making progress on the kinds of work we do here and the learning opportunities that seem plentiful here. But sometimes, I find it hard to do that when we have these all-hands panics. I find that it disrupts the kind of progress I was hoping to make. Like the last time when the Camden account got messed up and I had to miss the meeting on TPS reports. Can we talk about ways to make those situations less disruptive?”

      I think it’s important not to come across as blaming or even necessarily to bring up her mistakes. She’ll make the connection and will probably apologize again. (So be ready for that.) But your focus should remain on what you’re trying to get out of the job and how you’re trying to contribute. I don’t know that she’ll be able to come up with any brilliant solutions, but I do think it’s fair to let her know that you’re unable to be a fully engaged employee and that some of the onus is on her to help clear the pathway on that.

    3. MaxiesMommy

      Tell her you appreciate such a sincere apology, then ask how you can get to a similar meeting or seminar since you had to miss yours. You can also offer to help her with a review 2 weeks before the due date so there’s no scrambling–looking at it with a second set of eyes, given how busy she is. She’s most receptive now.

    4. Mama Bear

      I don’t know what you’ve told her to this point but maybe say, “I know you are very sorry about what happened. However, this had a serious impact on my ability to do x and it wasn’t the first time we had to put out a fire like this. I don’t want to seem like I’m not a team player, but it’s difficult when I have to drop meetings that are important to my career development for things that could have been avoided. What I would like even more than an apology is a better plan going forward so we can avoid more situations like this. How can we improve our team processes?” She knows it was on her but this doesn’t entirely throw her under the bus. I might also ask to not be a “hand on desk” if it conflicts with something very important – could the rest of the team have handled it without you?

    5. Ama

      I’m sorry, I’ve been in a position where it felt like I could never make a mistake and had to catch everyone else’s and it was absolutely horrible and very bad for my anxiety.

      Is there anyone else on your team that can help with some of the error checking or would that cause issues with your boss? I know when I have even one other person I can trust to look over things it relieves some of the pressure (and I actually do a better job double checking things myself because I don’t feel so anxious about catching everything).

    6. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Does your business do “post-mortems” or “situation analysis” of some sort when incidents happen? When I was into that sort of thing there were two schools of thought–analyze the actor’s actions or analyze the process. We were big on process-evaluation: How did this happen, what was the issue (if the person is taken out)? How can we prevent that issue from happening again?

      For example, in this case: “there’s a single point of accept/reject for this item. Accept was done instead of reject. As this is a mission critical item, a two-person review will be implemented (one to check, one to confirm the check) for this event going forward”. And, if this is the case, you can get one person to do it (with more time than boss, so more chance to get it right) and boss OK it, or vice-versa. Heck, if it’s a two-person sign-off, you might be able to eliminate boss from the system and make it senior/seasoned staff.

      You could even sell it as a team-improvement goal.

      So, when she apologizes and you are trying to figure out what to say, you can say something along the lines of, “I understand your apology. You know, what I’ve seen done after events like this is a process analysis to help prevent issues going forward. I think it can help us identify points in our process that can be improved to help reduce our risk and relieve some of the burden off the team. Do you think we could put something like that together so we can tackle some of the more critical and high-risk things in the department? It would be a good win for us, and I’m sure a relief for you.”

      Assuming she’s receptive, of course. If not, maybe you know for sure if she’s really sorry….

      If she does go for it, you can help put processes in place that might fix some of the “boss doesn’t double-check things” going forward.

    7. Not So NewReader

      Tell her that you do see that she, indeed, feels awful about what happened.

      Using the word “us” as opposed to “you”, say something to the effect of, “I don’t mind bailing us out of a tight spot. That is part of the work here. However, I would like a little recognition for my extra efforts. I would really like to learn about sub-field and I missed the intro opportunity. What can we do so I can get caught up here?”

      See, you have not burned your capital up. You have earned some with HER. So ask her to bail you out here. If she is really apologetic as she seems to be she will work very hard to help you on this point.

      Some bosses can really go to bat for us, but we have to let them know what it is that we value. Tell her that you value this training, see how she handles that information.

    8. LGC

      Has your boss ever called her coworker at 10 PM to yell profanity at her? Asking for a friend.

      Okay, so – she’s probably not Minerva from the Wednesday letter about the mentally ill coworker, but she’s actually doing one of the things Minerva did – over-apologizing for things, and then…not fixing the obvious problem. (I’m not using “love bombing,” because that implies a pattern of abuse to me, but I’m not wholly opposed to the term here.) At this point, this is a case where you might need to go above her head, get some coworkers together, or something.

      Now that you’re out of the immediate crisis, I’d suggest finding a way to review the pattern. I can’t speak for your situation directly, but if it affects a group, you might want to do this together. If it affects just you, you might want to go over her head unless you’re comfortable enough mentioning it in a one on one. Focus on the fact that this happens regularly, and doesn’t seem to be getting fixed, in any case.

  28. CTT

    I think that you and your husband should figure out more specifics before you start looking at loans. I wouldn’t start looking at the numbers until he’s more definite about what he wants to do (law school has different costs than an MBA which is different from engineering). I didn’t start looking into loans until I narrowed down the list of schools and found out more about the salary for the area I was interested in practicing in. TotesMaGoats has good advice on what to do when getting a loan, but the “is it worth it” question is harder to answer if your plan is vague.

    fwiw, I am in my early 30s and in the first year of paying off my law school loans and it’s not my favorite thing to do, but it’s fine.

  29. Punk Ass Book Jockey

    Any folks in academia have advice or resources for turning a resume into a CV? I’ve looked around at several websites and templates but I still can’t wrap my head around how long it should be, what should be included, and what I need to add or remove. What do hiring managers care the most about when they look at a CV? I’m in public libraries and applying for some academic positions, so if anyone has library-specific resources that would be awesome.

    1. dear liza dear liza

      If you’re applying for an academic librarian job- we use CV/resume pretty interchangably. The big difference is that you want to be complete in your history so you don’t need to keep it to 1-2 pages. Mine’s currently 10 pages. The categories I have:

      Education
      Professional Experience (includes 4-5 bullets of description for each position)
      Awards
      Publications
      Presentations
      Professional Organizations
      Academic Service

      1. LibrarianJ

        Seconding dear liza dear liza’s comment about using CV/resume fairly interchangeably in academic libraries. Mine is only 4 pages (I’m still early-career, and non-TT) and I currently have sections for:

        Education
        Training & Certifications
        Publications
        Presentations
        Professional Experience
        Research Experience [research assistant work I’ve done outside of libraries]
        Paraprofessional, Extracurricular & Volunteer Experience [still relevant to libraries, but not high-level]
        Awards & Honors
        Professional Service
        Skills [e.g., library and statistical software]

        This has expanded over time, though, and I’ll adjust for specific positions just as I would for a ‘normal’ resume.

        1. LibrarianJ

          I would add, though, that it might be good to pay attention to whether a particular position you’re applying to has faculty status or not. We do not have faculty status here, and while I used this CV to get my job without a problem, when I’ve served on search committees we’ve been far less interested in some of this than I imagine faculty and/or tenure-track librarian committees might be.

      2. Iron Chef Boyardee

        “we use CV/resume pretty interchangably”

        I thought a CV (curriculum vitae) was a resume. If they’re not, how do they differ?

        1. tamarack & fireweed

          Basically, there’s no length limit on an academic CV. All publications are there. Every grant you ever got. All invited talks at least. The expectation for a CV is 4+ pages, for a resume 1-2.

    2. just an average bookie

      Are you familiar with open cover letters dot com? It’s library/archives specific. It was very helpful for me in early career!

    3. A Cataloger

      When I moved from public to academic, I used my resume. Even moving from one small academic to a medium one I used a resume, since that’s what I had. I now have more of a CV, since I need it for annual reviews/tenure and I’m using my university’s official CV format, but other than a few places it doesn’t go back further than my current job.

      I’ll also be honest and say that I found it easier to move to a smaller academic institution just because there are still some prejudices (and I’ve seen it going the other way too) about public vs academic librarianship.

    4. Bibliovore

      I moved from Public to School to Academic.
      The CV thing is mind boggling.
      The formatting is hugely important.
      First thing. My resume ( 20 year career) translated in to CV went from 2.5 pages to 14.
      What Dear Liza said.
      No that isn’t a typo. In a resume one might put “invited speaker: ALA, BookExpo, ComicCon NY”
      Heading Invited Presentations
      On the CV- List each one with the date, conference spelled out- American Library Association. etc.then talk title then city.

      And as a librarian- good transferrable skills from public to academic. Inter departmental collaboration, Class visits, bibliographic instruction, community engagement, collection development, an understanding of intellectual freedom. Cultural competency. Programming. Web skills, Social media. Anything to do with public relations and marketing.

    5. tamarack & fireweed

      I think your direction is easier than the other way around. (I’ve gone back and forth now!). But I’m not experienced with what’s done in libraries. In my CV, Education is first (one line per degree, more if you have a thesis title that’s relevant for the job you’re applying for). I list Research Experience, Teaching Experience and Professional Experience separately, but that’s just because of my checkered career. Ideally, you have just one point, Appointments or Professional Experience. Then, in an order that looks logical: Publications (with sub-categories if applicable — I have Thesis, Peer-reviewed articles, and Book chapters and Extended abstracts), (Selected) Presentations, Academic teaching and advising, Awards and grants, Professional organization, Outreach and service. The latter for example could be conferences co-organized, talks given to non-academic audiences (those do NOT go under Presentations, except when the job has an explicit outreach component, in which case I’d make a sub-category there — and this might again be different for librarians). Good luck!

  30. Boredatwork

    I’m on week 2 of a new job and I have nothing to do which I would can be normal, but my coworker who started the same day as me has already been given projects and work to while I just sit here on my phone. I have asked my manager and coworker everyday for something to do and I get the same response of there is nothing I can do. I’m wanting to quite because I find it quite ridiculous that there is work my coworker but not me.

    1. Havarti

      So what exactly were you hired for? A new project starting later in the year? If your manager can’t give you an answer, find another job.

      1. Boredatwork

        We were both hired for the exact same role as business analyst for a newly formed department. There are multiple projects currently on but according to others there is nothing I can help in except build an excel report, which I’ve already done and took an hour to do.

      2. Fortitude Jones

        If your manager can’t give you an answer, find another job.

        This is what I did when my last manager pulled this stunt. I started looking off and on at the six month mark and created my own work projects in the interim. I didn’t start getting interest from other employers until I’d been there a year (I was a career changer with little experience in this new line of work), and didn’t leave until four months later. It was the longest 17 months of my life at that company – Boredatwork, you have my sympathy.

    2. WellRed

      Don’t sit there on your phone if you can use the computer instead to read AAM or whatever. The phone always looks like goofing off (I know, this is horribly unfair, given that you want to work).

    3. Zombie Unicorn

      Does she have different skills to you?

      Can you spend time learning about the company, reading documentation etc?

    4. AbcZyz

      I can think of several reasons for your situation ranging from:

      1. Coworker has special skills that were usable right away
      2. Coworker has a regulatorily required certification that you don’t (meaning you are on ice until they can send you for training)
      3. They have a specific project in mind for you and don’t want you to become too busy.
      4. They hired two employees then realized they didn’t need two.
      5. They hired you without the background check being fully completed, found red flags after you accepted and were told to keep you on the sidelines until they could dig more.
      6. They are discriminating against you for something (age, race, gender, medical conditions, etc)

      Depending which one it is you may or may not get an answer. But I would recommend talking to your boss again. If they tell you there is nothing for you again ask straight out. “Why?” Or “When will there be?”

  31. Burnt Out

    It seems like when you’re burnt out at a job, the advice is to search for a new job. But my question is, how do you gather up the mental energy to job search and interview when your self esteem is shattered because of your job? How are you supposed to “sell” yourself to prospective employers when you feel like a failure because you’re burnt out at your current job?

    1. Armchair Analyst

      Pay for it. Get a resume coach or writer. Ask friends to help you with cover letters. Take medical leave from your job if needed.

    2. Ruffingit

      I’ve been there. It’s incredibly difficult. What helped me was taking vacation days so I’d have three day weekends where I could rest for a couple of days and in those days, I would do little pieces of job search stuff such as update the resume. Just spend a few minutes on that a day or whatever. It helped me to break it up into pieces.

      Also, if you have coworkers who are in the same position and you feel you can talk with them, do so. That helped me so much, I had a group of five people I was able to talk to about my feelings who were also my coworkers and they did the same. It was incredibly cathartic and helped me get to a place where I could begin to rise up from the ashes.

      If you can afford, therapy can be extremely helpful as well to just work through the burn out issues.

      1. Burnt Out

        I am getting therapy and medication, fortunately, although I think I need to up the dosage of the medication I’m taking. I have talked with a coworker, but his situation is a little different than mine (he has different responsibilities but is still frustrated by the current state of things).
        I probably should take more vacation days, but we’re very short staffed right now so it’s difficult to take care of myself without feeling like I’m screwing over the rest of my team (I work in software support).

    3. Havarti

      Therapy for the self-esteem? Take time off if finances allow it? In my case, I left my horrible job without having a new one lined up. I know it’s easier to get a job when you have a job but I wasn’t in a good position to do that. I hunted for jobs for about 4 months, used the time to do work around the house – ripped up a lot of old carpeting.

      1. Burnt Out

        It’s tempting for sure. I just don’t think I could leave my coworkers in the lurch right now… I am getting therapy though, I should have mentioned that in my original comment.

        1. Havarti

          I hear ya about not wanting to leave your coworkers in a lurch but here’s the thing: you gotta take care of yourself first and foremost. On a plane, they always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before you even put one on your kid. Don’t hang around burning yourself out even more just because the workplace is in crisis mode. You say you’re short-staffed above. What’s your employer doing about that? Are they looking to hire more people? Because if not, you will continue to be short-staffed and more people will leave as they, too, burn out. Don’t be the last person left on the Titanic, trying to bail the water out with a leaky bucket.

      2. Psych0Metrics

        I resigned and ended up job hunting for a year and it ended up working out in the end. Maybe your finances won’t allow that, but you’ll be in a much better place to focus on your job search if old job isn’t currently burning you out.

    4. writelhd

      does it help to list the things that you have at least learned as part of your burnout? Things about your job that frustrate you, what that has taught you about work or management or dealing with people or whatever, that you could at least apply in a future situation? Even if it becomes a wish list of who you wish you were or how you wish your environment was, it can start a spark of hope to see yourself recognizing and learning from your work experiences.

      And in practicality, feeling like a “failure” is often a sign of anxiety and/or a sick system, not the real truth. Someone who makes mistakes is not a failure…often mistakes are required learning steps. And someone who doesn’t thrive in a system that has a lot of dysfunction isn’t a failure either…but she could be somebody who’s seen how things *don’t* work so now has better perspective on how things *could* work better.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      For me I was able to use it as my “escape plan” and reminding myself that I have to escape that nonsense, so I really got a good heavy dose of “Fake it until you make it” rolling. It’s easier said than done though but sometimes you have to ignore the sinking pit in your stomach and heavy heart and say “This is to get me to safety, I have to fight.”

      Just like how you learn to smile even though you feel like breaking down into tears. Just like how you keep quiet when your boss is doing awful ridiculous things. You chew it down and you explode elsewhere. Then you gather yourself up and you brush yourself off to get the ef outta there!

      Try to rewire your thinking. You’re not a failure because one job sucks. They suck and that’s not your fault. They used you. They abused you. This isn’t your fault. which is of course what therapy is supposed to help you do but sometimes even therapy won’t help you there.

      Stay close to the people you love and trust, they will help you through this.

    6. Poppy

      I made an effort to search/write cover letters & do applications in chunks.
      Searching was easy, I could do it when I was having a bad day and totally miserable, sent myself the links and called it done. Doing it then (literally just scrolling job postings) helped me feel like there was something waiting and I had to be ready for it.
      For the rest – I applied for jobs right after finishing something fun or right before as a bribe/reward. It also meant I was in a good mindset beforehand. Instead of grinding out a letter after a bad day at work I would plan to work on it right after seeing friends/going running someplace I loved/reading a good book/planning a trip.
      That was actually really helpful for me because it reminded me that there was life outside my burnout and horrible job AND put me in a frame of mind to be hopeful about new possibilities!

      I applied for my current role on a whim after my mom had been in town and we’d had a really fun night. I saw this listing on my train ride to see her, applied the next morning happy & full of good energy and heard from the hiring manager 24 hours later.
      good luck!

    7. Double A

      The thinking that you’re not able to take any time off is the burn out talking. When I was burnt out at a job, and did not take any time off (which is genuinely hard in teaching, and actually puts more work on you because you have to write sub plans so it was almost less work to just keep coming in), I ended up having what I can only describe as a nervous breakdown and was unable to finish the year. My doctor and therapist put me on leave, during which I spent weeks in bed.

      You’ll be more help to your coworkers if you’re better rested when you’re there, and you might have some energy for a job search. Like, I know it’s so easy to dismiss the “take time off” advice, but I wanted to tell you my story to give you a possible consequence of not taking time off.

      After my rest time I regained confidence in myself, got another job, and am still teaching. I am very aware of my limits and needs in order to make this a sustainable career for myself and am unapologetic about maintaining those boundaries.

  32. VictoriaQ

    Some of you guys might remember that I’ve pretty consistently complained about my job, but that should be going down… because I got a new job! I’m really hopeful about this new place, the people seem really nice, and I should have a steady 8 hours of work every day instead of a piecemeal of three different jobs that somehow still doesn’t fill my hours.

    (Also it’s salaried! So I get to work 9-5.)

  33. Watermelon M

    Ok so… respecting your seniors at work. When and how? I ultimately am always respectful to anyone I meet (ie, polite, cordial) and especially to those older than me because of my culture. You never question your elders nor do you back talk them. Well, this has carried into work, but I’m noticing well…some of my seniors are really…mean.

    One of my senior coworkers (we are the same level position wise, but she has been here for 15 years) insist I say “yes ma’am” when I speak to her, not talk back to her unless she finds it warranted, and I’m also supposed to not really ask her for favors (I once asked her if she could grab me the pen next to her and pass it over. A damn pen. That’s a favor apparently.) She’s out of line in my mind, but keeps reminding me she’s my senior. No one questions her behavior because she’s been here the longest and is not afraid about arguing you to death on this. This is the case where I believe respect is earned and lady, you are not my auntie or mom! I don’t have to ma’am you at all!

    What’s the best way of going about this? My boss is hands off here, I think she’s even scared of this coworker. How do you treat your senior coworkers?

    1. Ruffingit

      That is crazy. If the boss is hands off, you might either go above their head, or before that nuclear option, let her know you won’t be doing that. Period. You aren’t explaining it, you’re just going to say No, I won’t be calling you ma’am. That’s not appropriate in the workplace. Done. No need to say anything else.

      Senior colleagues to me have never expected such a thing and I would never give it. That’s not an acceptable way to behave.

      1. Watermelon M

        I have responded with a “I don’t say ma’am except to my parents and grandparents.” In which she said nothing but still insists I call her ma’am every moment afterwards. I think I must ignore at this point, but it is ingrained in me to respect my elders, that I started to question if *I* was being disrespectful. Glad I’m not crazy. There is no one to go above my boss (I mean, there is, but based off other incidents, they would not care.) I’ll just……ignore her. Ugh.

        1. blackcat

          I’d start a Karen-is-a-racist journal.
          Start documenting.
          Karen insisted I call her ma’am [date, time]
          Karen spoke to Young White Lady and did not insist on being called ma’am [date, time]

          Start correcting her. “Since other colleagues call you Karen, I’m going to go with that.” “Unless you expect everyone, regardless of age to call you ma’am, I’m not going to call you ma’am.”
          If you ever get the sense that Karen is having an influence on how your performance is received, pull out the journal and call a lawyer.

          1. ...

            Can we just STOP with the Karen thing?! I know it’s a catch all meme but some people are actually named that and might not enjoy their name being synonymous with annoying racist complain to the manager bitch. Seriously it’s so gross and it’s not ok to sh*t on people for no reason. And no I’m not named Karen I’m just so sick of using a name that people are given, do not choose, to be used to derogatory!

        2. Clisby

          This is just bizarre in a workplace (and I’m from the deep south, where I was raised to say “sir” and “ma’am” and did my children the favor of not raising them that way.) If you happen to work for the military, or a military contractor, maybe sir and ma’am are required, but I really can’t think of any other example today. Especially to a co-worker – I can imagine cases where customer service people are told to use “sir” and “ma’am.”

          It’s fine to respect your elders, but that really shouldn’t come into play at work. That’s applicable when you’re talking about your grandparents, or the next-door-neighbors who knew you since you were a baby, or the old ladies at church.

          1. Watermelon M

            I definitely do not work for the military! Or anything related! I do work for local government in a conservative area, so there’s a lot of reverence for military. Everyone has a family member who serves. But I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking this is weird. Just too much. Too. Much.

            1. Clisby

              Well, from this 65-year-old white woman born and raised in the south – you are not weird. Your co-worker is weird.

    2. Armchair Analyst

      I’m in the South.
      Is there, um, a racial or cultural issue here? I have never seen or experienced this. Is she like this to EVERYONE?! Wow. Can you workaround her – i.e., not engage with her AT ALL?

      1. Watermelon M

        We’re both from the south (but not living there.) Perhaps it could be a racial thing, I e definitely considered. She’s an older white woman and I’m a younger woman of color. I try to engage with her as little as I can but unfortunately she is the gatekeeper for a portion of my work. Just a few minutes ago she handed me a folder and I said “Thanks Karen” And she followed it with a “That’s Ms. Karen.” I CANNOT OOH I WAS ABOUT TO THROW THAT FOLDER RIGHT BACK

        1. Havarti

          OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! D: How does she treat other younger people in the office and are they POC or not? I thought maybe you were in another country where respecting elders is a major thing.

        2. DC Weekend

          Oh hell no! With those additional details, it’s clear Karen is just on a racist power trip. You owe her nothing.

        3. blackcat

          Okay, white lady here: I think this is some racist bullshit. Old white lady doesn’t think young WOC is being respectful enough. Does she ask young white women to call her Ms. Karen? If not it’s some extra racist bullshit.

          How do you think it would go over (with your boss/HR) if you sat down and said, “Karen, a work, we are peers. I treat everyone with respect, you included. I’m going to address you the way other colleagues address you, which is using your first name.”

          Then I’d shoot an email to your boss saying “Karen has been asking me to call her Ms. Karen and ma’am, but not asking other coworkers to do that. I found it really off putting, so I told her I’d continue to treat her with respect but that I was going to address her the same way other colleagues do. I think I’ve handled it, but I just wanted you to be in the loop since Karen has been weird with me in past.”

          If you don’t think that would go over well with your boss, I say avoid her as much as possible.

          1. Hope

            Another white lady, cosigning this. It’s racist bullshit if she’s only demanding this of POC coworkers. Even if she’s demanding it of everyone, it’s still bullshit and beyond rude. Also, she might be older, but she’s not “senior” in a work sense. She’s a coworker. She doesn’t get to demand an extra title.

            I’m from the South, and while it’s totally a thing that people will often call someone “Ms. First Name”, it’s NEVER anything you demand/request from people. It’s what you might expect your friends’ kids to call you, or for you to call someone (usually super old–like my neighbor’s mom who moved in with her–neighbor was Melissa, but her mom was Ms. Joan) but never something you *tell* people to call you. Other people get to decide if you deserve the respect it confers.

            And it’s especially not cool in a work environment. The only exception I can think of is sometimes like, the church secretary or a small family business owner might be known to everyone as “Ms. Mildred” or “Mr. Jimmy” because s/he’s been around for decades or something, but that’s usually a term of “respect” given by those working with Mildred/Jimmy, not because Mildred/Jimmy insists everyone to call them that. There’s a familial/friendly tinge to it in that scenario that is usually better avoided in most workplaces.

            I bet anything that Karen’s insecure. Her “seniority” wouldn’t come up so often if she wasn’t, and even if she’s not aware of the casual racism inherent in her demand that POC call her “Ms.Karen”, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s done/said other racist stuff, possibly without realizing it.

            I recommend you just call her Karen and ignore the whole “Ms. Karen” demand.

            1. EJane

              Agreed. I feel nauseous thinking about this insane lady and how profoundly wrong this is on how many levels.

              You could also just stop calling her by name, period. “Excuse me, could you hand me that?” “thank you.” “Good morning”.

          2. NW Mossy

            Ugh, this Karen. I’m furious at her for behaving this way in the first place, and even more furious with Watermelon’s boss for being so spineless that he won’t even intervene on racism so obvious you could see it from space.

            I know that sometimes in management it can be tough to know when behavior has crossed a line, and it takes some time to weigh whether or not to raise it (like my real-life example of having to coach an employee about his flatulence). This? Is not one of those times. This is the easy layup, dude! It will never be more clear-cut than this! GAH!

          3. cmcinnyc

            Uh yeah no. Another white lady saying you are not crazy, Karen is crazy. I did work with some very formal folks once (from another country) who had to be called Mr. Last Name and Ms. Last Name, but you know what? They called me Ms. Last Name! See how that works when everyone is on the same footing?

        4. Watermelon M

          @everyone I’m the only POC in this office! And the youngest by 10 years and newest on the team. She does not require the others to use this language with her, however, she does always mention to others on the team that she is their senior and deserves respect (why she brings this up more than once is beyond me… insecurity? Power trip? Either way most people are just sort of afraid of her.) She has mentioned to me that her daughter is about the same age as me in passing conversation. Either way I am over it. My boss would like me to keep the peace with her, as she likes to keep the peace with her (there’s a running joke that Karen is our actual boss.)

          1. blackcat

            …. I think there may be a reason why there are no other POC in the office.

            Karen is a missing stair. She’s bad to everyone but worst to you because you are the lowliest person in her mind.

            I think going with something like “You are not my auntie or mom!” in a cheerful tone (this is key) if you can pull it off is ideal. Cheerfully say you’ll treat her how others do and move on.

            And then, frankly, maybe job search unless this job is otherwise awesome and/or you can minimize your contact with Karen. It sounds like there’s dysfunction in this office that has to be manifesting in different ways.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Could you say to your boss, “I’m certainly willing to do my part to have harmony with Karen, but as the only person of color in the office and the only one being told to call Karen ‘ma’am,’ I feel strongly that I’m not going to do that. I will of course address her with the same respect we all show each other, but that means ‘Karen’ like everyone else calls her.” Or for that matter, spell it out: “There’s a really ugly history of white women insisting people of color call them ‘ma’am’ and I’m not going to do that. It hasn’t escaped me that Karen doesn’t ask anyone else in the office to do it. I will of course address her politely as Karen.”

            I think you need to call out the racism here. (Although I also know I say that from a position of privilege and it can be a more complicated calculation than that, particularly if your office hasn’t shown much openness to racial equity issues.)

            1. Watermelon M

              Ah thank you for your chiming in Alison! I could possibly say the first version, I know for a fact that the second version (which is what I would love to say) would anger my boss, based off her previous reactions on me bringing up culture/race related concerns due to past actions on my team. I will definitely consider bringing this up in HR, but… I don’t know. I brought up an incident with him before as another coworker continuously made ignorant remarks, and it was brushed off as an interpersonal issue. I will certainly start with the first response and see if that helps any. I hope so.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Ugh, I’m sorry! It sounds horrible. Another option is to just say to your boss, “I will of course address her politely — as Karen, like everyone else does.” I doubt your boss will say, “No, you must call her ma’am.” (Although if she does, feel free to email me directly and I’d be glad to try to help figure it out from there.)

              2. blackcat

                This sounds like a really difficult situation.

                I would start documenting behavior, because if you don’t give Karen the deference she’s demanding and she makes it difficult for you to do your work in retaliation, you might want to take other steps. It seems your workplace has decided that the casual racism of their employees is a *you* problem and not a *them* problem, and I think steps to protect yourself if they try to resolve the problem by disciplining you are warranted.

              3. Watermelon M

                @Alison, thank you! I definitely will email you if it goes that route. I hope not. @blackcat I have been documenting as much as possible! It’s the most disappointing thing, when I try to bring up how much these kind of things bother me and other ignorant comments about race made by coworkers, that it becomes a “be less sensitive” thing. I feel powerless. But documenting everything in case I need proof.

                1. Fortitude Jones

                  You need a new job – period. As a black woman, I have never been subjected to this kind of fuckery in my entire working career. Karen is completely out of pocket, your team and boss are complicit, and this shit sounds exhausting. I don’t know how you deal with this day in and day out – you’re a much better person than I am. I would have been cursed Karen’s ass out.

          3. MynamereallyISKaren

            “I’d be happy to call you Ms. Karen. And from now on, please call me Ms. Watermelon.”

        5. Jaid

          Man, that would set me off, but I acknowledge my white privilege and understand that saying to her outright this:

          “Karen, you realize that a white woman telling a POC to call her “ma’am” or Ms. anything, really, is inappropriate, especially since we’re co-workers and you’re not my boss. I notice you don’t demand this of the others, either. Which means you’re singling out the only woman of color in the workplace deliberately. I’m wondering if you thought of how this looks to everybody?”

          …could set drama off.

          That said, however you deal with the situation, I wish you well.

          1. blackcat

            I once did something that was basically the equivalent of that. I felt more able because it was when I was teaching k12 and a teacher had said something really unacceptable about a student of color.

            It’s one thing for a white person to call out another white person on stuff like that, and much harder for a POC to call out a white person.

            Similarly, I really appreciated the time when a NewDude in my department asked me to get coffee, and another guy starred him down and said something like, “Did you really just ask the one woman in the room to get your coffee? Wow. Get your own damn coffee, and maybe don’t be so sexist.” It came off as aggressive from that guy, but it would have been a Really Big Deal if I had said it. Being a good ally often involves refusing to be a bystander to stuff like this, which can be hard and uncomfortable, but it is much less uncomfortable than being the recipient of racist/sexist/-ist bullshit.

          2. The New Wanderer

            This and the other scripts would also be gold if said by a white coworker who happens to overhear this “You call me MS Karen” BS.

            Watermelon M, is there any chance you can find an ally/witness who’d be willing to either back you up with Karen, HR or your manager? They’re all dropping the ball in their own special ways, but I think it’d be much harder for your manager or HR to also shrug off a fellow white person who also says this is unacceptable behavior. It’s gross but if it works to get them to accept you’re not just supposed to ignore casual racism because it might make things uncomfortable for the racist white person, then maybe it’s worth it?

    3. DC Weekend

      Outside of being in the military or working at DOD/Pentagon, saying ma’am and sir just isn’t a thing in the workplace. She may have been there longer, but you are all equal adults. Just because she says you have to call her ma’am doesn’t mean you actually have to. She is (literally) not the boss of you.

      1. Mama Bear

        Agreed. She may be older but if she’s not your boss, then you should treat her the way you treat everyone at that level and vice versa. If she’s blocking your work, definitely bring it up to your boss. Document, document, document. She doesn’t have to like you, but she needs to let you do your job and respect you as a fellow employee. She’s being petty at best and racist and hostile at most.

    4. WellRed

      I”d be so tempted to respond with “yes, I realize you’re older than me” but that’s probably not helpful.

      1. Watermelon M

        HA. I don’t know, that’s really tempting to use in rebuttal at the level of ridiculousness she’s shown me… so… hmm.

    5. Havarti

      I can’t speak for anywhere outside the U.S. but using “ma’am” or “sir” for co-workers regardless of age isn’t a thing where I am. I’ve been at my job for almost as long as her and I would never do that to someone. The fact your boss won’t help you here is not encouraging. Your options are pretty much use “ma’am” as she wants or don’t and accept the fact you’re likely burning a bridge. I’m assuming your boss would prefer you do the former to keep the peace rather than the latter. Whatever you choose to do, I would avoid her as much as possible.

    6. Anonymous Poster

      I call people ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ (and generally quickly get a laugh and a, “call me “), but demanding it is not okay, and shows a huge lack of security on her part. Throwing in that she’s only requiring the non-white woman in the office call her that is seriously not okay.

      Maybe your boss misinterpreted when you went to him before. That shouldn’t (though sadly probably does) matter.

      “Karen is only requiring that I, the only person of color on the team, call her ‘ma’am’. She does not require any white person on the team to do this. Will you talk with her and tell her that this is not okay, since it is a race-based behavior?”

      It sounds like your boss won’t do that, so another option is more along the lines of, “I’m giving you a heads up that I’m talking to HR about this particular issue.”

      Sorry you’re going through this nonsense.

    7. Double A

      This seemed really irritating based on the first reading, but now knowing the racial dynamics of this situation this is straight-up hostile workplace territory. I am so sorry you’re on the receiving end of this and have the burden of navigating your office’s messed up race dynamics. It should NOT be on you to address this behavior, but plenty of white people are completely oblivious to this. What’s worst, many will get extremely defensive if you bring it up.

      Regardless of how or if you decide to address this, definitely document every instance she demands you address her subserviently, and every time she does not demand it of someone else who is more junior or younger than her (and, probably, maler and whiter than you).

      One thing you could say when she demands you use a title is to say, “I find it most respectful to follow office norms, which is that we address each other by first name, so I’m going to do that unless Boss tells me otherwise.” You could add, “If it makes you most comfortable to address me by “Ms.” or “Ma’am,” though, let me know” buuuuuut I’m guessing that won’t go over well.

    8. TL -

      Are you Southern yourself?

      There’s three basic kinds of sir/ma’ams. There’s the one she’s asking for here, respectful/subordinate (usually child/younger family to elder).
      There’s the cheerful, neutral one used for emphasis, adult to adult, across, up, and down power lines, like a celebratory “Yes ma’am, we got that done today!”
      Then there’s the adult to child one that is used to indicate a child is about to get in trouble: “No sir, you may not have a cookie.”

      It’s all tone based and if it was me, I would be strongly tempted to only use the third tone with her and ma’am her like I was talking to a child, intermeditely with not ma’am’ing her at all. The trick here would be to have the exact right tone and only use it when saying “yes/no ma’am”. My guess is she’d stop asking you to ma’am her completely, but you’d have to really nail your tone 100% of the time.

      The other (probably better) option is to do what you have been doing, ignoring her requests completely. If someone is willing to step in for you, a shocked, “I beg your pardon?” in response to her request for a “ma’am” and a follow up “that’s highly inapropriate, Karen. She’s your coworker, not your granddaughter” would probably go a long way.

    9. Bibliovore

      Yikes, Yikes, and more Yikes. Yes document but it seems that the whole environment is one of misery. Is it just Karen? I would be tempted not to address her as Ma’am or Karen. I would be tempted to not address her at all by name and if I did it would be by her full name. as in Mrs. or Ms. Black, here are the reports you needed for todays meeting. If anyone asks why you are doing this, state that Mrs. Black requested that you show respect and this is the best way to do so.
      I had a peer with more time in my profession but with actually less experience who “demanded” my respect and in our time together, he became Mr. Green with exaggerated courtesy.
      Recently I heard “don’t wrestle with a pig. You will just get dirty and the pig likes it ” Karen is the pig.

    10. Jemima Bond

      This is appalling. I was in the position of being a similar amount older (and that amount more experienced in the field) than some co-workers at my level until I was promoted in the last year. If I had even hinted that they should call me anything but Jemima/not question me/not ask me to pass them a pen I would have been taken aside for a severe talking to by my manager and be in no doubt that if it happened even one more time there would be Severe Consequences. Now I manage three people and I would be horrified if anyone started with the ma’am-ing. HORRIFIED! Especially as one of my reports is of Indian heritage – the idea that I was trying to pull some colonial days-of-the-Raj crap would be…shameful to say the least.

      If this woman were behaving like this in my office there’d be a grievance filed against her so fast she wouldn’t know what had hit her.

  34. Quill

    Taking bets on whether this thread will actually get longer than today’s five questions.

    Work related: anyone got any advice for managing contacts in outlook? I’m particularly looking for a way that I could notate a contact that I might use like once a quarter “Pomona Sprout – Does certificates of bean inspection” and “Minerva McGonnagall – Contact for Letter of Acceptance to Hogwarts.”

    Been keeping everyone in a word document and it is most definitely not a magical experience.

    1. Armchair Analyst

      I put in the “Notes” section of the Outlook Contact. Also you can put them in Groups for your eyes only. So you could have one group for Inspectors, one group for Boarding School Applications, for example.

      1. Quill

        Thanks. Still learning Outlook, as it’s the part of Office Suite that you don’t automatically get experience with during school and I honestly have not had to use it for more than in-workgroup file sharing when I worked in R&D.

  35. RMNPgirl

    My department is going to have a restructure in September. I have no idea what is going to be involved, we just keep hearing bits and pieces. I’m not worried, I’ve made myself pretty indispensable and I’m the only one with the credentials needed for my current position so I know I’m not going anywhere. I just hate not knowing what it’s going to look like and how my job duties may change. There’s a good possibility of good change but there’s also a possibility of not so good change. Every time I see my director, who does know what’s going on, I just want to yell “tell me what’s going to happen, I can’t take it anymore!”

    1. The New Wanderer

      Hey, we just got an email that we’re kind of doing the same thing in the near future! I also feel like I’m pretty safe right now, but I have no idea if there are going to be big changes in the lower-down management reporting structure or if it’s the usual noise followed by minimal change at the exec level. I really don’t want yet another first level manager but it has been almost 6 months since the last changeover so based on my history, I’m due.

  36. She's One Crazy Diamond

    Has anyone here started an online store and if so, any advice you’d be willing to share? I am firm on starting my own website and not doing Etsy or something similar. Thank you!

    1. Miss May

      I *think* squarespace allows you the ability to sell stuff through a website. Though, this knowledge is based completely on podcast ads, heh.

    2. Art3mis

      Shopify is pretty easy to use, I really liked it and it isn’t too expensive when you’re just starting out.

      1. Making Up Usernames is Fun

        I second Shopify, easy to use and not very expensive. Lots of large companies use it as well, so it scales well. Plus lots of nice free templates to really customize the heck out of your store.

        Good luck with it!!

    3. The Book Roadie

      I just moved from Etsy to my own little web shop. I was already using Square to take payments while vending, and since they offer a basic storefront, I am using that. If you’re willing to pay you can get more features, but the free one is fine for me so far. Square is at SquareUp dot com, I’ve been really happy with them.

  37. AnonymouslyFuming

    I have been looking for a new position internally for a year and a half. Basically since my new manager started. Nothing that I have applied for have been quite right. I have too little experience, I have too much experience, blah blah. Well, finally a job posting that is perfect for me popped up! FINALLY. I applied and did not get an interview. I spoke with a friend about my frustration and found out that the intern interviewed for this position! An intern with 3 months of experience was granted an interview and I was not. Then I found out, my manager was on the interview panel. A little background on her, she is the most unsupportive, condescending, lazy manager I have ever had (and I have had a lot of bad ones). My former coworker left without anything lined up just to get away from her. I honestly think I did not get an interview because she badmouthed me (most likely because she does not want to train yet another replacement). I am anticipating getting the official rejection email soon, and I want to ask the hiring manager about this.

    Now for my question: How on earth do I word this email? The hiring manager is not someone I have worked with directly. We have a culture where I can ask for feedback on how to make myself a more viable candidate, which I can start the email off with (but to be honest, I was 100% perfect for this role, seriously. And I have great performance reviews to back it up!). I need some wording to find out if my suspicions are true. Help/scripts so very appreciated!