open thread – September 6-7, 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.

{ 1,906 comments… read them below }

  1. ChachkisGalore

    I have an intern that just started and is absolutely killing it. He’s showing more intitiative (but the good kind, not the gumption kind) and better understanding of the work than several of the full time team members with years of experience.

    I’m re-working his internship plan to get him involved in some higher level work than originally planned and I’m looking through my list of “would be nice, but I’ll probably never get to” projects to find one or two that I could hand over to him and let him take the lead on.

    Any other ideas of what I could do for a really awesome intern? I never participated in any internships, so I’m basing my ideas on the types of things that I would have found beneficial in my entry level roles, but I’m not sure if there’s anything I’m missing that might be specific to what would be beneficial in an internship context.

    1. JustAnotherAlison

      Help him start to network – either internally or externally. Learning oppertunities are great, but in the end what he will need someone to give him a job eventually :)

      1. ChachkisGalore

        Oh that’s great – thank you! My work does involve interacting with a lot of different people in the company of various levels – mostly over mundane things, but still, do you think having him start to take on some of that would be a good way to get some face time with people outside our dept? I think he has the interpersonal skills to handle it.

        Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of external networking opportunities, but every once in while I’ll attend half-day conferences or seminars. If any come up I’ll push to bring him.

        1. Kate

          Give him as many experiences as you can. Bring him along to client meetings, presentations, whatever makes sense given the company – even if he won’t be participating much – give him exposure to as many different parts of the business as possible. He may tag along to a sales presentation and LOVE it. You never know. Also – ask him! Ask him if there are any areas of the business he’d like to explore, and then give him those opportunities. Then keep in touch – offer to be a reference for future roles, or connect him with others in your industry that might help him. Offer to take him to lunch with some contacts of yours, so he can meet them and broaden his own network! Kudos to you for doing as much as you can for him!

        2. Fortitude Jones

          My work does involve interacting with a lot of different people in the company of various levels – mostly over mundane things, but still, do you think having him start to take on some of that would be a good way to get some face time with people outside our dept?

          Yes, these are exactly the types of things he needs to be taking on. Things that may seem mundane to you now are probably brand new to him, and since those tasks aren’t mission critical, this will give him the opportunity to learn the ropes without fear of screwing up something major. Plus, he’ll get the face time he needs with other department contacts, which can lead him to making connections that might land him a job later if your group doesn’t end up needing to hire when he’s finished with school.

          1. Mama Bear

            Agreed. I loved that my boss for my internship brought me along to meet business people, and told me to go mingle at a gala I’d help set up. Also, make sure the intern leaves with references and/or portfolio work (if allowable).

      2. Lauren19

        I wholeheartedly agree with this. Also get him a good understanding of how the business works. One of the most useful traits of a newer employee is that they understand our revenue system. Beyond teaching HR, marketing, sales, get him immersed in how you measure success, where growth comes from, why the strategy is the way it is. Understanding business at that level — any business — is widely transferable and valued in any position.

      1. Antilles

        This.
        If this guy is doing so well that he’s actually outshining a couple full time team members, you definitely want to hire him on full-time after the internship…and you need to make sure that other people know that.

        1. ChachkisGalore

          Unfortunately our internship program isn’t the type that’s a pipeline for roles in the company after completion (we’re a fairly small company so there’s just not that many, or necessarily any, entry level roles open at any given time).

          I am going to start quietly spreading the word so that if any do open up people know to keep him in mind.

          1. nhb

            Just curious: why quietly? If he’s that great, sing his praises, and offer to be that reference for him when he needs it.

            1. ChachkisGalore

              Well I’m definitely going to be loud about how great he is, but I just don’t want to get his hopes up that there will be a role for him at the company. We were very upfront in the interview process that while we strive to give them real world experience, that we rarely have open roles to offer at the end of the internship.

              1. Just J.

                Ah, then who are your peers at other firms? Pass those contacts on to your intern. Or pass your intern’s name on to your contacts.

              2. Is it Friday yet?

                The next best thing you can give him if you can’t help him get a job at your company is to be a reference for him as he’s applying to other jobs and offer your support in that way.

          2. Kiwiii

            It may be worth it to double check if there’s any flexibility on that if he’s as impressive as you say, even if in a slightly different role or extending the internship if he seems interested in that. I just joined a fairly small company where my manager fought passionately to hire two people from the applicant pool because of the level of talent despite only technically having one role to fill. They hired me and then ended up hiring the second person as a contract employee (to pull funds from another part of the company and for about 25% less – she does about half the work I do and then some stuff we usually save for interns or really slow periods) for a couple months until our workload increases enough to offer her the job properly (which it will in about two months when we launch with a new client).

    2. Isabella

      Coming from someone who had several amazing internships, here’s some of the things that helped for me! Any specific tool that they can put on their resume as having experience in is awesome. Definitely letting them take the lead on a project would be huge. If there’s a way to let them attend some higher level meetings to see the thought process behind those. But the biggest thing was showing me exactly what they changed in my work and why, so I could avoid making that mistake the next time!

      1. ChachkisGalore

        Oh this is really helpful! He just put together some stuff as the legwork for a project, it got sent to my boss (I made sure boss knew it came from intern). Boss made some minor tweaks and presented it to our dept head. I wasn’t sure if I should tell him about the minor tweaks, but I now I will. But will make sure he knows his work was excellent to start with.

        1. nonymous

          For this particular scenario, the feedback is great for development and any hard numbers you can tie to the outcome is a terrific CV-builder. Especially if he is performing out of level – help him highlight that in quantifiable terms.

      2. MySherona

        It’s also important to let them know HOW to put it on their resume. The language used in the industry and the metrics that are going to make it meaningful.

        1. Jake

          That’s huge. For my best interns I always give an hour talk on how to market themselves to employers. The feedback I’ve gotten from departing interns is that this was off huge benefit for little commitment.

    3. Heidi

      Ah, the joy of the intern who just gets it. I’d recommend having a discussion with the intern to try to figure out what types of projects are interesting to him. Giving him back burner projects is fine, and really helpful for an intern because a more senior person has vetted it for feasibility. But it would probably be even more rewarding if he can also work on projects that he is really invested in. Who knows, he might have some entirely new projects in mind already.

    4. PantaloonsOnFire

      Depending on your level on influence and connections (and your intern’s timeline), see if you can help ease his transition from fantastic intern to fantastic employee–even if it’s not with your company. Introduce him to people who can help him grow his career, recommend him highly, strategize with him about how to phrase the work he’s doing on his resume, help him plan out a career in your industry (assuming he wants to stay there). Helping someone have a wonderful, growth-filled internship is invaluable. But the entire reason people have internships is so that they can eventually find jobs and careers. If he’s this amazing, see if you can help him not just with building skills and learning business norms but with actually getting solid, steady, rewarding employment.

      1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde

        This is big. Talk to the intern about potential areas he’d like to learn about. Reach out to a couple of leaders in different areas of the company to see if they’d be interested in doing informational interviews over coffee or lunch with him. Help him start to visualize how his career could look at your company. At least in my company, leaders are very open to having informational meetings with interns so it’s something I encourage our interns to take advantage of.

    5. Thor

      Would there be a position for him after he graduates? Keep that option open if you can. It’s so great you appreciate someone who works hard, it often doesn’t seem that managers care how hard someone works. Getting him some more challenging work seems awesome as it will be more beneficial for him than being stuck picking up lunch and dusting the office. Maybe meet with him and discuss those projects and see what he thinks about it, and be mindful of his time that he has for the internship and to not overload him. Be sure that it isn’t about giving him more work so he gets overwhelmed, but giving him better responsibilities. Give a glowing review if the school needs that kind of thing from you. And definitely tell him straight forward how much you appreciate his hard work. Being noticed and rewarded for his hard work will encourage his good habits, and he deserves to actually hear praise from his boss not just have work piled on.

      1. OtterB

        “gumption” gets used on this site as shorthand for excessive initiative of the tone-deaf kind. Trying to get a job by arriving in the lobby with your resume in hand, trying to take over projects you’re supposed to be assisting with, disregarding instructions without discussing it with your boss because you’re sure you know a better way to do something and everyone will love your innovation, being overly pushy in general.

      2. M

        “I thought the filing system for the Llama Grooming Invoices was confusing, so I’ve merged it with the Puffer Fish Extermination Reports! They’re now filed by geographic location!”

      3. Dwight

        It’s site specific here, because there was once a letter that someone was over-zealously trying to steal someones job while they were on maternity leave by getting job specific training and experience on their own, for a role they weren’t going to have a chance at ever. The director thought the worker was showing “gumption”, so that’s where the term comes from.

        1. voyager1

          I am really glad someone asked this, AAM is the only place where I have seen gumption used as a negative term except in political/societal debates.

          1. Clisby

            Really? I’m 65 and to me it seems like a really anachronistic term. Like, you’re the newsboy who delivers Henry Ford’s newspaper every day and who all of a sudden encounters the great man, launches into a speech about how cars will change the world, and gets hired at Ford Motor Co. on the spot.

          2. TechWorker

            I’m uncertain whether you mean you don’t hear it a lot, or you hear it and it’s usually positive. Maybe some cultural differences at play, but I think I’ve almost always heard it used negatively (and no, AAM is not my main reference). Meaning similar to ballsy/audacious. Though ‘no gumption’ means ‘stupid’ or ‘naive’ so idk what happened to the English language there :D

          1. voyager1

            Yeah I tend to agree with AAM in that response, gumption is more to me like showing serious initiative and not giving up on something. But initiative can turn to rudeness though very quickly when one doesn’t know when to holdback.

        2. Middle School Teacher

          I always think of the letter about the person who said she was “fired for showing initiative” when what she actually did was go over her boss’ head to the grand boss.

    6. Nadja

      Ask them what sort of things they aspire to do professionally one day and try to figure out a project where they can get related experience under their belt.

    7. Mainely Professional

      Make sure that you’re giving him projects he can potentially “take away” and show as part of a professional portfolio/describe with real ownership on his resume. Work samples are really helpful for young professionals.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Yes – I cannot stress this enough. I was a journalism major who also did marketing communications work for a visitors and convention bureau during my co-op, and having really solid clips was so important during interviews.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood

      Think about any industry jargon initiatives in your company that you can expose him to. For example, if you’re on a kaizan or SixSigma project, let him sit in on some meetings to get the feel for the back&forth, and discuss with him afterwards.
      If he’s working in a department with a formal SOP and those procedures have drifted out of date, ask him to mark up a copy with differences that people have pointed out during his onthejob training.
      I saw below that you’re a small company — but sometimes small companies have the flexibility to create an entry-level position when an excellent person comes along. So point out this intern to the highest ranking person you know in the C-suite, and tell them it’s the first intern (out of X interns in Y years) that you’re this excited about.

    9. Mazzy

      I have to ask, is the intern paid? I wouldn’t want you getting in trouble giving unbunpaid intern real work

      1. Eshrai

        I actually came to ask this myself. Unpaid interns should not be producing any real work for the business, they should be learning primarily. Paid interns are different though. I can’t help myself with this! Too many years as an auditor.

    10. Officious Intermeddler

      I like the idea of the “nice, but I won’t get it it” list–I had an internship in law school where I got the chance to work on stuff like that, and my boss at the time liked how things were going and kept me on after the summer as a part-time hourly worker whenever I could fit things in. The projects got done, and got done much more quickly than they would have, and even though that wasn’t the kind of place where they could or would hire someone right out of school, I got a taste of the kind of work I’d do in a job like that and also the kind of independence you need to be a good worker when you’re just starting out. So anyway, maybe campaign for part-time hourly work for the intern after the internship ends, if possible? The best things you can give an intern, IMO, are (1) clear expectations, (2) good pay, and (3) a great reference, and it sounds like maybe you can achieve those.

    11. BetsyTacy

      Somebody who supervised me for an internship set up a series of meetings with higher level staff in different departments just so I could meet them, ask questions, and basically have a super informal informational interview.

      It was amazing to get that 20-30 minutes of face time and just… get that type of exposure.

    12. Person of Interest

      I always have at least one project that my intern can lead and do fairly independently – it’s usually a research and writing project for which we have past models and templates (so they have lots of guidance), and I end up finalizing it after they leave (for clean up and because it takes longer to complete than their internship), but they do the bulk of the work and can list it as an accomplishment and share the finished product as part of their portfolio.

    13. Anax

      When I was an intern, I had a chance to sit in and observe our hiring process – our group had the whole small team present at phone and in-person interviews, and discussed how they felt about candidates afterward. That was really valuable to me – it pointed out some surprisingly common mistakes (like googling the answer during phone interviews), industry norms (‘most people dress business-casual for interviews, full suits read a little weird’), and eased my anxiety about the process.

      If it’s possible, that would be an awesome thing to let your intern in on too – though of course, if you’re trying to hire THEM, that might make things a little harder.

    14. Jadelyn

      Help him get known to people other than you/your department. Bring him to meetings an intern wouldn’t normally be part of – not just for the learning experience of what he observes in the meetings, but so that he becomes a familiar face and name to people across the organization. After those meetings, if you’ve got time, you could debrief with him and help him calibrate his perception of what’s happening in those meetings (who was responsible for what, what the various goals of the people in the meetings were, etc), which is a skill that will help him for the rest of his career.

      For projects, stuff with concrete deliverables that he can point to on his resume later would be fantastic.

      And of course – just ask him! Ask him what he’s looking to get out of this internship, if there’s a particular area of specialization he wants to move into, etc. He might have some ideas you can work with.

    15. Kiwiii

      So I never had any internships, so this might be missing the base a little bit. But in my most valuable temp experience, I teamed up with the person in the office who reviewed resumes and got direct help with my resume regarding what they/others in the industry look for, including spelling out how to include work I did (and mentioning things I could include) and that I should be (for entry level positions) mirroring the qualifications more closely to connect the dots for people. I’ve evolved a little from that format since then (with Alison’s help), but it improved my resume significantly and got me tons of interviews for positions that could use me long-term, pay me more, and would offer me benefits (which, then, as a 23 year old making $12/hr with a frankly gross commute, was what I desperately needed)

    16. Token Archaeologist

      I used to run an internship program. One of the things we frequently heard from participants was that training opportunities, and particularly cross-training opportunities were really useful and were what was getting them hired afterwards. So if any training opportunities come up either in your department, or a department you work with a lot, see if you can get the intern in on the training.

      I can give a field specific example: Our science interns were often included in wild land firefighting training. In the field they were trying to break into this was super useful. Totally unrelated to their science specialty, but very related to the type of organization they were looking to work for. And having the certification, and being able to say they can act as a back up in an emergency even though they are a scientist, was a big bonus for the cash strapped organizations they were looking to work for.

      So many industries are looking to have staff be able to function in multiple roles, that cross straining from the start of a career has become a big bonus. So, ask him what types of things that are tangential he might be interested in, and see what opportunities there are to get him some training or experience in those areas as well.

    17. Venus

      There are piles of suggestions of what you should do, but in my experience I would first ask him. Don’t push to include him in specific projects, conferences, big meetings, etc before you know that’s something that would interest him. It probably will, but check in first! I chat with my interns to find out what they are most keen to get out of the experience, and for some it’s skills because they want to be in a different field after graduation and don’t need my references to get them there. They don’t mind going to meetings with senior managers, but it wasn’t their priority.

    18. Hillary

      We try to focus both internships and rotation projects on measurable deliverables. I want the intern to have stories they can tell in a job interview, especially about whatever their area of focus is.

      It’s a small example, but one of our interns just did a voice of the customer interview series for us (internal customers). She set up the interviews, wrote the question list, synthesized the results, and presented them to stakeholders. It was valuable for our team, and it also exposed her to leaders across the business while giving her some exposure to the kind of conflicting wants you’re going to see in a big corporate environment. The only things I did were make the interviewee list and give her some coaching/feedback about how to present to that audience.

    19. Laura W.

      When I ran an internship program, I always had the interns update their resume with the internship before their final meeting with their supervisor and me. We allotted time during the meeting to go over their resume. In addition to general resume tips, we also suggested ways of rephrasing the way they spoke about the internship to make it stronger. We then gave them the rest of their time at the organization to update their resume with any changes they wanted to make and offered to look at it one final time. I felt it was a nice way to end the internship while making sure their resume was updated for their next internship or job.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        BRILLIANT. Yes, resumes are difficult, and you might be able to give them a different slant on how to write them than they get at the career center.

    20. Miranda Priestly's Assistant

      Would you want to hire him when he graduates/if this is possible? (Of course, assuming that he wants to work at your place.)

    21. wittyrepartee

      If you can’t find a position for him, would it be possible for you to give him a paid internship indefinitely until he finds another position? Having a low level of income during a job search is incredibly helpful, as is having a boss who knows you’re looking and is willing to talk with you about offers that you’re considering.

      Another super helpful thing to do would be to give him practice interviews and to go over his resume. Maybe go over his linked in as well, or other materials that people might look at when he’s looking for a job.

    22. Daisy

      A little late here, but if he’s really killing it and you have any flexibility, see if you can get him (or reasonably allow him to use) a title other than “intern.” I did an internship right out of college and my boss decided I was doing work way above the intern level, so told me to use “Llama Feeding Coordinator” on my resume instead and she would confirm that in reference checks. It definitely looked better to have a year of experience with that title than “Llama Intern.”

    23. BTDT

      You have some great ideas already but besides leading a project here are the 2 things I felt was most beneficial:
      – after my project ended I was asked to present it to senior leadership & some other relevant teams. So I got face time with them + it was something I could add to my resume.
      – Got invited back for a 2nd internship to work on a new/different project

    24. Oilpress

      Be careful not to do more for this intern than you do for your full time staff. Even if the intern has more ability, your full time staff are going to be who helps you this year and next year, while the intern will probably be somewhere else. It’s nice that you want to be helpful, but don’t forget who is going to help (or hurt) you in the long run.

    25. Jocelyn

      Take him out for coffee and ask them what their big dreams and goals are, and based on his experience at your company what type of work does he have an eye on?

  2. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo

    Greetings, All!
    I am a high school teacher specializing in a certain content. I am also a current professional in this content, and am slightly known in my field.
    I write a LOT of recommendation letters, not only for students, but also occasionally for colleagues and friends. A friend going for a job in our field asked me to re-write part of the letter to introduce my background and myself, which I had left out. I have never included information about myself before. Does anyone else do this in their letters?

    1. Sleepy

      I include information about my role and my relationship to the student. E.g. “I am a math teacher and Janet was a student in my math courses Algebra 1 and Pre-Calculus 2.”

      I don’t think you should include more than that unless the student is truly outstanding and your background will explain how you helped recognize that. E.g. “Although I’ve taught for 20 years, including at the college level, I’ve never seen a student work as hard as Janet.” That’s very different than “This is my first year teaching and Janet is my most hard-working student.”

      Letters should be short and focused on the student. People aren’t likely to read them closely or read something longer than a page, and if you were to discuss yourself, you’d be taking away space from the student.

      1. Muriel Heslop

        I write a lot of recommendations and I echo this. Specify my relationship to the student and if relevant, any special experience I have to highlight a specific strength or skill of the person for whom I am writing the letter.

        1. Memyselfandi

          Same here. It is a recommended format for letters of recommendation. Most of my letters are for graduate school, fellowships and the like. I generally write a paragraph about how I have worked with the candidate on a specific project. My position title and credentials, included in my signature, are usually enough to establish my credibility, but it might be reasonable to include more about yourself if the same is not true for you. If you think the recipient of the letter would recognize your name, it might not be necessary.

    2. Hiring Mgr

      It would seem to make sense to provide that context, no? I suppose the recommendee could do it also though..

    3. Professional Pup

      I previously worked at a high school not as a teacher, but as a supervisor in an on-campus Teapot Repair Center where students worked part-time to get real-world teapot experience, so I wrote a lot of recs. I always took a few sentences – sometimes only 1-2, sometimes up to 5, depending on what the recommendation was for – to explain the background of our Teapot Repair Center, because it was fairly unique (well known among other schools with Teapot Integration – not so much outside of the K-12 Teapot world). I felt like it was important to make clear how unique the work was that the students were doing, so the background was necessary. So, I don’t think it’s off-base to include a few lines about yourself, especially if your background and specialization can lend more weight to the recommendation you’re giving a student.

      1. Artemesia

        I worked in a somewhat innovative program in which students had a lot of hands on and community based experience and which there was a lot of emphasis on analysis and writing. I had a couple of boilerplate sentences that described the focus of the program i.e. the focus on what skills students were expected to develop which would then segue into specific examples of things the students did — their internship, or leadership on a community based class project or whatever.

        It is important to provide a bit of context and in your case it might be about your own work and experience — a sentence or so.

    4. Not A Manager

      Maybe the issue here is that you are writing on behalf of a professional colleague, not a student, so they want it to be clear that you have credentials other than your teaching position.

      1. Captain Raymond Holt

        As a person who works as a part time faculty member and a full time business professional, Not A Manager has it right! It’s important for the reader to understand why you’re qualified to evaluate and recommend the candidate.

    5. Quickbeam

      Yes, I include my background briefly so that the reader understands my level of skill and expertise in evaluating the candidate. In my case, nursing.

    6. Parenthetically

      I sometimes do! I think it depends on the context, and to me, in this context it makes sense — it’s an additional feather in your friend’s cap for someone with your level of expertise and professional experience to recommend her, and introducing yourself briefly means you’re not relying on name recognition or someone having the time to Google you. :)

    7. Anonymeece

      Hmm, no, I haven’t.

      My format for recommendation letters tends to be:

      [Intro with how I know the person (ex. “I’ve served as supervisor for Jane for the past 5 years. Her position requires…)]

      [Brief overview of her skills/great things at her job]

      [Brief personal note. (ex. “Jane is also a great team-member who always has a smile on her face and a positive attitude. She goes out of her way to get to know her colleagues and …etc)]

      [Closing where I say if they have any questions, etc., and say I think they’d be a great fit]

      My signature has my education level but I’ve never really gone into much detail about myself, other than “I’m his/her supervisor”. That seems odd.

    8. Not So NewReader

      Not exactly the same, but my friend introduced a mutual friend as a guest speaker this way: She started out with the number of years as a consultant. Then she gave a short list of different organizations that were his clients.
      It worked into about three sentences but each sentence was packed. If I did not know the speaker I would still have been very interested in hearing the talk, given his background.

      I’d suggest that you have created the template here that you can use in your first two sentences. “I am a high school teacher with x years experience and I have been concurrently working in the field for y years.” If you have general examples of your work you can put them next. Our friend had done consulting work for various types of NPOs, so several categories of clients were listed, such as schools and hospitals. Notice that the specific institution was not named.
      People just need a general idea of your basis for your insight.

    9. tamarack & fireweed

      How I would go about this: If you take a step back from the letter as written and read it as if you were a hiring manager, would there be any lingering question about how the letter writer is qualified to make the statements about the candidate? If yes, add just enough information to contextualize.

      It shouldn’t be dragging the letter down the slope of being about you rather than the candidate, but it should make your perspective on the candidate, and your expertise regarding what you’re evaluating, clear. There were many good little templates in the other comments.

    10. Deanna Troi

      When I receive a letter of reference, I want to know the author’s credentials. How else will I know how much weight give to their opinion? Especially from a colleague, not a teacher.

    11. Anon recommender

      I do very briefly when relevant. I’m in academia. For example if they are applying for the same degree I have or if they are applying for a very special position so the readers have context that I am not just a random person at the university. As an aside, I do not allow students to read my letters. I only agree if they waive this right. I have allowed colleagues to see the letters though and a few asked for tweaks I was happy to make.

  3. The Actually Mad Scientist

    Hi All,I guess I’m looking for some help framing something that’s been going on at work. I’ve posted before that I am a contractor working at a much larger pharma company. Our department is made up mostly of people from my contracting company, with some of the pharma company’s people interspersed and higher-up than we are. They just opened up 6 positions, specifically geared to convert “contract XYZ” employees to “Pharma” employees (so there are no clauses or anything like that that are keeping us from the jobs.) 

    I’ve been here for 4.5 years and have never had any problems with my work. All of my reviews are glowing, I’ve been told I’m a great employee, I’m always getting bonuses, rewards, etc. Personally, I lost my mom this year, so this has been the hardest year of my life. I’m at work, doing a great job (from what I’ve been told) and making a huge effort to be here every day, do my best and ignore my continuously deteriorating mental health since Mom died. I’m one of the most senior contractors here.
     
    The positions opened up, and, lo and behold, I DIDN’T EVEN GET AN INTERVIEW. FOR MY OWN JOB. When they sent an email saying that all of the interviews were already conducted or scheduled (so if you’re waiting, you’re SOL) my heart sank and, unfortunately, since I’m apparently a child, I started to cry (silently, not like sobbing.)
    Someone saw me crying and inferred that I was upset about the situation, and it got back to the hiring manager, Sally. (who is good friends with my manager, Jill). Jill had a talk with me this morning “off the record” to ask if I was upset, which I confessed that I was, but that I was dealing with it. Jill told me that my being upset got back to Sally and Sally told Jill that if I was upset about it, she wishes that I would go talk to her. Jill said she “thinks it will make me feel better.” 

    I considered this, but I don’t know if I want to do it. I feel like Sally is in a bad position with having to make a decision of giving 6 people positions out of 45 really good employees, and me asking to talk to her isn’t going to do anything besides make her feel bad. I would like an explanation (because at this point I feel it’s personal) but is it even worth it? It’s not going to change anything, and I don’t want to come across as a baby that’s crying because I didn’t get picked for an interview. I know that it’s not her job to handle my emotions, but I would love to know if it’s something I’m doing-my anxiety and many other things have gone off the rails lately, and it’s hard for me to regulate anything, so I try to take extreme care with making sure I’m doing a good job.

    Do you guys think I should talk to Sally? What should I say? I need to do something here because I’m starting to get very…complacent? towards my job. I feel this might be a point that will turn me from a good worker into an “eff this entire place” worker and I don’t want that at all. Also, everyone in my open-plan office is talking about their interviews and how they went, and I secretly want to punch every single one of them. I don’t want to end up hating my job over this, and I also don’t want to end up hating my coworkers. I would appreciate any help! 

    1. Elenia

      First of all it is so ok to cry. I am a grown ass woman and when I got the news I didn’t get a job I had been doing interim for 8 months, I very calmly accepted the news, talked to the person who delivered it, hung up, and started to cry. I think more people should cry occasionally, it’s a great venting situation.
      In the end you don’t have to talk to Sally. If you can, though, it might be good to talk to her and ask her what was lacking and what you could do to get this job in the future. Most likely she will say something that might not be that useful. That is not the point.
      The point is, to afterwards, when you are far in the future, to be able to look back onto this and remember you handled it. Despite my tears, I did ask the hiring person what he was looking for and how to improve myself as an applicant. He told me some things, and I was like “What…? I have those skills already! That’s BS! ” which in turn told me, I was worth more than that. That boost of self-confidence didn’t come right away, it came down the line, which eventually spurred me to a job with a higher role and a LOT more pay.
      Much affection to you. It always sucks to be passed over. Bleh!

      1. valentine

        making a huge effort to […] ignore my continuously deteriorating mental health since Mom died.
        I think this is the place to focus. Maybe it’s impacting your work more than you think. If you can take time between jobs, that might help.

      2. Token Archaeologist

        THIS! Crying really should not be the big, bad deal that its made out to be. Its a normal, natural human reaction. When you said that you cried after you got that email my first thought was “of course you did. So would I. So HAVE I.” You just had the unfortunate reality of receiving the news at work, during office hours, in an open plan office. The last time I received bad news at work, and cried, I had the benefit of being able to shut my door. So you quietly shed some tears. It means you care about your job/the job you applied for and were genuinely disappointed not to get an interview. That is a positive, not a negative. Keep that knowledge in mind, do not be embarrassed by or apologize for the tears, and go get whatever feedback you can on why you were passed over. (Side note: There is a wonderful chapter on crying at work in the book Dear Madame President.)

        1. Anita Brayke

          Thank you!! Shitty things happen at work all the time. When shitty things happen, sometimes we cry. It’s ok to cry! We’re human beings. Your mom died, you didn’t get the job you thought you wanted, and it’s okay to cry about any or all of that! Burying emotions is not good for you.

          I recommend a nice blanket on the couch in front of your favorite movie with your favorite beverage tonight, plus any animals or humans you deem helpful! Take care of yourself, Actually Mad!!!

    2. ThatGirl

      I think, if you feel good about Sally overall, that it might help – and she may be able to give you advice or a recommendation for a different job. Maybe talk to Jill first if you trust/know her more.

    3. Lurker

      I think that you can totally talk to Sally. I’d just frame it like “I was taken aback that I wasn’t in the pool of people you selected for an interview, and I’m hoping that you can give me some feedback on my application so I can put a stronger foot forward should another similar opportunity arise in the future”. That way it’s not about your feelings, but you’ll 1) potentially get useful information, 2) hopefully get a little closure, and 3) get it on their radar that you are serious about progressing. And I’m so sorry that you are having such a tough year – all the best!

      1. AVP

        This is really good framing! Sally may have some specific advice on how you could be successful in the future that she’d be happy to give you – but doesn’t want to give out unsolicited because not everyone would welcome that. But if you would…go for it.

        1. Kate

          I agree with this approach. I always think it makes sense to ask for feedback. (And like a previous commenter said, if the feedback is completely bogus – then you know you’ll be more valued elsewhere.) Also, I wanted to say that I’m sorry about your Mom. Take care of yourself.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            And specifically since Sally told The Actually Mad Scientist’s boss to have her come talk, I think she’d be more than willing to provide feedback.

            I’m so sorry about the loss of your mom, TAMS. Were you able to take any time off from work to grieve? I ask because, like was mentioned above, if you haven’t, that’s probably been affecting your performance more than you realize at the moment. Please give yourself some grace here – you weren’t being a child because you cried over a job, you cried because this was yet another thing you lost this year. Loss in general is hard and it’s natural to be upset. Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally, and please ask for feedback if you really do like your job and want to stay in it.

          2. Mockingbird 2

            I agree— I was in a completely ridiculous situation with feedback last year and the more I asked for feedback (the feedback that would only be given passive-aggressively through evals and never to my face) from that person the more I realised it was bogus and there was NOTHING I could do to improve my standing with them even if I did take the actually-constructive things they had to say seriously. FWIW this was the only person at my job giving me negative feedback.

    4. NotaPirate

      I would talk to Sally. Not in a why on earth was I not one of the lucky 6 from 45 question though. But as a chance to feel out how often this conversion is happening, how often are they going to roll over, is there specific qualifications they are looking for. Because these are the questions that will help you decide whether to job hunt or hang out in the same roll hoping for next time.

    5. Trout 'Waver

      4.5 years in that situation is ridiculous. Start looking for a new job if feasible. The responsible thing to do as a hiring manager in that situation is to either give all internal candidates an interview or explain to them one-on-one in person why they’re not getting an interview. Sending out a passive e-mail that all interview have been scheduled is a chickenshit way of handling the situation. Sally needs to step up and actually do her job, even when it’s awkward and unpleasant.

      1. Jules the 3rd

        Actually, multi-year contracts are the new normal in the US – all gig economy all the time. And explaining to 30+ people why they’re not getting an interview is an unreasonable expectation. Employees are now expected to be proactive about their careers, not waiting for HR to come to them.

        TAMS, I’d talk to Sally, with the Lurker / NotaPirate scripts. Ask what would make you a stronger candidate next time, when that next time might come up, etc. You’re probably doing fine.

        I am very sorry for your loss.

        1. Trout 'Waver

          Nope. Not at all.

          I’m in a similar field and it’s a huge red flag of a shitty company. And probably wouldn’t stand scrutiny to the contractor vs employee test if someone made a complaint.

          Also, explaining to 30+ people why they’re not getting an interview is part of the job of hiring for 6 roles from a pool of 45 internal applicants. Either TAMS’s manager or Sally should be having a conversation with them about why there weren’t selected for an interview. It’s poor management to not do so. I agree that TAMS should be proactive about their career. Proactively looking to get away from this terribly run place.

      2. Public Sector Manager

        I agree. I have 20 people working for me and it wouldn’t take very long to tell them why they aren’t getting an interview. Plus, it would be important for retention of those contractors to have that conversation. It’s not a big ask, even if it’s 50 employees.

    6. Caroline

      This is so hard The Actually Mad Scientist! First I would say, please be kind to yourself. You’ve had an incredibly tough year and even if you weren’t killing it at work, that would be OK! I know what it’s like to be a normally great employee who is finding it difficult to care anymore and I would say mostly it is a time-bound thing and you will find your mojo again.
      Secondly – if you do decide to talk to Sally (which I think I would do). I would recommend writing yourself a really clear script in advance about the specific things you want to know, and then practice it out loud. Hopefully that will help with managing your emotions in the meeting. Write down an opener, something like ‘Thanks for speaking to me. I was disappointed to hear that I had not been offered an interview for these positions despite my excellent performance reviews for X and Y projects. I am hoping you can give me some clarity on why this was the case?’
      Don’t over-explain or give lots of context, but instead look to Sally to give her perspective on it.
      I imagine she might try and fob you off with ‘there were lots of great candidates’ etc and in that case I would ask for some specific areas that you can work on to be considered next time around. Even if you decide you can’t stand to be there a moment longer I think it will still be helpful information for your next career move.

    7. Notthemomma

      I think you should, not necessarily to plead for a spot, but to squelch the rumor mill. And clear the air. Address that you were upset, but you recognize that they had some hard decisions to make, that you did not realize how much you wanted it, but that the email hit you harder than you thought it would, but you do value a continuing good working relationship

      1. Mama Bear

        Agreed. If that ship has sailed, then your goal should be figuring out what you do next in the context of your job. If YOU are not going be doing that job, then where will you be going?

    8. Psyche

      This is a hard one. If you were feeling ok emotionally, I think it would be a good idea to try to get some feedback about why you weren’t given the interview so that you can try to improve your odds in the future or decide to apply elsewhere and not waste your time (depending on the feedback). However, if you are already feeling emotionally fragile, it may simply make you feel worse. This is especially true if you end up crying and then are embarrassed. I doubt that there is anything they can say that will make you feel better about being passed over, so you need to decide if the chance that you might be able to strengthen future applications is worth the emotional toll the conversation will take.

    9. Lora

      I would talk to Sally, but here’s how I would frame it:

      -You were hoping based on your experience with them that they would consider you for full time, do they have any feedback or guidance for you in the future? Will your temp position continue or is there some other insight they can provide for you? Since you’re a contractor, will you need to be looking for another contract soon? If you need to look for a new contract elsewhere, how do they want you to transition (laundry list of projects) to the new employees?

      -If she asks about crying, I would say “oh sorry my mom died recently, I was crying for a different reason” because this is understandable, nobody’s going to think less of you for that. Well monsters maybe, but they don’t count. If she doesn’t ask I wouldn’t mention it.

      I’m actually a FTE in my current role *because* I told them, “hey, as a contractor, I need to be on the lookout for other contracts all the time, and if you’re not going to offer me a full time role then I need to accept this other contract. The deadline for me accepting a different contract is (date). If you don’t let me know by 3pm on (date) whether you are going to bring me in full time or extend my contract, I will be going elsewhere.” They had me in mind for a couple of possible roles, and were dilly-dallying around for so long that it was literally 2:30 on (date) when they conjured up an offer letter. And they dragged their feet on when the first day as an FTE would be, too.

      In another job, I started as a contractor and was transferred under another boss who…somehow never let anyone else know I was a contractor. So I was treated as a full time employee, in a matrix-management organization, and wasn’t made full time until the other managers in the matrix realized I was a contractor because I had to tell them, “I cannot take on your project, I’m leaving on (date) as that’s the end of my contract.” Then the other managers were able to get me in full time – they literally never even thought to consider that I was anything other than a full time employee. Even the two managers who knew it, conveniently forgot, and only got upset when I had to tell them, look, you will have to work out an overtime agreement with the contracting firm – or make me full time salaried.

      In both cases there was a lot of “we had no idea you were handling ALL those tasks!” that drove them to insist I become full time. So it helps to go in armed with the list of things you are doing and what all would be involved in them losing you.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        This: “I was frustrated at the email, and I’m glad to have a chance to discuss it. But my tears that day were for another reason — my mother died this year, and it still hits me hard on some days.”
        Then lead into some of the wonderful suggestions from the commentariat.

        Good luck ActuallyMadScientist… I lost my mom in 2016 and I had plenty of times with red eyes at the office in the first couple of years.

      2. LilySparrow

        Yes. Absolutely.

        There is a productive and, I would say, necessary conversation that needs to happen here.

        But it’s not about your feelings. It’s about your future with the role, and the plans you need to make to further your own career.

        Sally isn’t in charge of those things any more than she is responsible for your feelings. But she has the information you need to make good decisions.

    10. OtterB

      Sally said (through Jill) that if you are upset about it, she’d like to talk to you. That doesn’t mean you have to, but I think you can take it at face value and talk to her. Your message is simply “Yes, I’m upset, because I like the company and my work, and all my feedback says I’m doing a good job, and I didn’t get an interview.” Possibly, you could go on to “I’d value any feedback about what I could do differently to position myself for the next opportunity like this.” But mostly then you listen to anything Sally has to say. It might not help your feelings in the least, but it might. And in general, more information is better than less information.

      BTW, I say this because Sally offered. If she hadn’t, I think you could have the conversation with Jill but not go direct to Sally.

    11. Ms.Vader

      I’d talk to Sally. It may be that you are already a forerunner for the position and didn’t need an interview. Who knows! I wish you luck.

    12. gbca

      I’m sorry, that must be so hard – I’d be really upset too. I do think you should 100% talk to Sally. If Sally said she wants you to talk to her, then definitely talk to her! If she didn’t think anything would come of the conversation she wouldn’t offer. And honestly it might even come off a little strangely if you don’t talk to her, now that she probably knows Jill told you that she wishes you would talk to her. She clearly feels there’s some value in the conversation, so it absolutely makes sense to have it.

    13. Zephy

      First: I’m sorry for your loss.

      It sounds like the thing to work on here is how you feel, which sounds like a job for therapy. See if there’s a community mental health center in your area; if cost is a concern, they often have flexibility with pricing and payment. If you have insurance, your plan might include access to Teladoc or a similar telepractice service that includes mental health professionals. There are also apps like Meta and Talkspace; some of them are paid and others are free, but they connect you with a therapist via phone or text. I can’t personally vouch for them as I’ve never used them, but I know they exist as an option.

      Losing a parent is hard for anyone, and by your own admission, you haven’t really taken the time yet to process that grief in a healthy way. Talking to someone, even if it’s just about your mom and you don’t even get into the work stuff, is likely to help you feel at least a little better.

    14. Not A Manager

      I don’t like this “are you upset/this will make you feel better” stuff. Of course as fellow humans your bosses don’t want you to suffer emotionally, but it’s not their job to manage your emotions AND it’s not your job to close the emotion loop by making them feel better about your experience.

      By all means talk to Sally, but talk to her about your performance and professional development, not about how Everyone Feels about the interview situation.

      1. Marthooh

        Yep. Sally and Jill are being weirdly middle-school about it. Tell Jill to tell Sally to tell the rumor-monger to stick a sock in it.

    15. Meredith

      I would frame it as, “Hey Sally, I think you heard I was upset about the interviews for the X positions. While I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t chosen for an interview after 4.5 years of what I believe to be good quality work, I understand you have 45 contractors in this role and it must be a hard decision with a lot of different considerations. I’d love to stay here though, ideally in a permanent position at some point, and see what you think I should work on to get to the level that could be considered for future openings.” Hopefully that moves it from the fact that you were crying and might be sore about not being picked to Sally understanding that you empathize with her decision process and are actually interested in feedback. Good luck!

      1. Artemesia

        It doesn’t really matter if you talk to her or not. What is very clear is that you need to find another job even if the contractor role continues here. They have made it clear that they don’t value you; find someone who does. Take your time if the contractor role is to continue, but be gone when you get an offer that is attractive to you.

    16. Spreadsheets and Books

      I think it’s worth it to talk to Sally if you feel you can handle it. You may learn more about what’s going on.

      I was turned down for a promotion that I fully deserved (to the point that someone who was promoted over me told me that she was baffled by what happened – turns out she was promoted as a way of trying to bribe her to stay, which failed miserably as she gave notice less than two months later) and I definitely teared up in the meeting with my manager while trying to explain where I was coming from. I don’t feel bad about it, especially when I was given feedback I’d never heard before in the 2.5 years I’d been there in said meeting.

      I gave notice the day the day after the promoted coworker. My new job is great. OP, you don’t have to stay in this position if you feel that you deserve better. Sometimes, even good jobs/companies turn into untenable situations.

    17. nonymous

      my 2cents is that it is not Sally’s job to manage your feelings. However, it is part of Sally’s job to figure out how to keep a reasonable supply productive staff (direct employee or contractors) at minimum cost to the org. Lots of good tips for how to pitch that in the comments.

      But if it becomes obvious that this position is a dead end, I personally think that you need to prioritize networking and development opportunities which will allow you to take a different job when this contract ends. And you can definitely advocate for those opportunities even as a contractor. There’s a wide spectrum between “eff this place” and “I luuurve working here”. Perhaps now is the time for “Not a bad place to work while I gear up for NewThing”?

      1. DC

        It’s also not TAMS’s job to manage Sally’s feelings. To me, this read as “Sally feels bad she made someone upset, and wants to talk to you to make herself feel better.” That’s not TAMS’s job. Sally is in a role where, yes, some people are going to be upset. The folks they say no to farther down the line will also be upset.

        Sally also didn’t handle this well, and that’s on Sally, not TAMS.

        1. i forget the name i usually use

          YES – this is what I thought too. Sally feels bad that OP is upset, and “why didn’t they come talk to me” was her reaction, instead of having to deal with that she cannot make everyone happy. I think going and talking to Sally would just give Sally the chance to justify/try to talk OP out of being upset/argue with their feelings, even though they are totally within normal reactions to a disappointing career event.

          I wouldn’t go, I don’t think you’ll get any resolution out of it, just hot air.

          1. i forget the name i usually use

            Also, it just occurred to me that Sally totally triangulated Jill right into this situation (a technique people use to diffuse their emotional discomfort with a situation by dragging a third party into it). Maybe it’s more appropriate, since Jill is OP’s manager, BUT then sending the message “you should have come talk to me” is sort of ironic, because that’s what Sally should have done in the first place too! ugh. This place sounds like sort of an emotional quagmire, especially if you’re also dealing with your own personal stresses like losing a loved one. I’m so sorry, OP.

        2. Public Sector Manager

          Totally agree! And honestly, I wouldn’t go to the meeting.

          First, if it’s going to be a lot of hot air from Sally about how this was a difficult decision, about how there were a lot of qualified people who didn’t get the position, about how much you mean to the organization, etc., I’d pass. It’s all blowing smoke–we like you, just not enough to hire you.

          Second, why does TAMS need to be summoned to a meeting with Sally? Can’t Sally find TAMS and have the discussion? If this was my team, I would tell people in advance why they weren’t getting an interview. And if I didn’t for some reason and word got back to me like it did with Sally here, I’d find the person out. I wouldn’t go to their boss and say, “hey, if they want to meet to discuss, then let me know.”

          This is all being done to make Sally feel better.

    18. CM

      I would wait a while, until you’re not feeling upset about it anymore — like, a long time, if you need to — and then ask Sally for feedback on your application. That’s the framing I use when I need to find out why I was rejected from something, because I want to figure out whether it’s worth applying again — just super calm, “I’m wondering if you have any feedback on my application. As I’m thinking about what I want to do in the future, it would be helpful to know if there are gaps in my experience, etc” or something like that.

      I 100% don’t think that talking to Sally will make you feel better, and that’s a weird thing to suggest. So, don’t go into the conversation thinking that it will comfort you — wait until you’re already calm and only want information.

      It also sounds like you’re being pretty hard on yourself about crying and feeling upset. There’s no reason to be ashamed of either of those things. It might be worth thinking more deeply about why you’re upset, because it might reveal unspoken beliefs. (For example: “I take for granted that everyone who works here understands we’re all desperate to move to the pharma side, so it was really callous for them to reject us with a form email.” That may or may not be something you believe, but it’s the kind of belief that, if you discover it, could help you re-frame the situation and decide things like, “I need to be more clear with my manager that my ultimate goal is to get one of the pharma jobs” or “I thought I was earning a pharma job with my efforts, but now that it seems that’s not true, do I still want to work here?”)

    19. Blueberry Girl

      The part of this letter that concerns me is not whether you should talk to Sally or not. I think others have really done a great job with suggestions for that.

      I’m sort of concerned about your chose to “ignore my continuously deteriorating mental health since Mom died.” I really think if you are struggling that it might behoove you to find a mental health professional to speak to. If you’re having a lot of trouble regulating emotions, than they might be able to help. Good luck!

    20. Aquawoman

      First, I’m so sorry about your Mom, that has got to be difficult and reduce your ability to deal with other setbacks.
      I do think you should talk to Sally. (I actually think Sally should talk to you but that is apparently not going to happen). I think the fact that it came back that way suggests that Sally has something to say to you, and I think you would do well to hear what it is. I can think of a million things ranging from “you need to work on X” to “we have another role in mind for you,” but I think it will be useful.

      1. PharmaCat

        I’m more cynical – Sally doesnt want any contractors to leave because of this selection, so of course she wants to reassure you. At 4.5 years with the company, this could be a political situation- maybe it has nothing to do with your skills, but with an assessment on relative flight risks among contractors.

    21. Harry

      Yes, you should. You should never assume that the hiring manager knows what YOU want. Have you ever explicitly stated that you want to convert? I recently also had a contractor position open and after rounds and rounds of interview, I couldn’t find anyone I liked. Then one of my vendors asked to talk to me and said he was interested. Had he not reach out, I wouldn’t have known. Being that you were there for so long, they may simply assume you wanted to remain as a contractor.

    22. Not So NewReader

      You’ve got more than one grief going on here at the same time. Personally, I probably blat like a baby if this happened to me. It’s a lot. A real lot.
      We can grieve lost jobs just as hard as we grieve losing a human out of our lives. Grief is cumulative and it compounds as it accumulates. So one thing happens and it’s an upset. The second thing happens and oh boy, this is a problem. Then if we are unfortunate enough to have another loss of some sort, it can work into a huge flippin’ deal.

      If grief counseling is not doable for you right now, please check out some grief books or a grief group. I did a grief group at church and I thought, “What have I gotten into? How is being around sad people going to help ME?” It was wonderful. I could not wait to go each week. Everyone was so sweet and it just felt so safe there.
      There’s a lot to learn about the grieving process such as the causes of grief (losing a job can be on a par with a funeral); the stages of grief (I am sad then I am angry then I am sad, what’s up?); and the symptoms of grief (why can’t I keep track of my car keys anymore???).

      I think you should go talk to Sally. You have nothing to lose as you feel yourself sliding to the door right now. This cannot get much worse than it already is.

      BUT.

      It’s been my experience when someone reaches out for me during a difficult period in my life that I need to go talk with this person. Yeah, you run the risk of being shot down again. I am thinking that won’t happen here. I am thinking that she was truly touched that you were so upset. Rather than chasing you down, she is being gracious and letting you set the pacing here. It strikes me that this is not an easy conversation to have and I am wondering if she has something to tell you that you do not know.

      I think it is fine to set up a time to see her. I even think it’s fine to show up with not too much to say. Actually saying less will be easier on you as you can focus on listening. You can open with, “I heard you wanted to talk with me…”, and let your voice trail off. Yeah, let her do the work in this conversation. For me, I would tend to think that the onus is on her to carry the conversation. Perhaps this is mean spirited on my part, but there is a practical side where I know it is best for me not to talk too much. So letting her carry the bulk of the conversation would not bother my soul at all. At the end, I would say, “Thank you for your time.” Then leave the office.

      You can come back next Friday and tell us how it went.

    23. juliebulie

      I think you should go to Sally (although if she were capable of acting like a grownup she would have gone to you first instead of Jill). Maybe it will make you feel better and maybe it won’t, but at least you won’t wonder what she was going to say.

      She may have had an interesting reason for not choosing you. Like, maybe she was planning to choose you for something else that she knows is coming up soon. Or, she might have been under the impression that you weren’t interested in becoming a FTE. In that case, it will have been a worthwhile conversation.

      On the other hand, maybe she’ll say that she hates your face and wouldn’t hire you for anything, ever. If so, you’ll know it’s time to find a new job. So… still a worthwhile conversation.

      Maybe she’ll babble a lot of self-serving baloney and then, again, you’ll know it’s time to look for a new job. Still a worthwhile conversation!

    24. Junior Assistant Peon

      There’s no future in pharma. Merck, Wyeth, Schering-Plough, etc used to be great places to work until the 2000s, when Wall Street decided that 10 years to develop a new drug might as well be a hundred years, and most of the scientists got Pfired. Try to get into polymers, coatings, adhesives, or something along those lines, or you’re going to waste your life working crappy temp jobs at the remaining pharma companies.

  4. Temp Agencies Question

    Hi everyone! I’ve been looking into working with a temp/staffing agency for a career shift, and I’m having a hard time telling which one I should select. Does anyone have any tips for evaluating a good staffing agency?

    In the past, I worked with some who took my resume and information, but I never heard from them again. I’d get an email every year as my resume account passed from employee to employee (Hi I’m Fergus! I’m your new contact!) and then they’d go silent again.

    1. rageismycaffeine

      I’ve had good luck in the past with national chains – Spherion is where I was, but I know people who’ve had good luck with Adecco and Kelly Services.

      1. Miss Fisher

        I started out with Adecca back in 2009 and was supposed to be at that specific job for 1 month, a year and half later, I was hired on at the company and have been there ever since in various roles. I think it depends on the kind of work you want. Some are geared more towards office roles and others more towards labor intensive work. With adecco even, certain job types are available at the various locations in the city. So you need to specify job type wanted or go through a certain location. I went to a different place before this, I don’t remember the name, but the experience wasn’t the best. They did help me with my resume but the job they sent me to was cold calling big named companies like WWE, MTV etc to find out info on the bigwigs. I lasted one day and then they never got back to me.

    2. Natalie

      It’s pretty normal to work with multiple agencies, in my experience. I don’t know that I’d limit myself to just one.

      1. ThatGirl

        This is what I was gonna say; when I was job searching I was registered with roughly ten different agencies.

      2. Former staffer

        As someone who worked at a national chain as a staffing specialist, I can tell you that it was rare that our best temps worked only with us. Because they did well, we did our best to keep them as busy as they wanted to be so they were earning us a good reputation as well as themselves until they were usually hired away (if that was there goal.)

      3. Seeking Second Childhood

        The only thing I’d point out is that if you can get into a temp agency that still offers health benefits to long-term temps, you’re more likely to reach the required number of workdays if you’ve been going through one agency (at least primarily).

    3. Lily in NYC

      Agree with the others that you should work with multiple agencies. If you are in a large-ish city with a lot of agency options AND you have a better than average resume, I suggest working with smaller boutique firms instead of the big chains. They tend to have more of a personal touch and won’t forget you the minute you walk out the door. Work with the ones that actually respond to your communications and seem organized. You can generally get a vibe when you visit the office for an interview.
      Oh! A random tip – you will probably be tested on Microsoft office functions. Many agencies use the same or similar tests. I recommend going to an agency you don’t plan to use first to take the test. That way you can see what you got wrong so you can ace it when you go to an agency you really want to work with.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        It’s funny you say this. Back in the day when I went to OfficeTeam looking for work, they made me do the Microsoft Office test, and I bombed it because I was so used to using shortcuts that the system didn’t test on. My recruiter called me back and told me she’d be sending me a link with practice exams for the main test – she told me to do the practice tests for each application and then take the tests immediately after so I wouldn’t forget, then she’d submit my new scores to companies along with my resume.

        So I did the Excel practice exam (which was me basically going through the recruiter’s screenshots and practicing in the application itself), then took the real exam and passed. Did the same for Word and then PowerPoint. Passed those, too (blew Word out of the water). And sure enough, my recruiter called back and told me I aced the tests and she would be sending me on a job shortly. I ended up being placed by them and then a month later, I was hired onto the company I temped for as a full time employee with a promotion to boot.

        So, yes – definitely practice Microsoft skills!

        1. Temp Agencies Question

          Ugh, I had this happen years ago. It was during or right after the recession and they gave me a test on Microsoft Office 95. Which I had never used, because I was 24 and I was too young.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            Yeah, my experience happened in 2009. I’ll give the recruiters at OfficeTeam credit, though – they did not have to let me retest or give me practice exams to go through to pass. They must have really sensed my desperation for a job, ANY job, lol.

    4. These Old Wings

      I tried doing this back in the spring and got ghosted by 3 separate agencies. I agree with not limiting yourself and signing up with as many as you can and hopefully one of them will work out.

    5. DaniCalifornia

      Are there any staffing agencies that specialize in the field you want to enter? I’m an admin and although all staffing agencies say they always need admin, I found that using one specifically geared towards experienced EAs, Office Managers in my area (Robert Half/Office Team) worked better for me. They have been wonderful about looking for a direct hire position and keep in touch.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

        +1 to see if there is a staffing agency that specializes in your field, or the field that you want to move into. Early in my career I worked through Aquent which (at the time, I have no idea now) specialized in creative talent like graphic design, videography and photography. They were really great to work for and I had a variety of long- and short-term placements with interesting projects in many different industries.

        Whatever agency you do use though, it’s been my experience that it’s up to you to check in with them frequently and ask for assignments, not just submit a resume and wait for their call. I did some work through Kelly Services and they wanted me to call in weekly to let them know I was available. If I didn’t call, they assumed I wasn’t available and didn’t assign me.

    6. Gdub

      I used to be the person at the temp agency who sent people on assignments, and I would advise you to register with multiple agencies. If one starts using you all the time right away, great! But this way you’ll be covered. There’s a big “luck of the draw” factor in sending folks out, so you might as well be in as many drawings as possible!

    7. detaill--orieted

      Most of my temping has been relatively low-level, but from what I’ve seen — 1) What they said, working with more than one agency is normal. 2) At least for lower-level jobs, the expectation is that the job-seeker is hungry, you keep contacting the agency to see whether anything has come up, they don’t contact you. (This unpleasant dynamic may no longer be true, not apply in your situation?) 3) By *far* the best experience I had was with an agency that specialized in the kind of work I did — at that point, graphic design and production. They understood what a good placement was, they understood the tools and skills they were placing, and when an issue came up I felt like they were on my side.

      1. Lily Rowan

        Your #2 is what I was going to say — back in the 90s I did a lot of temp receptionist work, but they didn’t send me out for a long time, because I was untested! So I called every morning to see if there was anything available, and eventually the temp agency’s receptionist was going on vacation herself, and she recommended me! From then on, I was as busy as I wanted to be.

    8. Jadelyn

      Depends on what field you’re in. I’ve had good experiences with Robert Half companies – specifically Accountemps and OfficeTeam. My partner, who’s a machinist, has had good experiences with Aerotek.

      The biggest thing I’d look for is how involved do they get right off? Do they just take your resume and that’s it? Do they have you come in and do a basic interview with them so they can get a better idea of your skills so they can “pitch” you to roles that will suit? If they get you interviews at companies, do they support you in that? The guy at Aerotek, when he called to let my partner know he’d scheduled an interview, went over my partner’s resume with him and noted a couple things he was pretty sure the company would ask, so that my partner would be prepared to answer.

      Also, at some agencies, they expect you to stay in touch, checking in with them periodically to see if they have anything, and if you don’t do that, they’ll assume you found a regular job and won’t reach out to you with anything. Ask about that when you first get on their roster.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Do not limit yourself to any one group, that’s for sure!

      It will depend drastically on your area and the team they have at any given agency.

      I have had great luck with Robert Half, Office Team/AccounTemps but other areas their offices are awful and sparse. The agencies are only as good as their local team. So cast a wide net and talk to lots of people.

      Some hiring folks prefer one and go to that one, so you never know which is the “hot” agency in town until you start seeing the placements you get.

      You need to be in constant contact with them at first, to get noticed and get placed. Don’t just put in resumes and wait. This is the only time you should really follow up because they’re recruiters and specializing in placements, they aren’t like hiring managers at a company that’s hiring perm placements.

    10. HR Disney Princess

      I’m going through the same thing! I chose Robert Half as I have a relative who works there and was placed rather quickly. Spherion is good, but so are other more regional/ local ones. The nice things with agencies is that they tend to accept phone calls easier. You could always try calling them after applying to let them know you are looking to make a career change. Sometimes if the job doesn’t look like an immediate fit, they won’t reach out. It will happen for you, it may just take time.

      I actually have an interview this afternoon for a temp position in a new department. I’m very excited. Best of luck!!!!

    11. Kiwiii

      Besides figuring out if they actually offer the sort of work you’re interested in (of like 5 staffing agencies, only 1 in my hometown does anything besides factory work), there’s not a lot that you can do to ensure they’ll be responsive or have jobs that fit. In the initial application stage, I would ask if they have anything in mind for me/jobs that might be a good fit, and then if I haven’t heard anything definitive from them in the next couple days, I’d apply to the next one.

      Also, some really terrible staffing agencies are sometimes the only contract with really cool jobs — my last staffing agency screwed up my paycheck multiple times, couldn’t keep a receptionist and tricked me into working as one for them at random without checking that my schedule was clear (they’d call me in to talk about an opportunity and then be like “oh your meeting isn’t scheduled until 11AM, you’ll be working reception until then), and ended up firing the woman who recruited me for embezzlement, but the /job/ I got sent on through them was one of my favorites, with incredibly lovely managers and coworkers, really interesting work, and tons of industry connections.

    12. Mid

      I think it depends on your field. However, i personally had an amazing experience with Robert Half, specifically their Legal department. I would ask around the field you’re looking to get into and see what agencies are used commonly.

  5. rageismycaffeine

    I just posted this in today’s “five questions” comments, but it occurs to me it would be better here.

    I have a Director title under an Executive Director. Think Director of Teapot Research under the Executive Director of Teapot Services. Over time, it’s become clear that I’m more accurately the assistant director of Teapot Services, as my job duties have expanded past the Research role – but this does look like a step back, even though it’s really an expanded responsibility, so we haven’t done it yet.

    Any thoughts on this? Does it fall into the same category as “just make your responsibilities clear on your resume”?

    1. Cube Ninja

      I might suggest “Deputy Director” might be more fitting than “Assistant Director”, depending on your organizational structure and if that title is workable. I think it confers a stronger sense that you’re a bit more senior, but ultimately, I also think it’s semantics and your accomplishments will speak more to your role than specific duties for the role.

      1. rageismycaffeine

        Oh, interesting thought! I’m honestly not sure if “deputy director” is even a thing here, but it’s worth exploring!

    2. Moray

      Personally, I wouldn’t walk back a higher-sounding title unless you anticipated future promotions within the same company.

      1. Mazzy

        I agree with Cube above. Deputy Director is actually still a good title, and I’d respect a coworker much more if they were honest about their title.

    3. Lily Rowan

      I think it looks like a step up — from directing a small area to being #2 of the whole thing. I wouldn’t worry about appearances on that front.

      1. Anne of Green Gables

        Yes, this is where I land, too. Second in command is more important overall, just be sure it’s clear from duties how significant your responsibilities are.

    4. LizzE

      Curious, is this more like you are doing dual roles versus just one? My friend is both a program director for the nonprofit she works at and the assistant director for facility operations. Basically, she leads all programmatic areas and everyone who works on the programmatic side is under her line of supervision, but she is also the #2 person onsite, reporting to the facility director and is in charge when he is not around (hence her second assistant director title).

      1. rageismycaffeine

        Hm, I guess it is kind of a dual role situation, but my workplace definitely doesn’t do dual titles.

        1. pen mouse click

          Could you do Associate Director of Teapot Services?

          That’s how I’ve seen most of my companies upgrade you – associate, specialist, senior specialist, manager, senior manager, associate director, director, senior director, VP, senior VP, c-suite.

  6. Sleepy

    I have a question about title creep—am I unreasonable to be annoyed by it?

    I work at a small nonprofit with a very flat management structure. Most people have the title of “Program Manager.”

    Three *very* part-time employees, who each work less than 10 hours / week, have requested to also receive the title of “Program Manager”. I find this pretty silly because they simply are not managing their own programs or taking on that level of responsibility. However, my boss tends to give employees whatever title they ask for because she thinks of it as a way of compensating employees without actually raising their salary.

    I feel burned by title creep because several years ago, my boss promoted one of my subordinates to Program Manager; I took this to mean that the new Program Manager should have more responsibility and autonomy over her work. I delegated a number of important tasks to her that I would normally have taken on. I didn’t realize until much later that she thought she was only receiving a new title, but not new responsibilities, and she didn’t perform any of the tasks I delegated to her.

    Part of me knows that handing out titles is a good way to keep people happy at a nonprofit that can’t give out big raises, so I’m not sure if I’m being unreasonable to insist that titles should relate carefully to the responsibilities involved.

    1. Mainely Professional

      You’re frustrated because you’re experiencing “title compression” the way other people might experience salary compression. It is annoying, and it devalues the work of full time employees.

      1. Mazzy

        I complained about this a few weeks ago, it is really annoying, I’d suggest talking to management now before they hand out more fancy titles

        1. Kate

          It is annoying – and annoying when senior leaders don’t see how it rubs more senior employees the wrong way. When you suggest future new roles should have appropriate titles – you could also suggested bumping Program Managers who have direct reports to a more senior title. “Director of Program Management” or “Senior Program Manager” or something along those lines.

    2. Memyselfandi

      My previous employer (a small non-profit with a fair number of part-timers) went through a rigorous process of building a graded series of position titles with associated responsibilities and competencies for all positions. It was enormously helpful to everyone and cleared up a lot of gray areas. There were still occasionally inconsistencies (often due to grant requirements) but not only did it give people a clear description of their position that could be communicated both internally and externally, but it also provided a pathway for advancement within the organization. That helped the organization maintain and grow, always a challenge for non-profits. I encourage you to promote something of the sort. Where I currently work the job titles are really horrible and outdated (and not going to change soon) so we are encouraged to develop functional titles. That’s another option to make people feel better about what the do when everyone has the same job title.

      1. Effective Immediately

        I’m trying to get my current org to do this, and I’d love to know how leadership at your former place came to this decision.

        I’ve even tried writing one out myself that they could work from, and…nothing.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          One place to start is if you’re in an industry that has a professional licensing and/or certification body – many of those associations have job titles and responsibility listings that show what each level of an organization should look like and what each role should do. For example, my (now incorrect) job title was taken from the APMP’s Salary Guide that showed typical proposal development titles and job duties (my role was newly created at the company this year) as was my dotted line manager’s title (his role was also newly created). If your company belongs to any association like that, you may suggest they look for an association-approved salary guide for help in determining appropriate titles for staff.

      2. Kraziekat

        My google fu is failing, so I’m hoping for some advice. I’m being invited to interview for a position where I would be doing inside sales support AND receptionist, basically, 2 rolls in one. I have more experience as a receptionist (the less paying job) and only limited experience as sales support, so my thought is to look at the two, going by their bottom pay range and average them out. I don’t want to give numbers, but it’s actually smack in the middle of the receptionist range, but well below the sales support range. Is this fair to both parties?

    3. Blarg

      It’s annoying, but can you get it on it? If your subordinates and very part timers are project managers, aren’t you a senior project manager or project director or VP of project management? May not come with more money or any actual changes, but at least gets you a new email signature and some small satisfaction… and a seeming promotion for resume time.

    4. Yorick

      I don’t think you’re unreasonable. There’s no reason the woman you talked about should have thought she was getting a better title but didn’t have to do any new work, especially when they were delegated to her.

      1. The New Wanderer

        That’s true. I originally read it as the boss gave out the title of Program Manager but specifically meant it to cover what that person already did, instead of a promotion to a higher responsibility job per the title change (but probably not salary). Either way, I hope that employee was corrected pretty quickly for just not doing work as assigned.

        Arbitrary title handouts don’t help anyone – not inside the company where people will be confused over which Program Managers can actually do program management, and outside the company when some of these PMs might get interviews but are far underqualified for actual PM work.

    5. Sleepy

      Thank you for the comments, everyone! I will definitely speak to my boss about it now that I know I’m not alone in thinking this is frustrating.

    6. i forget the name i usually use

      Wow, the employee did not handle that well either! “Not my job, but I’m not going to say anything, I just won’t do certain tasks I am assigned” is not a good train of thought to have people find out you’ve gone through…

    7. MissDisplaced

      Inflating titles to make up for low pay is a terrible practice! NO ONE is well served by doing this. Even if the employee thinks the title sounds grand, if they leave they won’t really have the skills if they have truly been doing program management. If you serve clients, they might think they’re getting a senior person, and it’s not the case.

  7. Yogurt pants

    I’m having issues dealing with a coworker and would like some advice. Aside from them, everything else is adequate so I am not looking to leave–just find ways to deal with said coworker.

    For background, I am a manager in a new department in a company I’ve been working in for 5 years. I was promoted to a manager in that new department and 2 others were promoted alongside me (Nancy and George). I started at entry level and this was my first job. Each of us manager in this department has a counterpart in another department that we work closely with. So, like, Teapot design vs Teapot construction. Im Yorba in teapot design and I work closely with Alex in teapot construction, Nancy works closely with Ronald in TC and George works closely with Elizabeth in TC and so on and so forth.

    George works in a diff location but visits every 2 weeks and works closely with one of the VPs. Since it’s a new department, we’re developing a lot of processes and have weekly meetings to make sure everything is running smoothly. Occasionally, I’m tasked to do something for the other two teams including my own. Generally, the culture is to help each other out and be team players. George and Nancy have about 2 decades of work experience combined more than I do. I have more institutional knowledge and leadership experience but not as much work or field experience as they do.

    The issues are that George is combative and throws us under the bus. They occasionally do things out of left field that if I do them, I get pounded (not literally but you know what I mean hopefully) for them in front of my boss and grandboss. For misunderstandings, George gets a quick explanation from my boss and all is well, but if I misunderstand, George goes in–condescending lectures, multiple msgs etc. This is done in front of Nancy and sometimes my boss & grandboss. I know for a fact that George is telling the VP he works closely with that “Yorba’s an idiot and can’t do her job, her bosses suck too.” Even my bosses think George is going overboard.

    Since I still consider myself “new” i’m trying to find the line between being helpful and overstepping. There was an incident a while ago where multiple people were needing help and I came up with a solution that would help everyone; George didn’t like it and I apologized for overstepping. I apologized and made sure to not do it again.

    Another example of the combativeness is that we are in the middle of implemetning phase 1 of a project that involves moving a task from TC to TD. We did a test run a few weeks ago and I was tasked with making sure all teams were involved and aware. I had verbal and written confirmation that everyone was aware of what we were doing. Cut to now, and this week George sent a message to our group chat saying there’s no communication because the people in TC are surprised that their task is being taken away. This was alarming to all of us, including my g-boss and the rest of the day was spent scrambling to have an urgent meeting, write up a manual etc. This was frustrating because I had properly communicated EVERYTHING to the relevant people. Blame wasn’t pointed at any specific person but seeing as how I had a role in the project, it was easy to feel like I was being called out. However, the core issue lay in George’s counterpart in Teapot construction not communicating properly–which I can totally sympathize with.

    I have been trying to deal by putting myself in George’s shoes–if I worked separately, and my team lead counterpart Elizabeth wasn’t communicating well with me, I would be frustrated as well, but I would have handled it differently than George has so far. At this point I feel like I have done everything to the best of my ability. I generally try to be self reflective and talk to people I trust if I have any doubts–if I do make a mistake, I will apologize and fix myself to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, such as in the ex above. I know this type of attitude is not good at work, but at this point I don’t want to speak to them directly and definitely not go out of my way to help; unfortunately this is against our company culture.

    1. solarpc

      I think you need to stick up for yourself. It looks like George has some leeway with some people but you also have your own bosses who are seeing this behavior. The email example would have been a good moment to forward over his email (with everyone CC’d) and remind him that everyone was informed and any concerns should have been addressed previously.

      Is he just doing this to you or does he do this to other people? There needs to be a conversation where your bosses talk to George about his attitude and behavior and you should be pushing for it.

      1. Artemesia

        Wow. So this. George is an active menace to your career and apologizing is fueling him like warm water fuels a hurricane. When he asserted that these people were ‘surprised’ you should have gotten very aggressive about re-circulating to the bosses he was complaining to the information that had been sent and I might have noted that it is dysfunctional for someone to go off half cocked without reviewing the information first. George was notified on August XX of the change as were his entire staff; perhaps he overlooked this information but he might want to review the information before making reckless charges about other departments and managers. Time to play some hardball with this guy or be his eternal patsy; he is trying to get you fired.

        1. Yogurt pants

          Well — aside from George being weird about this stuff, to clarify, these changes were on the other team (Teapot Construction). I had communicated to their mgmt, but their mgmt didn’t communicate with the team which indirectly affected George. There are management issues on that side, but that’s not my place to interfere as they are under my grandboss.

          1. Pennalynn Lott

            Could you have done a Reply All saying something like, “It’s unfortunate that the TC team was taken by surprise since the change was communicated to their management on X-date (see email below)”?

        2. i forget the name i usually use

          Oof yeah. He is playing a different, meaner game than you, and “putting yourself in his shoes” is wayyy more emotional energy than he is spending on you.

          I also think it’s time to stop thinking of yourself as new!

      2. Mazzy

        Yes. It’s not unprofessional to say “you got mad when I did X, then you did X, and I don’t see the situations as being different.”

      3. Yogurt pants

        Any tips on how I can do that? Whenever anything happens, I just freeze, and think really hard if there’s any merit to it and if there is, fix myself so I don’t make that mistake again. I try to take the high road and be diplomatic as possible and avoid throwing snark right back. I’m coming from a position of having less experience, so I have to prove myself way more than the others.

        I thought he was doing it to just me, but in this recent example, it was really directed to all of us. George could have easily privately spoken to my boss (who’s also his boss, George and I are PEERS) and said “hey boss, my counterpart in TC is not responsive to me or communicating info to their team” rather than blasting us and saying that no one communicates. My boss had the confirmation but we had to proceed with the meetings and manuals etc so that everyone is on the same page.

        I guess if I reflect on it, my attempts to help were seen as overstepping, but..I’m in a rock and hard place. If something comes up and I KNOW HOW TO HELP but don’t, my grand-boss will look at me and wonder why I’m not helping, whereas if I DO help, I risk George doing the same. So, damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

        1. Mama Bear

          If you and George have the same boss, go to that boss and talk to them. “I’ve noticed that when…It’s making it difficult to…I’ve tried….I’m asking for your assistance with…since it is impacting my career/work.”

          You might also consider calling George out at the time. “My experience with x is that we should do y. I realize this may not be what you are used to doing, but I find this works well. I respectfully ask that you take time to consider this idea. The negativity is not warranted here.” Or “I don’t understand why you are being negative about my idea, George. Based on x and y, this is a valid path forward.”

          I wonder – does George feel threatened by you?

          1. Yogurt pants

            I honestly cannot imagine why he would feel threatened by me. They have 15 years more experience than I do in both the work that we do and in leadership. I really considered them someone I could trust and learn from.

            1. Atlanta

              This is exactly why he might feel threatened. Someone with 15 fewer years of experience who is nonetheless a peer could be deeply threatening. You are not responsible for those feelings (if they exist) and it is not your fault in any way, but he may feel like he should be “above” you in seniority.

              I agree with Mama Bear’s idea of calling him out but I’d maybe say something more like “Oh, do you see problems with my approach? What are they? Why?” If he is threatened then I think it might not be helpful to dwell on your experiences rather than his. If you try to co-opt him as a resource he might feel less able to attack you.

              1. Yogurt pants

                When we first got promoted, I did see him as a resource, exactly for this reason–after a few conversations, I heard (and I have 100% reason to believe this is true) they were telling the VP that I don’t know anything about what I’m doing.

                I’m not interested in being a threat to anyone or play in dirty politics, I just want to do my job with reasonably pleasant people and not wanting to feel like I’m gonna flip a table. (not literally of course).

        2. Dusty Bunny

          In my opinion, there can be problems with taking the high road, because the squeakier wheel (George) gets the most attention. At least, this has been my experience in corporate life. I have learned to combat my own Georges with transparency, documentation, and as much as I can manage it, a calm demeanor. When I am the source of confusion or screw up, I own up to it, and work to fix it.

          If my George is ranting about something, I try to maintain a very calm, even tone, kind of how you would with a child throwing a tantrum. Not condescending, but calm, neutral. Just the facts. And I am able to produce documentation on all sorts of things, because I put it in writing. My MO is – if it was only a conversation, then it never happened.

          This has produced two effects over time . 1) I am known as a resource for correct information; and 2) Even though I am not very far up the food chain, my word carries weight with my boss and grandboss, because they see that I play fair.

          My only other thought is even if it is not your team, but it impacts your team and you know how to improve the situation, share it. You can frame as in the spirit of communication, teamwork, selling more teapots; whatever makes sense. But don’t let the Georges of the world have any ammo along the lines of… “and she knew how we could improve this, but never said anything! Hoarding information! Sabotaging us all! Just waiting for us to fall on our faces!”

          I would like to tell you this level of insight came along in my first job. Nope. About 10 years deep into a career when I finally realized, maybe, just maybe, my reaction is sometimes the problem.

          1. Angry with numbers

            Yes, document everything, I have certain people who I send a “per our conversation” emails to regularly because if I don’t have proof they will throw me , and anyone else, under the bus if you don’t have proof you were only doing what they asked.

          2. That Girl from Quinn's House

            This is really important. I had a workplace bully. She was in her early 20s when I was in my early 30s, and I really didn’t have any inclination to get involved in Mean Girls garbage in the workplace as an adult, so I didn’t.

            Months and months of her spewing poison about me behind my back, however, meant that whatever labels she’d invented for me stuck, and my ability to move forward in the company was badly hamstrung. Even after she took another job, dropped herself down to uber-part time, and went completely incommunicado so we spent months struggling to figure out what happened while also keeping up with her workload, she was the “good” one and I was the “awful” one.

    2. NW Mossy

      How’s your relationship with your own boss? Would you feel comfortable going to them and asking for some advice on how to deal with George? An opener I might use here is “I’d like to get your thoughts on how I can work more productively with George going forward. I’m finding that in situations where things aren’t going well (like the recent communication issue with Elizabeth on the phase 1 rollout), he gets pretty worked up and is sending messages saying that X or Y is the cause before we’re sure that’s the case. I take his concerns seriously and want to fix things where I can, but I’m not sure what else I can or should do to defuse his reactions. What do you think?”

      The benefits of this are twofold: one, it names an issue you’re having (rocky working relationship with George) so they’re aware of it, and two, you can often get some useful insight that will help you frame what to do next. Since it sounds like George’s rapid-escalation behavior impacts your bosses too, there’s a good chance that they’ll nod in agreement and say “yup, George goes to 11 when a 3 will do, we know this, don’t worry that his dramatics are reflecting poorly on you.”

      1. Yogurt pants

        I have a good relationship with him. Im comfortable with him. He’s on leave right now and will be out for another month. But he knows that George goes overboard and the issues I’m having. He has given me advice but also wants me to be more independent and develop my own judgment on these things so I’m trying to rely on him less. Last thing I want to do is go to my grandboss about it.

        1. Mama Bear

          Who is acting for your boss? Even if your boss wants you to handle it on your own, it may be good to make a paper trail detailing what happened when, especially if George is a blocker or his behavior caused problems (like poor communication = mad scramble).

        2. NW Mossy

          Ah, that helps! In that case, I’d pivot to make it more of an “I intend to do X and Y when this happens, cool with that?” approach. It’s marking the issue and that you’ve got a plan, but also inviting feedback on it. For the specifics here, I’d aim for something like “I’m going to focus on acknowledging George’s input where warranted, but brushing it off where it isn’t – I think I’ve apologized more than I need to and it’s undercutting my credibility.”

          Developing independence and judgment as a leader is great and necessary, but that doesn’t mean you completely stop asking for input. I’ve been leading people for years but still solicit my boss’s input on some of the thornier interpersonal dynamics because I respect her take and she gives me great counsel.

    3. Close Bracket

      Gee, a double standard regarding behavior with respect to a dude and a lady person. I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked.

      Stop apologizing for your behavior, first. If George’s complaints have substance to them, address the substance of his complaints publicly without apologizing. Talk about solutions and what you will do differently going forward.

      You say you have a good relationship with your manager, so address George’s tone privately with him. Since he wants you to come up with solutions on your own, talk about what you are trying and what the results are and ask for suggestions. Don’t be too afraid to go to your grandboss. I get that you don’t want to go to them first, but don’t rule them out, either. Also don’t be afraid to go to George’s boss with complaints.

      Finally, watch your own reactions. This:
      Blame wasn’t pointed at any specific person but seeing as how I had a role in the project, it was easy to feel like I was being called out. However, the core issue lay in George’s counterpart in Teapot construction not communicating properly
      You felt called out, but you know who the person was who was not communicating properly, and it was not you. Don’t be so quick to feel called out when the problem is not with you.

      Good luck

      1. Yogurt pants

        Thank you, that’s helpful!

        Btw, I switched the genders to be more anonymous. But George and I are the same gender. I’m not sure if that affects anything.

      2. Fortitude Jones

        This:

        Stop apologizing for your behavior, first. If George’s complaints have substance to them, address the substance of his complaints publicly without apologizing. Talk about solutions and what you will do differently going forward.

        And this:

        You felt called out, but you know who the person was who was not communicating properly, and it was not you. Don’t be so quick to feel called out when the problem is not with you.

        George is not your father and should not be publicly scolding you or anyone else like he is. Conversely, you do not have to fall on the sword for others at work. Calmly and rationally discuss where any communication breakdowns may have occurred, yes, but as quoted, do not get defensive and start apologizing for things you had nothing to do with.

        1. Yogurt pants

          Well….I apologized because it actually was a mistake on my part. Multiple people had needed help with something, and I came up with a solution that appeased everyone involved. However, that solution was bypassing the process that’s set in place. I think I had good intentions but essentially I was stepping on another manager’s toes which I can see is not appropriate. I figured, that was a mistake of mine, and learn from it–so one thing I’m still learning is how to draw the line between overstepping and being helpful.

          (Prior to that incident, someone had complained that I brushed them off by telling them to talk to their manager so I over corrected and ten this happened with George).

          1. Fortitude Jones

            I get this, but when dealing with someone like George, it’s best not to give them any further ammunition to use against you. Explain your thought process and then note that, next time, you will go back through the proper steps, but don’t be quick to self-flagellate in front of him.

            1. Yogurt pants

              I agree with that — don’t want to give further ammunition. My default has always been “you messed up? own up to it and don’t do it again.” but never considered that some people do not deserve the apology.

              1. Fortitude Jones

                Exactly. Reasonable people with reasonable responses to mistakes? Absolutely apologize to those people. But people like George? Nah, he’ll be alright.

    4. Aquawoman

      You have been in the company/industry for 5 years, you have more leadership experience than George, the company promoted you — you deserve it and are qualified for it. Please, I beg you, stop with the “I’m new, I need to prove myself” thing. You HAVE proven yourself. The more deferential you are, the more George is going to push your boundaries. And you’re making yourself responsible for “managing” George, which isn’t your responsibility and won’t work anyway.

      You are worried about looking bad for the “communication” issue but GEORGE is the one who made that into a fire drill, HE is the one who should look bad. (His) overreacting like that is not helpful. I think in the moment, you could say, “George, I did communicate this to your counterpart in TC, as you can see by the attached email/message. Maybe we should all take a breath and loop her in to see what the real issue is.” For tone stuff, you’d be amazed at how much traction you can get with people if you say “I feel like you’re lecturing me.” Not everyone, and George may be the exception, but it’s worth a try, even if for your own. Or, if it’s front of a group, you can say something like, “I think it would help to dial down the intensity and focus on the issues” or something like that. Most people don’t enjoy unpleasantness. Some of this I learned from a program called “Respectful Confrontation,” run by a guy named Joe Weston, which literally changed my life.

    5. LilySparrow

      George isn’t attacking you because you are incompetent or new. They are trying to undermine and paralyze you because they see you as a direct threat to their seniority and their job.

      You have to quit apologizing to George, and quit being scared of George’s temper tantrums.

      That is exactly all they are: displays of anger and aggression in order to intimidate you.

      Don’t react immediately, don’t default to snark. You’re quite right about that.

      But when you do respond, assert your own knowledge, and your own authority. You and George are equals. If George has something useful to contribute, that you could honestly learn from, then George can put on their big-kid pants and communicate like a grownup and a professional.

      When George lies about you not doing your job right (which is what the group chat incident boils down to), correct them. And if they do it in a group chat, correct them in front of the group.

      “George, you are mistaken. This plan was first communicated to X on (date), with follow-up discussions on (dates). If you have an issue in communicating with X, you need to take it up with them.”

      I imagine George has issues getting information from a lot of people, because nobody else wants to talk to them any more than you do.

      1. pcake

        This – exactly this!

        And since you freeze up when he bullies you, spend some time at home and figure out what to say in that situation in advance. Then think about it till you have it firmly in your head. That way, you’ll be ready with a reply when it happens again.

        I’d point out that he doesn’t react the same when other people make mistakes as when I do, and I’d very much appreciate my mistakes being dealt with in a professional manner. I would also remind him that he’s not my boss, and I’d say these things whether or not others were present. All said in a firm, stern but not at all hostile voice.

        If George lies or misleads, point that out immediately. Again, calmly but sternly, not accusing or hostile.

        If you can add specific facts, do so. And after each incident, write an email to yourself with the date, time, what happened and who was present. Create a record… just in case.

        1. Marthooh

          Practicing what to say in advance is good; another idea is to literally take notes, in a notebook, when George gets to ranting, and then tell him you will look into the matter, or you will think about what he’s said. That gives you something to do in the moment instead of apologizing or spluttering out an explanation or freezing up.

    6. Yogurt pants

      Thank you so much everyone, I really appreciate the thoughtful replies. I’m leaving work now and will be reading the replies on my way home and over the weekend but may not be able to reply bac. But thank you!

      1. Exhausted Educator Was Exhausted

        All I can say is that I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Bullies suck.

    7. Laure001

      My ex-husband, a charming guy, said : “when I feel weakness, I want to bite.” And then “An apology is a sign of weakness.”
      So… You see the twisted logic here.
      People like my ex-husband, or like George, are rare, but they are very dangerous to people like you (or me) because what we see as diplomatic, rational, thoughtful, empathetic behavior, they see as… proof of weakness, and that weakness generates in them a sort of destructive rage.
      They, metaphorically, want to bite.
      So with these people – and only with them, not with normal human beings – you can’t use the tools you generally use in your professional life – diplomacy, logic, “do they have a point,” etc. You have to fight back
      Never apologize. Never reason with them. Seriously! I’ll say it again, if you try to reason with them, they will use what you said against you and try to destroy you.
      And oh God. Do not put yourself in their shoes! They will eat you alive.
      It’s war. If they accuse you of something, throw the accusation back at them. Use scathing irony. Ignore them. It’s against all your principles, its again all your habits… But a show of strength is the only way to make them back down.
      Of course, with all the “normal” people, keep being empathetic, reasonable, diplomatic. You are in the right, and they are the anomaly.

  8. Jax

    I started a new position as a librarian! (finally, woo hoo!) It’s my first week at my branch and last night one of my coworkers told me that on Fridays the staff wears Hawaiian shirts. I said, “okay” thinking it was a prank on the new guy.

    I walk into work this morning and nope, not a prank. Everyone was wearing Hawaiian shirts! We all got a good laugh about it!

      1. Lalaith

        My husband teaches a summer program for the month of July, and he wears a Hawaiian shirt every day. He only actually has about 6 of them that he rotates through, but it’s enough to get by :) He added a new one this year and got lots of compliments on it!

      2. gsa

        Oh my goodness, my Grandmother used to say…

        I thought having one, we’re talking HI shirts right, for every day of the week was nearly too many.

    1. Platypus Enthusiast

      First of all, congratulations! Librarians are the very best of people, so thank you for all the amazing work you do. It sounds like you’re working with a fun group of people, and I hope everything goes well!

    2. Boba tea

      i’d love to walk into a library full of hawaiian shirt-wearing librarians! i ‘ll prob join next time too lol

    3. Also a librarian

      Congratulations!

      Hawaiian shirts always remind me of my 12th grade English teacher (in a good way).

      1. iknikjn

        Hawaiian shirts always remind me of my 12th grade International Business/9th/11th Communications Technology teacher (in a good way) as he used to wear them every Friday! It was especially nice when you were in the 1st or last periods of the day in his classes – a nice way to start the weekend and get into weekend mode!

      2. Muriel Heslop

        We have a history teacher with a huge wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts – he loves them! Does every school have one of these?

    4. Parenthetically

      This is delightful. Librarians are some of the best humans. Congrats on your new job as one of them. :)

  9. LilacLily

    Have you guys ever taken a sabbatical from work?

    Long story short: I never had a moment to stop and breathe. From high school I went straight to college, six months in I got what would be my first out of three internships, and after I graduated and got my first job I never had much more than seven days between one job and the other. I’ve been job searching for about four months now, and as you all may know, it’s an emotionally draining process, especially given that I’m not happy at my current job, and then add in the fact that I’m highly prone to depression and this is just a recipe for disaster.

    Thus I’ve been thinking about taking a few months sabbatical – if my job is able to let me go I can collect unemployment benefits for four months, which would be enough to cover my bills, plus I can withdraw my government trust fund, which means I can job search from home and get my head in place without worrying about money. It’s a bit scary to do this; I’ve never quit a job without having anything else lined up, but my job has been driving me up the walls and I’ve been seriously questioning if ruining my mental health over it is worth it. Thankfully my boss is (mostly) great and from the talks we’ve had I don’t think he would be opposed to it; he knows I’m unhappy at my current role, that I was hoping for a promotion (which is impossible because the only role above mine is his, and furthermore he’s a director while I’m an entry level employee), and recently I even told him I’m job searching. He was super comprehensive and gave me his full support, so I’m planning on asking to be let go after a coworker comes back from his two weeks vacations in November.

    Has any of you done this before? Left a job without anything else lined up? I would love to hear your experiences and opinions on this.

    1. Sloan Kittering

      FWIW I was able to swing a month off between starting this job and my last. I don’t think you can guarantee it, but it was something I negotiated at the offer stage. It’s easier to do when you’re a little more senior and they really want you. I probably wouldn’t have taken this (rather lateral) job if I hadn’t gotten that delayed start date. I suspect they could sense that, so they gave it me. So often a new hiring search drags on and on that they realize one more month really isn’t the biggest deal in the world.

    2. sabbatical

      Well, it sounds like you have a bit of a safety net, so if you think you can swing it, I’d say go for it.

      I had a little bit of a nest egg saved, and did this once. The problem was, it took much longer to find something right when I was ready to return. I’d recommend having more cash on hand than you think you’ll need.

    3. little orange teapot

      I’ve done it twice, and even successfully job hunted from halfway around the world. I used the breaks for significant travel, because that’s what I like to do. On one hand: I’ve gotten at least two job interviews in my field because of the experience of travelling; I’ve also been able to claim skills because of the travel. On the other hand: do your finances carefully, or have a soft spot to land. (parents, friends, siblings). Getting a job in your field can take longer than planned. So, budget carefully and enjoy getting to know yourself again.

    4. Psyche

      Definitely make sure you would be eligible for unemployment (and make sure you clarify with your boss whether you are resigning or being let go). I’m not sure what country you are in, but in the US you are generally not eligible for unemployment if you resign.

      1. LilacLily

        I live in South America, and where I live there’s three options: you can quit, be let go with cause, or let go without cause. Out of all three I can only get unemployment benefits and withdraw my trust fund on the third option.

        Since I’ve been job searching for jobs in Europe (I have European citizenship), back when I told my boss I was job searching I explained that, if I were to leave, it would help me a lot if I could come to a mutual agreement with the company and be let go without cause so I can get all these benefits (the money would help me set a deposit on an apartment and buy all the things I won’t be able to take with me). He understood and said that he wouldn’t mind doing that at all; he’s just not sure if it’s possible but he promised he’d look into it and fight for me when the time came. I won’t take the sabbatical otherwise, so there’s no worries there.

        1. AshK434

          This seems wrong to me. Like it feels like your using benefits that should go to people who may actually need it.

          1. Madison

            I agree. That seems like you’re really trying to take advantage of a system for a situation that doesn’t apply.

    5. Ewesername

      Yep. Saved up before leaving my last position and took two months off planned and one month of job search before starting my current position. It did wonders for my mental well being. Had some family issues leading up to the break and was very unhappy with the direction the company I worked for was going. So, took a break. Had a little holiday. Took some classes, which ended up helping me get the new, much better job. When asked in interviews about the gap, I simply said I was upgrading skills. If you can afford the time off, take it.

      1. LilacLily

        That’s one of the things I was also planning on; taking classes. Whenever I say that I’m unhappy in my position everyone suggests I study something that would allow me to change fields. However, I leave my house at 5am and come back home between 7 and 8pm, and just thinking about sacrificing the little time I have for myself drives me up the walls. I also have ADHD so studying by myself is unusually hard, and because of the current state of my mental health it’s almost impossible. If I had some time to focus on just studying it would be incredible.

    6. Blarg

      Doing it now. Paid off my student loans and saved that money so that I could decompress, feel refreshed, move across the country. It’s been 2.5 months. I am job searching. Which sucks, cause of course it does, but no one has flinched about my lack of a current job. I think it helps that I moved and also that I have some significant accomplishments/ projects from old job that show a clear “got x to a place where it was stable and was ready to be transitioned to someone else” kind of thing.

      I’d been working non stop since I was 14. Three degrees, many (many) jobs, several states, and nearly 25 years later … I’ve enjoyed not working way more than I anticipated. I thought I’d get bored. Haven’t yet. It’s been awesome and I’m actually struggling to want to get back in the game, even though I’m going to run out of savings in another couple months. I thought I’d be more antsy. I highly encourage a break if you can take it. I feel like a human person again.

      1. Imprudence

        I did, a very long time ago.

        I worked for local authority (Council) in the UK, and my husband had the opportunity to work abroad for a year. I went with him. We were quite young, and I had only had that job 2 or 3 years. Neither of us hadhada gap year befoe University — we’d done school, University, postgrad, work, so we thought we were due a change.

        When we came back I got back in touch with my old boss and they …. made a job for me … this was pretty unheard of in Local authorities, but I had done a good job before I left and my boss liked me,

        The year off was great. And the job I came back to was better than the one I left.

        If you have a chance, go for it.

    7. SaffyTaffy

      I have!
      The first time it happened, I was moving from abroad back to the US. I found a job in my field the day after I landed. Brag-worthy, but not very helpful to you.

      A few years later, I left another job without something else lined up because I needed to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a week, and then when I came out I had daily, 40-hour-per-week therapy for about a month. Once therapy dropped down to twice-weekly and then weekly I started to look for work. I did temp work while looking for something better. My advice in this area: quit work BEFORE you need to go to a psychiatric hospital.

      I stayed there happily for a few years, and then the department was downsized from 16 to 6 people, and I started getting unemployment for the first time. I supplemented this by doing freelance work of all kinds: i asked all my friends who owned businesses what crummy jobs they needed done. so i applied makeup to models for a photographer, photographed vintage magazines for an Ebay seller, built a client database for a fabric wholesaler, helped an ESL student perfect his American accent, did runway modeling for a consignment shop’s grand opening, and finally got part-time work in a (different) clothing store. Then I got hired for the job I’m at now, where I’ve been happy and successful for 4 years.

      The freelance stuff is what saved me, both by giving me extra money and by making me feel like I was “still working.”

    8. Meredith

      With the caveat that you’re often seen as more employable when you’re still employed, you should have a backup plan before you run out of money, and you don’t know what they economy will be up to – then yes, I think that really sounds lovely.

    9. Acornia

      I would not do it if the only way to do it was to draw unemployment insurance. That’s not what unemployment insurance is for.
      You can “ask to be let go” but that’s quitting a job and you may not be able to collect on the unemployment after all. Which would make for a rotten surprise.
      Find a new job and arrange the start date so you get a short break in between.

      1. [insert witty username here]

        Agree with Acornia. Unemployment benefits are for people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. This would be your decision. Your employer is unlikely to agree to this plan, unless they had plans for layoffs otherwise. The employer’s taxes are still affected by employees who claim unemployment.

        This is a bad idea unless you can finance this hiatus on your own.

        1. LilacLily

          This is actually a common thing where I live, where companies will come to an agreement for the employee to be “fired” when they need to quit. The understanding is that it isn’t fair that you can’t withdraw the money in your own trust fund, so based on that most companies won’t mind doing it to help the employee that’s leaving.

        2. Kate

          I would consider taking UE benefits towards a break between jobs but only if you had some additional savings to put towards your living expense once you start job searching again. I would fear that if I knew I could take 4-months off – if after 3-months I started job searching again, what if it took me another 3-months to find a job? As long as you can support yourself long enough – err on the side of a longer job hunt than anticipated – go for it.

          Man, I’d love to take a break. You’ve got me thinking :)

      2. Deanna Troi

        Acornia is correct. Unemployment insurance is for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It is unfair to all of us whose employers pay into unemployment insurance to abuse it by gaming the system. Essentially being asking to be laid off because one doesn’t feel like working is fraud. Imagine if everyone did that – the system would collapse.

    10. Hiring Mgr

      Yes, I’m just finishing up a nearly three month gap in between jobs where I used the time to do alot of traveling with family, stuff with the kids, etc.. I left my job with nothing lined up but I’m in an industry and location (tech sales leadership in Boston) where I knew I could easily find something when needed. Also, I had a good deal of $$ saved and a nice parting gift from my company so that wasn’t a huge factor

      The main reasons I did this were general burnout/losing interest in work and wanting to do something special (we did a month long European trip) with my wife and kids.) Now that the kids are back in school I’m getting bored, so I’m starting something new in a couple of weeks.

      My advice is if you have the finances and can swing it, absolutely go for it!

    11. anonagain

      Have you asked about taking an unpaid sabbatical where you’d return to this job after? That has its challenges too, but if it were an option, it might give you the chance to see if your current job is really the problem or if you are burned out and need a break.

      I quit a job with nothing else lined up. I don’t regret it (it was a really destructive situation), but I would’ve preferred to have time off without the pressure of job searching. My unsuccessful job search made the time less restorative than it would’ve been otherwise.

      1. LilacLily

        Unfortunately I haven’t a lot of money saved up, so I wouldn’t be able to take unpaid time off. Not to mention I *really* don’t want to come back to this job. Sure, it could be worse, but back when I quit my last job and came to this one, one of the first things I asked my boss during the interview was if this role had any sort of career development. At the time I loved the answer he gave me, but now I see he just said a bunch of fancy words to deflect my question; my job has zero opportunities for career progression. None. Nada. Either I take a lateral move within the company or I’m stuck in this role for the foreseeable future.

        In this job I’m basically doing the same thing I was doing at my first job six whole years ago, but it’s a much less demanding job, which means I’m bored out of my mind 70% of the time and not learning any new skills whatsoever. I’m dreadfully stagnant and I really need to move on to a job that will allow me to move up in my career.

        That, and also the company sings its praises about how much they care about employee well-being, and then they settle in an office located in a completely isolated part of the city without considering or caring how much of a blow on the personal life of 95% of the employees who work for them it is.

        1. anonagain

          I hate that. Managers should be honest about the jobs they’re hiring for. I find it so much easier to cope with the downsides of a job when I have a clear picture of what they are going in.

          I really hope you’re able to take a break and find a good job.

    12. Perrin

      I’ve done it twice (for reference I’m 37) – first time for about 9 months and the second time for about a year – different employers of course! For me the easiest part, which surprised me, was explaining it at interviews. During my off time I travelled a little, spent time with family and volunteered. I think everyone should have the option to do it if they want to – I’d spent my 20s working all the hours the universe sent, saving frantically and then I got to my 30s and thought why aren’t I doing things I enjoy more? I’ve now landed in a 3 day per week job at executive level and have no regrets – and have lots of free time as a result. A happy medium of sorts.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      I did. When I was 31, I saved up a bunch of money and left my job (in my career field, in which I’d been working for 8 years) to move across the country. I left that job in May 2012 and deliberately stayed unemployed (barring a 10-hrs/week minimum wage job for a couple months just to get myself out of the house) until January 2014, at which point I got headhunted for a contract (like, called out of the blue, I didn’t apply and in fact until my first day of work I had a mild paranoid concern that I was being trolled or something) to cover someone’s long-term leave, back in my career field. They hired me on permanently that July and I just had my fifth anniversary, and was promoted into early tier management three and a half years ago.

      1. LilacLily

        Oh my god that sounds like a dream!!! I’m so glad everything worked out for you. That’s my biggest worry, I think; all the “what if”s that can come up while I’m just taking it easy. A lot of people have told me to move to the place where I’m trying to get a job, but I just keep thinking, what if I don’t get a job? What if my money runs out? What if it doesn’t work out? And so I end up paralyzed with fear, and meanwhile the years are passing by and I’m not doing anything I like with my life. So lately I’ve been thinking that, as long as I have the means to do it and I have a solid plan as to what to do in case everything falls through, I should just take the leap and do it, because if it’s meant to happen then it’s going to happen.

    14. Clever Name

      My boss did this. Her husband is a teacher, so he has summers off. One year, she decided to quit her job and travel with her husband for 3 months. We hired her after her sabbatical as a temporary “as-needed” position. Turns out we really needed her and hired her full time (she later was promoted to lead the department). :)

    15. Anon for this one

      Long story short: I’ve never taken a sabbatical myself, but have been in workplaces where people have, and it was even part of the policy (vs an ad-hoc arrangement) in two cases.

      I’m afraid that as a not-immediate-colleague but person that works with these people in some collaborative context… I have a bit of a negative view.

      It comes off to me as having enough privilege (money, safety nets, whatever) to be able to “nope out” of one’s life for a while, and go and work on whatever the sabbatical project is, but it’s a kick in the teeth to the remaining employees that have to pick up the work in the meantime.

      Should we be glad for the sabbatical-taker? Should we send them off with good wishes? – sure, because that’s what office etiquette dictates. But we are not “glad” for you on the whole; we’re probably resenting your ‘privilege’.

      I am also in your position with never having had time to breathe since 1999…. and I still don’t!

      1. Anon for this one

        And actually, if the person is perceived as having such a “safety net”… they may be first in line for layoffs in the future, as it’s percieved they need the job less than someone else. Food for thought!

      2. Poppy

        I confess, I wouldn’t want to be included in that “we” who aren’t glad for the co-worker taking a sabbatical and in fact may be resenting their “privilege.”

        I say this as someone who is so overworked, exhausted, miserable, and burnt-out that I’m quitting next week without another job lined up. I know my departure is going to cause an even bigger workload for my already overworked colleagues, and I feel bad about that. On the other hand, I also know that if I don’t leave, I’ll be dead or in the hospital within 12 months. (I’ve been putting in 60+-hour weeks for nearly a year, since a couple of key people left our team and a zealous workaholic was promoted to director.)

        My perspective is that if an organization chooses to be so chronically understaffed that someone leaving for any reason feels like “a kick in the teeth” to the people remaining, the problem is not a policy allowing leaves. Would you resent someone who could afford to take a long honeymoon, or adopt a baby overseas, or take some extra time off to recover from surgery? Or who got recruited away by another employer? (Well, TBH I would privately struggle with feeling envious and resentful. But I don’t believe those feelings are healthy. There’s always someone who’s better off than you, and dwelling on that can corrode your soul.)

        I think any resentment should be directed at an employer that doesn’t hire enough staffers to deliver all the output expected of them, taking into account that there will always be turnover for many reasons. I had hoped to take a sabbatical of a month or so from my job. That would have provided much-needed time to catch up with all the things I sacrificed this past year — sleep, time with friends and my aging parents, hobbies, turning my sad, empty trashpit of a house back into a functional home, and cooking my own food instead of just microwaving frozen meals. But even though my company’s employee handbook theoretically allows for unpaid leaves without a rationale such as illness, national service, etc., they have to be granted on an ad-hoc basis and I was denied (without a reason given).

        So instead of my being gone for a while and then coming back, refreshed and ready to hit the ground running again, I’ve been on a downward spiral of decreasing morale and productivity. And soon I’ll be gone permanently (with parting gifts of insomnia, high blood pressure, acid reflux, and anxiety). Management did at least let my boss hire a replacement, but he won’t start till a month after I leave. And even though he’s a great candidate, it’ll be a long time before he’s fully up to speed.

        Meanwhile, I’ve been having decent luck getting interviews, but no offers yet. I have to have faith I’ll find another job before too long. Hopefully a year from now I’ll be able to look back and say how much happier I am at my new job, rather than panhandling at the stoplight with a sign saying WILL PROVIDE RELEVANCE FOR FOOD.

    16. Snarflepants

      If you can take sabbatical on savings alone, you should do it. Don’t apply for the unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are only for people who have lost their job through no fault of their own. You’d be unemployed by choice.

      1. LilacLily

        After seeing people’s comments here I might not get the unemployment benefits after all, just withdraw my savings. I agree it’s not good to abuse the system, no matter how tempting it may be.

        1. Deanna Troi

          Thank you for coming back and responding to the comments. I’m very impressed with your reaction to the different opinions. May we all be so gracious when getting advice that might not be what we hoped to hear!

  10. Potentially declining an offer

    What’s the best way to decline a job offer in this circumstance?

    I have an offer for a job I’m not sure I want to take. I have also received a counter offer from my current employer. (I’m aware of the issues some orgs have with this, but I’m comfortable that I won’t be harming my career here if I take the counter offer.)

    I still have to make my decision. If I decline the offer from the new place, do I tell them that I received a counter offer, or do I just say that I’ve decided that it’s not the right fit for me at this time?

    I don’t want to burn any bridges with the new place because I have many more years to work and I may want to apply there again in the future.

    1. rageismycaffeine

      You can absolutely say it’s not the right fit at this time without burning bridges. We had someone do that after being made an offer last year, and we just hired her in another role about a month ago. No hard feelings.

      1. PantaloonsOnFire

        Absolutely this. It’s probably also polite and useful to throw in some context, so they a) know this was a rational decision on your part, not a flaky whim, and b) have a better sense of the kind of job you would be able to joyfully accept. When you say your bit about it not being “the right fit at this time” throw something in about what would potentially make a position with their company the right fit at a future time–or even ask them to keep you in mind if they have an opening that fits certain criteria.

        1. Potentially declining an offer

          The good (?) thing is that since I have been conflicted about this from the beginning, I was pretty open throughout the process about what I love about my current job and what I was looking for in the new one. There’s an aspect that I will lose if I leave the current job, and we’ve discussed that, so I don’t think it will be a huge surprise to the new folks if I wind up declining.

    2. Dana B.S.

      First – have you accepted the offer and are now turning it down? Or are they still waiting for a response? If you have accepted, then I think it would be nice to explain that the circumstances of your previous acceptance have changed. If not, then it’s up to you and the standards of your industry. If you do explain that it involves a counter-offer, they may be wary of future applications.

        1. twig

          DON’T tell them about the counter offer.

          They may misinterpret the situation as you going through the interview process and wasting everyone’s time just to get a counter offer out of your current employer.

          That being said: Congratulations on both the offer and the counter!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Declining due to another offer is always a reasonable thing to do! Most places won’t use it against you.

      The only time someone has burned their bridge with us by declining was when we offered someone the job they interviewed for, then they were all “Yeah that shift isn’t gonna work though, can I do the other one?” and we had it clear, in the posting, in the interview itself it’s just one spot, on that shift. In the words of Kevin O’Leary, that person is indeed “dead” to us.

      Seriously if he just said “I got another job, so I’m going that way instead.” Fine. Literally lie to me before you tell me something so ballsy as “Oh yeah so it’s not the right shift tho whoops byeeeee.”

  11. Dana B.S.

    Happy Friday! Looking for some resume advice for my husband. He is currently pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering and the internship fair is next week. Prior to going back to school, he was a high school science & computer teacher for 8 years. He worked at 4 different schools and taught 10 different subjects. He definitely knows that his resume needs to say more than just “taught kids”. But how does he list his achievements for the 4 different schools? His main achievements are basically the same. Should he just lump them together and say High School Teacher – 2010-2018?

    1. PantaloonsOnFire

      Lumping them together is probably ideal. Have him think about exactly what kinds of internships (and eventually, careers) he wants and tailor his list of achievements to showcase only the most relevant and transferable skills he demonstrated as a high school teacher. That might vary widely depending on his long-term goals. But some things, like capacity for project management, leadership/mentorship, recognition for excellence, etc. are applicable to many kinds of work.

    2. Not A Manager

      I was just working on someone’s resume with a similar issue. I would put as the heading “high school teacher” with the years. You can list the schools under that in a weaker font, or you can list them within your bullet points if that makes more sense.

      In the bullet points, decide if the most impactful information is the subjects, or the achievements. If it’s the subjects, group them into relevant bundles so you don’t have 10 bullet points. If it’s the achievements, list them in the bullet points and mention the subjects as part of that.

      1. Artemesia

        I have a BIL whose science class designed a project that was launched into space (well the rocket exploded about 500 feet up which was almost as gratifying to the students watching it at White Sands as if the science project had made it into space LOL); he got a grant for this. This sort of achievement would then go under the HS teacher X-y. Or whatever major things he is proud of about what his students accomplished. Maybe he managed science fairs or had X# of students who won them; maybe his students learned to do some particularly difficult technique; maybe he supervised the building of competition robots — whatever he can list to demonstrate his competence in the field and as an instructor.

    3. Captain Raymond Holt

      I have a for-profit professional career track and a college faculty (part-time) career track. My resume has a section for “Business Employment” and “Teaching Experience.” I put my full time professional jobs under “Technology Employment” and my college faculty gigs under “Teaching Experience.” I list the teaching jobs as a group (four across three institutions) and then some bullet points about what I’ve accomplished that cross apply to business roles. I’m in business operations and I talk about facilitating conversation, developing students and helping improve department/course policies and process.

    4. Scarlett

      I was a teacher before I moved into my current career. I taught for 7 years across 4 different schools (2 districts) and have them all lumped together in my resume under – HS English Teacher, . I didn’t even list the names of the schools where I taught, since it wouldn’t really matter to prospective employers since they are in a completely different field. I’ve had a variety of jobs at different organizations since I left the classroom and have never had someone voice a concern with this approach on my resume.

  12. PX

    Some Friday afternoon positivity for you; in the spirit of how Alison sometimes shares good cover letters, while idly browsing LinkedIn today, this introductory piece about the company in a job opening really stood out to me and made me think: this sounds like somewhere I’d like to work.

    So for anyone in HR, here is what worked for me! I’ve taken out the job/company specific bits, but you can probably find the company fairly easily ;)

    They have offices in many parts of the world and seem to be doing a bit of hiring if anyone wants to apply and give us some feedback on if the reality matches their advertising :D

    […]
    Our people are at the centre of who we are. Whatever your background you are welcome. We are looking for talented and dynamic team players who focus on delivering successful outcomes.

    We are a business where three out of our seven leaders are women, over 20 languages are spoken, where some leaders have grey hair and some have purple. Where our sales teams take time out to support local schools and our product teams champion local women back into the workplace. We are a flexible employer and happy to accommodate different working solutions for the right talent.

    […]

    Our benefits stand out (they even include two days a year for you to dedicate to the charitable activity of your choice)

    […]

    “COMPANY” is a founding member of the Tech Talent Charter, committed to increasing the ratio of women and under-represented groups working in technology

    1. The New Wanderer

      I like that the way it’s written sounds straightforward and not like lip-service diversity. And it’s refreshing to see this kind of thing vs. “We have foosball and beer Fridays! Catered dinners and on-site gym and laundry service mean you’ll never want to leave! Everyone’s a young and hip rockstar ninja because that’s the only thing we want!”

  13. Laurencia

    Has anyone seen a career counsellor recently? Did you find it useful?
    I’m looking to move on from my current job where I’ve been for years, but due to circumstances can’t really see my next step clearly and don’t know how to untangle myself from my current situation.
    Also, if you don’t mind sharing, what were their hourly rates? I’ve been quoted $250 (in a major city)

    1. Artemesia

      Pay real attention to their resume. I knew a guy who had been in the career development field for years and was really gifted at helping people — but his own career showed the level of expertise he had; had done HR work and then had worked for a major consulting firm before striking out on his own. I also have known people who hang out a shingle because they can’t find a job and the odds they could help you are about zip.

        1. Anon for This

          Yes, please, this! The entire C-suite at my current job has been taken in by a ‘leadership coach’ (who also teaches ‘adulting classes’ ugh) whose primary qualification seems to be a dubious certification in ‘executive coaching’.

          Please vet any career coach very carefully, there are a lot of grifters out there.

    2. L Dub

      If you went to college, a lot of schools have career services available for free for both current students and alumni. YMMV because some are fantastic and some are awful, but it might be worth checking out.

    3. Anon For This

      I tried two. Both had great reviews online and seemed to have solid credentials (dual masters degrees in counseling and career counseling from reputable universities). To be honest, my experience with both was horrible. I mean I was insulted and given either bad advice or advice that was so obvious, a five-year-old could have told you the same thing. In fact, I was spoken to as though I was about five years old.

      Neither read my resume or the bio I emailed them. They both seemed to think I was about half of my actual age and in my first job after graduate school. They seemed to think I had gone to college and grad school back to back. I do look young for my age, but your client’s info should be a given if you’re charging $100 – $200 per hour. And advertising yourself as a full time, well qualified career counselor. I’ll stop there. It got worse. Yikes.

      A decade before that, I tried a free service offered by my state in conjunction with their community college system. It was supposed to be counseling, but they just had you take the MBTI and then showed you a list of careers for your type.

      I tried career counseling in both college and grad school and it was pretty useless. The grad school advice was to use Twitter for networking. Yeah, that can work, but I think they could have offered something more useful.

      I realized that the main reason career counseling fails is that the people counseling you don’t really know your strengths and the market for what you can do. They’re often just going by what you look like and what you’ve written at the top of your resume. So it’s helpful in that it gives you insights into the first impression you make in that kind of context. But it’s rare to find that person who knows you’re talented and is rooting for you.

      I say look for someone who will get you and see your potential. Someone who will see how intelligent you are, how much fun it is to work with you, etc. That person could be a career counselor, but most often, you’ll find those people by networking in your field or your target field. A mentor. Or more than one.

      But I think it’s different for everyone. I’m sure the traditional career counseling approach works well for some people.

    4. irene adler

      Can you join a professional organization in your industry? They will have lots of folks with constructive suggestions, tips and thoughtful ideas on ‘the next step’ in your career.
      Cost would probably be about $250 annually to join.

    5. zora

      As mentioned above, I have heard of very very few career counsellers actually worth the money.

      As an alternative, I would suggest either 1) Finding a friend at your level or a little above in your field who would be willing to sit down with you and help you talk things through, look at your resume, etc. People love being asked to help, you might be surprised how easy it would be to find someone. 2) Just going to a regular therapist, probably a LCSW. They might not be experts in your field, but they can help you talk through the things you already know, help you figure out what questions to ask, and how to design a series of steps to take. Many therapists would be much less than $250 an hour

  14. Teapot Translator

    I don’t remember on which post, but people recommended listening to game soundtracks to help with concentration at work. I tried Frostpunk and liked it. Can people recommend other soundtracks? Thank you.

    1. Nessun

      I personally love Nobuo Uematsu, so I enjoy all the Final Fantasy soundtracks (there are TONS – including piano versions and symphonic versions). I also like the XenoSaga soundtracks. My current go-to is Guild Wars 2 (the OST, and the two expansion OSTs for Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire).

      I’ve also sometimes enjoyed just asking YouTube or Spotify for game soundtracks – sometimes the results are games I don’t know, mixed together, and equally great to listen to while working.

    2. Platypus Enthusiast

      So I have a Pandora station and a Spotify playlist for soundtracks (movie and game), and I also regularly listen to other people’s playlists, so maybe check out those for inspiration. I like the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim soundtrack, butmy favorite song would be Ezio’s family from assassin’s creed 2 (has some minor vocalization). Also, Lindsey Stirling has a lot of covers of popular game, television, and movie soundtracks, and does a lot of collaboration. I hope this helps!

      1. Chrysanthemum's The Word

        I was just coming here to say Lindsey Stirling. In a similar vein I would also suggest checking out the cellist Tina Guo. She does some stuff that is more hard rock but also covers a lot of game and movie songs.

        1. Nott the Brave

          I’d add in the Vitamin String Quartet to this list – awesome string covers of a bunch of songs.

    3. Liane

      “Fields of Ard Skellig” from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt game is very relaxing, although depending on what I am doing, there is a short repeated bit that can distract me momentarily, so YMMV. There’s a 1 hour plus track on You Tube.
      My friend who loves the game–I do the novels–says the piece is used during horseback travel interludes.

      1. JanetM

        Miracle of Sound’s music videos featuring Witcher are delightful, but not conducive to concentration at work. :-)

    4. LilacLily

      It’s not exactly a game soundtrack, but all Homestuck albums are videogame themed and super fun and funky. My favorite album is Strife!, and if you want something a but more chill, Prospit & Derse is my second favorite.

    5. Brownie

      I usually hit up streaming sites for anything in the chillhop genre or, for sites like Pandora where I can customize a playlist, any/all of the Assassin’s Creed soundtracks. The latter I like for days when I don’t want vocals since chillhop can often have vocals.

      1. Parenthetically

        Totally agreed on chillhop and Assassin’s Creed soundtracks. AC is particularly good for writing, according to my students over the years, because it’s pretty dynamic.

    6. DaniCalifornia

      Halo for sure. If you also search for action movie trailer music a lot of good instrumental stuff comes up that is similar to game soundtracks. That’s pretty much all my husband listens to.

    7. Ada

      My go-tos are typically Professor Layton, Phoenix Wright, Persona 5, and Zelda. One tip: if you like a particular style of music, see if there’s a cover in that style. A couple of my favorites include a jazz version of Phoenix Wright and an orchestrated version of Link’s Awakening.

      1. Watry

        Overclocked Remix is good for this! I also used to use the Layton soundtracks for studying or reading. Good stuff.

      2. Nessun

        I have played lots of Layton, but I’ve never paid much attention to the music! I will have to look it up on its own and have a listen…

    8. Watry

      The original Spyro trilogy has a pretty great soundtrack, written by the drummer from the Police. Good stuff.

      The Final Fantasy tracks are frequently pretty good, but if you’re using them for concentration you’ll need to remove the ones that were written as songs rather than background music.

    9. Vermonter

      Pokemon games and Steven Universe background music. (SU is a TV show, but it has a video game-ish soundtrack.)

    10. Purt’s Peas

      The Surviving Mars soundtrack is great; it’s a game where you do lots of slightly monotonous little tasks, and the soundtrack is honestly a big part of what makes it fun :)

    11. Spencer Hastings

      I find that strategy or puzzle game soundtracks tend to be fairly unobtrusive and good for thinking to: e.g. Stellaris, Cultist Simulator, Blackguards (battle music), Zero Escape, Ace Attorney (trial/confrontation music).

    12. Hiring needs a selling edge

      Chrono Trigger
      Persona (any)
      Doom (if you like thrash metal)
      Yoshi’s Island
      Echo the Dolphin

    13. Elizabeth West

      I like ambient music, especially when working, and Mark Morgan’s Vault Archives music from Fallout 1 and 2 is my go-to. I think it’s on YouTube so if you can stream that, you can listen at work.

    14. YetAnotherUsername

      There’s a 3 hour YouTube track called something like “video game music concentrating” or similar. It has an ad about every half an hour but it’s really good.

    15. Granger Chase

      I listen to background music from Animal Crossing, in particular the ones they have categorized as “nighttime” or “rainy weather” tracks. They’re super chill and there’s a little bit of nostalgia in there that helps keep my content while I’m in pure concentration mode.

    16. Black Coffee (aka Paige Turner)

      If you’re still reading replies to this, I love the band Bit Brigade! I’ve been saving all of these responses for new work music- I’m a coffee roaster and wear headphones most of the day.

  15. 60 Hour Weeks Are Normal, Right?

    Any tips for staying sane while onboarding an entirely new team?

    Shortly after a departmental restructuring, the team I now lead lost two of its three people. I took over responsibility for an area where I have content knowledge but am not familiar with processes at my particular institution. So I have to learn how some of these things need to be done myself before I can even delegate them. (The remaining team member is an admin.) I’m simultaneously tasked with process improvement and documenting all of these things that previously lived in one person’s head (and who enjoyed having it that way….That’s a whole separate post.).

    It’s a really tough job market where I am, so the people I ended up hiring barely have experience in the field to begin with.

    Short version: I inherited a messy, inefficient department and need to fix it with three people who don’t know what they’re doing either. I have a kind and supportive boss, but she can’t train us on anything, never having done these tasks herself.

    We’re all muddling through it together, but I can’t get anything done because I’m constantly fielding questions and having training sessions.

    Help!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      Yikes.

      If the new staff members are capable enough, I’d turn this team into a “let’s figure it out and document it” MACHINE for the next period of time. When a question comes up, you turn to the process document -maybe a big flow chart of post its on your wall, and say ok, where does that question go? Have we figured that piece out yet? Then figure it out together and have the staff member write the new post it. Soon everyone will go to the wall automatically for the answer, and know that if they can’t find it, they’re going to be asked for some research or thought process to resolve it.

      The magic of this strategy is that each staff member can succeed up to their ability, and then you just have to fill in the gaps, rather than always be The Provider of Answers.

      1. OtterB

        I like this. I’d been thinking along a slightly different line, but similar in that it makes your new people collaborators rather than further weight on you: have each of your new people pick (or you assign) a couple of areas to develop expertise. They document as far as they can and come to you for help when they need to, with questions as specific as they can make them. So, they don’t as you “How do we do X?” They say, Jane in accounts payable says we need to do these steps for X, but as far as I can tell, we’ve been doing it this other way in the past. Should we follow what Jane says? Putting some of the initiative on them will help clear you a little space to do your own work.

        Plus, can you set yourself some “Do not disturb” hours and say you’ll be happy to field questions outside of those hours but not to interrupt within them unless it’s an emergency?

    2. On Hold

      I think you need to sit down with your boss and talk through triage, priorities, and short/medium/long-term plans. Specifically, while you are all learning these new processes, you are highly unlikely to make any major improvements, create big efficiencies, anything like that. Documentation is…. maybe.

      So the talking points might be:
      – While we’re all learning, I’m going to set aside x, y, and z long-term goals. Tentatively, I hope to come out of this mode in 6 months (or whatever) and I will keep you updated as that timeline solidifies and I can see what’s realistic. Does that work for you/the company / is there anything I should take into consideration about setting these things aside / etc?
      – How long will it take to dig out of your backlog, once everyone knows what’s going on and is starting to work at a more normal pace? Make sure that’s included in your timeline
      – Is this many people a realistic number of people to be on top of your work (when everyone knows what’s going on), considering that people will always be going on vacation, out sick, etc? Is it realistic to arrive at a point where you have some breathing room, or is this level of staffing going to keep you at triage/red-alert mode forever?
      – Is it realistic to start documenting process now, while people are learning, and go back to clean it up later? If the processes are small and you have a good company wiki, that might be very realistic. If the processes are big or complicated, or you are going to have to develop the information repository process/system as well, that’s maybe less realistic.
      – Once we come out of triage and backlog, here’s my vision for what the group will look like/how we will be handling workflow, and here’s my plan for x, y, and z long-term goals
      – What kind of support do you need/want from your boss? Do you like talking things over/bouncing ideas off, or do you want to be left alone to suffer through? Ask for what you need
      – If you haven’t already, talk to your team about the efficiency stuff – “hey team, we’re all muddling through and learning. Sometimes, that’s the best place to be in for updating processes, because you don’t have the ‘but that’s how we’ve always done it’ mindset. So if you see something that you’d like to do differently, please bring it to me/the group and we’ll explore if that makes sense”

      Good luck!

      1. 60 Hour Weeks Are Normal, Right?

        Wow, this is all fantastic advice, thank you! I was feeling totally defeated by the whole thing, but you’ve all given me some really concrete next steps. (I especially like the idea of “office hours.”)

        And this weekend I’m going to write up an outline for a conversation with my boss, based on those questions, so that I can potentially offload a few things, or at least push them to Q3.

        Again, thank you!

  16. Amber Rose

    It’s moving day. Our department is swapping spaces with another department, resulting in mass chaos and confusion. My space has shrunk again. This move sucks. Everyone hates it. It makes sense in some ways, our department is bigger than theirs, but ugggggh. I liked my old desk and my old cube. I hate all these changes, they suck. D:

    Anyways. There’s a shelf directly over my monitor that’s like a roof, and now everything is super dark. Does anyone have any ideas for lighting solutions, with the understanding that I have nowhere to plug anything in?

    1. NotaPirate

      My closet lacked any lights and I got little battery powered ones that stick on the wall and press/touch to turn on. USB powered lamps are increasingly cool these days too, I’ve seen some terrarium lamp combos.

      1. Emily S.

        I use little battery-op touch lights under my kitchen cabinets. Mine are made by GE, and I bought them from Target. They work very well.

    2. Purple

      IKEA has some under cabinet lighting that is battery powered.

      I have rechargeable amazon batteries that seem to work pretty well.

    3. epi

      You can get stick-on LED lights for under cabinets and counters. I have a bunch in my kitchen which has the same problem– all cabinets are oriented in a way that blocks light when I want to be in there.

      I’d recommend getting reading reviews before you decide, because the battery life on these can vary. Either way, definitely get rechargeable batteries and a charger if you expect to have the light on all day, every day.

      1. Artemesia

        I got some stick on lights for a book case and the battery life was zilch. If possible see about something that might run off your computer or at least has rechargeable batteries and reviews that suggests some longevity.

    4. Not A Manager

      I’ve gotten packs of battery powered lights and used those. Depending on the design, another option is a camping lantern.

    5. NW Mossy

      Undermounted LED strip lights with a battery pack sound like a good solution! I’ve put these up in my home underneath my kitchen cabinets to give better task lighting, and they’re great.

      We got ours from Environmental Lights – they mostly do commercial work, but will sell to individuals as well.

    6. Parenthetically

      If you have a spare USB, there are loads of good task lights at all price ranges that plug into a USB.

    7. Mockingjay

      There are light bars made to install under cubicle shelves, usually florescent or LED. Look in an office supply catalog or ask your Facilities manager. They should be able to get some.

    8. i forget the name i usually use

      A happy light! People use them for SAD, but I think they’d also make great ambient lighting for a dark office space.

  17. Demotivated by office admin

    Our admin sends an all-staff email each morning with the basics of what’s going on that day – who’s on vacation, working remote, what events are that day or coming up, that sort of stuff. He also includes lighthearted stuff like memes or “it’s national XYZ day!”
    When it’s not a whatever holiday (about half the time), the image is “I hate Mondays” or “why isn’t it Friday yet” kind of stuff.
    I get it, everyone loves weekends, but it’s kind of demoralizing to have that “working for the weekend” mentality greet you every day.
    Just ranting, I guess. TGIF!

    1. Laurencia

      That would bring me down to even though I realize it’s silly. Maybe you could ask him to do less of those and more animal pics or whatever?

    2. 1234

      I don’t see that as demoralizing since the whole tone is light-hearted.

      Would it make more sense for him to send this email once or twice a week? Are you able to make a suggestion to him that maybe he can come up with an image of something else except “I hate Mondays” etc?

    3. All Reports, All the Time

      That would bug me too. It’s a small thing, but I can imagine a cumulative effect over time. And as a frequent sufferer of “The Sundays,” I have personally never found that stuff funny. It just makes me more anxious. (Sign of needing a new job, I know.)

    4. Meredith

      Yeah, today is our first non-summer Friday at work since Memorial Day. Of course, people have been complaining all week about how awful today will be. We’re here a whole extra two hours…

      I’ve just been trying to be positive. “Oh, well, what with the holiday on Monday I certainly have enough to do to fill a whole day!” or “I’m sure today will fly by, since it’s Friday and all.” Maybe try, “Looking forward to a fresh week!” or “Tuesdays are my favorite day because of x and y.”

    5. Not A Manager

      I misread your title and thought it said “demoted by office admin.” I was imagining all kinds of scenarios.

    6. Aggretsuko

      I’m just amazed the admin is *allowed* to send something out publicly that acknowledges that work isn’t awesome.

      There are National Whatever Holidays for every single day of the year (I have a calendar of them), so he could just send those daily instead.

      1. Orange You Glad

        Agreed with this! I would send them a message like, “I love when you include what National Whatever Holiday it is! I look forward to when you share them because it’s always different and I enjoy it so much more than those depressing “I hate Monday’s” memes! I found this [link to calendar or website that lists them] that you could use to look up what holiday it is every day! Thank you for the effort you put into the daily updates – I appreciate you!”

        (Yes, it’s *very* bubbly and way too many exclamation marks but this is genuinely how I would phrase it because this is my personality. Tone it down to match yours.)

    7. Mazzy

      Haha, I realized once I was rude to someone I see in the elevator, he always makes these comments to me and I coldly replied “I actually like my job so I don’t care.” Woops! Sounded ruder then I meant it, but, I cobbled together a schedule that is as interesting as adult life is going to get on top of my job I like, so I’m not going to complain about it every day!

    8. Garland Not Andrews

      Perhaps you can look up some positive little images with sunny messages and send him a bunch. I really understand your feelings, I once had a coworker who was always saying “Can I go home yet?” and when she left, the atmosphere become much much more positive.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        I used to say this all the time when I hated my job. Apologies to any coworkers who had to deal with that, lol.

    9. On Hold

      See if he’d be willing to sub in cute animals or something? My old team got a daily email from another department and she always wrapped it up with a cute animal. Sometimes that was the highlight of my evening.

    10. Gumby

      I get it. Even when you are joking, “work is a horrible imposition on life” can be an annoying thing to face every day. Maybe you are trying to stay positive and don’t want unnecessary negativity in your life. Maybe you actually don’t mind your job, or actively like it. Maybe this weekend you are required to go to a training session for a volunteer position you have been doing for more than a decade which is, really, not that difficult to start with… (At least they feed us, and it’s generally pretty tasty.) (But honestly? 9 a.m.? On a weekend?)

      There are all sorts of these things that are kind of socially accepted – like that school is a pain. This is why when I ask kids about starting the new school year I never do it in a “aren’t you so sad that you must go back to the drudgery of the classroom” way. It’s always, “how exciting, you are starting a new grade! What are you looking forward to this year?” There is no need to tell kids that they should hate school. If they are going to, they will probably come to that conclusion themselves. (Personally, I loved it.)

      If he must demotivate, perhaps he could use official Demotivators? Those tend to be more funny than depressing.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Are they Grumpy cat memes at least? But yeah, I don’t do the negativity sort of thing, even though it’s meant to be lighthearted, it’s bad vibes towards so many.

      Have you ever even said anything in passing though? Yeah it may take some wind out of those sails of him but it’s fair to say “Man, that meme is a downer, could you rethink the images you use?” People don’t always know it’s “Not a good look” until someone quietly whispers it to them.

  18. ThatGirl

    So, I’ve been in a new position for about six weeks; I’ve worked at this company for two years. I consider myself pretty easy going and easy to get along with, I don’t expect everyone to love me but I try to be pleasant and kind and professional. I’m also 38 years old and have plenty of professional experience.

    Which is to say that I am totally befuddled by how to answer my new manager when, at our 1-on-1 check-ins, she asks “are you getting along with everyone?” I want to say “you know, this isn’t kindergarten” – there are no conflicts she could have observed, I haven’t made snarky remarks or heard anyone badmouthing me, and I know how to act professional with people even if I’m not a huge fan of their personality. So far I’ve just said “yeah, everyone’s been great, no problems!” but is there a way I can answer to like… get her to stop asking?

    1. INeedANap

      I suspect this is less about you and more about a problem person on the team that you haven’t had to deal with yet.

      It sounds to me like she’s deliberately creating an opening for you to let her know if anyone (and I’d bet there’s one specific person she’s concerned about) is treating you less than professionally; sometimes it can be intimidating as a new person to the team to “make waves” by complaining about a long-standing team member and my guess is that she’s trying to counteract that.

      1. ThatGirl

        Funny you say that. I have an inkling that she has some sort of problem with one of our team members, but I think that’s a *her* problem – said coworker is very pleasant to me and so far I like them a lot, but I know the two of them have butted heads a bit. Also I prefer to deal with conflicts myself if possible, and not go “tell on” someone (there are certainly instances where getting a manger involved is warranted, but it’s not my first instinct).

        1. Frankie

          I’d watch, observe, keep being positive, and file this away for the future. Sometimes those situations look really different after 3 months on the job. Not to say you don’t have a handle on what’s going on, or that your default approach (it’s not kindergarten! utilize direct communication! we’re grown ups!) isn’t the right tack to be taking.

          It’s possible your boss is looking for fodder for a conflict. Or also possible, though maybe less likely, that there are legit issues with this coworker, and she’s trying to give you the space to bring it to her if you need it down the road.

        2. Mockingjay

          Think of it this way: you have a proactive manager who keeps tabs on team relationships. It’s great that you prefer to deal with coworkers yourself (how much of Alison’s advice is exactly that!), but having a manager open to resolving situations in which more leverage is needed is a plus. I would say, “everything’s good, but I will certainly come to you if I need help – thanks!”

    2. Former Usher

      No advice to offer, but at my previous employer, my manager would end every group meeting by asking us to let him know if we had any conflicts with anyone. It was so weird. He was new to management, and I wondered if his only management training consisted of a how to manage conflict course and that he wanted to try out his new skills.

    3. gbca

      Maybe ask her in a friendly tone, “you’ve asked me that a few times – are there any concerns in that area?” I would think that should get her to either tell you what’s behind the question, or realize it’s an odd question that she should stop asking if it’s just a filler question.

    4. PantaloonsOnFire

      “You’ve asked me several times about whether I’m getting along well with everyone, and it’s making me wonder if you have a specific concern or reason for asking. Is there anything I should know about this team to avoid having a pre-existing workplace drama catch me unexpectedly?”

      1. Mazzy

        Yes to this. I can imagine beating around the bush because I’m afraid to admit I notice them IMing instead of talking to people and don’t say hello or goodbye

        1. ThatGirl

          I say hi and have brief but friendly chats with my team regularly. I even brought cookies once so far! The one other thing that did occur to me was that I generally eat lunch alone, but that’s both a holdover from my last position and a mild preference – it gives me a chance for a little solitude. My teammates have given me a standing invitation to join them, and I intend to do so occasionally, but I don’t want to spend money on eating out every day.

    5. LKW

      It could also be her way of phrasing “is everyone taking the time to help you acclimate and get you up to speed?”

    6. Federal Middle Manager

      This. If I asked someone this it would be similar to “Is everyone providing you with the feedback and resources you need?” If someone is slow to respond to emails or refers you to outdated materials, etc. this would be the chance to raise that.

    7. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

      Did you replace someone who left? It could be that a previous employee cited personal conflicts, a toxic work environment, or sexual harassment… during their exit interview, and the boss is trying to determine the validity of it. Or she is just really invested in everyone on her team being one big happy family. You might not be able to get her to stop and just have to keep answering as you have — sort of like a superficial social exchange or “how are you?” “fine, thank you.”

    8. OhBehave

      You’ve sensed that there is someone your mgr is watching so ask the next time you’re questioned. Others have suggested the same. Let your manager know how you plan to handle conflict should it arise. “You’ve asked me many times if I’m getting along with everyone. Please let me know if I need to be aware of possible issues. I do prefer to handle personnel issues myself and escalate if needed.” Mgr may also be watching/questioning in order to find out if the issue was with previous boss or this particular employee.

    9. gsa

      New manager, “are you getting along with everyone?”

      You, “As far as I know, have you heard otherwise?”.

      It sounds like an ice breaker/conversation starter… Don’t let it be a conversation stopper.

  19. Lovecraft Beauty

    Recap: I left a job I really loved but was underpaid to move out of state for a new role; the transition has been really hard. It’s been a month.

    I don’t know how to tell my boss I’m struggling, or what support to ask for. I’m the only woman on the team in a male-dominated industry, which makes asking for help extra fraught; I am extremely underwhelmed by the technical landscape of the work, and disappointed by that, but I worry about saying that as the new person and getting a reputation as a Negative Nancy.

    (Adapting to the new city is going okay. Not great but okay. I’ve been going out with friends, I’m cooking foods I love, I have a therapist.)

    1. cmcinnyc

      Can you be specific? It sounds like the technical aspect of the job is well within your skillset, but what is the part that’s a struggle?

      1. Lovecraft Beauty

        There’s a lot of technical debt, including in the development process as well as the code, and it feels like a giant thankless task that I was not expecting; I knew they had some technical debt, everywhere does, but I didn’t know it was this bad. And there’s no one who knows the existing codebase and very little documentation, so I have to figure it out as I go, and balancing “well, I’m sure they had a reason for making the decisions they did, don’t be judgey just because it’s not immediately apparent” and “this is bad code that should never have made it to production” is taking a toll. I’m also pretty low on resilience because of a recent family medical emergency and the move from my beloved hometown, so I’m sure that’s playing into it.

        1. cmcinnyc

          Oh yuck. OK. Yeah, your boss probably knows this and doesn’t want to hear about it except to hear that it has been solved. My best advice is to focus on making your non-work life feel good and make sure you’re getting support around the family stuff, especially if you’re a caregiver. Feeling better and more supported outside the office will at least give you more energy and positive stuff in your day. By then you’ll be a few more months into the job and maybe in a better head to assess the situation and figure out if there’s some support you can reasonably ask for at that point.

        2. Engineer Girl

          And there’s no one who knows the existing codebase and very little documentation, so I have to figure it out as I go, and balancing “well, I’m sure they had a reason for making the decisions they did, don’t be judgey just because it’s not immediately apparent”

          This is exceedingly normal in my experience. Sorry. It’s frustrating.

        3. EinJungerLudendorff

          Yeah, that’s a hard situation to have to deal with.
          I have no advice, but every sympathy.

    2. sportslady

      Following along on this one, because I’m struggling with the same thing. I miss my old co-workers, and I’m not feeling like I’m gelling with the team here. All the feedback I’ve gotten has been great, my boss and up are very happy, but bleh. I’m ALSO the only woman on my team, and almost always the only woman in the room, and it’s exhausting to deal with.

      No advice, obviously, but maybe it helps to know there’s someone else in your boat!

      1. Lovecraft Beauty

        Oh my god I’m so grateful to hear this, and I’m so sorry you’re feeling this too. It sucks.

      2. LilacLily

        Oh man I feel your pain. I’m also the only woman in a team of seven people locally and about 20+ people nation-wide. I had a female coworker who worked with us but in another department and she was my sanity lifeline, and then last month they transferred her to another office. It’s back to having lunch by myself I guess. Bluh.

    3. Llama Wrangler

      It’s not clear to me what you’re struggling with at work. I think you’re right that saying you’re underwhelmed by the technical landscape of the work is probably not a great foot to start off on. Do you have coworkers you can talk to? Do most people seem to be happy and thriving in their roles, or are there office-culture issues?

      1. Lovecraft Beauty

        Other people seem pretty happy! We’re pretty isolated in terms of subject-matter expertise, I don’t think there’s anyone else really working on the same stuff I’m working on, so it’s hard to get a parallax view on the technical debt I mentioned above. And everyone has been …cordial but not friendly, I guess? Polite, but all my cheerful “want to get coffee and chat?” invitations have been turned down.

        1. Llama Wrangler

          Yeah, unfortunately that doesn’t seem like things your boss would be able to provide support on.

          In terms of the technical debt, this is not my area of expertise, but it seems like you might be able to identify some of the “no one has knowledge of the codebase/figure it out as you go along” issues that are really tripping you up and identify asks for your boss around them. Whether its partnering you with people with a bit more expertise on them, or having your boss as a thought partner to help you figure out how to handle the issues.

    4. Autumnheart

      Can you elaborate more on what you mean by “extremely underwhelmed by the technical landscape of the work”? Is it too easy for you, not what you expected, or do you find yourself dealing with things like “They expect us to work miracles with 10-year-old hardware and software”, or what?

      1. Lovecraft Beauty

        There’s a lot more technical debt that I expected, and the development process is really out of date.

    5. Clementine

      As you know, the codebase and lack of docs are not going to improve. The job will be more of the same, along with antiquated processes and technology from what you have said.

      With that being the case, the only solution I see is to start focusing on moving on. It doesn’t sound like you are in an emergency situation, so start carefully looking for the next place that will not have these particular problems. This is one type of experience that can still be useful, but not something you likely want to do for very long if you want to keep current.

  20. A. Ham

    As we head into fall/winter, a time when I will inevitably wear skirts and dresses less often, I am looking to up my work pants game.
    I work in a fairly casual office. The party line is “look presentable” but no need to be super business-y unless there is some sort of important meeting off site or something. Jeans and a nice top is very common uniform around here- and what I will normally wear (again, when not wearing skirts). But… I’ve got to admit, I’m getting a little sick of wearing jeans all the time. Not saying I will never wear them again, but I’d like some options to switch it up. What are your favorite pair of work pants?

    1. Nowhereland

      If you live in the US, you could look at Old Navy’s Pixie Pants, Banana Republic’s Sloan pants, or Express’s Editor/Columnist pants.

      1. londonedit

        I am not in the US and am therefore sad that I can’t have special Editor trousers seeing as that’s what I do.

        On a slightly more helpful note, I really like Uniqlo’s ‘jeggings trousers’ – really comfortable and slightly smarter than jeans.

          1. the_scientist

            A warning re: the uniqlo leggings pants: If you have quads, these will definitely look more like leggings and less like pants. They are very comfy but definitely not work appropriate for me. However their colour Ez-Jeans (basically jeans with an elastic in the back of the waistband) are a good alternative- they have just that little bit more structure.

          2. Karo

            I wear jeggings in various colors literally every day. They’re skinny jeans, but with a little extra give for comfort. I adore them. I also think they look relatively nice – definitely more like dressy jeans than sitting around the house jeans.

        1. epi

          I also like the leggings pants and wear them to work often (in academia). They look like skinny jeans but IME are much cooler so the cropped ones are actually my go-to throughout the summer. I have gotten compliments on them from multiple people who did not realize they were leggings.

          Uniqlo has a lot of other good pants too. I would suggest looking at what I think they are calling “smart pants” now too. They have an imitation fly and pull on like leggings but are not tight and are made of normal pants fabric. I didn’t like where the waistband fell on me– I think it matters more when there is elastic involved– but they are great. I’d own a bunch if they happened to fit me.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            I have a few of the smart pants I snagged on the (dirt) cheap from thredUP, and they do look like really tailored dress pants. The waistband is a little weird, but a lot of my shirts are long so no one will notice.

      2. Former staffer

        Was coming to echo the Old Navy Pixie Pants. I’m obsessed with them right now- give me some in every color/print please!

      3. M. Albertine

        I LIVE in Express’s Editor pants. They are so comfy I don’t even take them off when I get home from work.

    2. CTT

      Old Navy has good work pants! I particularly love the patterned ones because I am a sucker for a patterned pant, but they have solid colors as well. They’re a nice alternative to jeans that aren’t a hard turn into suit pants.

      1. tcro

        Everlane has some great options. If your office is fairly casual, you could do their “easy chino” option… more put together than jeans, but not as dressy as you’d usually think for “work pants”.

        1. Mainely Professional

          OMG Everlane for the win. I am so sick of major brands selling us women TRASH that doesn’t last a season. I just bought one of their bras and it’s great.

        2. Keanu Reeves's Patchy Beard

          I actually was really disappointed with a pair of their work pants. I got them in navy and they are not colorfast. I washed them about 3 times and there are faded streaks.

        3. ThatMarketingChick

          I’ve been really disappointed with Everlane. I bought two pairs of their “work pants” and had one pair split from the crotch down the inseam. On both sides. While I was driving. To work. I can’t bring myself to wear the other pair out of sheer terror at the thought of seeing my once-appropriate work pants morphing into assless chaps.

    3. Sister Michael, Black Belt

      I have many pairs of NY&Co’s 7th Avenue pants, comes in lots of colors, patterns, and lengths.

      1. sacados

        I know this is an anti-jeans post but NY&Co’s jeans are absolutely the most comfortable ones I have ever found.
        Though their sizing can be a bit strange, I am a full size smaller in their “curvy boyfriend” jeans than in any of the other cuts.

    4. Ayla K

      Black skinny jeans have become a good uniform swap-in for me! I’m team denim, all the way, and sometimes just swapping the color can be great. I also picked up a pair of purple jeans last fall and they’re great with boots and a grey sweater.

      I also got some stretchy slacks that, no joke, feel like leggings, but they look super professional.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace

        Totally agree with swapping the color of your jeans. I’ve got a pair in purple and a pair in red, in addition to the conventional indigo and black. Grey jeans would be a nice choice if you want something more conservative but still different from the usual.

      2. The New Wanderer

        Colored jeans, definitely, I have multiple pairs in various grays, black, and shades of blue.

        Also cordoroys, I’ve found some styles that are basically pull-on cords and they’re very comfy.

    5. BeeGee

      I really like the dressier leggings/tights, I have two pairs from Tommy Hilfiger and I know J. Crew has a version of them. Think a thicker leggings like horse riding pants, with a button and zipper closure like normal pants. They are really comfy, and look classy when paired with some nicer boots. And just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to give up on skirts or dresses! Get a nice wool/felt skirt and a sweater dress, and pair them with fleece tights/leggings underneath. I also bought wedge booties from UGG that have a nice plain, black leather exterior but fuzzy wool interior which are a godsend for my poor cold toes in the middle of winter.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Yup, I also still rock dresses and skirts in the winter. I make sure they’re wool like you said and pair them with fleece lined tights and calf or knee-high boots (sometimes ankle booties if it’s not too cold).

        Now that I work from home full time, I’m glad I’ll still be able to rock shorts during the winter as well!

    6. Mainely Professional

      For what it’s worth, I live in a very cold place and I wear a lot of skirts and dresses in the fall and winter. I like to layer, and for whatever reason I tend to feel warmer overall in a dress, and I like dresses because it’s easier than matching separates. I can layer a bodysuit under or cardigans over. It is sometimes harder to find fashionable and affordable warm choices, but thrifting is usually a good option. Wool, flannel, corduroy cold weather dresses from J. Crew or Loft are pretty abundant in my thrift shops locally. Fleece tights from Target if it’s brutal out.

      1. Sled dog mama

        I am the same. I tend to wear my skirts year round but more in the winter as I like having my legs fully covered.

        1. SarahKay

          Same here. I find a needlecord (corduroy in the US) skirt with some nice woolly tights is far warmer than trousers.
          Not only that, I walk to work and if it’s raining then jeans are a shockingly bad idea as they take forever to dry and spend the whole drying time sucking heat out of my legs. Even trousers (pants) aren’t ideal; I’d much rather wear a knee-length skirt and a pair of 60 or 100 denier tights in a man-made fibre, with a knee-length coat over the top. The skirt says dry (because coat) and the tights will dry in about a minute (because man-made fibres) – change my shoes and my dry, warm legs and I are good to go for the day.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            Yes! That’s the one thing I’m truly grateful for now that I won’t have to deal with walking to work in the snow anymore (I’m remote from home) – not having wet pants by the time I get to work. Seriously, it’s the most disgusting feeling to have cold, wet pants stuck to your legs all morning. That always used to put me in a foul mood, lol. That’s why I, too, tried to live in sweater dresses and wool skirts in the winter with tights.

      2. sacados

        Agreed, I wear tights with skirts and dresses pretty much year round, in fact it’s one of my favorite kinds of fall outfits.
        @A. Ham > it can be a bit on the spendy side, but eshakti can also be a nice resource, they allow you to customize everything like sleeve or skirt length so you can get a lot of nice warmer long-sleeved dresses.

      3. A. Ham

        oh I do still wear them in the winter- just not quite as often. It’s not so much that I don’t want to wear them (I have quite a few cute/cozy winter-appropriate dresses) It’s really just tights that I hate. And on especially cold, dark mornings, the thought of wrestling with tights just makes me more tired. haha

        1. Mainely Professional

          Lol, I get it. I think corduroy pants are a good option for a casual office, especially since there are some nice “jeans” cut styles out there, not the wide wale pleats at the waistband stuff of yore.

    7. TY

      I love the Loft work pants in the Marisa fit. They don’t hug my curve and look polished after multiple pairs, without needing ironing!

      1. TY

        They do have the Julie fit if you like to highlight your curves, and Loft clothes seem perpetually on sale, so I usually find them for cheap.

    8. Professional Pup

      I recently bought 2 pairs of American Giant’s Kick Crop pants and WOW are they comfortable. I’m very petite so that version of their pants is the only one that would work for my height off the rack, but they have a typical skinny one and a straight leg, too. I absolutely *hate* the feeling of a waistband constricting me while I sit (and as I type this, I’m being annoyed by the jeans I’m wearing for casual Friday), so the American Giant pants are perfect. The fabric is a nice thick weight without feeling heavy or tight, and they look extremely polished..but they’re secretly soft and stretchy and comfortable! The waistband tailoring is nice enough that you can tuck a blouse in (a la Tan France from Queer Eye) without it looking weird.

    9. Jellyfish

      I have four matching pairs of casual pants from Christopher & Banks – black, brown, grey, and khaki. They’re cotton, so they feel and fit more like jeans than most business slacks do. I like them. However, I also add lined leggings to my dresses and skirts so I can keep wearing those during the winter too.

    10. LilacLily

      I’ve heard that Betabrand’s Dress Pant Yoga Pants are super comfy, and they have a bunch of colors and styles! I saved their online store address for when I’m able to afford them. If there’s something I love is plain, high rise pants that aren’t tight in the knee.

    11. NewReadingGlasses

      I am currently wearing Prana Halle pants that I bought at REI. They are technically cargo pants, but they look OK for work, kind of like chinos. I have them in Black and Tan. I’ve had these pairs about a year and they are holding up well.

    12. Goldfinch

      If you layer, I really like the Dana Buchman pull-on pants from Kohls. They have enough thigh and hip room that I can wear fleece tights underneath when it’s miserably cold out, but they aren’t so big that I look like a marshmallow.

    13. Catsaber

      Uniqlo has a lot of unique pant options, just be aware the sizing is not consistent. For me, the skinny/slim styles are REALLY SKINNY and then the roomier styles are REALLY ROOMY. Be sure to read the garment measurements!

      Also, something that helped me with not feeling so boring with my jeans was not to change the pants, but change the shoes. I got a few pairs of really cool shoes that helped me mix up my jeans/nice top uniform. And it doesn’t have to be really expensive – I tend to shop at DSW, so that’s my level. One example – I got a pair of black glitter Doc Martens. They make any outfit look super cool. I have gotten tons of compliments on them, including from top-level directors.

    14. Llama Wrangler

      Ditto the Loft Marisa Pants, thought keep in mind they also have some pretty variable fits in the different styles of the pants. And I also like the Uniqlo options, but definitely agree about their variable sizing. I range anywhere from an XS to a L/XL depending on style and material.

    15. Combinatorialist

      I really like colored jeans. I have a pair of black ones that make me feel slightly dangerous (I’m not at all) that I wear on days with meetings with a problematic project lead. I have some more fun colors as well. Obviously doesn’t help if it is the feel of denim that you are tired of, but it lets me mix it up some while staying at about the same level of formality

    16. HalloweenCat

      To address the pants part, I have just discovered Sanctuary’s Pull On Ponte Pants at Nordstrom Rack. They’re like a thick legging and they have fake pocket detail to look more like pants. They have them in basic black as well as a bunch of fun fall plaids, cheetah print, and camo. They’re very comfortable.
      And as someone who also likes to wear skirts and dresses year-round, invest in a couple of pairs of good quality fleece-lined tights.

    17. Muriel Heslop

      Wide leg cropped pants from J Crew. They are part of the 365 collection. I wear both pairs I own once a week. Super comfortable! I have a black wide leg pair from Banana that I wear a lot, too. Their work pants are pretty durable.

    18. Imprudence

      (in the UK) boden richmond trousers. Smarter than jeans, not as smart as dry-clean only suit trousers.

    19. Pamplemeow

      To change it up a little I get what are essentially jeans in different fabrics – sateen, corduroy, etc. Loft usually has cute sateen pants for fall. Old Navy has some too I think.

    20. lnelson in Tysons

      Again if you are in the US, Kohls has pants, not jeans, which are casual, but can be slightly dressier or more casual depending on the top and shoes.
      I also like them because several brands are a cotton mix, which I prefer over the purely synthex mixes.

    21. A. Ham

      Thank you everyone for all of the amazing suggestions! I am looking forward to doing some shopping! :-)

    22. Clarissa

      Midi and maxi skirts and dresses are in. More comfortable (for me) than jeans or pants. You can wear tights, leggings, vests and such underneath when it’s cold.

  21. LizB

    My last day at this job is a week from today, and I start the next job a week from Monday. It’s so close I can taste it…. just gotta wrap up a few things and make sure all the right documentation is left for the next person.

  22. Kramerica Industries

    I’ve just finished my PhD and am looking to get an industry job outside of academia. I recently got an offer, but the company made it clear that it was an entry level job and there would be little space to add my personal stamp on current processes. From other interviews I’ve gotten, most interviewers are concerned that I’ve never worked in industry. So, while this opportunity is a foot in the door, I’m not sure if I’m settling for too little by taking a job that would normally go to an undergraduate. I’d also be moving to a new city for mediocre pay, but my field is niche so I’m not sure when there will be another (or even a better) opportunity.

    1. House Tyrell

      I recommend you investigate the ability to move up in this company- is there room for growth or are the upper level managers never planning on leaving so you’ll be stuck lower in the totem pole for awhile. You’ll also want to try and figure out what the salary band is and if you have room for raises for awhile or if you’re close to the top already in the offer, plus what bonuses and benefits are available. Those things may make taking this job worth it for now if you have opportunity for growth, raises, and good benefits.

      To be completely honest, it will be very difficult to find great jobs at the start with a PhD but little practical experience. You’re considered over-educated and under-experienced. One of my friends has a PhD in microbiology and realized he didn’t want to work in academia or research when he was doing his dissertation and now he’s been bartending for over a year because he experienced the same problems you did- concern that he hadn’t been actually working in the industry and that his high level of education in one niche field meant he was unable to work on broader topics. Employers are also worried that you’ll leave quickly if you don’t find the work exciting and get a better offer somewhere else so they’d rather make an offer to someone they think is more likely to stay.

    2. Psyche

      Do you know someone who transitioned from academia to industry in your field? They would probably be able to tell you if taking the job would be a good idea. If not, you could try looking for an internship or a postdoc position in industry so that you can get some experience in industry and apply again to the jobs you really want.

    3. Frankie

      Depends on your field, but sometimes the entry level is all you can get until you’ve “proved yourself” in industry/corporate for a couple of years. Tough to say without knowing more, but I definitely had to go through this after graduating with an MA. Most PhDs just aren’t marketable in the way you’d expect them to be.

      I’ve also always had the experience that even very entry-level, inflexible jobs still offered opportunities to learn, grow, and find your niche. You don’t need a plum job right away to be gaining valuable experience.

    4. E

      Where I work we have a lot of postdocs who go into industry. I think many of them take these postdocs because they provide a lot of industry networking experience and they are definitely more like being in a job than being a grad student. Maybe finding a postdoc and networking during that time is the way to get there?

    5. arcya

      I’m an industry postdoc! My company typically has 6-7 “postdoctoral fellows” working on research projects relevant to the company, but with the intent to publish (we are in biotech). I don’t know your field specifically obviously, but I would be wary of this position. While it’s super important to be able to say you’ve been in industry for X years on a CV, your role in this position might hold you back if you don’t get much training about internal decision making / industry standards. I would try to find out more about the role – even if you don’t get to move up in this company, what kind of training and experience might they offer? Is there something unique you might be able to learn there?

      If you decide not to take it, is there academic postdoc work you can do? One option might be to do an academic postdoc with an aim towards industry – ie collaborating with companies in your field. This will help you gain contacts and experience even if it’s not specifically “industry experience”.

      Good luck!

    6. YetAnotherUsername

      I agree you should take it. After a year 9r two you can use the experience plus PhD to get a better job.

      Unfortunately until you have experience even someone with a PhD is an unproven risk because industry is sooo different to academia.

      (source – I have a PhD and 11 years of industry experience).

      Trust me as you move up your PhD will still stand to you long term, but you do have to prove yourself first.

    7. Roza

      I’d take it. As many others have noted, getting your first job outside of academia is hard — you really do need to prove yourself, people sometimes have a lot of doubts about whether PhDs can thrive in industry. There’s also a genuine learning curve in figuring out workplace culture in your industry. I’m a PhD who went into industry with many friends who did the same, and the only exception I’ve seen to needing to start at or close to entry level is a situation like a Llama Grooming startup and the PhDs dissertation was in new approaches to cloud-based llama grooming, and they’re hired as a product/subject matter expert type person.

      That said, once you get over the initial hurdle, you’ll likely move up more quickly than people without the PhD. That’s been the case for me and many others I’ve known, and it’s definitely worth making sure your employer bases promotions on contributions, not just seniority.

    8. Clever Name

      I agree with the others on taking the position. And please try to not act overtly “I have a PhD and I’m working a job that would normally go to an undergraduate” when you start your new job. I’m a scientist working in industry, and I participate in the hiring process. I evaluate resumes and participate in interviews. I know that you have a lot of education under your belt, and a PhD is definitely an impressive accomplishment (I have a MS and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments for sure!), but no matter what degree you have, no work experience in the industry = entry level. If you act like you are above the job you were hired to do, you will have a tough go at things.

    9. Job Hunter

      I was encouraged to aim as high as I can by a friend (with a PhD) in industry…I think it depends on your situation.

  23. AnotherCorporateStooge

    TLDR; benefits good, pay average, job not challenging, frustrated enough to consider leaving for new career

    I would be nervous to change jobs, especially because where I currently work the benefits and the culture are great — the pay is not too bad, certainly average, but, again, the benefits are great, but my issue is the work I do is not challenging and I find it hard to focus because it’s in a field I have no interest in. Any advice?

    To add: I work in marketing and research, I like the research, but the company is laden with too many inefficiencies and redundancy — I was considering going back to school for law or a science field (astrophysics/chemistry) but thought to take up something new altogether like management consulting.

    I am basically a glorified admin with a snazzy title. I throw parties and attend conferences where I bridge personal relationships between my team members and other companies. My job is essentially a big band-aid for inefficiencies since we are so decentralized — every group operates as its own mini company. Just this morning I was joking around with someone from a client-facing role who teasfully said all I do is, “puts papers in files and organizes stuff and makes us socialize then charges it to the team’s overhead.” It was funny… but TRUE. I laughed, but I can do so much more.
    reposting for some additional/new insights

    1. Meredith

      Are there big projects you can take on to address those inefficiencies? Are there other tasks or positions in the company you think would be more interesting that you could learn about or lend skills to? Can you potentially look into project management/get a PMP, which with your current experience could land you a job in project management or consulting?

    2. Alex

      I’m kind of in the same boat. I’ve tried expanding my role to take on some more advanced work, but it is like pulling teeth.

      Most days I’m quite literally bored to tears. But my pension is great.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Go for it, make the change.

      Right now you are frustrated, in ten years you will be crushed. This type of thing has a knack of draining a soul right out of a person.

      Look at it from this perspective: It’s a basic human need, right up there with food and water, to make a meaningful contribution in this world. It’s probably a bad plan to go too long feeling the way you do. What you are feeling now will only get bigger, this is reasonable to assume. Meanwhile, other people are in job where they are developing more marketable skills. And you are learning how to make dysfunction work well.

      To me, good benefits and average pay is a shell game. It looks like they are giving you something but the benefit is probably either low cost to them or something they have figured you won’t use. Personally, I want coins in my pocket.

      Many places have good things about them. But we have to check to figure out if those good things are actually elevating our quality of life. It’s okay to insist on more.

  24. Can I hear a Wahoo?

    Project Management strategies, tips, tricks, and templates. Please share! In my new position I am managing multiple projects and events of varying sizes, timelines, and priorities, and things are falling by the wayside. How do you all keep track of everything? How do you write a project plan for something you’ve never done before that takes place months in the future with both daily and long term tasks?

    1. AnotherCorporateStooge

      would really like to know if anyone has anything to offer to this question because I am in the same boat.

    2. The Curator

      I asked exactly the same question about a year ago.
      This book was the most helpful to me.
      Practical Project Management for Agile Nonprofits: Approaches and Templates to Help You Manage with Limited Resources Paperback – June 24, 2013
      by Karen R.J. White (Author), Pamela Puleo (Introduction

    3. Drax

      Calendars. I use monthly calendars with key dates noted, as well as color assign each project. I personally use the big desk top monthly calendar so I can write notes on it and have more space to add in deadlines and such.

      Every time you take on a new project spend 15-20 minutes making your timeline then mark them ALL (even insignificant dates) on the calendar – use the same one for all your projects. I include dates for self imposed deadlines, and such in order to keep me on track and even notes like “Check with Jane for X, Y”. Then at a glance you know what has to get done that week and what’s coming up.

      I’d also take a look at the Kanban method which is pretty cool one, but i do not have the space to set up.

      1. Drax

        Also, I work in project manufacturing so I’m not 100% how that would translate into events but it may work

        1. Kate

          Do you have some kind of standard project management methodology on your team? If your team doesn’t and you’re all kind of your own – consider suggesting a standard task tracking system for the team. You can gather input from others on the team (especially those who’ve been there a while and are successful in the eyes of leadership), and use their tips/tricks to help build out a tracking system.

          Without a PM tool of any kind… I live and die by my outlook calendar like others have said as well. I use color coding as well at a really basic level – I don’t color code everything, because that just adds more work. But, the standard blue color is basically everything, then I use green for urgent/time sensitive tasks, and yellow is for reminders.

          So if I have a deadline I need to meet on a Friday, for example – I’d block out time to complete the task prior to Friday, but also schedule some reminders leading up the deadline.

          Also – less popular, but if you have multiple projects – I would create a one-page (if possible) checklist to manually mark off what’s been done, key dates, etc., for each project. Then use outlook for major milestones. Depending on how much paper you work with – you could have a binder for each project and put your checklist in the front cover. Or – it could be just a checklist and all your actual work is online. Or – if you are paper free, create an excel checklist and digitally update as you work on each project. (If you do this – each project could have it’s own tab, and you can design it so you have one main tab with all “due this week” tasks so you can see your week at a glance, etc.) Paper or electronic really just depends on you prefer to work. Sorry this was kind of a big ramble :)

          1. Mimblewimble

            +1 on color coding my outlook calendar. I give each color a fun name for those moments when I need something small to smile at. The red color is used for deadlines and I renamed it DEFCON 5.

            I also put reminders on my calendar so I won’t forget key project events.

            I use spreadsheets and Gantt charts to track my current, upcoming, future, and completed projects.

            As for project plans, I use my own template but there are many online you can use to get you started. The key is to work backwards from the end/launch date to figure out milestones. From there you can create a schedule. Then adjust the schedule as the project scope becomes better defined; it’s ok to have a pretty basic schedule for projects that are a long way off. It’s very normal.

            1. Memyselfandi

              Color coding for me too! It also gives a quick visual read on how your time is being distributed among projects and any imbalance.

      2. Frankie

        Calendars are key for me as well. Kanbans are okay for sub-portions of projects, but for the higher level, I need to map everything out on a calendar. I put final deadlines and then work backward in the calendar to figure out all the activities that need to happen. I try to add a little buffer, too, because little things always come up.

        There are free project management tools out there that let you construct separate projects and look at all of them together on one calendar. Personally, this is what works best for me.

    4. Meredith

      Do you have project management tools? Do you have tasks or moving parts that other people need to be responsible for, with specific due dates? If so, I’d recommend looking into a system that can help. It could be as simple as Basecamp or more complex like Wrike, Asana or Teamwork (I use the latter). I think all are free for a small number of users, and then have paid options from there.

      I also love my physical paper planner. I use the Full Focus Planner, which has a 2 page spread for each day, including a daily Big Three priorities, task list, day calendar for appointments/meetings, and a full page for notes (plus more note pages in the back). The Full Focus system is really about large and small goal planning, but the planner itself is super well laid out for my needs. (I’m a digital marketing strategist and account manager at an agency, so I juggle multiple clients and work with a team who all execute different parts of projects.)

    5. Professional Pup

      Do you have a budget for software? I really like Asana for for a ‘home base’ of sorts (it does actually have a free version that works perfectly, but if you want to get your team onboard and do more advanced things with it, there’s a subscription). I also really liked the book “Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager” when I started taking over multiple projects.

      You’ll want to break down the project into progressively smaller chunks. So let’s say the project is “Release a new teapot” — your first break down would be large chunks like “Create teapot design,” “Get approval for teapot,” “Manufacture teapot.” Then you might break down “Create teapot design” into “Brainstorm teapot features,” “Consult with teapot engineers,” “Develop 3 prototypes,” and then you might break down “Brainstorm teapot features” into “Meet with design team about color schemes,” “Do teapot market research,” “Sketch teapot ideas,” etc. What I’m saying is, don’t try to jump from “Release a new teapot” straight into “Meet with design team about color schemes”-level tasks. If you’re planning a project you’ve never done before, figure out where you need to start with the high level tasks of the project, then get face time with the people who can answer your questions – like, “I know I need to get approval for the teapot design once it’s complete. Which departments need to be involved in that?”

      1. ACDC

        I was also going to recommend Asana. It’s a great tool and easier than making multiple calendars, folders, etc. to manage all of your stuff.

    6. CM

      For the multitasking piece, I keep a single piece of paper (or a single page in my notebook) that succinctly lists all the projects I have going and (if possible) their current status. It’s a single page so I can look at it really quickly and remind myself where everything is in the big picture.

      For the project planning part, there are lots of methods and lots of tools you can buy, but the important thing is really to know who’s doing what and how long it takes to do that stuff, and then check in to see if it’s on track. I’ve never found anything that works better than getting the whole team in a meeting room or on a conference call and developing a workback schedule together. It gives everyone a chance to hear why it takes so-and-so a million years to do something they assumed would be a quick task, and understand why the milestones and soft deadlines are set where they are. For tracking what you’ve committed to as far as the schedule and whether people are making progress, you could use Basecamp or Asana or, if you have no budget for that, even a google doc that everyone can see and update.

      Pro tip for tracking other people’s progress: don’t just ask a yes or no question like, “Is this on track?” because people will say yes when the answer is actually “IDK because I completely forgot to think about it until now” or “IDK but I’m assuming yes because I think someone else is doing it” or something similar. Ask more detailed questions about the level of progress you’d expect to see at this stage (if someone’s producing X number of widgets ask how many they’ve produced so far, or which parts of the process they’ve done so far, or if they ran into an issue with Y that would crop up at the end of the process), or ask them to bring a demo to the meeting, or set an expectation that people give a short speech about what they’ve been working on at the status update meetings and that it’s more detailed than just saying, “I’m totally doing that.”

    7. AnonPi

      For a digital task tracker check out trello, I’ve used it a little but don’t have many long term/large scope projects so I’ve not used it to it’s full capabilities. But I know a lot of people at my workplace use it and really like it.

      1. Nela

        I second Trello!
        I use it to manage my own business, as well as events I worked on with my (former) nonprofit organization, and it has never failed me. One thing I’m missing is a calendar view that shows deadlines across multiple Trello boards, but you can get around that with the Planyway power-up.

    8. RavenclawShorts

      I typically use Microsoft Project and make gantt charts but that is typical in my field. It can be time consuming but it works well for what I use it for.

    9. Imprudence

      Not Project management but the Getting Things Done by Dave Allen book was life changing for me. keep a list of projects, Next steps(s) and dates to review.

    10. GG

      Echoing others on heavy Outlook use! You can find what works for you but you could try things like – recurring appointments, e.g. every Monday afternoon, for yourself to “check in with Partner X” or “review budget spend.” Putting deadlines in Outlook but more valuable is the week-before a deadline, e.g. “start working on grant report, due in 1 week.” When I’m feeling really organized I’ll also block a time for myself “work time on Project X” and in the meeting invite I’ll list the tasks I want to get done in that time chunk.

      I also keep a three-tiered to-do list to manage big picture and micro: 1) A macro list that I update maybe every 1 – 2 weeks which is more “things to keep in mind.” It’s organized by project and the list items are not discrete tasks but more like “figure out who to talk to about this question” or “think about strategy for next month’s meeting – it’s how I keep track of the general questions and big things that are going on in the project I need to have on my radar. 2) A to-do list for the week – these are closer to discrete tasks – “plan and share agenda for next week’s meeting” – “research topic A.” 3) A daily to-do list (when I’m feeling really organized) which are very specific things I need / want to get done that day, which will help me complete the bigger picture things, e.g. “read Articles A & B” “email Sarah about the meeting” etc.

      For the project plan – are there plans for similar projects that have been done previously that you can use to understand the big milestones and how long they generally take? Ask a veteran to sit down for an hour and just braindump for you, and then you craft it into a more organized project plan? I often build project plans in a lot of detail and then find that I never return to them and they almost always end up being way off – so I think a key to using them effectively is really ensuring they’re living documents, as things out of your control will always happen, you underestimated how much time something would take, etc.

      Good luck!

    11. YetAnotherUsername

      I have a work bullet journal. I use the threading and page numbering / indexing tools and have a weekly spread with 5 days and a to do section. Bullet for to do, dash for info, box with bullet for meeting. X means complete. Move tasks forward as needed.

      I also use outlook to set reminders for myself to check on things. You can set an appointment to still show you are free in case anyone needs to book a meeting but it will still pop up as an appointment to remind you. Set outlook meetings with other people early and book them a long time out. They might have to move but that’s fine, if you don’t put them in they won’t happen.

      Once a week take stock of everything and at the end of every day do notes from today, actions for tomorrow.

      I also have an “outstanding actions” excel file for each project.

  25. Left out?

    Hi Guys,
    Happy Friday. I have a question for y’all cause I need a reality check. There was a local (within 2ish hours drive) conference this past week that I attended with my boss last year. It was a great conference and I was really looking forward to attending again this year. Back in July, I asked my boss if I was attending again, and he said that after discussing it with the CEO they choose not to have me attend with my boss because of office coverage. I never confirmed it with the CEO. Yesterday my boss came back and handed me my swag bag and told me people asked about me. Turned out I was registered to attend (I have my access badge and everything). This is weird right?

    1. Laurencia

      That is weird! I would talk to the CEO so it’s clear you didn’t deliberately not show up / waste the inscription fee

    2. AnotherCorporateStooge

      I don’t really see the weird… maybe whoever manages registrations messed up and registered you? It does bode well that people asked abut you which means you made an impression them.

        1. Lily in NYC

          I bet your boss didn’t want you to take the day off and your CEO never said a word to him about your not attending.

        2. Psyche

          Is it possible he registered you before they decided that office coverage would be an issue? You can always clarify it with your boss. It doesn’t sound like he was wondering where you were or thought you forgot to go.

    3. Lovecraft Beauty

      That’s super weird. Probably attributable to communications failure, but I would follow up aggressively to ensure that people know you wanted to go and were never given information you should have had.

    4. Antilles

      The decision itself is totally reasonable – having multiple team members out at the same time can be difficult. Even if it worked fine last year, it’s possible they realized that it just wasn’t a great plan.
      But it’s definitely weird that they told you it didn’t make sense this year, but paid for your registration anyways and didn’t tell you that. Especially for a local conference like that where it’s feasible to cherry-pick a day or two of particularly interesting topics without needing to have a full-week hole in coverage.

    5. Daughter of Ada and Grace

      To decide you need to be in the office, and tell you this when you ask: not weird.
      Not following up with the CEO after your boss tells you this: also not weird.

      To register you anyway and not tell you: super weird. At minimum, it’s a waste of the company’s money. I’m surprised they just let the registration go unused instead of trying to get a refund or transferred to a coworker.

      1. Psyche

        Most of the conferences I go to are nonrefundable and often non transferable. Also, if there was another colleague that would benefit from the conference I would think that they would also be able to provide coverage so it may be that there would be no one else who would benefit from the conference. It really seems more likely that he registered before talking to the CEO and decided that the lost cost of registering was better than the lack of coverage.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale

      And why didn’t your boss call you when he didn’t see you there, if he registered you? SUPER WEIRD.

  26. Joielle

    We talk a lot about how it’s not a good idea to work for your friends – which, in theory, makes a ton of sense. And we also talk about how the best way to network is to think of it as taking a genuine interest in someone and making a connection with them.

    So here’s my question. I recently started a new job, which I got partially because the hiring manager is a friend of mine. We met at a networking event when I was in law school, kept in touch, and became genuine friends – not super close BFFs or anything, but we’re part of the same social circle, invite each other to parties a few times a year, know each other’s spouses, etc. It’s going just fine so far – I think we are going to pull back the social interactions a bit, but since we have friends in common, we’ll still see each other socially from time to time.

    I feel like I did the right thing – networking via making a genuine connection with someone – but still ended up in a “bad” position – working for a friend. I don’t really have a problem, since in this case I don’t foresee drama (although I guess you never expect it) but I’m interested in what you all think. Should I have done something different?

    1. AnotherCorporateStooge

      Hard to say… if you’re both capable and reasonable adults you should be able to navigate this with few hiccups. Why do you think you should have done something different?

      1. Joielle

        It just seems to be a generally-accepted principle around here that you shouldn’t work with your friends because of the potential for interpersonal drama, which makes perfect sense in theory… except that if you do networking right, you’ll probably end up being friends with potential colleagues.

        In my case, I’m happy with how it’s playing out, but I’m interested in peoples’ perspectives on what seems to be two opposing principles.

        1. Psyche

          I think that the advice is generally referring to close friends. Interpersonal drama is much more likely if you are really close and hang out a lot than if you go to the same parties a few times a year.

        2. sacados

          I think the caveat is that it needs to be a relationship where the friendship is not more important than the working relationship.
          Sort of like how people say don’t lend money to family/friends– unless it’s an amount that you would be OK with theoretically never getting back.

          Because if you do wind up working for a friend, it’s going to cause problems if you try to maintain the friendship over/at the expense of the working relationship. If you’re both able to scale back on the friendship and transition to a healthy boss/employee relationship then you’re going to be fine!

    2. Lily in NYC

      I worked for one of my closest friends for 3 years and it was awesome (corporate office, not a company he owned). We knew we could handle it because we both work hard and are drama-free individuals. We never had an issue, not even once. His other direct reports knew we were friends but I had a completely different role than they did and was not competition to them, so there was no resentment. They were thankful to have me because my role actually saved them a ton of painful work. Neither of us took advantage of the fact we were friends (meaning I didn’t expect special treatment) and I was really sad when he moved on. I would work with him again in a heartbeat.

    3. cmcinnyc

      I’ve been in a similar position many times. I’m in a business that networks heavily–you really can get nothing done if you don’t know anyone. And that means, yes, you will make friends. I’d say most of my professional network are what I’d call friendly acquaintances, but I have some true friends among them. This is typical in my industry. I’ve experienced and seen it go very, very well. I’ve had horrible experiences/witnessed some catastrophes as well. And everything in between. For me, the principle is Work Product First. And boundaries. And maturity. And just… knowing that sometimes something will become a mess because of personal relationships and business being mixed and that’s the way it is.

    4. tamarack & fireweed

      This is something I have a few steps worth of disagreement with Alison about, so take it with a huge pinch of salt: I actually don’t think working for or managing friends is necessarily perilous … if both are able to behave like mature adults, separate out “friend” things and “work” things, and are resilient around things neither of them has much control over, or where conflict arises.

      I was in this situation more than 10 years ago. I was hired into a team where I quickly became good friends with one of the colleagues. It turned out that even though we were both then in a different country from our country of origin, we had gone to the same school, lived in the same town, hung out in the same places and known the same teachers, but with him being 5 years older, didn’t know each other back then. 6 months after being hired, I was made team lead, with day-to-day management responsibility over the team (which during my tenure grew from 3 to 9 reports, plus me). Our general manager, who was probably the first actually good manager I ever knew, sat me down in his office and said something like this: “Congratulations on your promotion. Here’s a thing you need to know: You’re going to manage a friend. This is possible. [Insert somewhat contrived anecdote about the owner of a small company who had to fire his underperforming son, but immediately offered him financial support to get back on his feet… the upshot was to keep apart the roles of “superior/boss” and “friend/person you care about”.] There will be times where you have to talk to him and say ‘this is your boss speaking’. There will be times when you can be a friend.” Etc. And it turned out fine! What actually happened is that my friend felt empowered (qua friendship) to tell me things that every leader hopes someone will tell them, but team members rarely bring up. In my case, the team was frustrated that meetings didn’t start on time, so I buckled down and learned how to run meetings efficiently AND ON TIME. I was better at my job because of him.

      Now of course in your case, it’s most important that awareness of the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them is on the radar of your friend, as he’s your boss. If your friendship is close enough, you may even bring it up with him. Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader

        I can agree with this. It can work.
        It’s like dancing though, one has to lead and the other has to follow when it comes to the job.

        I have a boss now that I consider a friend. Fortunately, I am in awe of her as a professional so this makes it super easy. When we are talking about work, she is The Leader. When we are talking about life stuff, you can feel the equal footing come right back into the conversation.
        Additionally, we have worked together for some years now. We each have mundane parts of the job that we know the other one excels at. If she has problem with X, she knows I am good at X and I will fix it when I come in. And the reverse is true, she can fly through problems with Y in a very short time. I wait for her on all the Y problems.
        As tamarack points out, we can say things to each other that others may not say. And it’s fine, no drama, just “thanks for telling me.” Another thing that has happened is we have worked out standard ways of handling things that are custom fit to us as a team and suit how we handle the work. These standardizations may or may not work for another set of people doing our work. This is interesting, we have come up with the SOPs because we were highly motivated to see the other one succeed. Handling piles of confusing stuff in a similar manner each time is very supportive to the other person. When I get something from her with steps 1-3 already completed so I don’t have to do that part also, I realize that she is thinking about what the workflow looks like on my end. It’s a warm gesture.

    5. LilySparrow

      I think that’s a perfectly fine level of social contact for coworkers and a boss/employee.

      I mean, if you met someone on the job and got together socially in groups 2-3x per year, you’d meet each other’s spouses and have an overlapping social circle. And if one of you got promoted, you could dial it back a little without anybody getting crushed.

      The problem is when you’re so involved with each other’s lives that the boss is tempted to overlook performance issues or cross professional boundaries and make unreasonable demands. Or when the obligations and emotional vulnerability of friendship interfere with giving or receiving appropriate feedback.

    6. Anon Now Nearly Friendless at Work

      I had several jobs where I did work with friends. The work was interesting and highly technical. Right now I have interesting and highly technical work, but I definitely am not working with friends, and I miss that aspect a lot. I have opportunities here that I didn’t before, so it’s a natural progression, but I’d love to be working in a more friendly environment again.

      Humans can always manage to have drama, and taking steps to try to anticipate all situations in advance, like not having friends at work, are not likely to be helpful, in my opinion. Certainly I have seen many dramatically awful situations that did not involve friends at work.

    7. Hamburke

      My husband worked for a friend twice – the first turned out poorly and the second turned out to be one of the best work experiences he’s had. We moved with small children and me a sahm for both of these jobs so there was significant risk. He’s moved on from both jobs now and we’re only friends with one couple.

      The one that went poorly had lots of signs that his friend wasn’t a good manager from the start (shifting priorities with no communication, overpromising, very little communication of project goals or methods followed by berating when their finished project didn’t meet his vision, shifted blame from the boss to the worker bees to higher ups, failure to do the admin side of managing – check ins, reviews, approval of pto, etc). Some of this came from the high pressure industry they supported (IT dept for accounting firm) but it definitely could have been managed better.

  27. The Curator

    Who hoo! The book came off the press reformatted and it looks beautiful. I have received numerous speaking invitations to talk about the work. Whew. Having a bit of post project let down. Suggestions? Recommendations?

      1. the curator

        I don’t know. I was so excited and exhausted. Many nights and weekends. I have classes to prep for and a few other small projects as well as the usual deadlines and am feeling a bit meh. I did take it easy today and just go in for a few hours.

        1. Office Gumby

          Post-book ennui. It happens to every author.
          Best way of getting over it: write another book. Really. Get back on that horse.

    1. LizB

      Oh hey there fellow Minnesotan! I’m not a librarian but I work with kids and I kinda want to read your book now, it looks awesome. As for post-project let down, can you take some time off or treat yourself to something fun over the weekend, then come back to reflect on what you’d like your next project to be? (Which might be scheduling all of your speaking engagements, for a while.)

      1. the curator

        My classes begin next week so life is going to pretty packed real soon. Next project that has been hovering is a graphic format how and why to read aloud to kids of all ages. Sort of a comic “read aloud handbook”
        I hope you can take a look at the book. It is a free download. I already heard from one after school program in Minneapolis that has started doing it. great weather today huh?

    2. Parenthetically

      Yes, take a day or two to do something rewarding and fun. Get out of your usual routine, even if it’s just going to a nearby city to wander around their museums or bookshops or waterfront and eat in their restaurants. It’s a great way to build a bit of a gateway between the end of the stage you’ve been in and the start of a new one. You could even design it like a personal retreat where you start to think about goals and next steps.

      And congratulations!

      1. the curator

        A retreat. That is a spectacular idea. I haven’t been to the pool in months. Its time to get back into a regular exercise routine. I committed to not looking at anything work-related this weekend. Fun- what is this fun that you speak of and how does it happen.

    3. Elizabeth West

      I’m with the treat-yourself faction. Then pick a new project and get started on that. Congratulations!

      1. the curator

        I have just finished my emails, my blog posting, and I am officially taking the WHOLE weekend off. I have a comfy porch. A new laptop. A stack of books. Food in the fridge. And the small old dog.

  28. Meminator

    I’d love to hear people’s dealbreakers—in the past, what has caused you to look for a different job? I’m interested particularly in situations where the current job isn’t a nightmare hellmouth…where there’s significant benefits to the job you’d be giving up. Where is that line for you all and what pushes you to take the leap?

    1. Lygeia

      I am just starting a job search. I’ve been with my company for a little over four years. It’s been a great place for my professional growth. The thing that is causing me to consider moving on? My boss, who is the founder/managing director of this small company, is starting to think of retiring. Along with that she’s been loading a lot of projects on me in order to prepare the business to sell. So I’m getting overwhelmed. Combined with the uncertainty of what will change when the company changes hands, and it feels like it’s time.

    2. Lovecraft Beauty

      I just left a job where I loved the work and loved my coworkers …but there was very little room for growth-on-paper (title, salary) and which was heading into a period of work that looked like it would be super stressful and I wanted no part of it. And I was pretty mad about the lack of growth and how upper management talked about it.

      I generally keep an eye on what’s open in my field and keep my résumé updated so I can apply on a moment’s notice, so I’m always theoretically ready to apply to the “perfect” opportunity if it exists. The job I started had a significant increase in responsibility and salary.

    3. Fiddlesticks

      Vacation time. A few jobs ago, I was offered an opportunity for a significant pay bump, but in the discussions about the role, it came out that the company only offered 10 days PTO a year — which for the industry we’re in and the seniority they were hiring for was an absolute dealbreaker. I told them thanks but no thanks and sort of marveled that any of my counterparts would bite.

      1. The New Wanderer

        My husband was given that initial offer of 10 PTO days for a very senior experienced position. He would have turned it down flat too if they hadn’t immediately backtracked and offered 15 + flex options. It’s still not great, but he basically told them 10 PTO was far below industry standard and they had probably heard that enough by then to force a change.

    4. cloud puff

      I left a job where I enjoyed a lot of things like cool coworkers, flexible hours, nice manager, etc. One day I just realized I hated 80% of the work I did, but really enjoyed 20% of it, so I left and pursued a job where I did more of that 20%.

    5. ThatGirl

      My newest (current) job just sorta fell into my lap, but I had been starting to think about my future in that role because while it was by no means awful, I liked the company more than the role itself. I felt like I was never going to quite get the time and leeway to do what I wanted to do with the job, no matter how supportive my manager seemed; there were always more pressing issues I felt I had to take ownership of. I also was a lot more customer-facing than I had thought I would be. So when a new opportunity at the same company presented itself, I thought – what do I have to lose. And I went for it.

    6. Saraphina

      I’m dealing with what appear to be some sexist issues at my workplace…I love the work, but it might be enough for me to look elsewhere, and it’s only been a few months.

    7. Meredith

      Salary freezes. I moved up the salary ladder well at one company, for the first 5 years. Then recession, salary freeze, then I began working remotely, and I knew I’d never get another raise. What seemed like suddenly (but wasn’t) I wasn’t really making all that much money for my field. So it was time to move on.

      Also, management changes that don’t affect your position or work, but can signal turmoil in the company. That was a lucky break for me – the CEO resigned, then the number 2 guy resigned 6 weeks later. The new President/CEO seemed to be a bit of a blowhard, and I already had one foot out the door. The new guy had been there less than 3 weeks when I gave notice. The company ended up folding about 6 months later.

    8. Professional Pup

      Low pay compared to market for my position was keeping me VERY close to the line for 2 years. TL;DR what pushed me over was realizing that institutional dysfunction was going to leave me stuck with an incompetent coworker who was a terrible fit for her position.

      The long version: last year, one of my coworkers resigned very suddenly to take a new job, and my other coworker was leaving around the same time because of a planned move to another state. My department went from 4 full-time staff to 2. Then, the CEO overruled my boss and moved my remaining coworker to a different department for 3/4 of the day, so I was now by myself. My boss made an internal hire, Cersei, from another department that seemed like a good fit, but she turned out to be total dead weight AND extremely unpleasant/rude. So, I was basically handling all the day to day operations alone. I raised the issues with Cersei to my boss several times as they became more and more apparent, and eventually I realized that because Cersei had been with the company for quite a while, it was unlikely that they would fire her. Of course, the dysfunction that led to this one particular issue was part of a much larger pattern of problematic organizational behavior, but this was somehow the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    9. Goose Lavel

      I asked for a salary review after doing many tasks above my job description for over a year. Told I had to wait on a company wide salary review.
      3 months later, review came back saying I was under paid by 40% as I was working as a laboratory manager and not as a technician. Knowing how tight my company was, I said I would accept 20% raise and they offered ZERO!
      I put in my notice one month later and they never asked why.
      Best move of my career.

    10. Cheese and wine

      Loved my job, loved my co-workers, loved the area. But when my department was targeted for budget cuts and layoffs, my boss openly told us he wouldn’t fight for us because it would endanger his job. I lost any remaining respect for him and realized I was heading for honest-to-Dog insubordination. I doubt he’d ever have fired me because that would take effort, but the realization that I’d gotten into such a negative headspace got me searching.

    11. Kate

      My last straw was essentially being passed over for a promotion – literally not even being considered – for someone with no experience in the role. Backstory – I had worked on the team for 10+ years and worked my way up the ladder. For about 5-years I was in the position where I was the #2 person in the department, second to my boss. She actually got fed up with senior leadership eventually and left – and 12-hours after she announced her departure, I formally approached her and shared that I would like to be considered as her successor. She informed me that senior leadership already identified a new guy to take over – it was decided that he would be her successor (should she ever leave) well before she actually chose to resign. So for me – it was knowing that beyond our team – senior leaders didn’t see me as a leader, and never even considered me. On my team and my direct boss – they all thought I was amazing and the broader team was pretty shocked that I *wasn’t* going to be taking over. I stayed on for nearly a year after – but finally threw the towel in and let the org, but on a positive note, gave a month notice, all relationships in tact, etc. I waited a LONG time to leave, until I was sure I was really ready to leave, because overall – I LOVED the company and my team.

    12. Hamlindigoblue

      I’ve been at this job only since January, and I put my resume out yesterday. The team has turned out to be toxic, the manager spineless, and the way I have found out that new projects (4 so far) have been assigned to me is when strangers from other departments show up at my desk to ask for status. Um..the status is “I do not know what you are talking about.” Everyone is so willing to throw everyone else under the bus. I am worried about moving on because I was only in my last position for a year, and I thought this was going to be a good move. I reached my BS threshold this morning, and it’s just so disappointing.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Oh my goodness. Did you get any indications during your interview that this was maybe not the best move for you?

        1. HamlindigoBlue

          Not at all. The interview didn’t send up any red flags, and the work was exactly what I wanted to do. I actually wound up taking a slight reduction of benefits to move into this job. I interviewed with my manager as well as two of my coworkers. There was nothing on Glassdoor or Indeed ratings to indicate any possible issues. It reminds me of one big dysfunctional family that can put on a good face for strangers, but inside the home is a different story.

    13. Turtlewings

      I’ve left two jobs that I really liked — the first because I just wasn’t making enough money to get by, and the second because I really wanted to be closer to my family. Everyone I loved lived multiple hours away from me and I hated it. (Ended up moving into one of those nightmare hellmouth jobs, unfortunately, so in terms of total life happiness I have to say it was a lateral move. It got me where I needed to be, though.)

    14. Red5

      I’d say about half of the time I started looking for a different job was due to wanting to advance my career. The other half was due to having a bad manager. Sometimes those two reasons collided (I had a bad manager and was able to get a new job that advanced my career). I left one early in my career specifically due to gender-based pay discrimination, though maybe that falls under bad management.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        I’m with you on the reasons – needing more money and having bad managers/wanting to advance.

    15. alex b.

      Great question; I’m enjoying reading these answers.

      Mine: the commute

      My life is 100% public transit and walking (nyc). The commute can make or break a job for me. Regularly terrible commutes spoil my quality of life and mood and exhaust/frustrate me so much that they outweigh almost any good things about a job. Obviously MTA, random issues, and weather can foil things sometimes, and I think I have an OK tolerance level for occasional and light hiccups, but if I have a truly terrible commute regularly more than a few times a month, I’m job searching.

      I left a great job over this years ago. The only access from my apartment was an unreliable, overcrowded bus; then an overcrowded, sometimes closed local subway; and then a hike up a steep hill that would ice over in winter and never get salted. Not worth the great things the job offered.

      1. Lemon Ginger Tea

        I left a job a few years ago over a commute– they moved offices (only about a mile) and it added an hour to my commute because of Boston’s horrible outdated public transportation system. I was a new parent at the time and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

      2. Bibliovore

        I loved my job. I loved where I lived. I loved my coworkers. The commute was a heavy part of the decision to n take the new job on pro/con list. On good days it took about an hour and 1/4, on bad days who knew, and the starting time was not flexible.
        New job. I learned to drive. I can be in my kitchen with a cup of coffee at 8:15 and be at my desk at 8:30.
        My hours are flexible in the sense that I can work all the time and somedays not arrive until 10 if there are no meetings or classes to teach.

    16. QueryingtheMassesforHelp

      In my current role, I found that I can live with (barely) the little that I have to do because I am fortunate to get paid a six figure salary to make PowerPoints. Yet, I can’t live with the ineptitude and unprofessionalism of my boss. I really wish that they would get management training and that I could tell someone who could make this happen. My boss has been at the company for a long time so I doubt anything will happen. Which is disappointing, because I’m burnt out from my previous job and wouldn’t mind doing nothing for at least two years before moving back to a job where I’m contributing at a high level and doing things.

      1. Imprudence

        Commuting.
        Left my last job when I realsied I was spending 1.5 hours a day in a car: 1.5 hours i didn’t have to spare. Also a boss who clock watched me and couldn’t bear that I had negotiated her down to part time.

        New job — slightly fewer hours, same money, slightly less interesting, better benefits, great boss. And Ican cycle to work in 10 minutes.

        1. QueryingtheMassesforHelp

          I made it in as I was part of the hiring spree to build a new team and my grandboss did the hiring. New hires to the team seem to make up all of boss’ old gossip buddies from their last team.

    17. lnelson in Tysons

      I made sure that I was included in a round of lay-offs. It was a start up and the home office decided to reduce the US headcount by about 65%.
      As HR, I saw who/which department were going to be gone and who was moving into leadership positions.
      The guy who I knew was taking over, well to call him the devil is being cruel to the devil. So I went to the then CFO (who was also on the chopping block) and asked to lay me off and keep the office manager. Who surprisingly still speak to me in spite of this.
      Another was office politics. A senator was chairman of the non-profit and during the election the place was a nightmare. The President’s behavior after the election was appealing. It really left a bad taste in my mouth.

    18. EDinTX

      I left because it was clear the last my values were not the company’s values. My boss told me to be less smart because people don’t like smart women and referred to me as his secretary (secretaries are awesome, but I was a director!) when I helped him edit a letter (and he took all the credit). Everyone knew that he was useless, but he talked a good game and was given a pass.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        What the hell?! Yeah, I completely understand why you left. “People don’t like smart women?!” No, only idiots don’t.

    19. NewReadingGlasses

      Our center director held a center-wide meeting to “boost morale” in which he told us we were all lucky to be there and should stop whining. My morale was actually ok until right that minute.

      1. Onyx

        I just reached this point at my current company and am beginning to put out feelers for new opportunities. I like my team and my colleagues, but I’m tired of the lack of upward mobility opportunities available to me. I want to lead instead of being delegated to the background. I’m also tired of my manager’s inability to say no to new projects without having appropriate resources available (we desperately need to hire more people) and then passing along the projects with an unrealistic scope to me.

    20. Public Health Nerd

      My dad taught me that in a typically good job, you can expect to hate it 30% of the time and love it 70% of the time. For me, I start paying attention to what’s going on with happiness at work when I’m consistently hating it more than 20% of the week. I mean, I hate mass mailings and expense reports, but as long as those take up less than one day a week, I’m good.

  29. Boba tea

    i’m in my last year of college and has some experiences. i just finished an internship as well. how soon do i apply for a full time job that start after i graduate? how do i know if employers are okay with a student who will start when they graduate vs someone who can start right away, do they list it in the job description or? i might move to another state to be with my bf, how do i navigate this out of state job search ? im starting to worry about what to do and how to do it best to have a job lined up after i graduate. any advice is appreciated!

    1. Lovecraft Beauty

      Depends on your field, but generally if you start applying three months before graduation, people can work with that. (I know law, for example, has hiring cycles a calendar year in advance for entry level; my field has slow hiring processes so I started applying for positions in February when I was graduating in May.)

    2. AnotherCorporateStooge

      You should be applying to jobs BEFORE you graduate. Some employers will be okay with you starting upon graduation and others will not, just be clear during the interview about this caveat and let it be… though your resume should make it clear that your expected college graduation is, ex, December 2019 or whatever. You should also find out if you’ll be moving to another state ASAP because that will set your geographic boundaries for where you should be applying. Be cognizant that you may have to travel to your new state to interview. I would really start there: figuring out if you’re moving to a new state or not. But if it’s so undetermined, you may want to apply to jobs as if you were moving and to jobs as if you’re not moving and if you get any offers politely decline assuming the timeline works.

    3. philosophical_conversation

      Yeah, really gonna say that this depends on your field. Certain jobs specifically want New College Grads, for others it depends.
      For example, I’m in engineering and we start hiring in October/November for NCG. Does your school have a job fair or any resources that could point you towards hiring practices in your field?

      1. KTM

        I will second this for engineering. We are interviewing seniors in the fall and have people locked down by the holidays or early in Jan

    4. LKW

      That might be a good detail to include in a cover letter. Most larger companies will get it, especially when they see your projected graduation date.

    5. MeMeM

      All the colleges I know of have a career guidance office. When I was in school, that office made arrangements with employers who came to the school to interview students – the employers knew you wouldn’t be starting until you graduated. You signed up for available interview spots and had a 15 to 30 minute interview at the school campus. If they liked you, it was followed by a more in-depth interview. My niece’s college even helps students who have graduated (for a year free, and then for $50 a semester). There should be a lot of help for you at the career guidance office. I had all my interviews during the final 9 months of school.

  30. Lygeia

    Having an awkward problem today. I wore a maxi length dress to the office that I love, but it must have dragged or rubbed against something gross on my commute. Because there is a SMELL. Hoping I’m the only one who notices as it isn’t super strong, but it’s really a bad smell.

    1. Jamie

      Can you see it/feel it? If so (and it isn’t dry clean only) can you go wash it really quick in the bathroom?

      I’m assuming it’s on the hem which wouldn’t really be noticeable when drying in the office.

      1. Emily S.

        I often spill food on my clothes on lunch. Obviously that’s not as serious! — but I usually just try to clean it up in the restroom. You can use hand soap and water.

        Once I’m done washing it as best I can, I take some paper towels and dab it dry as much as possible.

      2. Lygeia

        Sadly, I can’t tell where it is. There’s no stain or gunk or anything. I did rinse some of the hem with soap and water in the bathroom, and it helped. I can still sometimes get a whiff, but it might just be my brain tricking me. I think it’s not noticeable to others. I hope :)

    2. Avasarala

      Once my trash bag leaked some trash juice onto my coat. Thank god it was a waterproof coat but omg it stank so badly all the way home. I felt so mortified—sorry everyone, I don’t normally smell this bad!!

  31. Tintaglia

    Are there any teachers out there with ADHD? How do you handle it? I teach high school English and have really struggled with keeping things straight and not drown in a sea of papers. Between attendance, collection papers, remembering to post assignments online, grading the papers, entering the grades online, I feel like I’m always behind or dropping the ball on something. And even if I do get things posted, it’s in the wrong spot or for the wrong date. It feels a lot like playing whack-a-mole where I can only remember a finite number of things and that number is less than I have to do.

    1. Eshrai

      I’m not a teacher, but I am a corporate trainer, and recently diagnosed with ADHD. I don’t know if you have tried medication, I haven’t yet (though I might if I can actually find a psychiatrist who takes my insurance). I wish I could give you advice on handling your time better to keep up with your many tasks, but I have the same problem. I can only give you encouragement and let you know that I thoroughly empathize with you. I work on a team of four trainers and it really helps me because we complement each other on our strengths and weaknesses. They know I am forgetful and prone to going off topic, but they also know that I am a quick thinker with good insights and ideas for process improvement…I just need help with the details lol.

      I have tried all kinds of methods to keep track of tasks and I am sure you have too. I have tried apps, written lists, planners, timers, calendars. As you know, the problem lies with actually remembering to keep checking your lists/calendars, and then with trying to force yourself to concentrate on the specific task when it is planned. I hope you find what works for you, and in the meantime, take a deep breath, remember all the good things you have accomplished, and treat yourself kindly.

    2. just a random teacher

      To some degree, teaching is just a job with too much to do, so some balls always get dropped. We all just drop them in different places. :)

      Try to find systems for at least some of the things that seem really disorganized, and find ways to be able to quickly tell if you have or haven’t done them yet. If you’re in a building with really stable attendance (most students come on time every day) then having a seating chart on a clipboard for each period and just marking down who is missing on it made attendance much easier for me. (I’d then enter that later in the period while students were working.) I’ve also found it easier if I have them sitting in table groups, because it “chunks” that task (is anyone missing at table 1? No? Ok, table 2?) rather than in rows. In a building with a lot of absences every day to the point that a seating chart didn’t work (because I had them doing group work so I needed to re-shuffle students to be sitting with whoever showed up that day so the groups would be large enough), I just accepted that attendance would take 10 minutes at the start of class no matter what and re-arranged how I ran my class to give myself those 10 minutes while they worked on something. Structuring your class periods so some of this stuff gets done in front of students is really key, because you do not have enough non-student time to do it when they’re not there. If you can get into a routine where important things get done during the class they’re for, then it’s harder to lose the time to do them.

      The best way I’ve found to keep organized about assignments, what they are, and when they are due, is to have a good student-facing system for it that they and I can both refer to later and use that system for both giving the assignments initially and for your records. I’ve used a blog (and posted the assignments every day), a weekly “assignment tracker” paper (that I kept in a binder and projected using a document camera, then put a new sheet on top of the old one each week), and a few other methods, and really, having something consistent that you can actually keep up with and use during class is the most important part, and having it be something that students can use to find out what they missed without needing you in the middle of it is the second most important part. If you have to post the assignments online and have a data projector, use the online assignment posts as how you go over them in class too (project the description as you’re going over it instead of writing it on the board). That way it’s part of your main class prep rather than an extra thing to keep track of. If the assignment changes as you talk over it with the students, dive right into the computer and change it in front of them to reflect the new deal. (This way they can also call you out on things like wrong due dates and you can fix them immediately.)

      I currently keep most of my “teacher papers” in a binder with most recent stuff on top, with tabs for the different classes. Whenever I have a piece of paper I think I’ll want again later, I hole punch it and stick it in the binder. If I give out a handout to the class, I punch a copy and stick it in the binder. This is where everything from answer keys for assignments to notes from staff meetings goes, and it’s mostly just in reverse chronological order (except for the answer keys, which do at least get their own sections), since organizing stuff is harder than just sticking things in the binder and I can generally remember about what time of year I last saw that piece of paper. At the end of the school year, that binder goes on the shelf and I start a new one the next year, so despite being a “disorganized piles of paper” person naturally I’m actually one of the teachers most likely to be able to find a specific piece of paper from 3 years ago now. The key is that I don’t spend too much time thinking about if it should go in the binder – if I might want it later, in the binder it goes.

      You probably have too much grading to do and are trying to leave too much feedback on everything. It’s ok for some assignments not to be graded on some criteria, and to think of ways to streamline things. I’m in a different subject area so I don’t have English-specific strategies, but I’ve found that I have to use rubrics to grade assignments that aren’t just complete/incomplete or correct/incorrect so I can keep track of what I’m focusing on and how many points things are worth. If I try to just give an “overall grade” it gets lost in vagueness and I spent a lot of brainpower trying to weigh how various things should impact grades on each individual paper. If I go in with a rubric, I can use it like a checklist and see what I need to look for, and then the grade just sort of falls out naturally. I have a couple of default rubrics I use most of the time and write specific ones for some assignments. This has saved me hours of agonizing over whether this particular packet is an A- or a B+, since I know how to pull that out of my rubric and I scored the rubric while thinking about smaller things.

      Speaking of packets, weekly packets or notebook checks are a great way to chunk tiny daily assignments into fewer, larger things for you to grade so you have less to keep track of. I’ve used weekly assignment trackers for daily work, where I write the assignments on a tracker sheet on the projector and the students write it on theirs, and then I go around the room and stamp their sheets as I check that they got that thing done in their notebooks (where all of their work lived and which I did not collect). On Fridays, they’d turn in their weekly tracker sheets, and that meant I had one grade per student per week to enter for all of the minor classwork/homework things rather than 5-10 per student. With some classes, you could even go fortnightly rather than weekly, but you might get too many students losing their sheets that way. (I let students who lost their sheets come in before/after school or at lunch to get a new sheet stamped if they could show me the work in their notebooks. If you’re going to do that, insist that all students have their name in ink on their sheets the first time you stamp them so students can’t have a “lose and trade” system.) I’ve also had students make “homework packets” where they actually turn in their work with the coversheet at the end of each week instead of having them work in notebooks and just collecting the tracker sheets, but so many students didn’t keep their old assignments when I handed the packets back that I switched to the notebooks. (You can also collect and grade notebooks, of course, but I just found that overwhelming so I did the in-class checks and tracking sheets instead.)

    3. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo

      MEEEEE!

      I have a task list on my desk and write down every thing I suddenly remember to do, so that when I have time to do it, all I have to do is check my list. When it’s done, I strike it out.

      As for the actual class, I have monitors whose sole job is to take the attendance down, manage the bathroom list, hand out the folders, etc. I find the kids remember their own jobs far better than I can remember to do all the components of mine under a lot of stimulus.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Batgirl

        Me too!
        You have too much to do. There’s stuff that won’t get done.
        Tip One: What I do is I write out a list of priorities for the day which can fit on a Post It. I then use the twenty-ten timer from Unfuck Your Habitat (I get more done on the clock). Twenty minutes head down unfucking the high priority stuff. Then ten minutes ‘break’ in which I either tidy up papers or answer emails and schedule some of the low priority or upcoming stuff in my planner (which will inform the priorities of upcoming days). Actually take a break and make some tea sometimes too. In your case, I’d be tempted to use the ten initially to check over what you’ve done if you’re making errors (this is what I did as a reporter on deadline and I hardly make errors any more). Then a ten minute break.
        Tip Two: Make a hard schedule for your work. I can’t work past x pm and still be effective the next day. If you know the work is going to last all night there’s no way you’re going to be able to keep up a quick effective pace. Give yourself a hard cut off, proper days/evenings off and you’ll tackle high priority stuff at a faster pace.
        Tip Three: it’s still going to be a gigantic mess! There’ll be stuff undone, whackamole practice will make you a pro, piles of stuff will pile up. But you will have tackled the priorities, done them quickly and correctly and then prioritised yourself so you can do it all again tomorrow. And? If anyone says ‘you didn’t do x!’ you can say you were doing y and when x is going to happen.

    4. Samwise

      Don’t try to remember everything. Even folks without ADHD who have jobs half as busy as a high school teacher cannot remember everything. You need to figure out a written down (could be paper, could be online, could be a combo) system of keeping track of things that works for you. If you can make it sync to your online calendar or email, so much the better — you can set it up to send you reminders.

      I personally use my online work calendar, daily and weekly to do lists, and projects with many pieces go on my office wall with stickies for tasks, reminders etc. For instance: big sticky that says “website” and then stickies below it that say “staff directory” and “accessibility review” and “monthly report”. Then I put up notes with whatever relates to each of those — might be tasks, might be ideas, and so on. I then put the due dates/review dates/other intermediate deadlines into my online work calendar. I review the calendar daily, weekly, and monthly to make my to do lists.

      I am not naturally an organized person. Which is why I have worked out this system and made doing these things *habitual*. Getting started and doing it consistently was really hard for awhile.

    5. Lobsterp0t

      ADHD essentials podcast just interviewed a teacher with adhd, it was a really good episode. Have you listened to that pod ever?

  32. Magikarps

    I need help, and I’ve seen other posts about this on the website, but I would like to hear the advice of others and anyone who has had experience dealing with this. I’m an admin. My boss has a pattern of showing up late to meetings, even when he has full control over the situation (most of these meetings are 1:1s he has scheduled himself). He has given me permission to stop him if he’s just chatting with someone to remind him he is supposed to be somewhere/someone is waiting in his office, which I don’t love having to do, but whatever. My issue is that twice this week alone he has blown off meetings with me. He was ten minutes late for our 1:1 because the meeting he was having with someone in his office ran long (should I have knocked on his closed door?). Today, since I am working remotely, he requested I set up a call for us to talk about the logistics of an urgent meeting he wants to organize, and he just didn’t show. He didn’t apologize in either situation.

    I understand that as a director of a department, he has a lot of important meetings to go to, and I can’t decide which ones are okay to run long, but I feel disrespected by it, and I feel like it makes him look flaky and unprofessional. I feel like I have the kind of relationship with him where I could bring up my concerns, but I just don’t know how to do it. If anyone has advice, I’d really appreciate it.

    1. TheAdmin

      I’m also an admin, and this happens to me too (though my boss is pretty good about cutting meetings off when she can). We have 2 standing check-in meetings during the week, but I view them as “available” time for her, as in it’s ok if I have to move/cancel them in favor of something else. I guess my reasoning for this is that I sit right outside her office, so I can usually catch her throughout the day if I need something. I don’t see it as her disrespecting my time if she doesn’t show up (although I would if it was anyone else!). I guess my view of the role is that I’m there to get rid of the obstacles that get in the way of her focusing on her job, and sometimes, our 30 min meeting is one of those obstacles!

      Is your boss generally responsive to emails? As far as setting up that meeting, I would have followed up after he didn’t show up to your call with an email saying “let me know who you need at the meeting and how long the meeting should be” and go from there, assuming there wasn’t much more to it than that.

      You could also approach him and just ask if your current check-in schedule is working well for him, since it seems like it keeps getting bumped in favor of something else. Maybe you just need to change the day/time. Or maybe you could switch to an email format – I did that with another boss I had, where I sent an email twice a week that had a section for what I had accomplished, what I was working on, questions I had, etc. Then we could schedule a meeting if we need to discuss more.

    2. College Career Counselor

      My boss has back to back meetings all the time. The admin out front rings his phone once to let him know he’s got ~five minutes to wrap up or he’s getting behind in meetings. Can you ask the boss if you can arrange a signal—even for your meetings?

      1. Magikarps

        These are both great ideas! I had never thought about the phone call thing, but that’s a good idea. I try to send him an instant message, but he often doesn’t see them. I definitely move my meetings with him around to accommodate his schedule, so the problem isn’t with the specific time we’re meeting. Never hurts to ask him though.

        What is also more difficult for me is that I support two different people, and my other boss is not like this at all. She would never blow off a meeting with me, and if she knew she was going to have a hard time making it, she would send me a quick message to let me know. And that happens so infrequently that I am inclined to be much more forgiving.

    3. Not A Manager

      “I feel disrespected by it, and I feel like it makes him look flaky and unprofessional.”

      I’d drop the flaky and unprofessional part right away. I just don’t think you’re the best person to know whether he looks bad or not, and I really don’t think you’re the best person to tell him this.

      Personally, I’d also drop the disrespected part. If this were impacting your work in some way, that would be different, but you don’t mention that you actually aren’t getting necessary direction or information. If the issue really is ONLY that you feel disrespected, in my opinion this doesn’t rise to the level of confronting your boss about it. Sure, it’s rude to stand someone up, but this isn’t a social interaction. You’re there to support your boss, and if he has a better use for that time then I think you need to accept that.

      I do think you should inquire about rescheduling, but that’s not a “respect” thing, that’s so that you and he can have the meeting that you presumably both need.

    4. Meredith

      I think this is an example of different working styles. I’m the person who gets to a meeting I’m running 5-10 minutes early so I have my documents open and everything set up and can start ON THE DOT. My boss will forget about meetings or walk in a few minutes late without concern that she may be holding up her employees, or even a client. I find it disrespectful of my time, but for people in upper management, their time is valuable too. And spending an extra 5 minutes talking to someone who is also a big wig, or finishing up a project with major implications, might really be more important than what you’re doing. (Though I also agree 1on1s are important – however, they are flexible as they are by definition internal meetings, you just have to be careful you don’t postpone them indefinitely.) If the meetings aren’t affecting people outside your company, you might try just changing your mindset. I’m a big believer in the philosophy that the one person whose actions you can control is you.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I tend to agree with you. But I also know that if you can’t find a path through it then it’s reasonable to assume you will eventually leave the job.

      I think you should go instance by instance and ask him, “How do you want me to handle it when [insert latest instance here]?’

      A couple things:
      Don’t look for him to apologize. You will be a lot happier if you tell yourself, no apology is ever coming. See, this is a way of life for him, he knows no different. Fortunately of everything you mention here, this might be one of the easier points to write off as a loss.

      You can feel whatever feeling you want. However remind yourself that he is not being late/forgetting AT you. Also remind yourself that he does this to his family and they are more ticked than you can imagine. I think it’s a fair question to ask, “What do I do when you miss an important meeting/call with ME?” I think if people can have the brass to do X without batting an eye, then I can have the brass to ask them what they want me to do when that happens. They opened the door for that conversation. (Spoken as THAT family member….sigh. Yes, there is an arrogance about it and it will eat you if you are not careful.)

      My question to you is does this job feel more like babysitting than a real job? If you are nodding yes or thinking that it is starting to go that way, then start your job search. Some people can work with this, but I know I couldn’t do it. You know you best, so you know where your limits are.

    6. GDub

      Sometimes people depend on their administrators to be the “bad cop” and interrupt meetings that are going too long when they don’t want to rush people out the door. Sort of like a body person does for a politician. It’s worth checking to see if your boss is thinking you should do this for him.

  33. ExcelJedi

    How do you change your superiors’ views of your direct reports?

    I have a direct report who has been here for many (10+) years, and who is sometimes viewed as having the habits she had as an entry level employee. She doesn’t have those habits anymore – her judgement is really good, and she’s learned from her minor mistakes in the past! But her past supervisor was terrible at communicating, and she’s been shielded from feedback more than anything. She wants to stay here, and I want to keep her (I really really on her as a leader within our department). How do I help her be better seen for her talents by leaders one or two levels above me?

    Has anyone navigated this before?

    1. Autumnheart

      One suggestion would be to start talking up your report to your bosses. “We just successfully launched XYZ widget. Susan managed the project and did a stellar job. Thanks for your leadership on this!” Repeat. This is also useful if you are in the habit, or decide to form the habit, of sending out department-wide emails about the work your team does, because then everyone sees it, including leadership.

    2. NW Mossy

      I’ve dealt with this a lot, and in fact landed my current job on the strength of my ability to rehabilitate a team’s standing in the organization. One strategy that’s been super-effective for me is to name the issue for what it is and talk openly about how you’re working to change it.

      In your case, tell your boss something like this: “I know Lucinda got off to a rocky start here when she was entry level – she made some mistakes and her judgment wasn’t great. I’ve been watching that closely since I started managing her, and I’m not seeing that any longer. Now, I’m seeing that she’s really stepped up as an informal leader and is making a positive impact with [examples here]. She takes feedback from me very well [cite examples of positive change here], and she’s grown a lot.” From there, the follow-up is to talk about the opportunities you’re giving to Lucinda to highlight her skills and how she knocks them out of the park, as well as actively soliciting feedback from those other leaders about her to feed your coaching. The key is to show those other leaders that you hear their concerns and both you and your employee are actively engaged in doing something about it.

      Side note for you: this is a golden opportunity for you as the manager! It burnishes your credentials as a leader a lot when your directs’ reputation changes under your leadership because people attribute some portion of that to you as the leader. Your job is to create the environment where your directs can do their best work, and significant improvements in performance/reputation are the clearest evidence that you’re doing well yourself.

      1. ExcelJedi

        Thank you so much for this insight! I knew I needed to be more communicative, but I was struggling with deciding exactly how to do that.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I don’t know how much leeway you have but as you can start giving her more responsibilities.

      What I have done with some folks is have them work with me, so my name is on the work also. And then I can say, Jane did 2/3 of the project herself and I checked it [or finished or whatever]. Here the goal is that I have a final say before the work leaves us. My boss knows that I have looked over Jane’s work. Most of the time I found bosses are satisfied as long as I have my hand in and nothing leaves without being checked over.

      Another things I have found is that I can talk about abilities a person has that no one seems to be aware of. Such as, “Give us project X. Two years ago Jane was doing X all the time, she became very familiar with all the bumps that can come up. We can do X.” In this example, no one has any idea that Jane did X and did it well.

      Know your boss. I had one time where I knew my boss was going to ask Sue to start doing Y. And I was not allowed to start showing her how to do it. So I started showing her and told her to say nothing. We broke Y into parts and she learned one part before proceeding to another part. I checked what she was doing and answered all questions. Sure enough! One day the boss announced Sue would be doing Y starting tomorrow. This is where Y is NOT something you learn in one day. Sue was put together and just handled it, she followed the boss’ scant training and started doing Y. It ended up she did well. I knew she would, disaster averted and Sue got some points for handling things.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Please for the sake of the next hire, let your boss know that you did do some advance training. If you want, say on breaks & when we had downtime waiting for VP Fergus to show up, etc.
        But I can tell you it’s awful to be in a position where your boss thinks a task should be easy & intuitively obvious and everyone else knows the predecessor did have training the boss just isn’t aware of. (Eg previous person had done WidgetRelease at her previous job but not included it on her resume because it wasn’t in the job description when she applied.)

        1. The New Wanderer

          This is a good idea in general, as many times bosses have no idea what it actually takes to train someone or how much leeway to give them to account for the learning curve.

          The way I read this example, though, it probably depends on why NSNR wasn’t “allowed” to show her how to do Y. Maybe it’s because the boss assumed NSNR would be too busy and shouldn’t take this on as additional work, but it almost sounded like the boss wanted to set Sue up for failure by assigning her a task that the boss assumed she wouldn’t know how to do. Which is obviously not cool, but a boss like that is probably not going to be receptive to NSNR going back to say she did train Sue after being told not to.

  34. Alternative Person

    I’m a tutor and the not-so-good-place I work at most of the time is really letting the test-taking get out of control.

    (Context: There’s a popular test with a bunch of different levels that people take. It’s just barely fit for purpose, but kids often need a specific level to be eligible for certain schools/school programmes so we have to deal with it).

    First, I told one parent last week that her kid was not ready to take the (pointless, not even on formal scales) lowest level of the test (and she isn’t), but someone else must have said yes, because the kid is now studying for it.

    Second, another kid I taught for a while about two years ago is fully on the test escalator and after skating her way past the way above-average test for her age group (she re-took it at least three times and barely scraped over the pass line) is now studying for the next level, a level she won’t need for at least the next five years, all while the rest of her skills fall by the wayside.

    Finally, a teenager, taking the test just above his grade level has not been shown any testing techniques and could not link any concepts in the questions we were looking at (think connecting flour to sugar to make a cake type stuff). I despair to think what the other staff are doing with him, because it’s damn well not walking him through the problem.

    I am sick to death of this stupid test and all its levels. And the managers who let students take it because they want the money from parents. And the other members of staff who do not maintain student’s ability in other areas and don’t teach basic test taking skills like matching and predicting.

  35. A Horse Eating Apples

    Previous comment here (changed name, but that’s me):

    https://www.askamanager.org/2019/09/labor-day-open-thread-4.html#comment-2632405

    Second update: I managed to figure out the information for the document and wrote it. Department head approved it with only a small change and we have a new internal procedure. Coworker demanded I send an email to the customer with this information (he had promised – again – that I would do it without consulting me) and I explained it wouldn’t make sense because this wasn’t relevant to this customer. Coworker got mad and left saying he won’t ever get involved with my work again. I apologized next morning because I did say it in a snappy tone due to stress, which doesn’t justify it at all. Coworker said my apology was accepted and is now refusing to talk directly to me when I ask work questions and being extremely curt if I say something in public and he has to answer. Not sure what will happen next.

    1. LilySparrow

      “I’ll never get involved in your work again.” — This is a win for you. Take the win.

      “Coworker is refusing to talk directly to me.” Also a win for you. Enjoy it.

      Coworker is angry, pissy and curt – let him. He is the one making himself look foolish. Let him.

      1. A Horse Eating Apples

        Ha. I wish things were that easy. Before the end of today he was already after me asking questions. Apparently the silence only lasts up until he needs me.

    2. Dr. Anonymous

      There’s nothing sweeter than getting the silent treatment from someone you don’t like anyway. Cherish the gift.

      1. A Horse Eating Apples

        That is true, not so much when it impacts my work, though. My days have been more peaceful, though (this coworker is somewhat needy and I’m the favorite target).

  36. Secret Identity

    This is about dress codes and sexism. My husband got upset earlier this week b/c HR basically made him quit wearing sleeveless shirts because they show his tattoos. He was a bit disgruntled about this so printed out the dress code and brought it home for me to read – basically he wanted commiseration, which I was happy to provide. But that’s not where the weird sexism comes in – that’s a pretty normal dress code policy to keep visible tattoos covered, especially in a health care setting where he works.
    I saw that the dress code specifically forbids thong or bikini underpants (the actual wording of the policy). Of course, when I saw that I blew up a little bit. First of all, how can they enforce this?? Second, wouldn’t that target women specifically since they’re likely to be the ones wearing thong or bikini underwear? Not to say that men can’t, shouldn’t or won’t wear those but generally speaking it’s more a woman thing, right? I might be wrong.
    In discussing it, my husband said maybe it’s because you can see underwear through some of the thin scrubs the nurses wear. He said he hasn’t seen anything like that, but we were trying to come up with a reason for it, kinda throwing ideas out. His colleague’s wife, who was a nurse for that same healthcare facility, said she thought it might be because some of the nurses were showing the tops of thongs when they bent down or bent over because their shirt would ride up and the pants would pull down a bit. Which, yeah, I don’t wanna see their underwear, but still – that’s a crazy policy, right?
    So, anyway, I’ve made this a long post just to say WTF??? Surely they can’t enforce something like that!

    1. ExcelJedi

      OMG. What manager or HR person would enforce this? How could someone possibly get written up for this (assuming there’s a write-up process where he works)?

      This sounds like a lawsuit nightmare!

      1. valentine

        This sounds like a lawsuit nightmare!
        There’s no right to wear thongs/bikinis, which are not restricted to women. I trust there’s a story behind it and I don’t imagine it’s amusing.

        1. Frankie

          I mean, I don’t think this is instantly lawsuit material, but thongs and bikinis are default women’s underwear, and the idea that you can ban two of the most common styles of women’s underwear is ludicrous, a huge overstep, and definitely singling out women specifically. Just because there are men who wear thongs doesn’t mean it’s still not generally underwear for women.

        2. ExcelJedi

          True, but I mostly think it’s lawsuit nightmare because of the way managers or HR people with less experience and poor judgement may enforce it. There are a lot of things that aren’t prima facie bad ideas, but are minefields for poor implementation, and this is pretty high on that list.

    2. Thor

      this is really weird. Are they checking? I’d bet the company has some board, full of a bunch of pearl clutching old geezers that made up that stupid rule.

    3. ThatGirl

      I’m also a little baffled because I could SORT OF see no thongs but bikini style is like…. a really basic style of underwear. Most of what I own is bikini, with a few boyshort styles thrown in for fun. I have no idea how they’d enforce no bikini underwear or how they’re defining that (and what do they expect instead? granny panties?)

      1. A Poster Has No Name

        Agreed. I can see how you could possibly tell someone was wearing a thong in scrubs, but bikinis? Not sure how you’d tell the difference between them and higher-waisted underwear or even grannie panties. Unless you’re looking waaaay too long at someone’s butt.

      2. Frankie

        Yeah, I can’t even tell what problem they’re trying to solve here. Is it that they don’t want high waisted styles showing over the top of pants? Is it that they’re too low-waisted and people’s cracks are showing? Let’s say it’s a reasonable thing to ask (which it’s not) and I wanted to comply, I wouldn’t even know what to buy. Like, granny panties can be just as visible.

        Honestly, it sounds like they have a scrubs problem.

    4. Grace

      That’s bizarre. Also, isn’t bikini-cut underwear basically standard for women? I know it’s what I wear. Do they want everyone to wear boxers or something?

      1. Auntie Social

        Plus I think there are 3 or 4 different sizes of “bikini”, from just over the hipbone to average to Kardashian.

    5. Penny

      I am so confused. “Bikini” style women’s underwear is an incredibly common style/cut of underwear. Like, if you imagine what a stereotypical pair of panties looks like, you are probably imagining bikini. What, exactly, do they want women to wear?

      And also of course the whole thing is bullshit. If they don’t want someone’s underwear to show when they bend over, there are ways to indicate that without telling people what style of underwear to wear.

      1. Frankie

        Yeah they’ve listed…like…90% of women’s underwear out there. So like…what is there left? It’s like if they banned demi-cup bras or something.

    6. Thin Skin

      A previous company I worked decided to revamp their dress code and listed so many types of clothing for women, in the end an older woman had to ask, “What’s crop top?” I had to laugh.

    7. londonedit

      I mean, I can see them saying ‘no visible underwear’ because that doesn’t lean towards a particular gender, and no one wants to see men walking around with their boxers hanging out any more than they’d want to see a thong when someone bends over. But yeah, specifying the type of underwear people can wear at work is bizarre.

      1. Parenthetically

        Yep, this is where I went too — no visible undergarments is a perfectly legitimate rule, and bonus, it’s not gender-specific. But “no bikini underwear” means that ALL of my underwear is against the rules of this workplace. It’s ludicrous and it seems pretty clearly to have been written by a man who knows nothing about women’s underwear styles.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood

        Likewise I could understand “no bikinis” at a hospital near the water… but it would be more logical to say no swimwear. Because Speedos.

    8. Approval is optional

      If the scrubs they provide to nurses are ‘see-through’ then they should be replacing the scrubs not policing the underwear that is visible through it. If it’s because the tops ride up/pants ride down, then they should provide longer tops or differently styled tops. Otherwise all that will happen is that people will be flashing ‘granny pants’ instead of thongs /bikinis.

      1. Koala dreams

        Yes, the scrubs should cover the underwear. It’s not like those fancy dresses where you need matching underwear because of the weird shape of the dress. And it should be the same for all genders. It’s just as bad if it’s men’s underwear that is showing.

      2. always a nurse

        The only units that a facility provides “scrubs” for is the Operating Room, most Neonatal ICU units (to reduce the risk of a pathogen being introduced into the unit), and, occasionally, ER’s. Otherwise, staff buy their own, and most nurses avoid scrubs that risk being revealing. Nurses have a hard enough time dealing with “sexy nurse” stereotypes, we don’t like to contribute!

    9. MatKnifeNinja

      Welp…(I have no dog in this hunt)

      The thong/underwear thing came out at the hospital I worked at when nurses’ whites were still a thing. Circa 1980-2000.

      Not all white uniforms were the same. I saw plenty of staff rocking the hot pink/red/purple bra and thong look under their nursing whites. The uniform fabric was of a really light material. And some wore their pants low enough the top of the thong was visible along with the big tattoo across their back/hips. I had bigger things to worry about.

      There were complaints.

      What ended up happening is if you came in rocking the Victoria Secret’s cute undies visible from under your uniform, you could call someone to bring in different clothes, clock out and change at home or get written up for being out of uniform after changing into scrubs.

      More than a warning or one write up was enough to get a job transfer denied. I worked midnights. Coworkers wouldn’t rat you out, but the hospital whuft supervisor would.

      It’s still a rule today. No visible under garments showing. So men can’t be wearing their scrub pants low, and you can’t have that cute thong peeking out low cut scrub pants. Most nursing scrubs are so opaque, nothing shows through anymore.

      The hospital has a no sleeveless shirt policy. Tattoos and piercings are sort of up to the different departments. It’s not just the hourly pension who get hassled. My doctor friend lost his admitting privileges over wearing blue jeans, tennis shoes and tshirts while rounding. The hospital actually now has a dress coat for the doctors. The only doctors who can run around scrubs are ones that have a reason to be in scrubs. My friend would throw on a lab coat just to be annoying. Certain doctors could have lab coats. It’s nuts.

      A higher up terminated my friend’s admitting privileges because of this stupid tinkle fight. He lost a huge chunk of income over night.

      My niece’s high has almost verbatim dress code about underwear visible under clothes or used as “outwear”. You get caught, it a Saturday school suspension for four hours.

      1. A tester, not a developer

        “Tinkle fight” is my new favourite phrase. So much more delicate than a “p1ss1ng contest”. :)

    10. Anon Librarian

      I have to wonder if this came from a specific incident . . . and then what that incident was . . . .

      Also, sleeveless shirts? Do you mean short sleeved shirts? Like short sleeved scrubs?

      1. Secret Identity

        No, it’s sleeveless t-shirts. My husband is in materials management, so he works in the warehouse which is actually off-site from the hospital. While those who work in the actual hospital have to wear scrubs, his dress code is a little more lax and he can either dress business casual or wear scrubs, so he chose to mix is up and wear scrub pants with t-shirts and that’s been okay for the five years he’s worked there. However, he likes to show off his tattoos and he wears sleeveless sport-type shirts. Not tank tops or the ones with the huge drooping arm-holes, but just regular shirts that are sleeveless.
        But, like I said – having to cover up tattoos is a pretty normal dress code policy, so while I definitely commiserated with him over it I didn’t really think it was an outrageous policy to have. I was just flabbergasted that HR thought it was okay to dictate what type of underwear employees are allowed to wear.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Everyone could just show up with hot pink or black hipsters under their light colored pants.
          This is so foolish. Why didn’t they just say no see through clothing for anyone. I mean if you can tell what a person is wearing underneath then that means you can see through the clothes.

          Sometimes people make things unnecessarily difficult.

    11. ..Kat..

      What does your husband do that he was previously able to wear sleeveless shirts in a healthcare setting? Just curious.

      1. ..Kat..

        Okay, just read your reply above. I don’t see why they are against visible tattoos in a warehouse setting. Unless the tattoos have objectionable content. But, it can be easier to say “cover all tattoos” than make judgement calls about content.

        1. Secret Identity

          Yeah, that’s what he was thinking. His tattoos aren’t objectionable – at least I don’t think so. They’re logos of heavy metal bands that he loves, but nothing offensive.
          Just in case anyone’s curious, one’s a Helloween pumpkin, a band of smaller pumpkins around his bicep, a Savatage logo with a guitar covered in roses and a Megadeth with that radiation type symbol. So nothing depicting violence, nudity or anything offensive.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      My old hospital had some underwear-based rules, and HR’s official statement was “If we can’t tell you’re breaking the rules, we don’t actually care.”

      The one that always threw me off was the hair color rule – they specified no unnatural colors, such as blue, green or plaid. I really wanted to see plaid hair.

        1. The New Wanderer

          I had a dream where I had plaid hair. It wasn’t far off reality. Think alternating whole hair dyeing in slightly different shades of brown/blond with light blond highlights and letting dark roots grow. However, everything was a ‘naturally occurring’ shade so would I have been okay or not??

    13. brushandfloss

      Scrubs can be see through especially if they are white. Anything but dark underwear is going to be visible

    14. Serious Sam

      What is the EXACT wording of the policy? What does management do if you wear NO underwear at all?

    15. LilySparrow

      I don’t have a problem with this, because no – they can’t enforce it…

      Unless they actually see people’s naked butt cheeks hanging out of their work clothes.

      I think “Keep your butt cheeks fully covered at work” is a completely reasonable standard. So reasonable that I’m surprised it had to be documented at all.

      And I don’t blame HR for coming up with an awkward way to itemize it, because who would expect that you have to spell this out for grownups?

    16. New Normal

      That’s just weird. IF the issue is underwear showing then it would make sense to write THAT into the dress code – “No visible underwear.” Done and completely non-sexist since both genders can be guilty of that one. As written it feels very ick.

  37. Data

    Hi everyone– I’ve been interested in making a career switch into data science, and just ran across the Flatiron School’s data science fellowship/boot camp, which is free in DC if you get accepted. I’ve heard of coding boot camps, but not for data science (and not free). Is there an obvious catch that I’m not aware of? I’d have to quit my job in order to do the fellowship, so I’d rather not find out after the fact that these things have a terrible reputation or don’t make any difference to employers.

    This is the boot camp: https://flatironschool.com/career-courses/data-science-bootcamp/dc

    1. Gaia

      Do you have experience in data (not necessarily professional)? Do you know you want to do data science? Or do you prefer analytics? Or data management?

      This field, while booming, is incredibly competitive and incredibly broad. I work in data but I’m not a data scientist and I’d never want to be (I don’t enjoy coding that much and I prefer to work with business leaders over IT leaders so I am in the analyst/DM/BA section of data work.

      1. AndersonDarling

        I agree with you. I’m an analyst and I do not want to venture into data science. Not to dissuade anyone from pursuing it, but from what I’ve seen, its a lifestyle commitment. I finish my projects and go home, but the data scientists are constantly developing and running models, and I don’t think they have much free mental time for anything outside of their projects. It’s also a high stakes field and I could not handle that kind of pressure.

        1. Data

          Great point, thank you both. I’ve been asking myself the same question– I have no experience whatsoever with coding/machine learning so I’m trying to figure out if it’s something I’m interested in or if I should go the analytical route instead. I hadn’t heard about the “lifestyle commitment” aspect of data science, which is definitely good to know; my current field has a definite work-life balance problem and that’s something I’m hoping to break out of with a career change.

    2. epi

      So, I am an epidemiologist but keep up with this community because we are interested in a lot of the same software, languages, and data sources. I have also considered similar fellowship programs as a way to learn certain skills that are not emphasized in academia. Yes, data science fellowships that are free to participants are a thing. I would say that they are distinct from bootcamps, because they are generally more competitive, require greater qualifications up front, and should not charge you anything (they may even pay you). If you qualify for a fellowship– that is, you have a masters or PhD in a related field– I would advise you to look at a few more and not to consider boot camps unless they will give you a similar experience and price. Also, if you are well qualified for a fellowship, my impression is that you may not need one.

      People with background in stats or some other kind of data analysis– usually in the form of a degree with an obvious connection– can get into this field without additional private training. I have met data scientists with anything from a bachelors degree to a PhD and nothing further, if the obvious connection to data analysis was there. If this sounds like you, there is no harm in spending some time applying for jobs without the extra training. Fellowships and boot camps run all the time. If you think you are close except for knowing a particular language or tool, it’s likely you can learn just that and build a demonstration project for a much lower cost. Check out the specific courses and prerequisites from few different companies. For example, Metis offers a standalone Introduction to Data Science course and all the prerequisites are free resources you can find online.

      If I were in your place and qualified for a fellowship, I would also spend at least a couple months just going to relevant Meetups or hack nights. People in data science and adjacent fields do a lot of these events IME. They will let you see what kinds of projects are considered interesting in this industry, network, and hear about the background of a lot of different people who are successful in data science. You may also find opportunities to join volunteer projects that will help you meet people and demonstrate your skills.

      A huge part of the value of these fellowships, if you already hold an advanced degree in a related field, is learning how people in industry think about and work on these problems, and making industry contacts for your job search. If you ultimately decide a fellowship is for you, comparison shop and really pay attention to the relevance of the projects and data; and the amount of contact you will have with people who could hire you at the end.

      1. Data

        Thank you so much, this is really useful and comprehensive! I definitely have a lot of research/outreach to do in this area, and I appreciate the road map.

    3. Clementine

      I don’t have a lot of knowledge about these, but one thing I have heard is that participants always wish they went in with a higher level of knowledge than they had. The more you know when you go in, the less you have to wrestle with “easy” stuff and can focus on the meaty problems and get full value out of this.

    4. Recently started a Data Scientist job

      Data Scientist here, got the job after taking an online course at UT, longer than the one you linked though.

      I can tell you that what will matter most in the end is not which course you take. As long as you can build an online portfolio on GitHub or Kaggle, you’ll be good. If the course can help you focus and motivate you to use the course as your jumpstart to a solid portfolio, go for it. If you expect the course alone to get you a job, not even a PhD will help with that. (I know bc simply with my B.Sc. and data science certificate I beat several PhDs and got the offer.

      A guide that made a huge difference to get where I am today is this one: https://bealprojects.com/products/how-to-get-the-job-you-want/

      Good luck!

  38. Unsure

    What do you say to a higher-up who is asking how a mistake happened, and the truthful answer is “my boss screwed up”? And said boss is on vacation and thus unable to defend himself?

    I kind of mumbled my way through a vague “it appears that {technical thing} was done incorrectly, we are double checking for this going forward so it doesn’t occur again.” Now I fear I’ll be blamed but I also don’t want to throw boss under the bus. Scripts, anyone?

    1. valentine

      It’s not throwing them under the bus to say, “Boss mistakenly zigged when they should’ve zagged.”

    2. LabLady

      I hate to say it, but if your boss made the mistake, don’t take heat for it. It’s not throwing them under the bus if they actually made the error. I mean, do you think that they’d take the heat for an error you made?

    3. Bagpuss

      Maybe if they are still asking for more info just “I think you will need to speak to Boss when he returns, I’m not clear why [technical thing] was done in that way”

      1. Unsure

        I like this, thanks. Will definitely use that if they keep pushing me.

        Just venting: I really hate it when someone demands to know WHY an error occurred or “walk me through your thought process re why you did X rather than Y as you should have” when the answer is either a) people are human and sometimes screw up or forget things, or b) we’re being asked to push out WAY too much work in too little time and no wonder things are falling through the cracks.

        1. Auntie Social

          This. You don’t name names, you just explain “user error”, or “picnic”, or “I’m working on making the system human-proof, but I’m gonna need more resources. . .”– whatever they’ll understand. Just tell them you don’t see a pattern, it’s a one-off.

    4. AnotherLibrarian

      You’re not throwing anyone under the bus. You are being honest. Is there a reason you feel you need to protect your boss? I’ve spoken carefully to protect my staff, but don’t expect them to do the same.

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

      I think your answer is fine but “boss screwed up” would be childish and unprofessional. Unless the grand boss has a known habit of looking for a person to blame so they can be singled out and punished, he asked HOW a mistake was made or not caught, not WHO did it. Identify what went wrong and whether it’s a problem that needs a more permanent fix or if it’s just a one-off mistake. People make mistakes.

  39. I edit everything

    I’m a freelancer, and I had a very busy summer, to the point of near burnout. I held on until vacation, took a solid week away (to the point where my only work email was “I’m on vacation, so I won’t get to this this week.”), and have been back for a couple weeks now.

    I’m having such a hard time getting back in the groove. I’m having trouble focusing, have little enthusiasm for work I normally love, and am self-sabotaging. Then I have to stay up until midnight to even have a hope of hitting my deadlines. Obviously, I needed more than a week’s break, but #FreelanceLife. No work, no pay. One of my clients had a short-notice project I really couldn’t fit in, but then she tossed out the “I could go with someone else just this once,” so of course I fit it in, because that “just this once” is meaningless.
    What hints do you have for coping with burnout and finding focus when the usual solution (taking a break) isn’t an option?

    1. Anonymous Editor

      I can totally commiserate. I was a freelance editor for over a decade, and I could never take enough time away to really feel refreshed. For me when I started feeling this way consistently, it was a sign for me to pivot away from freelancing, and I’m now working a corporate job (which I love).

      Consider trying to focus more on projects that really excite you. I know the temptation to say yes to everything because of the nature of the business, but you really don’t have to! See if you can drop any particular project types or clients that you really don’t enjoy working with.

      Also, something I wish I had done but was never really good at was keeping at least one or two days a week totally work free. I think feeling like I had to fit something in every day really contributed to my increasing feelings of burnout over time. I hope you find some solutions that work for you!

    2. Perstephanie

      Fistbumps of solidarity from another freelance editor who’s been battling exactly this for, oh, about ten or twelve years now.

      I wish I had great advice for you. One thing that actually helped me is doing a sort of mental re-jiggering of how long each project actually takes me. For a long time I took on waaay too much work, because whenever a client called with a project, I would mentally estimate how long it would take me (“200 pages . . . I can do that in two days”) and accept it (or not) based on my estimate. Slowly — this took me *two, three years* — I started forcing myself to revise those mental estimates. No, I can’t do 200 pages in two days. (Back when I just started out, when I could actually concentrate for 12 to 14 hours straight . . . maybe. At this point in my career, 25+ years in: Hell no.) Once I started making more realistic estimates, I was able to manage my schedule a little better, sometimes, sort of. (SIGH.)

      When things go best for me — as Anonymous Editor said — is when a project is compelling enough that I feel my brain kick in: “Here’s a problem that NEEDS SOLVING . . . and I CAN SOLVE IT, I’m actually kind of good at solving this exact thing.” It’s of course impossible to predict which projects will offer that kind of engagement — the kind that leaves me energized and excited about working instead of drained. I have learned that formatting problems (lists and questionnaires and sidebars and pull quotes and etc., and etc.) — especially cookbooks (which are ALWAYS formatting problems) — are likely to leave me happy. It helps to have that knowledge. Happy work = better work.

      And I have learned that mornings are critical for me — if I can sit down in the morning, and sip coffee and check Facebook and faff around for twenty, thirty minutes THEN FORCE MYSELF TO WORK, I have a fighting chance of a good day. It’s a matter of two or three hours when I really have to be strict with myself. It gives me the best chance of setting myself up for the day. It gets easier after that — AND I can sometimes earn myself a little freedom to faff around later without (quite so much) guilt.

      One last thing I’ve learned: I took up a hobby (making silly jewelry). Critically, it’s *creativity that isn’t about words.* In that way, it’s a huge change from my daily work. So whenever I can, I try to set aside an hour or two at the end of the day to make something, and when THAT goes well — when I end up with, say, a pair of earrings that is EXACTLY the ridiculous vision I saw in my head — it, too, gets me feeling engaged and excited. It wakes up that feeling of losing myself in what I’m doing, and taking pride in it. It’s like a little weekend on steroids — a reboot. It helps.

      All of which is the best I’ve come up with. But oh, you’re not alone.

      1. I edit everything

        Thanks to both of you for the commiseration. I wish I had the variety of work that let me pick and choose projects. I have basically two clients–one is a publisher, who keeps my flow pretty steady, and the other an indie author, who I love. (Normally her stuff is a quick, refreshing, fun bit of fluff, but this one I’m working on now isn’t having the usual effect.) So on the one hand, I don’t want any more work, but I would love some additional clients and variety, so I could mix things up a bit.

        My not-words hobby is baking, and yeah, it’s a nice change, but not something I can do every day (or even want to).

        Ten pages to go, and I can stop for the day…

        1. Anonymous Editor

          In that case, I would suggest that you broaden your client base. Find publishers that are publishing work that you find really interesting and could get excited about. Diversifying always helps!

    3. Filosofickle

      My question for you is: Is a break truly not an option? If you truly can’t afford to lose any pay at all, that’s one thing. But if it’s mostly the fear that if you ever say no the work will vanish, I encourage you to reconsider that.

      I’ve freelanced for a long time (17 years) and IMO/IME the idea that you can never turn down work is fear talking, not reality. If you are THIS busy, you are clearly in very high demand! You probably have loyal clients and a great reputation. Everything will not evaporate if you take a little time for yourself. Being booked solid also means you can probably charge more, which will give you greater pay and might even weed out smaller work so you can earn the same in less time and then have be able to take some time off.

      A personal story: A partner and I were frustrated by feeling we could never plan big vacations due to overlapping projects. So we agreed to shut down 4 weeks a year — two in winter and two in summer. We have it on the calendar a year out, and make that clear at the start of any project. It was the ultimate statement that we TRUSTED ourselves and our work. The clients would wait, and would be there when we get back. And you know what? They have been. It’s been two years and it’s going great.

    4. Perstephanie

      Do you have enough goodwill built up with your clients where you could enlist their help in getting a break? “I find myself in need of a bit of time off. If you run across any projects with relaxed schedules, or a long lead time, would you keep me in mind?” That kind of thing. It might build in a little time for you to take a break but know you still have work waiting when you return?

    5. Nela

      You probably won’t like my answer, but… Here’s what worked super well for me:

      1. Push back on unreasonable deadlines. Seriously. Your health and well-being is more important than never saying no to a client. Get used to saying no. Clients will always try to make things sound urgent, but more often than not they’re not as urgent as they make it out to be. Or if they really are urgent, saying “there’s not enough time, you need to give me more notice” will train them to reach out to you sooner. Or they will move on and become someone else’s problem.

      2. Raise your rates. If you’re working long hours and still aren’t able to save up enough money to take a proper vacation, you’re not charging enough. There’s plenty of articles out there on raising your rates, go read them and start charging more on your next project – new clients first, and then start informing your old clients of this change.

      3. After you’ve done #1 and #2 you should have more free time. No more working on evenings and weekends. Turn off email notifications on your phone, don’t rush to answer every inquiry immediately, people can wait. You’re not an ambulance driver, no one will die if you go read a book instead.

      4. Save up money so you can take a proper vacation, at least 2 weeks in one block, and increase over time.

      I started freelancing 6 years ago (celebrated my freedom-versary on Sep 1st!) and in the beginning I burned myself so much I ended in a depressive episode which lasted over 6 months. Even when I took time off, it wasn’t enough. After repeatedly hitting the wall, I realized I’m not doing my clients any favors by bringing less than 100% of my focus and capabilities to the table, and I owe it to them as much as to myself to get the rest as I need.
      Over time, I was able to increase time off from work to the degree I never knew I could. Last year I took 4 months off from client work to write a book. (I spent all my savings, but it was totally worth it.) This year I took 4 weeks of vacation in one go, the most I’ve had in 10 years. It’s possible and doable. The thought “it’s just the way things are when you’re a freelancer” is keeping you from seeing other options. It doesn’t have to be the truth of your life forever. You’re a freelancer, you have more control over your career than any employee does. Stop simply responding to what your clients throw at you, and be more proactive about designing your own ideal career.

      You don’t have to make any huge decisions today, but at least have a vision for what you want your day to day to be like, and start making small changes.
      No single client can make or break your career. You are in control.

      1. Filosofickle

        This is a much better version of what I was trying to say.

        #1 was one of the first lessons I had to learn. Early on I remember asking a client when something was due. I couldn’t make that date — and it must have been absolutely impossible because at that time I accepted deadlines as non-negotiable — so I proposed another one. And he said, sure, no problem…”it was worth a shot”. Worth a shot? He never needed it that fast, he was just swinging for the fences! And it all clicked. They ask for a certain budget or a timeline because that’s what they’d like, not the bottom line. Everything is negotiable in some way or another.

        Honestly, the more I pushed back the more my clients seemed to respect me. At some point I wasn’t getting a lot of business so I doubled my rate, and that’s when my business took off. It’s kinda sad, but people don’t always respect what comes easy or cheap.

    6. I edit everything

      The busy-ness of the summer was an exception. The publisher I work with had another editor leave in the middle of several projects, and they asked me to pick up her work. I did ask for more money, which they stepped up with. Their deadlines aren’t unreasonable, and they’re very accommodating, so really, I can’t complain about that. But it was a lot, and I’m still feeling it.

      I want to broaden my client base, but that’s a long-term project, and I’m just…tired. “When I get some breathing room, I’ll…”

      1. Nela

        Yeah, I get it – sometimes work gets intense for a while, but you definitely need to plan for more time off afterwards, especially if you haven’t had a vacation in a long time. I always end up needing more rest than I thought I would. Your body is clearly telling you that this wasn’t enough.

        Earlier this year when I had to recover after a ridiculously intense month, but couldn’t take the entire week off because I was in the middle of onboarding a couple of new clients. I limited myself to working up to 3 hours a day. It wasn’t ideal, but it was better than nothing. And it was also an interesting exercise in moderation and prioritization, because I tend to slide into workaholism and busywork. This showed me what’s essential, and what can wait for another week.

        You can get the breathing room you need if you intentionally block off time for that purpose regardless of how busy you are (say, a repeated event in the calendar every Monday 9-11 or something like that), or you can wait for a seasonal lull if there is any in publishing. I’m a designer so all my clients usually disappear around Christmas/New Year and many also in the summer, which is when I time my longer breaks for, as well as much of my strategic work.

        Good luck!

    7. Baru Cormorant

      Not a freelancer, but I also struggled to get back in the groove after a break. So I would do a few physiological checks as well:
      -experts say it takes as many hours to get over jet lag as there are hours apart. So if you flew 10 hrs away for vacation, it could take your body 10 days to get back to normal.
      -how is the rest of your routine? are you back on your normal schedule of exercising and eating times? do you have food in your fridge again or are you eating out a lot? are you making healthy food choices? are you getting enough sleep?
      -do you feel off-kilter with the rest of your life or just work? are you making time for your hobbies and friends? do you feel like you “don’t have time” for a little luxury like taking extra time to look nice, or you “don’t have the energy” for mentally stimulating hobbies or friends? sometimes I feel this way but actually pushing through and doing these things ends up giving me energy and joy instead of costing me.
      -are you being patient with yourself? do you think “I should love this, I should be able to do this” and then beat yourself up if you don’t reach that standard? do you feel guilty for letting your brain rest when you “should be working”?
      -are you overwhelmed by your backlog and trying to do everything at once? if you break things down into tiny steps (like “open file” and “find Janice’s last email to figure out where we were”) and reward yourself for hitting those, sometimes I find that helps me set more realistic goals and get a handle on things.

      Hang in there!

  40. Kathleen_A

    I recently discovered that someone I work with is reeeeeeeally sold on the idea that the title of every new position *must* show career progress. For example, if your title at Job 1 is Kitten Groomer, Job 2 has to show progression, e.g., Senior Kitten Groomer. And then so does Job 3, e.g., Kitten Grooming Manager.

    Which explains why her current title is so odd (to me, anyway). It’s something along the lines of Chief Kitten Grooming Manager, which is weird because she is the only Kitten Grooming Manager, and to me tacking “Chief” onto it implies that there are all these other Kitten Grooming Managers that she is the chief of. None of her predecessors in that job have had a title like that, and none of those currently at her same level in the organization have a title like that either, and so I was kind of puzzled as to where in the world it came from…

    Until just a couple of weeks ago when I heard her talk passionately and at some length on how important it is to always, always, always have a title that implies that each job has been a step up from the previous job. After hearing that, it’s clear to me that when she was hired here, getting a “promotion” title had to have been part of the deal.

    To the rest of us listening to her talk on this subject, that sounded like nonsense. Sure, it might matter to some potential employers, but do you really want an employer who looks at candidates’ titles but not what they actually, you know, do? Who would reject a good candidate because her title is “specialist” instead of “coordinator” or something?

    That sounds absurd to me, and it did to the other people in the conversation, too. But what do you guys think? How important is one’s title when job searching? And how important should it be?

    1. ExcelJedi

      Lateral moves are a thing. Not everyone wants to move up the ladder, and even if they did….this isn’t the way to show it on your resume.

    2. Gaia

      Titles are crap in my field so to me this is crazy talk. What matters is that your achievements show progress and increasing skills/responsibility. Titles can be inflated or deflated. Your work matters.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Exactly – titles mean nothing in my field. My company especially is known for making titles up that don’t exist anywhere else, lol.

    3. Antilles

      Unless the title is super junior and you’ve been in it for a loooong time (wait, after 15 years you’re still a junior salesman?), it doesn’t matter. A lateral move like “Dog Grooming Manager” to “Kitten Grooming Manager” wouldn’t even cross my mind.
      Especially since if her job changes encompass multiple organizations, titles vary so much as to be meaningless. Is “Teapot Designer V” more or less senior than “Teapot Design Engineer” or “Project Engineer”? Good question; each company uses their own nomenclature so the guy reading your resume (who, reminder: is probably spending like 90 seconds on it) has no clue.

    4. Jamie

      I hate the whole title thing. I was a director for over 10 years and then due to making a stupid move to another director role at a company that I should not have taken I had a really hard time getting call backs on roles as an individual contributor which I thought I wanted – I thought it would help me recover from burnout. Which it did…

      But now that I’m in a role that title wise isn’t even close to director level I have the sinking feeling I’ve completely screwed up what’s left of my career.

      I’ve been here several months, and it’s okay, but you don’t have to be Freud to figure out why I haven’t bothered to request business cards yet.

      In regards to your last question – at least in my industry titles aren’t uniform and some positions have far more responsibility than others with the same title at other companies. So they tend to be more important than they should be, logically speaking. But in reality it’s really hard to get someone to give you a chance to downshift a little…and I assume it will be impossible to move up to where I was again due in part to the title thing.

      But I’m a screw up and not the standard bearer on this.

    5. Zephy

      I mean, showing advancement is good, she’s right about that. But title isn’t really the way to do it anymore – a “coordinator” at Business A might be an entry-level grunt, but at Business B a “coordinator” might have management-level responsibilities. And lateral moves and career changes do happen and are OK. Anyone skimming resumes for titles only and rejecting/moving forward with candidates based solely on that is also probably not someone you’d want to work for, I agree with you there.

      I’m wondering if the “Chief” got added to her title because your company can’t justify calling her a “Director” of anything, but she insisted on something higher than plain old “Manager.”

      1. Kathleen_A

        I think you’re on to something. The actual title is “director” – she’s the Chief Kitty Grooming Director (or something a whole lot like that :-) ). My guess is that plain old Kitty Grooming Director, which is what her predecessors (who had the same job and the same amount of authority) were called, is too close to her old title, and since “vice president” would definitely be unacceptable here for complicated organizational reasons, she had to settle for that meaningless “Chief.”

      2. Flyleaf

        Agree completely. I worked at one company as a VP, and had directors reporting to me. At my next job, I was a director, and the VPs were at a level lower than the directors. It all depends on the company and the industry, along with some randomness thrown in.

    6. Red5

      If you want to advance in your career, then progressive titles overall may be helpful. However, I think it’s absurd to think every single career move has to include a higher title level. I’ve taken lateral jobs before to fill in experience gaps (and talk to how those jobs filled said gaps in interviews), and have never to my knowledge been penalized for having done so. Overall, I think showing what you accomplished in your jobs is much more important than what the job is called.

    7. Overeducated

      This reminds me of a previous boss who, when told he was being offered an internal transfer to Chief Regional Specialist, was excited because he thought he’d be in charge of a regional office of specialists. And then it turned out he was the only one sometimes, and sometimes he got one short term employee.

    8. Not So NewReader

      I am chuckling. The flaw in logic here is that not all titles mean the same thing across different companies. Titles are not standardized.

      French fry manager sounds impressive until you think for a second and realize there was probably one person making fries so this person was managing their own self.

      I would just chuckle and say, “Titles are not standardized across all companies.” She will hit a bump in the road where someone will not give her the title she has proclaimed as showing progression and you can deal with it all then. If you want, or skip it if you don’t want to deal.

  41. MOAS

    Sigh. Not much to add except my boss is going to be out for 3 weeks and I’m dreading it. It was planned and for a good reason (newborn) but I will miss him.

  42. LP

    Y’all I need help- I hate my job and haven’t yet heard from anywhere I’ve applied (except a couple rejections). I’m a non profit worker three years into my first job as an assistant and it’s been rough from the start. There was a vacancy, as it turns out, because the department head I work for is notoriously difficult and has driven previous people in this position away. She is harsh, demanding, and vague, with little interest in working to communicate clearly or admitting errors on her part. Her boss and other higher ups know about the issues but are just waiting for her to retire due to her age. She is experienced and capable in her very specific subject matter, but going into work every day is a nightmare.

    The worst part is, three years of this boss’ criticism has me feeling like I’m too stupid to ever get another job. I’m not sure how to get past these negative feelings/thoughts (I’m seeing a therapist and have made a lot of progress), but I’m worried that applying for jobs with this mindset is going to keep me from getting something really great. I redid my resume and cover letter thanks to this blog’s awesome advice (and Allison’s book), but I just haven’t heard from anywhere and I’m feeling discouraged. Does anyone have any advice for a situation like this?

    1. Kathleen_A

      Aside from continuing therapy – and congrats to you for taking that step – I’d recommend two things. First, do whatever you can to ensure that you are doing what you’re supposed to do, even if you boss refuses to see this, and document it. For example, you could keep lists of your activities and achievements, you could keep a detailed to-do list and take satisfaction in checking things off that list, or you could figure out something that you would like to get better at (software or office organization or whatever – doesn’t matter much so long as it helps you do your job better) and work on that. What you want to avoid at all costs is acting like the screw-up that your boss likes to pretend that you are. It won’t change this boss, but it will help you to keep a sense of achievement and purpose.

      Second, once you start getting interviews, you may have to act more confident than you really feel. And I know that’s hard and it feels fake. But once you get out from under this boss, it won’t be fake any more.

    2. Bianca

      I was exactly where you are several years ago! An impatient, yelling boss who expected you to read her mind and believed the high turnover in her tiny company was just because other people weren’t good at their jobs. It was my first job out of college and I figured that was just par for the course. Since then, I’ve also chatted with plenty of current and former coworkers who have similar stories. I’m not sure how helpful it is to know that you’re not alone, but just know that constant belittling from a terrible boss does NOT mean you deserve all that criticism. Odds are you’re doing a great job by any normal standards.
      Can you try thinking of your difficult experience and any coping strategies in terms of job skills? Managing difficult personalities, being able to adjust quickly to changing requirements, and staying calm under pressure are all really solid soft skills to have.

    3. Natalie

      Do you have any hobbies outside of work, particularly skill-based ones? Fortifying yourself anywhere, even if it’s not directly work related, can help.

    4. blink14

      I worked in a horrible, small commercial property office for a good chunk of my 20s. It was my first full time job (I’d worked summers, temp, and side jobs prior), didn’t pay well, but was a short commute and I landed it just before the last recession hit, which translated to being there for a lot longer than I wanted to be.

      My boss was awful, constantly demeaning, suspicious, difficult to work with, and alienating. It took me about a year to realize she wasn’t acting that way just towards me, it was everyone – the maintenance department (who were our other full time employees), the stores that rented space (to the point the managers and owners would only deal with me), and our seasonal temp workers. Once I came to that realization, most of what she did just rolled off my back – I focused on getting my work done and treated the job as basically as possible – a paycheck to live, eat, and enjoy my hobbies.

      I looked off and on for a long time for a new job, but the last 6 months at that old job really spurred me to kick the search into high gear. My boss became even worse and the final straw for me was being reprimanded, in public, at a co-hosted event with a community organization we’d worked with many times, literally for putting a camera on a table. The directors of that organization were horrified and both made a point to talk to me and let me know that my boss’ reprimand wasn’t ok. A month later I got an interview for my job now and left within another month.

      What did I learn from this? I can handle working for an extremely difficult boss. I can navigate a minefield. I can manage up. I can take on any project and get through it, because I made it through that job.

      My advice – try not to take anything negative your department head says or does personally. Other people are well aware of how she acts, and that proves that it isn’t personal to you, it’s the way she’d be no matter who was in the position. You are learning a valuable skill here – how to deal with a difficult co-worker or boss. Use that to your advantage and consider it an “off the paper” skill. You have the upper hand by being able to leave for something better, translate everything you’ve learned at your current job into skills for a new one.

    5. Mellow

      I’m so sorry, LP. Certainly you don’t deserve this.

      You’re not stupid. You’re being abused. Period.

      Keep reminding yourself of that over and again as you apply to other positions. If you can, apply very frequently, and consider jobs that don’t necessarily hit 100% of the mark but that you’d be relatively happy in, that have a salary you can afford, and that, as best you can tell, don’t have a similar miserable witch.

      No matter what, get out of there as quickly as possible, and shame on your workplace for holding onto her.

  43. TheAdmin

    TLDR – Should I show my boss our company’s negative Glassdoor and Indeed employee reviews?

    My company/industry is currently struggling. I love my job, but people are feeling the pressure and folks have been leaving left and right over the past year. I recently went on Glassdoor and Indeed and read the reviews left by employees. The more recent ones are overwhelmingly negative and sadly, the truth is that from my experience, a lot of the things described are accurate! I feel like our HR dept is desperate to just fill vacancies, so we’re getting some less than ideal applicants who then HR pressures the dept to just hire, regardless of whether they’re a good fit. This has resulted in numerous new hires that only stay for a week or two, then just stop showing up.

    Anyway, I don’t know if anyone in management monitors these reviews, but I know that before I took a job here, I went on there and read them. I worry that we’re losing quality applicants because of what the current reviews say. I’m wondering if there would be any benefit in printing them off and giving them to either my boss (I’m the assistant to the top person in our company), or the HR director (who is mentioned in some of the negative reviews). I know my boss would be open to at least reading them and hearing what people are saying, especially if I were to confirm that some of those issues are true from my experience.

    My other thought was to post my own review, confirming the truthfulness of some of the negative aspects, but also explain some of the wonderful things about working for my company (again, I love my job).

    Thoughts??

    1. Thor

      I think you should mention it to your boss. I left a negative review on my last employer for two reasons:

      1)In hopes that if anyone decided to read glassdoor reviews before applying/interviewing/accepting a job there, they would be spared the misery if they saw what I had to say

      Or

      2) Maybe the upper management would see it and realize they need to shape up, because of three reviews left for them ( a small employer) two were very negative and brought up many of the same points. I know others were also looking when I left, and if they want to retain good employees, they should work on the issues. They get raw feedback from previous employees who have nothing to lose by leaving an honest and blunt review anonymously online.

      Glassdoor seems like a great tool to see where your company is really lacking. Unfortunately, most managers do NOT like getting feedback and prefer to do things their way so there might not be any potential for things to change.

      1. valentine

        Should I show my boss our company’s negative Glassdoor and Indeed employee reviews?
        No.

        post my own review […] but also explain some of the wonderful things about working for my company (again, I love my job)
        Let people have their space. Don’t derail them with a silver-lining spin.

        1. TheAdmin

          I think the space is for both former and current employees to share their honest experiences of working at a company. If I’m looking at reviews, I don’t just want to hear from the people who already left, I want to hear from the people who are currently there too. And I would want to hear both the positive and negative aspects of a company, so that I could decide if I’m willing to put up with A, B, and C in order to have X, Y, and Z.

          I don’t think it would necessarily “derail” the negative reviews by leaving another review that confirms/acknowledges the issues they presented while also giving my own experience (and why I’ve chosen to stay). I think that’s better than the other fluff reviews left by other employees that just say “this place is great!”

          At this point, I’m leaning more on the side of “do nothing” or “share with my boss” versus leaving my own review.

        2. new kid

          How is it derailing or ‘spin’ to offer a different (but genuine) opinion? OP enjoys her job and wants to help attract other quality candidates to her company, which posting a generally positive but candid review could help to do. Glassdoor doesn’t exist solely for disgruntled former employees to post their gripes.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            Agreed. TheAdmin, if you feel really strongly about it, leave the review and show the negative ones to your boss. Job candidates should have the positive as well as the negatives so they can make fully formed decisions about whether or not they want to work for your company.

    2. epi

      I think this really depends what you think your company would do about it.

      My husband and I have both worked at companies whose Glassdoor reviews took a well-deserved nosedive at some point. I worked for a health care organization that cut health benefits every year, added extremely restrictive and invasive new wellness policies every year, and lectured employees– literally, doctors and nurses who had shown up to these meetings in scrubs– about our personal use of emergency vs. urgent care being the problem. While we worked overtime to transition patients to a beautiful and extremely costly new building in a much more expensive part of the city. My husband’s company instituted a policy that pay raises for internal transitions would all be delayed by 6 months– so someone who was promoted would have to work 6 months at their old salary. The policy was proposed by his old boss specifically to punish him for leaving her team, but got applied to several other innocent people as well. You’d better believe details of that ended up on Glassdoor.

      My husband’s company HR responded by openly encouraging employees to leave positive reviews, which only led to a mix of obviously impartial posts and posts outing the company as campaigning. HR wrote at least two chirpily defensive, obviously fake ones themselves. It’s clear to this day when you look at their page, even though some things have actually improved. My old company never did that and you get a good, boring takeaway from their page: lowish pay and meaningful work typical of nonprofits, details depend on department.

      Unless you trust your company to respond to the substance of the reviews rather than their existence, then it’s better for them to leave the situation alone. If your company leadership doesn’t know they should be paying attention to their reviews on Glassdoor and Indeed (and is therefore already aware of this), I probably would not trust them to handle it well.

      1. TheAdmin

        This is a good point. I think if I brought it to HR, nothing would happen (and it’s totally possible that they’re already aware of the reviews anyway).
        However, I think if I gave the information to my boss, she would actually do some follow up with the specific departments whose negative reviews have some common themes, and would encourage improvements for those managers/teams. Or, she could pass it on to HR, who would then know that she’s aware of them and then maybe they would actually try doing something to improve the situation outlined in the reviews.

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

      You could, but since this impacts your employer’s reputation there’s a high chance they won’t take it well and try to find the author(s). I’ve been in a similar situation in the past, and in the end I decided to only tell my coworkers, who in the end added more negative reviews.. because any candidate (even the bad ones) deserve at least to know what they could be signing form.

  44. Parking Gripe

    Is it unreasonable that this really, really annoys me? Would you say something?

    My company is bursting at the seams. We’re in a decades-old building, we’ve grown exponentially, and the search for a new site is ongoing. The parking lot is so crammed that people who start after 8:00 have to park on the grass (there is no street parking here, it’s a semi-rural industrial park with winding country roads that have no shoulder). Multiple people here have side gigs doing lawn service, and they are commuting in their F250s with an oversized trailer attached, crammed full of mowers/weed eaters/etc. I don’t think it’s appropriate to take up two spots for one vehicle when the parking situation already resembles a poorly-planned music festival. I think they should be made to leave the trailers at home. Yes/no?

    1. solarpc

      Are they taking up a parking space in a parking lot? Or just the street? If its the street, then there’s not much to be done, they are free to park there. We have a similar issue at my work and hate all the big trucks half the people here drive but it is what it is.

    2. MatKnifeNinja

      The elementary school by me allows no commerical vehicle parking. The F250s would be okay, but the big trailer would make it commerical.

      We were told the reason is the parking lot was made to handle passenger car loads, not commercial vehicles. My friend worked as a lunch assistant and was told not to drive her husband’s truck with his landscape trailer to school.

      So it was repairing the black top more than no parking that got the truck’s and trailers banned.

  45. Seifer

    Might be going to Portland in a couple of weeks for a conference!!! Is it bad that there are some tattoo artists that I’m thinking of stopping by to see during the down time. …Asking for a friend.

    And then news on the fake promotion: I’m trying to time it around the time of reviews, if my grandboss wants to play, I’ll play. But review time is a very convenient time to change my title and pay. And then my coworker told me that if the grandboss gives me a crap raise (lower than entry level for the new title) I should tell him thanks, but I saw that entry level is $X, what else can I do to get to this point since I’ve hit all the development goals you outlined for me already? I freaking love this coworker, she’s like a mentor to me even though we’re not in the same department. Thanks to everyone that told me he was being weird/commiserating with me last week!

    1. Banana Bread Breakfast

      Your downtime is yours on work travel. I’ve used mine to try out restaurants, check out museums, even go on a hike when we were in the Appalachia region! As long as you’re not skirting any work responsibilities to do it, I see no issue with checking them out. Enjoy!

    2. Moray

      As long as you don’t show up to a work event with saniderm wrapping somewhere visible, you should be fine. :)

    3. EA in CA

      As long as it’s not affecting the main reason why you are there, who cares what you do on your downtime.

  46. Thin Skin

    I’m relatively inexperienced and have never really stayed with a company for more than two years. With my current company, I’m getting there, and after transferring to a team with higher visibility, I’m getting the sense that people are talking about me, and not in a good way. There was a brief period where I decided to be positive and use this as an opportunity to grow thicker skin, but lately it’s really getting to me and it literally kept me awake last night.

    Should I stick it out? At this point I feel that people already know about my reputation, that even if I transferred to a team that’s not as under a microscope as this one, I just won’t be able to shake it off. If I did make a mistake, is there any chance for me to start over? Or is my best bet is just to move to another company?

    1. Kathleen_A

      Well…assuming your feeling is accurate, what do you think they’re saying about you? And is it accurate or do they at least have a point?

      Because if they have a point, the thing to do is to correct whatever the problem is. It is possible, though not easy, to change people’s minds by changing your behavior.

      1. LilySparrow

        Yeah, growing a thick skin means:

        a) learning to take constructive criticism and use it, without letting hurt ego/feelings derail your progress, plus

        b) learning to put other people’s opinions in perspective, and assess their value based on whether they are relevant, or just sniping, and

        c) learning to separate your own emotions and sense of self from other people’s emotions or criticism.

        If you feel that real errors in judgment or performance are dogging your reputation, don’t ignore them. Go to point a) and use that as motivation to level up your work skills. If you just change jobs every time you mess up, you will wind up in worse & worse jobs, with fewer options each time. Prove you can recover and turn it around.

        If people are just sniping and being critical out of pettiness, but your manager is happy with your work, then try different ways of dealing with the petty people before you jump ship. And letting irrelevant opinions slide off is part of changing that dynamic.

        If you’re dealing with negative fallout from an unpopular but necessary choice, work on allowing others the same right to have feelings that you do, in their own space (not inside *your* head). They may have good reason for being upset, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you did something wrong, and there is nothing you have to do about it except keep doing your work.

    2. Alternative Person

      I hear you. Growing a thicker skin sucks.

      First thing, I would check in with your manager/a peer you trust and see if there’s anything you need to be doing/could improve upon/should be aware of.

      Second, replace ‘they’re talking about me in a bad way’ with ‘they’re noticing my fabulous wrap/my cute hair style/the fact that I’m the newbie/etc.

      Finally, and this was and is the hard part for me, try not to worry about what’s past and focus on what you can do now. My rep at my current regular job is not great with a certain section of the staff but I focus on doing my job well, being (mostly) pleasant (someone bapped me in the face with a file yesterday, I’m not perfect) and generally showing as much as I can that I know what I’m doing. It for the most part keeps the doubters quiet and the more reasonable section of staff onside.

      As to whether you should change jobs, I can’t say. If there is a bunch of other toxic nonsense going on, certainly. But this could also be a case of being the new person in the department and proving that you can hang.

      Hope it works out for you.

    3. Frankie

      Hard to say without knowing more. What do you suspect they’re talking about? You’re referring to “reputation” as if you have some guess what it’s about. Sometimes that kind of thing can be about working style clashes, or sometimes you’re unknowingly part of political drama and you become a focal point for broader issues in the company.

      You will run into this stuff your entire career, so although I sympathize with the knee-jerk reaction to leave a company (and who knows, might be time for that), if you haven’t investigated what’s going on, I’d start there to see if the situation is about you, more than you, etc. Ask your boss for feedback about your performance, and how you’re working with others! Depending on your relationship, you might be able to address some of your concerns more transparently.

      It also took me quite a long time to differentiate in my career between run-of-the-mill gossip, which will happen everywhere, and sabotage gossip, where people are lying and actively trying to pose barriers to work (or just creating a terrible, negative work environment). Both kinds made me feel awful, but I’ve learned, slowly and over time, to accept the former as part of working with humans and something I don’t need to actively worry about.

      Two cents from a “lying awake” type.

    4. AnotherLibrarian

      Can you go to your manager (or someone slightly senior who you trust) and basically ask to have a discussion about your work. How are you doing? What can you improve?

      Additionally, and this is not to armchair diagnose, but just as a heads up, I have social anxiety and it has taken my years to stop feeling like I am constantly being judged by others. So, if this is a pervasive feeling that is causing serious life disruption (and lack of sleep is serious, my anxiety often manifests as insomnia) you might want to speak to a therapist or counselor about it. But make sure there’s nothing wrong with your work first.

  47. Aggretsuko

    I’m totally swamped right now and I do NOT have the time to test computer processes that I literally do not know how to do and thus I don’t know what would be right or “wrong” about them. I know those that actually work on those processes are also swamped and need help (who doesn’t have that situation going on), but it doesn’t help to pass the buck to me if I literally don’t know what I am doing.

    1. Dancing Otter

      But the person who doesn’t know the process is often the best one to test it!
      There should be a test script. If there isn’t a test script, they aren’t doing testing correctly. The script might give expected results, or you might just be expected to document results for the test organizer to evaluate.
      Follow the test script step by step. If something doesn’t work, it might be the process or it might be the script, but it’s a test fail either way. Someone who knows the process would be tempted to correct the script, which would invalidate the test. Or to follow the existing procedure instead of the script, which would also invalidate the test.
      Speaking as someone who has run multiple testing processes, I assure you that testers not knowing the process is an asset.
      Of course, if you don’t know the process and they don’t provide a test script, that’s just a NO out of the gate right there.
      The question of how much you already have on your plate, and where testing should fit into your priorities, is something else entirely. Is your manager telling you to do this, or are other people asking you for help? Talk to your manager about whether he/she wants you to do it, and if so, what you can deprioritize to make time.

  48. Brownie

    Anyone have ideas or experience handling an older coworker who’s starting to have disorganization/mental issues that negatively affect others’ work?

    He’s getting to/is at retirement age and in the last 2-3 years his mental abilities have been slipping. The end result of this is that he’s now unable to keep track of tasks and information the way he always did, but he won’t change how he works, so things that the whole team relies on are slipping through the cracks when assigned to him. There’s things he taught me to do last year that he can’t remember how to do now and it seems as if he’s having short and long term memory issues. His issues are bad enough and affecting the team so severely that several times this last week I’ve had to go take walks to calm down and one other coworker has actually gotten upset to his face as he dropped the ball on several key projects and everyone else in the team had to scramble to recover/keep things stable.

    My manager and I have had discussions (initiated by the manager) about the impact this coworker is having on the team’s productivity and morale, but my manager doesn’t have any ideas regarding how to handle this, especially since coworker and manager are butting heads more and more frequently as coworker becomes more rigid and less able to keep up with work and changes to said work. It’s to the point now where any feedback from our manager is ignored by my coworker out of hand. Anyone have ideas for how to help deal with this kind of situation, either for me or from a manager point of view?

    1. Allypopx

      Usually at this point companies start pushing employees towards retirement, gently if possible. Taking tasks away, having conversations about retirement plans including any benefits the company offers, and being clear that the work quality is becoming an issue. If he’s already ignoring her feedback, I think that’s going to have to be a firmer “we can’t keep you in this role unless these issues are addressed” conversation, the same kind you would have with a younger employee.

      This will be HARD. And really it’s on your manager, not on you. For you if you can just find ways to work around him in the short term, I would. That will really depend on your work flow and if the rest of the team will help you do so. But you have to put pressure on your manager to either tactfully manage him out, or fire him.

      1. Brownie

        I think my manager is going to go look for resources on how to handle this, but he flat out admitted in our meeting that he doesn’t have a clue how to deal with this situation. I’m going to point him in the direction of whatever resources I can find while trying to make it clear that it’s something he has to do, not me.

        I’m trying to find ways of working around my coworker, but every day I end up full of frustrated anger because of his lack of work/inability to do his work and the fact that it falls on me to fix the issues he’s causing. I was supposed to have today off, but instead I have to work because coworker didn’t renew his access to a program (he was emailed several reminders over the last month and had an Outlook calendar reminder as well) and that means I have to be here in case that program needs attention since everyone else but me and him are out sick/vacation today. It’s like constant sandpaper and all my patience is worn away at this point.

    2. Goldfinch

      My department forces people into retirement when this happens, but in our case it’s a safety issue. (We create tech that supports industrial machinery.)

    3. Person from the Resume

      I very sadly witnessed this for a single, 50ish year old woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. I mention the single part because she wanted to keep her job for benefits and pay and to reach full retirement. But it wasn’t possible for her to perform her job any longer. New technology like outlook and calendar invites tripped her up. She was managed out of her federal government through a PIP or something like it – documenting her inability to perform her job duties. You need management to agree to do it. And honestly one of the new deputy’s job was to handle that because no one else wanted to do it even if higher management could see it needed to be.

      You can do it as a peer. Your manager has to start documenting all of this to prepare to force him into retirement/fire him. If your manager’s bosses don’t back him up there’s not much to do but build the paper trail.

      1. Person from the Resume

        You CAN’T do it as a peer. Your manager has to treat it like anyone else who can’t do the job and is ignoring guidance and not just because you think it’s caused a medical issue.

        1. Brownie

          Yeah, that’s part of why my manager talked to me. He’s trying to get concrete examples of what’s going on instead of the generalized “he’s not doing his job” complaints that he’s been getting. The conversation ended up with me asking him for help on how to deal with the coworker and my manager flat out admitting that he doesn’t know what to do and did I have any ideas or know of any resources he could use? Pretty sure he’s asking like that because I read AAM so much and have used so much of what I’ve learned here at work that he thinks I know more about managing people than I actually do.

    4. Garland Not Andrews

      The local (state, whatever) commission or council on aging may have resources. Please check with them.

      1. Brownie

        Oh, that’s a wonderful idea! I’ll go check and see if they have anything I can send to my manager.

    5. Hex Code

      The key point for your manager will be to focus on on whether or not he can/is willing to do the job and not on any possible or unknown medical issues. Age might be an explanation but it’s not an excuse. In the instance you said above, any manager of someone any age would be fully justified to say, “Members of your team had to step in to fix this thing that you didn’t to despite reminders. What happened?” Followed by, “Staying on top of XYZ things is a key part of this job. That may mean this role isn’t a good fit.”

    6. Dancing Otter

      Simple age shouldn’t be causing the problems you describe. Cognitive decline varies by age, and is a separate issue than just dates on a calendar. Also, some medications can cause cognitive issues. Your coworker really ought to get a thorough medical work-up, but I don’t know how the company can force him to do so. Strongly suggest, but not force.
      If it’s caused by his medication, perhaps all that’s needed is a change in prescriptions, and everything will improve. If it’s another, treatable, medical condition, (poor oxygenation or low blood sugar or who knows what), maybe he will be fine with treatment.
      If it’s not treatable, mightn’t this be covered by disability insurance? If he’s trying to hang on until full retirement age, it seems as though this alternative could be his best option while getting the human spanner out of your works.
      His manager, in conjunction with HR, is the best person to have the conversation with him. Definitely have a witness, either from HR or a grand-boss or both, since you say he ignores the manager’s feedback. Refusal to take direction is a firing offense in itself, but they should offer the treatment or disability options for him to choose.

    7. Sandman

      This describes one of my Board members to a T and it is incredibly difficult. No advice, just commiseration.

    8. ThursdaysGeek

      Here’s how not to do it: I had a co-worker who started slurring his words, his affect was odd. The company fired him. So then he didn’t have any health insurance, as he found out he had ALS, affecting his vocal chords first. He lost the ability to speak shortly after he was let go.

      Pushing him towards retirement, knowing that he may not have the finances to retire, is still probably the only way.

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House

      Oh I have worked places where this happened! In one case, the woman had been with us for 30 years (part-time) and her cognitive slides got to the point where she lost her full time professional job, and was effectively living through doing odd jobs and working part-time shifts with us.

      From the time we noticed something was “off” about her, to the time she actually retired, four years passed, and we’d been having lots of “What do we do about Karen?” talks in private for two or so years. She was a kind person and everyone quietly took on the duties of supporting her, but ultimately it was untenable for safety reasons, and the difficult conversation had to happen.

      The other place I worked where we had this happen, the person whose cognitive abilities were slipping started getting angry and rigid, yelling at people and refusing to follow basic directions. The situation was just as sad, but it’s much easier to justify terminating someone who’s screaming and harassing people.e

    10. Baru Cormorant

      One thing my company does is have older employees train younger or contract workers on basic processes. Basically farming them out to simpler and simpler work and taking advantage of their expertise and experience. And nudging them towards retirement.

  49. Long time lurker

    I’ve been thinking of getting into machine learning. Any tips? Is it difficult to do without a degree in ML? I’m finding it really interesting so I’m wondering if I could break into the field with a lot of self-study and a strong portfolio. I have a bachelors in physics.

    1. Nicki Name

      Some kind of training in statistics would help, though I assume you’ve got that with the physics degree. Some understanding of human biases so that you can understand how they can get replicated in your models would be great, though as far as I can tell very few companies bother to look for that.

      Lots of people come to ML with computer science degrees, so you don’t need a degree in ML specifically.

    2. Hmm

      From my experience, you either need to be a Software Developer or some kind of Data Scientist to get a job in ML.
      I worked in a team that did ML, but wasn’t directly involved in it myself.
      People had degrees in Computer Science or Computational Linguistics.

  50. carrie heffernan

    Was there an update from the commenter a couple weeks ago who got an unsolicited d*ck pick from her coworker and HR did nothing?

  51. Gaia

    I’ve been at my job for about 4 months now and more and more I’m being given tasks radically different than my job. It is a smaller non-profit so I understand the need to jump in to help sometimes but I have real concerns this is taking over my job. I am a professional in the data field and I’m being asked to take over administrative work like invoicing and scheduling. The person that I replaced was more of an administrative role but I was very clear coming in that I did not want to pick up those tasks.

    Today I met with my boss, grand-boss, and great-grand boss. My boss and great-grand boss seem to support my concerns but grand-boss is just a bit oblivious. She has a direct report that is floundering and missing a lot of deadlines and so some of his admin work is not getting completed. The solution in her eyes is to have me do it because I rely on the work being done.

    I was very upfront in the meeting that while I will help out short term, it should not and cannot be the long term (or even medium term) solution. I don’t want that job and I won’t be satisfied PLUS my other work will not get the attention it needs (to say nothing of the fact that they’d be wildly overpaying me for the work I would be doing).

    Help/support/advise?

    1. WellRed

      Support. I’d be afraid this will not end. It’s not like the workload is temporarily nutso, just that one person isn’t up to the job. The solution is to get that person doing their job, not give their job to someone else.

      1. Gaia

        Agreed. And I was very clear that this is exactly my concern. I know myself well enough that if given the tasks I’ll do them and do them well – and then the org is very likely to forget we have a bigger issue.

    2. Frankie

      Well, this happened to me in a field that operated very similarly to a non-profit (we work long hours and help out and wear many hats for little money!!). It only stopped when I left, tbh. The story in my grandboss’ head, and that she repeated to all of us, was “we all signed up for this,” even though I specifically did not.

      At the end of the day, you’ve been clear, you know your needs. If this doesn’t change after the short term, you will likely need to leave.

      Is there language you could use about the fact that roles shouldn’t be muddled/blended just because one person can’t hold up their end of the job? The root of the problem is that that person isn’t doing their job, so the problem needs to be addressed there, as opposed to just moving the work elsewhere.

      1. Dancing Otter

        Is there any chance this could cause internal controls / segregation of duties issues? (You mentioned invoicing,) That would be an inarguable reason not to have you doing his work.

    3. Wishing You Well

      Sounds like you did well in expressing your concerns. AAM has a great response for you to use: “I can cover 2 of 3 job duties, but I can’t do all 3. What do you want me to let slide?”
      I appreciate your concern about doing work you don’t want to do long term. So you might have to talk to your boss again, if it goes on too long. I hope they get the admin job duties resolved soon.

    4. M

      Set and communicate a deadline. “I can pick up X, Y and Z admin tasks as emergency cover, but I’m going to need to deprioritise tasks A, B and C while I’m doing that in order to make the time. I believe I can make that work for [time period], but after then we’d start to see real problems as a result of me not having time for my other work. Can we fix [date] as the end point for me covering this work? That gives us time to find a solution that will work long-term if Fergus isn’t able to get his deadlines under control.” Given your boss gets that there’s a problem, I’d run this by her first, and agree on your proposed deadline – this may even be best coming from her in a more “I can lend you X hours of Sansa’s time, for the next Y weeks, and after that I need her back on her projects” form.

      1. M

        The point here is: everyone involved knows you don’t think you can do this longterm. (The fact that your great-grand-boss gets it is particularly important.) But if there’s no fixed deadline, you’ll just get stuck in “just another week” limbo indefinitely, so you need a fixed date to point to that makes it someone else’s problem after that date. Get that set in stone, or no-one but you will ever put the effort in to find a solution that works long term.

  52. DC Weekend

    How much time do people spend getting themselves settled at work in the morning? I think I’m definitely on the higher end (~20 minutes), so I’m curious about other’s habits. My usual routine involves unpacking my commuting bag, putting my lunch away, heating up breakfast, filling my water cup, changing shoes, and having a quick conversation with a friend/colleague.

    1. Jamie

      Probably 5-10 minutes. I put my lunch in the fridge, go to the ladies room, and get my glasses out of my purse.

    2. Allypopx

      Put stuff away, eat breakfast, quick good mornings, check AAM…10-15 minutes? Depends on the morning, depends on if I know I’m coming into something I have to address immediately, depends on how sleepy I am.

    3. Nessun

      5-10 minutes, but I spread it out: come in, backpack off, change shoes, remove coat/hoodie, then computer on and email up. Once I’ve checked there are no fires to put out, go put the kettle on and make a cuppa, say hi to anyone in the office (I arrive early), and quick check a few websites while the tea brews.

    4. Emily S.

      I spend about 15-20 minutes. I always make a cup of tea before starting work, and it’s nice to have time to chill out before the day starts.

      Also, I find that by driving in earlier, I can avoid a lot of traffic in the morning.

    5. Frustrated In DC

      Probably about 10 minutes, tops? I sign in, open Outlook, and while that is opening I go to the other side of the office to make my first cup of coffee (and if I brought food for lunch, put it away). Sometimes someone will chat with me to/from there, but usually 10 minutes is a long time for me.

    6. Alternative Person

      5 minutes, drop bag/coat, store lunch, fix coffee and water, get glasses/pen/diary out, get started.

      I deliberately front-load my day because I usually need to get stuff printed/fix up a document/etc. then I tend to relax in the slower periods later.

    7. Lily in NYC

      I’m probably around 20 minutes as well. I don’t feel guilty about it – no one cares and I rarely take a lunch break so it all works out in the end. I am lucky that I have a boss who is easygoing about this stuff as long as we get our work done.

    8. Amber Rose

      5-10 I guess. Put my stuff down, turn on my computer, while it loads up I put my lunch in the fridge. Get back, log in to my everything, and get going.

    9. Picard

      MAYBE 5 minutes? I come in, put my purse down and log in. Sometimes if I need to, I take my lunch to the kitchen fridge but its all the way across the building from my office so most times I dont bother. Its packed in a cooler with ice anyway so… I’m usually the first one here so no one to talk to and I bring my water bottle with me/dont drink coffee or tea. I dont have a commuter bag or need to change my shoes since I drove to work.

      1. Perfectly Cromulent Name

        10 to 15ish minutes, depending on the day. I get in, drop my lunch off at the fridge, fill my electric kettle with water, log in to my computer and take a quick glance at my email to see if I need to re-prioritize the to do list I wrote the night before, and chat with the admin who comes in at the same time I do.

    10. Grapey

      Probably fewer than 5 mins? I say hello walking by other offices to my desk, then I put my bag/purse down, start my computer, grab my water bottle, walk to the kitchen to fill it and put away my lunch, walk back and start working.

      I read emails on the bus to know if there’s any pressing situation to get running on. I eat breakfast at home or on the walk to the bus stop, and I definitely don’t change shoes.

    11. Elizabeth West

      At Exjob:
      Put stuff away, took my lunchbox to the break room, and checked my email. Dealt with any tasks that were new or urgent. About an hour in, I made breakfast/tea and ate at my desk while working (or reading AAM, if I were caught up).

      When I was on the front desk at OldExjob, I didn’t take a breakfast break. I put my lunch away and got right to work. My coffee had barely kicked in and I had to be nice to all these crabby architects right off. I don’t want to be on the front desk anymore ever.

    12. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      I have a part-time WFH/part-time office schedule, so I’m usually working from home for an hour or two before I get to the office. During that morning home time, it’s probably 75% work/25% personal getting ready stuff (I’m salaried so I don’t have to track my hours closely and I’m definitely working more than 40 hours each week), so I’ll do things like start a pot of coffee and then open my email, then take a break to pour a cup of coffee and get breakfast started before getting more work done while breakfast is in the oven and so forth. Then, after breakfast, I’ll pack up and head into the office. I’ve already gotten all of my morning breakfast and coffee things dealt with before I leave the house with this system, although they are mostly happening while I’m working.

      When I actually get to the office, it’s generally less than 5 minutes of putting my purse away, hanging up my coat, and grabbing my mail, and sometimes I don’t even really get a chance to sit down before someone’s talking to me about something I need to deal with right away. I try not to schedule meetings that will start with less than 15 minutes cushion after my arrival time when I can, though. (There have been days when I’ve had meetings scheduled right at my arrival time, which I can deal with but I prefer to have enough time to at least put my stuff away rather than take my purse and coat with me to the meeting.)

    13. fhqwhgads

      I don’t have a commute anymore, but when I did the answer to this would’ve been less than five minutes.

    14. Fortitude Jones

      When I worked in an office, it was usually 30 minutes. I’d put my bags away, wait for the hot water on our water machine to boil for my morning cup of tea (and it usually took 5-10 minutes – god, I hated that slow ass machine), eat my breakfast while checking email and reading this site, and then I’d get to work.

      Now that I work from home? It’s still 30 minutes, lol. Sometimes 40 if I’m making breakfast from scratch.

    15. Calindy

      My mornings start off right away w/ putting coat away, change shoes, start up my computer. While the computer loads up, I’ll start my coffee, clean & sanitize my desk & other work surfaces, sanitize the pens I have for clients to use, etc.

      Once the computer has opened, I log onto our virtual computer system and then skype. First thing I do is check my email then I check my calendar, pull the client files for anyone I have scheduled that day to review next steps & make sure I have any information I need to have prepped for that days meeting.

      I’m one of the first few in the office as I chose to start/leave 30 minutes earlier and often do the ‘chat thing’ with anyone riding up in the elevator to the office and then that’s out of the way.

    16. Lobsterp0t

      15 minutes including locking my bike, getting into the office, setting up everything I need in the interview room (laptop, DRAGON and headset, marking up the question packs and pens, timer, and table/chairs), getting and eating breakfast (usually cereal or yoghurt/fruit), and setting up another room for 5-6 candidates to do a group task.

      So it’s a mix of settling myself and setting up my workstations/areas.

  53. Archivist

    Our library director is scheduling one-on-ones with all staff in the library. The meetings are an agenda-less opportunity for staff to talk about whatever they want. The director is three levels up from me and not involved or familiar with the day-to-day of my work. I’m having trouble thinking of what sort of topics would be best brought up with someone at the director’s level, rather than my department head or division head. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions about the type of issues or topics that would be good to bring up in a meeting like this?

    1. WellRed

      We actually just did this with our new CEO. Anything from workflow environments to workload to suggestions for employee perks and everything in between was fair game.

  54. liz

    hi all! I’m looking for a bag I can bring to work that could double as a gym bag – I currently carry a large purse, but not quite large enough for sneakers. Anyone else have a good one they’d recommend? (Ideally not a backpack or crazy expensive but if it’s good quality I’ll pay more for it.)

    1. Triumphant Fox

      I love my Lo & Sons OMG bag. Has a section for shoes and a generous laptop sleeve. I use it every day and it was originally designed as a gym bag. They have really good sales a few times a year, so if you can wait (I got mine around Christmas), I’d recommend seeing when it’s 40% off.

      1. EA in CA

        I second Lo & Sons OMG bag. I just got one from Poshmark two weeks ago and it’s been a godsend. So many organization pockets, sturdily built, laptop sleeve, and shoe pocket. Plus it doesn’t look a like a gym bag.

    2. Nessun

      I have a Thule backpack which has a separate space for shoes, as well as storage for tablet/laptop and random items. I use it more than a purse, because I can fit my lunch pack in it too. I wear it as a backpack, but it came with a long strap and has hooks specifically so it can be worn over the shoulder or cross-body, too.

  55. Allypopx

    Question about degree specializations: I’m working on my MBA and was planning on specializing in nonprofit management, but the program has changed so that the specialization is really focused on healthcare, which is not the sector I work in, and there’s not really a way for me to do the “official” specialization that way, but I can piecemeal coursework the same educational benefits I would have gotten from the old program.

    How would I indicate on my resume that I did study nonprofit management in grad school even though I don’t have the line on my degree that would be easily recognized and verified by the university?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      My MBA had an official concentration. My MPA didn’t have an official concentration, but all my research work was done in the areas of healthcare policy analysis, so I have my masterses listed as

      MBA (concentration in health economics and policy)
      MPA (research focus in healthcare policy analysis)

  56. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

    Next level ridiculous. We offered a job to a woman, pending reference checks. So far so normal, right? Three of her former companies are asking that we or she pay $39-$45 to give a reference/confirm her dates of employment!! Can you believe this???? What a way to stick it to former employees. We aren’t sure what to do because we are grant funded and this wouldn’t be an allowable expense on any of our grants, and we certainly don’t want her to pay. And our HR insists on getting this information from the corporate HR offices because for some reason what her managers say isn’t good enough. Grrrrr!

    1. fposte

      That’s really horrible. I hope that doesn’t catch on. While I wouldn’t want the applicant to have to pay, it sounds like a situation whether either she does or she doesn’t have a crack at the job, sadly.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

        In this case I am going to argue that our HR department is being ridiculous and, since we have confirmed her employment with her managers at these companies we waive the HR confirmation. Or our HR can pay it if they think it is so danged necessary. This hill is worth dying on

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

        Oh hell yes and reassured her that she will definitely not have to pay it. As for the over-ruling, we are a quasi-civil service organization (it’s a weird and complicated set up that I don’t even fully understand) so we have really, really Byzantine, really, really rigid hiring processes that don’t handle the unexpected or exceptions very well.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

        Hell no! I’m going to burn some political capital and get HR to get over not having the employment date verification from the corporate HR departments. Seriously, I’m the hiring manager. I talked to her direct managers. They confirmed she worked there. Do we seriously need a 2nd verification? No. This is dumb and I am willing to die on this hill.

    2. AndersonDarling

      Three of the companies are asking this! It would be outrageous to find a single company doing this. Are you sure the numbers and companies are real, because it is so wild that I would think this is a scam and it’s just a fake reference company.
      My last job required my IRS docs to prove employment. It was a pain to gather them from the IRS website, but it would confirm employment.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Yeah, that also sounds like a scam to me. I have never heard of anything so outrageous. I’ve heard of paying for transcripts, but never for work references.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

        Definitely real. Think one major bank, one major credit card company, and a well known retail brokerage firm whose ads you see everywhere.

        I am going to suggest the IRS route to our HR department who is the bigger impediment since their process is the hang up. I get not being flexible on some things, but this is getting ridiculous.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

        These are well known companies in the financial sector. Apparently this is a thing and they are surprised that we are surprised. I wonder if for-profit folks in the same sector usually pay it?

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead

            Me too. And if this is a new thing I am going to push for our HR to change their policy. We have her employment with these companies confirmed because we talked to her references and managers. This whole needing the other HR department to confirm is a stupid waste of time (yes I am a bit salty)

    3. MMB

      I ran into this with a well know grocery store chain and one other company as well. When I called the manager at the grocery store directly he said he had no idea that people are being charged for that information! It made confirming references extremely difficult.

    4. LUKE I AM YOUR INTERNET COMMENTER

      I kind of wonder if that is a red flag about the applicant.

      Sure, it could be that her former employer sucks. But request for payment to confirm employment is so bizarre that it raises the possibility of them using this as an excuse (albeit a bad one) to avoid giving a reference or if they’re doing this to give their ex employee the middle finger after dealing with crappy behaviour on her part.

      Not saying this is justified or okay in any way. But I’ve definitely fantasized about giving ex employees a horrible reference outlining how they called in sick to go to Disneyland, bullied other employees, watched porn at work, etc.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Yeah, but three different companies? Wouldn’t it be easier to just give her a noncommittal reference? Or decline entirely?
        OP said in follow-up comments that all three companies are in roughly the same field; I’m inclined to think this is some new bizarre trend.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          Same. It’s so weird. I’ve never heard of this, and I know people who work in the financial sector.

    5. just another reader

      I’m pretty sure what’s happening is that the 3 companies (all financial? or handling financial info?) have out-sourced their pay/HR functions, and those companies are making money by charging for employment verification. This is b.s., especially since it’s likely the ONLY info they will provide is hire/termination dates and if she is rehireable, no actual review of her work or info of much use to a hiring manager. Next level annoying.

  57. Conjunction Junction

    I work in education in a support staff role. My coworkers and others around me are very nice and professional, but some of the paraprofessionals that work in the district are just plain rude. I’ve been hung up on, snapped at, sworn at, etc. They are just nasty. This is all within 2 months of the job! According to my coworkers, this is par for the course.

    For those in education, is this normal? Does this happen to you as well? Any advice or stories are greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Jellyfish

      That’s rough; I’m sorry you’re dealing with rude people.
      This isn’t advice, but I can share a somewhat related anecdote. In a previous support staff role, I also had to regularly deal with someone who was just rude. She had quite a reputation, and everyone else kinda worked around her.

      One day, I needed something that I could only get from her, and she was being particularly difficult. I finally snapped and said something to the effect of, “Hey! I don’t do this stuff everyday, and I don’t know it all works! It’s not my job to know how it works. That’s why I’m asking you – because you do know, and I need your help. Can you work with me here? Then I’ll be out of your hair and we’ll both be happier!”

      She was silent for a moment, and then we got my stuff sorted with both of us acting very professionally neutral. I figured it wasn’t my best moment, but professionally neutral was a vast improvement and I got what I needed. Every time I talked to her after that though, she was genuinely friendly. It wasn’t in a saccharine, sarcastic way – her friendliness still involved grumping about the weather or something, but I always wondered if my snapping reminded her that I was a real person too.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I had to do this with the Coworker from Hell; she mellowed out a bit after I stood up to her snottiness and attacks. Unfortunately, it didn’t last, but I didn’t stay at that job long either, thank goodness.

      2. Gatomon

        I’ve had a few similar experiences. My theory is that some people are difficult just to see who dares to throw it back at them or call them out, and only if you dare to do it will you be judged their equal.

    2. RobotWithHumanHair

      I worked in a support role in higher ed for 17 years and…yep, pretty par for the course. What made it worse was that when I started working there, I was on the younger side (started at 20), so that just made it even easier for faculty, etc. to abuse me.

    3. Parenthetically

      Wow. The Paras in my home district are almost without exception lovely people. Why do they not get reported for (!!!) swearing at teachers and support staff?

    4. lnelson in Tysons

      I think that there is one bad apple almost every where. And one than one is the company is large enough. Not unique to education.

      Will not mention the name to protect the guilty. One professor where I worked was truly full of himself. Just because you have a paper published does not mean the universe circles around you (I think that he was a professor in astronomy) Anywho, I was support in the benefits department and one day, I get a call from “someone” and he is yelling at me because I did not inform him that he could increase his 401k withholdings. My other encounter which him was during open enrollment and he thought himself to important to go online to elect his benefits, so he came to the benefits department threw a blank enrollment form at me and told me to do it for him. I did stand my grounds, basically telling him if I did that I would be fired and I wasn’t willing to be fired for this.

    5. just a random teacher

      Depending on where you live, it may be really hard to hire people into those para jobs. They usually don’t pay well, aren’t quite full time, and you’re often asked to do pretty impossible things. I’ve worked places where we just couldn’t keep paras around, so it took things like “taking the student you are supposed to be walking to class to the gym to play basketball instead on a regular basis” to get someone fired. This was in a pretty rough high school in a large city, so there were lots of other part and full time jobs available.

      In smaller towns, it’s mostly been former parent volunteers who took part time jobs in the school district once their kids hit middle school, and they tend to be much easier to deal with.

  58. LabLady

    I had a weird interview thing come up this week. O got a call from the company’s HR, and chatted for a few minutes about the position. He then said (what I believe, he said) he’d want to do a phone interview Monday at 3:30. Cool.

    Monday rolls around 3:35, no call. So I call him. He’s sounds annoyed and confused and agrees to reschedule for tomorrow because he’s about to walk out the door. I’m baffled.

    Tuesday, same thing. No call by 3:35. I call him. Turns out HE WANTED AN IN PERSON INTERVIEW. Never once did he say that! And even if he hadn’t, he never mentioned anything about coming on-site, parking, etc. that would trigger my brain to say, oh this is in person.

    I’m mortified and just declined to go further in the interview process. It’s not too bad because I didn’t think they could match my current salary, but demoralizing none the less.

    1. AndersonDarling

      Don’t feel bad, feel empowered! You dodged a bullet with that one! And luckily you found out how disorganized and uncommunicative the company was without going through any more of their process.

    2. A Simple Narwhal

      Honestly it sounds like you dodged a bullet. He said he wanted a phone interview and then got mad you didn’t show up in person? Ugh no thanks.

      I wouldn’t feel embarrassed at all, this is totally on him.

      1. fhqwhgads

        Plus, if he were about to walk out the door at 3:35 when he was expecting to do an interview at 3:30, whether in-person or phone, dude’s got all sorts of extra mixed messages going on. Why would he bail because he’s leaving when it’s 5 minutes after they were going to start?

    3. Jellyfish

      If he couldn’t express that he expected you to show up when you first called him on Monday, that’s completely on him.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Bullet dodged.
      “If you want to know where your interview is, you can just read my mind.”
      After you are employed:
      “If you want to know what your job is today, you can just read my mind.”

      You don’t need this bs in your life.

  59. Triumphant Fox

    We have a new hire joining and our onboarding process is…nonexistent? What did you appreciate about past onboarding processes? What do you wish you had been told sooner? How do you like to learn a new role when you’re not taking the place of a predecessor?

    1. Nowhereland

      Google “onboarding schedule” and filter by PDFs and .docs. You’ll get some ideas. At the very least, I think employees appreciate a concrete schedule for their first week of work…not like every minute of every day has to be planned, but it gives them a general idea of when they should be where, and also times for lunches and breaks.

    2. Carbovore

      There’s the obvious stuff–getting all the paperwork done for payroll and benefits, being shown your new office/desk, computer, phone, and where to go if those aren’t working, etc. Being introduced to your new colleagues in the office. Getting logins and access to things you’ll need to do your work.

      Outside of those, there were a couple things I enjoyed when I was onboarded in some previous jobs. One job gave me my first week a schedule of meetings I needed to have with people (I work in higher ed. and my role at the time had me interacting with people at lots of levels–college level, division level, university level, etc.) so these were great to have to meet that people I wouldn’t necessarily see day to day but would be interacting with a lot via phone or email. It also was just really helpful in networking and meeting people who would be helpful to me in my role. Later on, this division also employed a “work buddy/mentor” program as well that paired new hires with seasoned employees in the division to help them navigate things and have an objective ear outside of their immediate coworkers.

      Personally, I’ve always appreciated a lot of structure so in my current job, I would have liked it better if it hadn’t been such a trial by fire (I came on board after months of a previous employee having left and so there was lots of catch-up work and things to fix) and if I’d had a list and a very structured, “Here’s the task we’re going to start you with and here’s how it works beginning to end.” Jumping into processes and work in the middle or at the end can be really confusing stressful.

    3. On Hold

      I just joined a small team and really appreciated having 15 minute 1-on-1 meetings on the first day with my new colleagues was very pleasant. There wasn’t any kind of agenda, just whatever we wanted to chat about.

    4. Dancing Otter

      One thing that really helps: start the paperwork for IT before they arrive. You want them to have a computer and all the sign-on information on their first day, and some IT departments seem to need a lot of lead time for that stuff. If there are forms the employee has to sign, agree not to hand over the credentials until everything is signed, but have those credentials ready.
      Nothing is more demoralizing than to be all excited to start a new job and not be able to do ANYTHING because you can’t access the systems you need for several days.
      If there are proprietary or highly customized programs they will need to use, locate the manuals or procedure documentation so you can give it to them right away: a little light reading between meetings with HR, or while waiting for IT. If there is online training they need to take, set up their access, and provide that information, too.
      Don’t forget instructions for setting up their voicemail and email. One client/project, I never did get voicemail through their system, just had to give everyone my personal cell number. A company phone directory and org chart is another must-have.
      You don’t need to schedule every minute of their first few days, but be sure there’s something to keep them busy. Maybe the direct manager can’t meet with them to outline tasks right away, but you don’t want them sitting twiddling their thumbs wondering why they’re even there.

  60. Moray

    I have a coworker who is a native English speaker but a very poor writer. (Misspellings, bad capitalization, all around poor grammar). Looking at his writing, you could believe it came straight from Google translate. Mostly what he writes is quietly rewritten by me or someone else in the department before it sees the light of day, and he performs well in other ways.

    The issue: all-staff emails. We all need to send quick reminders or requests from the general department mailbox every now and then, and he does it more than most. It would feel like picking on him to say “ask someone else to proofread a three sentence update that’s only read internally, or have someone else write it for you” but when it comes from the department as a whole and goes to 150+ people it makes me cringe. The last email was four sentences long and had about eight errors (as well as an unintended somewhat impolite tone) and I want to tell people “that wasn’t me!”

    Do I just need to get over it?

    1. fposte

      What does your manager say about these emails? If she doesn’t want to do anything, then yes, you probably just have to get over it, but it may be that she’s not aware this is one particular person. I don’t think this is a big enough issue to warrant being particularly delicate–you can just say “Jane, Bob’s more of a [whatever we do] than a writer, and his emails sometimes have preventable errors. Would you want those looked over by somebody else first or is this a situation where it’s fine as it is?”

      1. Moray

        Our manager is definitely aware, but he has gotten so frustrated over the years that he does his best to ignore Coworker’s writing to preserve his own sanity.

        It’s a sore spot that he has never been able to 1) help Coworker develop even slightly better writing skills, or 2) convince Coworker that his errors are actually a problem. (Coworker rolls his eyes a lot whenever something he’s written needs to be proofread–“I guess I’m supposed to have one of you guys look this over”–and showing him our extensive edits is met with complete indifference).

        Executives also send all-staff emails from their personal email, when the rest of us use the shared department account, so Boss isn’t as linked to them. Fragile egos all around, I guess–I should probably just try to get over mine.

        1. Allypopx

          THAT’s a problem. This is something he’s repeatedly gotten coaching on, gotten told is a problem, and he is still reacting with attitude and indifference. That might be because he’s self-conscious and it’s a defensive reaction, or he might actually be indifferent, I can’t tell from here. But that’s an indicator of something bigger. Work ethic, complete blindness to how important communication can be and the bearing it can have on a business or a reputation, disrespect for your boss – I’m not sure what the issue is. But as a manager that’s what I would focus on and try to address, and you’re not wrong to flag it as a real problem.

        2. Filosofickle

          I would have a very hard time getting over it — even more difficult would be getting over that Coworker doesn’t care and Boss lets it slide. Baffling! But it sounds like you may have to let it go for your sanity, too.

          I have a friend who makes errors and sometimes writes in ways I consider to be unprofessional in her business blog and social media posts. It’s not nearly as bad as what you describe, but it does bother me and prevents me from promoting her posts and services. But I’ve never told her because she’s never asked for my feedback on her materials. (Even though part of me wonders if I should. Should she know this is why I never share her stuff with my colleagues, who might be interested in her services?)

    2. Nicki Name

      If it’s a matter of communications needing to be sent for work reasons and the professional relationship between your department and the rest of the company, you shouldn’t just get over it.

      Are these reminders or requests about a small, standard list of topics? Could you maybe make templates that people can fill out with the necessary details? (E.g., “Our monthly llama grooming stall maintenance is coming up on ___ from ____ to ____. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ____________.”)

    3. NicoleK

      Yes, just get over it. Your coworker knows it wasn’t you. My coworker is also a terrible writer. She writes long, rambling, non sensical emails, and often repeats herself. Thirty percent of the time, I have no idea what she is talking about and can’t make sense of her emails. But it doesn’t bother me. People know she’s a terrible writer and it’s not a reflection on me (maybe a reflection of our Boss cause coworker is basically incompetent, but that’s another story)

      1. Dancing Otter

        +1000
        School doesn’t always prepare people for communication in the business world.
        Your colleague seems to have poor writing skills in general, but I’ve seen others with the opposite problem. You don’t need formal academic writing to remind people the refrigerator is scheduled to be cleaned out Friday afternoon.

        1. just a random teacher

          I dunno, my dad’s office’s emails about that always referred to the “unauthorized cold temperature mold experiments” that were being removed from the fridge that Friday, and I think that had a certain charm…

    4. Kathenus

      I’d suggest that you and others in the department stop rewriting them for him. Just like with any performance issues if others minimize the impact of it by doing the extra work to fix things, there’s less incentive for management to take action.

      Since you mention having to use the shared account, I’d start either a policy (if the manager agrees) or just a personal practice of always signing your name or initials to ones you write (and maybe if a practice not a policy encourage other coworkers to do the same). Then you don’t need to worry about the ‘that wasn’t me’ fear. And other than that, yeah, I’d say get over it because you’re not their manager and the manager doesn’t care enough to act.

    5. AL (the other one)

      Could this be dyslexia? I had this with an employee once, I kept reviewing and re-reviewing their work with them. Then they casually dropped into conversation that they had dyslexia. After 2+ years of them being in my team this was the first I’d heard of it. I wish I’d know sooner as I would have handled some things differently…

  61. NotMyUsualName

    I’ve been working at a company for several years. A few years ago they hired a new manager. Since then, the manager has proceeded to hire their friends and former coworkers. Of those friends, some have also been promoted to managers, and in turn hired their friends. Over time and layoffs, most non-friends have left the company. At this time, I think it’s just me and two others who’s left from before this manager was hired.

    To me, all of this feels off. Everyone in the department come from the same background and always agree with the boss about everything. But while I’m starting to feel like this might be a toxic workplace, another part of me wonders if this a completely normal practice for a manager and a part of working in an office? Do I just need to adjust my thinking? Do managers generally hire people they know?

    1. Approval is optional

      No it’s not normal in a functional office to hire friends. Hiring former coworkers (who are not friends) can make sense – after all you know their work ethic etc – and may not be a problem, though there are times when it will be.

      1. Approval is optional

        Oops sorry – just noticed I accidentally deleted a sentence when editing: should read ‘to hire friends (or at least not to the extent it’s happening in your office)’.

    2. Mazzy

      I’d lean more towards “toxic” unless the ones who left were horrible and the friends were higher performers. Also, this is worse in my opinion the higher level the job gets, though others might see the opposite as worse

      1. NotMyUsualName

        Oh, the ones who are left are definitely the horrible ones. All the people who knew what they were doing and who dared to ask questions are gone.

    3. AndersonDarling

      Occasional this works when a manager had a unique team at a previous job and they bring them all along. I see this in IT, artistic depts, performance improvement, or other niche departments. But these are people who have worked together before, are going into the same roles, and have a proven track record of success.
      Hiring everyone you know into whatever position is just giving handouts to your friends. They will all vouch for each other, all lie for each other, and it’s the formula for corruption.

      1. NotMyUsualName

        I can definitely see this working in those kind of settings. Unfortunately, this is not one of them.

        I guess I’m mostly worried that this is a common practice, and that I won’t get away from these kind of structures once I leave this place.

    4. LKW

      Sometimes managers hire people they know from prior working relationships. Good managers don’t hire their social circle. And good managers hire people that will disagree with them, understanding that sometimes the best results come out of professionally executed conflict.

  62. Watermelon M

    Hello! Thank you to everyone and Alison who gave me great advice and support last week on “Karen” and her weird respect thing. She’s been out for vacation this week, so I took the opportunity to sneak over to my boss and talk to her. I explained (minus the race factor, because my boss historically has not taken that well) that I felt uncomfortable and that I respected Karen but felt it was unnecessary to call her ma’am and Ms. and etc. Well. Although my boss did not react by saying she insist I keep calling Karen ma’am, she essentially said “Look, we all know Karen is a lot but just ignore her. If it doesn’t cause a fight, throw in a couple ma’ams here and there to keep her happy. It’s not fun when Karen raises hell.” Aaaaand that was a defeated Wednesday.

    On another note, I have an interview with another job next week because wow! I can not believe the dynamics of my team. If the interviewer asked why I am trying to leave, can I just say “I feel unsupported and am a bad fit for the work culture (because I have to either placate a testy coworker or treat her with the highest respect as my senior)”?

    1. Mediamaven

      Thank you for the update. Just focus on getting out of there. The whole situation is BS. Just because someone is a certain way doesn’t mean people should have to deal with that.

    2. Kathleen_A

      I wouldn’t recommend saying any of that. It’s almost always best to avoid saying anything negative about your current employer, and the reason is that the person interviewing you will have no idea of your employer is the problem or YOU are the problem.