open thread – December 13-14, 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.

{ 1,429 comments… read them below }

  1. Jabs*

    I’d love to hear from other (highly distractible) people about how they’ve learned to focus better at work.

    Constant communication (my team uses Slack, Asana, and Google docs) means there may be some sort of ping at any time, and working in the browser means its oh-so-easy to check-my-email-real-quick (or, you know, Ask a Manager!) when my brain wanders from my current task.

    Because of the type of work I do I can’t work away from my desk. Combine that with a semi-open office (low cubicles) where coworkers can just wave their arms at me to get my attention and its a minefield.

    I won’t blame my coworkers for my own bad habits and brain, but any tips and tricks would be much appreciated. I hate feeling like I’m not living up to my potential as an employee because its so difficult for me to get started/get into any sort of flow state some days, unless a deadline is basically on top of me.

    1. CTT*

      If it’s possible for you, turning off all those notification sounds might help. They are so distracting to me (even when I’m in someone else’s office so it’s not like it’s my computer pinging). I still keep the visual notification up, but without the sound it’s less distracting; it’s just the one thing competing for my attention rather than two.

      1. Joie*

        I do this! and I set times to check things. Every hour or so I take a few minutes to run through my notifications and make sure I’m not missing anything priority. If it’s an actual fire someone will interrupt you in person not just wait and hope you see a message.

        Also headphones. I put one in and listen to background music and I find that helps drown out other people and signals that I’m busy so is this really important?

        1. Anita Brayke*

          Yes! I do the one-headphone trick! Sometimes two if my coworkers are particularly loud. I don’t get a lot of emails and we don’t have an IM program, so that isn’t an issue, but I do have a particularly loud, sing-songy, overdramatic coworker who makes a lot of noise in the general practice of doing basic things, and headphones are a godsend!

        2. MissDisplaced*

          Yes! Either set times to check things (8am, 12pm, 4pm) OR block off time on your calendar like it’s a meeting (9am-11am ABC Proposal) and then treat it just like a meeting. I personally prefer scheduling deep work like a meeting because others see it on your calendar and tend to think it IS a meeting LOL. Try starting with maybe just one thing per day and see if it helps your productivity.

      2. Bostonian*

        Cosigned. I’ve found that if I just turn off the pop-up email notification that gives you a preview of the email, I’m less inclined to be distracted by new messages. It’s a small tweak that makes a big difference.

        I also completely log out of our internal messaging system for the day if I’m working on an urgent deadline: that way I don’t get random messages from people asking non-urgent things, they just send an email instead.

      3. Gatomon*

        I’ve had to do this as well. No sounds or desktop notifications from email and turned Teams notifications down to just direct messages popping up onscreen. Otherwise it’s impossible to get anything done for all the noise flying past. If something is dire, call my desk phone or come swing by! I could spend all day just responding to the various distractions.

      4. The Beagle has Landed*

        This is a great suggestion! I do the same, and create a special rule in Outlook that I am alerted only to emails from my boss so that I can have a higher level of responsiveness to his needs (I am his Exec Assistant). Then I check emails 3-4 times a day and deal with them on my time.

      5. A Person*

        For me I also had to turn off the little red “new message” circle Slack would pop up. I still get an icon update for direct messages, but it was really bad when that happened every time there was a new message in a channel.

        Also I use Asana for a personal to do list so whenever I get distracted I have something I can go back to that and it tells me what I should be doing that day (or reminds me what I was already working on).

      6. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I have recently started to schedule time to “go to the mailbox” when I need to do the less loved (but still important) parts of my job. I close Outlook and set myself as “busy” on IM. If someone needs something really urgently, they’ll call (how archaic!), come by my office, or IM me anyway.
        I will then take conscious breaks – move my desk to standing height, check mail and either reply or mark them for later, get a fresh cup of tea and get back into data analysis, report writing or whatever.
        Otherwise, I’d either procrastinate until the cows come home and/or have several things fall through the cracks.
        Most of my fun work is out of the office, traveling, but the office work is necessary as well. But today I had my annual performance evaluation – next year I’ll hire a junior consultant to be my assistant, yay!

    2. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Honestly, mute all that stuff. I was at a job with constant pings a few years ago. I couldn’t get anything done, so everything got muted. It wasn’t a toxic environment, so if I missed something in the chats, someone found a way to tell me. Some people are multitaskers and some aren’t, and good employers know that.

    3. Turtlewings*

      Having an hourly checklist/to-do list helps keep me on track. Not just daily, HOURLY. I have certain things I do every hour and then fill in whatever else needs to get done this hour. If I get distracted it’s easier to “find my place” again when I can just refer to the list, starting at the top and going to the bottom. Self-imposed structure.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Came here to say this. I keep a written list of all my tasks. Jabs, you will notice an infinite improvement on your ability to slip back into your flow if you have a list that lets you know where you left off instead of having to look at your screen, your pile of papers, your whatever to figure out what the hell you were doing. It’s how I manage my distractability.

        1. Jabs*

          Thank you, this is great advice, I have recently switched to paper to handle my todo lists for this reason and I have found it helps a lot! A digital todo list has always felt like too much noise (not to mention all the extra features and color coding that just makes it harder to see at a glance what you need).

          Unfortunately I am a pretty aggressive doodler and a blank page can be hard to resist; I’m trying to come up with a not-too-distracting system where I reward myself with a little doodle instead of a check mark when I finish a task … I realize this makes it seem like I am half my age :\


          1. JJ*

            I’m a doodler, too, and I’ve found that using an interesting shape like a triangle or a pentagon as a bullet next to each item helps me. When I finish the task, I color the shape in with a different colored pen. It helps me stay on track and scratches the itch to doodle. I manage marketing communications, so I’ll write down a topic and then use different symbols to denote which outlets it needs to be communicated on (square for marketing email, circle for social media, etc.). Filling in all of the shapes for a topic is always extra satisfying.

          2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

            I’m pretty sure I’m twice your age. I have 24 packs of ink pens, sharpies, sharpie flairs and highlighters. I have RED highlighters. I color code each task if I have to, I’m worth it!

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I find headphones and music on repeat works well for me. It closes down my environment to a single focus (and literally tethers me to the computer).

      My son listens to video game soundtracks, which are specifically designed to aid focus, and don’t have lyrics etc to distract. I listen to ukulele music, because I love it and usually need a happiness infusion when there’s a need for a focus crunch.

      1. Jabs*

        You know it never really occurred to me that video game scores were designed to aid in focus (without being too distracting) but now that you say it that might actually work! I sometimes listen to cello music (when Im not doing work that involves listening to audio, which I sometimes am) but after a while it begins to put me to sleep, and most movie scores are a little too narrative. Ill try this! Thank you!

        1. Jabs*

          This is great advice, I have recently switched to paper to handle my todo lists for this reason and I have found it helps a lot! A digital todo list has always felt like too much noise (not to mention all the extra features and color coding that just makes it harder to see at a glance what you need).

          Unfortunately I am a pretty aggressive doodler and a blank page can be hard to resist; I’m trying to come up with a not-too-distracting system where I reward myself with a little doodle instead of a check mark when I finish a task … I realize this makes it seem like I am half my age :\

        2. Kiwiii*

          I do piano instrumentals most of the time, sometimes with some sort of rain filter through noisli over it, but if i’m on project that requires lots of writing, the Frostpunk soundtrack is infinitely helpful tbh

        3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I took the video game tip a while ago and it’s astonishing how effective it is. Good luck!

        4. Marie*

          I listen to Sims 2 Build Mode music when I need to focus! My brain was trained in my youth to expect hours of focus in front a computer to that score…

        5. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          This! I’m not a gamer by any means, but the original soundtrack by Daniel Ran to “Beyond Skyrim: Bruma” is eerily beautiful and not distracting. Available on various streaming sites and even on Amazon. This is part of my go-to playlist for work or long flights. Together with good noise-cancelling headphones (I like Bose) this helps a lot to keep me focused.

      2. Jackalope*

        Seconding the music. I normally listen to instrumental only when at work (I can make exceptions for things with voices humming or singing Ahhhh and such as long as it isn’t talking in a language I know). It really helps with drowning out distractions.

        1. Jabs*

          I know what you meant by “singing Ahhhh” but I read it as screaming the first time and I choked on my coffee.

      3. bunniferous*

        I had never even thought about video game soundtracks!!!!!! I also fight distractions especially since I work mostly out of my home office when not out in the field or at the actual workplace -this one suggestion is going to make a huge difference -besides, I had no idea till I actually just investigated just how great the music was to start with!!!

      1. Jabs*

        Thank you, I have yes! The hardest part for me is keeping those 3-5 minute breaks down and getting back to work, but its definitely helpful, especially when I have really big stuff to tackle.

        1. Diana*

          I recommend buying the app Tadam. Yes, it tracks your 25 minute windows, but more importantly, it floods your screen with a big “take a break!” banner for five minutes. It literally blocks you from doing anything and forces you to get up and get a glass or water or do a lap around the office or something. Using those 5 minutes to check email does NOT count as a break for your brain and only drives you toward greater distraction and inability to focus. Also, if the idea of having your screen blocked out for five minutes makes you extremely nervous, that’s probably a sign that you need that feature most of all!

        2. Sloan Kittering*

          Yes, people often suggest pomodoro to me but for my specific issue, it doesn’t work. I don’t have trouble starting things – I have trouble persisting in things after they start to get tricky / I get interrupted constantly by my coworkers.

    5. Phillip*

      I need a low-level distraction to help me get going, and once I get going I can usually stay there for a pretty long time regardless of high-level distractions. So if I just sit down and try to dive right into work, I get distracted really easily. If I put something like a podcast on first, somehow that really trivial bit of multitasking scratches that itch instead and I can stay focused. Task-switching is brutal for productivity, its not a fault of your brain.

      1. Jabs*

        Thank you, this is really interesting! Kind of… distracting yourself into working? I may have to try something like this.

    6. Seifer*

      Seconding the recommendation for video game soundtracks. Same thing for movie scores. Strangely for me, listening to an old podcast that I’ve listened to about ten times over now really helps. I think my brain registers the people talking and doesn’t allow me to hear people around me talking. I used to also listen to ‘Let’s Play’s when I was in college and needed to focus.

      I also give myself deadlines. I’m not terribly distractable (ignore the fact that I’m on AAM during work hours hahahaha) but if I don’t have a clear, okay this needs to get done before lunch, I tend to procrastinate because like. I got time. I make a to-do list that I run by my boss once or twice a week and he’ll either be like yeah that works or actually can you shift this around, and then the knowledge that my boss knows is enough for me to be like. Oh shit there’s pressure.

      1. Jabs*

        Thanks for your ideas; I do the listen-to-the-same-thing to go to sleep with Jane Austen’s novels and I could probably recite them by now XD.

        I am a big procrastinator also, I think my procrastination and distractibility come from similar places.

        I go over deadlines and todos with my boss at least weekly; unfortunately my team is understaffed and so missing deadlines has basically become the norm – the pressure is constant which means it might as well not exist. Part of my desire to learn to drill down and focus better is to be able to tell the difference between “I missed this deadline even though I worked my hardest because we have too much work” and “I missed this deadline because I couldnt focus today” so I can plan accordingly. When my manager asks me how long something will take I am terrible at coming up with a realistic estimate, and so often end up having to stay late or get an adjusted timeline.

        1. Gatomon*

          Something that’s helped me is doing timeblocking in my calendar. I have some repeated blocks for things I need to do regularly (I have a daily one for just getting organized) and then I fill in time for my work around those and meetings. It’s helped me get a better idea of how long something will actually take, and shuffling stuff around forces me to prioritize and push myself to just get a task done. It also has shown me how much time is lost to firefighting daily.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          I feel you on this one. I am SO BAD at estimating how long something will take. I really just can’t seem to wrap my brain around how to do it. At this point I take the number in my head and double it, because that way most of the time if it’s done sooner that’s bonus but if it ends up that I was way too optimistic (which I usually am) I have a bit of a time cushion.

      1. Bananatiel*

        I second this! I used to think I was a decent multi-tasker but after having read and implemented some of the ideas in both Deep Work and his newest, Digital Minimalism, I’ve realized that I’m actually terrible at it and it’s not a personality flaw, either.

        That having been said, I’ve still been struggling with the browser and it’s many distractions (lol, as you can tell, since I’m here). I decided it was worthwhile to pay for an app called Freedom which works across all my devices. I have exemptions set up for the apps I need to work, but *everything* else gets blocked for whatever amount of time I choose. It was another Cal recommendation but outside of some of the basics like time blocking that has been the biggest help for me.

        My biggest remaining struggle has been dealing with actual in-person distractions and our office layout is TERRIBLE for this. I’m in the process of moving and when I have my dedicated home office set up again I will be proposing regular work-from-home days because it’s an option for me and about the only thing that can fix the in-person distractions that I’ve found. Headphones mean nothing in our office culture and that’s been a point of frustration for me.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I love working with my noise-cancelling headphones in combination with either white noise or a movie soundtrack playing. But in my office, putting on headphones is like raising a banner that says, “Come and talk to me!” People will stand and try to get my attention, I’ll finally remove my headphones and they’ll have some trivial, non-work thing to say. Super annoying.

      2. Jabs*

        Thank you! I’ve had this book downloaded for a while but havent gotten around to it because… well, distractible. This is a good push to try and look into it (maybe over the holiday, when I’ll have a little more room to breathe!)

    7. LilySparrow*

      For me, it’s not so much the momentary ping itself, as the lure of wandering off checking other sites and not returning to task.

      I’ve had good results with a combination of incentives and reminders.

      I’ll make a timesheet or even a simple spreadsheet divided in increments (6 minutes if you’re used to reporting time in tenths, maybe 15 minutes if not). Whenever I finish a set of tasks, or realize that I’ve wandered off, I record how long I was on task and how long I wasn’t.

      Then I get a little reward for accumulating a certain number of “stars,” like a kids behavior chart. Maybe I go make a cup of tea, or put on my favorite playlist.

      I mean, the whole point of those charts in school is to support kids learning to self-regulate. It works on grownups, too.

      I’ve also used an app (can’t recall the name right now) that sets off a chime at random time intervals, asking “are you on task?”

      If your problem is too many interruptions, that might not help you. But if your problem is getting derailed, then being interrupted from doing the *wrong* thing can be useful.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        I do something similar, I downloaded a basic egg timer app and every 15 minutes it pops up a message that just says “What are you working on?” It’s helpful because if I drifted it kind of reminds me to get back to something productive, but it also helps me stop and think about what I am doing and how long I’ve been doing it, since I also have a tendency to get in a groove and spend way more time on one task in a day when I really needed to spend a little time on several things.

    8. Emmie*

      I started setting aside time to monotask. I began with 30 minutes most days of the week where I focus exclusively on one project. I worked at giving no attention to distractions like emails, IM, and coworkers. I even told my team that I will be in monotasking mode for 30 minutes. It’s something that has gradually caught on with other team members. I do my best to add monotasking times to my daily routine whenever possible. It’s hard because I manage people, and projects. I’ve learned that focusing is a muscle you build up over time. We’ve become so accustomed to giving attention to multiple things – checking our cell phones, answering a question to a coworker who walks in our office and emailing all while in a conference call. We need to practice changing that habit at least sometimes. Others have good suggestions too. I found that a defined monotasking period helps me limit the time I need to be super-disciplined, and was more practical for me to implement. Good luck!

    9. Zahra*

      Look at all the tips for people with ADHD! It’s something we live with everyday and such a common symptom that there are tons of tips online on how to manage distractibility and hyperfocus.

      1. epi*

        This is awesome advice. I do not have ADHD but went through a period with anxiety so bad, I honestly wondered if I did. (My sibling has it.)

        A lot of the concentration and organization tips for people with ADHD could really work for anyone, and there is a huge variety out there. I found their tip lists a lot more helpful than having to buy into a complete system.

    10. EJane*

      Muted notifications, headphones, and a sign for my desk that basically says “please email me any concerns or questions. I am on a deadline” help me.

    11. Lyudie*

      I struggle with this too. I’m currently using Todoist on my phone for making to-do lists, it’s nice because you can organize tasks into projects. I think it integrates with Outlook as well but I’ve never tried that. Grindstone is also a good app, it’s available for PC as well as mobile and is a time tracking application.

      1. The Pirate Bee*

        Todoist’s Outlook integration is great! My favorite feature is that you can create a task directly from an email, and then when you click on the task in the future, the email in question will pop right up. That plus the natural language scheduling (e.g., repeat every third Monday starting December 8th) is what’s kept me loyal to the program for so long.

    12. Anon-Today*

      I’ve tried a few things, with some success. First, I listen to airplane noise as white noise through my headphones. Having taken many long flights, I find it quite soothing, and if I turn it up it even seems to block the sound of people talking near me.

      Another is that I have two Chrome set-ups. One is strictly for work and one is just for personal stuff. The home page for the work one is our office’s page, and the bookmarks are all the places I could need to go in order to do my job. Any ads that show up will be work-related, vs. right now I’m being distracted by cute clothes on sale over there –>

      Like others, I have turned off notifications. My boss will send urgent emails (which I think is inappropriate) and if I don’t reply fast enough she’ll send her secretary over to tell me to check my email (which I think is also inappropriate – what about the phone?). But most of my other emails aren’t urgent, so it’s okay to work on them … and when I do, I make sure all other programs and apps are closed and my desk is clear. I have made mistakes in email because of my mind being full of random stuff distracting me even without ding dong notifications, so I try to answer my boss’s emails only when I feel I truly have my mind only on whatever she wants from me.

      Finally, I’m trying to reduce visual clutter. I have always had cluttered offices & desks, which ramps up the anxiety, but since I’m so messy by nature I have never felt totally comfortable without some clutter. My latest idea is to use a plain black background for my computer screen and have almost no shortcuts visible. I was really surprised how much difference that made first thing in the morning. I didn’t feel like “Oh lawdy, I can’t face this day…”

    13. epi*

      I recommend trying out lots of things until you develop a system that works for you. I can tell you a few things that have helped me lately that you might want to try or adapt for yourself.

      Forest: this is an app for your phone that you can use as a work/anti-distraction timer. Select an amount of time to be off your phone, and a little tree will grow while you do other things. The tree will die if you leave the app, or if you voluntarily give up. I’ve been really surprised how much more engaged I feel in a task I was avoiding or couldn’t concentrate on, just by promising myself I would focus on it for 10 minutes. I find it less tempting to cheat than with the Pomodoro method; I resent using my five minute break to just go to the bathroom.
      This month all the trees are holiday themed so even making a forest with just the starter tree is very rewarding. If you pay for the app, you can whitelist apps that are not true distractions or that you may need. This won’t keep you off your desktop browser unless you find it motivating. However, there are browser extensions you can try out like Leechblock.

      Read-only day: I stole this idea from my husband’s company, which doesn’t commit changes to their software on Friday afternoons. I do Monday mornings. For the first hour or two of the day, I don’t produce anything. I reorient myself to what I was working on, pull all my notes and to-do lists from the previous week into one clean master list in order of priority, and generally do anything I can to get myself set up for the week. Sometimes I also use this time to make a detailed plan of attack for a big task I’ve been avoiding, so I don’t feel like I’m going into it blind. Or I do any reading I need to do for the week.

      Research/work diary: This is what I’m filling out during read-only time. It’s a running Google Doc (but you could use anything) of notes, ideas, and what the *point* was of whatever I was doing. If I find myself really distracted from or blocked on a particular task, I turn to the work diary and just free write about why for a few minutes. Almost always works when I have the discipline to use it!

      Separate browsers: I open my work email and work internet in a regular Firefox window, personal stuff in a private one. The private one gets totally minimized while I’m growing a tree. Every few days, I willingly close the private window, blowing away all the non-work stuff I told myself I was going to read but never did.

    14. The Pirate Bee*

      As far as web browsing, one thing that helps me is a self-imposed rule on what browser I use for what task. My work tasks all take place in Chrome, but if I want to check my email or this blog or whatever, I make myself open up Firefox. The extra step is an opportunity for me to consider whether I really want to take a break or if it’s just boredom/reflex.

    15. Peep Ops*

      Our office is the same way and it can be so unproductive to switch constantly. Here’s some techniques I’ve used:

      I’m in HR so I set up office hours on Fridays on the company calendar with the understanding from people that I take non-emergency questions/meetings on those days
      I send a ping to my immediate team that I’ll be offline for X time if I really need to hunker down and then I turn off notifications for slack, turn off sound, and use a white noise machine in my space
      I chunk out time first thing in the am and again right after lunch to check emails and reply

    16. gut*

      Are those distractions part of your job? In that, is it part of your job to respond to immediate needs that those distractions are indicating?

      I ask this because I had to deal with a similar thing in my previous position and I was flatly told that the distractions *are* the job and other tasks are not a priority compared to handling the distractions.

      At my current position, the distractions are not work related but there are people constantly shouting and laughing very loudly in the office. Since they are not work related, I wear headphones all day and blast the white noise. I’m starting to lose my hearing, but I can’t really do anything else about it for now.

  2. Peaches*

    Had my company’s Christmas party at a “barcade” (bar/arcade) last night. My more-than-tipsy coworker saw a photo of my 30 lb poodle mix and proceeded to go on and on about how she was “the biggest poodle she has ever seen”, and how she “couldn’t get over how huge she was”. Then, she proceeded to show me a picture of her poodle, who I’d estimate was about 80 lbs. Alcohol does weird things, man. Lol.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      Bahaha. I showed a photo of my 85 lbs pit mix to my dept head, and I have never seen such a melty look in his eyes before. I’m weighing how useful it might be to tell said dept head that my dog is a therapy dog and maybe he could make the rounds during high stress days…aka spend all day in dept head’s office.

        1. MechanicalPencil*

          Technically if I brought my dog to work under the auspices of him working as a therapy dog, I would have to stay with him the whole time he was working to ensure he was treated well and was acting within the rules of therapy dogging. If I brought my dog in as a dog (which would be the only way he’d come to the office and chill with my dept head), it could be a free for all, so to speak. My dog knows the difference of his outings based on what he’s wearing and acts accordingly, so I just have to train the people.

          1. TooTiredToThink*

            “My dog knows the difference of his outings based on what he’s wearing and acts accordingly, so I just have to train the people.”

            That is AWESOME. And something I didn’t realize was part of training. I assumed they were always “on”.

            1. MechanicalPencil*

              Honestly, I didn’t actively try to train my dog to know the difference, but he gets more excited when his therapy dog harness comes out. I suppose he knows he gets to go get extra pets and attention rather than the usual walk and maaaybe some pets from neighbors when his regular walking harness comes out. They’re essentially the same harness, just different colors, and one has the velcro “therapy dog” tabs on it. Well. That’s not true. He has to get a bath before we go therapy dogging anywhere too. I didn’t think of that until just now. He hates the bath, loves the kids and seniors. He’s so gentle with them, which is super sweet to see, particularly since he’s sometimes a bull in a china closet at home.

              Tl;dr: It could be the pre-therapy dog bath; it could be the separate harness. The dog is smart, but maybe not THAT smart.

              1. EJane*

                I have a service dog, and he 100% knows what’s expected of him when he’s in vest and when he’s not. I have taken his vest off at work before and released him, and his body language COMPLETELY changes. Normally when he’s working, if someone talks to him, he looks to me. If someone is saying hi to him (with my permission) he waits until I release him before acknowledging them.

                When his vest is off, he’ll run around my office (small, informal company, and this only happens after hours) and greet people by shoving his head under their arm or leaning against them until they give him butt scratches.

                1. cold tea*

                  Yep. A friend has a service dog. When wearing the vest, he is working, he is well behaved, etc. The second that vest comes off, he’s got paws on stranger’s shoulders and is trying to lick them to death. Completely different personality with/without vest.

                2. MechanicalPencil*

                  Interesting. I’ve noticed when I take his working harness off he changes, but that’s been maybe a handful of instances, but I chalked that up to who he was around, and honestly, he almost instantly started napping (or “napping”). We’re fairly new to working as a therapy team, so we’re still learning a few things — or I am. I know my dog as the derp he is at home, not a quasi serious working dog. I should give him more respect.

                3. Marthooh*

                  Dear Alison:

                  I’m a mental health provider and I take my job seriously, maintaining a professional demeanor at all times at work. But I’m also outgoing and friendly, and when work is done, I will sometimes jump up and lick people’s faces or demand butt scratches from strangers. Some of my clients seem to think this behavior is problematic. Is it? Should I be sent to the doghouse?

                  — Waggin’ for the Weekend

  3. I Heart JavaScript*

    Hi everyone! I’ve been a regular reader and occasional commenter here since 2013 and I wanted to share some experiences I’ve had as a career changer who went through a programming bootcamp.

    This topic has come up a few times in this space with a lot of opinions about whether they work or are worth the time and expense, so I wanted to share my two cents, as someone who’s gone through one successfully.

    My background: before becoming a software engineer, I was an Executive Assistant in the Private Equity space. I worked my way up from the Reception desk all the way to supporting a Partner / Group Head. I had a stable, well-paying career and wasn’t the kind of person you typically hear going through these things. I wasn’t in my 20s nor was I underemployed. I was considered a rock star at my firm and had my pick of opportunities, up to and including learning associate-level, rather than admin, work.

    Why, then, did I go to a bootcamp? Well, I’ve always liked learning and loved puzzles. I like seeing tangled problems and finding elegant solutions; I like making order from chaos; I like learning new skills and tools. I got some of that in my work as an EA, but so much of my work felt more like babysitting grown men than actually solving tough problems.

    After spending months learning to code for fun, I actually started to pursue coding as a potential career. I quit my job, attended a well-regarded program in my city, and looked for a job. Altogether, I was out of work for 5.5 months: 3 months for my program, 1 month for vacation, 3 weeks for job searching, and 3 more weeks between accepting an offer and starting the job. I’ll be the first to admit that these results are not typical: I was the 2nd person in my group of 40 to find a full time position.

    I’ve now been working in the industry for 2 years and I’ve had a lot of success. I work at a nationally-known internet company and was offered a team leader position this summer, ahead of coworkers with literal decades more experience than I have.

    So, what are the things that have made me successful? They’re the things that made me an excellent EA. I’m detail-oriented and methodical. I’m good at figuring out the answer to things on my own without needing someone to hold my hand. I’m a clear communicator with both technical and non-technical staff. I can break a large, complex problem down into a step by step plan. I can prioritize tasks that align with product priorities.

    For those of you thinking about going through a coding bootcamp, consider these things:

    1. Not all bootcamps are created equal. Some are scams and many more are just terrible. Do your research, not just on outcomes, but on instruction quality and rigor.
    2. Not all job markets are created equal. Some places are much easier to get a job with no professional development experience than others. If you’re in a tough market, go in prepared.
    3. Raw technical ability matters less than interviewing skills and your network. There’s a minimum threshold, obviously, but the measurable differences in who gets jobs first aren’t usually who’s better at coding.
    4. Lots of different types of people do these programs. We had career changers, computer science grads, startup founders, and college students in my class. It’s easy to be intimidated by someone with a STEM background when you don’t have one, but they weren’t always (or even often) the best in the class or the first to get jobs.
    5. Knowing people in the industry (and in your job market) before you attend makes it much easier to get your first job. If you’re considering moving for a job search or a bootcamp, make sure you spend time to develop your network by going to conferences, meet ups, study groups. etc. because those are the people who’ll help you get your foot in the door.
    6. Do you even like it? A lot of people are attracted to coding because it’s a well-paid career with a lot of flexibility. It can be a real slog, though, if you don’t love it. Spending hours or days hunting down a bug because a coworker made a mistake is frustrating enough when you enjoy the rest of your job. If you’re just in it for a paycheck, you’ll make yourself miserable. If tracking it down sounds like fun, though, then you’re in the right place.

    1. irene adler*

      Thank you for this!
      I’ve been toying with the notion of programming. I took a number of community college courses (Python, HTML, PHP, etc. ) along with things pertaining to my work (Quality assurance topics). Every time I loved the programming courses the best (didn’t much care for the QA stuff-sigh!). Like you said, solving puzzles…there’s something soooo attractive in doing that.

      Good to see you are fairing quite well doing this.

      Would the cost of the bootcamp be an indicator of it’s “quality & rigor”? I’ve seen some that cost $10K.

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        Most of the actual good ones cost closer to $20k than $10. Providing quality instruction costs a lot of money, as good instructors can make excellent money in the industry as programmers themselves. Also, there’s a lot of facilities and infrastructure costs.

        As far as evaluating quality and rigor, talking to successful bootcamp grads in your area is probably the best bet. What’s available from region to region varies widely, but we tend to be pretty plugged into our local areas. Also, after graduating, finding jobs, and spending time in the industry, we tend to know if the money was worth it or if others who went elsewhere had an easier/harder time.

        1. gut*

          $20K! For $25K, I got a master’s degree (at my state school – not an online degree).

          But to your point, I learned to code later in life too. I wish I’d done it earlier. I love it and I picked it up quickly for many of the same reasons you listed. The exception is that I’m profoundly NOT detail oriented, but I can hold logical systems in my head easily, which helps. Also, with modern IDEs and autocompletion, the detail orientation and detail memory is not as important because you have some form of assistance (as with many other aspects of programming and other types of work – you choose tools based on your strengths and weaknesses. many of my coworkers who are more detail oriented find the autocompletion annoying lol).

      2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I think the solving puzzles aspect gets overlooked a lot when people discuss if someone would be a good coder/would enjoy coding. It’s not a 1-1 match to point 6, but it can be a good proxy when you’re just starting out.

        (I will note that I like a clearly defined bug – if I know what’s wrong, that means I can fix it! But if all I know is that something isn’t right, that’s a much harder problem.)

      3. J.B.*

        I would consider looking at bootcamps offered by universities if there are any in your area. At least you can ask questions about alumni network. Not that campus career centers are great, but you may be able to participate in tech career fairs. People have also recommended Meetup groups.

        1. I Heart JavaScript*

          J.B. I would actually advise against this. The university bootcamps aren’t actually run by the universities, they’re run by a group called Trinity and they market under the university’s extension program. They’re legitimately terrible. A friend did U.C. Berkeley’s and it was so awful he’s given up on engineering jobs altogether after spending moneys and a lot of money on it.

          1. J.B.*

            Huh, that is not what I expected at all! It is good to know that. A bootcamp near us closed and the university’s is there, but if they are that ick then no way.

            1. I Heart JavaScript*

              I know! It’s completely predatory and I’m honestly angry at the universities for allowing their names to be used like that.

      4. I Heart JavaScript*

        Take a look at the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting — they’re the most ethical and rigorous measure of bootcamp outcomes on the internet. Not every bootcamp is on there (and if they’re not, run far, far away), but the ones who are have their outcomes data audited for accuracy and have to abide by strict standards for what certain statistics mean.

        Outcomes data isn’t the end all be all for determining quality, but it’s a good place to start.

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          One other note on CIRR – for some results, you don’t want the bootcamp you’re looking at to have a 100% score. The one that immediately comes to mind is graduation rate – a bootcamp that’s got a 100% graduation rate is most likely either not rigorous enough in their coursework, or passing people who weren’t doing passing work.

          (Source: Discussions with the directors of a bootcamp we’ve hired developers from.)

          1. I Heart JavaScript*

            This 100%. Getting the stats is only the first step — knowing what to look for is something else. If you’re looking at CIRR stats, at least, you can (sort of) trust they haven’t been so horribly manipulated that you can’t recognize them. Like with anything of this magnitude and lack of regulation, go in skeptical.

    2. Sleepy*

      Thanks for this! I’ve been toying with this for a while so it’s great to hear this perspective.

      Do you have any thoughts on whether it makes a difference if it’s a man or a woman doing the bootcamp?

      1. I heart JavaScript*

        My class was about 25% women and the first 3 people to get jobs were all women, so take of that what you will!

        I found that we tended to be more highly motivated and more mature in our careers, which helped us in the job search. As women, we’re also socialized to jump into things only when we feel like we’re ready, so we tended to over-prepare, compared to some of the male students.

        That said, my program was very careful to shut down any sexist BS that might arise. One guy in my class got tossed for an inappropriate project and a few others got some serious discussions about professionalism to keep them on the straight and narrow.

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        My first salary was $100k after the bootcamp, which was slightly below median for my class (I took the first offer I got because I was paranoid about getting anything and getting stuck in the job hunt for months). Total compensation (including things like bonuses and benefits) was actually lower than my final EA job, but the quality of life changes were definitely better.

        I’m in the SF Bay Area, for what it’s worth on salary info.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      Oh, man. If I had this info a year ago, my career might be on a completely different path (our backgrounds are quite similar, and my reasons for getting away from admin/EA work are the same!). As it is, I love my new job, but I’m definitely going to keep this in my back pocket. Or maybe steer my college-age kid toward it…

    4. Anon type of question*

      This is really helpful information for people. Thanks for sharing it. I think your soft skills and prior experience provide a leg up, for sure.

      I don’t want to be pushy about salary information, but if you don’t mind answering, was your first job a step back or a move up in salary? If the first, have you gotten to where you were before over the past couple years? This has been a jump I’ve considered in the past, but not so much that I’d want to go back to my salary from 15 years ago, which is what a bootcamp program admissions person had told me to expect for my region. However, I am in a slow growth phase of my career now, so it could be possible to catch up quickly.

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        I’m still not income ROI positive. Nearly 6 months loss of salary as an EA, plus the cost of bootcamp, worked out to about $70k. My first job’s salary wasn’t bad, but was still slightly less than what I made as an EA, so I only started working myself out of that “hole” about a year ago. That said, I had the money and the quality of life benefits were pretty significant, so I’m overall very happy with my choice.

        The one thing I miss about being an EA in finance: the occasional $1000 gift cards to places like Saks Fifth Avenue. It wasn’t worth it, but every so often I remember the perks fondly.

          1. I Heart JavaScript*

            Oh, it’s definitely not worth it (at least for me). The money was good, but it was completely soul crushing.

            It’s a hard job without any recognition (you only get recognized as an EA if you screw up, if you’re doing your job right, you’re basically invisible), a lot of unreasonable requests, and outcomes you’re responsible for but have no control over. It can be so hard not to let it get to you or not to take it all personally. My executives loved me and were some of my biggest cheerleaders and best references during the switch, so I know they didn’t intend to make me miserable, but it was still really hard not to get bitter and jaded.

      2. Anon type of question*

        Thanks for sharing! That’s about what I expected. Your salary noted above is more like $50k in my midwest city, and that’s close to the projections I was told. I wanted to respond here to flag that to those reading this. You hear a lot of hype about people making six figures straight out of college (or bootcamp). That’s not in all regions. Be sure to know your area or areas you would move to before diving in.

        1. gut*

          Yeah I’m from the midwest as well and most people I know in tech (myself included) (and tech to mean anything from analytics to actual development or something in between) started at about 50K out of college and moved up to 100K with 3-6 years of experience (especially if they have an MS as well but not needed).

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      How did you decide what language to go to bootcamp for? Did you look into the job market in your area? Find what interested you?

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        I picked the bootcamp in my area with the best outcomes data, the most rigorous program, and the highest opinion from other grads. The language I learned was incidental (to me) compared to the quality of instruction.

        I was lucky that I was already plugged into that community, which made the research on which programs were best pretty easy.

      2. Eng*

        I didn’t attend a bootcamp but I am an engineer involved in hiring. Language doesn’t matter. Learning the basics of one language is is a tiny portion of what a software engineer needs to know. At the entry level, all the skills you need should be transferrable between any modern object oriented language

    6. matcha123*

      Thanks for the info. I’d love to do a bootcamp, but I have terrible math skills and I don’t have even $1k for a course, let alone $20k.
      I have been trying to do some self-study and use coursera and edx. I’d love to gt better and move on to a better job.

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        The math stuff is actually a lot more overblown than most people think. If you can do basic algebra, you can do enough math for a front end development job.

        As for the money, most bootcamps offer something called Skills Fund, which is like and education loan for the bootcamp. It’s not a federally subsidized loan, but I have friends who used it and were pretty happy.

        Also, some bootcamps offer a pay-once-you-get-a-job model where you delay payment until graduation and your first job, then you pay them the first 20% of your salary the next year. Details obviously vary by program and read the fine print super carefully.

        There are usually options for people who want to make it happen, even if you can’t afford it to start. There’s also at least one part time program I know that’s highly reputable, for people who can’t afford to take 6 months off of work.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Scrolled down to see if anyone else had asked this question when I saw your post. It is out of the question for me, then. I can’t do algebra at all (severe dyscalculia).

          I can do HTML, which isn’t math-y (it’s just tags) but obviously this isn’t something I should waste time and money on. Thank you for sharing the info!

          1. I Heart JavaScript*

            If you’re good with HTML and CSS, look at Software Design jobs. Having a designer who knows how to style things in web languages (not just how to design them in Adobe) is worth their weight in gold.

            With purely HTML/CSS, you’ll occasionally need to look at calculating or messing with margins, but there are lots of built-in tools in browsers like Chrome and Firefox to do that stuff for you.

            1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

              I actually wouldn’t recommend this for someone with dyscalculia. While the HTML is, as Elizabeth West mentioned, just tags (if you’re doing it right), the CSS involves a lot of sizing and positioning. Whether you’re looking at absolute or relative values, it’s all math. (Honestly, most of the math I use as a developer is when they have me updating CSS.)

          2. we're basically gods*

            Honestly, I’ve found back-end stuff to be less math-y. I am terrible at math– they wouldn’t diagnose me with dyscalculia, because I scored too high on other stuff on the test, and instead of thinking I was compensating for poor number skills with other intelligence, they assumed I was just freaking myself out. I did a boot camp because I knew going in to college I wanted to be a developer, but after failing calculus *five times* I knew I had to go in a different direction.
            I do…nothing with math in my current job. Nothing at all. I would say that you may still be fine, even with the math issues! (I struggled in math my entire life. Always hated it. The first time someone told me I should look into programming was in high school, talking with a math genius in my class about how much I enjoyed writing proofs in geometry, which was something my classmates despised. He suggested that programming was very much like writing proofs, and I would be inclined to agree!)

            1. I Heart JavaScript*

              That’s a good point — if you can do basic math concepts and like logical proofs, but not the numbers, many developer jobs are totally on the table.

              Also, databases are basically all systems thinking and relationship mapping. So working with building reports and managing reporting pipelines has a lot less math to it than what I do every day.

                1. I Heart JavaScript*

                  Logical proofs are basically “if this, then that” statements. You start with basic assumptions, then build up to a conclusion with those set of logic statements. That’s it, really.

            2. gut*

              Yup same. I didn’t struggle with math, but I never enjoyed it either. The logic involved in programming is more akin to proofs IMO than actual math. I don’t use math at all and my official title is “data scientist”. LOL

          3. Windchime*

            I took a programming certification course around 20 years ago at a community college. The only math I had to do was a little algebra, and then some math in a data structures class that honestly most people didn’t attempt (and they still passed the course). My day to day job now is doing report development for the finance department of a hospital, so that does include math but I have coworkers who report on clinical data and I think that their math is zero.

            Most of my work is done in SQL and there is basically no math in that.

      2. I Heart JavaScript*

        Check out Free Code Camp online — they have some excellent courses on front end and general web development topics.

      3. Process Geek*

        Community colleges in my area have some pretty decent beginning coding classes. You can also find an open source project to get more real-world experience which you can cite in a job hunt.

        Check your public library, too. In Minnesota, everyone with a public library card has full free access to (now LinkedIn Learning) from any browser. You need to know how to log in to your library system’s website, but the librarians are very happy to help.

      4. ArtK*

        Unless you’re implementing numerical algorithms, heavy-duty math isn’t necessary. I think that’s a carry-over from the very early days. Most business applications only need arithmetic or possibly a touch of very basic algebra — stuff you likely do every day without realizing that it’s algebra. My BS is a cross between mathematics and computer science and I can promise you that I’ve barely touched anything on the math side in a very long career. For a lot of programming, the CS isn’t necessary either.

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          The only time I needed calculus as a developer was when I was writing motion profile software for a mechanical engineer. I got that job because I have half an ME degree, and my boss needed someone who understood what the client was talking about. And even so, I ran all the math past the client before I implemented any of it.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Thank you for posting! I am very much a puzzle person, too, which is why my current position has evolved to encompass a lot of QA and Business Analyst activities. I’m pretty happy where I am and with my projected career glide path, but this sounds like something I might try, especially if I wind up (involuntarily) job-searching. It would probably be better both financially and as a fit for me than a PMP, which I was also considering. I should probably even look at evening or online alternatives that I can do while I keep my current job.

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        For part time, online options, take a look at Hack Reactor. They have a well-regarded, online, part time program. I know several people who’ve gone through and successfully found jobs.

        Doing this thing part time and remote makes it harder — it’s easier to get distracted / not finish and it’s harder to gauge your local job market. Also a lot of the remote / part time options aren’t as rigorous as some of the in person ones, so definitely do your research before putting any money down.

    8. emmelemm*

      Thank you for sharing this! It’s both heartening and intimidating at the same time. :)

      I’ve considered doing a coding bootcamp. I am currently a software designer, actually, but I work in a pretty obsolete language and have been maintaining a code base for a long time, so my skills are seriously atrophied. Because I have basic coding knowledge, I’m pretty confident I could get a lot out of a coding bootcamp, technical wise.

      However, my primary issue to moving on is that I *don’t* have a network, I’ve been at the same place for a long time, I’m not going to have great references, etc. I was kind of hoping that a bootcamp would be a huge boost in those areas. Guess I’m going to have lean into “networking” a lot harder.

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        Bootcamps can help a bit with the networking, but everyone in your program will be looking for jobs at the same time you are and most aren’t great at connecting alumni with recent grads.

        Where bootcamp networks are great is for jobs #2 and beyond. Your classmates (along with former coworkers) become your best source of referrals.

        For networking pre-bootcamp (or as a recent grad), I tend to recommend going to meetups, conferences, study sessions, and hackathons. Getting to know people in your industry in your local area makes it so much easier to get a referral or warm intro to a company as a new grad.

    9. These Old Wings*

      My husband also did a development boot camp and changed careers from Corporate Comms to web developer. He loves the perk of working entirely from home, although honestly he took a significant pay cut and while he has been given raises (including when he technically wasn’t eligible for one), he’s still making much less than he was in his previous career. Because it’s a well-paying career, he will probably eventually move back into his previous salary range, but still something to consider!

    10. Diahann Carroll*

      This was inspiring to read as another career changer (though not as a coder, but in a tech-adjacent industry). Congrats on your success!

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        Thank you! I’ve wanted to post this for awhile, since people will ask about them in the comments from time to time. I just don’t typically get a chance to join on Fridays until it’s too late for anyone to see!

    11. ArtK*

      This looks like a very good list. I’m on the other side — I’ve been doing enterprise software development for 35+ years (and worked in IT or “data processing” for many years before that.) All of the items are good, but #6 is very important. Software is a field that requires a very unique mindset and it’s certainly not for everyone. Enjoying puzzles is a good marker for this. Wondering why and how things work is another one. During a recent job interview I was asked what the most important quality of a good software engineer was. My answer: curiosity.

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        When I’m asked that, I usually give a short list:

        1. Curiosity
        2. Autonomy / self-motivation
        3. Pattern matching
        4. Thoroughness / attention to detail / methodical approach

    12. we're basically gods*

      Number 6 is SO important. There were a lot of people in my coding bootcamp who didn’t seem to enjoy it even a little bit.
      I’d also add– do you think like a programmer? Do you enjoy logic puzzles? Do you enjoy changing one little thing, seeing if it works, rinse and repeat? Is your approach to problem solving to type your problem into google and see what you can see?
      There’s no shame in not thinking that way, but don’t try to get into coding because it seems like it pays well if you hate it and find it unintuitive, you’ll just be miserable.

    13. Introvert Who Likes Puzzles :-)*

      Thank you so much for the post. I am intrigued and your suggestions are true gems! I wonder: Do you feel like the job is truly flexible? (Or will you be “bossed” around a lot, having to make many changes of directions, and having to work long hours when not planned all the time?) I like the puzzle-solving aspect you’ve described, but is majority of the work more repetitive and possibly boring stuff? Thanks!

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        It really depends on your job, company, and interests!

        So, obviously, not all jobs or companies are flexible. The more valuable of an employee you are, the more flexibility you tend to have. Job markets where it’s tough to hire developers tend to allow for more flexibility. More senior developers tend to have more flexibility than junior ones. Personally, I have a lot of flexibility. I can decide when I want to work from home without any issues. I can decide when I want vacation and it gets approved. I had to fly to another continent earlier this year for a family emergency and I gave my manager 2 hours noticed — I got no pushback, only support. I work as little as 30 hours a week when things are slow and no more than 45 hours a week when things are busy. The same applies to job responsibilities — my manager wants to keep me happy, so he does his best to staff me on things that I’ll enjoy.

        As far as interesting, engaging work, that often lies in the eye of the beholder. I like dev ops / dev tools (basically infrastructure and solving problems for other developers) better than I like building a new front end page. HTML and CSS are not my jam. But there are plenty of others who like those parts of the job and are good at them! The key is having a mix at any company, so you can focus on the parts of the job you like best.

        Not all companies are created equal in terms of interesting projects either. Some companies are only maintaining legacy systems and aren’t building new things or investigating new technologies or tools. Those jobs tend to be more rote or repetitive. That said, being on the cutting edge has its drawbacks, also — technologies are less stable, there are fewer resources available to help you solve your problems.

        One of the best things about this business is how acceptable it is to jump around. People expect that software engineers will jump ship every 2-5 years because companies typically can’t keep changing their technology stacks that quickly, so it’s how we learn. This means that it’s harder to get a reputation as a job hopper, so each offer you take is less of a risk. Try something out and don’t like it? That’s ok, find something else and move on.

    14. Alex*

      Thanks! This is an idea I’ve toyed with myself. Do you have any idea about the experience of getting a regular degree or certificate in programming from a college vs. doing the bootcamp? Do employers prefer the bootcamp grads?

  4. Doug Judy*

    Anyone have any recommendations for an online SQL course? I know basics, and our corporate trainer resigned, so my company is looking to outsource the training instead of doing it in-house.

    1. DC*

      I completed one through General Assembly, and really liked it. It was very hands on and I felt made it easy to retain the material.

    2. Zahra*

      Depending on the people needing the training, you might not need a full-blown course. With people that are comfortable with Excel, you can translate a lot of functions to SQL pretty easily (string manipulation, date/time functions, lookups that are the equivalent of joins, etc.). For data extraction/analysis, you can do pretty powerful stuff with about 10-15 keywords (string functions and date/time functions count each as one).

    3. ArtK*

      If you have a major vendor for your database, as in Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, they will have training available. Whether it’s affordable is another question entirely. Some will be online and some will be in-person.

      The reason I mention the vendor is that although SQL is supposedly standardized, every vendor has their own take on it and getting training on the specific product you’re using may be more useful. Aside: I served on the committee that maintained the SQL standards for quite some time, so the multiple variations are somewhat frustrating.

      1. Zahra*

        Multiple variations can be frustrating, but that’s why I keep bookmarks for the SQL functions for each of the vendors I’ve used in the past. I’ve been working contract in a bunch of companies, so I’ve used MySQL, MS SQL, BigQuery, Amazon Athena, PostgreSQL, Oracle…

        While learning the specific product you’re using is definitely the best thing to do, the variations aren’t that bad when your work is just extracting data. Going from LEFT/RIGHT to LEFT/RIGHT/MID to SUBSTR is really a minor thing compared to learning how joins and subqueries work.

  5. MOAS*

    I was the bathroom talker this week.

    If I’m on the phone at work, it’s usually to make a Dr appt or personal business stuff. but I usually try to avoid being on the phone too much.

    So….I got a phone call that was personal in nature and I was scrambling to find privacy. I was flustered, running around like a hen.

    I landed in a bathroom stall. 

    I was on hold for the most part, because the person on teh line kept putting me on hold. so I wasn’t talking too much.

    Someone entered the stall next to me, and….flushed.. 4 times. FOUR TIMES in 1-2 minutes. so whenever I was taken off hold and I could speak, the toilet in the next stall would flush. 

    I finally just rushed out. Luckily I was done with my call. 

    This won’t happen again, so no action plan for “next time”, just wanted to , just wanted to share a slightly silly story from “the other side.” 

    1. cat socks*

      Ugh, that’s frustrating! I wish buildings had “phone booths” to take personal calls. Sometimes I’ll duck into a conference room but that’s not always an option.

      1. Jan Levinson*

        Agreed. I hate having to speak with the doctor at work and usually end up hiding in a bathroom stall as well because there aren’t any good spots (unfortunately, I had to have several phone calls with my OB this past summer after suffering multiple miscarriages – so, obviously a super sensitive subject). There are only three women in my office, so it’s usually a safe spot, but I’m always super anxious about someone walking in! One time someone did walk in, and in a panic I hung up mid conversation and had to call my doctor’s office back and tell them the call had dropped.

      2. pancakes*

        Some do, especially law firms. WeWork had phone booths, too, but reportedly built them with elevated levels of formaldehyde, such that people who went in to make calls would come out with headaches and runny eyes.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              It’s a shame, since the concept of shared workspaces is awesome. They just have no idea how to run a company.

      3. Nessun*

        We have phone booths! We also have conference rooms…and it’s a pet peeve of mine that people use the conference rooms when the booths are almost always free. I can’t have a meeting in a phone booth, but they take calls in a meeting room. Sheesh people, choose more wisely.

        1. Lyudie*

          We have two of those per floor in my building. I take one on ones and stuff like that in there so I can not annoy my coworkers/have a private conversation without taking up a whole room.

      4. I See Real People*

        Like the ones on the TV series Mad Men…they had three or four phone booths between the elevator and their office. Those would be helpful today!

      5. ThatGirl*

        We have 4 dedicated “phone rooms” on each floor, which are bookable if you have like, a conference call to be on by yourself. I wish more offices had them.

      6. OtterB*

        My office is renovating completely to a semi-open plan (low cubicles). I’m not wild about it but see the necessity (square footage is not going to change but staff is increasing). One of the things the new plan does right is have a couple of small phone rooms. It’s mainly because of the need for conference calls, but will also be useful for this kind of thing.

        1. WellRed*

          Why can’t they have normal height cubicles? That wouldn’t take more space and would give the illusion of some privacy.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            At our new place, the open floor plan “cubicles” are about half the size of the normal wall cubicles at our old office. Shoving someone in a space that small with no wall is probably worse than having no privacy. (Although I think my first cube at first-job was about 3×6, and I liked it.)

            Our new open office also has phone booths. Only they’re called something else.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, we had those at Exjob too but you weren’t supposed to use them for personal calls. You had to book them if you wanted to have a conference call. They were pretty strict about it.

      7. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.*

        Mine does – and breakout conference rooms, but every so often there is literally no room at the inn. It can be a real scramble to find a private space!

      8. The Beagle has Landed*

        I rush outside to take calls, or into the parking structure. Almost got run over today…

    2. stitchinthyme*

      My guess is that the flusher was annoyed by your use of the bathroom stall as a phone booth, and flushed on purpose. (I will confess to having that impulse myself when I hear someone on the phone in the bathroom, but I confine myself to the usual single flush when I’m done.)

      Sucks that some offices don’t have anyplace to make a private call, though, so I get it.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Yeah, I mean – isn’t it a violation of their privacy to have you in the next stall broadcasting the sounds of their bathroom activities to the person on the other end of your phone call? Unless you are calling 911, please don’t do that!

        And I do totally get stepping into the bathroom in a flustered rush when answering a private call, but maybe next time stand in the main area of the bathroom, and if someone comes in, then you can exit immediately, and let the person on the other end know you need to put them on hold for a minute while you find an alternate private space.

        1. MOAS*

          I did htat. and stood outside. and tried to find the stairwell but that was broken. like I said… chicken without its head. lol .

      2. MCL*

        Maybe! Or maybe they just needed to flush a lot. Not to get too graphic, but sometimes flushing has to happen a few times during a bathroom visit.

    3. 1234*

      I’m wondering if the person next to you purposely flushed 4 times or you have those automatic toilets that flush by themselves.

      1. MOAS*

        No, these are manual flushes. I’m not upset anymore, but it was a..uh… super highly emotional period and now that it’s over I can look back and chuckle.

    4. Reba*

      Oh man, one time I was on hold with an airline for over two hours…and this was like the third time I called so I didn’t want to give up. I really needed to go and finally broke down and ran to the bathroom.

      OF COURSE the moment I’m on the toilet is when the line picks up. People were flushing around me, I was so uncomfortable because I was literally peeing while speaking! I just said “sorry, this is an awkward moment” and got the call done. UGH.

      1. Jdc*

        If I’m going to be put on hold for hours i have zero shame in using the bathroom. They signed on for that when they under staffed causing such long hold times.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Oh no, lol.
      At Exjob, a lot of people would go into the stairwell. If I was doing stair climbs at the time, I tried to ignore them, but as the stairs weren’t exactly private in any case, they just had to deal with it. Most people who had intensely personal calls to make went to their cars, but that’s not always doable for everyone.

  6. Non-Plushed Duck*

    I’ve been with my organization for over 5 years. I’m well-known throughout the company and have always received positive reviews, etc. I applied for a position in another department about 3 months ago. The position would be a total career change, but I had the support of my current boss and was brought in for an interview. Over the past few months, I tried not to bother my colleagues and HR, as I didn’t want to take advantage / abuse the fact that I worked in the organization. About a month ago while working with HR on a project (unrelated to the potential job), I was told I was still in contention. I thanked the rep for the update, but given that we were discussing activities related to my current job, it felt inappropriate to discuss the other job, so I didn’t push for details. Fast forward to this week when I received an email, a form letter, notifying me that I wasn’t selected for the job. Please know, I am not upset I didn’t get the job. I knew there were skills that I would have to learn on the job and that they could very likely want someone with more direct experience. I am pretty irritated though that they sent me a form letter to my work email to tell me I didn’t get it. Is it too much to ask that they give me a quick call to let me know before sending the official word? 

    1. Colette*

      Some people prefer calls, others prefer email, so I don’t think the email is out of line. It would be a better practice to offer to have a conversation with you, or to give you a more personal explanation, though.

      1. Non-Plushed Duck*

        Sure, I would be fine with a personal email too. But, it was 100% a form letter automatically filled in/pushed out by the system. It recommended I visit the company’s website where they have FAQs on applying for jobs.

        I just feel, as an employee in good standing, that good HR practice would be to contact internal applicants directly, even if it’s just to say sorry you didn’t get it.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            My last company used to do that. And it was super annoying when they’d claim you didn’t have the skills you needed for the job, when you demonstrably did. (By the time I left, what it really meant was: “You’ve been here 10 or more years, and we’re really tired of paying for long-term benefits packages. Please leave.”

            I keep running into former co-workers who are now former employees of the company. They all seem so much happier…

    2. londonedit*

      I agree that it’s a shame they couldn’t take the time to give you a more personal response – they should have done that, as you were an internal candidate.

      But speaking in broader terms, this is one of those things that people have differing opinions about – some people would say they’d never want to be called with bad news about a job application, because it puts them on the back foot and they have to do the whole awkward ‘Oh! Oh, right, well, thank you for letting me know…’ thing while trying their best not to sound too disappointed. It’s also true that many people’s hopes would soar when they heard ‘We’re calling about the job you applied for…’ and then be instantly crushed when they heard ‘…I’m sorry to say you’ve been unsuccessful’. Those people (I’m one of them!) much prefer to receive bad news like this by email, so they can digest it in their own time and come to terms with it and formulate a reasonable response if necessary.

      1. Non-Plushed Duck*

        Totally understand… I would be fine with an email, but a personal email. This was a standard email send to applicants and very clearly for those who don’t work for the company.

    3. Doug Judy*

      I was turned down in person for an internal position. It was super awkward and uncomfortable. I would have preferred an email so I could process first with the opportunity discuss (after a few days) what I would need to do in the future.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I had that experience as well, and it wasn’t great, especially since I knew the only reason I didn’t get the job was because my current manager tanked me with the new one prior to my interview (she smugly told me so after the interview).

    4. Non-Plushed Duck*

      Just adding a note. My issue is with the form letter. If they had sent me a personal email that would have been fine too. Phone call, email, smoke signals. All would have been fine, if such forms of communication actually acknowledged I am an employee.

    5. broken hearted internal candidate*

      I was turned down for an internal position by my boss. I had told him that if I didn’t get the position I wanted to know in person, as I knew I would be very frustrated by a form letter. My boss, who is great, set up the conversation so I was 99.9% sure our meeting that day would be the rejection. There are other aspects of the situation that are upsetting to me, but I keep holding on to the kindness and respect my boss showed me that day.

      The worst part is many people knew I had applied, and when they ask me how I’m doing, I either break into tears or almost break into tears.

    6. These Old Wings*

      I totally agree with you that a call, or at minimum a more personalized email, should have been the way you were told. I went to an interview over the summer for a company I had previously spent 5 years working for. I left on good terms (we moved for my husband’s job) and was still in touch with several former coworkers. I had been looking to get back into the workforce after taking a few years off with my kids, and when I saw that they were hiring for my exact previous position, I reached out to my previous supervisor, who encouraged me to send her my resume and brought me in. Long story short, not only did they not hire me back, but nobody could even be bothered to let me know at all that they went with another candidate. I still think that is so incredibly shitty and can’t fathom why companies do this. Everything worked out for me in the end and I have a great job with a very short commute, but I’m still bitter about my former agency!

  7. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

    Life and Work Change Questions

    I have some questions that I need to reflect on and wanted the advice of the smart people here.

    For background, I am a single woman, over 50 years old. I have decided that after working for others for my whole life, I am ready to make a big change next year – once I get thru the next 6 months of some work stuff and health stuff. I have had two main careers (software and non-profit, each career ten++ years long). With that:

    First, I am starting to erase (as best as one can haha) my social media presence: deleted twitter in October, deleting things each day off of facebook, and I will in May (once my job ends) delete my LinkedIn account, too. Trying to wrap up this phase of life so that I can move on to a less-connected-virtually and more-connected-reality-based life.

    I have a dream to buy a small cabin/place, make it eco friendly (solar, small windmill, mostly plastic free, maybe with chickens for eggs and a garden). I would like to open the place up, about a year after settling, into a BnB for single women travellers, women artists, etc and use it also as a place to teach in the community about environmental issues and integrate it as a social enterprise – using some profits to support causes like tree planting and conservation.

    My dream is very scary to me. Have any of you jumped off the corporate/business ship to start your own thing like this? Advice? Pitfalls? Things you wish you had known? If all else fails, I will have a place to use that is mine, and can survive and maybe just AirBnB it. But I want to make a calm oasis, and a safe place and have a slower life from here on out. Thoughts?

    1. I am gonna make it through this year*

      I have not done this myself, but I think your plan is gonna hit a road block if you really want to be “less-connected-virtually”. That kind of thing is gonna need an online presence and marketing, and if you’re starting off small, I assume you’ll be doing that yourself. The social media aspects would be different than your current, since it’s clearly a professional thing to sell a product, but you might have some lines blurring in targeting your audience specifically.

      1. ThatGirl*

        This is a great point – your scope would be extremely limited if you didn’t market and advertise online, and people generally expect some sort of online presence for small businesses these days.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I agree on the online presence thing.

        What you may want to do is rebuild your online presence (either with the same accounts, or new ones) that reflect your new persona. And, if you need to, set clear limits on when you interact … which would be part of your “brand.”

        1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

          Thx – this is what I think I was trying to figure out, a new brand, presence. Not the old me. :)

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Just set up a website for your business and possibly an Instagram account. You don’t have to post anything personal or even have your name in the handle/title, but you do need some kind of online presence when trying to launch a business (I wish it wasn’t true, but word-of-mouth marketing isn’t nearly as effective as I’d like it to be says the woman with a small, independent book publishing company).

            1. Filosofickle*

              Even when WOM works the online presence is still needed as a backstop. No one finds and hires me because of my site, but they do eventually check it out after they’re referred to me. Personally, I am wary if I’m referred to someone and they don’t have some basic online presence that says “I’m a real business”.

        2. LilySparrow*

          Oh, this point reminds me of another friend who bought and renovated a small apartment in a historical building overseas. She’s listed it as a rental property for when she’s not using it.

          She had the idea to blog about her process of renovation and life transition, in the hopes of creating a compelling story for potential visitors and getting people excited about the place.

          Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a good sense of where to draw the line on personal transparency vs marketing. So she posts about the drainage issues, the mold, the odors, the pests, and the frustration of opportunistic burglars stealing the tools and construction materials because she’s not there to oversee the work. She made it a struggle story, and her friends gave her lots of sympathy and encouragement.

          But now the “getaway” is finished and open, and she isn’t getting bookings. Because nobody wants to pay for an overseas vacation and stay in a damp, moldy, stinky, unsafe, rat-infested property.

          I mean, she’s solved those issues now, but her “marketing” is actively driving away customers.

          So as you build that online brand, be mindful and intentional about what people will see.

          1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

            Aha, great story and good insight. Yeah – I don’t own a hammer at the moment, so anything I buy will not be a real serious fixer upper haha. But yes to marketing correctly. Good points.

            1. Anono-me*

              The comment about not having a hammer makes it sound like you’re not very handy. Please consider taking some classes maybe through Community Ed or even through some of the big home stores? Even if you find a turnkey property, you’re still going to have maintenance and upkeep issues. More people using the property means things are going to wear out and need fixing faster. And if something stops working, you’ll need to get it fixed quickly, since you have paying guests.

              Have you considered a tent camping retreat? If you had nice showers and a quiet pretty camping space; I would love to visit.

      3. Marny*

        This is a great point– you’ll definitely need an online presence for this type of business. And I think people tend to like to research places online before coming (especially single women) to make sure it’s legit and safe, so you may find that you’ll want a personal presence online as well as a business presence just so that people can learn about the person behind the property. However, starting your social media presence over from scratch with that idea in mind might be the best way to go moving forward.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          She doesn’t need the personal presence – in the About Us section on her business page, she can post a warm and inviting photo and write a couple fluffy paragraphs about herself.

          1. Marny*

            I can’t speak for other people, but even after seeing that About Us page, I’d absolutely google the person to see what else I could find out about her– especially if I were going to be staying on her property. There are too many instances of AirBnB fraud (where a property isn’t actually what it’s represented to be or owned by the person who advertises it) that I tend towards the more paranoid place when it comes to that stuff. Anyone can post a stock photo with fluffy info. I’d want more corroboration.

    2. Colette*

      That sounds lovely. I do have a few things for you to think about, though:
      – is it legal where you are to restrict a BnB to women? Or would you be open to everyone?
      – deleting LinkedIn may be a bad idea – if you’re starting what is essentially a business, you will want to let people know about it, so keeping your contacts is a good idea. You don’t have to go on it often, but I wouldn’t delete it.
      – $$ – have you done the math on your current level of savings, the amount it will cost to buy a place, the amount it will cost to upgrade it, and the amount it will cost to live after that?

      Good luck!

      1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

        Ah, thanks. I think so, yes on. Creating a women’s retreat for rental to them, yes. Interesting point on LI, thx. And yes, am working on the finances now. :)

        1. Public Sector Manager*

          You should really talk to a lawyer about the restrictions on gender for your bed and breakfast. In California, public accommodations, including housing, have to be open to everyone. Put another way, there is a huge difference between catering to a certain clientele and excluding everyone but a certain clientele.

          But I really find the idea interesting! Best of luck to you!

          1. LilySparrow*

            When you narrow down your choice of property, check local/county ordinances as well.

            I just read this morning about a lawsuit in Florida where women are suing some “gentleman’s clubs” for restricting entry because the county has a human-rights ordinance that is more inclusive than the state nondiscrimination law. So the clubs’ “no unaccompanied women” policy is legal in the state, but illegal in the county, and the courts are hashing out which law prevails.

            1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

              Good points. If I make it into a women’s art-retreat type place, with women’s circles and such, I will have to find out the legal aspects of this. Putting this on my check list now.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I would put together a comprehensive business plan,especially for the AirBnB. Look at everything: taxes, insurance (liability), infrastructure costs (guests expect hot water and high speed internet, even in the middle of the forest). Should you create an LLC for the business, which also separates and protects your personal assets? Check local zoning; short-term rentals are not permitted in many localities. Are you required to offer handicapped access? And so on.

        I hope you do attain your dream. Please research it first to see what’s viable for you. Examine the surrounding community where you plan to settle. Are there existing coops or environmental groups you can join or work for? That would provide income while giving you more privacy.

        Good luck.

        1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

          More good items for the check list. On the handicapped access, I will definitely need to look into this. Where I live I am not sure exact requirements but do think new builds and renovations must include this in some manner. And yes on the internet and hot water.

          The more I think about it, I think a lot of what I want is a place that is not terribly connected and is more remote-ish but maybe I should save that for when I retire. :)

          I will look into the coops, too – good idea for networking. There are women’s entrepreneurial groups here, too, so that is helpful so far to me, too.

      3. Celeste*

        I know of a retreat center that is set up for rental to LGBTQ groups, so I think it would be okay. I’ve heard of others where alcohol is not allowed. I think the owner gets to decide what kind of business they want to have.

        That said, you have to factor in maintenance. You also need to look at liability insurance for anything that happens to people who stay there.

        There are innkeeper forums, and I think you would find a lot of information quickly in those. There are issues you would never think about, like controlling for bedbugs and incontinent adults, what limits to set for pet friendliness, how to be handicapped-accessible, tax reporting information, and so forth. I think you are very wise to do the legwork while you’re still employed. Best of luck to you!

        1. Celeste*

          Another reason you will want to have an online presence is so you can hook up with other locals in the hospitality sphere. You will want to let your guests know of local attractions, but you will also want the locals to recommend your venue to people, because word of mouth is powerful.

        2. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

          Thanks for this insight, too. Innkeeper forums are a good resource.

          Ack … bedbugs. Maybe this is not a good idea. :(

          Thanks for the luck wishes.

    3. Zephy*

      I don’t have any specific advice, but your plan sounds delightful! I wish you good luck with making it happen.

    4. A business librarian*

      If you are in the U.S., your local Small Business Center (SBC, or SB development center, or Small Business Technology and Development Center) will offer free or low-cost services and advisors. Also take a look at the Small Business Administration’s resources (!

      Search for SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) mentors, Women’s Business Centers, and your local SBC: They’ll be able to provide guidance on legal stuff, planning, regulations, finances, and direct you to additional resources.

      Also consider checking with your local public library, or a public university library near you. A librarian can help you locate business information sources that you can use for planning. ReferenceUSA is a great one that many public libraries subscribe to (directory of businesses, essentially virtual yellow pages; locate competitors, potential customers, suppliers, etc), and there’s a lot more databases depending on what information you need. The Gale Virtual Reference Library has a Business Plans Handbook.

      Search the Directory of Associations to identify associations/organizations/chambers of commerce relevant to your industry & business: There may be helpful industry information (trends, financial info, challenges the industry faces), other resources, and a member directory of businesses. (Look up the

      What I see with entrepreneurs is that their network matters. Who you are able to connect with could be super helpful! And the entrepreneurs I’ve talked with tend to want to help other entrepreneurs. There’s a whole wealth of folks and resources out there, and I hope you are able to take advantage of talking with them and learning!

      1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

        Thanks for all the links this is great! There is a women’s entrepreneurial group that I have joined recently and am getting encouragement from them. I will take on the task of developing the biz plan over the next 6 months, too so your links are really helpful. Thanks so much!!!

    5. LilySparrow*

      It sounds lovely.

      I switched from 9-5 corporate work to freelancing in a different industry, and it took me about four years to find the right mix of business model, skills and client network to be able to reliably replace my income. It wasn’t zero, but it was a struggle. So I’d advise going into this with as little debt and as much cushion as you can.

      I have some friends who made a dream-job switch last year. She was in retail management and he was a program director in a youth-oriented nonprofit. They opened a coffee shop that also sells merchandise and books from local artists, and hosts BYOB live events in the evening (music, readings, poetry slams, etc).

      They have had an outpouring of support from the neighborhood, which was hungry for a space like this. They are active on social media, but also very deeply involved in the IRL community from their jobs and ordinary lives. They certainly appear to be thriving.

      So the takeaway for me would be to make sure you connect with the locals in your chosen area, and find a way to meet a felt need there, as well as serving distant travellers. This will both support your business long-term, as well as fulfill your desire to prioritize real-world connections over virtual ones.

      Also, if you intend to garden and don’t already, get a seed catalog and start this spring- even if it’s only containers. You want to make as many of your rookie mistakes as posdible on a small scale!

      Best of luck.

      1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

        Thanks for your story and advice and the story of your friends, too. Connecting with a community is key – and that is part. of the scary side of this. In order to do this, I will have to move from my very high cost of living place to a more remote place that is cheaper. Which means establishing a new network etc. I guess this is part of why a fresh start off of social media was my thought – to start anew on all fronts.

        Good news on the seeds I do already have an indoor garden and hoard seeds. :) Been doing outdoor and indoor container gardening for years. And also on the debt – I have a little debt (less than $1,000) and do have the ability to support myself for a while. But your point is valid on replacement income taking time esp if needing to build a place up first, that will take a while to do.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Oh, one more thing – Im a fan of small-business “makeover” reality shows, and some of them might be helpful to you.

        “Stay Here” on Netflix is about people creating or making over Air BnB type properties, and I’m sure there are others that will get recommended as similar if you look it up.

        And on YouTube, there’s The Hotel Inspector, which covers everything from small BnBs with the owners living onsite, to pricier boutique hotels.

        One thing that’s often mentioned is cultivating connections with professional associations or package travel companies that are actively seeking venues to book for group sales. So that could be a useful element in your business model – providing a venue for existing retreats or conferences, rather than trying to plan / market the whole event.

        And that’s useful research you could do well in advance – identifying features that those groups want, which will help you choose a property and plan any needed renovations.

        And connecting with those communities/organizers to ask questions is a great way to start building relationships. When you approach someone with “I want to create a space for you – what would you like/need to have?” They are going to be predisposed to like you!

        1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

          Ah, I did not know of these – this is good. Asking about the need in the community is key, for sure. A venue for retreats is a good angle to look into. Thanks!

    6. Al*

      Your dream sounds lovely. My parents retired a couple of years ago and bought a hobby farm, and they love it! The chickens lay enough eggs that they sell some to their neighbors, and their bee hives produced enough honey in the first harvest to sell some of it, as well. They also board a couple of horses. None of that is a full income, but they don’t need it to be (government pensions for one of them & 401k for the other).

      1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

        Good luck to your folks, that sounds ideal. :) Though I don’t have enough for purchasing a ‘farm’ I would love to be able to have more animals.

    7. Bananatiel*

      Just recommended it upthread but it’s relevant here, too: check out Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. I’ve heard him criticized before for taking an extreme approach to social media but it sounds like you might already be in a similar headspace as he is and would appreciate his advice. It’s true that you will probably have to be somewhat “connected” to run the BnB, but what I love about Cal’s approach is that it’s all about being intentional once you’ve done an initial social media pruning. Basically, it’s okay to use pre-screened internet tools to enhance your offline life!

      1. ch-ch-ch-Changes*

        Ooooh, very cool, I will look Cal Newport up. Thank you! digital pruning I love the sound of that.

    8. I Love Llamas*

      How exciting! Before you jump into the deep end of major changes, I would suggest you use this interim period for research, etc. I would highly recommend this book: I listened to the audio version and then bought the book. They provide an excellent structure for making big changes like you are contemplating. Good luck!

    9. Hillary*

      I love this idea, and I agree that it’s scary. You might think about a retreat center/retreat house model. They seem to have become more popular with crafting communities in recent years (or maybe I’m seeing the marketing now). Sewing doesn’t work well off the grid, but I can definitely see a retreat space being well used, especially if you’re a fairly short drive away from a major city. You can both run events to bring people together and let groups book the space. Good luck!

      1. Auto Generated Anon*

        Since you have a cushion, have you thought about a season working for somewhere similar to what you want to do? Maybe somewhere with a different focus or in a different part of the country?

        Side note – I’ve been reading too many cozy mysteries lately… when you leave your big city life behind and to live in a rural area and dead bodies show up on a regular basis, you were warned…. :)

    10. Windchime*

      I think your dream sounds amazing. I’m a similar demographic to you, and I’m starting to think about slowing down and making a change. I’m a very crafty person; I knit and quilt and recently just purchased a long-arm quilting machine. I’m literally having to rearrange my whole house just to fit the thing inside.

      My plan is to use the machine to practice on and get really good over the next couple of years, and then once I retire, I can either continue to quilt for fun or I could make a little side business out of it. I’m kind of playing it by ear right now, but it is starting to feel real now that I have bought the machine and it’s on its way to my house!

  8. Conflicted Job Seeker*

    I work in an industry that I don’t love (one that is much maligned on this site), at a business that has its share of dysfunction (but for the industry is actually a good player and is not nearly as dysfunctional as the rest), for a manager who leads an entire department, but appears to have zero sense of strategy and prefers surrounding herself with only “yes men.” All of this wears on me and I think I’ve just about hit my limit at this job. But I’m compensated very well, which allows me to visit friends and family and save well for plans I have in the future. I’ve recently started applying for other jobs and am coming to realize that if I want to change industries (which I really do), it’s going to require a pretty significant pay cut. I would still be fine for the area I live in, but losing 25% of my income would mean tens of thousands of dollars each year that I’m now not able to save or use to see friends and family or put aside as a down payment on a home. Growing up poor, being able to shove as much as possible into my savings account gives me a real peace of mind and the thought of not being able to do that is a level of uncertainty that I really struggle with. And I’m currently single, so I can’t count on a partner’s income to buffer the change. Has anyone else ever transitioned industries and had to deal with a significant pay cut to do it? How did it work out in the end? Was it worth it?

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I’ve not done this but maybe have some advice that might help. Start by banking 25% of your salary while you are still pondering this move on top of what your savings goals are… In other words put the 25% in an account that you can’t see don’t monitor. Give it 6 months and then decide if it’s doable for you. I have to be honest, I’ve had jobs I’ve loved and ones I’ve hated… even the ones I loved were a slog if I felt I was broke all the time.

      I’d also really be honest with yourself if it’s your job/industry or your current manager.

      1. Bananatiel*

        I love SomebodyElse’s ideas and want to echo that I’d make sure it isn’t your current manager that’s the main problem.

        If I might also suggest the humble pros/cons list– it’s the kind of thing that is much-maligned but can actually help you lay your feelings out on paper.

        I’m also a bit of a personal finance nerd but… in addition to saving that 25% to test the lower income– make budgets! Figure out in real terms what you’d be giving up. Maybe you have one budget scenario where you can still save up for a downpayment in X years but it would mean cutting out all trips. Or maybe in another scenario it means still taking trips for friends/family but it would take twice as long to save for the downpayment. Or there’s a middle scenario that’s most comfortable. If it’s all looking bad, then that’s something to consider, too! But often I’m pleasantly surprised when I run some “real” numbers.

    2. Yorkshire Rose*

      I can empathize… the pay is what is keeping me in my current job… having trouble finding something that pays as well as this one, so here I sit.

    3. evilsciencechick*

      “I work in an industry that I don’t love (one that is much maligned on this site), ”

      I can only imagine that you are a llama groomer or a teapot designer!

    4. new kid*

      This is such a real thing – it’s so hard to get stuck in a job that’s not right for you just because of the uncertainty around any alternatives, but I feel like that gets amped but by like 1000% if you know you won’t make as much $$ elsewhere.

      I did take a significant (over 40% in my case) pay cut to switch industries a few years ago. It was the right choice for me at the time, but I definitely underestimated how much of an impact the financial aspect would have on me. I obsessed about money for those years. But I also used that position to leverage myself into the one I have now which puts me back on track (and above) what I was making before the cut. So I think my advice having done it would be:

      1) be honest with yourself about what your life looks like at the lower salary and whether you’re okay with that
      2) do you research to determine if it’s likely to be a temporary vs. a forever cut, because that can really impact your mindset

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Not really a direct answer to what you asked, but have you considered staying in the same industry and moving company? Depends what you mean by ‘dysfunctional’ companies I suppose, as a department head with no strategy and only taking on yes-men sounds quite dysfunctional in itself — could you stick out a change to a different company for another couple of years and in the meantime save up as much as you can – maybe cut out the “see friends and family” a little if they are frequent or expensive trips (have you moved away from your ‘hometown’ area and friends/family are all back home?)

    6. UbiCaritas*

      I thought about it and chose not to. I was in a job that was ok but very stable. I was on track for a good (not great, but good) retirement and I had very good medical benefits (which I need and which continued into retirement). I have a hobby (choral singing) which was and is very fulfilling to me. But there’s a difference between being “okay” with your job and being unhappy – life is short, and your happiness is important. Maybe see a financial planner and ask some questions? What would happen to your retirement?

    7. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      I stayed within my industry but switched from corporate to agency with a pay cut because i needed a break from reorg hell. It was a healthy break but I’m now looking for a more friendly corporate job. I mention this because nothing is permanent—the contacts you have now will still remember your skills if you make the change and decide later you want to go back to the industry you’re in. As long as you don’t wait forever. Taking a risk can be a good thing and help you understand what matters to you most!

    8. Lives in a Shoe*

      In 20o9 I took a nearly 50% pay it and changed industries entirely. It was hard at first and quite frankly terrifying with LOTS of imposter syndrome and a steep learning curve. 10 years later I can honestly say that I‘ve never been happier. (Wow! Can’t believe it’s been 10 years lol)

  9. August*

    Anyone have any advice for applying for another state government job 3 months into my first state government job? My current position is not at all what I anticipated (no manager, sporadic training, getting tons of comments from coworkers about what a dead end my department is) and an amazing position has come up in a different department. It’s a long shot, but I’ll be kicking myself if I don’t apply. Any risks? Should I leave my current position on my resume? I’ve heard already being a state employee gives you a leg up with transfers, but wanting to leave after 3 months definitely doesn’t look good.

    And maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but how would I address leaving after 3 months in my interview? Both my current and this potential position are very research-heavy, so it’s not like my job duties aren’t what I want. My current position is just…bad. Too difficult in some aspects (bc there’s no documentation and the systems are needlessly complicated), too easy and boring in others, etc. My position was vacant for a year before I was hired, and my predecessor also left after 3 months.

    1. CheeryO*

      I’d apply and leave the current position on your resume/application. It will likely be easier for you to be hired since you’re already a state employee, so I wouldn’t try to hide that fact – it might really work in your favor depending on how quickly they want to get someone hired. Also, this depends on how your state civil service process works, but it sounds like you’re qualified for the job, so it’s super likely that you’ll at least get an interview and have the chance to explain the situation and assuage any concerns that you’ll be a short-timer in the new role.

      In my experience in state government, you need to jump on opportunities when they come up, and most people understand that that can mean short stays if it gets you to where you want/need to be. I’ve seen people job hop to get positions in the city that they want to work in, the division that they want to work in, the role that is better for career development, etc.

      1. August*

        That’s a huge relief, thank you. My coworkers talk a lot about how easy it is to transfer, but I can’t get over my knee-jerk “traitor!” reaction.

        1. CheeryO*

          I totally understand! You have to turn on your ruthless robot brain and just do what’s best for you. It can never hurt to apply, anyway.

    2. Jdc*

      I do not often you won’t be considered until you’ve put in a year. Per husband. Not sure if every branch works this way.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        At the state agency I work at, this is true for entirely new staff (the probation period is one year). However, you might be able to ask your HR exactly how the transfer process works. If it’s lateral within the same agency, the rules might be different. One real advantage of state employment is that you can usually get a ton of resources explaining the processes and rules. Or at least you can learn whether a similar opening is anticipated opening up when you would be ready.

        I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with showing that you have ambition and want to apply your skills in the way that best benefits you and the state.

        1. Public Sector Manager*

          I’m in California, and when it comes to civil service transfers, the department can have a lot of sway too. We had an employee leave before they were off probation with us but the receiving department made them repeat the entire 12-month probationary period. But when we picked up a really good attorney for another agency who was close to, but hadn’t finished, probation, we were able to use their time for the other agency to satisfy probation, so their probation with us technically was 6 weeks (but a year total to satisfy civil service).

          And getting back to the OP, in both situations, it wasn’t weird at all that people were looking to go to a different state agency before probation was up. It’s just what happens in civil service.

    3. Tmarie*

      I would make sure you are allowed to apply for a new position after only three months where you are.

      As I recall, from when I worked at a government agency, there were rules about when you were off probation, and when you could apply to different jobs.

      1. CheeryO*

        This is a good point. August, you might want to get in touch with your state civil service folks and/or HR at your agency and make sure you are eligible and understand the process for applying as an internal candidate.

        1. August*

          Does it make a difference if I’m not a civil service position? The department handbook doesn’t mention prohibiting internal transfers while on probation, but I’m a little leery about asking HR for more info (my office is very gossipy).

      2. August*

        Oh man, I hadn’t considered that. I’m still on union probation. Thanks for the tip, I’ll look into that!

      3. Kiwiii*

        When I was in a state position, I was advised that it would reset my probation period, but it wasn’t anything not allowed or even frowned upon

    4. Kiwiii*

      Because state positions aren’t great about raises or straight promotions, it doesn’t usually look strange to move teams/bureaus, especially immediately once you get into the work (when I was in my first state job, there was a position that nobody stayed in for over 14 months bc it was such a good step into other work) Also, there’s a 50/50 chance they know your job sucks or your team has terrible oversight. I had a coworker who was in a contract position for 5 months, an admin position for a month, an associate I position for not quite a year, and is now an associate II and everyone knows she’s a superstar and don’t really look at it like job-hopping because it’s all in the same Department, though different Bureaus.

  10. Haiku*

    I’m looking for a good out of office message – I’m resigning and going to a new job on Monday. Any suggestions for a script? Thank you!

    1. DCQ*


      I am no longer with XXXX. If you need assistance please reach out to [PERSON].

      Thank you,


      (Keep it simple)

    2. CatCat*

      As of [Date], I am no longer with [Employer]. Please contact [Whoever] at [phone and/or email] for assistance.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Generally your company/IT department would handle this sort of thing – but the easiest route is the most straightforward: “Haiku is no longer with Company, Inc. Please direct all inquiries to so and so” and provide an email address and/or phone number

    4. kittymommy*

      Is the OOO message for your current job, the one you will be leaving? If so your company will probably handle that by either deactivating the email account (what we do) or setting up a standard message.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        The OP is part of the company, and if the account isn’t deactivated the IT team may be looking for the OP or her successor for the text. Certainly in the nonprofit space it’s often the case to not deactivate the account for a while but rather have a message about who the successor is. This is much more useful to people emailing the contact because it saves them from having to reach out to random other people in the organization.

        Then after a set period of time (a month or some number of months), it’s deactivated.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      Do you need an out of office message? I feel like anytime I’ve seen someone quit their manager just gets all of their emails forwarded to them and handles accordingly.

      Either way, I think you can keep it simple:

      “Thank you for your email! I know longer work at Teapots, Inc as of [last day]. Please contact [person] at [email] for all inquiries.

      Thank you,

      Adjust for your voice of course, but I don’t think you need to do anything more complicated than that.

      Congrats and good luck with your new job!

    6. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      If your company is anything like mine, your email will be de-activated by midnight the day after your last day there so an out of office message won’t be a concern.

    7. Indy Dem*

      Hi, you’ve reached Haiku. Effective I have resigned my position as Teapot Manager at Teapots R’ Us. Please contact with any questions.

      Alternatively, depending on corporate culture and your reasons for leaving.

      Hi, you’ve reached Haiku. I’m f&$^ing out of here, so suck it, y’all.

      1. Indy Dem*

        It didn’t post some words in my initial reply like “date” and “name” so sorry if the first response sounds disjointed.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’ve used: “Thank you for your message. As of Friday 13th December [or whatever it is] I am no longer employed at XYZ. Please direct any queries about project A to Person 1 and any other enquiries to Person 2.”

    9. June First*

      THANK YOU for being conscientious about auto-replies.
      The majority of my work communications are via email. I’ve had multiple instances in the past few months where a business contact never responded to an email. In a couple cases, the person was typically slow to respond, so it wasn’t immediately obvious there was an issue. When I finally reached someone, they sounded surprised because the contact was no longer working there. An auto reply would have saved a lot of effort.

  11. ACDC*

    I’m a consultant and I’ve been onsite at the same client for over a year now. Last month they sent out invites to their holiday party and I received an invite. I was a little surprised since I wasn’t invited to their holiday party last year, but figured they decided to include contractors/consultants this year. I RSVP’d to attend pretty soon after the invite was sent out and was really looking forward to the party.

    Fast forward to yesterday when there was a rumor going around that we weren’t actually invited. I asked my coworker who is part of the party planning committee, and she confirmed that we were invited in error. They were “allowing” (her exact word choice) those contractors/consultants who RSVP’d to attend, but notified those who didn’t RSVP’d that they weren’t invited and they got the invitation by mistake.

    The person I report to at this client company is insisting I still attend because he knew nothing about it, but it still feels like shit. I feel like a kid in school that didn’t get invited to the party everyone else is going to until my mommy called their mommy to get me a pity invite. Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but it sucked. Just wanted to vent!

    1. Colette*

      I understand why it hurts, but this is very much not personal – this is about the company treating you as a consultant and not an employee, because there can be consequences to treating you as an employee.

      1. pancakes*

        Nah—guidelines around the legal differences between employees, consultants, and contractors are focused on supervision / independence of work, expertise, and taxes, nor holiday party attendance. The company is almost certainly retracting these invitations for tax deduction reasons instead. A party for employees and their spouses is 100% tax-deductible in the US, but if it’s for customers, contractors, vendors, etc., it’s considered Travel & Entertainment and only up to 50% deductible. I can understand wanting to save money and planning a party around that rule, but clawing back invitations that already went out is, by my standards, crass and miserly.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Agreed. When I was a temp at a law firm many moons ago, I was invited to all holiday parties even though I technically wasn’t their direct employee. And these people were cheap as hell!

    2. Turtlewings*

      Wow, that’s crappy. It’s pretty obviously hurtful to “uninvite” people at the best of times. While I’m glad they’re not forbidding the already-RSVP’d from coming, thus showing they do have some sense of delicacy and politeness, the only good thing to do here would have been suck it up and deal with the fact that the contractors/consultants are coming this year.

    3. Operation Glowing Symphony*

      I’d be weirded out that a company invited me to their company holiday party. As a cosultant or contractor, even with a long term relationship with a company, I would not expect to be invited or attend. For some companies, it verges on negating the consultant and contractor relationship which is seeing more blurred lines as companies are using temp/contractor/consultants for longer-term work periods.

      Some articles I’ve read suggest that contractor exclusion from holiday parties may happen because these companies are “extra cautious to take every opportunity to differentiate between employees and people working for contractors or staffing agencies.“

      Another says reasons for exclusion could be more strategic. “More than a legal fear is a fear of collective action,” she said. “They don’t want the contractors to feel like employees. They don’t want them to be motivated to feel like they could have the same benefits as the regular employees.”

      I can understand your feelings because it’s a mixed message. Yes or no – but don’t make me think about it.

      1. ACDC*

        Exactly! When I didn’t get invited last year it wasn’t surprise at all, but then the mixed message this year was like coooooooooooooolllllllll…

      2. pancakes*

        “For some companies, it verges on negating the consultant and contractor relationship which is seeing more blurred lines . . .”

        I’ve worked as a contact attorney off and on for around 15 years and this mindset doesn’t make any sense to me. Some firms have invited me to holiday parties and some haven’t. Neither option blurs lines in terms of who I report to, who I receive a W2 from, or what job security, if any, I have. If one party is somehow enough to blur lines for employee or employer, they don’t have a lucid understanding of the relationship.

        Strategically excluding contractors so as to thwart them organizing isn’t that simple. Google, for example, excludes its huge workforce of contractors from its all-hands meetings, not because they might organize while at the meetings but because it wants to send a message. Contractors who’ve written about this have mentioned how they’d be the only ones left in the office while FTEs are at all-hands meetings — a great time to organize, actually! The point and the practical effect are to send an exclusionary message.

    4. CorporateDroneLiz*

      *insert Stephanie Tanner HOW RUDE gif*

      How unkind to tell the contractors who didn’t RSVP “well you weren’t supposed to be invited anyway!” Ugh. I’m sorry this happened, but I hope you have fun anyway!

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, I feel like if it was a mistake then there should have been a blanket ‘We’re very sorry, unfortunately there was an error with the party invitations and regrettably this event is for permanent staff only. We do appreciate all the hard work our contractors contribute and can only apologise for the error’ sort of message. Not ‘Oh crap well I guess we’d better let the ones who’ve already RSVPd come along, but we’ll have to tell the others that they shouldn’t have been invited’. It’s just not a very classy way of handling it, and I can see how it would totally make the ones who did RSVP feel like they’re only being allowed to come along out of pity!

    5. CatCat*

      It’s pretty crappy. You’re not too sensitive. You can go ahead and be “sick” that night rather than be stuck with a bunch of people who are merely tolerating your presence at the party. I get that mistakes happen, but the way the company is dealing with their mistake is not cool. The party planning committee is being pretty unwelcoming and they’re letting you know it.

      If there really is an issue like capacity or something, they should be apologizing profusely and doing something nice for those who received the erroneous message. And if they decide people can come despite the mistake since there really isn’t an issue, they should be warm and welcoming and not even point out that there was a mistake!

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Wow. Just wow.
      I’d make an appearance at the cool-kids’ party, but, geez, I wouldn’t stay long. This is really passive-aggressive stuff. It could have been handled so much better than this. I hope this job is otherwise acceptable to you.

      1. ACDC*

        Absolutely could have been handled so much better than this. I think if it had been handled differently I wouldn’t feel the way I do now.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        Show up, grab the most extravagant drink you can get from the (assuming free) bar, fill your plastic bag lined giant purse with all the shrimp and crab legs that will fit, and go have fun with friends.

        OK, don’t do that, but you can dream.

    7. Pampaloon*

      That’s terrible form. I have had to navigate this in the past as we had various different types of consultants, some worked in the work groups and were part of the team. We made sure they were invited because it seemed so horrible to exclude part of a day to day working team even if they were there on an assignment instead of an FTE basis. Once a mistake is made though, just own it and move forward gracefully.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, don’t take this personal. My company also does this with contractors. Yes, it’s shitty, but I found out there are consequences because we do serve alcohol at our party and that is apparently a problem for the employment agency and liability issues.

  12. Greed is something we don't need*

    Thoughts on this idea for gifts for my team? I manage a team of 6, and I know gift cards are probably the best thing I can give them. However I got this idea from the yankee swap gift I received last year (at a family party, not work). I received a joke box with a ridiculous fake product advertised on it. Inside was the real gift, a gift card and assortment of chocolates.It was pretty funny and I thought it’d be more interesting to wrap a bunch of different prank product boxes with just gift cards inside. Good idea or no? I would obviously tell them all to look inside and hopefully nobody would be too disappointed after they see it’s not real, but should I stick to a standard boring card or is this alright for work? My hunch is that most of them will figure out it’s a fake product fairly quickly considering the box will feel empty, but I may have to tell them to open it.

    None of the prank products I would use are offensive/inappropriate, just absurd. (There’s a bunch on Amazon – a coffee machine for the shower, ear wax candle making kit, a machine to print photos onto cheese slices, etc) but I also know some people dislike all pranks in the workplace.

    1. DCQ*

      It really depends on your relationship with your team I think. If you typically joke around, I think its fine. But if this would be far out of the norm, don’t do it.

    2. Turtlewings*

      Mmmm, I can’t say I’m in favor. I’m imagining being handed an absurd and useless item by my boss that I then feel a panicked obligation to seem appreciative of… Even worse, what if someone was legitimately excited by their shower coffeepot or whatever (life is a rich tapestry) only to discover not are they not getting one, but the idea was considered so obviously stupid as to be a prank? Funny boxes is far from the worst thing you could do, I know. But a gift is not supposed to be an occasion for uncomplicated delight, and pranks (especially with any degree of power differential) can really throw a wrench in that.

      1. CheeryO*

        This times a million. I would definitely embarrass myself somehow, and it’s easier to laugh that off with friends or family than with your boss.

      2. Yorick*

        At one of those yankee swaps with prank gifts in high school, I got a set of false teeth. I was pretty excited about it but the girl took them back and said they were loaned by her parent (a dentist). I’m still kinda bitter about no gift.

    3. Veryanon*

      I probably wouldn’t, only because you don’t know how people would take it. It sounds more like something that you’d do with close friends or family.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I wouldn’t prank my employees. This is a stressful time of year and I just wouldn’t add to it. Please make your gifts a positive experience to promote goodwill in the office.

    5. Hope*

      I wouldn’t, unless you and your team already do a lot of joking-type stuff (and even then, I’d avoid the ear wax candle thing because that just sounds gross, not funny).

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I dislike all pranks in the workplace. I think that kind of box is only appropriate between very close friends/family, and then YMMV widely.

      From a colleague (and especially a boss) it looks a bit apologetic or something. Just spend the extra five bucks giving a bigger gift card or more candy with it, or whatever.

    7. Leslie Knope*

      This sounds like a funny idea, but I think the money you’ve budgeted for these gifts will be better spent on the gift itself and not the prank box. How much does each box cost? If each box cost $5 the employees will be better served to have an extra $5 on that Starbucks gift card or whatever you get them.

      My mother, who is the head of a county government office, had a funny idea one year. She got everyone socks (like festive trouser socks she got from J Crew that were $12 for 3 pairs). Everyone grumbles about getting socks for Christmas, right? The joke was that there was a Starbucks Gift card hidden in the socks.

      So if you’re going to spend a little extra to do something funny, at least make it something they can use. Happy gifting!

      1. Bananatiel*

        The sock idea is actually kind of cute! I think if the prank gift is somehow also practical or re-giftable then it’s not the worst thing.

        I got a handmade bar of soap from my boss last year with a very nice personalized card, no gift card or anything, and it was honestly the best holiday gift I’ve gotten from a boss because of… the card. The sincere words of appreciation and thanks were way better than any gift card or trinket I’ve gotten in recent years.

    8. Washi*

      I’m a person who enjoys pranks, but I just don’t think this is that funny! I think the contrast between the fake present and the real present would have to be higher. Like if my husband got me my favorite chocolate milk, but inside was actually tickets to Hamilton.

      If I opened a fake box to find a gift card, I would just be like…what….ok.

  13. DCQ*

    Has anyone made the jump from director to vice president? Any advice you can share? Particularly around letting directors have their autonomy to run departments but still being the overall leader? I am transitioning to that position in January and struggling just a bit with one set of directors I’m set to oversee who don’t want me involved.

    1. Havarti*

      I’m not a VP but I’ve seen VPs in action. You have two issues: 1. being VP and 2. being VP of staff that don’t want you involved. Hopefully you’re not a micromanager but the directors still need to report that projects are on track, on budget, properly staffed, etc. How do they not want you involved? Because people who insist they don’t need oversight are the first who go off the rails.

      1. DCQ*

        I’m being moved into this position in part because this particular division is floundering a bit. They don’t have a lot of direction and I’ve been told by our CEO that they want me to figure out how to get it on track. I’m trying to tread carefully though as obviously the directors are still in their roles and its still their division. There’s also the fact I’ve been at our org far less time than both of these directors and up to now have been their peer (overseeing a different, very successful division). The frame with which I’m being put in is to be their “support.” (The roll out of all of this has been a bit of a mess, as an aside). Anyway, I don’t know everything going on with the division and so want to as a first step talk to all the staff. When I mentioned this to the directors they basically flipped out and told me that that was getting “too involved.” Sigh. I just feel like I can’t do my job if I don’t step on their toes, but I also can’t do my job if they feel like I’m taking away their authority.

        1. IL JimP*

          I’m not a VP either but given what you wrote here there’s no way you’re not going to ruffle them. As long as you can communicate a good reason for what you’re doing I would say that would be the best route to take.

        2. Havarti*

          Try to frame it as you helping them succeed. But wait until you have a clear picture of the situation before proposing solutions. A general meeting with everyone is a good start. You’ll want to meet one-on-one with the directors. Meeting directly with the staff under them is tricky because it will be seen as you skipping a level of the hierarchy and the implication that the directors can’t be trusted. VPs where I’m at meet with their direct reports and sometimes other staff on the project will come as well to provide more details but unless there’s a problem, lower level staff don’t meet one-on-one with the VPs. So if you do that, I could see why the directors wouldn’t like that.

    2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      In my experience, the reason people wanted to keep their bosses out of their work was due to some sort of mismatch. Like for example, if my boss came up through the Teapots Department, but I’m the Llama Barn Director, in the past I’ve had a terrible time explaining that my work is heavily limited by animal welfare regulations. Or that my boss was abusive, and I needed to insulate my employees from him because he’d fire them for having the wrong socks under their riding boots, and then punish me when we got behind in our llama training goals.

      Is it possible any of these things are going on? You have a different skillset than they do, or their previous boss was a Problem and they’re used to having to hide to get their work done?

    3. Bizarro Me*

      I had a similar situation a few years ago. For the most part, I set expectations on roles and responsibilities and scheduled periodic check-in meetings. I explained that while I expected each director to continue to manage their team, there is a delineation between the director’s responsibility and authority level and mine. This approach worked with all but one director. Due to poor prior leadership and supervision, this person misunderstood their role and responsibility and expected to run their team as they saw fit with no feedback, guidance, or input from me. Sadly, they never “got it”.

  14. Hamster*

    Do you guys think this person is being entitled or am I being too harsh?

    Someone at my company started a few months ago. they are pretty young and this is their first job. I am a senior here but not their manager.

    Their role is that of admin/customer service, with possibility to get promoted to the technical side of things. Our company frequently promotes admins as long as they meet the certain criteria. The job description and interview make that clear.

    In their 4 months here-
    They’re on their phone all the time
    The company gave us 12/26 off and they wanted to push for the Monday and Friday to be closed.
    Said I was tattling on him when I pointed something out to his manager (it wasn’t a serious thing but he didnt take it well).
    They confided in me and their manager that they don’t like their position, are bored, and want to get promoted. Even though company policy is very clear—they can only get promoted if they meet certain criteria, which many others have met and were successful in getting promoted.

    It’ doesn’t affect me so I should probably MMOB I’m just wondering if I’m being unreasonable here.

    1. Jess*

      If I was the manager, I’d err on the side of caution and assume this is down to someone young with unreasonable expectations of general workplace culture. I’d might try to talk to them and encourage them to slow that horse down. You’re “senior” – do you have a good working relationship with their manager to chat about that? This entirely depends on your relationship with them.

      I have a feeling this person is just going to have to get an education through the school of hard knocks though. How do you improve someone who already thinks they’re so great? I don’t think they’ll last long, so it might not be worth the effort to get involved.

    2. Fikly*

      I mean, they are not acting as they should, but I’m not sure I’d call it entitlement? The closest thing seems to be that they want to be promoted, but there’s nothing entitled about wanting something. Entitlement is feeling you deserve something you clearly do not deserve.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Thinking it’s appropriate for a brand-new junior admin to “push” for the entire business to close so they can have extra days off sounds like they are radically overestimating their own political capital, at best.

        I mean you can split hairs over the definition of entitlement, but an inflated sense of one’s own importance is certainly an element of entitlement.

        1. Fikly*

          There is a vast difference between splitting hairs and defining a word correctly.

          People who are unhappy about a word not being used to mean what they want it to mean often default to “it’s just semantics” or “you’re splitting hairs” when there is a genuine important difference.

          1. LilySparrow*

            The junior admin believed they were entitled to ask the business to close. They were not.

            There is a vast difference between participating substantively to offer relevant insight, and picking silly arguments over word choice just to attempt a wierd and inaccurate flex on an internet stranger.

            People who are unhappy that words acquire more complex or contextual meanings through common usage often default to pointless insistence on “official” definitions.

            Even though nobody else was having any difficulty understanding the conversation.

            1. Fikly*

              Well, no. I 100% understand that the meanings of words change over time and gain more complexity. However, the changed meaning still has to be accepted by a large enough group to be common use. The meaning you are using hasn’t been accepted by that many people yet.

              Misjudgment is not entitlement. There is a difference between asking for something and thinking you deserve to have it happen. Should people never ask for anything?

  15. Stephen!*

    Have you ever had an interview with an “industry representative” present?

    I’m applying for a job that does inspections, and while it is not as contentious as say, coal mine safety inspections, I find it odd that they would have a business owner present. I’ve applied for this and other similar jobs before and never ran into a person outside the department being part of the interview.

    1. Notasecurityguard*

      Back when I WAS a security guard we had a consulting company come in to audit us and we had a group interview about what was/wasn’t working that our bosses were there for and individual interviews that were one-on-one. But the consultants were explicitly brought in by big-Boss and not like OSHA

    2. Charlotte Collins*

      Not exactly the same thing, but when I applied internally to be a trainer within a division of the company, one of the senior trainers from corporate was part of the interview. (I had to give a presentation, which is common for training positions.) It went well, because the hiring manager was friends with the other trainer and it was very comfortable.

      I later found out that due to a contract change that meant we had to hire a bunch of new staff, and when lowere level staff was applying for related promotions, they were combining two types of interviews into one: one was an assessment (to see if bargaining unit staff had what it takes to be exempt) and the other was the interview for the positions themselves. I was perfectly happy to only have to go through one interview instead of two.

    3. Kiwiii*

      I used to help set up interviews for coordinator-level state positions, it was basically their job to have optics on county-level leaders and make sure counties weren’t wildly out of lane regarding whichever human services they dealt with. these interviews Always had a county-representative in them, usually the County Services Director or Deputy Director. It stands to reason that they should be consulted when someone’s coming into work with and over them.

  16. ZSD*

    My mother has decided that my less-blonde-than-she-would-like hair with my non-recent highlights is holding me back in my job search.
    I’ve been job searching for over three years. I last had my hair highlighted ten months ago. I really don’t think that’s the problem.

    (Lest anyone be too concerned, I am currently employed. I just want a different job.)

    1. DCQ*

      Why does this remind me of the update that was just posted about the mom telling someone they were too fat to get a job? What is with mothers???

      (As a side note, I don’t look at how someone looks when making hiring decisions — its all about skills and fit).

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        To be fair to mothers: My dad has told me repeatedly I wasn’t going to get job offers if my glasses were dirty. Also, both my parents tell me my glasses are too dorky looking.

        I love my parents. They just sometimes say thoughtless things.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ugh that’s annoying. Just like the person this morning (whose mom said they were too fat to get hired), it’s time to put your mom on an information diet.

      Unless you are applying for blonde entertainment positions, the color of your hair is irrelevant to your job search.

    3. Another JD*

      Unless you’re applying for positions where a polished appearance is important, I don’t think it matters.

    4. Veryanon*

      I wouldn’t be too concerned about your hair. You can always pull it back in a bun or pony tail if you’re looking to present a more polished image during an interview. What is it with moms this week?

      1. Kat in VA*

        This. I’m an executive assistant and looking polished *is* important, particular with customer meetings.

        My entire routing of my hair is wash it, let it air dry, and that’s it. No color, no styling, I get the dead stuff trimmed off once a year.

        I wear it almost exclusively in a low bun when I’m at the office and not once has anyone ever suggested that the color is too drab (dark brown with a fat streak of silver on one side), the style is too boring (because buns are kinda boring), or that I’m anything other than polished and professional.

        Your mom sounds like she’s being nitpicky. And if some place isn’t going to hire you because your hair is dishwater blonde instead of bright blonde with sparkly highlights, you really REALLY don’t want to work there anyway.

    5. Leslie Knope*

      The grown-out roots look isn’t going away anytime soon (I rock it myself! Easier upkeep!). I think your mom is just out of touch with the norms. As long as your hair doesn’t look neglected I think you’re fine.

      A couple of people have commented here that pulling it back could help you feel more polished. For me, when my hair gets about 4 months out from having been highlighted (I only go twice a year) I don’t like the way it looks pulled back a certain way. It makes my roots look all dark and then all of a sudden – boom – blonde pony tail. So I’ll opt for a bun instead of a low pony tail at that point. I take care to spread the hair in the bun in a way that it looks equally blonde/brown…because I’ve noticed fixing it a certain way makes it look like a swirly cinnamon roll on top of my head.

      I’m a particularly picky person when it comes to that sort of thing, though. As long as you feel comfortable with the way it looks then you should just tune out your mom’s advice. Good luck!

    6. ArtK*

      Like the previous LW whose mother thought that she was overweight and that was holding her back, your mother is projecting her personal issues with your appearance and trying to use your job search as a lever. In fairness, I doubt that either of them realize that they’re doing it, but it is a mom (and dad) thing. You may have to put her on an information diet relating to your search, just as Alison advised the previous LW.

      That said, looking neat and professional can help you in your search. A lot depends on the field. Big Law? Gotta look polished. IT? Not so much. Do you have some trusted friends in the field who can give you some less biased feedback about your appearance? It stinks that this is even an issue (especially for women), but it’s the reality and outside advice can be useful.

    7. Yes Anastasia*

      I don’t wear makeup, I used to cut my hair at home, and all of my interview clothes come from thrift stores – nevertheless, I have successful interviews.

      Best of luck with your job search!

  17. straws*

    We have a holiday tree that we put up every year, and I’d like to make it less “winter holiday” and more of a year round seasonal display. I’m not the super creative type, so I’m looking for some ideas for seasonal decorations? For example, I was thinking of putting birds and flowers on it for the start of spring. And, should I stick to the 4 seasons (we’re in an area in the US where all 4 do occur!), or add in other things (like maybe flags for Independence day)?

    1. Beancat*

      So my mother actually used to do this for holidays! We had a white little fake tree that she hung things on. We did do red/white/blue for independence day, little pumpkins for fall, etc. :)

      1. straws*

        I think I’ll definitely have to do more than just 4 seasons then, so I can do both red/white/blue and the flamingos mentioned below!

    2. SomebodyElse*

      One of my teams has a small one that is decorated year round.

      Winter- traditional christmas tree ornaments
      Spring- Eggs, shamrocks, flowers
      Summer- light up flamingos, flags, and other summer-y stuff
      Fall- bats and ghosts lights

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      For summer, do little pineapples, pool floaties/toys, volleyballs, etc. Fall could be turning leaves, pumpkins, ghosts, and so on. Spring could be birds, bunnies, flowers… Winter is snowflakes, cardinals, moose, sweaters, slippers…go for a generic winter tree instead of “oh hey Christmas”. I always feel sorry for people who don’t celebrate Christmas around this time of year.

      Maybe each employee who has a birthday could have a little birthday hat? Gets into some politics there, so maybe ignore that idea.

      I knew a lady who did a new tree each month. It was…intense.

    4. CircleBack*

      My old office had a Christmas tree that lingered because no one wanted to take it down and find a place to store it. I printed out photos of Martin Luther King Jr and hung them as ornaments to celebrate MLK Day, which got some smiles before the tree was finally stored away. I think it would be delightful to celebrate for holidays that come up!

    5. Homo neanderthalensis*

      If it’s a tree- it’s Christian. Putting other colored baubles on it doesn’t make it any less of a Christmas tree.0

      1. rinkydink*

        Even a maple? :P

        In seriousness though, one thing that might make this transition between seasons more fluidly is not having it be an evergreen Christmas-looking tree – that seems like it would stick out a bit in August with the flamingos, or whatever. Maybe look for something more like a sculpted shrub or maple tree? If you’re aiming fake, you can find these online or at Ikea/Target-type stores. I think a shrub/bush would work year-round particularly well since they’re green year-round in the “wild” (flowers in spring, etc). Just a thought!

      2. No Name*

        The Christmas tree started with the pagans, was taken over by the Christians and then evolved into a secular celebration of Santa Claus. You could almost call Santa Claus a religion though, given how angry people get when you tell them your toddlers don’t believe in Santa and then try to convince them Santa is real. Right in front of me. After I just said we don’t celebrate him. I digress though. I disagree that Christian’s have the sole claim to a decorated tree.

    6. Fikly*

      My family actually had bird ornaments (that were for Christmas) but they weren’t particularly Christmas themed, so one year we kept them on but took all the rest off and it was super fun in the spring!

      1. straws*

        I really like the idea of using birds for spring. I’ll have to see if there are any non-christmasy ones on sale after the holiday ends.

    7. Apt Nickname*

      A coworker does this with a mini tree. So far my favorite ornaments have been for Presidents/Valentine’s Day- pink paper hearts with pictures of various presidents on them.

    8. Charlotte Collins*

      Years ago, some local radio personalities in Chicago had a tree up in their house all year round. They did one theme a month. January was Elvis month, because he was born in January.

    9. pony tailed wonder*

      We have a duck that we change costumes for. It’s apparently a thing. Google duck costumes statue and you will see what I mean. Y

  18. I am gonna make it through this year*

    Question for those whose jobs takes them into other people’s houses: how do you feel about the person living there hovering?

    I ask this because this month, I’ve had lots of people doing maintenance in my apartment, and I’ve always stayed as much as possible by them, in case they needed anything or had any questions. And sometimes they do need stuff; I’ve provided paper towels and sponges and things like that.

    But as I was hovering around a plumber for about an hour this week, I got to wondering if I was being a rude client and if they just wanted me to go away and stop watching them do their jobs. And I know I personally hate it when someone is standing over me while I’m doing my job.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Be within calling distance. Let them know you’d be happy to answer questions. And offer a cup of coffee or something if they’ll be there for awhile.

      And for goodness sake, if they’re going to be there for more than a short while, specifically say out loud that they’re welcome to use your bathroom so they don’t have to ask.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I work from home, but when I have workers in my house doing things, I point them to where they need to be, the restroom is here, my home office is just past it, want a bottle of water, please let me know if you need anything else from me.

      If I’m going to be on a meeting or call for more than a couple minutes, I usually let them know that along the lines of, I need to be on a call for a bit, are you anticipating any noisy bits to the work in the next hour that I should be aware of? but I definitely don’t deliberately stay in the same area they’re working in.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Generally I try to stay nearby/within calling distance, as Aspiring Chicken Lady said, but not *right there* – I may wander off for a few minutes, etc. We had a guy replacing our front door a few weeks ago, and I mostly stayed in the living room where he could easily call for me, without being right there in the dust zone.

    4. fposte*

      It seems like you’re feeling you have to host here, and you really don’t have to. I stay within vague earshot (like, I’ll hear them yell) but otherwise I leave them to it, unless I want to see what they’re doing for my own edification (in which case I’ll say exactly that). I don’t know that it’s rude to hover but it’s certainly not necessary; they’ll ask you if they need something, and they do a lot of work in places where nobody’s home and they get their own wipes.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        ^^ This too. It’s not rude to NOT provide water or wipes. He carries all this, plus trash bags, a vacuum, etc. It’s not rude to offer, but it is not like when we weekend DIY’ers do stuff and are not prepared.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Well, I hope it wasn’t the plumber. That should be a given supply need for them. I’ll walk it back a bit, and note my spouse is a 20+ year professional and master electrician. Would one of the 22 year old employees be as prepared? Perhaps not. The main thing is it is not your role to provide it and you don’t have to.

            1. I am gonna make it through this year*

              Yep, that was the plumber.

              To be fair, he went back to his car multiple times, the first two times to bring back things like pliers and a wrench. I was a little surprised, since my previous experiences with plumbers, they brought along backpacks with their tools.

      2. I am gonna make it through this year*

        It seems like you’re feeling you have to host here, and you really don’t have to.

        *hides under the bed from feeling so Seen*

        These are all very good points, thank you.

      3. Third or Nothing!*

        Yeah sometimes I’ll ask if I can stay and watch so I can learn. We rent, so it’s usually the same maintenance guy who comes to fix things. He’s really nice and willing to explain what he’s doing.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I think they hate it! My husband is an electrician and does a lot of service work in people’s houses. It’s annoying if they are hovering, asking a bunch of second-guessing type questions, or just overly chatty while he’s doing his work, etc. He has to go in and out a lot, and just wants to move quickly without interruption. It is good to be nearby or tell them where you are going to be in the house, but he would prefer you not be there at all than all over him. He’s done 1000s of jobs and probably doesn’t have many questions for you about your house. He’s much nicer than me, though, and wouldn’t say. He just comes home and tells me about the guy that wouldn’t leave him alone, etc. (PS – electrical engineers are the worst customers.)

      1. Close Bracket*

        electrical engineers are the worst customers.

        That doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s juuust close enough to electrician work that you think you know how to do it, but really you don’t, and somebody who thinks they know your job but doesn’t strikes me as incredibly obnoxious. I bet a EE could understand everything an electrician does if the electrician told them what they were doing, but wiring a house and designing a control loop or a power amp are not really the same.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, it depends. If I think they’re sketchy for some reason, I’m keeping closer tabs. I will be having a plumber some to redo some work that they screwed up – and you bet that I will supervising every minute. Sometimes, I don’t care if I’m annoying.

      Most of the time, I try to be available and responsive, but not necessarily RIGHT THERE. Sometimes I’m interested in how they do what they’re doing, and I will specifically tell them that I’m curious and do they mind if I watch. Me being explicit on why I’m watching seems to make them more comfortable. Plus, I’ll then ask questions sometimes that show that I really am trying to understand/learn. Its a different kind of annoyance.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I definitely don’t think anyone is obligated to leave a service person alone in their home. You’re the one paying. Your comfort is first.

      2. pancakes*

        Do you know enough about plumbing that you’ll be able to tell if the plumber screws up again or are you trying to send a message that you don’t trust them? If the latter, I think it would be better to hire a different plumber rather than bring this one back and try to irritate them.

    7. Niniel*

      I have to go to people’s yards for my job, and I absolutely hate it when they hover. Please, go inside. It’s creepy when you follow me everywhere, especially if you’re a man(I’m female). I don’t need to be monitored and I’ll ask you if I need any other questions answered.

      So introduce yourself, show them the problem areas, and then let them know where to find you/contact you. Then do other things!

    8. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

      As someone who works in the residential construction industry and deals with contractors – someone like that would be seen as unorganized and would not be rehired by our company. A contractor is expected to have everything they need to be able to do the job, even if that means having paper towels handy. They should expect that they’re not going to be able to use any of your personal supplies to do their job.

      Be friendly, but not overly accommodating. Don’t hover, but also don’t be so far removed that you have no idea what’s going on in there. It’s not rude to walk by every once in a while so you have an understanding of what’s happening, even if you have to ask questions. You want to feel informed – what was broken/not working properly, what parts they replaced, and if anything had to be disassembled and reassembled to be repaired. If they don’t want to answer any questions then that’s not someone you want in your home next time.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      My mum currently has contractors remodeling a bathroom. Both of us have avoided hovering, although I like to peek in and see the progress (the tile is really pretty). We actually had to gang up on the tile dude and insist he take a lunch break, however; he was working through to make up time from another, very demanding client and was making mistakes due to lack of sustenance.

      When I had people in my own house, I just stayed available but out of the way. The washer replacement was an exception. I had to hold the door open and move stuff out of their way when they switched out the machines.

    10. QCI*

      I use to do disaster cleanup (water, fire, general) and my wife still does it. We might be in your house for 8+ hours at a time. Be available if you’re going to be home, but we’d prefer you not hover, it’s a lot easier to work if I don’t have to work around you or try to hold a conversation. Ask questions if you have them, it’s your house and you’re paying for a service (or insurance is), but give them space.

    11. Auntie Social*

      Don’t hover. I offer a water, point to the loo, show them where the water shut-off is. I bring old towels and my kneeler because I don’t know what he’s doing, but hey, he might need these. Then I say “I’m around if you need me”, and go in a nearby room.

    12. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t go into other people’s houses as part of my job, but I think I have a fairly good grasp of the etiquette, as someone who has also had a lot of builders, plumbers etc in my place over the last few years. (I bought a place that was built in the 1950s and seems to have had only cosmetic work done so I have inherited a lot of problems that have now come to roost!)

      .. I do however work in a (desk based) role where I am often doing “things” for other people who have asked for a particular thing to be fixed, some numbers to be pulled out, or something like that.

      You already identified it when you said you personally hate it when someone is standing over you while you do your job. I do too (and I think most people do!) — and “hovering” is definitely standing over them, rather than being helpful (I know you are intending to be helpful). Comes off as micromanaging, lack of trust or even just they will feel self conscious about any mistakes, talking to themselves (“why the *** did the previous guy do it like that!?!” etc)

      The polite way is to let them know that you are around if they need anything and don’t hesitate to ask — “I’ll stay out of your way but please do pop in if you need anything” etc.

      If you are working from home and need to do anything time-sensitive like conference calls then communicate that, e.g. “just so you know I have to do a conference call at 11.00 until 12.00 but you can send me a message on Whats App if it’s urgent” (or whatever applies).

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        And btw, most trades people will be too polite to ask you not to “hover” but I can tell you with some level of assurance that they will be thinking it or secretly hating you for it! (How do you feel when someone is ‘standing over you’ while you do your job?, and it won’t be too far from that.)

        I actually have a multi-day project going on in my place at the moment and I have given the person a key to come round after we’ve left for work, he is getting on with it “unsupervised” and doing a good job! — I’ve resisted the temptation to ask too many details about “so what are you going to do next? what have you completed today?” etc as I respect a fellow professional to plan their own work and know what they are going to do next without having to ‘report back’… but of course I did make it clear that if he needs anything I am just at the end of the phone.

        1. Venus*

          Most, but not all. I had someone visit to do repairs, and when I asked how it worked his face lit up and he told me in detail. With so many things in life, it depends.

  19. Beancat*

    So this week my coworkers banded together to throw me a surprise little wedding tea/snack hour and I almost ended up in tears. So many people came by and it made me feel really, really special.

      1. Beancat*

        The event itself was a lovely surprise! The coworker who organized it knows me well enough to know that I don’t always do well with a lot of attention and crowds and she gave me a discrete heads up that she was planning *something*, but I had NO idea of the extent she went to :)

  20. Rejected Again*

    I’ve been actively applying for a year. I’ve managed to get in interviews, but I always end up failing it. I’ve just gotten a rejection email couple of days ago, and I’m feeling so hopeless already. Like nobody wants to give me a chance.. I wanted to stay positive and confident, but it’s really hard.
    It’s the interviews- I probably can’t present myself well, even though I practice possible answers.
    I just want to get over with this job search.

    1. Sleepy*

      That really sucks. Can you temp your way into a job? My husband is terrible at interviewing and all his job offers came after he temped at places. They were willing to offer him permanent positions after they saw the quality of his work.

      1. Rejected Again*

        It’s hard coz I don’t want to leave a permanent, full time job to do that – very risky for those bills to pay lol…
        What upset me recently was I was applying to higher level ones and I failed those, so I understand I may really be unqualified, so I tried the entry level one – and I still failed!!
        I make high marks for the exams and then the interviews after are what keeps me from progressing.

        1. irene adler*

          Can you identify what it is in the interview that you feel is the issue?
          Do you find yourself answering questions you didn’t expect them to ask?
          Do you find you ramble with your responses?
          Do you “shut down” during the interview and perhaps come off as standoffish?
          Is a year long job search the norm for your field?
          Can you get some outside perspective on how you interview or how the job hunt process works in your field? Thinking that if there’s a professional organization in your field, they might have some suggestions that would benefit you.

        2. Working with professionals*

          I’m job hunting myself now and have, like you, made it to the final round for several places but not gotten hired. It is easy to get discouraged if you view it as not being chosen. I changed my mindset on that with remembering Allison’s advice. This is a two way street, you are interviewing them too. That helped me feel more equal in the situation which reduced the nervous responses I had. Maybe take a short break, reframe this as a relationship you are considering and realize you really don’t want just any job, but rather a great fitting job as part of your lifetime career. After I calmed down from the rejections and reflected on my interviews I realized there were things that hadn’t hit me right at the time but I skated over them because I was so focused on wanting to be accepted. Help yourself step back a bit and look objectively at those interviews. I’m pretty sure you were fine, unless you did one of those “out of the box” behaviors we’ve read about on here such as wearing a wet bathing suit, criticizing the interviewer or the spectacularly out there potted plant pooper. Hang in there!

        3. Diahann Carroll*

          It sounds like you should be targeting mid-level jobs if you can’t get higher-level jobs or the entry-level positions. Are there any of those positions available in your current market? If not, are you able to relocate at all?

    2. Fikly*

      It might help to reframe this. I’m seeing a lot of negative language – you’re “failing” the interviews, “nobody wants … me” “can’t present myself.”

      If there’s only one job opening, no matter how many qualified applicants there are, who all have the skills and do well at the interview, they can only offer the job to one person, assuming that person accepts. And the majority of job openings have more qualified applicants than just one.

    3. ArtK*

      Have you practiced with another person, or just rehearsed the answers? Working with someone in a simulated interview may help. You can get good feedback on how you’re presenting yourself.

      Remember, too, what Alison often repeats: Much of the time it’s less about you and more about what the candidate pool looks like. It’s also more about what the hiring team are actually looking for. You could be acing the interviews but still not getting a job due to things far beyond your control.

    4. Rejected Again*

      Thanks for all the advise. I guess I’m not accepting the rejections well that’s why I’m being negative already.
      I need to practice interviewing more. I write better but when I need to recite those notes to answer the question, maybe I mumble and get sidetracked.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Is there a career center near you? Sometimes you can practice there for free. It does really take the right mindset sometimes. I’ve often done better in interviews where I didn’t care whether or not if I was hired! Like anything, it’s a skill. You can get better at it!

        But even so, with all my practice and actual interviews, sometimes I still have flubs. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

        1. Kat in VA*

          I’ve often done better in interviews where I didn’t care whether or not if I was hired!

          This completely! I always do better in interviews where I’m like, “Eh, I don’t really care about this job but I’ll interview anyway, just to be sure” and THOSE ones, I always ace. It’s the ones that I REALLY want where I tend to flounder, flub, and not do well.

  21. Breakroom Quandry*

    We have 2 microwaves in our breakroom. There is a group of women (all hourly employees) who take a 30-minute lunch every day at 11:30. They usually slip away a few minutes early to stick their food in the microwave or toaster oven before clocking out, so the food is hot when they are on lunch. I am an exempt employee and can take a whole hour for lunch, but I like to use that time for errands or just getting out of the office. I eat at my desk while working. Yesterday, I got hungry earlier than normal and decided to go heat up my baked potato at 11:15ish. When I got there, one microwave was already in use. Another woman came in as I was in the middle of heating up my food. She didn’t say anything and just went back to work until I was done with the microwave. Should I have waited to finish heating up my lunch until after she was done with the microwave?

    1. Colette*

      No, I think you were fine. Everywhere I’ve worked, microwaves are first come-first serve. And I don’t think anyone is entitled to be able to warm up their lunch on the clock. (I don’t think it’s a problem that they do, but it’s a bonus, not a requirement).

    2. SomebodyElse*

      I think it’s ok that you used it, but I would make an effort to normally avoid their typical usage times since they have a bit of a timer over their lunch.

    3. CircleBack*

      Only if you spent more than a couple minutes heating up – it’s first come first serve with more than one available, and it sounds like you don’t do it every day. Rest easy.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I agree you were fine. She looked in to see if there was a microwave free, and there wasn’t. No big deal; come back later.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I think it depends on potato size and time. Also – what do they normally do? I’d hesitate to spend another 7 minutes on my xl potato if they are typically nuking some minute rice, but if they tie up the microwave for the longest cook time ever Lean Cuisine, then I wouldn’t mind if they waited this one time.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I think in the context of a busy office people should only be reheating food and not cooking it. I noticed that LW used phrasing like “heat my potato” so more like 3 minutes than 10.

        In winter spouse used to cook a big potato thoroughly at home, and take it to work on the rattly old train as a hand warmer, then refrigerating it at work once he got there and it was cold, and reheating it at lunchtime.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think the use of the words “slip away […] early” to heat food up before lunch in respect of hourly people speaks volumes, personally.

    7. lasslisa*

      I don’t know that you did anything *wrong* per se but it would certainly be considerate to remember and give them priority on the kitchen if you think their management is strict about this. There are hourly employees with fixed specific hours who would have been told by management to only take a half hour lunch, and there are hourly employees who are simply paid per hour and who would be choosing to take a half hour lunch so they can leave a half-hour earlier than they normally would. If it’s management mandate I’d definitely try to help give them the best use of their short lunch break. If it’s just their system for optimizing their time, then it has about the same weight as your system for that (errands at lunch).

  22. Diahann Carroll*

    Update on my job title situation:

    My title was officially changed to the higher-level title my manager and I came up with on Monday! Still no confirmation from HR as to whether my pay band would also increase; however, with the new title, the average salary for my “new” role is $76k a year, which is only $6k more than my base salary (I get quarterly loss bonuses). The high end of the pay scale for people with my title in my city is $114k a year, and my old title was capped internally at $75k. I really hope that since my manager gave HR an updated job description that justified my title change they also understand why the pay band needs to also move – I’m doing way more work than what was originally conceived of for this role (and I don’t mind that – everything I’m doing was something I made moves to be involved in, so I basically shaped this role the way I wanted it to be).

    Anyway, my manager and I also talked today about expanding my role even more to be responsible for the oversight of our content’s graphics and how everything looks. I told him I was considering going to take classes in graphic design once I hit the year mark with our company and can participate in the tuition reimbursement program, and he said that’s an excellent idea. He said he thinks I have a natural ability to see how things work visually that my counterpart just doesn’t have, so he’s hopeful that we can make my role even more significant here. He also told me that he’s had many talks with senior leadership, and our team is not only one they plan to keep long-term due to the value they’ve seen in what we do so far (remember – my team is brand new and I was the first hired), but also because they think it can be expanded to include oversight of the entire company’s content. I was so excited by that possibility, and I really will need a raise if that’s the case, lol.

    Just wanted to share some good news since a lot of the stuff that’s posted here is not always uplifting, lol. Happy Friday, everybody!

  23. The Other Alice*

    Xmas party is tonight and I wish I could skip it and go out with my friends, but apparently this party is a Very Big Deal. Out of 200 employees I think almost everyone is going and I didn’t want to be the odd one out, given I’m new and everything. I spent entirely too long picking out a nice top yesterday, and I’m still worried that I’ll be woefully underdressed. I also can’t hold alcohol, at all; one glass of wine and I’m tipsy, two glasses of wine and I’m done for; so fingers crossed I won’t make a fool of myself. Hoping to show up, mingle a bit, and duck out early to join my friends.

    Tips for surviving a company party with 200 people where I know maybe 10 people?

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Well… it’s a good opportunity to meet new people :)

      Don’t have more than one glass of wine (or even that if you don’t want it), wander around and look for other people wandering around by themselves… wander near them and strike up a conversation. Own the awkward (there will be others there who don’t know who to talk to either).

      “Ughh… note to self… don’t start a new job right before the Xmas party! 1 week isn’t long enough to meet enough people”
      “Wow… this is a great turnout… are the parties always like this? I’ve only been with ACME for a couple of weeks so this is my first time attending”
      “Excuse me… where did you find food/bar/the person with the raffle tickets I keep seeing them but aren’t sure where they are coming from”

      1. SomebodyElse*

        One more bit of advice on the wine thing… if you like wine and want to drink it. Ask the bartender to make you a spritzer. White wine/Seltzer… tasty but less wine per glass and takes you longer to consume it.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I was just about to say that. Or ask for a club soda or Sprite/Ginger Ale in a wine glass or champagne flute if they have it – those drinks will look festive.

        2. Ama*

          One of my colleagues doesn’t drink and asks the bartender to make her a Shirley Temple every year, and it always looks so tempting (they have a decent bar at the place we have our party) that multiple coworkers go and get their own.

    2. CircleBack*

      The bigger the party, the less anyone will notice if you have the same glass/cup in your hand the whole night. Look for your 10 people since they probably feel the same way you do.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      If you want to avoid drinking and also want to avoid questions, seltzer with a lime/almost any drink with a fruit in it looks like a cocktail.

      Smile a bunch, make small talk with anyone that comes up to you – if you don’t know a work specific thing to say (“great job with the dinosaur training”, “I heard you handled the noodles account very well”, “what did you think about the marimba project that was just announced”), asking someone about their holiday plans is a great fall back.

      It’s also fine to just hang out with the 10 people you know, these things don’t really need to be a major socializing event. But it can be a good way to put in a little facetime with some new people or a higher up if the opportunity presents itself.

      I say all of this as someone who hates forced socializing work events and was almost jumping for joy that I had a non-movable conflict and got to skip my company’s holiday party this year. So yea, go, make an appearance, sip on a soda while you make some small talk, and then feel free to go meet up with your friends.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        I very much want to go to the party with the noodle accountant, the marimba team, and the dinosaur trainers.

    4. CheeryO*

      I give you permission to mingle a bit and then duck out to hang out with your friends! Try to stay open-minded about chatting with people you don’t know – people tend to get super friendly when the drinks are flowing, and it’s easier than you think to get a conversation going – but don’t worry if that doesn’t really happen. Just making an appearance is half the battle, really.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Don’t get the wine if you can’t function well. Ask at the bar if they have anything nonalcholic. Unless your culture is weird, there will be people abstaining for a variety of reasons and you can just blend in.

      Be friendly, smile, say hi. Be a bit reserved. You want people to think, oh I saw The Other Alice, she was pleasant.

    6. Veryanon*

      Go for 30 minutes, make sure you’re seen, and then get out of there. Don’t drink if you don’t want to.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Re the alcohol: you don’t have to drink anything at all if you don’t want to. If anyone says anything, all you have to do is say cheerfully, “No thanks, I’m driving!” I never get to drink because I always drive myself and nobody ever questions this.

    8. cold tea*

      1) don’t drink alcohol. Think of it as a work event, where you want to be at your best.
      2) introduce yourself to people and network -ask what they do, how they do it etc. think of it as a way to learn more about your company.

  24. Sleepy*

    The small nonprofit I work for is hiring a new Executive Director. Pay is below industry standards and the org isn’t doing well financially so we don’t exactly have a big range of candidates to choose from.

    The top two:
    Bob has been a supporter of our org for many years and knows it well. Most of his career was spent at another org with a very similar mission. He has experience with nonprofit leadership but not at the ED level. It would be a big step up for him. However, he’s known and trusted by staff.

    Barbara has extensive Executive Director experience from a long career in multiple nonprofits, including nonprofits that were struggling financially which she turned around. However, she worked in a very different sector (eg rural llama habitat conservation while we do urban young llama training). It’s not clear that she understands our mission as deeply as Bob or how she would adapt to the new environment and sector. However, she showed through the interview that she was able to assess multiple aspects of o our nonprofit quickly and accurately in a way that Bob wasn’t necessarily able to.

    Anyone have experience hiring EDs and want to share thoughts on choosing between two very different strengths when you can’t have it all?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      So, coming from my experience in the non-profit world, Barbara has a red flag. Anyone who is jumping from multiple non-profits would raise an alarm, especially at executive positions. I would really, really investigate how she personally turned the previous non-profits around or is it all just a bunch of talk and other people did the work and she took credit. Because people who are that involved in leadership at a non-profit usually settle in and reap the benefits of their hard work. But if they are just full of buzz words, then they need to jump ship before things tumble. And if she is willing to come to a org that is paying below market rates, that sounds like someone running. (I’ve seen this exact scenario multiple times.)
      On the other hand, Bob is exactly the kind of rising leader that would be happy to take a below market wage. You know he is personally invested in the org, even if he doesn’t have a lot of outside experience.
      I’d choose Bob because he is the known entity. Even if he won’t blow you out of the park with innovative ideas, you know he is dedicated and will do everything he can to support the organization.

      1. Natalie*

        I don’t think this is remotely a given. There is a category of executive, including NFP executives, that thrive at revitalizing or repositioning organizations but don’t much care for the steady-as-she-goes phase. In a foundering NFP, that might be just what you need.

        I would probably reach out to people at her former organizations (particularly ones that have operated without her for a few years or more) and see how things actually went after she left. Did the changes she made stick? Are the organizations thriving? Your executive team or higher level management hopefully have some close relationships with some people in similar positions that can give them an honest impression. And be prepared to replace her again in a few years.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Absolutely! I din’t mean to imply that this was a given, just a flag. But I will admit that I’ve seen an influx of bad players circulating in the non-profit sector so I’m overly cautious.

        2. Fikly*

          I’d look into Barbara, because she totally could be someone who thrives on coming into a mess and fixing it, then is uninterested in it once everything is working smoothly, and wants to move on to the next challenge. People like that can be immensely valuable! But you’d want to be sure that Barbara is one of those, so a really thorough reference check would be a good idea, I would think.

      2. NW Mossy*

        I think this draws out an important question – why is Barbara interested in this job? On the surface, she appears to have the experience and track record to command at least an industry-standard pay rate.

        One possible answer is what AndersonDarling describes – she’s not what she’s appears on the surface, and she’s willing to accept lower pay because she’s got baggage you can’t see yet.

        Another option is that she’s a turnaround artist who thrives on fixing a sinking ship, but gets bored once it’s floating along smoothly. I’m in the for-profit world, and there are a lot of higher-level leaders who build careers out of moving companies and sectors every 2-3 years doing exactly this. There’s a real market for bringing in a new person to make radical change who will then move on once that’s complete.

        The only way you’ll know, though, is to ask. Ask Barbara, from several angles and in different ways. Ask her references. Listen carefully to what you hear, and not just the words – the tone, the manner, and what’s going unsaid.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        It’s also possible Barbara is a fixer. Brought in specifically because of the financial trouble to turn things around, fix processes top down, and then go because it doesn’t need fixing anymore. Sort of….Mary Poppins-ing up the place. But in those cases, it’s not a surprise to anyone involved in the hiring that this is a specialty.
        I’d still probably go with Bob – because if they’re hiring someone they want to see there for 7+ years a Bob is best for that, but if it’s realllllllllly bad – like cleaning up a major mess from a predecessor – it might be the right sitch for a more of a fixer type for 2-3 years, and then a Bob afterward.

    2. Ali G*

      IME ability to do the hard parts of the job are more important than intimate knowledge of the mission. If Bob has a long history with the org (or one like it) he may be less inclined to make the big changes needed for the org to succeed. You need someone that will be able to see where improvements and possibly cuts need to be made and not get too wrapped up in history and emotions to get it done.
      I’ve recently lived through this. Our new ED was the third in 3 years and he is the first to really position this org to have a chance to succeed. The previous 2 were long-time in our sector and were OK with same old, same old, resistant to change and put the org in bad financial straights.
      I would go with Barbara based on your brief descriptions.

      1. Sleepy*

        Yes, I feel that there is a lot of wisdom to this. We have a lot of emotional baggage around the way things are currently done. I was offered the ED position myself but said no. I know that as a longtime employee, I emotionally would not be prepared to make changes that probably need to be made.

        Honestly, we couldn’t even change our logo without people freaking out, so that gives you an idea of how people are holding onto the Way Things Were.

    3. Eleanor Konik*

      Clarification question: Does Bob have reasonable ideas or plans on how to turn things around, or is he just “willing to step in and help.”

      1. Sleepy*

        His ideas are quite frankly stuff that we’ve already tried but have not quite gotten off the ground. I think a concerted effort and/or better leadership could make these ideas work better than they have in the past. But it’s not radical change, it’s “Let’s make a better plan at this thing we’re already doing.”

    4. Operation Glowing Symphony*

      I would choose Barbara for another interview for a deeper assessment

      – Several non-profits are not worrisome. We don’t stay that long in many non-profits, especially those charged with fundraising. Her experience with a variety of non-profits can mean a broader view of how non-profits can/should work, even in another sector. Rarely do ED’s move within the same service area/sector.

      – Agree that you should ask Barbara explicitly how she turned around financially challenged non-profits

      – She doesn’t need to know depth when she has the breadth to learn on the job. I didn’t know much about the non-profit I was an ED for but learned quickly with the help of staff and volunteers. I had leadership skills, from the military, as well as the length of time in non-profit. Staff, Board, and volunteers helped me succeed.

      – I recently left a non-profit that passed over a long-time Board member (small business owner) for ED and chose an ED with a long tenure in non-profit, with department director experience but not ED experience. She had some challenges but her detachment allowed her to objectively see the problems to fix. Like another poster said, will Bob have that objectivity and really tackle the problems? Will the staff ‘trust’ allow them to show their cards and allow Bob to see/fix the underbelly?

      – An ED with extensive experience in a variety of non-profits knows how to mitigate limiting factors to get into the job and start working. “She was able to assess multiple aspects of our nonprofit quickly and accurately” which means she’s more likely to get in and get it done. How does that compare with Bob’s assessment?

      I’m assuming your hiring committee provided her the financials, the 990’s, the strategic plan and other planning documents for the candidates to interview from? So how did they do with regards to those items? Did they present a 90-day or 6-mos plan? Do you have a rating matrix to compare/contrast their interviews? If you’re not sure – sadly for the candidates – do a second interview with a specific issue or topic – perhaps the financial challenges?

      1. Sleepy*

        Yeah. Hrm. Well. The hiring committee really isn’t doing anything. I’m the Interim ED and I don’t feel like hiring the new ED is really my job as I’m a bit out of my depth as it is, but yeah, if it weren’t for me definitely no one would have even posted a job by now. So there’s no rating matrix or anything. These kind of experiences make me drawn to Barbara…the board needs a serious shakeup.

    5. Bex*

      First, it sounds like you actually have two strong, viable candidates! It’s true that neither has everything you’re looking for, but I’ve seen plenty of ED searches that failed to produce any real contenders (one that I volunteer for is in the middle of an ED search right now, the hiring committee just decided to consider their first search failed and start over from scratch.)

      In this situation, I would ask each of them probing questions into their areas of weakness. Does Bob have a clear vision of how to turn around the finances? Tactical next steps and an implementable plan? Does Barbara understand how your sector is different and know how to translate her skills?

      If the place was a well-oiled machine that just needed a capable hand guiding it, I might lean towards Bob. But in this case I think I’d worry about him making a huge step up AND taking on a challenging financial situation, so I might lean towards Barbara. Particularly if her references were strong and she left places better than she found them!

    6. Jenny*

      We had exactly this choice, hired Barbara, she’s done a great job. Tackled some issues that Bob might have let slide, pushed to try new approaches, been a bit more daring.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      In both these cases, I would do very very through reference checks. As AndersonDarling IDs Barbara might be a serious problem, if you don’t carefully vet her. I work at a place that had a bad Barbara come in and five years later, people are still struggling to fix the huge mess she left and we are in worse shape as a result. Be careful! But if she is someone who thrives on fixing problems, she might be great for you.

  25. December Girl*

    Has anyone ever worked two part-time jobs instead of one full-time job?

    After over a year of leaving my last full-time job without a new one lined up (I know, I know) and never being able to land a new full-time job for some reason, I finally got a part-time job (2 days a week). The hourly rate is higher than my former full-time job, but being 2 days a week, of course my monthly take-home is significantly smaller.

    Recently I saw an ad for a part-time job, doing something similar to what I’m currently doing and have extensive experience in, and I’m thinking of applying. I don’t know the details yet, like how many days I’m expected to work, etc. but I’m hoping it can be 3 days a week, so I’ll end up working 5 days a week like I used to. With both salaries combined, my monthly take-home will come up to roughly my former salary or even a little higher.

    My other motivation for this is also so I get a change of scenery every couple of days. I tend to get bored and easily frustrated with people if I see them too often. And in my line of work (office management/recruitment) I deal with people a lot. So theoretically changing offices/colleagues every couple of days will prevent this from happening.

    Is this a dumb plan? Will it be more trouble than it’s worth? Some facts:

    1. The industries are completely different and non-competing. But I do plan to be totally transparent to Job 1 about Job 2 and vice-versa. (I’ll include Job 1 on my CV.)
    2. Job 1 actually gives real benefits like private medical and dental (I’m non-US so my health insurance is not tied to work; public healthcare is heavily subsidised by the government), and even pays my mobile phone bill.
    3. Job 1 offers flexi office hours, I get to work from home one day a week, plus there is never any overtime expected.
    4. From what I’ve gathered from the job ad, Job 2 will also provide private medical and dental benefits, and has flexi office hours and a work from home policy. As long as Job 2 lets me work 3 full days a week instead of, say, 5 days a week but for shorter hours, it won’t clash with Job 1 at all.

    Thanks in advance for your input.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      Sounds like a plan! As long as your current job doesn’t mind, then it’s perfect. I have seriously considered this option for myself because I completely agree on the change-of-scenery bit. However, being in the US and needing healthcare makes it tricky. Good luck!

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      My main concern was health insurance and benefits, but it sounds like you’ve got it covered.

      Assuming Job 2 let’s you work those three days it sounds pretty good to me!

    3. Myrin*

      I’m doing this, only with fewer overall hours!

      I work at a local inn’s kitchen on Sundays and holidays and as a shelf stocker at a drugstore (twice a week normally, thrice a week from the last week of November until New Year’s). I honestly love it and would be doing it for the rest of my life if I could be doing it for more hours and consequently more money (I’m also not too fond of the absurd amounts of stress the kitchen work brings with it during the summer, and the owners will be retiring in a couple of years anyway).

      I’ve been doing the kitchen work for four and a half years now and the stocker work for two; I originally started it to support myself during university and then at the start of writing my dissertation, and then when it became clear that I wouldn’t be getting a stipend no matter what, I had to get the second job (and I love it; people always herald me as “an intellectual” but I could be happily doing shelf stocking full-time). I’ve meanwhile stopped my doctoral studies and come 2020, I’ll be starting to job search for only one job, but that’s really only because I want more money (and to a lesser degree because I’d enjoy doing something at least related to my field).

      But if I could do it like you do, like, say, keep my stocking job on Wednesdays and Saturdays and do something related to my field on three other days, I’d do it in a heartbeat, mostly because of its relative flexibility and getting to do different stuff (I’m a pretty physical person in that I enjoy manual labour a lot whereas my academic field skews sedentary and I think having both would be a nice balance).

    4. Turtlewings*

      I worked two part-time jobs for a period of 8-9 months, almost 4 years ago now. It was exhausting and terrible and I literally have nightmares about having to do it again, but one of the jobs was retail, which I am very poorly suited for. I would literally go weeks without a single day off — I averaged one day a month where I wasn’t at either job, frequently got home from one job after midnight and reported to the other at dawn, and it was very hard to get my retail job to respect my commitment to the other job. I hated it and my performance in both jobs suffered from my exhaustion and stress; however, it kept the lights on and food in the fridge. You’re in a slightly different boat; both of these jobs sound better than either of the ones I had. It might work out a lot better for you!

      My advice:
      (1) Know in your head which job is going to be your priority if you have to choose. Do not tell the other job this.
      (2) Make S U R E it’s a schedule you can live with, i.e. will you be able to sleep a full night? Are you getting at least one day off a week?
      (3) Keep close track of what you’re getting paid when, so your bills stay covered. In my case the retail paycheck was so variable, based on how many hours I was getting, that I had some nasty surprises with bill due dates that I couldn’t meet.

      Good luck!

    5. Sleepy*

      Several of my coworkers do this because we can’t provide them with full time positions, unfortunately.

      I know many of them do end up wanting full-time jobs, but one recently confided that she thrives on the variety and would now reject a full-time job if offered.

      Definitely give it a try! Sounds like it’s a good fit for your personality.

    6. WorkingGirl*

      I worked 2 part time jobs for about 7 months, one was M-F 9-1, the other M-F 2-6 with occasional evenings and weekends for events. It becomes tough when you want to take time off, but I loved having involvement in two different industries!

    7. only acting normal*

      I know someone who has done this for years. Two *extremely* different professional jobs, 1 in an office (consultant systems analyst), 2 very much not (airline pilot).
      It can work, but you probably need some autonomy over your schedule.

    8. Princesa Zelda*

      A bit lower-level, but I have had good luck working 2 part-time jobs with complimentary schedules. I worked both at LocalLibrary as a circ and NationalGrocery as a closer in fresh foods for 18ish months. I worked 40-50 hours a week, but I rarely had a full day off. I was senior in NationalGrocery and we were understaffed, so I had the ability to be much more firm in staying a closer with set availability, to work around my 8-5 library job. I basically broke even; the library and NationalGrocery paid almost exactly the same, and I occasionally had to Uber between them. It was also pretty stressful trying to flip back and forth, and to not take the one job with me to the other. It was worth it in the long run, because it let me break into the library industry without too much trouble, and let me choose which job to keep when I went back to school this August.

  26. AndersonDarling*

    The letter today about handwriting reminded me of one of my big workplace peeves…the misguided idea that all women have good handwriting.
    I can’t tell you how many times someone has said, “You can do this because you have good handwriting.” and I stare back blankly because they have just exposed themselves as a misogynistic jerk. There is no possible interpretation that my handwriting is good. My handwriting looks like a 6 year old’s that is still learning which letters go above and below the lines. When someone suggest my handwriting is good, they are really saying, “you’re a girl and girls do the writing.”
    If you don’t want to take notes, just say that you don’t want to take notes (or sign holiday cards or whatever). Ugh. (Thank you for reading my venting.)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      OMG, I haaaate this. I was once asked at my retail job to write something on a sign. I protested, citing my horrible handwriting. The owner insisted. Then it had to be re-done because my handwriting is truly terrible (though I have been told it’s just small). Same with writing on flipboards for my full-time job– I flat-out told my boss that if there are more than two of us in the room, I don’t write down notes.

    2. anon24*

      Ah yes, sexism is in handwriting too. My handwriting sucks and I get told that I write “like a man”. (Just to clarify, I’m not)


    3. Elizabeth West*

      I hate this. I also have terrible handwriting and it gets worse as I go thanks to a bit of dyspraxia. Taking minutes is tough for me; I’d rather just transcribe a recording.

      Some of the best handwriting I’ve ever seen was done by a man, btw.

  27. Jan Levinson*

    I wrote in a few weeks ago about a creepy customer at work (he had told me I was “purty”, and when I didn’t respond, turned to me and said, “I SAID you were purty! You must have not heard me!”, essentially demanding a thank you).

    Anyway, he came in yesterday and made me even MORE uncomfortable. He came to pick up and order, walked to the front counter, leaned WAY over it so that he was less than a foot away from my face, and just stared at me (as a reminder, I don’t work at the front desk, but my coworker who does was at lunch, so I was covering.) After a few seconds, I asked if I could help him. He said “you sure can, little miss.” He told me he had an order to pick up, so I paged our warehouse to bring his order up, told him it would be just a moment, and went back to my regular desk (out of his view). He began calling over to my desk, saying “you’re not going to keep me company up here? I miss seeing you up here.” I told him no, but reiterated that our warehouse personnel would bring his order up shortly. I thought that would be the last of him.

    Several minutes later, a warehouse employee comes up with his order. From my desk, I hear him say to the warehouse employee, “can you send that beautiful lady back over here? I need to talk to her.” So, I’m forced to come back to the front desk, where he tells me, “okay little miss, can you tell me how much this gold llama statue I ordered costs?” I tell him the price, and he says, “you know what, I think I’ll take another one of these, actually. (I know he’s just lingering at this point, because he has already ordered 100 gold llama statues, and won’t need another one for quite some time). I comply though, and tell him I’ll be right back to enter his order in our system (again, I go back to my own desk to do that, to be out of his viewpoint). While I’m entering his order, he again calls to me from the front office and says, “you know, you are so kind/beautiful/helpful/compassionate/purty and all of that good stuff, you know that don’t you?” I don’t respond, and again call back to our warehouse to have them pull his new order. When the warehouse guy comes back up front, he offers to help the creeper carry his llama statues to his car. The creeper says, “oh, I don’t suppose the beautiful lady could help me instead?” The warehouse guy (thankfully!) says “no, that’s my job” and leads him out the door.

    The BAD part about all this is, is that this customer comes in at least once a week. I usually don’t have to deal with him because our front desk guy is already there to help him. However, he has given his notice, and his last day will be next Thursday. Before we hire someone new, I will likely have to man the front desk. It could take months to hire someone new. I just don’t know what to do to detract this guy. His company buys a lot of product from us, so I feel like I don’t have a lot of standing.

    1. Jan Levinson*

      Also, FWIW, this guy has mentioned before than his wife has a full-time caretaker (he is an older man), so that gives you some insight as to who he is as a person (a man who has a handicapped wife, and acts completely inappropriate towards other women).

      1. Fikly*

        The first part, having a handicapped wife, has nothing to do with the second part. Plenty of people in relationships with handicapped people do not act inappropriately, and plenty of people in relationships with non-handicapped people act very inappropriately.

        1. Jan Levinson*

          I understand that…I simply meant his awful behavior seems even worst when taken into account that he has a wife at home (who I assume, since she has a full time caretaker,) has no idea the way he is acting towards women.

          1. Fikly*

            I’m not sure what whether or not his wife knows about or condones his harassment of women has to do with how awful his harassment of women is?

    2. Jimming*

      That’s so gross. I don’t know how to deal with that except maybe to get someone else to help him? Even if it’s not their job they could run interference for you.

      1. Jan Levinson*

        Unfortunately, our office is small and pretty bare at most times. Yesterday, for instance, when I was helping this guy, there was no one there who would now how to do the customer service functions needed to help him. My manager would probably be willing, though, when she is in the office (about 50% of the time).

    3. Ama*

      It sounds like warehouse guy picked up on the gross vibe — would he be willing to back you up if you go to your boss? I do think you should at least mention his behavior so they have record that you complained already if he escalates — you can use the fact that you’ll be covering the front desk regularly as an excuse to express your concerns about this guy. (I mean ideally they’d at least tell you you can call someone else up to help him, but I get that the real world doesn’t work like that.)

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        You can loop in coworkers. When I was in retail I had a customer that was not all that dissimilar from this guy. No matter what I said (“Can you please stop, I’m uncomfortable”) or expressions I made, it didn’t matter. I needed to “ligthen up” or “he was just joking” or “what’s the matter, didn’t I like compliments”. So I let my male coworkers know that when he came in, I wasn’t going to help him. Luckily they all get it and would help him so I could escape to the back until it was all clear.

    4. DC*

      You should talk to your manager/HR. Customer or not, they still have a responsibility to keep you safe from sexual harassment.

      1. LessNosy*

        I agree with this. When I worked in advertising sales, I had a client like this. Constant lecherous comments and asking me for my personal information, etc. I was very young and super uncomfortable. My instinct was to tell my manager, which I did, and he was VERY understanding. I got to switch that client for another one with one of my male coworkers. He even crafted an excuse (“Bob now handles all llama-related accounts, so you will contact him going forward!”) Never heard from the guy again.

        Good luck. I remember reading your first post and feeling so creeped out for you. But please remember, you do NOT have to grin and bear it on this!

      2. A. D. Kay*

        What DC said. I’m willing to be that the man’s employer would be horrified to find out that he was harrassing an employee of another company.

      3. NW Mossy*

        My company’s harassment policy explicitly states that it provides protection for employees from harassment by people who aren’t company employees, like customers and vendors. The annual training we do also covers scenarios very much like this one to drive home the point.

        Speak up, please. Your company can and should intervene to help you here.

        1. cmcinnyc*

          Mine has the same explicit policy. A lot of creeps count on “the customer is always right” to behave in ways they would never get away with otherwise. Document times/dates, and ask the warehouse guy if he said anything about you or asked anything about you. And let the warehouse know the guy has been harassing you and you are documenting it. They can help look out for you. A lot of guys who will bravely slime all over a woman are instantly silenced by a guy saying, “That’s a gross way to talk about my coworker. Cut it out!”

      4. Wishing You Well*

        Yes, tell your boss and HR about this guy. Your company is legally required to stop this harassment (in the U.S.). Also, start documenting the incidents in a journal and keep it updated. I hope you won’t need the journal as evidence, but it’s better to have it if you do.
        Harassers are quite strategic in who they pick as victims. He probably doesn’t do this stuff in businesses where he’s not a big customer. You can and should tell him directly to stop calling you anything but your first name (or appropriate title) and to stop doing whatever he’s doing in the moment.
        For your safety, NEVER take packages out to his vehicle. Call someone else to do it. If the harasser has to wait, that’s too bad. (In fact, never leave the building with him in the area.) It’s time to gather your allies and defenses.
        I am sorry you’re going through this.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I agree also. Tell him directly to stop. Document. Report it to your manager.

          A former workplace of mine whose field personnel wore uniforms contracted with a uniform company that employed a creep like this. He constantly flirted with me and one of the consultants, asked us out, and was just gross in general. Another guy came on the route one day and we asked him, “Where’s Fergus?” After some reluctance, he told us that another client had complained about his behavior and they fired Fergus.

          This guy is a liability for his company. If your company lets him get away with harassing you after you report it, it’s a liability for them too.

      5. Bend & Snap*

        Yep. My PR agency fired a client for sexually harassing me when I was a junior employee. You need to alert your boss because they have to resolve it.

    5. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

      Can you ask a coworker that you trust to call the reception desk when he lingers with a white lie about how you are needed in the back office right away?

    6. Zona the Great*

      Can you really not say, “don’t lean in so close to me” or make a horribly disgusted face while taking a huge step back? Or “don’t make comments about my appearance”? Is that really going to cost your company? I loathe him so so much. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        It is realistic to be concerned that it would cost Jan / Jan’s company if Jan pushes back. Checking with Jan’s manager will help Jan understand how much risk their is, whether her company would support her, or retaliate.

    7. Llellayena*

      Tell the company. You should not have to deal with this. Which is more expensive to the company: losing one person’s business or losing an employee, a lawsuit (sexual harassment), and public opinion (for not dealing with it)?

      1. irene adler*

        Given this is your only ‘icky’ customer, can’t your boss assist him? Or can’t someone else be asked to assist him? It’s just one customer. They should be able to find someone to wait on him to get you away from him.

        You should report this to your boss. Then have a way to notify your boss when Mr. ‘icky’ shows up so you can be relieved.

    8. Jan Levinson*

      Guys! I have a great update already. I just spoke to the salesperson, Mike, who is assigned to this customer’s account (he’s a great coworker) since he happened to be in the office. I asked him if he was familiar with the man (his name is Jack, btw). He said that he was, as Jack had been present many of times when he had visited the business, but didn’t know much about him on a personal level. I proceeded to tell him the issues I’d had when Jack had visited the office, and he was horrified on my behalf. Mike happens to have a great, working relationship with the owner of the company, Ben, and assured me that he would give Ben a call and make sure the company sent someone else to pick up their orders from hereon out (apparently it’s a pretty big company, and there are plenty of people who can pick up their orders instead.) He assured me that Ben is great guy, who would also be horrified at his creepy employee’s behavior. This was an easier fix than I thought!

      Really hopeful that I’ve seen the last of Jack.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Fantastic!!!! Good job, OP; that must be such a relief. I’m sorry you had to go through that – I’ve been there twice: once as a teen and once as a young woman and both times it was horrible but also both times it was perfectly stamped out by my male bosses who were absolutely horrified to find out what I was dealing with (and the teenage job – the bosses were all teens/young 20s too). Now that you’ve gone on record, if Jack ever comes back in asking for you -EXCUSE YOURSELF and do not go back out to deal with him.

      2. Shirley Keeldar*

        Well done, OP, for speaking up and picking a good ally! Way to defend yourself. Loud applause.

  28. Bunny Girl*

    Our company Christmas party is today. Late last night I also found out that my puppy is tall enough to get up on the counter and sample the treats that his mom made for said party. Oops. :)

    Push your treats back on the counter if you have long legged dogs, folks.

    1. Bostonian*

      Oh man, I hear that. I got a kitten this year, and she’s now big enough to jump up on the kitchen counter. Time to keep everything hidden away!

      Have fun at the Christmas party! My company doesn’t have one, but I never really enjoyed the one at my last job, so maybe no loss there!

    2. Peaches*

      When my husband and I first got a dog four years ago, it was during the holiday season. My mom sent us back home after Christmas with about 10 oreo cakeballs, wrapped in foil. We thought we had the cakeballs in a safe spot on the counter when we left our dog alone (she was only about 20 pounds at the time, and we didn’t even own barstools that would have been against our countertop at the time that she could have climbed). But alas, we got home one day to find foil ALL over the living room and kitchen floor, with no cakeballs to be found. Also a very guilty looking puppy. We freaked out thinking she was going to die, but luckily the vet assured us that oreos didn’t contain much real chocolate. The cakeballs were also doused in white chocolate, which apparently is less lethal to dogs than say, dark or milk chocolate. She ended up being fine, but to this day we STILL cannot believe she was able to reach to cakeballs from the counter. She, too, is a long legged pup. :)

      1. ThatGirl*

        It’s a specific substance in chocolate that’s dangerous – called theobromine. Dogs digest it very slowly so it can raise to toxic levels quickly. It’s not really present in white chocolate all; the concentration is higher the darker the chocolate or higher the cacao content. So while white chocolate isn’t great for the dog, it also doesn’t have theobromine in it.

        Also, chocolate rarely *kills* dogs, but it can certainly make them sick.

        1. Peaches*

          Yes, theobromine – I recall now hearing before that’s what it is.

          Definitely true on your last sentence. My husband’s dog growing up was a 12 pound yorkie. He ate about 90% of one of those giant Hershey’s bars (like, the ones much bigger than a king size!) and lived through it, although he was very sick for a few days.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I hope there’s still enough to take the party! Or that it wasn’t a single item treat like a cake where a doggie sample would very much be noticed.

      I am eternally grateful that my pup doesn’t take food off the counter/coffee table. She’ll beg by getting real close and stare at you with big eyes but she won’t actually take something not offered. I have no idea where these good manners came from but I am very thankful for them.

      I’ll post a link to this amazing relevant comic below

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Haha nope. The recipe I used didn’t make a lot anyway. No matter. I am not even going to the party really because I have to go home to let him out for lunch. He just started doing this, he’s only a couple months old. So he will be trained out eventually.

    4. londonedit*

      Our family dog (RIP) was *terrible* for doing this! He was massive and could easily put his paws up on your shoulders, and he could reach the back of the kitchen counters with no problem at all. Once when we were all on a family holiday, my parents’ friends came to house/pet-sit, and even though we warned them a million times not to turn your back for even a second if there was food out in the kitchen, we still got a message a few days into the holiday saying ‘We didn’t think you REALLY meant it! I had a shepherd’s pie on the counter and only left the room for a minute, and he ate half of it!!’ Yup.

    5. Lora*

      Or put them in the microwave or oven…

      I have always had big dogs that could easily just lean over and take a big slurp any time they wanted, but the worst offender was a 150lb Newfie who moved like a friggin ninja-bear. Emergency vet clinic trip after she devoured a double batch of dark chocolate cupcakes with only a quiet crinkle of the final cupcake wrapper to alert me to her misdeeds…an overnight in the vet hospital and a lot of peroxide-induced vomiting later, she was fine and lived to counter-surf many bagels, chicken dinners and rice bowls and lived to a very reasonable age for a Newf.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I made a pan of brownies for a school bake sale. The family cat walked across the ENTIRE LENGTH of the pan while it was cooling, leaving paw prints in the chocolate frosting. Maybe the warm frosting felt good.
      Yuck! What a waste!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Oh my gosh that is too funny. Luckily my cat doesn’t jump up on the kitchen counter for whatever reason. My boyfriend and I just enjoyed the treats at home. My dog licks my face enough that I just don’t really mind. LoL

    7. Fikly*

      There was a vendor at my local farmer’s market (I miss them dearly, they moved cross country) that sold amazing brownies. They also had two MASSIVE dogs. I forget the breed, but giant.

      They would have a platter on their table with samples of all the different brownie varieties. One day, as they were setting up (so their backs were turned) one of the dogs barely raised his head up and just snarfed down the entire lot of samples. Boy did he get in trouble! (He lived to tell the tale, 200 pound dog versus not that much chocolate.)

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I came home one day to find a very guilty looking bloodhound laying on the living room floor, with the Tupperware container that had held a batch of chocolate chip cookie bars on one side of her, and its rather chomped looking tattered lid on the other side of her. She was absolutely and completely motionless, with her head on her paws … except for her tail, which was wagging so fast you couldn’t hardly see it.

      The last time she got caught truly counter-surfing, I had some meat thawing on the counter. I got home, and housemate was like “Did you have a sausage thawing on the counter?” I said “… I had FIVE sausages thawing on the counter…” he goes “Well, I managed to wrestle Angua for the last one, but I don’t think you want it anymore.” (We ordered pizza.)

      It’s been a few years with no problems, but she is now going on twelve and has started regressing to bad puppy manners again; the other day my husband set down a bowl of ice cream on the coffee table while he arranged his blanket on the couch and turned back to find her merrily nose-deep slurping it up.

    9. Bluebell*

      Or short-legged dogs with long bodies and tongues. My very stretchy basset hound once took a huge bite out of a beautiful loaf of bread that I had baked for a special occasion. I cut out the middle section and pushed the two edges together!

    10. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      LOL! I have owned two irish wolfhounds. Counter surfing is a hazard!

  29. CreativeNameHere*

    I apologize if this is something that’s asked a ton. Regarding bosses and wedding etiquette, is it okay to invite one’s boss(es) to a wedding? I’ve worked for a small company for just over a year, and while I’ve never met my two bosses (we all telecommute), we all get along really well and they’ve been promoting me up through the ranks, they’re extremely encouraging and supportive, and they’re overall good bosses who also get along well with their employees. I wanted to invite them because I think it would be great to have them there and actually get to meet them (we’re all around the same age) and their partners, and I also think it would be smart to show them that I value being part of the company as it grows and enjoy my position there. Is this a faux pas?

    1. Mockingjay*

      Unless your wedding reception is very small, you will not have the time to schmooze with your bosses. Ceremony, photos, cake cutting, toasts, first dance, etc. Imagine trying to talk to your boss while keeping an eye on Uncle Earl who’s already had a few and is getting LOUD.

      Instead, suggest organizing a quiet lunch or dinner for the three of you. I wouldn’t bring the partners just yet. Get to know them on a professional basis first.

    2. anon for now*

      Don’t do it.

      Inviting them to your wedding will just look weird. They are not your friends, they are your bosses. Asking them to your wedding does not in any was demonstrate your attachment to the company. It looks like you’re fishing for a gift.

      If you want to get to know them irl, invite them to something low-stakes, like coffee/tea. Something where you will have an opportunity to actually talk to them. Something that can be wrapped up in half an hour in case you don’t get along as well outside of work as you do at work.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      Yes, that would be a faux pas. Don’t invite them with the intent to meet them at your wedding. Weddings are hectic enough with pictures and toasts and cake and family. It’ll also come across as a strange attempt to get a gift from them.

    4. hermit crab*

      I wouldn’t do it in your case, for the reasons others are mentioning. My then-bosses (my direct manager and a project manager I did a lot of work for) did actually come to my wedding — but I invited them because I adored them and we were quite close (still are, even though we don’t work together anymore) and I wanted to include them in my celebration.

      1. Hi there*

        That sounds like my staff member’s attitude when she got married. I was at a table with several of her previous bosses, which was pretty fun. I was pals with most of them since we all work at the same university.

    5. Marny*

      It sounds like it would be a very uncomfortable setting to meet your bosses for the first time. I wouldn’t do it, and I’m guessing they’d be very surprised to receive the invitation and would feel a bit weird about it (I would).

    6. WellRed*

      Nooo! If you must invite coworkers to a wedding (and really, why would you), they should be coworkers you are close to, and not your boss. You haven’t even met these two.

    7. cheese please*

      As someone who recently planned a wedding and got married I understand the desire to invite people like your bosses. But in this situation please don’t do it. While you may very well be comfortable having them at your wedding, be aware that you will (hopefully!) be surrounded by people you know and love. Your bosses will be coming to the wedding knowing nobody (maybe not even each other?) and seeing you in person for the first time on your wedding day! That just seems like A LOT for a boss to meet an employee, and all that employee’s family and friends, on potentially the most important day of that employee’s life.

      If you want to get to meet them in person, use the excuse of having a new air-fryer wedding gift and invite them over for dinner with your new spouse if the commute is reasonable.

      Best of luck with wedding planning!

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t think you should use your wedding as an opportunistic “way in” with bosses. Outside of other people’s claims that they don’t have the same exposure etc — it just seems to be a gross mingling of your personal life with your professional one. Are you a better employee because you’re married? (I was married, for 12 years, but now I’m divorced so I don’t know where I sit in the hierarchy now! /s.)

  30. Amber Rose*

    My job is funny because I have no official power or status, but I write all our policies and procedures, create all our documentation, train the managers and supervisors on their roles, and keep us in line with the law.

    I wish I could change my title from admin to Shadow Ruler, that would be sweet.

    My bonus was very good though, so it’s not like my hard work isn’t being recognized or anything. Which I’m gonna hopefully translate into a big raise, because the [censored] government is cutting Husband’s wages by 7% next April. I can hardly sleep at night sometimes, I’m so angry at everyone around me for voting this government in. It makes me sick to my stomach. Worse, because I’m sure most of my coworkers probably did vote for them. -_-

    It’s so hard to work with people you don’t respect and who played a role in your misery sometimes.

  31. Golden*

    Anyone know how to get ahold of someone’s CV/resume anonymously, or is this not ok to do?

    I’m hoping to nominate someone at my work for an award but their resume is part of the application package. I’d like to keep my identity as the nominator anonymous, because I don’t want them to think I’m trying to kiss their butt (they’re senior to me and have some pull in my company). I’m nominating them because they truly embody the qualities of the award requirements.

    They don’t have a LinkedIn, but I was thinking that their admin assistant might have access to it? The company is the one offering the award so surely they have access to the resume, maybe I can just leave it off the application and explain to them why I’m not including it? Any thoughts?

    1. fposte*

      I did this, or tried; I was open with HR about what I wanted, but they didn’t have the most recent resume, so I just asked the person without saying why (we have a long working relationship so they were slightly puzzled but willing). I think an admin assistant is a good idea, and they’ll probably enjoy being in on a fun secret. I would guess that you can’t really do without the resume as part of the package, though, so I’d definitely try to get it.

    2. J.B.*

      I would explain the complication to the assistant and ask advice. I don’t think you should try to get the resume yourself but see if the company has a process for dealing with things like this.

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      You could also have the selection committee ask for it. It will give a bit of a heads up, but it could be – You’ve been nominated for this award! To complete your package we need your resume. Everything else is done.

      May not be ideal, but it does keep you anonymous and gives them the choice to provide their resume or not. Plus, if the nominee list isn’t provided for some reason, it will let them know someone values them even if they don’t win.

  32. stitchinthyme*

    So I have a cleaning service come and clean my house once every two weeks. (Yes, I know I’m really privileged and fortunate to be able to do this.) Since I figure that the people who actually do the work are probably not making a huge amount of money, I tip generously every visit, and sometime in December I leave them several hundred dollars as a thanks for all their hard work throughout the year.

    The past two years I have received a letter from the company stating that while tips and cash gifts are not required, they realize that some customers like to give them, and their policy is to pool all such gifts and distribute them evenly among all employees; therefore, customers are requested not to leave cash but to use checks payable to the company.

    I really dislike this (and yes, I have let the company know). For one thing, since they assign the same crew each time (unless they’re unavailable for whatever reason), I prefer that the people who actually do my house are the ones who get my gift. For another, I am a bit suspicious about whether the company really does distribute that money to the employees or whether they pocket it — they certainly could, if the checks are made out to the company. So I ignore the “policy” and leave cash, hoping that the crew will just keep it without turning it in to management. (I never see them, as they come when we’re at work, or else I’d try to say that directly to them…although I’m also a little leery about advising them to do something against policy that might jeopardize their jobs.)

    So – what would you do in this situation? Is there some solution I haven’t thought of to make sure the crew gets the cash I’m trying to give them? (I’ve thought of dispensing with companies and trying to hire someone privately, but I don’t want to have to deal with insurance or employment taxes or any of the other headaches of hiring an individual.)

    1. I am gonna make it through this year*

      I would keep giving cash. Like you said, if you make the check out to a person who isn’t the person you see, you have no idea what that other person is doing it and if the intended recipient got any of it.

      Assuming good faith on the company (which, sure), maybe they’re concerned that some employees won’t get tips and so want to make sure that everyone gets a year-end bonus. Except if they wanted that, they could, y’know, give the employees a bonus themselves instead of taking your bonus to do it for them.

      Cash is better. You know it’s going to the person you give it to. And if they decide to do something else with it, like sharing it around, that’s their decision.

    2. fposte*

      Another vote for cash. I did use one very small local service where I wrote a bigger check and let the owner figure out the distribution, since I didn’t have the same crew every time, but it sounds like you do.

    3. PlatypusOo*

      “Tip pooling” is illegal in my state and many others. Either way I’d just give the workers cash and keep on ignoring the company policy.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      Completely agree with I am gonna. I’d keep “bonusing?” in cash as that ensures it’s going to the people you want it to.

    5. Daisy-dog*

      You may be able to find an employee-owned company. I worked in office administration and had to find a cleaning service. Our budget was too low for the bigger companies, but I did find one that was just 2 women who owned the business and did the cleaning. It took a ton of research though and was not as ideal a situation for our company needs, just our budget.

      Though for the question at hand – I agree with everyone else, leave the cash.

    6. mreasy*

      I think that you’re right on that the policy is bad and questionable and that you’re already doing the best you can, which is giving cash. (Because even if the cleaners are handing some of it over to the company per the “policy,” at least they’re able to take out their fair share first.)

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Ignore the company’s suggestion. It’s too weird.
      Continue to give cash directly to your cleaners. It’s up to them to declare the tip (or not) to their employer.
      Thank you for being so generous to hard workers!

    8. Leslie Knope*

      Ugh, this is such a horrible policy! Is the crew always the same number of people? If so then you could leave a gift card for each of them – Target, Walmart, Local Grocery Store. They may feel less pressure from their company to submit it to the tip pool if it’s not actual cash.

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I’d say keep giving cash, but be mindful that the staff may not be comfortable pocketing it if it is going to be pooled. Because pocketing tips intended for pooling is stealing from the company, which is grounds for termination.

      1. valentine*

        I would stop giving cash, for the same reason. The letter might just be general, but it could be that one person on your crew feels obliged to hand it in and declaring it as income might be a problem. They may also not feel comfortable turning down the cash themselves and in person.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        That’s so awful! Especially since tip pooling is such a shady practice already. Catch-22. Can the client call it a holiday gift rather than a tip?

        1. Kat in VA*

          I would do just this and leave them a note so it’s clear.

          “This is your annual holiday gift from me, personally, to each member of this crew. Please understand this is a gift to you and not a tip. *insert nice language about how valued they are and what a great job they do*. Happy Holidays!”

    10. Academia Escapee*

      If you’re making the check out to the company, who’s to say the company isn’t keeping the money and not passing on the tip? Cash ensures that it at least gets into the proper hands. And you get credit from the recipient for your generosity.

    11. Jaid*

      “In March of 2018, the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to clarify this issue. Employers that do not take a tip credit and pay employees the full minimum wage may establish a tip pool that includes back-of-house employees. However, employers that do take a tip credit must limit the tip pool to employees who customarily and regularly receive tips”.

      Dunno if that makes you feel better…

  33. Only Tech Person in Company*

    Anyone else a tech/data person reporting to a non tech person? It’s doubly frustrating to me because first, my managers simply don’t have expertise or even generalized knowledge about what I do. So not having any sort of mentor is hard, and they just don’t have any understanding of what goes into my work. And second, it’s doubly hard because I’m a woman. Both my boss and grandboss are men. You can probably guess where this is going: they underestimate my skills and try to mansplain my own work to me when they don’t know what they’re talking about. Sometimes I do really advanced, complicated work, and I don’t get any recognition for it.

    Sometimes I think I’d take a pay cut to be a part of an actual tech department. I almost surely would to work for a woman in tech.

    1. I am gonna make it through this year*

      I feel you. I have been there a few times. In all cases, it really really matters on how much the boss listens to you. I translate things from tech-into-English to them, I will explain anything at whatever level they want… but if they don’t care, they don’t care, and if they don’t think what you do is valuable, there’s limits to changing their minds.

    2. Jamie*

      I have always reported to someone non-technical and it’s frustrating. I also long to be part of a technical team sometimes, but I’ve carved out a niche as being a solo IT which is hard to break away from.

      We all have different experiences, but I’ve dealt with some sexism in the workplace but never mansplaining over my technical skills…in fact because they weren’t technical they trusted my expertise to the point where if I wasn’t sure and wanted to brainstorm with someone in the field to suss out my plan I’d have to fight to do that.

      You need to work for someone who gives you professional respect, be that a woman or a man.

    3. Brownie*

      All the sympathy. It gets so frustrating to try and explain that a one sentence non-technical manager request actually translates into days of complicated technical work, especially when said manager then starts going on and on about how it’s such a simple request and why is it taking so long. I’ve started making technical outlines showing how much time each sub-task takes, who I have to go to in order to get sub-tasks done, etc. so that when they start talking about it I can shove the outline at them and say “This is what it takes to do what you asked.” Having that piece of paper in front of them usually makes them back off because to question it would expose their lack of knowledge and somehow indicate weakness (no, I don’t get it, but that seems to be the mindset of the type of managers I run into who do this).

      1. J.B.*

        Yes, visualizing and mocking up can really help too. Sort of the equivalent of paper prototypes before beginning coding. Do you prefer this way or that way?

      2. I am gonna make it through this year*

        Oh, and one thing that helped once with a coworker who kept piling on requests was getting on a call with her to have her walk through some of the tricky details with me. She watched me do my work in real time and saw how a “quick request” was not quick at all, and that was me as an expert. A couple months ago, another coworker asked me to help train someone else on how to maintain something. I happily agreed. Then we had the training calls. Both the coworker and the person from the other department had NO IDEA how long something took, and that was something that even expertise is not gonna make too much faster. The other person ended up not taking it on; she’d had time in her schedule for being able to handle tiny additional tasks, not something that takes 3 days to make “minor changes”.

    4. J.B.*

      I was in almost that same situation, except that my direct boss wasn’t one of the ‘splainers. You won’t make complete headway but you could try very detailed updates for a while, showing some draft tables and asking *what* they want changed. Sometimes you can nudge people farther away from this behavior by satisfying their underlying questions – why it is being done way x or way y. Another thing might be to acquire some sort of certification to hold up. Not that you should have to but sometimes it helps.

    5. NW Mossy*

      There are pros and cons to both technical and non-technical managers, and one isn’t necessarily superior to the other – they’re just different.

      I’m a technical-expert manager myself, and I am by no means the ideal manager – the very things that you might love about having someone like me lead you can actually hold you back in your own development. As an example, one of my vulnerabilities is taking up too much space with my ideas. Being too “oh, and you can do this! and this!” crowds out my directs’ ideas and robs them of the experiences they need to hone their own judgment and solve problems independently. I have to be very conscious of that and pull back a LOT to make sure that they’ve got room to grow.

      On the flip side, reporting to someone who’s a non-expert can give you insight into other ways to get better. As an example, one of my colleagues is a career leader (20+ years managing) who just took over a new team. It’s only been a month and she’s already spotting behavioral issues that are holding people back, and she’s really effective in coaching people on that stuff. Their past managers overlooked and excused those behaviors in favor of cultivating technical expertise, but now, they’ll have someone who can really help them change.

      In the short term, it might help to pan back a bit and think about what your bosses are really good at. Are there non-technical things you can learn from them, like relationship-building and strategy? Are there technical peers who can give you the technical mentorship you need? Rather than having your bosses be all the things, working with them on specific topics and filling gaps with other relationships can work really well. It’s also a good way to build a network that supports you as you grow.

    6. Out of Retail*

      Hi, hi- yes!! Can we start a club?

      I’m lucky that my boss-types seem to trust me and don’t try to explain my work to me, but also they don’t even really know what it is that they want me to do! And when I say “this is what you need for the results you want” I get long clueless looks…and then have to explain the difference between a browser, a search engine, and windows file explorer.

      There was a woman in the IT department at my last (unfortunately toxic) job who I miss with all my heart and soul in those moments.

      1. Only Tech Person in Company*

        “also they don’t even really know what it is that they want me to do!”

        Exactly. A lot of the comments about thought I meant I was getting too many requests (and thank you for all the replies and support) but if anything it’s the opposite problem. There’s no tech leadership, so I either make a recommendation that goes nowhere, or I do something complex and it either doesn’t get used, or it does get used but I didn’t get the appreciation that I think I deserve. Which might make me sound like a baby, but as a woman in tech I know the underestimating of my skills is not all in my head.

        1. J.B.*

          Actually the complex and don’t get used is a really common problem when it comes to anything technical (including scientific) and decisionmakers. The best way to handle that is to understand the job steps someone is doing – like go interview and observe them – and build something that integrates into it. Iterative design is also really helpful. That could get you a little more visibility as well.

  34. Mary Whitney*

    Any advice on applying for jobs across the country? I’m primarily asking on behalf of my SO – he’s in law enforcement and has a student loan forgiveness program that requires him to continue working in public service (government, some nonprofits, and any type of law enforcement). No employment gaps are possible because his loan payment would jump to an amount we can’t afford if he’s unemployed. We’re both young professionals, though he’s coming up on 5 years of experience (in probation) and has his masters in justice studies. He’s definitely open to other public service and isn’t committed to law enforcement forever.

    We’re looking to move but I’m wondering how interviews work. I know for higher level jobs employers will fly you out for an interview (happens at my workplace all the time, anyway), but I doubt that’s the case at our level. Can you insist on only doing video/phone interviews? My concern is that he’ll just be out of the running unless he drops money on plane tickets.

    1. Another JD*

      Check his particular program’s terms. If he’s unemployed, there’s usually a period of deferment.

    2. WellRed*

      I’d make darn sure he’s in a program that actually will forgive the loans. My understanding is most people find out after the fact that they don’t qualify, for a whole host of reasons.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      In my experience, some employers will fly you out for an interview at any level. It seems to depend more on how hard-to-fill the position is rather than the level (though higher-level jobs tend to be harder to fill).

  35. Great Beyond*

    I’m frustrated at work because they keep commenting on how quiet I am, yet when I talk no one listens. My boss pulled me into a meeting about it, but I wasn’t sure what to say. They talk down to me and I feel like a child. Any advice?

    1. AMD*

      As a fellow quiet person, are they saying you’re socially quiet, or that you’re not, like, giving enough input in meetings or communicating important info?

      1. Great Beyond*

        Just my personality. I’m a hard worker and contribute. I just feel like they’re dismissive of me. I’m the only younger female on the team.

        1. CheeryO*

          This is hard to give advice on without knowing the exact dynamic and what they want from you, but as someone who was pulled into a meeting and told to “rattle my chains more” because I wasn’t acting outgoing like I did in my interview, I totally sympathize. Something you could work on is just making yourself a teeny bit more visible around the office. Get to meetings a couple minutes early and talk to whoever gets there next, make some extra trips to the kitchen/coffee pot just to see what’s going on, go to someone’s desk instead of emailing/IMing them, etc. Just being seen and having a friendly smile/”how are ya?” for people should really be enough in most situations.

    2. fposte*

      Did your boss give you an idea about a specific concern? Was she worried you were unhappy (which it sounds like you are, so maybe she’s got a point) or seeking you to change something?

      1. Great Beyond*

        She didnt say. She just asked how I was. I have a sick kid and I was getting sick, so lack of sleep, illness, etc. I didnt think I was acting differently.

        1. fposte*

          It sounds like you’re having a tough time and that your boss has noticed that. That’s not automatically a bad thing, and sometimes it’s a good move to be candid (“Bettina’s got the gloops so we haven’t been sleeping at home; I appreciate the concern and I think everything will be back on track next week when she’s back in school”). But once you and the kid are better and you get enough sleep, do you still feel dismissed at the job? Because if so that might be worth talking to your manager about as a freestanding issue.

  36. The Only Reward for a Job Well Done Is More Work*

    My Manager promoted me this year (I’ve been with the company around 15 years). Along with a new title and new responsibilities, I was supposed to receive a bi-annual stipend (instead of a raise), totaling a fair chunk of change. Two days before people with this position/role (under 10 employees total in a large company) were supposed to receive this stipend, we received an email from our manager stating that the Company was reviewing the position/role as well as the stipend.

    What recourse do we have? I don’t think any of the six received paperwork from HR acknowledging the stipend. Do we have an obligation to do all the new work responsibilities if we have no guarantee of being compensated for the extra work?

    1. Havarti*

      Wow, that stinks. This is a tough position because if you don’t do the new work responsibilities, they’ll likely use it as an excuse to deny you the money. How long is this review supposed to take? I would ask for clarification on the timeline of this review process. Then apply the Sheelzebub Principle: if nothing changes with your situation (more work, no raise/stipend), how long are you willing to put up with it? Take a look at your finances – if you needed to quit, could you? Consider your mental/physical health – would you be in danger of burning out with the new workload? It’s one thing if we’re talking about a month and another if it’ll take a year to make their decision. You’ve been there 15 years so presumably it’s been a decent place. Has management changed recently? Any rumors about budget issues?

    2. lasslisa*

      Ask your manager how long the review will be and what the new timeline is for you starting the new role. They didn’t say the stipend only is under review, they said the whole role is, so to me that could be interpreted to say you don’t have the new role until it’s been reviewed.

    3. Flyleaf*

      Start looking for a new job. It seems that the company has either financial problems or trouble following through on its commitments. In either case it’s not a good sign. Best to look elsewhere for an employer that treats you well.

  37. The Other Dawn*

    I’d like to hear from managers that have managers as direct reports.

    I was talking with my boss in a on-on-one yesterday and we were talking about the performance review process. Previously we were using Word docs (I’m somewhat new still and haven’t seen these) and we’re now on a system that’s part of the payroll vendor we use. We haven’t seen the annual performance review factors yet, so we don’t know if what we talked about is actually part of that or not.

    As we talked about my goals for the next quarter, she said, “OK so we have some good goals, but how do we assess someone’s management performance? The soft stuff.” Since my direct report is a manager, and all of my boss’s direct reports are managers, we always look at things like their ability to share knowledge, be diplomatic, not shy away from confrontation or difficult/awkward conversations, be approachable, etc. We know what we generally look for when considering if someone is a good manager, but how do you translate that into the performance review? Do you do 360 reviews? Are there specific factors you use within the review? Or do you just kind of observe and summarize as part of the overall comments? Are there specific things you’re looking for?

    1. Process Geek*

      The leadership in my large department (those who report to the VP) jointly created a “leadership promise.” It lists some high level behaviors for the leadership. That “leadership promise” is a goal for every manager in our department. We are measured on that goal, receiving specific behavior feedback. We use a lot of 360 feedback, but that is challenging on small teams.

  38. Stephanie*

    How have people mentioned to higher ups that they need more people on their teams? We’re understaffed on my team and it’s starting to get a bit overwhelming (like to the point where I wince when a coworker takes vacation). I’m able to handle the work mostly, but I don’t know how sustainable it is (I often have conflicting meetings).

    1. Havarti*

      Is your boss a decent person? Do you have meetings where you go over the status of your stuff? That would be a great time to say you need another person because XYZ. Otherwise ask for a meeting. Be prepared to go over who is currently assigned to do what. Can the company/dept. afford to hire another person?

    2. Lora*

      Pretty much just like that. “I’m currently working on X, Y and Z. John is working on A, B and C. If you also want our group to handle D, E and F then we need another person, even if it’s contract to hire. We cannot take on any more given our current deadlines and what we’ve already committed to.” At LastJob I said, the only way this has been working at all is due to the heroic efforts of Tech1 and Tech2. Each has been here two years and now can get a better job offer somewhere else with their experience, you cannot rely on them to keep putting in heroic efforts when somewhere else will pay them the same or better for a normal workweek; in addition, long double shifts three days in a row is contributing to your error rate and that is A Problem.

      Sometimes they told me, no you have to Make It Happen anyway. Sometimes they just shuffled around priorities and projects. Sometimes we got more people. Most of the time they shuffled around priorities. The Make It Happen anyway responders typically didn’t last in the job…

    3. Process Geek*

      We’re in the process of trying to get me an additional team member. My organization is working our way out of a financial hole and there is a high level scrutiny on any additional spending. Here’s what we are doing:
      1. Not allowing me to work tons of overtime, as that isn’t sustainable. I have explicit instructions from my manager (and backing when it gets hard) to let people know that I don’t have capacity to complete their request until (time frame).
      2. Being very explicit about the constraints with everyone who asks for my time. I’m clear that I would love to add support for the teapot painters, but because of the demands on my time, I can’t do that for 6 months. My manager calls this “making them feel the pain.”
      3. When people complain or push back, I ask them to please put the complaint in writing. I explain that I am building a case to expand my team, so this will help me get what I need to do what they are asking.
      4. I document thoroughly every time I can’t meet a requested timeline.

      Good luck!

    4. Kathenus*

      I’ve created spreadsheets that document the staffing level we have, tasks/duties and how long they take and/or # people per/day needed for appropriate staffing and show if there is a deficit of staffing (remember to deduct things like holidays/vacation time from the staffing level to show a realistic assessment). Then I’ve shown the staffing that I’m requesting and how it would fill the deficit, and/or how it would allow us to take on additional projects or duties. I’ve done this twice in the past 5 years and to my great surprise gotten the staffing requested both times. Having the data that clearly shows that we can’t cover the work with existing staffing is a powerful argument.

  39. LessNosy*

    So I brought up my case for a raise this year to my boss (salary market research, responsibilities increasing by 30%, etc.). Things have been a little contentious with me and her for a couple of weeks because I am majorly burned out, back to working 11-12 hour days every day and working during the weekends, and I have no support or help from her or anyone else.

    I was told the only way I can get a raise is to go up a job band and we would have to review the job bands to see if I meet the requirements for the next one (worth noting that these job bands are NOT published anywhere publicly).

    But then she said, “And we all have increased workloads right now. The reason for increased workloads is for personal growth and development.” I had to stop myself from laughing. Exsqueeze me?! Basically, I should be thanking YOU for the growth opportunity…?? This company wants us to get blood from a stone every day, and doesn’t care if we work ourselves to death. I had to put my job search on hold to put in extra hours (that I don’t get paid for because I’m salaried exempt) but it was still on my radar. Now, it’s time to take it back up and really kick it up a notch. I have been screaming for help for months, drowning in work, and she knows it (I have posted about it before on the open threads). But don’t sit here and p*ss down my leg and tell me it’s raining. Increased workloads are for personal growth?! *insert Jlaw “ok + thumbs up” gif here*

    I am already fantasizing about giving my 2 weeks notice and saying that I took a new job for personal growth and development.

    1. Havarti*

      LOL! “It builds character!” I love it. Yes, please start job hunting seriously. This is a dumpster fire. Good luck!

      1. LessNosy*

        At least I got a good laugh!! I have been enduring the dumpster fire for five years. I got a nice Amazon gift card for my 5 year anniversary and bought an air fryer with it. I call it my “pain and suffering air fryer.” I might have to change it to my “character building air fryer” :)

        1. Kathenus*

          I have a magnet I got during a really bad career situation that says Uh Oh! Another Character Building Experience! It seriously was like a stress-relieving touchstone for a while, and I still pull it out from time to time when needed.

      1. Auntie Social*

        “The reason for increased workloads is that you’re too cheap to hire someone else. I’ve been working 70 hour weeks and you’re going to have to replace me with two people.”

        1. LessNosy*

          Exactly. As bad as it sounds, I can’t wait to see what happens when they realize that while looking for a replacement. I’ve been telling them we need more people in our department. Maybe then they’ll believe me :)

      2. LessNosy*

        100% this! When I told my best work friend (who is suffering just as much as I am), that was literally her comment.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Start applying elsewhere. I don’t think there is a long term potential to grow in this company.

    3. Observer*

      Is your manager taking her cues from Steph Korey (Google “away ceo verge”)

      From the article that broke the story

      The day before Valentine’s Day, Korey decided she was going to stop the team from taking any more time off. In a series of Slack messages that began at 3AM, she said, “I know this group is hungry for career development opportunities, and in an effort to support you in developing your skills, I am going to help you learn the career skill of accountability. To hold you accountable…no more [paid time off] or [work from home] requests will be considered from the 6 of you…I hope everyone in this group appreciates the thoughtfulness I’ve put into creating this career development opportunity and that you’re all excited to operate consistently with our core values.”

      (The bolding was in the original.)

  40. A. Ham*

    My husband is miserable at his job and has been for almost a year. He has made the decision to not renew after his current muli-year contract is up in the spring. This is absolutely the right decision and I 150% support it. Of course even though we both know this is the right decision, he still has a lot of anxiety about this. I’m a little more relaxed about it because a) even though I am well aware that this could affect us financially, I am way more concerned about his happiness and b) I have done the job search/unemployed thing way more often than he has and so can jump in that hole with him because I know the way out (hat tip West Wing).
    Which brings me to my next point: he has been with his current company, in various roles and locations for 15 years. He started as an intern his senior year of college. He has, frankly, never had to do a serious job search or even a non-internal interview. On top of that, he is interested in continuing to do the type of work he does, but get out of his specific industry. (Like moving from teapot design to coffee pot design- the skills are definitely transferable, but he has no experience with coffee). So, he is worried about finding the right job, he is worried about changing industries, he is worried about losing pay and benefits like vacation time (after being at the same place for so long, both are pretty good) when he switches to something new, and he is worried about the possibility of being unemployed if he doesn’t find something before his contract is up. So, suffice it to say, he has a LOT on his mind lately.
    I am looking for anyone out there that has gone through a job change like this and has advice or words of encouragement for him. And also if anyone has been the spouse of someone in a similar job search and has advice on how to best support him. I feel like my chill approach and “it will be ok” is not necessarily what he wants/needs to hear right now. (Although I have already been helping him update his resume and search for opportunities).

    Also- how do head hunters/recruiters work? Is that something that only goes one way, or can HE seek THEM out?

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I do recruiting full time and yes, your husband can absolutely reach out to get the ball rolling. I would encourage him to research which recruiters focus on the industry he wishes to stay in and to make sure he asks them some industry specific questions to make sure they know what they’re talking about. This is an ideal time for him to reach out as he’s still employed but knows he’s ready for a change.

    2. Nicki Name*

      It varies from industry to industry. If his industry happens to be tech, then yes, recruiters definitely want to hear from him!

  41. Sarah*

    Networking question
    A job was recently posted, and through work, I have a connection to the person who previously filled that role. When she left, she offered her personal gmail address in a big email to her contacts. Can I email her from my personal email with questions about the job since I don’t want to email her via my work email? She’s not on LinkedIn.

  42. Holiday Basket*

    So our office have been receiving baskets of goodies. Most of them named toward the owners.
    A basket was addressed for staff, and one of the owners had the nerve to take it home. How greedy can you get? lol They own this business and have the biggest paycheques around here and still found it ok to take home the $50 gift that was supposedly for everybody.
    To the suppliers / contractors who have been sending this- I hope they also know that we, the ordinary employees here, is also an important part of the business.

    1. Havarti*

      Wow, that is terrible! It always seems it’s the people who make more money that are more willing to take anything not nailed down to the floor. I guess that’s why they have more money… Good people know who really makes the work happen in a company and it isn’t the thief.

    2. Leslie Knope*

      My boss used to do this – he would take the gift baskets and re-gift them to other people. They were addressed to the whole company, but what could you do if he just swooped and took them? The office manager started divvying up the gifts as soon as they would come in. She got sandwich bags and would portion out cookies, chocolates, and all the edibles. All the promotional mugs and things like that would immediately be washed and put away in the break room. She would leave your baggie with your goodies on your desk with a sticky note with who had sent them. The boss would swing by at the end of the day and see an empty gift basket and a ziplock bag with his name on it – the look on his face was priceless! He laughed about being out-maneuvered!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      A vendor at OldExjob would bring a cooler of little ice cream cups every year. The bosses always put it out in the break room for the shop personnel, since the office got so! much! stuff! at the holidays and they rarely had a crack at it. I thought that was fair, even though it usually meant I didn’t get one.

      We liked the dude who brought a giant ham best; everybody got sandwiches.

    4. Holiday Basket*

      I should not be surprised with the greediness though, a lot of people here are underpaid too. I’m here for almost a decade and I’ve gotten a raise twice, for a total of $3k. So from when I started, to now, my hard work was only worth 3k more.

  43. EvilQueenRegina*

    We have all had a reminder to sign up to bring something for a potluck next week. I have so far resisted the temptation to add “cheap ass rolls” to the list.

    (Although to my knowledge no one reads AAM here so the reference would be lost.)

    1. SomebodyElse*


      If you hear someone guffawing you’ll know that you do have some closet AAM readers nearby.

      1. Kat in VA*

        Oddly enough, there’s a post right here in this open thread where the situation is specific enough that I could SWEAR it was written by someone who works at the husband’s office. (It’s a crummy situation so I’m not going to clarify.)

    2. mreasy*

      We had Kings Hawaiian at my in-laws’ Thanksgiving and I busted out laughing when I saw them and just…couldn’t begin to explain!

      1. cmcinnyc*

        At my supermarket the King Hawaiian rolls are in a display right near the entrance and I’ve been grinning on my way in ever since that letter! Bless you, easily offended nincompoop! You have made my shopping chore better!

      2. Free Meerkats*

        I was going to tell this story in last week’s Open Thread, but was out of the office.

        We had our work pot-luck last week and sign up for and I brought – Hawaiian sweet rolls.

        Sure enough, even though I was the only one who signed up for rolls, someone brought the cheap-ass rolls. I did excuse myself for a few minutes to wipe away the tears (of laughter), then returned and enjoyed the food and camaraderie.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Please clue the rest of us in! Would love to read the original post!
      (Control F isn’t doing it for me.)

      1. Elenna*

        Letter #2 in the Nov 22nd post called “coworkers say we shouldn’t attend a work party, I feel insulted by my new job, and more”.

        I’ll try to add a link in my next reply.

  44. Quiltrrr*

    A job that I applied to and received an in-person interview for sent me an email saying that they were pursuing other applicants. This was in November.

    Now, I see the position was re-posted last week. Should I re-apply, or figure it’s a no-go for me?

    1. Cleopatra XV*

      Well I think that they would have contacted you if they thought that your profile was adequate for the job. Maybe they did not know how to tell you this, so they saifd that they will pursue with other applicants.

      In all cases, I think that there is nothing to lose if you re-apply !

    2. Diana*

      Nah. They rejected you for the job only a few weeks ago. Nothing has changed significantly in your experience or skill set in a few short weeks. Don’t re-apply. Good luck with the next interview process!

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      There is nothing to lose by re-applying, in case they changed their mind but were too proud to say so, but don’t hang your hopes on it.

      1. theguvnah*

        strong disagree. there is a lot to lose, like looking woefully out of touch, and putting you out of the running for any future positions that might arise as a result.
        Do not reapply. It sucks, but they don’t want to hire you.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      You actually had an interview? < Don’t reapply.

      No interview or phone screen? < You can try, but don’t get your hopes up.

  45. Cleopatra XV*

    Hi Guys,

    I would love to have your feedback on the following: I just received an offer today from a good company, which I would like to accept. They want me to start working for them mid-March (in the country where I live, there is the rule of 3 month notice, which is also in my current contract. And even this new company where I’ll be soon working, it has a mandatory 4 month notice policy…). My problem is that I was supposed to sign a mortgage loan before end of December. However, my bank is now saying that the sign off would probably take place mid January.

    I can definitely not resign before signing the mortgage loan, as not being in a notice period is one of the conditions for obtaining it.

    This means that I need to wait to mid January to resign, and if you add the 3 month notice, it will lead us to mid April…

    This new company are really keen on having me start mid March.

    Is it too unreasonable if I tell them that I cannot resign before mid-January?

    Thanks for any insight !!!!!

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Can you tell them that you’re about to sign a mortgage and can’t give notice until after then? They may want you to start in March but if you told them about your extenuating circumstances they may be more willing to wait.

      Also is there any way you can ask the bank to expedite the loan process? It seems nuts that they’re delaying things a month.

    2. Leslie Knope*

      I would push back on the bank first – is there someone out of town who the schedule relies on? Who else has authority to help the situation? Does it still count if you weren’t in the notice period during the original timeline that was promised (can it be documented and worked around)?

      If that fails, then go to the new company and let them know you did what you could to stick to the original schedule, but were unsuccessful with the bank. Let them know you wouldn’t ask if it was important (this is definitely important!). This is just a situation where the timing is particularly bad, but hopefully the new company is understanding. If they’re not, then it will tell you quite a bit about them.

    3. Venus*

      Can you talk to your current workplace to say that you intend to leave in March but won’t officially be resigning until mid-Jan? You want to give them three months’ notice, but only file the paperwork after a month.

      1. Cleopatra XV*

        This is what I think I will be doing! Will get back to them tomorrow.

        Thanks for all the comentators :)

  46. Madame Zeroni*

    So the owner of our company closed our offices early the day before Thanksgiving. We closed at 3 pm instead of our normal 5 pm close. We were told at 2:50 we would be closing early. Fast forward to this week when we had to review our timesheets and the owner used my PTO for those two hours. Other people did not get paid. I assume they did not have PTO to cover these hours. We are paid hourly employees so it’s not a matter of legality, more of a shitty thing my employer is doing. Any advice on how to approach this if we close early on Christmas Eve?

    1. Cleopatra XV*

      I think that you need to be honest with your employer and to tell him that it was not clear that closing 2 hours earlier would need to be covered by PTOs.

      However, my company for instance, they close the whole week between Christmas and New Year, and they cover it by PTOs (I live in a country where we have lots of PTOs, so this is not shocking). BUT, we are informed of this a year in advance.

      So unless he informed you about this policy way in advance, I think that you need to address this issue with him, saying that all employees were surprised (if this is true) by the PTO coverage/less pay thing, and to ask him if he is going to do the same thing for Christmas.

    2. Jamie*

      I would ask if you will be closing early and if so, could you make up the time in the rest of the pay period to avoid losing PTO. It’s a reasonable question.

  47. LawLizard*

    Hi all, I’m a daily reader and sometimes anonymous commenter here.
    I’m a third year law student getting ready to graduate in May and sit for the bar in July and I’m starting to realize that I…. don’t want to be a lawyer.

    I’ve loved my time in law school and love learning about the law but when it comes to practicing in clinics or working for attorneys, I just don’t know if I can handle the stress or pressure. I’m not sure if it’s my own insecurity or if I’ve made a huge mistake in going to law school but I’m scared for what comes next. My GPA is good, and I’m at a big state university with a good legal reputation, and I have great references, but I feel the imposter syndrome creeping in and telling me I may never actually be successful and/or happy in this field.

    I don’t really know what kind of advice I’m looking for here, I guess if anyone either practicing, or who has a JD and didn’t take the bar, or is barred and not practicing has any advice or reassurance, I would appreciate it.

    1. Put your talent in your work, your genius your life*

      What would you want to do as lawyer — there’s a wide range of jobs on the other side of the bar.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Not everyone with a law degree practices law. I have a good friend who went to law school for employment law, and while she did practice for a few years, her ultimate goal was to work in HR, which she’s now doing.

      That said – there are a huge number of law firms and types of law to practice out there, and they’re not all high-stress or high pressure. And you can do legal-related work in non-law offices, such as various types of compliance.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I know lawyers that worked for a few years in practices and then became General Counsels for companies. Maybe that would be something more to your interests?

    4. CTT*

      FWIW, I think a lot of people, myself included, feel very insecure at this stage of law school, because theoretically in a year you’ll be a lawyer and that’s a lot to think about . This time two years ago I was kind of a wreck and second-guessing myself because I felt pushed to the limit with schoolwork and law review, how could I deal with actual work where people are supposed to trust me as a lawyer??? And now I am a lawyer, and I definitely am stressed, but that’s a lot of life, and I can’t say that I would be any less stressed if I had gone into another field (or even stayed in my pre-lawyer role as a paralegal).

      If your thoughts are more specific than “what if I’m stressed/what if I’m bad at it,” then consider talking with a professor you have a good connection with about deferring taking the bar and some potential non-lawyering options. But from what you’ve written here, I think this is on the imposter syndrome side of things, for understandable reasons.

    5. CatCat*

      Certain areas are more stressful and more high pressure than others. What is it that you like with the law? What is it that you don’t like about the clinics?

      The legal field is a vast sea so I’d be surprised if you could not find a niche that might be suitable. It’s early in the game for you. I mean, if you hated the law or something, that would be one thing, but you love it. So I think there’s something out there for you.

    6. CheeryO*

      You could always get a government job! We have environmental attorneys at my state agency, and while their jobs can be a little stressful at times, I have to imagine that it’s nothing like private practice. They do a steady 40 hours/week and don’t take work home with them, and they rarely have to take matters past discovery and/or mediation. Plus great benefits – lots of vacation time, pension, etc.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I know a federal agent who went through law school & passed the bar and has found it very useful at his agency. His specific corner of the world enforces regulations…and because of his law background, when he delivers a case to prosecution they know all the ends are tied up neatly the first time.

    7. Anonymous Liz*

      Are you interested in contracts? There are a lot of jobs in higher education in contract negotiation that don’t require you to be an attorney. I’ve seen a lot of JDs work in these positions.

    8. automaticdoor*

      Hi! So, I have a JD from a fancy law school, but I am not barred and don’t plan to take the bar. I work in policy/lobbying in DC. I love it and know I would have been really unhappy as a lawyer (I interned for a county court and a firm and hated both). You are not trapped! Have you had any internships outside traditional law stuff? If you want to email me, I can be found at doorautomatica at gmail dot com.

    9. Lemon Squeezy*

      IANAL, but I work at absurdly large Arkansas based retailer, and we have hella lawyers. They’re necessary in large companies for compliance, for sure, so don’t feel like you’re tied to only one path. The law affects literally every business. Is there something you see yourself really enjoying doing, or a particular component that you really dug? That might be an arena to research into.

    10. pancakes*

      Have you done any clinic work in school? I was pretty big on it, and participated in a clinic during all of my 2nd year and returned as a research assistant to the prof. leading it in my 3rd year. It was stressful, but I loved the work, but ultimately decided I didn’t want to do that particular thing full-time after graduation. My work is in a different area of law. There can be a big, big difference in stress levels between various fields — having a client depending on you to get them out of prison or a terrible marriage, for example, can be rather more stressful than working on a credit default swap transaction as part of a team of 30 other lawyers. It can be stressful in an entirely different way, of course, to feel that one’s work is tedious, or pointless, or purely revenue-generating. So much depends on what your priorities are, and those may change over time. If you have the chance to participate in a clinic before you graduate, try it, even if it seems scary. Once you’re out of school it’s much more difficult to be experimental.

      I suppose my other advice is, if you think there’s even a small chance you will practice law after graduating, take the bar exam rather than putting it off. I can’t imagine prepping for it after being out of a school for a long while. Use those studying muscles while they’re still at peak capacity.

    11. RabbitRabbit*

      Not a lawyer, but there are plenty of lawyers working in the not-for-profit hospital that I work in. They work in departments like Legal (duh), Compliance, contracts, all kinds of places. I have a friend with a JD who is not barred, and he works for a Very Large Insurance Company. There’s plenty of opportunities for you out there.

    12. Indy Dem*

      I went to school with a divorce lawyer who actually became a marriage counselor/mediator because she was tired of lawyering.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      This happened to me, when I was in graduate school for education. I realized about three years in that I did NOT want to be a high school teacher, nor did I want to get a Ph.D to teach in college. Plus, the program director didn’t tell me I’d actually need the master’s in my subject according to state law, which the school did not offer. I ended up dropping out of the program, but I really wish I’d finished it. I could have used a master’s in education to get into corporate training.

      I highly recommend getting it. You have a lot of options.

    14. SMH RN*

      Not a lawyer but faced a similar problem when I finished my nursing degree, started working rural acute care/ER and realized I truly hated it. Fortunately nursing is a broad field and I found an a job working with seniors that I love. My understanding is that law might be able to work the same way…you might be able to find a niche you enjoy. And much as I hated ER it was great experience skills wise

    15. nym*

      I work in public health, and we have a bunch of lawyers at my organization who do not practice law. Instead they do legal research, which might be something you would enjoy if you love learning about the law?

      Things like “What laws are in place in these ten jurisdictions about food inspection? How safe is the food in each jurisdiction?” and “if my state/city/county wanted to pass laws about tattooing, what are some good examples?”

      We also have lawyers who are on the public health program/policy side, nothing to do with the law at all. We find that the analytical thinking skills they develop in law school can be applied easily to a broad range of topics.

  48. EnfysNest*

    So, at our department-wide holiday party this week, I was in conversation with two recently retired previous coworkers and we were joined by a guy we’ll call Buck, who is our main vehicle maintenance guy. I typically interact with Buck only briefly maybe once or twice a month, so I’m familiar with his personality, but we don’t work together regularly or anything.

    Anyway, a while later in the middle of the conversation, Buck started to say the F-word, then stopped and looked at me, because I’m one of only a few women in our department and also one of the youngest and this is the South and as much as I super don’t care about cuss words, a handful of the older men here, Buck included, always make a whole big fuss about how they can’t curse in front of me because I’m a “Lady”. I haaaate it and try to keep pushing back against it every time they do it, but it doesn’t ever make a difference.

    So he does this again and I internally roll my eyes like usual, ready to reiterate once again how I don’t care if he curses, when Buck suddenly reached over and PHYSICALLY COVERED MY EARS WITH HIS HANDS so that he could finish saying f***. And I just froze. I’m so so mad at myself for not shouting or jumping back or reacting in any way, but instead I just stood there staring at him. Uuuugggggghhhh. It was so awful and out of line and gross and I’m mad at him for it and I’m mad at myself for not making a big scene over it, but it just took me so off guard that I couldn’t even process what had happened until it was over. Just… OH MY GOSH WHO DOES THAT?!?!?!

    1. Fire for Effect, Over*

      “I’m mad at myself for not making a big scene over it” I understand your momentary regret but you can still gain recourse for this incident and violation. But there’s no statute of limitations or time that address this.
      Sounds like ‘Buck’ is an older guy who doesn’t have the modern sensibilities expected in this current workplace generation. I encourage you to talk to him afterward, in private (if you feel comfortable) or with a trusted coworker, about how you felt and maybe still feel. Take time to practice what you want to say that helps him understand the error of his ways, how it made you feel, and how you both can move forward. Buck isn’t malicious so much as he’s trying to be ‘funny’ in accommodating what he thinks is your preference yet violating you to accomplish that. He should be reminded that the party, even off-premise was a sanctioned department party and he still must abide by any workplace harassment policies.

      If you don’t have a way to process this, you might have a residual emotional and social response, and perhaps not even know that your feelings are from this moment.

      1. EnfysNest*

        It wasn’t even off station or after hours – it was around lunchtime and at our facility. He is definitely an older guy and he doesn’t take anything seriously and everyone seems to just think of him as that hilarious old uncle in the family / the class clown who is always doing ridiculous things – he’s often referred to as “Wild Buck”. Everyone else seems to find him really funny / charming all the time. If I tried to bring it up with any of our other coworkers, their reaction would just be “Aw, silly old Buck. Well, you know he means well!”

        If I told him directly or via HR that it had bothered me or actually said “Hey, in the future, please don’t touch me,” I’m pretty sure he would be very contrite in the moment and be sad for upsetting someone (he always acts like he genuinely wants everyone around him to be happy), but in practice, it would probably just become a joke to him of “Oops, can’t even shake Enfys’ hand now! Gotta stay 10 feet back from her!” every time he saw me from now on.

        1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

          UGH. I’m the only woman at my company (currently, other woman have worked here in the past). I feeeeel your frustration! Although, I’m lucky that the guys here have gotten used to me cursing as much (or more) than they do. My boss still apologizes to me when he says “fuck,” even though I’ve told him several times I’m a worse offender than he is.

          I’ve been sitting here trying to think of some witty comeback to put Buck in his place…but I’m at a loss for words. If anything like that ever happens again I think you have every right to gut punch him and then calmly say, “What the fuck, man?”

          I had a friend who used to think it was funny to lean on me (he was like 9 inches taller than me). Haha so funny, the good ol’ leaning on your short friend gag! So I started elbowing him in the ribs when he would do that. It solved the problem pretty quickly.

      2. pancakes*

        It’s not always an age issue. There are gen z guys who, like Buck, ooze paternalism like leaky garbage bags, and boomers who don’t. But yes, it’s definitely not too late to say something to him about this. Maybe something along the lines of, “I was caught off-guard when you put your hands over my ears the other day. Please don’t touch me again, and please don’t go on and on about my gender – it makes me uncomfortable, and it’s not appropriate for work.”

    2. Seifer*

      I once kept flinching because the president of the company kept saying ‘fuck’ but it was mostly because he was standing behind me and being loud and I don’t like shouting. He patted me on the shoulder and apologized, and I was like, “hey man, it’s a really fucked up situation, I get it.” Cue a short pause followed by ugly laughing.

      For me, the bland delivery is what works. But… had my president done what Buck did, he would’ve gotten a, “for fuck’s sake, man, my fucking dad hasn’t even done that to me!” But I sympathize. It’s easy to think about what you’d do after the fact, but yeah, that guy is super weird.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      Sounds like you need to prime yourself in future parties when he’ll be there. Since the odds are pretty good he’ll do it again, be ready with a loud, “What the FUCK was that?” I imagine the look of shock on his face will make it all worth it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Keep your effing hands off my head, it’s a lot more offensive than the 4-letter word you are afraid to say.”

    4. Fikly*

      WOW. The censoring himself in front of you thing is obnoxious, but touching you without your consent is so far over the line and not ok.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Or, since the moment is past, “Hey Buck, remember last week when you thought it would be hilarious to put your hands on my ears? It wasn’t.

        Keep your fucking hands to yourself.”

      1. EnfysNest*

        (Sorry for the double post here – I thought I’d accidentally deleted my first response, but I guess it submitted correctly and was just stuck in moderation.)

    5. KoiFeeder*

      Oh, that is beyond inappropriate.

      For what it’s worth, freezing is probably less dangerous to your job than my instinct would be, because I would’ve bitten him.

  49. oona*

    So I think everything will be OK here, but in the event I’m horribly wrong I thought I’d check here and see what I should do.

    Last night was my company’s holiday party and one thing led to another and I hooked up with a guy I work with. We are both in our late twenties and about the same level in the company. We both work from home 75% of the time, and our work never overlaps. We actually matched on Tinder a few months ago and did not know we work for the same company until we saw each other at a different work event. We had a brief conversation before hooking up where he asked if it would be weird, and I said I have no expectations, I can be cool if he can be cool, and that if he changed his mind and didn’t want to do it that was fine and I’d take him home. His response was basically “ok” and then we moved on. I’m very single and happy that way, and he seems to be in the same boat. I’m pretty sure we are on the same page about what that hook up was.

    I don’t plan on broadcasting this company-wide or anything, but there are people who know. We were at a bar with a group of co-workers, they definitely knew what was up. My company is mostly people in their twenties and thirties, and I strongly suspect me and him were not the only ones in the group who hooked up that night.

    Anyway, I guess my questions are 1) does it seem accurate that this will not be a big deal for my workplace and 2) if it does end up being a thing my work wants to address, how should we/I handle it? I’ve never even come close to hooking up with a co-worker before, this is very much uncharted territory for me

    1. Cleopatra XV*

      Well, there are quite some people who meet their significant other at work. Meeting significant others usually also means, sooner or later, hooking up. The point is that if two people in your company are in a serious relationship, and have kids together, would HR be angry? Would the company consider this to be a big deal? If no, then the same thing applies to casual hookups or one-night stands.

      1. Cleopatra XV*

        And to answer question #2, it really depends on your company. Are employees not supposed to engage in personal relationships? I would be quite shocked if HR comes and talks to you about this. I mean we all have a life to live. You will definitely be subject to gossip, but well, we all do at some point, either when we resign, when get divorced, when we hook up etc.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Many, many years ago, I hooked up with a co-worker. It developed into a kind of long-term FWB situation with a couple of random dates. We both worked for the same company, but I changed divisions, so while we didn’t work together directly we had a lot of connections. I don’t know if anyone knew– we certainly didn’t do anything in public– and if they did, I doubt they said anything other than, “Um… what?” (We were kind of an odd pairing.) Now that I think about it, we did go out for pizza once in my neighborhood and our shared IT guy came over and said hello… I have no idea what HE must have thought, but he and I had a great rapport and he never said anything at the office.

      Anyway. At this point, I wouldn’t sweat it, especially since you don’t go into the office that much. If someone says anything to you along the lines of, “What’s going on with you and Jooooooooonnnnn?” then say, “Oh, we’re friends, we hang out sometimes” if you’re comfortable, but that’s all you have to say. “Nothing, why do you ask?” works too.

      Honestly, when you’re young and single and (in my case) living in a big city, this sometimes happens. And it can be great! I had a good time with my former co-worker, we never went beyond what we had, it never came up at work. At my old company, this would just be fodder for a couple of giggles and nothing more, seriously.

    3. Diana*

      I don’t think you have anything to worry about, especially if you aren’t planning to pursue a relationship with that person. I wouldn’t say anything about it. Congrats on a nice evening!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Just have something prepared to say so you’re not taken unaware. I’d replace the word “hookup” with “date” because it’s less info for the gossip mill. Or an innocuous ‘we went for drinks afterwards’. Also? Consider aligning your stories so he doesn’t say you went dancing.

  50. Do I really want to do this?*

    Any tips for how to get over not receiving a promotion? I recently learned that the promotion I was hoping to get was given to someone else. I am really struggling to focus on my job and am stuck in a really negative mental mindset. How do you get back on track after a big disappointment?

    1. Put your talent in your work, your genius your life*

      Take a few days off.
      Try being happy for the other person.
      Be excellent at what you’ve been assigned to do.

      1. Cleopatra XV*

        I agree with the above.

        You can also try to find out what achievements made the other person get the promotion.

        Also, if you have been in that job for quite some time, you can see what the job market can offer you. Sometimes changing companies can do us some good !

  51. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Does anyone have a favorite remember template for Google Docs or MSWord or OpenOffice equivalent? I’m not thrilled with the resume templates online for Google docs, but if I find one I like, I’m less likely to get sidetracked by layout minutia. (I know myself that well at least.)

    1. Diana*

      I recommend using the ATS friendly templates from JobScan. They’re boring but safe and help you focus on what matters.

  52. MechanicalPencil*

    I’m friends with a coworker, Fergus. I privately communicated my frustrations with work (I’m very underutilized now that I have a new supervisor and incredibly bored). I mentioned to Fergus that I might start job searching. Fast forward a few weeks, and I have my last review with my now former supervisor, Lucinda. In her review, she comments something to the effect that she hopes “if I’m still here” we’ll continue to work together blah blah. My now former team is incredibly tight-knit, so I’m not sure if Fergus has mentioned my likely job searching or if Lucinda is guessing. And I’m not sure…of a lot of things really. Do I just continue to act as if of course I’m continuing to work at ABC Company or…?

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I would continue to act as though you’re still planning to work there. There’s never any way of knowing how long a job search will take, it could take ages, so even if you job search from today it could be a while before you actually leave.

      Is it possible that Lucinda has somehow picked up herself that you are under utilised, without Fergus having said anything?

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I think it’s worth saying something to Lucinda and asking what she meant by it. Maybe it will be something positive – “you’re clearly underutilized here so I would understand if you wanted to/probably are looking elsewhere” and you can have an honest conversation and maybe get her assistance in the process, or maybe she knows you might get laid off because there’s nothing for you to do, or maybe Fergus blabbed a private conversation.

      Either way if someone says “…if you’re still working here” it’s perfectly reasonable to want an explanation.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Are there any other relevant changes in your workplace?
      From what you’ve written I don’t think Fergus said anything. More likely Lucinda knows what’s what with the new supervisor.

  53. Group projects man...*

    I’m now at the end of my grad school semester and had to do 4 different group projects. All the groups were basically randomly assigned. The groups where I worked with other strong, conscientious students were awesome, and that kind of experience makes me understand why teachers assign group work. I still don’t think it’s particularly similar to working on a team in a paid job, but it was still a good learning experience. The groups where I was mainly working with weaker and less organized students were….frustrating. As has often been my experience, there were a couple people who completed their tasks in a very shoddy way, leaving the rest of us the choice of either just leaving it, or devoting a lot of time to coaching the other students to correct it (or just doing it ourselves.)

    So when groups are assigned by the teacher, why are students often grouped heterogeneously by ability? Why not group weaker students together so that they have to step up and figure it out themselves, and group stronger students together so they can challenge each other?

    1. J.B.*

      I had three really good groups this semester. One we had to group ourselves and I quickly asked some people who seemed involved in class, and the others were assigned by the professor. The professors went with complementary *skills* and it went really well. The problem with school group stuff is that many professors want to set it and forget it. I have never had a group project at work where everyone was on the same level, there was always someone more senior. So by default the senior person had more authority (and while some were really bad you could go to a boss to “problem solve” some of the issues.)

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Hate to break it to you, but those same students that you are complaining about will be your coworkers in the near future.

      You may not have to work on projects with them, but you will be depending on them to get stuff done so you can do your part… current cast of characters at my current workplace:

      The Blocker- hates anything new and will do everything they can to stop any changes
      All Talk No Action Guy/Gal: Has ‘great’ ideas and can tell you 6 different ways you should do something but never does any work
      The Procrastinator: Something due at noon… yep, the email timestamp will be 11:59:59 am
      The Shadow: Allegedly they work with you, but you can never find them and you have no idea what they are supposed to be doing
      NotMyJob Guy: Always tell you that whatever you need done is not their job. (no kidding I once had the Teapot Manger tell me that her team (the Teapot Management team) wasn’t responsible for managing teapots)
      Good Intentions Guy: Signs up for everything and gets so overwhelmed nothing gets done

      Frame it this way… you will be working with similar people for the rest of your working life. Learn now how to manage them on your school projects.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Don’t forget the Martyr, who wants to control everything and then tells the boss that nobody would help her.

        We had this person, June, on a group project the last time I was in school. The three of us –me, June, and Belinda– were supposed to design a series of client information brochures. She decided to take over the project, even though a communication lapse that put us behind was due to her (she claimed she was in a car wreck*). June also lied and told me and the instructor that Belinda cut out of a meeting because she “hates me,” when Belinda had actually texted her that she had a family emergency. June was so recalcitrant that the instructor just advised us to finish our portions of the project and she’d grade us separately.

        *she may have been, but on further reflection, I kinda had to wonder

      2. tangerineRose*

        Group projects at school are usually more of a pain though, at least if you have good management at work. In a school group project, the teacher usually just says to deal with it. A good manager will hopefully take steps to deal with the slackers.

    3. Fikly*

      Because in life, and at work, you will not always be group with people of equal skills and abilities. You need to learn how to work in groups in less than ideal circumstances, because life is not always ideal.

    4. moql*

      Ugh, I hated this when I was a TA. My boss told me to mix things up, but that just means the slackers got to continue slacking. Yes, in the “real world” (such a condescending term) you will work with deadbeats, but you will also have a boss to go to and hold them responsible. That’s not possible in a 100 person lecture and it’s not a fair comparison.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Also, in the “real world,” you can quit! When your teacher refuses to hold your classmates responsible and gives you the options of taking on the whole project yourself or getting a bad grade, you can’t just leave that class and attend a different one. There’s some more leeway in college, where you can at least ask policy on group projects if you see them in the syllabus and drop or swap a class if the teacher is unreasonable and external circumstances permit, but most of my group projects were not in college courses.

      2. Fikly*

        But bosses don’t always do that. And sometimes teachers/TAs do hold them responsible. I’ve had classes where we got surveyed as to who contributed what, and that would change their grade.

        Yes, you can quit your job, in theory, but again, unless you have another one lined up, you may not be able to afford that. Life is never ideal.

    5. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I wish I could remember where I read this (and am in a bit of a cookie coma so not gonna research), but I did read something by a professor who thought groups SHOULD be homogenous. Basically it gave the lesser performers a chance to step up, and in each group the work was more equally distributed. I always hated group projects (unless each member’s duties were clearly defined by the teacher/Prof and graded on their individual merits). I have been known to request doing a 4-5 person project with 2 people, got it ok’d, and got good marks!

  54. Keep the Bathroom for.. Bathroom Use*

    Twice in the past hour I’ve gone into the bathroom to try to, you know, relieve myself in the facilities that the room is meant for. The first time someone was standing at the sink talking on the phone. The second time two separate cworkers were having a whispered conversation. For the love of God, use the stairwells so I can go in peace!

    1. Ms Dingle*

      Never been a problem for me. I’ll go into a stall and proceed with my business no matter what’s happening in the restroom.

      When I gotta go. I go.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Go into the stall and do what ‘ya gotta do… Then start flushing… A lot! Like over and over. HaHaHa! They’ll get the hint.

  55. December Thirteenth Twenty Nineteen*

    Has anyone used The Second Shift (for women professionals) as a platform to secure remote consulting work?

    I was referred by a past coworker, filled out the application, my referrals endorsed me and I have an interview in January (sounds like it’s more about the platform and how things work.)

  56. Sarah*

    I was recently referred to a job by a family member (we’re not particularly close and would be in different departments). I spoke to the HR manager for the company three days ago and the talk went really well but he said something at the end that has been on my mind since then. He expressed that he disliked when people left the company after a 3-4 years, and instead wished that people would change job functions or locations within the company if they wanted a change.
    Is this normal? I get the sense that this is a company where many are lifetime employees but it felt a little odd to express it this way. I really like the company culture otherwise but it feels a little dated in 2019 to expect people to stay at a company their whole working lives (and really don’t want an uncomfortable situation if I do at some point decide to leave). That said, this would be my first job at a large company, so I’m not sure if I’m just inexperienced with this kind of thing.

    1. MissBookworm*

      That’s definitely outdated thinking. I could understand if he was talking about people who leave after a year, but 3-4 years is a decent length of employment with one company.

      1. Sarah*

        Hi Miss Bookworm!

        Thanks for your reply- this is not only my first job with a large corporation but also my first job in the US in about 10 years, so I’m kind of out of my depths here and really appreciate your response!

        Would you view this as a red flag or a sign that I might be incompatible with the company? If it were just a hiring manager I wouldn’t think too much of it but I believe he’s the head of HR and on the executive board of the company, so I think it might be indicative of the attitude in the company as a whole.

        1. MissBookworm*

          I don’t necessarily think it’s a red flag, but 3-4 years makes me wonder about the availability of promotions and whether they’re leaving for lack of opportunities or because they just found something better. So I think you should look into that.

    2. fposte*

      I’d like to think he was phrasing something reasonable in an unreasonable way, and what he meant was “We have so many growth opportunities within our company and we love to retain talented people, so we hate to see them go.” But I think it’s likelier he was just a little out of date on what durations are usual.

      1. Sarah*

        Hi fposte,

        I did think about that and think that that’s a very reasonable statement (also in line with everything else I’ve heard about the company as they really do invest quite a lot in their employees and there’s a lot of vertical and lateral movement).

        However, I’m reasonably sure he was saying it in a way where he was specifically concerned that I would leave in 3-4 years. At the time, it felt a little like if I wasn’t at least open to staying in a position for life then I wouldn’t be a good fit. I said something kind of non-committal about the right company often being more important than the job because I was a bit taken aback.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I figured from the way you phrased it. This might be a situation where you can use your inside knowledge–does your family member know more about this? If you do leave after three years, will your family member get any blowback? I also think it’s fine to take a job there without planning to stay for life, even if they think you will; you just have to realize that there will be a notice period of Sad Disappointment when you move on.

          1. Sarah*

            Thank you for the great advice- also the ‘Sad Disappointment’ notice period gave me a good chuckle.

    3. Diana*

      Lol, he’s just outdated. We do not have an economy or a society that supports the old work-here-for-life model. Employers fire at will, conduct widespread layoffs without warning, offer limited promotions and insultingly small raises that barely cover inflation. The only opportunity that most people have for serious salary increases comes during job offer negotiations, so savvy people switch jobs every few years to get the market rate. The idea that he thinks people leave after 3-4 years because they want a “change of scenery” makes me laugh. People want MONEY. I don’t really think it’s a red flag for you, because it doesn’t affect you in any way. Just enjoy your new job, don’t expect any raises (since this guy doesn’t get why people are leaving, I doubt you will get any) and in about 2 years it’ll be time to search for a new job with an increase in pay.

    4. Fikly*

      It’s not uncommon, but it’s 100% unreasonable. If he wants people to stay, even in different positions, he needs to make it attractive for them to stay.

      1. Auntie Social*

        I think it’s wonderful that you can learn all kinds of things in different departments, I bet they cross train you and they really want you to succeed, and will help you do it. You couldn’t blast me out of a place like that.

  57. Eleanor Knope*

    Any advice on moving forward at work after a miscarriage? I’m lucky to have a very understanding boss, and since I found out during the workday at my 8-week appointment, I ended up just telling her what was going on and taking 3 sick days. It’s been a week but my body is still out of sorts, and emotionally I’m struggling to stay focused.

    I asked my boss to review a few items (I write internal articles and emails, so it’s not super high-stakes) and I’m realizing she isn’t reviewing them thoroughly, and more glancing over them to see if the messaging is right like she would when I’m working at my best (she missed a small typo in one and a link to a calendar invite with the wrong time on another, which are usually things I would catch before I send them to her).

    So, I guess, any advice for how to power through or what to say to my boss? I know it will get better with time, but I don’t want this to keep affecting my performance.

    1. Piccolo*

      My boss went through the same thing. She just told her boss what she needed and what she was going through and they worked together so that when she needed an extra day off, he knew what was going on. She would be in, and then take a day off, be back for a few days, take a day off, etc. Eventually she ended up telling us (her team) but it was understandable that it’s not just you take a few days off and then you’re 100% better.

    2. Jan Levinson*

      I am so sorry you are going through this. I suffered two back-to-back miscarriages this summer and struggled with this as well. Most bosses will understand. Take as much time as you need. I think it’s also okay to say, “I am aware this may have a short term affect my performance, and I appreciate you supporting me.” I think the more open you are (to the degree you feel comfortable) a good manager will understand you not being your best. My manager understood that, and has since made me comfortable about being transparent (we are people with emotions – not just working robots). I actually just told my manager this week that I’ll be attending counseling midday once every other week starting next week, and even included that I wanted to take control of my mental health after what my husband and I went through this summer. Best of luck moving forward, you have my sympathies.

    3. Fikly*

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      I went through/am going through something similar performance-wise in that I’m recovering from a concussion I got this summer. I was off work for two months, but then there’s been a long period of being back to work, but having enough cognitive problems that I need a lot of my work checked.

      My team and managers were supportive, but they weren’t sure how to support me at first. It made a big difference when I was able to clearly state what kind of help I needed. For example, can you proofread this list before I send it public, to check for typos?

      It’s going to affect your performance for a while. Rather than focus on not letting it affect your performance, I’d focus on not letting it affect the eventual final product. That’s something you can take action on, by explicitly telling your boss what kind of help you need.

    4. Fanny Wincham*

      I’m sorry for your loss. I’ve had a difficult journey with multiple miscarriages and my best advice is to be less focused on moving forward so much as taking care of yourself now. Grieving can take a long time and pop up in unexpected ways. Make sure you are taking care of yourself in basic ways (eating, sleeping, exercising when you are up to it).

      It sounds like nothing egregious has happened in your work and you are concerned about falling short of your own high standards. Being gentle with yourself may include understanding that you won’t be 100% at work for a bit. And that’s okay. If in six months your boss is talking to you about performance, that’s one thing, but for now, it’s okay if the calendar invite gets reissued.

    5. Blueberry*

      You have all my condolences. I too recommend that you go easy on yourself for the next while, give yourself a little more time for tasks, etc. I tried to power through after mine and that was… not the right idea.

      I hope you heal fully and well.

  58. MissBookworm*

    Not so good update to my post in last week’s open thread where I was complaining about having to plan a coworker’s retirement party at the same time that I’m prepping for our year-end audit. Well, I wasn’t able to get out of it. Apparently no one on the President’s team (the person retiring is his admin) can spare the time to plan it and he won’t assign anyone from the other departments to work on it because they’re just as busy. But apparently my department—Which is still horrendously short staffed because our temp that started last week has been told not to return (long story) and my boss is still out on medical leave—have all the time in the world. I literally told him that I was going to miss contractual deadlines because I was so busy and he just shrugged.

    The only saving grace is our new employee is picking things up much quicker now that we’e gotten through the initial frustrations—he’s started asking questions and admitted he should have been asking them all along. So training him has gone much smoother. We just can’t throw too much at him because he’s still learning and we want to keep the type of work consistent for a few more months before we hand him new tasks (that will require more training).

    I’ll be so glad when we finally get back on track—whenever that will be.

    1. Havarti*

      Wait, your boss shrugged about you missing deadlines?! And you have to plan a party? Does it have to be a fancy party? That’s awful.

      1. MissBookworm*

        You would think he’d care about missed deadlines, but I guess not.

        Yeah, the company President’s admin is retiring in January after almost 30 years with company. My boss usually plans these things with our operations accountant, but since my boss is on an extended medical leave our operations accountant is doing both of their jobs and has no time for party planning. So, it’s fall to me. I’m the one people go to with projects because I get them done correctly and on time… but not lately!

        It’s not going to be fancy—she wouldn’t enjoy that—but I do need to find a restaurant with a big enough space for us and figure out the menu and decorations or whatever we want to do. I’m also responsible for picking out her retirement gift. It’s too much pressure right now; my anxiety is already through the roof because of audit prep, training the new employee, and my regular duties so this party is just too much.

        1. Havarti*

          Oh man, finding a big enough restaurant is always a nightmare. Hate it. Just hate it. Could you enlist the help of family, friends, co-workers for ideas of a place? Let them do the looking. Or any way to delegate one small piece to different people? We do gift cards rather than a gift these days. Much easier.

          1. MissBookworm*

            Thanks! I’ll have to do that! Food-wise I’m good at picking good restaurants, but knowing how big of a space to get is going to be horrible.

            I think I can get one of my coworker’s to help with decorations—she loves doing that sort of thing so if she’s agreeable I’ll leave that with her.

            1. Havarti*

              If you’re looking at party/private dining spaces at restaurants, they will usually tell you what capacity it can handle. If website doesn’t say, a quick phone call can sort that out. So you really need to know about how many people are attending or will be invited. But yeah, off-load what you can.

              Seeing your response to Elenna below, would it be worth it to ask your grandboss to help prioritize what gets delivered first and what gets delayed? Good luck!

    2. Elenna*

      Ughhh. How do you think your boss would react if you sent out emails (cc’d to him) saying things like “hey I know our deadline is X but I need to move it to Y because I’ve been working on planning this party as per Boss’s request”?

      1. MissBookworm*

        I doubt my boss knows whats going on—he’s been on medical leave since the beginning of November so we’ve been reporting to his boss (grandboss being the company President). Grandboss is typically the type to be the first to back you up when you need help, but on this he’s being uncharacteristically weird. I might just send him an email reminding him of what I said and seeing how he wants me to alert our clients of late reports and see what happens there.

        1. valentine*

          The new guy can do the legwork and there should be another admin who has restaurant info to hand. The accountant should have stuff from other events. Ask your colleagues for help.

    3. Flyleaf*

      You should probably follow up with your message about missing contractual obligations with an email documenting the specific impacts. CC your boss. At this point your verbal warning to the President is not worth much, and will likely be forgotten then you are later criticized for missing the deadlines.

  59. Piccolo*

    How do you deal with sexism in interviews?

    It’s so rampant that… I mean at this point, I’ve learned to expect it and not take it personally. Sometimes though, it feels like AAGHGHHGHG GET OUT OF THERE and I can’t leave soon enough!

    1. pancakes*

      I’d like to know. I’m still straining my eye-rolling muscles at times when I think about things dudes said or did in interviews years ago.

  60. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    I want more holiday party stories!!! Alison, can we do another open thread? I bet a lot of people haven’t had theirs yet.

  61. Feeling Blue*

    I am so miserable at my current job and have never felt so stuck and hopeless at work as I do now.

    I’ve only been here since April and I can’t believe I already feel this way! I work for a nonprofit and our Board of Directors is a mess. They are the most negative, nitpicky, micromanaging group of people I have ever encountered. They dominate my time in a way I have never experienced. This is an incredibly toxic environment for me and I just need to get out.

    I have been applying to new positions since September and have only had one interview. I had another interview that was scheduled and then canceled before I even had the opportunity to participate in a phone call. I always thought I was a great candidate – I have received nothing but praise from former employers, my resume has received positive feedback, I’m confident I can write a great cover letter when needed. I guess there is just more competition than I realized.

    I feel depressed 99% of the time and getting out of bed in the morning has been a huge challenge. I don’t know why I am posting. I guess I’m hoping that someone will understand, or tell me it will get better.

    I have noticed decent job openings are few and far between in my area right now. Will it get better after the holidays? I really hope so.

    1. LessNosy*

      Hi there. I 100% understand. The problems getting out of bed in the morning is exactly me right now. I am so sorry that you feel this way. In my personal job hunting experience, I have seen more job openings pop up after the holidays. Budgets open up, new initiatives take hold, etc.

      One thing that has helped me is internalizing some advice a friend gave me. “Every day when you wake up, and you don’t want to get out of bed, tell yourself: ‘Today will be one less time I have to do this. The only way out is through.'” Instead of thinking “Great, I have to do this again,” thinking “Great! One less time I have to do this!” has truthfully really helped me.

      Hang in there, friend.

      1. Feeling Blue*

        Thank you so much, this is excellent advice. I’m sorry if you are going through something similar right now. It helps to know I am not alone. :)

    2. Natalie*

      I have been there, done that, up to and including suicidal ideation. Validation part: it really sucks, it’s a perfectly normal reason to be depressed so you are not being spoiled or something, and it will get better. Advice part: don’t neglect the non-job parts of your life. Friends/family, hobbies, pets (my dog was a literal lifeline), religious community if that’s your thing, exercise, volunteer role. If you don’t have a lot going on outside of work, pour a little bit of whatever energy you have into changing that. It really does help when you have something to look forward to day to day that isn’t Crap Job.

    3. Mrs. C*

      I’m right in the same boat with you – nonprofit, micromanaging board, trying to get out of a toxic environment, and confidence that I’m a strong candidate.

      A few tactics that are helping me stay sane (in no particular order):
      1. When it comes to job searching, reminding myself that the reason I’m applying to so few job openings is because I’m making sure I find myself a place I’m happy. I’m going to land somewhere good, even if it takes a while, because I’m dedicated to making that happen & not settling for somewhere else that’s awful.
      2. Realizing that the reason I’m not getting chosen by specific jobs is because the rest of the candidate pool is so strong. There’s nothing wrong with me – I’ve proven myself as an incredibly valuable employee, and as someone who can rock cover letters and interviews. I can’t fault myself for the fact that I’m probably being beaten out by people who are similarly awesome, but who have been in the field a few more years than I have.
      3. Doing whatever I can to keep the toxic environment from getting me down. In my case, the micromanaging has meant that I’m at a standstill on most of my projects. I’ve voiced that concern to my boss, and documented that I’ve flagged the issue. In the meantime, I’m finding websites I like to look at at work. I’m finding professional development and networking events during work hours that I can justifiably use to get away from my desk. Outside work hours, when I find work thoughts creeping in, I remind myself to stay in the moment and not to let my frustrating job win.

      Hopefully some of those tactics are helpful!

  62. Birch*

    Any advice for staying functional when you’re waiting to start a new job and officially have No More Fudge Brownies To Give? I have a long notice period and am beginning the process of leaving, but finding it hard to keep doing work when part of the reason I’m leaving is such extreme moving goalposts and lack of communication that in almost 2 years I’ve gotten next to nothing done. I’m not worried about leaving with a good impression because my boss has already eradicated any trust I had in her, so I don’t depend on her for recommendations or reputation, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that my projects keep getting given to other people so I’m not likely to be able to finish any of them before I leave. Honestly if I could have walked out a year ago, I would have, but I’ve just now got something new lined up. Anyone else been in this situation and what do you tell yourself to keep yourself showing up to work?

    1. Birch*

      Oh, I also just want to scream into the void that some louder voices on our team pressured the rest of us into buying our abusive supervisor a very expensive, very intimate gift, and then had the gall to complain that it was insulting if we didn’t also include her partner in the gift and basically say we didn’t give enough. Half the team is students and the other half are the second-worst paid in our sector, according to the AAM salary survey. Supervisor makes 5x the students’ stipend and 3x mine. So I’m still a bit ragey about that.

    2. Zephy*

      How much longer is your notice period? Can you afford to just…not come back on Monday? Like, can you cover the bills that will need paid between now and that first new-job paycheck with the money you currently have? If not, how much longer do you need to work this job before you can afford it? You already said you’re not depending on references or anything from your boss. What can they do to you now if you just bounce?

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Wall calendar with big red X through each date as you go. (Even if it’s just printing out the month view from Outlook.) Put the number of work days remaining in the corner of each day’s square.
      Since it can’t be a secret (can it?) that you’ve given notice, no need to put it where others won’t see it.
      Maybe make it your own personal advent calendar with a candy for each day.

  63. Triumphant Fox*

    This week has been such a struggle with executives making comments that I don’t feel like I can address in the moment (or don’t know how to), but that make me sad. One was my boss (who I like a lot!) who mentioned how this contest isn’t like the democrats – you can’t just hand things out to everyone. How is being a citizen like our contest? Another was my CEO going on a long discussion (rant?) that started with us talking about preferred pronouns and how I think it’s really important to respect someones desired pronouns, just like it’s important to try to pronounce someone’s name correctly. It ended with him talking about trans men in restrooms and “Would you trust your kids with them?” I just didn’t have the courage to really wade into either of these discussions with clarity. I get so emotional in the moment. In both instances, I ended the discussion as quickly as possible.

    1. Havarti*

      Ewwwwwww! On the plus side, you now know where your boss and CEO stand. I don’t know that you can change their minds.

    2. pancakes*

      Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but a quick and to-the-point “Women’s bathrooms have stalls, you know” might shut the conversation down without too much drama.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      It’s okay to do what you need to do to get through these moments. It’s a tricky thing to discuss heated topics with a boss or higher-ups. I think ending the discussion quickly is a very smart thing to do. Being a social justice warrior is a fine thing, but you are allowed to decide when and where to be one.
      Sending good thoughts for the future.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        Thank you so much for the affirmation. This has made me more upset than I expected – these are moments that really color your view of people you respect and it’s disheartening. I appreciate hearing that it’s OK not to be a warrior in every instance.

  64. Kramerica Industries*

    I have a coworker who tends to send really blunt emails. The last few times, they’ve been more on the rude side (e.g. “Well if you understood properly, I shouldn’t have to explain it, but here’s X details”). I went to my manager with this one because there were enough instances that I was not happy with this attitude/I thought it could damage our relationships with partners. Manager said that she has noticed this but has boiled it down to a language barrier issue and doesn’t think you can coach on language issues.

    I don’t know whether I’m asking for advice or just ranting, but this bothers me. My coworker is an immigrant and has a bit of an accent, but has been in the country for at 15 years. He writes with proper grammar and everything, but seems to just put whatever is in his head on paper. My manager is Caucasian and I feel like she’s confusing language barriers with communication issues. And communications is definitely trainable! For the record, I’m also a visible minority and I don’t think that giving my coworker a pass is doing any favours in how people perceive visible minorities and articulation, but this is probably a societal thing I can’t change right now. It’s weird because on one hand, I guess it’s good that my manager is trying to be lenient with immigrants who may struggle with language, but it also doesn’t seem like the right approach.

    1. Birch*

      FWIW you’re definitely in the right. It’s great to be sensitive to communication styles and cultural differences. But that’s not an excuse for hurting people or hurting the business and can definitely be trained. In fact, it would be a benefit to that employee to better understand how to get their desired response from people!

    2. Fikly*

      Yeah, there’s a difference between blunt and insulting. And too many people use “I’m just blunt” as an excuse for being insulting.

    3. Triumphant Fox*

      My Spanish teacher in high school would always ask us to correct him on his English. “It’s cute when a 3-year old says the wrong thing. It’s not cute when I do it.” I think the same applies to general tone or communication style, no matter if it’s a language barrier or an emotional intelligence issue. You should be able to say, “In this email, you may just think you’re giving them information. What you’re actually doing is signaling that they are an idiot.”

      1. Kramerica Industries*

        Literally asked my boss if she’d be okay with me giving him communications tips and she said that it’s better not to and others would just have to get used to the fact that it’s his style.

        Also, hello sexism. At another job, I’d be coached into ending emails with “Let me know what you think” so they don’t sound too harsh and this guy (and other IT dudes) get a pass to be rude? So frustrating.

        1. tangerineRose*

          “others would just have to get used to the fact that it’s his style.” That’s ridiculous. This is going to cost him a lot in his career as well as being very irritating to everyone he deals with.

    4. Koala dreams*

      It’s quite possible to coach people on language issues and e-mail writing. I’m surprised your boss think it isn’t possible! There are even courses in business writing. It’s a shame your boss isn’t supportive.

    5. Arts Akimbo*

      You say your manager is Caucasian– implying that this coworker is not? I wonder how much she’s worried about treading on race issues when trying to correct his communication?

      I absolutely had to correct a communication style issue with a coworker who was technically one of my bosses, even though I wasn’t in her direct line of command. Mainly because I was going to murder her (exaggerating!) if she did not start saying please and thank you when she barked instructions at us. She was from Germany and had lived in the Southern US for 20 years, but in all that time no one had ever told her how irritating it was that she didn’t use the word please. She said in her culture it sounds like begging, rather than the polite social tic it is here. She was really happy I told her, and kind of annoyed no one had ever told her before.

      Maybe it was easier for me to work myself up to do this than for your boss because she and I were both the same race. Would I have thought twice if she were a visible minority? I don’t know. Maybe your guy would be happy if you suggested a list of some softer phrases to use in email! Or maybe he’s just an asshole. But I think your boss’s ignore-it strategy is wrong. That guy will become everyone’s BEC before too long.

  65. Anon for this*

    What to do on a lunch hour:
    Recently there was a question about an employee driving for Uber in his lunch hour.
    In the comments, someone said they preferred a half-hour lunch because they wouldn’t have enough to do with the extra time. It wasn’t phrased as preferring a half-hour lunch so they could leave earlier.
    I’ve heard colleagues make similar comments at various jobs. Have to admit I cannot understand how that would feel. I can always distract myself in my free time. Even before the Internet/social media, I would read a magazine or just daydream.
    Please be honest: Does this trait mean I might not be the best employee? If I were hiring, I would be a little puzzled personally by someone who didn’t know how they would cope with extra free time, but I might hire them over someone like myself.
    Thanks for any feedback. I may not get back here until much later in the day.

    1. Peaches*

      I don’t think that trait in any way means you’re not the best employee. In my opinion, preferring a half hour lunch because you get bored vs. preferring an hour lunch to daydream doesn’t indicate whatsoever what kind of employee you may be. I think there are probably individuals in both groups that excel/don’t excel at the same job.

    2. sunshyne84*

      As long as your work is getting done you’re fine. What you do on your break is your business. I daydream when I’m not on lunch and everybody loves me.

    3. Havarti*

      If you’re doing your job well and your boss is happy, why would being able to entertain yourself for a short period make you a poor employee? If you have coworkers who could use help and you’re twiddling your thumbs, yeah, that’s not a good look but people who can’t sit still for a few minutes and need to re-arrange the filing cabinets aren’t automatically better employees.

    4. Colette*

      I would probably say that I don’t have enough to do for an hour long lunch period, but I would only care about that because I’d rather leave earlier. It’s not that I wouldn’t be able to entertain myself for an hour, it’s that I’d rather have the time after work.

  66. Hellow Sweetie!*

    Referring a spouse to a company you work at?

    I always check on the open positions in my (large >1500 employees, four different sites) company and happened to come across a job that sounds like it would fit my husband really well. It’s in a department that overlaps mine minimally (like once a year they might ask someone from my group to help with an event). It’s even in a separate building, so we would hardly see each other unless we make an effort.

    He’s currently a part time stay at home dad – but his work experience would fit right in. I already set him an email about the job. But can I officially refer him? We have one of those referral programs, so if I did refer him and he got the job, I think I would get a small bonus. But since he’s my husband, would that be a problem?

    And if I do refer him, should I mention in the referral that he’s my husband? I’ve never referred anyone before, I’m not sure how much I’m expected to put in the comment box.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Hm, now I’m rethinking my earlier comment below. Hellow Sweetie, maybe you should ask first, as Reba’s response is a good reminder that my industry is rather insular and people tend to know each other and refer each other, even friends and family. It might look bad if that’s not done in your field.

      2. Hellow Sweetie!*

        Thanks for this gut reaction! The environment is a non-profit research institution, so we have some of that academic style of doing things. There are a lot of married and long term committed couples working here – sometimes in the same department!

        I sent the link to the position to my husband, but I think I’ll forgo referring him – but if he does apply, I’ll remind him to mention that I work here so the hiring manager knows upfront.

        1. Reba*

          Yeah, keep in mind that working together and referring are distinct issues!

          I have no feelings on spouses and relatives working in the same workplace. My reaction was that you can’t be a “neutral” source on your spouse’s candidacy. I know that referral programs aren’t necessarily like a reference, but you just gotta recuse yourself from the whole thing IMO.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I don’t see anything wrong with it, as long as you’re not supervising or being supervised by the position he’d apply for, and you’re not part of the hiring decision. You could always ask your HR department, but I would just refer him, and yes, most definitely mention that he is your spouse, otherwise IMO it looks a little like you’re trying to hide a conflict of interest.

    2. Alfonzo Mango*

      I have worked at large companies where it was totally acceptable for spouses to work and refer each other, because positions are hired on merit. You should certainly ask your boss and HR! And even if you can’t refer him, he should apply! Always try.

    3. Indy Dem*

      I was my wife’s referral (with referral bonus attached) and there wasn’t an issue (I’ve been here 5 years, she had worked for the company for about 7 when I was hired).

    4. Rexasaurus Tea*

      If you’re feeling iffy about it, is there someone else in the company who knows your husband professionally and would be willing to put in the referral? We did this when my husband applied at my company. A coworker of mine had worked with my husband elsewhere several years prior, so the coworker put in the referral and none of the three of us mentioned the marriage connection. I don’t think there would have been a problem if I’d been the referrer, but the coworker was in a better position to describe Husband’s technical capabilities anyway.

  67. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Brief brag, sorry: I am having a MONTH. In the last four weeks, I have been nominated for a departmental spotlight, appointed as an associate member of our culture and diversity council, my application for an executive leadership training program that my org runs was requested by my director and approved by the program, and I finished a bachelor degree today. (And my birthday is on Tuesday.)

    Less bragging part: One of my responsibilities for the leadership program, before my cohort starts, is to identify and ask a current member of leadership to partner with me in a mentor role. I have identified the person I’d like to ask, we get on like gangbusters and have been on project teams together in the past but she’s not in my direct line of reporting, which was encouraged. However, she’s out of office into the first part of January with no email or voicemail access.
    First q: suggestions on drafting the email to ask her (I thought email would be better than f2f so’s to avoid putting her on the spot?) would be appreciated – right now I’m treating it basically like a request for a recommendation letter.
    Second q: send it as soon as it’s done, or wait til she’s back so it doesn’t get lost in her mailbox after being out for a month?

    1. Llellayena*

      Can you talk to her manager and explain about the mentor and contact issue? They might have a way to reach her when she’s on leave, if it’s something time sensitive. Or they can advise you whether to send now or later (or both).

    2. Anono-me*

      Congratulations. It sounds wonderful.
      Are you a hundred percent certain that the person you’d like to be your mentor is not discreetly checking emails and voice messages? I know several people who will indicate that they are out of the office for two weeks. but every few days will check email to make sure that the building hasn’t burned down.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I believe she has actually gone back to visit her family in her home country in Africa, where she has not historically had reliable internet access. So I’m pretty sure that she legit won’t be checking in.

  68. GRA*

    For the first time in my career, I’m interviewing people. And wow – there are a LOT of bad cover “letters” out there (mostly poorly crafted paragraphs). Not a single decent one so far. And it’s for a communications role! I’ve never been so grateful for Alison and this community more.

    1. Havarti*

      I did a brief stint in an HR office back in the day and it was very interesting what people would put in their resumes and cover letters.

  69. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Last week we had the saddest end of year party ever, thanks to one of the employment agencies that work with us.
    They had the worst timing and decided to fire one of my coworkers the very morning of the party. By Whatsapp. Whithout checking with management. The shock was such the project manager, the team leader, and the project manager’s manager had to apologise in person to us and our ex-coworker, who was cyring buckets in the break room. The project manager wanted to murder the agency representative because the plan was break the news after the party, so she could finish her work and to let her say goodbye properly. So at the party we were all sitting in a corner, sipping our beers and bashing HR and the agency.

  70. stitchinthyme*

    Just a vent, no advice needed…

    After years of hearing loss, I got a cochlear implant which was activated about 4 months ago; everything sounds much louder to me than it did when I had my natural hearing. (I have worked with my audiologist on this, but she’s walking a fine line between loud enough for me to understand people and overwhelmingly loud.)

    I am fortunate enough to have my own office, as is typical for my company; most of us do not close our doors unless we’re having a private meeting. But since my CI activation, I have noticed that if any of my coworkers are having a conversation anywhere near my office (including in the neighboring offices up to 2 or 3 doors away), it drives me batty…and it happens a lot, like several times a day for anywhere from a few minutes to a half-hour or more at a time. It’s not that they’re talking any louder than usual (I’ve been in this office 6 years and it never bothered me before); it’s that they SOUND louder to me. If they don’t go away after a few minutes, I’ll take off my CI processor and hearing aid so I can’t hear them. I hate having to do this, though, because it renders me about a half-step above deaf — I can hear something really loud like a fire alarm or someone shouting, but not normal sounds. I have also occasionally closed my door, but as I said, this is not the norm in my company and I already often feel isolated from everyone else, so I hate to do something that compounds that. And asking people to be quieter is not an option either — often these are normal work conversations, and one of the frequent talkers is my company’s president (it’s a small company), and it doesn’t really seem fair to ask people to shut up when the problem is really mine.

    Makes me wonder if there’s a quieter area I could request to move to…

    1. CheeryO*

      Can you pop on a pair of noise cancelling headphones for a few minutes, even if you don’t want to listen to music? You definitely shouldn’t have to turn your hearing aid/implant processor on and off throughout the day.

      1. CheeryO*

        Sorry, didn’t mean to give unsolicited advice! I definitely sympathize – I am hard of hearing in one ear, and this is the kind of thing that makes me nervous about going down the hearing aid path.

        1. stitchinthyme*

          It’s not a bad idea; I might bring in some headphones and see if that works.

          Overall, I am happy with my CI and hearing aid — my life would be much worse without them! But everything has its down sides; I weighed them against the problems caused by my hearing loss and concluded that having this technology, even with its issues, was far better than not being able to hear. (I had severe hearing loss in one ear but only mild loss in the other when I got my CI. And then I had another sudden drop in the “good” ear shortly after my surgery, so I ended up being really glad I’d gotten it.)

    2. Another JD*

      I keep earplugs and noise cancelling headphones at my desk for the stuff I can’t tune out. I’m not sure if they’re compatible with your CI, but they help.

    3. Fikly*

      My brother-in-law uses CIs, and I never knew how complicated it could be before I got to know him.

      I wonder if there’s a community of CI users (or more than one!) that would have more practical ideas because they’ve dealt with similar issues? Or at least you might feel less alone if it can’t be solved. I find being part of communities with people who have the same or similar health conditions as me very validating, because people outside just do not get it, and it’s nice to be able to complain/vent to people who do.

      I hope that wasn’t too much advice. It sucks to have something that was supposed to be all good turn out to have not great things come with it.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        Oh, I’m in a few of those communities. It’s a pretty common problem. There just aren’t really many good solutions, which is why I wanted to vent.

  71. HR Worrywart*

    Is anybody preparing to give bad news in advance of the holidays? Have you come up with any strategies you’d like to share (with regard to timing, delivery, etc.) to potentially mitigate some of the pain or frustration for employees impacted by the news?

    For context: I’m in an HR/operations role at a small nonprofit. We have one employee who has been struggling to meet position requirements for the better part of a year now. Both his direct supervisor and our ED have had conversations with him about better managing his workload and prioritizing more effectively. (Yes, I’ve been encouraging them to document these conversations—to little avail.) This employee has acknowledged that he struggles to balance his full-time workload with his full-time academic courseload but has refused a reduction in hours, presumably for financial reasons. We have seen no improvement in his work performance in the months that he’s been in dialogue with leadership about it; if anything, he only seems to be backsliding further.

    Our ED has taken some time to reflect and has decided that she is prepared to cut him to 80% of his current time and salary for at least the first quarter of the new year, and place him on a formal PIP. (He would retain his benefits and be considered full-time.) These are all things I have been pushing for over the last several months, so in a way I’m glad leadership is finally onboard. However, due to many of us working variable schedules in this hectic time of year, the only day we will all be in the office to notify him of this change is next Friday—our last workday of the year, which is also the day we hold our holiday party and gift exchange. Of course, as HR, our ED would like me to be part of this conversation. (And yeah, I’m his Secret Snowflake.)

    I probably don’t have much say over whether this conversation happens, but I would like it to be as compassionate as possible. I do understand the pressure that he is under as a full-time student and I want that to be clear in how we discuss this change with him. But I also recognize that at the end of the day, it’s hard to enjoy your catered holiday lunch or your ten-day break when you’re reeling from a salary reduction and performance warning. Any suggestions for cushioning this conversation even just a little bit (or how to put aside my frustration that our organizational leadership is only ready to act on this now)?

    1. CatCat*

      I know you don’t have say over whether this happens, but do you over when. The timing is just awful. How many people need to even be part of the this conversation? Why not just have less people and do this ASAP? Why not wait until January?

        1. HR Worrywart*

          I’m back and forth on suggesting whether it happens after the new year. If it were strictly performance-related and there weren’t a pay cut involved, I’d say that’s ideal. But I’m wondering if it’s fair to wait and tell him about a pay cut that will be effective immediately.

          My ED wants to be part of this conversation as well as this employee’s direct supervisor, and they’re both out of state for a conference through Wednesday. The employee in question has a planned PTO day on Thursday for an appointment. That leaves Friday if we want to do it this year (which, again, I don’t know if I do!).

          1. CatCat*

            Could you at least do it after the holiday lunch and not before it if it *must* be that day?

            Jamie makes a good point about Christmas gift spending, but that goes in favor of doing it very soon, not 5 days before Christmas when gifts that require shipping have already been shipped.

            I mean, I get that the ED wants to be there and the direct supervisor being there would be ideal, but it’s just such a bad day. Is there literally anyone else who could be there in person and the ED and supervisor Skype-in or call-in? That’s not ideal, but the timing is so much better.

            Like, what’s best for the employee here? Finding at now, or having the ED and direct supervisor being present in person at a later time?

            1. HR Worrywart*

              Doing it after the lunch is definitely something I can argue for, if we do have to do it on Friday.

              But yes, I’m definitely concerned enough about what’s best for this poor guy that I could also float having the conversation with him myself and letting the ED and supervisor conference in if they feel it necessary.

      1. Jamie*

        The problem with waiting until January is, if he celebrates Christmas, it’s past the time where he can dial back his gift giving knowing he has to tighten his belt.

        I’d rather know sooner than later if it were me.

        1. Zahra*

          By December 20th, it’ll be too late for a lot of people (most people?) too. Can it be done via video conference call today? That would give him the weekend to digest the news. But really, for a student, there are no good moment in December: it’s finals time, Christmas time, etc.

          Other suggestion: tell him in January, but pay cut takes effect on February 1st. Basically, push the timeline back by one month.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I don’t know how to cushion your news.
      So here’s a side note: cutting someone’s pay could be considered “constructive firing” in the U.S. and trigger unemployment issues. Just an FYI.
      I hope it goes as well as can be expected.