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Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I decline to take a personality test during a hiring process?

I’m about to head into a third interview, and I was just asked to take a personality test and cognitive aptitude test. I am incredibly uncomfortable with a personality test and said as much – but am willing to take the cognitive aptitude test. I don’t feel personality tests are useful or conclusive in any way. Am I blowing the interview? Is it wrong that I’m not willing to play the game?

I’m no fan of personality tests either, but organizations who use them are likely to require it if you want to continue in their process. The exceptions to this are if you’ve come into their process through a personal connection, one who has enough standing there to say “she can skip it” or if the hiring manager likes you enough at this point to exempt you. Absent either of those factors, they’re likely to take “won’t play the game” as “self-selecting out.”

2. My coworkers are trying to reassign my work to the receptionist

I work in a small department with four people, two of whom are new to the organization. One employee (coworker #1) was hired to do a certain job, and we also hired a receptionist to round out our department two months ago.

Coworker #1 doesn’t like some aspects of her job responsibilities, and she has gotten close to the CEO, who has advocated for a title change for her and coworker is trying to pass off the “undesirable” responsibilities to the receptionist. Two coworkers from other departments who we work closely with on various projects “feel bad” that the receptionist “doesn’t have enough to do” and are prepared to assign her a bunch of different responsibilities, including trying to reduce some of mine to give to her! Our manager is on vacation all week, so they plan on surprising him with the job responsibility changes upon his return.

I’m frustrated that my coworkers assume that they can make these changes on a whim without discussing it with the affected department members first (especially the manager), and I told them that I was uncomfortable with putting their ideas in motion before my manager returns. I think that they think that because they either report to or work closely with the CEO, they can wave a wand and make changes to fit their tastes. I don’t mind if the receptionist has additional responsibilities, but I do not want my work to be encroached on and I think it’s inappropriate for coworkers to be creating and changing responsibilities for each other. I feel like my manager definitely needs to know about this–what should I do?

Just be direct! It’s totally reasonable to say, “I want to wait to talk to (manager) when he returns next week, so please don’t move forward on this until I do.” If you’re comfortable with it, you could be even clearer: “I’d actually like to hang on to Task X because (I like it/it’s a significant part of my job/it intersects with other things I do/I’m better positioned to handle it because of Y/whatever). If you feel strongly about it, we can certainly talk with (manager) when he returns next week, but it would need to wait until then.”

3. How to assess a candidate who might have very different values from our organization

I’m a recruiter for a health-related nonprofit. One application we got recently raised some eyebrows because the applicant’s current position is with a notoriously conservative organization, and our organizational culture is definitely on the liberal side of things. Plus, we provide services (family planning, post-abortion care, heavily promoting condom usage for HIV prevention, etc) that his current organization actively campaigns against. They’re also in the “homosexuality is a sin” camp and the hiring manager is gay. Obviously, not every employee has to privately espouse the values of their organization (the current one, or ours) but we also want to make our atmosphere clear, and determine his nebulous “fit” with the rest of the team. How can we do that without implying “we’re worried you’re a bigot”?

When you do advocacy or many other types of nonprofit work, it’s entirely reasonable to require that candidates have a commitment to the objectives of your organization. You can be pretty direct about this: “Your current organization pretty actively campaigns against much of the work we do. Tell me more about your interest in moving from them over to us.”

To get at basic comfort with / skill at working with people who might be different from himself, you can ask things like “Tell me about a time that you had to work with a group of people from different backgrounds and move them to action. How did you approach it, and to what extent did that shape your approach?” Or even more directly, “Tell me about a time you had to navigate issues of identity and diversity — how did you approach it?” or “One of our core values is around diversity and inclusion, which for us means ___. Tell me about how that value has played out in your work.” (I stole all three of these from The Management Center.)

For what it’s worth, you might end up being surprised! When I was working to end marijuana prohibition, among our job candidates were two former DEA agents, a Republican judge (we hired him and he was great), and a bunch of others whose exposure to the other side of the issue had been what made them support our work. Or he might just be someone who doesn’t realize what type of work you do, or who hasn’t thought particularly deeply on your issues. But you should get a pretty good idea with the sorts of questions above.

4. Should I apply for a job I don’t want in order to get my foot in the door?

I am very interested in applying to work for a specific, small nonprofit organization. I truly believe in their mission and the work they do. However, they have no open positions for the job I would be suitable for. Can I apply to a different position I am not interested in just to get my foot in the door? Should I email them my resume and cover letter for the job for which they are not currently hiring? How can I get myself on this organization’s radar?

Don’t apply for a position you’re not interested in. You’ll be wasting their time, and small organizations really don’t have the luxury of that. Plus,  if you get the job, you’d be potentially sidetracking your own career for a different job that might never happen. Instead, your best bet is to find ways to make connections with people there (volunteering is one way, but it doesn’t have to be that), let them know you’d love to work for them some day and what you do, and make sure you stay in touch. If feasible, go to their events and get involved in other ways. In other words, get on their radar and keep yourself there so that you’re around if they ever do have an opening that’s right for you.

Plus, once you get to know their context better, you might see a way to pitch the type of work you’d like to do — but that will be a lot more effective once you know more about them.

5. A friend referred me for a job but then I was automatically rejected

A friend of mine referred me to a job and forwarded my resume to the actual hiring manager. He told me to apply for the position online as well. Unfortunately, I received an automated email from their HR department stating they were deciding to pursue other candidates. My question is: Was I really not considered by the actual HR manager or was this a result of their hiring software? Have there been situations where an HR manager may have reviewed a resume personally and decided to move forward with an applicant while a “hiring software” may have done the opposite (i.e. rejected an applicant)?

It could be either. If the hiring manager reviewed your materials and decided to reject you, it’s likely she’d have the normal rejection sent and you wouldn’t be able to tell that was the case. On the other hand, it’s also possible that you were rejected by HR or filtered out by screening software if you didn’t meet specific qualifications. Competent employers don’t set up their software in a way that would result in candidates they’d want to interview being automatically screened out, but it happens.

All you can really do here is mention to the friend who referred you that you received what looks like an automatic rejection, and let the friend decide if it’s worth him following up with the hiring manager. (Whether he will or should depends on how well positioned he is to assess your candidacy.)

can I decline a personality test, coworkers are trying to reassign my work, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 11:08 am
I want to begin this post by thanking everyone for their prayers and good thoughts for my mom and our family. Although I'm still in shock that I've had to begin so many posts over the last two months with that sentiment. I know that the events that our family are experiencing are not uncommon, and that the nature of life includes illness and death; so I appreciate y'all sharing so unselfishly and candidly your coping strategies when faced with the same things that I have.

I'm back home as I write this, and it's been so good to be with John and to sleep in my own bed! Mom has been transferred to a rehab/nursing home facility and seems to be OK with that. It's difficult to be so far away from her, but I am thankful that several of my siblings live closer to her and are able to visit frequently. As for me, my knee has been letting me know that I've been completely ignoring the icing/elevation/exercise/rest regime by the appearance of pain and swelling, and I've tried to turn my attention towards my own health again. John and Lulu and I took a drive out to the coast over the past weekend and spent two days there just taking in the sun and listening to the waves. Wonderful.

I am hoping that life includes far fewer surprises for our family for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 06:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I’m having an issue with one of my employees who hasn’t been improving, and I’m not quite sure how to better the situation. I work for an organization where everyone takes on a lot of responsibility and, in short, I have an employee who wants to be micromanaged. Basically, my employee is paralyzed unless I explicitly give direction to get something done. If I don’t respond in what my employee deems a timely manner, I will get texted while in meetings or on phone calls to respond on something.

I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried being direct by saying, “I need you to be more confident in your decision-making and just move on things. You have my blessing.” I’ve tried just plain ignoring to see if the pressure will make her move. I’ve tried hinting, which I hate because it’s passive-aggressive. None of it works. I’m out of ideas and wondering what else I could do to ameliorate the situation. It’s very inefficient and quite frankly, I have decision fatigue at the end of the day.

Have you tried explicitly naming the issue for her, explaining that it’s a serious problem, and painting a clear picture of what you need to see instead? And doing this in a big-picture, “let’s step back and talk about a pattern that I see” way, as opposed to talking about individual instances after they happen?

When you’re frustrated with an element of someone’s performance, the basic steps to follow are these:

1. Clear and direct feedback after specific incidents — “here’s what I observed and here’s what I need from you instead.” (You want to make this an actual conversation, of course, where you ask for the employee’s thoughts about what’s going too.)

2. Big-picture, pattern feedback — “I’ve noticed this big-picture pattern, and here’s what I need instead.” Managers often skip this step. They talk about individual instances as they happen and assume that the employee will connect the dots and realize that there’s a pattern, but never actually say “hey, this is a pattern.” As a result, employees sometimes truly don’t realize it. It’s really, really helpful and important to name it as a pattern and as a big-picture thing about their performance.

So, in this case, you’d say something like this: “We’ve talked several times now about how I need you to make decisions like X and Y on your own and to drive work forward without leaning on me for direction, but I haven’t seen the improvement I was hoping for. It’s become a pattern, and I’m concerned because that approach is crucial for success in this job.” You’d ask her for her thoughts, you’d talk about it, you’d paint as clear a picture as you can for her of what her performance should look like (ideally using some concrete recent examples and talking about how those could have gone differently), and you agree to check back in on her progress in a few weeks.

3. If that doesn’t resolve it, then you address it as a serious performance problem, including a formal improvement plan with timelines if you think that’s appropriate, and including contemplating whether she’s not the right fit for the role.

With this particular issue, it might make sense to do some limited-time, intensive coaching around decision-making and keeping work moving, and see if that gets her where you need her to be. But I’d be prepared to move to step #3 pretty quickly after that (or as part of that), because it sounds like she might just be fundamentally mismatched with the role.

my employee wants to be micromanaged was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 05:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Does this sound familiar? You’ve delegated work and thought that you and your staff person were on the same page about what to do, but when the work comes back to you, it’s really different from what you thought it would be. Or, you’re frustrated because your team didn’t prioritize the items you cared about most, or spent too much time on something that you don’t think has much value.

All too often, when managers are frustrated over what feels like lack of alignment, it’s because they assumed that their staff understood what they wanted – but didn’t actually make it clear. In other words, they counted on the person to read their mind.

It’s easy to fall into doing this, especially easy when you’ve worked with people for a while and assume that you speak the same shorthand. But it’s also not a great way to manage. Over at Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about how to make sure you’re not asking your staff to mind-read. You can read it here.

do you expect your staff to read your mind? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 03:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I’m hoping you can help me with this humiliating situation I’ve gotten myself into.

Two months ago at the company holiday party, I got blackout drunk and made a fool of myself. Nothing fireable, but I was literally falling-over drunk. I did some embarrassing drunk dancing, inappropriate joking around, and a LOT of cursing (not AT anyone, just in my speech, when I’m usually very buttoned-up at work).

I am so deeply ashamed and horrified at my behavior. I realized that I have a drinking problem and I need help. It’s been painful and difficult for me as I try to grapple with sobriety and confront my inner demons.

Meanwhile at work, no one will let it go. People love to quote the stupid things I said at me, or re-enact some of my stupid jokes. I knew I deserve teasing so I was braced for it, but it’s been two months and it’s not letting up. They do it publicly in our company-wide chat program and in meetings when I’m presenting a project I’ve worked hard on. I guess since I was a happy drunk, they think it’s harmless, but it makes me feel nauseous with shame. I’ve left work crying on multiple occasions. This is just a really hard time for me and I am constantly being reminded of my mistakes. My manager thinks it’s funny, so it’s not directly threatening my job, but how can they take me seriously when they’ve just been reminded how much of a mess I can be?

Before this I loved my job and my company. But now I dread going into work and I’m becoming depressed. I know I made this bed myself and I have to lie in it, but for how long? Do I have to just wait this out or is there a professional, reasonable way I can make this stop?

You can almost certainly make it stop!

I think you’re absolutely right that because you were a happy drunk, your coworkers have no idea how painful this episode has become for you or that it’s led you to realize that you have a drinking problem.

You have two options here: (1) Depending on what your manager is like, you might be able to enlist her in helping you put a stop to it. (2) If you’re willing to be candid with people, you could say something to them in the moment the next time it happens, and probably stamp it out that way.

If you’re willing to confide in your manager, you could say something like this: “I want to ask for your help in getting people to stop joking about what happened at the holiday party. I know people thought it was funny, but it’s become a tremendously painful reminder for me. I’m seeking help for drinking as a result of that incident, and it’s tough to hear it joked about. I know people wouldn’t do it if they realized that.”

This might make your manager see it in a different light and put a stop to it. Or, she might suggest that you tell people that yourself. (Or, if she’s not particular empathetic, she might tell you that this is a natural consequence of what happened and it will die down eventually. It probably really will die down eventually, but ideally as an advocate for people on her team, she’d help make that happen.)

If you choose to instead talk to coworkers about it directly, you could say something like this the next time someone makes a joke about the party: “I know you don’t realize this, but I’m actually working to stay sober and that night has become a painful reminder of why I need to. Can I ask for your help in leaving it behind? I’d really appreciate it.”

There’s potentially some downside to this approach — you’re sharing something personal at work that you might otherwise not share, it might make some people uncomfortable (funny drunk is easier to process than Alcohol Problem), and some people might even think it shows weakness or something gross like that. But if you’re getting nauseous with shame when they joke with you, this is probably the better approach than just letting it continue.

If you’re not comfortable revealing that, you could tackle it from a different angle, by saying something like, “I was braced for some teasing and I certainly brought it on myself, but it’s been two months. I’d really appreciate it if you could let it go.” Depending on your relationship with whoever you’re talking to, you could add, “I’m sure you don’t intend this, but when you joke about this while I’m presenting work, it makes it really hard for me to be taken seriously. I’m concerned that turning this into a long-running joke is doing real damage to me professionally.” (This part is a little tricky, because someone could argue that you brought that damage on yourself more than the jokes have done, but reasonable people should hear this and realize they need to stop.)

Also! I hope you’ll work on the shame element here. Shame can be useful in spurring you to do something about the situation — like seeing that there’s a problem and getting treatment — but it’s not very useful beyond that, and in your case, it sounds like the amount of shame you’re feeling is out of proportion to what happened. You drew the right lesson from the experience, and it would be okay to forgive yourself.

my coworkers mercilessly tease me about my drunken holiday party behavior was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 09:06 am
I had more reflux trouble last night, but I realized this morning that the problem was not what I ate but rather the fact that I completely forgot my bedtime medications. My body is used to ranitidine at bedtime, and not taking it has predictable consequences. (I also missed my Tamoxifen and Singulair. I think it’s reasonable to take those now given that it’s about fifteen hours to when I’ll take them next.)

Unfortunately, this means two nights in a row of less sleep than I would normally get, so I’m kind of dragging at the moment. I’ve got an hour before I need to call the cab to get to PT, and I’m seriously considering more coffee. I got four or five hours of sleep Sunday into Monday (depending on how one counts the hour while Cordelia was getting ready for school when I tend to be half to three quarters awake but still in bed) and five or six hours of sleep last night.

Scott had an awful day at work yesterday. He came home, sat down, and fell asleep. If I hadn’t prepared dinner, there wouldn’t have been food until after the point when I could safely eat. I browned some ground turkey and added Alfredo sauce. We used that to make sloppy Joes, and I found a package of sugar snap peas that we could eat without cooking.

I actually have no idea what I did with my day yesterday. Time passed somehow, a lot faster than I expected it to, and I have no idea where it went. I’m sure I did something with it, but… Well.

I’m trying to decide what to do about clothes for PT. I’ve been wearing thin nightgowns under the compression pad and bra, and the shortest nightgown I’ve got comes down to mid-thigh, so it’s quite visible that I’m wearing something of the sort, even when I have a shirt on over everything. So I’m weighing the moderate increase in comfort versus the definite odd appearance in terms of how I’d be dressed. I’m not sure how much I care that people in the PT waiting room will see me dressed strangely. Going through the hospital on the way to and from my appointment, I’ll have a coat on that comes down nearly to my ankles, so what I’m wearing will be less obvious.
Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 05:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Manager told me not to go to the bathroom between 8 and 8:05 a.m.

I work from 8:00 a.m. – 6 p.m., and maybe am a minute or two late at times, that’s it. I came in yesterday on time, went to my desk, put everything down (purse, coat, etc.), and went to use the bathroom. As I’m coming out of the bathroom, my manager said that I was three minutes late. I told him I was on time but I was in the bathroom. He said, “You were on time?” I said yes. Then he said, “Well, don’t go to the bathroom between 8:00 a.m. – 8:05 a.m.”

I was flabbergasted and so were others who heard him say that. Does he have a right to do that? I will adhere to this silliness as I cannot afford and refuse to be fired over something like this. I’m a very hard worker, top sales person, and well liked by all, I guess with the exception of this manager now.

He has the legal right, yes (unless you have a medical condition involving the bathroom that he’s legally required to accommodate). But he also has the legal right to insist on a full report of what you did in the bathroom or to make you take a hall pass in with you or to insist that you call him Emperor Bob the Toilet King. None of those things would be reasonable though, and all would make him an ass, and so does this one.

Well, actually, now that that’s out of my system, I’m going to backtrack a bit. If it’s really crucial that people be able to reach you at your desk at the exact start of the day — or, say, there’s a five-minute morning meeting that starts at 8 a.m. — then sure, it’s reasonable to say, “Hey, try to avoid bathroom trips during this short period if you can.” But based on the details here (including him giving you a hard time for being three minutes late), I suspect that’s not what he’s doing.

2. How can I ask for time off when few of my coworkers do?

How do I tactfully request time off without rocking the boat? I’ve worked for a very small business (only three employees) for a little over a year. I’ve since learned that my coworkers generally very rarely take time off and if they do, it’s usually only one day at a time. Since there are so few employees, there’s not really anyone to cover for me if I’m gone, except my boss (the owner). Thus, our business loses money when someone takes time off. (There’s also no benefits package whatsoever, so no paid time off.)

I’d like to ask for three days off about two months from now due to family obligations. I’m naturally very shy, so asking for time off is always difficult/awkward for me, doubly so in this sort of work environment. What is your advice for tactfully asking for a few days off without coming off as entitled?

It’s not entitled to need time off here and there — for family obligations, for sickness, for appointments, for vacation, and for just basic recharging. This is a normal part of being human, and it’s a normal part of business. Reasonably run businesses understand that, even small ones with no benefits. If the business is so small that this means that the owner needs to cover for people who are out, well, then the owner needs to cover for people who are out. That’s part of the deal in running a small business.

The best way to address it is to just be straightforward: “I’ll need (dates) off in April. What’s the best way for me to arrange that?” If you’re more comfortable giving a reason, or think that it will go over better if you do, you can add “for family obligations.”

If you get pushback, ask whether those particular dates are an issue or if it’s just time off in general. If it’s the latter, there’s something pretty odd going on there, and you’d want to think about whether you want to put up with that long-term … because again, it’s very, very normal to take time off and it’s not generally sustainable or practical to just never do it.

3. Giving a staff member development opportunities without exploiting her

In my field, there is a division (by way of a professional degree) in the organization between “teapotians” and “teapot staff.” I am a teapotian that supervises someone in a staff position, although she also has the professional degree. She’s great at her job, and we benefit by her also having that professional training/outlook.

She’s interested in pursuing teapotian positions in the future and I want to support those goals, although I would be sad to lose her. Since she hasn’t had a professional teapotian position, I’d like to give her access to activities that would strengthen her as a candidate in future searches. But I’m also aware of not wanting to exploit her. Anything she did in the professional capacity would still only be compensated within her staff salary (she’s exempt and paid well). Any advice on where to keep that line?

Talk to her! Tell her exactly what you said here — that you know she’s interested in pursuing teapotian positions in the future and that you’d like to help her by giving her work that would make her a stronger candidate for those jobs, but that you don’t have the budget to pay her more for that work and don’t want to take advantage of her, and that you’d like to hear from her what she’d most like. She’s very likely to tell you that she’d be glad to have the chance to work on those projects, but make it clear that it’s okay if she doesn’t.

4. Should I call or email my contacts when I’m looking for networking help?

I haven’t had to look for a new job in about 20 years. The company which I’ve worked for the past eight years changed ownership about six months ago, and as hard as I’ve tried, I am simply miserable with the current regime. So I am ready to look elsewhere. I have several good contacts in my field who I’d like to reach out to. It’s been a few years in most cases, but I had/have solid relationships with all. Do I reach out initially with an email or would it be okay to call straight away since I already know these people pretty well?

Ugh, I would so hate the call and would want the email … but there are other people who would strongly prefer a call and where a call might get you better results because they’re big relationship people. So I’d say to let your knowledge of each person be your guide — if you know them to be a phone person, sure, go ahead and call. But otherwise — including cases where you’re not sure — I’d default to email because it’s less of an interruption.

5. Should I bother to apply to job postings that have been up longer than a few days?

Yo Alison!

(Now I’m #14.)

Should I limit my search to job postings that have been up for just a few days? Or is there typically still a chance for a posting that’s been up longer? Putting in the proper amount of effort for an application takes so long that I don’t want to waste time if the deck’s already stacked against me.

No, you can and should still apply! There are some jobs where there are sufficient numbers of strong applicants in the first few days the job is advertised, and the employer doesn’t look at any/most of the people who come in after that. But there are many more jobs that are truly open and considering applicants for weeks after the ad goes up, if not longer (and that’s especially true the more senior or specialized something is).

Interestingly, I tend to find that the strongest candidates’ applications come in late in the process, and the weakest come in within the first day that the ad is up. I suspect this is because they’re not applying to everything they see or even looking on a regular basis; they’re being more selective and leisurely in their job search. That doesn’t mean that no great candidates apply early on, but the overall pattern shows up consistently.

All that said, once you spot the ad and want to apply, do it pretty quickly. Don’t think it over for days or procrastinate, because it could be getting filled while you’re waiting.

asking for time off when coworkers don’t, odd bathroom restrictions, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, February 8th, 2016 10:09 pm








Apparently the threat of a repair person coming into the flat makes it possible to tidy up a bit even if I am tired (’After’ pictures taken almost a week after ‘Before’ pictures). The camera makes the carpet look a lot cleaner than it is though- my vacuum cleaner can’t pull up all the hair, which then traps other dirt and fluff.

Not pictured: my hall is clear (bags and hi-vis hung up, rubbish thrown away, boots hidden in another room) for easy manouvering.

Monday, February 8th, 2016 10:32 pm
Every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
Monday, February 8th, 2016 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Monday, February 8th, 2016 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Monday, February 8th, 2016 08:18 pm


Both surfaces cleared in 20 mins while I waited for my pizza to bake - including unloading the dishwasher so I could load it again! This stuff just creeps up on you…

Monday, February 8th, 2016 06:28 pm


Cleaning the kitchen is the WORST. It hurts really bad to stand in one place doing something repetitive and I poked a hole in my dish gloves so I had to put my bare hands into gross water. But I did it! Unloaded the dishwasher, took a 5 min break to reply to an email, then did the dirty dishes in the sink, cleaned the coffee pot, and wiped everything else down. Took about 20 mins in total. @unfuckyourhabitat 

Monday, February 8th, 2016 02:46 pm


turned the household dumping ground into a corner for the cats. now i just have to get frames for all those posters… 😥😥😥

Monday, February 8th, 2016 06:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I find myself unemployed again because I moved with my husband for his work. As part of his relocation package, I’ve been offered the help of a job coach.The first thing my job coach did was retool my resume. This is my first experience using this type of help and I’m on the fence about it. Even though my coach asked me a million questions to tailor my resume (that part I did appreciate), when I got it back, instead of the profile I had, it read “Job Title Goes Here,” followed by a list of keywords and skills.

I have never seen this before and it looks a little weird to me. When asked about it I was told it’s to allow the recruiter to know exactly which job I’m applying for and to frame the rest of the resume so that it shows exactly how my background aligns with that job. Or for networking so that others know what type of work I’m looking for.

Still, it seems a little strange to me, and I’m wondering if I should heed her advice or go back to my original use of a short profile at the top of my resume.

So, my question to you is, should I put the exact job title of the job I’m applying for at the top of my resume?


I’ve seen people do that here and there, and while it’s not the worst thing in the world, it does come across a little strangely. Assuming that you’re not actually a Teapot Coordinator II or a Marketing Director or whatever the job title is, it’s a little jarring and presumptuous to see that splashed across the top of your resume as the main headline. Or, if by chance that is your current title, it still is just an odd use of really valuable space.

It’s almost like the old-school (and now thoroughly out of fashion) objectives that you used to see at the top of a resume, which people often used to incorporate the job title they were applying for (“objective: to gain the position of teapot director”).

Also, just listing the title up there in big font does nothing to “frame the rest of the resume so that it shows exactly how your background aligns with that job,” as that job coach claimed. The rest of your resume might show that, and your cover letter hopefully shows that, but slapping a title you don’t currently hold up there doesn’t achieve that.

And in the vast majority of cases, hiring managers don’t need you to put the title there. They know what you’re applying for because you say it in the opening to your cover letter, and often because you applied through an online application system that has already funneled you into the correct place in their applicant pool. And if you’re networking, you’re not just handing people a resume — you’re having a conversation with them.

It’s far more helpful to have a profile at the top of your resume that captures in just a few sentences or bullet points what you’re all about. That truly does frame the rest of your resume though a useful lens (or at least it does if it’s done correctly, as opposed to just summarizing the rest of your resume, although the latter is all too often the case).

Also … that list of keywords and skills she put right below it? Get rid of that. You can put a skills section at the end if it’s truly relevant for the type of work you do (in some cases it is, and in other cases it ends up being little more than filler), but it belongs at the end, not the beginning. Employers want to know what you’ve done, not what your self-assessment is of your traits and skills. People’s self-assessments are notoriously inaccurate, and those keywords and right-at-the-top skills sections tend to be stuffed full of stuff that no hiring manager will take your word for (“visionary leader,” “strong communication skills”) and which you’re far better off demonstrating through your actual accomplishments using said skills, which should go in your work history section.

I’d ignore this person’s advice.

should you put the job title you’re applying for on your resume? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, February 8th, 2016 02:16 pm
I got an annoying comment on a fic recently. Basically, the commenter told me that I ought to continue the story and be sure to include a specific pairing (involving a character not in the fic) and specific plot points (involving a character already dead when the fic starts). I don’t think I can answer this comment, not and keep my temper. The story is a gen crossover and complete as it stands. Yeah, InuYasha/Labyrinth is probably not a common crossover combination, but… I think I would be less annoyed if the comment actually said something about liking the fic, but it doesn’t.

My pharmacy has notified me that they’re not happy with my combination of medications. Specifically, they’re worried that I’m taking both Wellbutrin and Tamoxifen. Apparently Wellbutrin can make Tamoxifen work less well. I guess I’m going to have to talk to my psychiatrist and my oncologist and make sure that this really is what I should be doing. They both have full lists of my meds, and my psychiatrist, at least, has been paying attention to that. I wouldn’t mind giving up the Wellbutrin as I’m not convinced that it’s doing anything, but it’s not a medication I can just suddenly stop without giving myself all sorts of unpleasant problems. I’ve also gotten the impression from my oncologist that there are new developments in terms of understanding how Tamoxifen works and that things that were thought to interfere with it are now known not to (this came up with regard to Ketaconozale, the stuff I use for athlete’s foot). I have no idea if that applies to combining Tamoxifen with Wellbutrin or not, so I expect I’d better ask.
Monday, February 8th, 2016 05:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

usnewsThere are lots of good reasons not to date coworkers, but if you’re already caught up in a workplace romance, that advice doesn’t do you any good. Instead, your challenge now is how to make sure your relationship doesn’t jeopardize your professional reputation or make the rest of your coworkers uncomfortable.

At U.S. News & World Report, I offer some cardinal rules of office romance. You can read it here.

if you must have an office romance, here’s how to keep it professional was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, February 8th, 2016 12:55 pm


Operation: Unfuck my living space is a success! :D

It took the better part of a week only because we had to wait for a new washer and dryer. All told I’d say I spent around an hour and a half? Maybe two hours getting everything straightened out/thrown away/etc.

Now if only I had a carpet cleaner so I could get rid of those stains properly. ;n;

(inspired by this blog here. Go check it out, it’s very motivating!)

Monday, February 8th, 2016 12:57 pm
Scott and I got food from Palm Palace for dinner last night. It was disappointing in a couple of ways. First, they got Scott’s order wrong. Second, they didn’t give us any of their garlic spread even though we ordered bread and that usually comes with spread. Third, even though the food was very mild, I ended up unable to sleep for many hours because of it. I didn’t overeat, either, so I really have no clue what was up with. It didn’t feel exactly like reflux because it didn’t burn. It mostly reminded me of the end of my pregnancy when I couldn’t sleep for five or six hours after eating because bad things would happen if I did. I don’t think I actually slept until after Scott got up.

Scott took five bags of books to the library to donate. I really hope there wasn’t anything in there that he wanted. He declined to go through the books to see, and I did ask him to. There was something in the books to be sold that he wanted to keep, but I only found out about that because it was on his Amazon wishlist rather than because he looked at what I’ve sorted out. I thought I had another book in that particular series, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere, so apparently not.

We watched two movies yesterday, Baahubali and Spy, and enjoyed both of them a lot. They were great in very different ways. We’ve got things on the DVR that we haven’t watched yet, and I have no idea when we’ll get to those. Well, I think Scott watched all of last week’s Agent Carter without me, so I could probably watch that without him. Neither of us are giving Legends of Tomorrow very high priority, so we still haven’t watched last week’s episode.

I’m poking around online, trying to find a local furniture repair company that might do the (relatively minor) repairs that the loveseat and chair in the basement need in order to be usable. Right now, there’s nothing supporting the seats, so we can’t sit on them at all. I’m assuming that replacing the support straps wouldn’t take very long or be very difficult, but it’s not something that either Scott or I are really equipped to deal with. I’m having trouble, however, finding local furniture repair places with any sort of web presence. Most of what’s coming up is Yelp and Angie’s List and the like. I have emailed one place and am considering emailing another (it’s based out of a town about twenty minutes away, so I’m hesitating). There was a third that I gave up on because the landing page was a Flash video that couldn’t be bypassed. I have Flash disabled, and I’m not going to restart it just to access a business website.

I’m debating whether I should call the genetic counseling office at the hospital. They called me about ten days ago to say that they were mailing me a packet of forms to fill out and that it would go out either that day or the following Monday. A week seems like it ought to be enough time for such a thing to have reached me, and it has not arrived, so… Right now, I’m thinking that I’ll wait until after the mail arrives today (or maybe tomorrow) and then call if the dratted thing hasn’t shown up. It might have been misdelivered. That happens in our neighborhood occasionally. But people are usually very prompt about bringing things to whatever address they should have gone to. Our street only runs two blocks, and the other street that gets mixed up with us (it shares a syllable in the street name and the house numbering) is a cul-de-sac off of our street. In no case would anyone have to travel more than two blocks to bring something by, and a package of forms is likely to look important enough that most people wouldn’t sit on it, waiting for better weather or a different phase of the moon or whatever.

I have to try to find some boxes to put the books I’m hoping to sell in. Books By Chance wants containers that close (and we’re out of paper grocery bags anyway). We’ve got two or three tiny boxes but nothing that will hold more than a handful of books.

We didn’t manage to get the stuffed animals donated this weekend, so it likely won’t happen until next weekend, at the earliest. I’m trying to figure out where to put them to get them out of the living room. I’m worried, though, that, if I move them out of the way, Scott’s motivation to take them to donate will evaporate.
Monday, February 8th, 2016 12:01 pm

Write a poem about a tombstone.

You could even visit a cemetery and write about a tombstone there. If you knew the person the tombstone belongs to, incorporate what the tombstone says into a poem about the person who has passed on.

You could also pick a stranger’s tombstone and write what it makes you think of/who you thought the person could have been/etc.

Monday, February 8th, 2016 11:21 am

Write a poem with the line “it fell to earth”

Write a poem about a literal shooting star

Write a poem using a meteor shower as a metaphor for something else

Begin with the line “I blaze across the sky" 

(Um, do you have a better phrasing for that than the cliched ‘blaze’?)

Write about a world in which meteors no longer fall to earth

Angie: I don’t mind the word “blaze” being there, though some of the “related words”, synonyms of “burn”, here could work:

“I flicker across the sky.”

“I smolder across the sky.”

Thanks for the submission!

Monday, February 8th, 2016 11:43 am

Treatments beginning in November were a blessing; for his last three months Felix was able to eat nearly anything he wanted with no ill effects. But his latest shot last week had almost no effect, and by Saturday I knew he was done.

I have had many cats, but he's only the third who was especially mine, and I don't think I've ever been so bonded with a cat; this is pretty awful. We will have just Oscar for a few months, until Laura and Nala move back in (we will likely be keeping Nala while Laura is in college). If Oscar is miserable we'll consider another cat, but I think he'll enjoy getting all the attention and treats for a while.
Monday, February 8th, 2016 03:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I think my boss hired my replacement. I’ve only been at my job for three months, but something doesn’t feel right. I’ll list reasons below:

1. Boss just hired a director’s replacement, and everyone knows except the director. The director and his replacement will be working together in the next few months. The director thinks his replacement was hired for a different position.

2. I have seen resumes for everyone that has been interviewed – except for new hire’s (NH) resume which makes me think boss is hiding it because NH held my same job title.

3. NH went up to boss to talk about project management software (I’m a PM/EA) and he quickly walked away with him until they were out of earshot. I nonchalantly asked if NH was going to help us with project management and he gave me a bullshit response that didn’t even answer the question.

4. NH went up to boss on a separate occasion and asked if he should send boss his project summary and boss was acting weird and said “No, not right now.” I was on the computer at the time going through his emails (I’m his assistant).

5. Boss said NH was hired to work in HR, but I just googled NH and found his LinkedIn and sure enough, he most recently worked as a project manager.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I am worried. My boss hasn’t given me any negative feedback, but he also hasn’t given any to the director that he’s replacing. How should I bring it up to my boss? I have to ask about it or the worrying will kill me.

Sometimes people ask me this kind of thing and I usually say, “Nah, you’re reading too much into the situation. Talk to your boss, and you’ll probably get some peace of mind.”

In your case, I don’t think you’re reading too much into this. I also don’t think you’ll get any peace of mind if you talk to your boss, because your boss has shown himself to be totally untrustworthy with the way he’s handling the director’s firing.

It’s true that sometimes — rarely — you need to conduct a discreet hiring round. But you don’t bring that new hire on board and have them work side by side with the person they’ll be replacing, without telling said person. And you definitely don’t unfurl this unsavory plan after giving your current employee no feedback and without letting them know that their job is in jeopardy if they don’t make X, Y, and Z improvements. And you sure as hell don’t let everyone else know about it except the person most impacted. (And really, how does that work? Surely word gets out.)

So your boss has already proven himself a terrible boss in this very key respect. Given that, and given what you’ve observed, yeah, I think there’s a decent chance — not a certainty, but a decent chance — that the new hire is your replacement and your boss hasn’t told you yet.

So, what should you do?

Do the things that will put you in the strongest position if you are fired, without doing things that could torpedo your job if you’re wrong.

First and foremost, start job searching. You have an advance heads-up that you might need to be launching a job search very soon, so launch it now. If it turns out we’re both wrong and this is unneeded, then great — you can call it off if you want to.

Second, you mentioned HR, which is good because that means you have an HR department. You might have some luck talking to them. You could say something like: “I know that Bob doesn’t realize that Cordelia was hired to take over his job. I’m concerned that something similar might be happening with my role, based on some things I’ve seen with our new hire, Falcon. However, I’ve only received positive feedback from Lucien. Are you able to tell me what my standing is here?” If your HR department is at all competent, they will be very nervous about telling an employee who’s about to be fired that she’s in good standing. So this could be an interesting conversation.

Now, should you talk to your boss directly? You could certainly say something similar to him. I don’t know that you’ll get a straight answer, but it seems like you should anyway, purely on the principle of the thing. Possible downsides to doing that: It could prompt him to have the firing conversation with you earlier than planned (although you might prefer that). And if you’re wrong about the whole thing, it could make you look a little needy … but you certainly wouldn’t be the first employee to express worry about your job, especially around the time someone else is getting fired. An alternative would be to just ask him for feedback about how things are going, although you’d have to keep in mind that you can’t rely on him for a straight answer.

But mainly, I would use this as a chance to plan: Start your job search, be ready to negotiate severance (“I left a stable job / turned down other offers for this role and was never given feedback or a chance to improve” is a good thing to say in that process), take home any personal files, and otherwise do whatever you’d wish you had done if you didn’t have an early heads-up.

And do allow for some possibility that you and I are both wrong. We might be, so you don’t want to become so convinced this is a certainty that you take actions that will hurt you (like quitting to avoid being fired, or slacking off on your work). But for the next month or two, I’d just keep yourself braced for Cowardly Boss Impact and see what happens.

I think my boss just hired my replacement, but hasn’t told me was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Monday, February 8th, 2016 11:05 am


I’m always amazed at how little time this takes. One 20-10 to fold & put away half a load of laundry from before my trip, and to unpack my suitcase and put the dirty clothes (and floordrobe) in the basket.

Bonus: during the hockey game earlier, i sorted my pile of mail (clearing that spot on the right side of the top of the game shelves) and started getting my tax stuff together.