Attention, Job Seekers–Discount on Alison Green’s How to Get a Job E-book!

Alison Green, work guru extraordinaire and owner of the excellent Ask A Manager work blog, is offering a discount on her book, How to Get a Job, for the next few days!

This e-book is a great resource for job hunters.  It helped me greatly when I was searching.  It contains advice on how to make your interview and cover letter awesome, and how to ace your interview.  And it has a new snazzy cover, too.

Soon, you too could be having this much fun getting a paycheck!

Soon, you too could be having this much fun getting a paycheck!

Go to this link immediately and get it today!

Desk Hacks!

Help!  You’re in the middle of your workday and you’ve had a wardrobe malfunction, or someone stole your scissors.  What to do?

You’ve seen those lifehack articles—Use salt to clean your oven!  Your dustpan makes a great funnel to fill up the mop bucket!—for household use.  What happens when you have a little emergency at work?  Office supplies to the rescue!

  •  Use hand sanitizer to clean your purse mirror. Squirt a tiny bit on the glass and wipe it off with a tissue.

I probably wouldn’t try this on my phone screen.  It’s better to use a dry microfiber cloth, especially if you didn’t get a screen protector (why didn’t you get a screen protector!?).  For you marketing people out there, DigiClean® makes little tiny sticky ones that work great and they’re excellent branding giveaways.  I have one I got at a job fair and I love it.


  •  A paper clip or small binder clip will keep that half-full mega-bag of chips you couldn’t finish closed and fresh inside your desk drawer. A large one will hold your hair up off your neck (seriously; I just did this while stair-walking).


  • Jumbo paper clips make decent makeshift barrettes in a pinch—they’ll keep those tendrils out of your face until you’re finished crawling under your desk to replace the monitor plug you accidentally disconnected.


  • And if that weeny screw in your glasses comes out, stick a paper clip in the hole to keep the temple piece on until you can fix your frames.

FYI, a safety pin works well for this and the glasses thing.  You should go buy some right now and put them in your desk.

Your new best friend.

Your new best friend.

 Photo: Haragayato/Wikimedia Commons

  •  Need to raise your monitor? Grab a couple of those unused phone books sitting around the office and stack them underneath.  Nobody will miss them, I promise.


  • Hit up your tape dispenser for emergency pants or skirt hem repair. It won’t leave holes like a stapler and should hold until you get home.


  • I didn’t make this one up, but if you lose a pierced earring back, save the day with the eraser end of a pencil. Just poke the post through your ear and the eraser on the end of the post.


  • Have to cut a piece of paper in half but don’t have scissors? Fold it, crease it sharply, then (carefully!) run your tongue along the edge of the crease.  Open the paper and slowly tear it in half.  It will be a tiny bit fuzzy, but it works better than tearing it dry—unless the person you’re giving the other half to is completely grossed out.


Eww, Marjorie, roll that thing back up.  Seriously.  

Eww, Marjorie, roll that thing back up.  Seriously.

 Photo: stockimages/


  •  Don’t throw that chipped coffee cup away. Use it to hold your pens and pencils.


  • Make friends with the person who buys supplies and when he/she orders paper, you can score a cardboard box to use as a footrest.


There you are—a few desk hacks to make your day a little less annoying.  If you can think of any more, please share them in the comments.


Happy New Year! 2013 in review

Once again, it’s annual report time!  This blog got more views than my writing blog.  I got more spam comments on both, which means–well, I don’t know what it means.  But for all legit commenters and those non-bots who actually read my posts, thank you!  Have a great 2014!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

5 Cardinal Sins in the Workplace

Ah, the cardinal sin.  A concept in Catholicism, it means the most egregious of the bad things you can do to piss off God, such as murder, adultery, stealing, and calling your helicopter parents names and throwing their house keys into the sewer.

When I get my hands on you, you're going to regret that one, sonny!

When I get my hands on you, you’re going to regret that one, sonny!

Image: stockimages/

Well, God isn’t in your manager’s office, but you might want to avoid the following activities at work anyway.  In no particular order, here are the five sins you don’t want to commit in the workplace.

Stealing:  lunch, etc. 

Whether you snake your filthy paws right into innocent, defenseless lunchboxes or accidentally take a piece of cake Shirley the accounting lady brought from her granddaughter’s second birthday party but didn’t label, you’re scum if you do this. 

Okay, maybe Shirley didn’t write her name on her Tupperware cake holder, but that doesn’t matter.  See, maybe it was special sugar-free cake, because Shirley is a diabetic, and maybe she’s only allowed one slice of that per year, and little Tamara’s birthday was her one shot.  Or that sandwich the receptionist brought is vegan, and there isn’t a damn thing in the vending machine she can eat, and she doesn’t have any money to go out for lunch.  Congratulations; you just made another human being go hungry. 

I’m not even going to mention stealing from your company—money, office supplies, etc., or taking anything that isn’t yours off someone else’s desk (iPod, wallet, etc.).  That could land you in jail.  And you’d deserve it. 

You can get by pretty well in this world if you remember one rule:  if it’s not yours, DON’T TOUCH IT. 

Snooping in someone’s desk/purse/locker

No, there isn’t a commandment that says “Thou shalt not snoop,” but there ought to be.  Besides, do you really want to know that your coworker needs a midday application of specially prescribed hemorrhoid relief cream? 

What has been seen cannot be unseen.

What has been seen cannot be unseen.

 Image:  stockimages/

Mind your own business, please. 

Smell offenses

You like the smell of burnt popcorn?  No?  Well, other people don’t either.  Most microwave popcorn burns because people walk away from it.  Stand by that microwave, or just wait until you go home and make it the right way, on the stove or with an air popper.  You don’t need to breathe all that diatacyl anyway.   

Same with your kale / tuna / hardboiled egg / Limburger casserole.  Blech. 

Excess cologne can actually trigger asthma, migraines, and allergy attacks in susceptible people.  Some offices have a no-scent policy for this reason, or simply because what smells nice to one person may gag another. 

One guy at a former job, Bob, wore a lot of cologne—you smelled him before you saw him.  A coworker making fun of him one day said sarcastically, “Hi, I’m Bob—I stink like a French whore!”  (Inappropriate?  Maybe, but I laughed my ass off.)  Another coworker told me about someone who predated me (we’ll call him Stinky Horace) who rarely took a bath because he just couldn’t be bothered. 

Don’t be Bob or Horace.  Your colleagues will remember you, but for all the wrong reasons. 


Grow up and deal with your coworkers like an adult.  If Trixie comes in an hour late and leaves early, that’s not your problem.  You’re not the time clock police, are you?  There may be some arrangement there you don’t know about.  And if you complain, the first thing a good manager will probably say to you is, “Don’t worry about Trixie’s schedule; get back to work.” 

If Trixie’s schedule legitimately interferes with your job, you need to be proactive.  Let’s say you need forms from her but she isn’t sending them before she leaves.  Talk to her first, politely.  Maybe Stinky Horace isn’t sending them to her, either. 

If you can’t work it out, then you might need to bring it up with your boss.  Alison Green at Ask a Manager recommends framing it as though you’re asking for advice about YOUR work, like “I’m having trouble getting data I need from Trixie when she leaves at three.  I went to her and asked if she could send it earlier in the day, but that didn’t seem to help.  Do you have any ideas about how I can finish the TPS report and maybe incorporate it later?” 

Gossiping is just as bad.  Speculation can severely affect someone’s reputation and in turn, their career.  You do not want to be seen as the office gossip; if you spread rumors, eventually, you’ll damage your own credibility and you can even be fired. 

Lame when you were a kid; lame now.

Lame when you were a kid; lame now.

Image:  Ambro/


Bullying in the workplace isn’t illegal, though many people think it should be.  Suzanne Lucas of Evil HR Lady argues against that here.  She also says it should be stopped.  And she’s right.  Just like it does in elementary and high school, bullying makes people feel afraid, helpless, and angry. 

This is a problem best handled at management level.  The workplace is for competent adults, not tantrum-throwing, bullying babies. 

If you’re a manager, don’t bully.  Either PIP or fire bullies on your team.  You’re not doing yourself or your company any favors by allowing this disgusting behavior to continue.  And if someone actually gets physically hurt (it can happen—some bullies like to throw things), you could be sued. 


Most of these behaviors are or should have been weeded out past elementary school.  If you see these with your direct reports, then you should really think about firing these people and hiring adults.  If you recognize your own behavior in any of these list items, STOP IT.  Regardless of whatever valuable skills people have, if they can’t get along with their peers, your company will suffer.


Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day–at work!


Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, lubbers!  I be rerunnin’ a post from 2010 over on me other blog, but it do relate.  Most of ye will be at work today–too bad, if ye were a pirate, ye’d be sailin’ free!  That still don’t mean ye can’t have some fun.  Here’s how!


YARR!  Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, ye scurvy bilge rats!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19.  Every year, would-be pirates dress up, scoff a tankard o’grog and dance the hornpipe in celebration of a bit o’ silly fun.

How did this holiday start?  Well, me lubbers, click on the link near the crow’s nest of this article for a detailed explanation of why people are running around saying things like “Ahoy!” and “Avast!” today.  It’s mostly for fun, and we all could use a pint o’ that!

How do ye celebrate this day of days, ye be wonderin’?  Ye talk like a pirate, that’s what.  And act like one, iffen ye can get away with it.  But what if you’re at work, as ye may be next year, when the holiday falls on Monday?

If yer captain isn’t too scurvy of a tyrant, ye can answer the phone with a hearty “ARRR!”  If he’s a whip-crackin’ slave driver, ye could stage a mutiny. Or ye could keep it on the QT, among yer shipmates (coworkers).

Some ways to enjoy Pirate Day at work:

  • Make up a pirate name and insist everyone call you by it.  Find one here!
  • Call people things like “bilge rat,” or “knave.”  Everyone will think yer nuts, but that’s part of the fun of it!  Look here for some language help.
  • Wear something piratey to work.  Fer the menfolk, a casual dress environment means ye can wear a Jolly Roger t-shirt, a bandanna or an eyepatch even, if yer cap’n don’t have a peg leg up his arse.   A hoop in yer earhole will lend a seafarin’ touch.  If yer stuck wearin’ business clothes, a skull tie pin or somethin’ subtle be yer best bet.
  • Wenches, ye can wear a frilly ruffly blouse and skull earrings, or some epic hoop earrings if ye like.  Add some boots and black pants with a scarf for a belt and ye have a nice pirate outfit that don’t look like yer gonna walk the plank.
  • Add pirate clip art to all yer emails!
  • Eat lunch at a buffet that serves things like chicken legs, fried fish, mashed taters, and hearty breads and desserts.  Pirates ate a-plenty when there was plenty to have!  Pack ye a big, meaty sandwich and some chocolate coins for sweets if there’s no galley nearby or ye can’t jump ship.  Throw in some oranges so ye don’t get scurvy!
  • Read Treasure Island on yer break.  Gotta keep up the image!
  • Describe things in nautical terms.  Like “The Chumley account is three leagues from bein’ complete!” or “”Hoist the mainsail, and let’s finish our slog before Happy Hour!”

Use yer imagination, lubbers, and if ye come up with some other ways to make the daily deck-swab on next year’s Talk Like a Pirate Day a rip-roarin’ party, post ‘em in the comments.  Shovin’ off now.  Enjoy, me hearties!

5 Things for Newbies to Know about Office Culture

Certain aspects of office / cube farm life can be baffling to the uninitiated—new grads, etc.  If you’re coming off a food service or retail job, you already know how to handle customers (I hope), so I don’t need to mention that.  Here, in no particular order, are five things you should know before you start your first office job.

It’s more formal

You’ll probably have a dress code, and it probably won’t include sneakers and jeans, unless you’re really lucky and the company is okay with that.   I spent a lot of time working on things that got me dirty while wearing business clothes.  Every time I wore light-colored pants, the copier ran out of toner.  Every.  Stinking.  Time.

Club attire won’t do either.  Your shirts and pants should cover your bits, always.

Nice try, but no.

Nice try, but no.

Image:  photostock/

It’s less noisy (sometimes)

Unless you’re in a call center or someplace where people are going to be on the phone a lot, chances are you’ll be slightly creeped out at first by the quiet.  All those people are working.  In some offices, you can go a couple of hours hearing only the clacking of computer keys.  I’ve worked in an office or two that was like a tomb—I even forgot certain coworkers were there.

Don’t whistle, hum, sing, pop gum, etc.   Yes, what Mrs. Nussbaum told you in third grade was actually relevant.  Other people are trying to concentrate, especially if you’re in an open plan office or a cube farm.

It’s not your house

Your cube is your space, but it’s still a workspace.  Plenty of companies allow you to personalize it to a degree.  But it’s unlikely you’ll be able to hang thrash metal posters or naked Arwen Undomiel photoshops on the walls, or play country music all day, unless you are allowed headphones.  Leave the following at home:

  • Burning candles or incense and chanting at your mid-afternoon meditation time
  • Draping the entire cube in black fabric because “I like my privacy”
  • Bringing your entire collection of 450 Disney bobbleheads just to keep you company
  • That spinning wheel you bought to make your own yarn because it’s so relaxing and you can do it at lunch (just bring your knitting instead)
If you’re lucky, you work somewhere that lets you do this!

If you’re lucky, you work somewhere that lets you do this!

Image:  deezoid/

See more cool cubies here.

Mental work will still make you tired

You might be surprised by how exhausted a day at the office will make you feel.  Imagine doing homework all day long, and you’ll get what I mean.  You’ll feel mental fatigue all over your body.

Sitting for eight hours won’t help.  Try to get up and move around frequently, and stretch in your cube.

Every office has weird little rules, but some are universal

Most people enjoy popcorn.  Many people like microwave popcorn.  No one, and I mean no one, likes the lingering, nostril hair-singing smell of burnt popcorn.  If you are from birth unable to nuke popcorn without burning it, eat it at home.


  • Don’t throw stinky food leftovers in the wastebasket at your desk.
  • Don’t talk smack about your boss behind his/her back.  It will bite you.
  • If you empty the ice tray, fill it back up.
  • Ditto the coffeemaker; if you take the last cup, brew another pot.
  • Clean up after yourself in the bathroom (If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie—wipe the seatie.  You know this one.)
  • For God’s sake, WASH YOUR HANDS after you go to the bathroom.  The first time you walk out without doing it and someone notices, don’t be surprised if people avoid coming anywhere near you after that.  (I even have to tell you this?  Come on.  You’re an awesome grown-up; surely you know.  But you’d be surprised how many people don’t.)
Whee! Thanks for the ride, lady!

Whee! Thanks for the ride, lady!

Image:  jscreationzs/

Lest you think working in an office is just a boring, soul-sucking experience, it can be fun.  Some things I’ve done with officemates include:

  • Closing the office and walking to a nearby bar for sandwiches
  • Having potlucks
  • Pranking other officemates (this is definitely material for another post, LOL)
  • Waving signs at a presidential limo

Remember that you’re in a more conservative atmosphere now; you can’t goof around the way you did at Burger Barn when you stuck the EAT ME sign with a French fry stapled to it on the cashier’s back (true story), or like that summer you worked in the warehouse during college and made a pyramid out of wooden pallets (not true, but I’m sure somebody did it).

Congratulations on your first office job!  Just keep it professional when you’re at work and you’ll be fine.