my coworker wants to pull me into her counteroffer, boss is going to trash-talk me when I leave, and more

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

1. My coworker wants to pull me into her counteroffer

I am a junior-level employee at an small (25 people) consulting firm. I have worked there for about two years. The company has been going through some rough periods due to personality/management conflicts between employees and management. I have personally been frustrated with one project manager (above me in the hierarchy, but not my supervisor) who is very intelligent but lacks control of his temper and various other people skills (Greg). A few months ago, three other employees and I filed a compliant to the company president about cumulative incidents with Greg and as part of this, I had said that if things didn’t change with Greg I would leave. Things have improved with Greg in that I rarely have to work with him anymore, which solved my problem.

Yesterday, another project manager (Rebecca) approached me and said that she had a job offer from a competitor and would be negotiating for a counteroffer with our company and wanted to bring me with her to our competitor if she left, or negotiate for increased perks for me to stay. She asked for me to give her a list of demands for the president on Monday.

I am really conflicted by the whole process, as I plan to leave for grad school in about a year and don’t want to start over at a new company before leaving. I don’t know whether she is trying to help me with Greg or whether she is just trying to use me as leverage with the president to help her bargaining. I don’t want to burn a bridge with Rebecca but I also don’t burn a bridge with our president and I don’t want to work at our competitor (but I would like a larger salary). I am thinking that I prepare a vague list of company improvements (more communication between departments, improved employee morale, etc.) that I had planned to share during my performance review next month anyways? Not sure what to do. For what it’s worth, I’ve been told by other people with lots more experience than me how oddly our company management/operations are.

Yeah, don’t do that. First of all, Rebecca should be sticking to negotiations for herself, not pulling you in (and yes, I do think she might be trying to use you as leverage for herself). You don’t want someone else making statements about your willingness to stay on your behalf; you won’t have control over the messaging, and it could end up really hurting you (if, for example, Rebecca tells them you’re ready to leave). It will also look odd that Rebecca is having this conversation on your behalf. Second, asking for vague improvements like better morale is not the way to go — those aren’t easy changes, you’re not likely to get them this way, and you’ll end up looking naive for asking for them in a “this is what I need to stay” context.

Leave Rebecca and her timeline out of this. Do you want to leave? Do you want to stay? (It sounds like you want to stay, which would make this whole thing moot anyway.)

Handle this on your own, and let her handle her situation without making you part of it. You want to serve your own interests, not hers.

And be aware that there can be some real problems with counteroffers.

2. My boss is going to trash-talk me when I leave

I’m a young professional working at a startup organization that, to say the least, has its issues. Our two bosses are husband and wife (don’t even get me started), but the husband most often takes on the CEO role. He’s eccentric and opinionated, a terrible manager, and over-friendly with our small staff. But the worst thing about him: he talks about past employees in disparaging ways. A lot.

We had two employees quit over the summer, both of whom were close friends with our bosses. Just recently, I overheard a conversation in which my boss called them “ungrateful” for asking for higher salaries, and then disparaged them for quitting. Their first COO quit last year, and since then, I have heard my boss call him everything from a “f*cking idiot” to a “total a**hole” who stole from the company by asking for an “exorbitantly high” salary. The low salary is exactly why I’m quitting, as it’s not a livable wage and I can barely make ends meet while working there. So here’s my dilemma: how do you quit a job knowing full well that there’s a 99% chance the boss is going to talk badly behind your back about it? None of the previous employees ever gave notice (they just quit on the spot and walked out), so I’m nervous as to what my work environment will be like while I serve out those final two weeks. I’ve been a good worker, with no substantial issues during my time there, but I don’t think that will matter– my boss gets so defensive, he makes up issues that weren’t really there. (Thank god I’m leaving, right?) I’ve thought about doing the same, just quitting on the spot, but the notice is necessary for both professionalism reasons and because I’ve taken on lots of responsibilities and will have multiple ends to tie up before being able to move forward. I want to leave on a good note, but that almost seems impossible at this point.

My spouse suggested I offer to volunteer for the organization to soften the blow and not burn any bridges, but, honestly, I really just want to be able to focus on my new job, which is in a brand-new field for me and will require all of my time and attention. I’m worried that the act of quitting itself will initiate his smack-talking, potentially damaging my reputation with my coworkers and the influential people on the board.

Is there a way for me hedge this off, or is it just something I’ll have to deal with? I don’t anticipate needing him as a reference for any future positions, so does this really even matter at all? Thoughts? Strategies?

Yeah, don’t volunteer — make a clean break and devote yourself fully to your new job. New jobs are exhausting. You don’t need to be volunteering for a jerk on top of that. You are not obligated to volunteer or otherwise continue working just to leave a job without being trash-talked. You get to leave, whenever you want and without continuing to be tied to your old job, and having it be a clean break will be a lot better for your happiness. Why give that up to appease a jerk?

Here’s some advice on dealing with your manager if he reacts badly during your notice period.

And keep in mind that if your boss is known for trash-talking everyone who leaves, your coworkers and the board already know that.

3. My coworkers drink at lunch, so why can’t I smoke pot?

I work for a company in Oregon that specifically states in the employee handbook that no one is allowed to be under the influence of anything, including alcohol, at the workplace, yet the entire group except me all have a cocktail or two at lunch. Almost every lunch. Why then should I not be allowed to smoke some medical or even recreational cannabis and return to work? I find this arbitrary rule quite discriminatory and think it should be illegal if it isn’t. Even though Oregon and Colorado (where this company has offices) have legal medical and recreational cannabis, I was told I could be fired if there were ever a reason to test me for it. Is this even legal, as these coworkers are all under the influence upon returning to work, yet I am ostracized and forced to fear for my job if I partake in an equally legal substance even OFF the job?

Well, it’s actually not equally legal, because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, even where it’s legal under state law. (This is setting up a weird state/federal conflict, but the federal government can indeed arrest marijuana users even in states where it’s legal.)

That is incredibly stupid, but that is the current situation. So yes, your employer can treat marijuana differently than alcohol. The best thing you can do is to work to change federal law.

4. Employers calling my secondary phone number

I have a question about employers calling my secondary number. I filled out the basic contact information form and put my cell as the primary and my home phone as the secondary. I share the home phone with other people and I cannot always rely on them to give me messages ASAP.

The other day, my employer called my home phone to tell me when my orientation is be scheduled. I was not delivered the message until two days later and in addition they did not attempt to call me on my cell phone. This is very annoying because I marked my cell phone as the primary for a reason and my home phone as the secondary (I want to be called there second). This is the second employer who has done this and it just grinds my gears. How should I address this?

Stop listing your home phone number at all, and just list the cell. You have complete control over messages left on your cell, so there’s no reason you need to give a second phone number at all.

5. Putting MOOC certificates on a resume

I’d like to improve my skills and have been looking into MOOC platforms such as edX and Coursera. As you know, these are generally free but some also offer students the option to pay to receive a certificate once they pass their course. They claim that it improves job prospects and shows potential employers that you’re skilled and dedicated, but I’m wondering how accurate that is. Are certificates from online courses meaningful enough? Do they belong on a resume, and is it worth paying for one (other than for motivation)?

Eh. This can vary by field, but in most cases, certificates aren’t going to be hugely helpful. The skills you gain from the courses can be quite helpful, if you’re able to show real-world application of them, but the certificates themselves aren’t hugely impressive.

But again, some fields are exceptions to this, so this is one you’d want to ask someone in your specific field about.

{ 348 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, it’s absolutely legal for your company to have the policy that it does. And please note that it’s also legal for companies to screen for alcohol, even if your company isn’t doing that. Whether or not a substance is “legal” isn’t necessarily related to whether a company can screen for that substance or condition your employment on not using it. So although it’s invasive and may seem unfair, it’s lawful.

    It sounds like you’re upset because (1) they’re both legal under state law, and (2) both impact your cognition, although in different ways. As Alison noted, #1 is dicey because marijuana is still unlawful under federal law. Given that our current AG wants to revive the War on Drugs with a special focus on states that have legalized marijuana use, companies are understandably wary. #2 is a policy argument, but again, from a legal perspective, it’s trumped by #1. As Alison notes, all the policy arguments in the world are unlikely to change your employer’s mind—the only real avenue to resolving your concerns is changing federal law.

    1. sstabeler*

      does it make a difference that you aren’t- by policy- supposed to be under the influence of alcohol either, except they don’t enforce it on the alcohol drinkers?

      1. Kit*

        It’s legal to enforce employer policies unevenly so long as they don’t have a disparate impact on a protected class. There are very few protected classes and marijuana smokers are not among them, so no, in this case that makes no difference.

        This falls under the “it’s not illegal to be a jerk” umbrella. LW has a leg to stand on if they want to get the bosses to crack down on drinking, though.

        1. Anonymoose*

          (just for sh*ts and giggles; I”m curious)

          What about medical necessity for known medical issues in which the employer has been notified about accommodation (say the employee has….cancer)? Normal pain protocol would be heavy narcotics (oxy, etc). If the doctor instead ‘prescribes’ or recommends medical MJ, would the employer still be in the clear? I guess I’m asking why it is that the employer can make prescription decisions for an employee. Does that make sense?

          Note: I totally get that this was booze v MJ, but I think the argument of opiates should also be discussed since they’re over-prescribed but can still impair just as much. It seems it gets a pass since it’s prescribed.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Legally, no. Technically, federal law does not allow physicians to prescribe MJ as treatment unless that MJ comes from NIDA. They can recommend “MJ therapy,” but they limitations on procurement make it extremely difficult to obtain in a manner that is lawful from a federal perspective.

      2. Anononon*

        Nope. As long as they’re not being discriminatory against protected classes, companies can generally be as hypocritical as they want.

        (Though, you could argue situations with medical marijuana use and disability discrimination, but 1) that does not seem to apply here based on the letter and 2) from my two second google search, it’s still a very iffy stance.)

        1. Infinity Anon*

          I don’t think the medical angle would hold up well. Many employers don’t allow employees to be under the influence of prescription pain killers at work because they impair cognition. Those pain killers are 100% legal and needed medically. I don’t see how marijuana would be more protected.

            1. Amber T*

              I sit at a desk all day and it’s written in my employee handbook. Obviously I’m not privy to the health needs of my coworkers, but when I returned from getting my tonsils out, I was asked (nonchalantly, but now I’m thinking they were double checking) if I had finished my pain killers. I think the wording is vague enough where it’ll come down to personal judgement (and the judgement of HR/partners if they notice you acting strangely). I’ll try to find the exact wording, but I don’t think it’s against policy to *take* prescription pain killers (assuming you have a prescription) as long as it doesn’t affect your ability to work. So if you can take a vicodin and still be fine, it won’t be an issue. (I’d be hiding under my desk crying, trying to make the walls stop spinning.)

              1. The OG Anonsie*

                Boy. I’d love to know how such a policy might shake out in terms of reasonable accommodation for roles where it wasn’t a direct safety issue. If they don’t allow you to return to work due to this policy, does that fall under their legal discretion?

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, that’s what I immediately thought as well. I’m presuming the employer’s theory is that if accommodation for medication is sought it could be granted? Dunno if that’s enough to keep them out of trouble.

                2. Shadow*

                  Usually not. Ada doesn’t cover temporary disabilities which is typically when narcotics are prescribed.

                3. The OG Anonsie*

                  True, it wouldn’t be an ADA issue if it was a one-off. But the portion of overall narcotic painkiller use that goes to people with chronic, ongoing illness is pretty big, and for many of them the use is intermittent and may coincide with absences from work. It can get really muddied. If you have someone with cancer, let’s say, and they have surgery after which they will be on pain killers for an extended period during which they would otherwise be cleared to (and want to) return to work, and you make completion of the pain killers part of their condition to return, like where does that even fall? You could really play chicken or the egg with that, too.

                  And yeah, an accommodation can be a policy exception. What I’m asking is what if they stick to the policy in this situation.

                4. Infinity anon*

                  An ongoing issue may fall under the ADA and a lawyer would have to figure it out. General policies don’t need to take into account what to do if someone is disabled and can’t follow that policy. That is what an accommodation is for.

              2. Meg*

                There was actually just a state court case in Massachusetts that said an employer had to accommodate medical marijuana use if it was a reasonable accommodation – Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC so there may be some legal reason to accommodate medical marijuana use, but the letter writer doesn’t appear to say that this is medicinal, not recreational.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  But note that that case was decided entirely under state law (not federal law), including Massachusetts’ antidiscrimination framework for people with disabilities.

          1. Shadow*

            This just isn’t true. Most employers aren’t fine with you being on meds as long as you can still do your job and there’s no concern about you getting to/from work.

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Whoa, I’ve never heard that. I know a lot of people who are technically “impaired” because they’re on things like xanax or valium, but we just deal with it because it’s medically prescribed. I could see an exception if they’re, say, driving a forklift or something.

          3. Anonymoose*

            “Many employers don’t allow employees to be under the influence of prescription pain killers at work because they impair cognition.” Yet there are millions and millions that are popping pills all day long. I should know, I’m one of them. But should my employer drug test me, I’d get a pass because they’re prescribed. I think that is totally hypocritical, even if it works in my favor.

            Still not sure why the US hates MJ but still totally okay with something so incredibly addicting and destructive.

      3. MuseumChick*

        No, I don’t think that changes anything. Is it unfair that they don’t enforce one policy? Sure. But it doesn’t change anything substantial for the LW3.

        1. Observer*

          There is a significant difference – it’s highly likely that the workers who are having cocktails are NOT actually “under the influence”. Although smart people make it a rule to not drive even if they have ONE drink of anything, it is actually possible to imbibe a small amount of alcohol without it being enough to be considered “under the influence.” I don’t think it’s possible when smoking marijuana.

          I’d be willing to be that if someone had a workplace accident after lunch, they would also be tested and fired if they had BAC levels over the legal limit (.04 or .08)

          1. Anna*

            I’d be willing to be they’d be fired if they showed any level that was readable, even if it were under the limit.

          2. Sarah*

            I think this is a good point. I can definitely have one glass of wine or one cocktail at lunch and be unaffected, assuming I haven’t chosen something extremely strong with like 4 shots in it. I think this is true of many people, although obviously everyone is different and needs to know their own limits. If people are coming back to work visibly drunk and are unable to be productive in the afternoons, obviously that is it’s own problem, but isn’t really an argument for allowing MORE substances in the workplace, but rather for cracking down on the alcohol policy.

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            There are actually strains with little to no THC, such as you’d use to treat children.

            1. Observer*

              Yeah, but that’s not really relevant here. The OP is not a child and they are not using for medicinal purposes. Which means they would not be using those strains.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t think the level of impairment matters. There are certainly forms of MJ that will not put you “under the influence” in the cognition sense, including non-medicinal, recreational strains.

            But employers are allowed to test for whatever they want to test for, and the fact that they are inconsistent in how they apply their policy with respect to a lawful substance versus an unlawful substance doesn’t really change the legal analysis.

      4. Specialk9*

        So here’s the thing – the question was “shouldn’t it be illegal, and isn’t it discriminatory (?!) for others to break company rules in X way on the job, and I would prefer to break company rules in Y way on the job (that’s also illegal Federally)?” And yes, lunch is on the job because you go back and work, intoxicated. Dude. Seriously? Just… No.

        If you had just said “this stinks, how come they get to break rules and I don’t, I really want to break rules too but in a different way, should I?” We’d have said yeah, stinks when that happens, but not advisable. Getting away with stuff is often very specific. Not a good career choice. Toke up at home, and don’t work intoxicated.

        But instead you went to laws and discrimination against poor lil you. Using the word “discrimination” to mean “hassling me about choices I make on the job, even if questionable and illegal” instead of “blocking me from my civil rights/employment because I was born to a group that faces unfair and systemic discrimination” makes you seem like you bathe in privilege. (I’m assuming cis-het white and male privilege, but maybe there are women or LGBT people this clueless; I can’t imagine POC saying this.) It’s a pretty bad look.

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s getting kind of unreasonable (and needlessly personal), though; anti-discrimination law isn’t only the purview of the non-cishet, and there are states, after all, where you can’t discriminate against people for smoking tobacco. I think there are some important differences and I can understand the reasons for this policy, but I don’t think it’s an off-the-wall question, either.

          1. Wait, what?*

            “Non-cishet” has to be the most stunningly circular way of referring to LGBT people I’ve ever heard.

            1. Oryx*

              I think I understand fposte’s reasoning behind it though (although, please correct me if I’m wrong):

              But by saying “anti-discrimination law isn’t only for the purview of the non-cishet” it’s pointing out that a cisgendered person CAN be discriminated against, just as a heterosexual can be discriminated against as well. People hear “anti-discrimination” and think it only refers to minorities and that’s not true.

          2. Specialk9*

            Ok, fair enough. I guess the “children being attacked by dogs for being black is real discrimination” standard is a bit extreme. It still really grates that this person calls it discrimination not to be allowed to toke up at work. (And I’m a long-time supporter of legalization.) And it still feels super entitled without merit. But I didn’t have to go quite so strongly.

            1. fposte*

              Thanks for the nice and considered response! I agree that it doesn’t map onto the great civil rights struggles of our time, but I think it can still be a valid question.

            2. Kate*

              I understand where you are coming from, but just to offer a different perspective, the OP said that they can be fired for testing positive for marijuana use regardless of whether it is for recreational or medical purposes. So, at least my take on the question was, doesn’t it seem discriminatory that people can be fired for smoking a joint at home, after hours, for a legitimate medical purpose when other employees have been allowed to get drunk in the middle of the work day? Even though I agree with Alison’s assessment of the situation, I can see how one might think that it’s both policing employees’ after hours activities and discriminating against someone with a medical condition.

              1. The OG Anonsie*

                That was the bit that stood out to me. I used to live in an area that had medical marijuana, and when the local law changed, my employer (and many others) sent out a notice that it was still a condition of employment to abstain and drug testing of employees would continue. Legally it’s pretty sound but practically it’s asinine, and past that the only people who stand to be actually damaged by it are people who are already at an overall disadvantage.

              2. Stranger than fiction*

                Most of my adult life, wait no, actually all my working life (since 15), I’ve known people that either drink or toke on their lunch, and it’s just common sense to keep it on the down low. So nothing’s really changed, yet. If you can’t have a beer and not be all goofy, don’t do it. If you can’t take a couple riffs and not get stoner eyes, don’t do it. Until these laws are in full swing, the feds approve, and it’s legal in every state, it’s simply the same risk there’s always been.

              3. Anonymoose*

                Such a great point. It didn’t even occur to me to think about the 30 day tox screen (or 3 mo screen if it’s hair).

            3. LCL*

              I think the reasoning OP used is that of a very young person. It’s a phase that happens after learning that discrimination can be sneaky and subtle and implicit. The young person will be told to examine all social interactions and institutions through the lens of ‘is this discriminatory? If so how?’ and they will find examples everywhere. Hopefully they keep learning beyond this phase and realize that people who aren’t allowed to get high at lunch aren’t historically oppressed.

            4. The OG Anonsie*

              And at the same time, who do you think is most likely to get investigated under a policy like this? It’s against policy for everyone, but maybe coincidentally the only people that ever get tested have some demographics in common. Just like with law enforcement, everyone has the same rules but not everyone has the same enforcement. Then there’s the medical use issue on top of that.

              So yeah, may or may not actually be on the LW’s radar. But there are plenty of legitimate reasons to be concerned about a policy like this being directly discriminatory, and just because there are also a lot of other bigger instances of it doesn’t mean the smaller ones aren’t part of the picture.

        2. Indoor Cat*

          Er, why single out women and LGBT people as being more clueless than people of color? That seems weirdly…like kinda homophobic and sexist. Also there are people who are racial minorities AND sexuality minorities, so…like does a person’s racial minority status trump their gender and sexuality status when it comes to you guessing how “clueless” they are?

          Also, while white people are the majority in general and thus the majority of weed smokers, in terms of proportion, more black and latino people smoke weed recreationally. Whereas white people disproportionately use heroin and methamphetamines recreationally.

          This was a great comment until the last line. Just, yeah, this LW came off as clueless and privilege, but why try to guess what kind of privilege they have or don’t?

      5. Alton*

        I wonder if it actually is being enforced unevenly or not. Do the people who drink at lunch seem noticeably impaired? Is it otherwise clear that they had a drink? If they *would* get in trouble but aren’t because it hasn’t come up, I wouldn’t see that as preferential treatment. The bigger risk with marijuana is that it can show up on tests for longer than alcohol does, so it’s easier to prove.

        If people are noticeably getting drunk and management is looking the other way, though, then yes, that sounds like bad management (still legal, though).

    2. Confused*

      Also (as a former smoker and someone who’s pro-legalization on a federal level) people smoke pot to get high (unless for medical reasons). That’s it. You usually don’t stop being high after your lunch break and you don’t smoke pot for the taste. When you have one drink with lunch, it can be a glass of wine that pairs well with your food, or something like that. Now if your coworkers are pounding cases of Natty on their lunch break to get drunk, that is one thing. But enjoying the taste of alcohol with food is not the same as getting drunk, and not the same as getting high.

      OP #3 is basically asking why it’s not okay to go to work high, which is a ridiculous question. As someone who’s on the side of legalization, I would still not allow people to get high on their lunch break if I was a manager, and if someone came to work high (or for that matter, drunk) I would fire them in an instant.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Ideally, nobody would be going to work under the influence of anything, but where are you getting that one glass of wine or one beer is any less intoxicating than a hit or two of weed?

        1. latotheli*

          As someone who drinks casually regularly, and occasionally party-heavily, and also smokes on a regular basis of a few times per week….it is absolutely less intoxicating for the vast majority of people.

          One beer or one glass of wine does literally nothing to the vast majority of grownups who regularly have an alcoholic drink with meals; for most people it should leave them well under the legal limit to drive. One or two hits of weed, with today’s strength of weed, particularly in states where it is legally sold, will absolutely get the majority of people stoned.

          1. Lara*

            I completely disagree… marijuana does very little, depending on the strength, in that quantity. Whereas one or two beers might not impair you consciously but can absolutely impair reaction times and driving. Even if it doesn’t, it’s just as inappropriate to regularly drink at lunch during work hours as it would be to toke up.

      2. Student*

        Co-workers who come to the job stinking of booze get judged differently than co-workers who have one cocktail at lunch.

        Co-workers who come to the job stinking of pot get judged differently than ones who do their smoking outside work hours. Co-workers who smoke cigarettes and are considerate of the vile smell are better than co-workers who blow smoke in one’s face, even if they both smell bad.

        Even on the “medical” front – co-workers who come in high/drowsy/etc. from prescribed painkillers for a legitimate medical condition get judged differently from co-workers who don’t do that, who take appropriate medical leave or can schedule their doses to not interfere with their work.

  2. Gaia*

    OP 3 I am also in Oregon and a big supporter (although not a user) of recreational and medical marijuana. I am also a manager. While I wouldn’t want my team drinking two cocktails at every lunch (that seems like a lot to me, although to be fair I am a light weight when drinking so I suppose it might not be a lot to everyone), I would really be upset about someone smoking pot on lunch. The reason for that is exactly what Alison said: it is illegal on a federal level even though it is legal on the state level. That makes it different.

    If it is legalized on a federal level, I will gladly reconsider my stance but, until then, we have to recognize that they aren’t equally legal and – in my case – it opens us up to losing federal contracts if discovered and so will be treated differently.

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      The agency I work for is in Oregon and some of our departments receive federal funding so marijuana is a no-go agency-wide. My first thought for OP #3 was also related to federal dollars (either funding or contracts).

      1. Anna*

        Exactly this. I’m in Oregon, too, and work for a federally funded program. Our clients don’t understand that because we’re federally funded, they cannot test positive for pot. They will argue that it’s legal in Oregon and we have to explain that it doesn’t matter and here’s why.

    2. Zip Zap*

      It also lasts longer. Alcohol leaves your system at about one drink per hour on average. I think the main effects of marijuana last for a few hours, sometimes more. I know this all varies a lot depending on the individual, but, generally, someone could have a drink at lunch but return to work nearly sober. I don’t think it would usually work this way with marijuana.

      It’s also easier to measure the strength of alcohol. You know or can find out exactly how much alcohol you’re consuming. With marijuana, it’s less predictable. Just as a general rule.

      So, were they equally legal, I still don’t think they’d be equally reasonable to use on your lunch break.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yup. Even if they ever were equally “legal”, they’re not going to be equally measurable (barring some new testing discovery), so the policies of using/policing the use of these substances aren’t going to be “equal” for a long time, if ever.

    3. Confused*

      Not even just that – people smoke weed to get high, full stop, unless it is as a medication (and I don’t think in this case it is). People sometimes, but do not always, drink alcohol to get drunk. If you have drunk employees after lunch, that is a different issue than allowing people to have a glass of wine with lunch – which shouldn’t get the average person even close to drunk. You can’t be a little high and expect people to be ok with that at work. It’s not the same thing at all.

      1. Zip Zap*

        I actually disagree with that (respectfully). From what I’ve seen, a lot of people use marijuana very moderately to combat anxiety, relax a bit, make it easier to focus, make them feel more creative. I mean without a prescription. It affects people differently and some people seem to find it beneficial in small quantities. But it still isn’t appropriate for work because it’s long lasting and unpredictable.

        1. LQ*

          This might be a silly question, but aren’t those actually part of being high.
          It’s like the “I drink to loosen up” of pot. It’s just a little, and it might be true, but it is still a kind of intoxication. Just like all of the things you listed would be an effect of being a little bit intoxicated. I mean it isn’t being smashed out of your mind drunk and incoherently high. But a little to loosen up or a little to feel more creative are kind of the same variants of consuming the thing for it’s intoxicating effects.

          1. Anna*

            I would agree, but I think Confused is drawing a false distinction between casual use of alcohol versus casual use of pot. A lot of people do that because they’ve been socialized to see that there’s a difference.

            It reminds me of when a singer I like got busted for public intoxication and he had a very small amount of cocaine on him. A lot of his fans were convinced that meant he had a drug problem because we’ve all been taught you’re either a complete drug teetotaler OR an addict. There’s no in-between when it comes to illegal drugs. But you know, one drink after work is normal.

            1. Zip Zap*

              Yeah, I was thinking that it’s a false distinction. People have a lot of different perspectives on this, of course, but I think it’s fair to say that both substances are commonly used for intoxication and both can be used in moderation for reasons other than getting intoxicated. The definition of intoxication is also up for grabs. Some would say that if you use a small amount of a substance to feel more relaxed, that’s intoxication. Others would see if differently. But I think it’s reasonable for workplace policies to err on the side of caution; you don’t want people who might be intoxicated representing your business.

          2. many bells down*

            I don’t really know for sure as I don’t smoke myself, but… my daughter sometimes uses weed to relieve her anxiety. But if she gets actually *stoned*, she gets anxious and paranoid. So I think that there’s degrees. Like alcohol – one beer might make me mellow and relaxed but 5 will have me swinging topless from the chandelier.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I can definitely “feel” one drink, but doesn’t mean I’m drunk. Conversely, I can take three tokes and it wears off in an hour. (But I do not smoke during the day or I’d just be too sleepy, that’s just me).

  3. Zip Zap*

    #2 – I think the cleaner the break, the better. Do whatever it takes to make those last two weeks go as well as possible. Then distance yourself as much as possible. Don’t stay in touch with those co-workers on social media. Consider disconnecting with some of them on LinkedIn. And really focus on doing well at your new job. Maybe do something extra outside of work too like blogging or volunteering in your field. Anything to solidify your reputation. But that’s only if you’re concerned about it. I agree with Allison that the boss is probably known for this so it isn’t likely to be an issue.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes, so much this. And also note that in most cases you can’t volunteer for an organization that’s a for profit if doing so is functionally similar to being an unpaid employee. So even if that were a viable option (which it is not, and I think it’s a bad idea), it likely wouldn’t even be legal.

      OP#2, I worked at an organization that viciously trash-talked everyone who left, including people who had made amazing contributions, were fantastic coworkers, and who left on good terms. It was a really nasty and toxic workplace where people would sabotage high performers for “making them look bad” and then would actively try to get them to fail by withholding information, failing to show up, talking smack, and other low-grade work treachery. Thankfully, no one in the field took their complaints seriously because (1) organizations already knew those former employees by reputation, and their work spoke for itself; and (2) the organization was infamous for its dysfunction and culture of trash-talking former staff. I suspect that anyone in your field who knows your employers will also know to take their comments with a big piece of salt lick.

      1. JamieS*

        From the sounds of it I think the OP’s boss would be thrilled to have OP do work for free regardless of legality. I was surprised the OP’s spouse would suggest it though. That made me question if the organization is a non profit.

      2. Cassandra*

        I’m still being trash-talked by Toxic Ex-Job after over half a decade. Impact on my subsequent career? Nil.

        Believe me, I understand your worry, OP; it was my worry too. What I’ve noticed is that organizations with that level of petty spite tend to punch well below their weight class in the larger world. They don’t have nearly the influence we fear they do.

        Leave your workplace in the dust, and do your best not to think of it again. (I know, that’s a hard one!)

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Is the Op actually worried what the soon to be ex coworkers and boss are going to be saying or thinking more of what icky boss is going to tell prospective employers? I was thinking more the latter.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I assumed the latter, but in my experience, employers who know anything about your prior Toxic Boss don’t take those recommendations (or complaints) seriously during hiring.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I really don’t think it’s going to be a problem. Nobody believes what they say about the others, right?

      As to volunteering to avoid burning bridges, you’re forgetting who’s truly burning it. That’s one self-immolating bridge right there. Just get out whenever you can and don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.

      1. Zip Zap*

        Yeah, but if it’s a small field or if he’s higher profile, it could go beyond the organization and cause problems. He could have friends and business contacts who don’t know this is routine for him. I think it’s a use your judgment / trust your instincts sort of thing.

        1. Observer*

          That’s unlikely – he’s done this before, so either he’s talked this way to outsiders before and they know that he’s the problem, or he’s not talking to outsiders.

          1. Annonymouse*

            If the first person who left got trash talked you’re inclined to give the boss the benefit of a he doubt – depending on what his complaints are.

            E.G “He wanted to be paid 40k+ a year for being COO. What an ungrateful jerk!” = boss looks like a tool.

            “Bob left the company for a higher paying role with a different company. I guess he just wasn’t passionate enough about what we do here at Teapots Inc to stay.” = Bob looks kinda bad.

            But if the boss trashes EVERYONE who leaves it becomes very clear that he and/or the company is really the ass hat.

    3. Artemesia*

      This. Nothing you do will make him nicer. But putting an anchor around your neck by not making a clean break will just make you miserable and make failure at the new job more likely. You need to throw you energies into making a great impression and doing great work at your new job; don’t look back.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. This guy has already decided that nothing the employees do will satisfy him. He has decided to ream them from here to Tuesday no matter what.
        This is good to know. Because that means the next filter is you have to do what you think you need to do to live with yourself. Always, protect yourself, first and foremost. But realize with people like this you cannot stop them entirely, all you can do is damage control.
        Hopefully, this guy has built himself enough of a rep for being a potty mouth that not too many people listen to him any more.
        I hope you smile: My husband worked for a jerk for 8 years. He got out of that and went to Nice Company. Years later my husband met a temp employee who had also worked for Jerk Boss. The temp employee exclaimed, “You lasted EIGHT years with that dude?!” And he said it right in front of their Current Boss.
        Current Boss said nothing but he did smile. Reputation goes right around and people who think it doesn’t are sadly mistaken. Your need for a reference from this person will diminish quickly but his reputation will expand.

        1. Zip Zap*

          I agree, but on the other hand, some people seem to get away with more than others. I think it varies by industry too. From what I’ve seen, some place a higher value on conduct and others are more lenient. Hard to say without knowing the person and company.

    4. rj*

      yes OP! People (including former coworkers) will sometimes tell themselves untruths to make themselves feel better about continuing to work in toxic environments. It sucks but it sounds like you have a new opportunity and can make a clean break.

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, please don’t let Rebecca suck you in. And honestly, whether you stay or leave, I think it’s worth telling her directly that you’d prefer she not use your situation in her negotiations. Of course, don’t be hostile when letting her know, but it’s important to also be firm and not really dance around the issue or ignore it. Given that her tactics could easily backfire and cost you credibility with your company president (as you noted), you don’t want to give up control over your own fate in that way, you know?

    Don’t write a list of demands. Don’t let her suggest that you’re willing to quit unless those demands are met. And if you want to stay, also be clear that you’re not jumping ship with her to the other company.

    1. Artemesia*

      Having a co-worker use your name in this kind of situation and particularly with you providing a ‘list of demands’ is grossly unprofessional. I would be inclined to fire someone who behaved like this. It is really bad judgment and sort of middle school.

      Two people together could go to the boss together; but having her speak for you is a disaster. Even if the boss doesn’t do anything in particular against you in this circumstance it will damage your reputation. And when she speaks you have no control over your own message.

      1. Lance*

        Not to mention the big, fat trust issue residing here. What if she negotiates a counter-offer? What if she can’t negotiate an offer where the company takes in OP along with her, or an offer where OP gets a job they’d actually fit well? Then there still sits the list of demands, which OP will have to live with any backlash from.

        No, there’s no positive ending that will come out of going along with Rebecca’s little plan. Let her do her thing, and just take care of your own business.

        1. Antilles*

          Frankly, even if there was an ironclad reason for trusting the friend, it still wouldn’t matter. After all, the friend could go full out negotiating in full faith and honesty…and the other company still might not want to hire OP. Does the other company even need a new junior staff member? Do they have the finances to make it work? Does OP have the right skill set?

          1. Katelyn*

            Another consideration, does OP want to be known as Rebecca’s junior in the new place, with the baggage that comes along with that? (will she be able to move teams if a great role comes up, or will people not even consider her because she works for (not with) Rebecca?)

      2. Zip Zap*

        I agree. It’s really sketchy. I would distance myself from that person and be glad they were leaving.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. And honestly, if I thought the second person consented, I would probably let both of them go. This is why I think OP needs to say something to Rebecca (and may need to say something to the boss / president).

    2. Bagpuss*

      I agree. Tell her, clearly, that you appreciate her speaking to you, and wish her well, but you would prefer she not use your name and that you don’t wish to sign her list or be involved in her negotiations, and that you are not looking to move to a different company.

    3. sstabeler*

      I’d actually be inclined to notify my manager of Rebecca’s offer, and that I had refused it, just in case Rebecca tries to pull me in anyway.

        1. Annonymouse*

          I think not.

          OPs reputation and even their job could be put in jeopardy by going along or seeming to go along with Rebecca’s request.

          I’d tell Rebecca thank you for thinking of me however I’m happy to stay with the company I’d much rather handle my own negotiations and good luck with yours.

          Also after the meeting have a chat with the boss and lay it out:
          Rebecca said she wanted to negotiate with you and also wanted to negotiate for me while in the meeting. I told her I much prefer to speak and negotiate for myself but thank you for the offer. So in case she brought me up I want you to know that I didn’t agree to being used in her negotiations.

        2. Lori*

          I disagree. Rebecca is either clueless or manipulative. Either way, OP should protect herself from being tarred with the same brush. I’ve seen this in action. While I agree it’s middle school territory “even OP said so”, Rebecca will be gone and the bosses are going to see the OP as a malcontent or worse.

          At the very least, tell Rebecca to leave you out of it and figure out a way to let boss know this isn’t your battle.

          1. Isabelle*

            I also feel OP should protect herself. She doesn’t know how the company president is going to react to demands (!) from Rebecca, one possible outcome is Rebecca being fired on the spot. OP should stay as far away as possible from this potential trainwreck.

            We have no way of knowing whether Rebecca is a manipulator or just a decent person who has lost her bearings in a toxic workplace but this situation is potentially dangerous for OP.

        3. Mike C.*

          This is only going to prevent the coworker from being to negotiate at all. That sort of thing goes way too far.

          1. Infinity anon*

            I don’t see how it would prevent the coworker from negotiating. Telling the boss that the LW is not planning to leave should not at all affect the coworkers ability to negotiate unless she was planning to lie.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            How does this prevent the coworker from being able to negotiate? Her own concerns aren’t adequate for negotiation purposes?

          3. Annonymouse*

            I fail to see that.

            Rebecca has a job offer and is using that to get a counter offer at current job.

            If the current company wants to keep her then they’ll make a decent offer which has nothing to do with OP.

            Or are you saying OP is losing negotiation power? Because she can bring things up at her performance review where I assume raises are discussed.

            Also I don’t think there is a guaranteed job with Rebecca at the new company – going along with this could easily see OP out on her ass with no job at all.

            If OP needs to negotiate things then she’ll either do it at her review or if she gets a different job and her bosses make a counter offer

      1. Catalyst*

        I might consider going to the manager as soon as Rebecca has spoken with them and let them know that if she attempted to speak for you that you are not on board. I wouldn’t want to give up that she has an offer, but I would want to be proactive about making sure my manager does not believe I am on board with her ‘demands’.

        1. Mike C.*

          Only if you don’t sit there and also rat out the coworker for trying to improve upon her own lot.

          1. Infinity anon*

            How is it ratting out the coworker? In this instance the LW would talk to her boss after Rebecca told them about the other offer. Rebecca can still negotiate for a counter offer, but not draw in the LW.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            This is weirdly hostile. Rebecca is inappropriately crossing boundaries. If the OP asks her not to, and she does it anyway, how is letting her manager know that it was done without her consent “ratting out” her coworker?

          3. Annonymouse*

            Also it’s not “ratting out” if she talks afterwards.

            This isn’t about OP being jealous someone is leaving or trying to better their situation. This is about OP controlling her work reputation and future.

            I’m confused by your stance here.

            It’s not OK for OP to talk to the bosses about not agreeing to have someone else negotiate on her behalf because it involves mentioning Rebecca.

            But it’s ok for Rebecca to negotiate for OP even though she has no standing to do so?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s easy to think, oh this is like negotiations unions do. No. NOT at all. This is not any where near a similar concept. Someone is speaking for you and they have no legal obligation to represent your best interests. If she negotiates poorly then you have no recourse. Just like you would not hand a person your credit card, we can’t hand our autonomy at work over to a random person either.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, this is all very odd. It’s not like Rebecca is OP’s exclusive team leader, offering to take her with her if she goes and willing to toss in “if I stay, I want raises for my team” if the company counter offers and she stays.

        I could see Rebecca framing this to herself as trying to help OP out, via more money at a new job or this one if all the pieces land heads. But I’m really not seeing that as a likely outcome, much less a guaranteed one.

    5. Lora*

      Also: this is not how managers who want to take people with them to new jobs do it.

      There’s two people working for me now who, if in the fullness of time, I should go elsewhere for work, I would absolutely want to take them with me. They are good, they are trained just how I want them, they are super-professional and have wonderful attitudes, I like them a lot. However, the way to do that is to say to NewJob at the second interview, “how many FTEs would be reporting to me? I need two more.” And then when I announce my future plans to OldJob, quietly have a word with them that there’s a job waiting for them at the new place if they would like one.

      Because, as you point out, they may not want to work at NewJob. They may want to transfer to a different department, maybe take over some of the things I was doing and try to move up, etc. They may have their own plans.

      1. Specialk9*

        Rebecca is acting outside the norm, and it is most likely to blowback on you. Be really clear (while using generous social leavening – thanks, how kind) that you are not planning on leaving and she shouldn’t speak for you.

        Then go to your manager, give them a quick summary and say she’s not authorized to talk for you.

        Then write yourself an email, from work to personal, summarizing the conversation you had with each person, including dates and times. That way you have a record work can trust, and one you have access to.

        1. Aunt Margie at Work*

          This, This and THIS.
          Just because you are invited to a battle does not mean you have to participate. This is so not normal. Don’t find a way to act normally in it or react normally to it. Walk away politely and CYA quickly and professionally. I cannot stress enough how Not Done this is.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I am not too sure that OP has to do that much.
          I have had good success with saying to a cohort, “If you do X, then I will do Y.” And that pretty much shuts down undesirable activity. In OP’s setting that can look like, “If you involve me in your negotiations then I will tell the boss that I am not interested in any of that and no one has been authorized to speak for me.”
          It works because the cohort knows that they cannot count on me to play along.

      2. Antilles*

        Yep. Unless you’re very senior (like, Chief ___ Officer level), you usually can’t just bring people with you. Rebecca can put in a good word for OP and strongly suggest the new company consider them, but it’s in no way certain – and certainly not reliable enough for OP to use as a strategy to draw a counter-offer.

      3. Ama*

        I did once have a boss leave a job who would have gladly taken me with him, but the new job was in another city more than an hour’s commute from where I lived and an equivalent position at the new institution (a state university) required taking the civil servants’ exam and might have wound up seriously delayed or not happening because of the way the exams were scheduled. He was up front about all of this and offered to help me look into it if I really was interested, but also was clear that he totally understood if I chose to stay (which I did). There was no pressure involved and he didn’t even mention the possibility to me until his new position was already a done deal.

    6. TootsNYC*

      The one thing Alison didn’t do was suggest a script to use with Rebecca.

      “I appreciate that you want to look out for me, but please don’t mention me during your negotiations with the company. [I prefer to speak for myself.] [I’d rather not complicate things that way.] [It’s best if we act independently.] I wish you the best at your new place.”

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I am happy to be contradicted on this, but OP#5, I don’t think MOOC certificates are helpful, nor do I think they should be listed on a resume. To me, this is the same as taking University extension or summer courses post-bachelor’s, and most employers I know do not see that as a “plus” (it also raises questions about why the applicant thinks it’s important enough to dedicate valuable resume real estate to talking about it).

    Certificates related to specific training in a core issue area in your field are helpful (e.g., certain professional certifications). But I don’t think MOOCs offer any competitive “edge” on your resume, even if you’re listing them to demonstrate competency in a specific skill-set or subject area.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I can imagine some situations in which listing them might be useful, e.g. if you’re in a field where you need to demonstrate a range of ongoing professional development, but I wouldn’t bother paying for the certificates.

      1. Mike C.*

        Same here, seeing all those ads for coding camps (that are now shutting down) and “nanodegrees” really reeks of a scam to me.

        1. Artemesia*

          I know two people who transformed their lives with coding immersion programs. One was a chef with no coding experience who had tripled her income and had great steady jobs with benefits since. The other also made a transition from a non tech field, retail, to a solid job with benefits. These kinds of programs tend to fish out the local pond after a few years and they are expensive to run, but they have certainly made a new career possible for many people.

          1. Zip Zap*

            Yes, but employers want to see the actual code and the products you’ve built. They don’t care where you learned those skills unless it was part of a relevant job or traditional degree program. MOOCs are seen as similar to being self-taught. They’re OK to mention in an interview because completing one requires motivation and self-discipline. They don’t belong on a resume.

            1. Zip Zap*

              Sorry, I meant to add that code boot camps are similar. They’re not impressive enough to put on a resume unless there’s a specific connection to the job (for example if your teacher works there). And even then, you’re probably better off just listing your skills, projects, and accomplishments.

              1. Infinity anon*

                I fully agree. I did a coding boot camp that was incredibly helpful, but I would not put it on my resume or CV. Instead I list proficiency in Python and if asked talk about the projects where I used it and can show sample code or take a coding test.

          2. Mike C.*

            And there are many, many more examples of fly by night companies looking for a quick buck at the expense of people who don’t have much.

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            I also feel like they kind of helped me when I was last job searching, by just being able to say while not working, I was able to advance my skill in X and X.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes; I think it’s extremely predatory and misleading, particularly to vulnerable workers who are transitioning from one career field to another.

    2. TL -*

      Extension courses can certainly be helpful in academia/biotech, as in “I had an interest in immunology, took a class in it and now have the background knowledge to work in an immuno lab”
      But I would guess that most fields don’t work like that! :)

      1. TL -*

        (I should clarify; they’re helpful at certain levels and they’re not going to get you a job you’re not qualified for. They’ll just help.)

        1. Lora*

          Yeah, even then it’s only useful for a technician type role. For anything higher than that it’s sort of, “oh…that’s nice.” And those type of things won’t give you the hardcore lab work you need to do well, it’s more intended for teaching Molecular Bio 201 to someone whose background is engineering, or teaching Fluid Mechanics to someone whose background is biology. Just to kind of catch them up to their counterparts in other departments whom they work with regularly, so they can understand each other better.

            1. Lora*

              One of my co-workers whose degree was in old-fashioned ChemEng (waste remediation, plant designs for paper mills) took one of those classes and marched into the office one day and demanded, “did you know that DNA is in like…EVERYTHING?” I asked him, how did you think things happened? He wasn’t sure, he figured that was someone else’s problem. He just had to figure out how to manage wastewater…

              1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

                Like when your kid comes home from college at Thanksgiving. “Did you know…?”

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Sure :) But in academia, you usually provide your transcripts or list your relevant coursework. I think for non-academic positions, it’s not common/normal to list your coursework (which is effectively what MOOC certificates are) in your resume. If they were particularly important, you could add them as an addendum to your application packet.

    3. Beatrice*

      I have a small team of business analysts, and would see some MOOCs related to data science as a positive. This is because:
      1. Data science, at least the coding and basic statistics part has elements have right/wrong answers, so the course says at least something
      2. Machine learning is a nice to have for the roles I hire for, so it is a good way for candidates to show interest, capacity for learning, and having an overview of the basics – which can sometimes be enough to tip someone over the bar.

      1. Data Nerd*

        Yup, this is my perspective as well. Data science is also a burgeoning field without accredited college majors outside of the more traditional Stats and Math. Without online resources, many people including myself would have a hard time pivoting from another quantitative major and background.

      2. Liz*

        Funnily enough, my entire team is currently doing an online Data Science certificate from a University extension! We’re using it as a professional qualification, so the HR folks know we’re qualified to do what we already do, and to pick up some new skills along the way.

      3. Mike C.*

        You need much more than an extension course to learn Data Science. That field requires some hard core mathematics. A MOOC isn’t going to cover that well at all.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          This is what bothers me about MOOCs in general. Whether it’s a 4-week course or a 12-month series ending in a specialization certificate or nanodegree or whatever, the programs seem to be geared towards producing keyboard jockeys. I want to learn the equivalent of the 4-year degree in something first, without all the non-subject electives, then the on-the-job type skills the MOOCs promote. But I’m weird.

          1. Liz*

            That seems to be the best route. By that point, you’ve got some practical knowledge of how to apply the new skills and processes you can actually improve. The MOOCs/extension courses act as a kickstart (for you) or a piece of paper (for the HR folks). I mean, I’ve taken a bunch of programming courses to help me understand concepts better, but I would never in a million years call myself a programmer.

        2. Kate*

          This. I actually attended a lecture on “The State of Data Science Education” the other day that discussed the emerging trend of master’s degree programs for data science because the field is actually really, really broad, and these are two year programs contingent on applicants already having a lot of quantitative and programming skills. My experience with MOOC’s is that they tend to teach fairly basic statistics in some program language, but not so much in the realm of actually interpreting results to be applied in a business sense (again, this is just my experience, so maybe I just haven’t come across the good ones). I think looking for MOOC’s for some specific skill can be OK (I’m thinking like IT security training or something) or if you are just looking for someone who might have *some* knowledge of a particular area, but I don’t see these as a huge asset in making someone an expert in the field.

    4. Quirk*

      I once had to interview some new computer science graduates, and one of them – who was top-notch academically – was taking various courses on Coursera post-university. I think some of them were coding languages. I’m in tech, and learning on the job or in your spare time is critical, but you seldom get the chance to learn in any kind of structured way, you’re generally scavenging from whatever resources you can find. My reaction was toward the direction of mild scepticism and concern that he needed an academic environment to prosper. This was reinforced by his interest in what he could learn in our little company; I was rather more interested in the practicalities of what he could do for us. I ended up recommending another candidate, less academically gifted, but who arrived ready to show off various projects and pieces of groupwork and talk about them and navigating the difficulties of working in a team.

      So I guess for me this would be a small red flag with a candidate. This could vary by field but I’d much rather see that you have an open source project on github, even a tiny little one, than a certificate saying you can program in the language.

      1. CM*

        I think listing online courses on your resume, or mentioning them in an interview, is useful if the context is, “I’m trying to build my skills in X / I’m interested enough in X that I’m seeking out resources to learn more about it.” But as pointed out by Quirk here, it’s not a substitute for experience. So I think a certification isn’t necessary. The fact that you’ve taken the class is enough to show that you’re making an effort to learn more, and you should expand on that by also listing related work/projects you’ve done.

      2. Specialk9*

        I get why you wished he had focused more on you and your needs rather than his (though I think this is super common in young people especially).

        But I don’t understand why his shoring up knowledge from a formal knowledge source instead of scavenging randomly was a bad sign. I would think you cared about the knowledge and dedication to ongoing learning more than the platform. And a formal learning platform seems more likely to be vetted, and so is better quality, than random scrounging. What am I missing in your thought process?

        1. gwal*

          I think this person, Quirk, is arguing that relying on a formalized training/education platform makes a prospective employee look like they are not a “self-starter” or “go-getter” capable of active learning without being propped up externally. Not that I agree with the characterization, but it’s good to know that some hiring managers see it this way.

          1. Agnes*

            Which is weird. Because I would think that would indicate they have the meta-self-starter-ness (to coin a phrase) to not only scrounge, but actually look at getting the skills in the most efficient, quality way possible. I can understand valuing experience/products more – that makes sense – but to argue that digging around on the internet provides better knowledge than systematically studying something?

            1. Myrin*

              Yeah, I read it the same way as gwal and had the same reaction as you.

              Now to be fair, I’m probably one of the people Quirk thinks about when she says they “need an academic environment to prosper” – I’m super ambitious on the one hand but quite lazy on the weird other hand. When I start out to learn something new, I feel more comfortable doing so in a group (and if it’s a group that’s accredited in some way, even better!) because if this new thing isn’t something that I need, I’ll probably stop doing it halfway because I lose my motivation which is something I can’t do if I’m actually taking part in a course of some sort. I’ve never thought that that’s something a potential employer would glean from a simple look at my CV, though.

              But it’s still weird to me that “scavenging from whatever resources you can find” > “the chance to learn in any kind of structured way”; that seems very counter-intuitive to me. To be fair, though, I’ve heard sometimes that my country places a surprising (to foreigners) amount of weight on certifications and thelike so I might be culturally influenced in an unusual direction.

              1. Friday Night*

                I work in an academic environment, where I’m constantly ‘scavenging’ knowledge to get my projects both funded and then completed. I also really enjoy MOOCs and I often use them to jump start my learning when I’m starting a project in a new area. That said – unless you had a narrative that included the MOOC, I wouldn’t put it on a resume or even a CV.

                If you’re going to include a MOOC it should be in the context of – I was really interested in Q thing that is related (or semi-related) to the job. I took the course and it helped me find the tools and skills to do R project to start with – I might like to do S, T, and U – or maybe even V (where S, T, U and V are things that might be relate to the job/research area you’re applying for)
                If you do that, you’ve just demonstrated that you can translate course-based learning into real world projects, and that is awesome. Otherwise you’re just demonstrating that you like to take courses, and I’m wary of people who may need to be spoon-fed their project anytime there’s any new application.

                I’ve worked with a number of people who claim that they were never ‘taught’ concept A, when in reality, they were… it’s just that A is applied to a slightly different context then the academic environment where they learned it.

                1. Sarah*

                  I think this is a great point. A MOOC could definitely be brought up in an interview in talking about how one got interested in a topic, or got some skills to produce a project, or whatever, but it should be tied to those broader and more important things. I really remember that transition in school where it was like “I need to find out how to do X statistical model, but oh, I’m not going to sign up for a class on it, I’m going to find a few textbooks that cover it, play around w/ my data and statistical software a bunch, and talk things through with some other people to make sure I’m not way off base in how I’m interpreting this.” Because in a job, you’re not always going to be able to take the class, most often you need to be able to figure it out in other ways. I don’t think it’s bad to ALSO use the class as one resource if it’s available to you, but I agree I might worry about someone who ONLY felt comfortable with that format of gaining new skills. (Obviously it does depend on the field, but at least in my field taking a class is just not always going to be a good option.)

              2. Tau*

                I think a thing that may be confusing to non-tech people here is that in tech, “scavenging knowledge from whatever resources you can find” is a crucially important skill in the actual job. Seriously, I’d say around 90% of my actual work consists of “okay, I am having this absurdly specialised problem in an absurdly specialised context and can’t figure out what’s wrong – let’s trawl through Google hits, skim all the things that look as if they’re in the same ballpark and see if I can combine it into something useful.” I literally could not do my job without being able to do this well, and it’s not a skill that tends to get fostered in these sorts of courses.

                As a result, I can understand people seeing yellow flags if there’s no evidence of self-determined learning, and those flags turning red if it looks like a candidate has gone out of their way to avoid it or doesn’t understand that they’re missing something.

                1. stej*

                  This is very true. It is also true that when I first pivoted into more of a tech role, I was concerned that my Googling skills meant that I was actually less qualified for the role, because surely everyone else just knew this stuff, right?

                  Along with that, a project shows that you dug into the grittiness of stupid bugs and weird error messages that comes with actually making something. Courses are great as a starter, as I did one too, but having something to point at even if it is not a big crazy thing will only help. There are countless times I’ve walked away from a class thinking “I got this” and then trying to do the most basic things showed me that I most certainly did not “got this”.

            2. Specialk9*

              Thanks, Agnes, that was my read. Taking a class from Coursera or other online training is the height of self starting and independent learning. Someone says, you know what, I’m not as up in this concept as I’d like to be, let me go brush up. Then instead of reading random blogs or a Dummy book, they go find a vetted university course and use self discipline to work through the course.

              If someone is to be dinged for that whole process, well, I mean, lucky rejected job applicant?

            3. Quirk*

              That’s kind of the point. By the point of graduation they should be aware that this is not an efficient way of getting the technical skills.

              There’s a lot more information in a book, or the internet, than there is in a course. Much of it is irrelevant, so having the ability to scan through large quantities of data rapidly and learn the bits that are of use to you in your current situation is vital. This is the real meta-skill of my profession.

              Courses teach basics in a plodding fashion. They tend to cover areas you’ve learned elsewhere in painful detail. People who have the meta-skill generally don’t resort to courses unless they genuinely don’t have even the basics of the field, and even then they may prefer the denser information transfer of a book.

          2. Kalamet*

            This is my two cents as someone in tech, but academic versus non-academic is an important distinction when it comes to software development. Most courses and code camps are geared towards “learning to code” or picking up a particular languages, but completely ignore software development methodology in a corporate environment.

            This does not mean that the courses are useless or that focusing on programming language training is bad. In fact, it’s often enough to get your foot in the door for entry level jobs. The problem is, advancement in tech means you need to graduate from writing flashy bits of code to designing good, sustainable software applications. Colleges and boot camps, 9 times out of 10, don’t provide this kind of background. A developer at the 3-5 year mark will get much more out of learning code quality, performance, and architecture than from taking coding courses.

        2. Quirk*

          So I feel I should clarify a little more, since this seems to have blown up.

          Programming languages are taught well by pretty much… nobody, in my experience. A great majority of academics seem to be really bad coders. I co-founded a startup with someone who taught C at a university which had a prestigious Computer Science department, years ago. To say his code was less than production quality would be putting it kindly. Academics who don’t teach a language are frequently even worse.

          But, and this may be the more important point, nobody teaches more than the basics. It’s like learning French, but there are no courses beyond French 101, and all the fluent French speakers out there learned from experience. Worse, French 101 spends most of its time defining what grammar is, which has a huge overlap with Spanish 101. If you tell me you speak French and are learning Spanish, and on closer examination I find out you’ve done French 101 and are signed up for Spanish 101, my concern is: you know you need to have conversations, right? You aren’t going to get competent without actual practice. More than this, you should know by now that French 101 doesn’t cover very much, and that I’m going to expect much more from you than that, and you don’t want to give the impression that you think French 101 gives you actual proficiency.

          The learning environment that represents the day job is unstructured, and the topics are advanced. I want evidence of learning advanced topics in an unstructured environment, not proof of having completed the basics.

          1. Genny*

            This response makes a lot of sense. I was skeptical of your first comment too, but yeah, I would be concerned about someone who was enrolling in multiple basic foreign language courses. It would indicate that they either don’t know what skills they actually need for their field (very few places that are looking for language skills are looking for such basic levels) or prefer the mile wide/inch deep method of learning (nothing wrong with this and I tend to fall into this category, but it could be problematic for some jobs that require depth of knowledge).

      3. Mike C.*

        It’s one thing to want to see practical projects, but it’s quite another to be skeptical of a formal learning environment.

        1. Kalamet*

          I think the real issue with most online programming courses is that they are crash courses – they’ll give you enough of an intro to something to become a launching pad, but will rarely stray into abstract concepts or complicated real-world examples. They are great tools for picking up a new skill. But if I’m talking to a mid-level developer, I expect to see some interest in learning advanced topics (see my post above) that can be applied to any programming language.

          Right now I’m neck-deep in developers who can’t write files where all the blocks line up, let alone a clean readable architecture from the ground up. Online courses are great in that they provide accessibility to the industry, but of those courses only cover 20% of the job.

      4. Artemesia*

        Interesting. The genius I know in tech can learn a new language in an afternoon when he needs it. I am familiar with people who need a degree to change their lives and think there is something to the idea that the need for academic structure at some point is possibly a read flag. A person totally changing direction probably needs a course — but a person in a field ought to be able to learn and grow as they go and need to know new things. I have always kind of laughed at people with multiple PhDs; I have never met one who was very smart. If you have a PhD you ought to be able to have the tools to learn anything you want to know or need to know. (unless I suppose you have decided to pursue nuclear physics after a doctorate in American literature)

        1. Specialk9*

          I have met some wicked dumb PhDs… And some wicked smart ones. It seems mostly like an endurance test for long drawn out poverty. :)

          1. Lora*

            Also for a near-infinite capacity for being treated like crap and overworked. “This semester, you’ll be teaching the General Education sections…” What, all of them? “Well [other grad student] left, and [another grad student] is taking time off to write up, and nobody in [famous lab] ever teaches, so yeah. Also, you’re now the safety officer for the department, congratulations.”

        2. gwal*

          Do hiring managers look exclusively for geniuses these days? That seems an unreasonably high bar to be applying to prospective employees.

          Also, how often are you meeting multiple-PhD holders? From my understanding (many many coworkers, spouse, friends having completed the process, and having enrolled in a program but left early due to funding constraints myself), PhDs are very little about book-learning and very much about conducting research. While the concept of earning more than one PhD in a lifetime seems a little overkill, it’s hardly the frequent refuge of the not-so-smart.

          1. TL -*

            A PhD is about training yourself to think in a manner that allows you to conduct rigorous research in your field.
            The manner of thinking various highly from field to field and it is a type of training that is extremely difficult to get elsewhere. I don’t know anyone with two PhDs but if you went from biochemistry to American literature it would make sense, I suppose.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I read it this way and agree with you, Artemesia, on the need in some industries to be able to learn/self-teach on the fly and in an unstructured environment.

    5. AI Software Lady*

      My employer values and actually prioritizes hirees who continue learning. For developers and data scientists, a lot of those Coursera classes are extremely useful crash courses on a subject and we actively seek out people who have taken these. There are specialty courses related to Artificial Intelligence data science which aren’t widely available at universities.

      1. krysb*

        As a manager, I’d be more likely to promote someone who takes even this kind of development course because it shows initiative – which is severely lacking in my direct reports.

      2. serenity*

        Totally agree, and I think this is strongly field-dependent as well. I work in a field where lifelong learning and professional development are both highly prized so I’m taken aback by the folks who are roundly dismissing this.

        Also, it’s worth noting that MOOCs, graduate-level certificates, and micro- or nanocredentials are all different things and shouldn’t be lumped together (not everyone does that, but I definitely see some blurring of lines in what some people have said). The rigor and reputation of the course or program is also really dependent on the school or institution. It would be a mistake to take a MOOC run by *anonymous school* and compare it with one offered by, say, EdX, which is a joint Harvard/MIT partnership (those courses are usually developed closely with faculty and learning engineers. I don’t think any old MOOC is equivalent to that, IMHO).

  6. PM Jesper Berg*

    LW1: without going into the specifics of your situation, it’s not uncommon at professional service firms to have partner-level employees leave and take a bunch of junior employees with them. In this case, it’s a good sign that Rebecca has asked what you would want in terms of compensation (and I suspect that, rather than organizational behavior questions, is what she’s getting at when she asks for a list of your demands).

    1. PM Jesper Berg*

      Upon re-reading the article, I missed a key fact — namely, that Rebecca isn’t seeking your compensation requirements to join the new firm, but rather wants to approach the leadership of your existing firm for a counteroffer.

      I’d agree with others’ advice above that you’re better off staying out of this counteroffer dance, especially if you don’t intend to follow Rebecca to the new firm.

      1. SignalLost*

        And has the other firm even extended OP an offer? I’ve missed something maybe, but it sounds like if this goes badly (as holding a gun to one’s employer’s head can) OP is high and dry.

        1. Myrin*

          Not only that, but OP explicitly states: “I don’t want to work at our competitor”. I’m a bit puzzled about why she even considers getting involved in this if the end goal (getting both her and Rebecca to work at the other firm) isn’t something she shares.

          1. MK*

            The end goal is not necessarily that; Rebecca wants to negotiate a counter offer. I assume the OP would not be against getting some advantages out of that, but it is very risky.

        2. MK*

          Sometimes high-level hires can bring their own team to a new job. That always seemed to me to create a weird dynamic between the employer and the team, in that the high-level hire was a sort of middleman in their relationship.

          1. Zip Zap*

            I have seen that happen. Sometimes they slowly downsize the existing team and replace them with people from their previous team. It can create a bad dynamic, especially if the new people get priority for promotion or any other kind of preferential treatment. Companies should watch out for that kind of thing.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Yeah, so that’s after the manager leaves her current job and has gotten settled in the new job. This seems like Rebecca is only interviewing with the competitor to give current employer an ultimatum, which isn’t good in my book.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          It sounds like Rebecca has negotiated herself out onto a plank, and then thought of hauling OP out there too to give herself more leverage.

          It’s possible that there’s a circling speedboat down there ready to scoop them up with massive pay raises, but it doesn’t sound reliable.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. Rebecca sounds like a weak negotiator and someone who wants you in the same boat for her own uses. I well remember someone who used my name when trying to negotiate a new program; I was furious as it damaged my reputation. I had taken no for an answer from the top leadership in this area; I thought what we wanted to do was a good idea and their reasons for not supporting it were stupid BUT they had made a decision and I respected that. When this person took another run and implied I had authorized it, all it did was damage all of our reputations, but she was already not well regarded; that is why she tried to imply I was part of the effort. Don’t let anyone use your name every unless you control the communication and clarify if she does that you did not authorize it. Although you never get dog crap off your shoe unfortunately.

  7. Coffee*

    3. I don’t think “everyone else does a prohibited activity at lunch, so why can’t I do one too” is going to be a solid argument with your bosses.

    1. autumnwood*

      Exactly this. My perception could be slightly skewed as I just spent 2 weeks with 30+ 7-12 year-olds where, “He did it too!!! Why am *I* the only one who gets in trouble?” was the standard, incorrect, and irritating defense. Don’t use poor choices made by others as justification for making your own poor choices.

      1. Liane*

        “All my co-workers spend their breaks & lunches posting on social media and writing blogs which is fine with our company. But I am not allowed to send phishing emails from my personal email, even though I am writing on my computer like they are. So. Not. Fair!”

          1. Observer*

            Well, one is legal and the other is not.

            And despite Oregon law, marijuana is still not legal on a Federal level.

            1. Software Validation Engineer*

              Yeah, but Liane’s example is legal and innocuous, versus illegal and hurts others.

              1. gwal*

                technically it’s using the ill-gotten information that hurts others, not just requesting it in illegal ways

    2. Paul*


      I’m amazed that having multiple drinks at lunch, on a regular basis, hasn’t gotten people fired there though.

      OP, in most states, it is legal for employers to screen for damn near anything (including booze) and fire people over it. And they’re not required to screen for everything. Theoretically it would be legal for them to not care at all about pot, but fire people for drinking.

      1. Allison*

        Yup. I’ve occasionally been tempted to drink a glass of wine with lunch during the workday, but I’d never do it at the restaurant near the office, where someone could see me and report back to my boss. We’re a fairly relaxed culture, but it’s just not worth the risk, even if it does pair nicely with my pasta dish.

    3. Goreygal*

      Exactly. I think that’s a strange mindset to have and an illustration of how unhealthy culture takes hold of an organisation? OP isn’t concerned his colleagues are under the influence in work; he wants to join in but is miffed their “tipple of choice” isn’t available. I’m not breathalysed after lunch to make sure I haven’t been drinking because my boss treats me like a trustworthy adult; but if anything bad happened workwise (e.g. I spoke inappropriately to a client or colleague) you can bet if it was discovered I had been drinking during lunch I’d be sacked immediately.

    4. Anon for This*

      I agree that her line of argument is flawed. That said, I believe she is also reacting to the fact that she can’t use marijuana *outside of work* (not just at lunch.)

      She says: “Is this even legal, as these coworkers are all under the influence upon returning to work, yet I am ostracized and forced to fear for my job if I partake in an equally legal substance even OFF the job?”

      Legalities aside, I imagine it rankles to see coworkers drinking during lunch when she can’t use marijuana even on the weekends because of the differences in testing. My employer does random hair tests, which means even a sabbatical is not safe — even though it’s legal in our state (and numerous other countries.)

      1. Artemesia*

        I am totally sympathetic to the ‘off the job’ part. What she does on the weekend should not be the job’s business, but LUNCH? Ridiculous. It is unfortunate that pot is detectable for weeks after using long after any effects have worn off.

    5. Susanne*

      It reminds me, in a way, of “But she gets to wear whatever footwear she likes even though it’s out of the company dress code, so why shouldn’t we, too?” (the intern petition thread)

  8. JamieS*

    Re: #3, will a person be high or “under the influence” to the point of a noticeable change in behavior after 1 joint? If so, leaving out what is and isn’t fair and state vs federal law that’d be a distinct difference between smoking pot and having a cocktail at lunch.

    Most people who are experienced drinkers aren’t going to be under the influence to the point anyone else would detect a difference after 1 drink. Thpse having 2 drinks are probably pushing it. Given the policy I assume if coworkers came stumbling in drunk they’d be fired or otherwise disciplined.

      1. TL -*

        Most people, however, will feel the effect of 2 drinks. It might not be enough that they realize they’re under the influence to some degree, but it does affect them.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        They might have more effect than you realise. Many people underestimate the effects of alcohol on things like critical thinking and concentration.

        1. Mookie*

          Yes. In my experience, functional binge drinkers kind of fail a lot at functioning, too, when you look closely enough. Rote work is often the last to be compromised, but impairment happens a lot earlier than that.

        2. Zip Zap*

          Yes, a lot of people under-estimate the effects of alcohol on themselves because alcohol impairs your perception of such things. And the effects can be subtle but still have consequences.

      3. MK*

        That would depend on the drinks. Two glasses of wine consumed with food would not have much of an effect, while two whiskeys would. Cocktails are tricky, because they have many ingredients, and some of them contain very little alcohol, while others are pretty strong. Also, it depends how they are mixed; I know people who specifically ask the bartender to make them a “light” version of the cocktail.

        1. Paul*

          yeah, cocktails are all over the map. There’s a difference between a cosmo and a long island iced tea.

        2. Close Bracket*

          Assuming standard serving sizes of whiskey and wine, they have the same amount of alcohol. Now, if you are comparing two 6 oz glasses of wine to two 6 oz glasses of whiskey, then yeah, the two glasses of whiskey will have a much larger effect.

          1. TL -*

            Yup! And a lot of people pour oversize wine servings so you might be getting more than two drinks without realizing it.

          2. MK*

            Standard is relative. Ordering​ a whiskey in my country will get you twice the amount of drink that it would in the UK, for example. Though I have found that a glass of wine is pretty standard in most countries.

            1. Mookie*

              Which also explains why the recommended maximum units per day and per week vary from country to country.

      4. Fiennes*

        One drink would do about zero to me, assuming I’d eaten a normal amount that day. Two drinks? I’m going to feel that. It might or might not get me tipsy but it would almost certainly affect my concentration. My judgment might be fine, but I doubt I’d be able to focus enough to employ it.

        I don’t smoke weed, so I don’t know from firsthand experience, but from the outside it looks like even moderate consumption affects concentration more than a roughly equivalent amount of alcohol. True or false?

    1. SignalLost*

      I’m allergic to marijuana. I’m going to notice the smell, and it will impact me badly. I can’t comment on whether someone with an alcohol allergy would notice the smell of a cocktail and be impacted, but even beyond the impact to the self, one has more of a ranged impact on others than the other does.

      1. Gaia*

        You’ll notice the smell if it is smoked. Many people here use edibles which won’t have a smell for you to notice.

        1. SignalLost*

          I assumed that was so obvious it didn’t need to be said. OP specifically asks why she can’t smoke pot, not why she can’t eat some on the sly when her coworkers aren’t looking.

          1. Gaia*

            While the OP mentions smoking, that isn’t the only way to consume pot and therefore it is worth mentioning.

            In addition, it is possible to go through motions to remove the smell even if it is smoked. I am very sensitive to the smell (I haven’t been tested for an allergy so I won’t call it that but the symptoms are the same) and my friend smokes and I have never noticed a smell on her even when she smokes while we’re out. I know cigarette smokers that are the same. They stand up wind, change their jacket before coming back in, use strains with lighter scents, etc.

            1. TL -*

              I am allergic to cigarette smoke and removing jackets, standing upwind, using a lighter scent has never worked for me. I once had a coworker give me a headache because they’d sat next to a smoker on their bus ride (the smoker hadn’t been smoking but I could still smell it on my poor coworker more than an hour later.) If I’ve had a lot of exposure recently, I’ll start sneezing before I notice the smell.

              I’m not allergic to pot smoke and I haven’t noticed it lingering as long, so it might be more effective to change jackets, ect…

              1. fposte*

                But I think you run into the confirmation bias problem here–you don’t know any times it *has* worked, because you didn’t notice.

                1. TL -*

                  Sure! But I know I’ve noticed a lot when other people around me haven’t.
                  And the few people I know have used those tactics – they haven’t worked. (To be fair, they were heavy smokers though.)
                  I’ve never been surprised to find out someone smokes/lives with a smoker but that data set is very small.

                2. fposte*

                  @TL–yeah, I agree that it’s absolutely possible. I just felt there was a flaw in your research design :-).

                3. TL -*

                  Actually, I lied! There was one guy at my first workplace who didn’t smell like smoke at all and he had a cigarette every day at work. So…it can be done. Most people I’ve noticed it on think they’re better at hiding the smell than they are, though.

        2. Mirax*

          I would definitely object to someone popping an edible during lunchtime. I live in a place where it’s legal, and every time I’ve had an edible, it takes 2-3 hours for me to start feeling the effects–in other words, when I’d have been back on the clock for a while.

          1. Gaia*

            It definitely varies by person and by the specific edible. I think it is a ‘know your own path’ kinda thing.

          2. Anon for this*

            This is actually where the crux is for me. Assuming familiarity with the drug in question, lunch drinks and lunch tokes do not have the same impact on a person’s afternoon.

            With alcohol, the body metabolizes roughly 1 drink per hour, meaning that one hour after drinking a beer, that alcohol is no longer in the system. (YMMV due to body size, drink size, lunch size, etc)

            But with pot, that high lasts a lot longer than 1 hour. I’m not even talking about how long it still shows up in testing, which is ages because it gets stored in fat; I’m talking about how long it’s still affecting you in the right now.

      2. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

        I don’t have an alcohol allergy but don’t react well. Smelling it and being around it is fine. Consuming it is the problem, and I can’t accidentally inhale a beer.

        Out of curiosity about marijuana allergies, is being around edibles problematic for you?

        1. SignalLost*

          If it were, I wouldn’t be able to be around half my friends. I would love to be allergic to pot evangelists, though – the kind of people who insist you should try it anyway because it’s so great.

      3. JamieS*

        I don’t know for sure but I don’t think a person who’s allergic to alcohol would have a stronger sense of smell than someone who isn’t allergic so if they notice I’d assume the culprit would probably fall under the category of “stumbling in drunk”.

        1. teclatrans*

          Alcohol makes me ill, and I can smell hard alcohol in a glass a few feet away & be made queasy, and same for smelling it on my husband’s breath. But unless they’ve spilled it on themselves, I think co-workers would be fine do long as they weren’t mouth-breathing or talking while very close to me. Cigarette smoke sticks to fabric and hair (including facial hair and nose hair), and so tends to be more irritating from further away. I have no idea whether pot smoke would have be similar, but I suspect so. Edibles would be fine, I am sure, from an olfactory perspective.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I smell alcohol in the sweat of people who have been drinking. To me it’s quite noticeable after one drink.

          1. TL -*

            If you’re sweating alcohol you’re drinking way, way more than is advisable. Moderate consumption should not put that much alcohol in your system (and even if it did, it would take hours for the one drink to be converted into sweat.)

            1. SignalLost*

              It could be that FD has an allergy or aversion to alcohol, though. Things I am allergic to smell much, much stronger to me than to the average bear. It can make your average Italian restaurant hell on wheels for me, and herb gardens are deeply unpleasant. (I had a lot of allergy shots when I was a kid so I don’t get life-threatening reactions, but I had a tiny pot of half-dead cilantro in my car once for twenty minutes with the windows down; my mother could barely smell it in a closed room and I smelled it in my car for four days despite always having the windows down because it was summer and I had no A/C.)

        3. Specialk9*

          JamieS, sadly that’s exactly how it works – scent allergies make one like a sick bloodhound, for those scents.

          It’s not sense of smell overall, it’s specific smells. For instance, when I’m not pregnant, my sniffer is almost inoperative. Oh, but except for those things I’m allergic to! Those I can smell with deeply unwanted acuity. I can’t get away from the smell, the headache, and then the nausea.

          I’m not sure how it is for others, but my scent allergies don’t pop up right either, they develop with exposure. So a perfume is the best thing ever… Until my nose starts to be hypersensitive and unable to filter the smell into background, and then the headaches and eye itching happens. I’ve wasted a lot of perfume over time.

          Nowadays I have a scent that seems ok for me, and has for years, but I rarely wear it in public bc I know it can harm others.

          1. JamieS*

            Do you have a better sense of smell or do you just pay more attention/notice it more because you have a bad reaction to it? There’s a difference between having a better sense of smell (ie being able to smell alcohol in sweat after 1 normal sized drink) and having the same sense of smell as others but paying more attention to a particular smell.

    2. Rookie Manager*

      Back in my student days I worked in call centres over the summer. One in particular it was the excepted norm that on Fridays we’d have one drink at lunch time. As a relatively petite woman I wouldn’t have described that one drink as having an affect on me however my Friday afternoon stats were usually awesome ie better than the rest of the week. I have theories about why but ultimately the alcohol definitely made a difference to my work product.

      (Now I wouldn’t dream of having alcohol at lunch on a work day!)

      1. Anonygoose*

        I was a tour guide at a whisky education place for a year – the last tour of the day was an upgraded tasting tour, which meant we guides were expected to walk the guests through the tasting of 5 whiskies (while demonstrating ourselves, which was meant to be a big perk). After the first one, I’d say my tour got a bit better because I’d start to relax and get more comfortable. By the fourth one, I’d be slurring my words a tad. I learned pretty quickly that one sip of each was all I could handle whilst still guiding, which made that ‘perk’ much less perky.

      2. Zip Zap*

        One day, I had a long lunch break so I went home to cook a healthy meal. I thought it was a good idea. And I thought if you used wine in a stir fry, the alcohol would “cook off” and have no effect on you. Or so they say . . . An hour later when I was back at work, I noticed that I wasn’t quite my normal self! I stuck to easy, tedious tasks for the rest of the day. Fortunately, it was a drinking-friendly work place so I don’t think anyone would have cared, but I’ll never try that again!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      That struck me too. (As a nondrinker, nonsmoker.) I would expect one cocktail or beer with food to have no measurable effect on a seasoned drinker–alcohol is the one recreational drug that has a purely culinary side, where you can enjoy the flavor and not need to get buzzed. Whereas I’ve never heard of a line of cannabis that was great because you didn’t get any sort of buzz from it, just enjoyed the flavor.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        (I have heard of medical lines that are designed to relieve nausea or pain without getting high. That’s not what ‘recreational’ means, though.)

        1. Specialk9*

          I thought that seasoned drinkers actually produce more alcohol esterase, the metabolizer. It’s not permanent though, so a heavy drinker would have lots of alcohol esterase, but after teetotalling would have much less. (I learned this, oh, 20 years ago though, so this may be old science.)

        2. Kate 2*

          Not quite true though. You have to have a certain level of alcohol in your system before it starts to affect you mentally and physically. We can measure that level in your blood and breath. That’s why it is legal to drive with *some* alcohol in your system, as long as you are below the legal limit.

          My college had a mandatory alcohol counselling policy for freshman, we had to take it online the summer before we started. One of the most helpful parts was the BAC calculator. You entered your height, weight and sex and based on that it gave an estimate of what you would have to drink to be over the legal limit in various types of alcohol. I was a tiny thing then and 1 drink of hard liquor or 2 drinks of beer would have put me over the limit, but that isn’t true for most people, and wouldn’t be true for me now.

    4. Lora*

      Yeesh. My rule is “one glass of beer/wine at lunch is allowed if you have a big meal with it and you aren’t doing anything other than sitting in front of your computer the rest of the day”. Nobody with lab work, meetings or anything involving other humans, can have alcohol, but a beer before a long afternoon of number-crunching is fine. It’s going to be out of your system by 2pm, and I’m going to review the numbers before they go anywhere else anyway.

      Hey, I loooooove high-end tequila, but not during work. I save my “drinking my big burly male colleagues under the table” drinks for after work. And if I have to spend even a few minutes of my day or evening holding a colleague’s head over the toilet, I will remember it with exceptional clarity come review time.

      1. Specialk9*

        This is worth amplification:
        “If I have to spend even a few minutes of my day or evening holding a colleague’s head over the toilet, I will remember it with exceptional clarity come review time.”

    5. Lady Phoenix*

      Depending on the mix of cocktails, just one can knock me out. A lot of “girly drinks” are made with a LOT of alcohol with a fruit base to offset the alcohol.

      Even multiple cocktails that use one alcohol can be head spinning when downing a second one.

      Do you really want to complain about not being as smashed as them?

  9. PM Jesper Berg*

    LW2: under no circumstances should you “volunteer” at your existing organization. You don’t work for free. (And this is a textbook case of why family members aren’t a good source of career advice. What is your husband thinking?)

    1. Purple snowdrop*

      Spouse :) I presumed the LW was a man and the spouse is a woman. Funny, as I usually presume all LWs are woman (not as a policy decision, just… that’s the way most of them read to me).

  10. GlorifiedPlumber*

    Re: Mary Jane

    Am I missing something? Even if the federal governments and all 50 states make pot legal, AND encourage its use, aren’t private businesses still free to drug test at will and fire those who test positive immediately for cause?

    OP’s problem here is not differential treatment of pot and alcohol, it’s lack of enforcement of alcohol policies.

    I work for an engineering firm in one of those states mentioned, and I do work for clients in the same state, these clients routinely test for drugs including marijuana. My company tests all new hires, and is free to stop you at any point in time during the day to send you to a drug test. People get completely uppity about it because “legal now!” and I just want to smack them.

    Businesses are free to decide if they want to have a no tolerance marijuana policy; my clients run dangerous industrial sites, and as long as they can hire people despite a no tolerance policy, they will continue to do so.

    I’ve lost track how many times I’ve peed in a cup as an engineer doing work for various clients. It’s part of the job. My personal record was 4 weeks in a row on a project of 60 people, two people were selected at “random” each Monday by the client.

    Interestingly and unrelated, there is part of the client drug policy that does bother me… they don’t respect a lot of their contractors and in general assume all contractors are scumbags who are high right now. That part has always bothered me. When there is an accident on site, a drug test is the first thing that happens. Which, while I understand the reason for doing it, sometimes accidents happen because stuff is unsafe not because all your contractors are high. I’d like to see drug tests after an industrial accident as a “secondary but necessary policy” versus the primary method by which clients assume or dis-assume liability.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      It sounds like that may be about collecting evidence while it’s available when it would be remiss not to?

    2. Willow*

      If marijuana were legal at the federal level, and someone were prescribed it for an ADA condition, that could be an issue maybe? (Some strains of medical marijuana are specifically designed not to get people high/stoned)

      1. Renamis*

        As a bus driver I would point out medication can get sticky. There are some medications that, if you take them at all, you can not drive until they are clear of your system. Doesn’t matter how they affect you, or what your doctor says about it. DOT has a base line on what is and isn’t okay, but companies can go above and beyond on what to restrict for safety reasons. Ergo someone who is 100% safe to drive could be told because of the medicationz they’re taking policy says they can’t work.

        I mean, driving certainly is an extreme example, but it does follow to other fields. It boils down to the reasons why it’s banned, and if a court sees it as reasonable. Legally it will be very sticky if it’s ever legalized medically on the national level.

        1. Gaia*

          I think driving is a great example. It wouldn’t matter if it was legal on a federal level if you’re a driver in Oregon. It is prohibited under state law to drive after use so people who drive for a living cannot use during or before their workday.

        2. Natalie*

          The ADA already addresses that type of thing, though – an employer is only required to make a reasonable accommodation for the issue. “Reasonable” does not include letting someone drive even though they are impaired by their medication.

      2. ACS*

        There are some conditions for which it is a much safer choice than other prescribed medications, such as some anxiety disorders and adult ADHD. Many of the meds for those conditions are extremely hard on the liver and kidneys.

        1. TL -*

          The data about its efficacy isn’t great (mostly it’s sparse) but pot can cause panic attacks in those with anxiety. It may be a good choice for some disorders but we need a lot more data before we can really present it as a treatment option for more than pain/nausea management. And a lot more data on top of that before we can say whether it’s safe to operate heavy machinery with use.

          1. Lora*

            YES, THIS.

            I can have an ADA-protected illness that requires me to take some kind of medicine that makes me woozy all day long, but my employers will still send me home with my laptop to do desk work that can’t get me in trouble. Doesn’t matter that my doctor legitimately prescribed it for me, they still can’t let me work in the lab/shop floor while I’m taking it. And that’s 100% legal and proper! My pay isn’t affected, my title isn’t affected, I just can’t do part of my job temporarily so I do a different part. And that’s not feasible for all jobs, but it’s the manager’s job to figure it out as best they can how to put someone on light duty as needed or buy a piece of equipment to help or whatever.

            Having an ADA-covered illness isn’t a Get Out Of Jail Free card. If I was permanently affected in this way, had to keep taking some medication that made me unable to operate heavy equipment ever again, then my employer would be within their rights to transfer me to a position that wouldn’t require that, provided I was kept at the same rank and pay. I’d be bored silly doing paperwork and meetings the live-long day, but I’d have an income, insurance and benefits, which is a lot better than many people get when they lose the chronic illness lottery.

          2. ACS*

            I knew someone would nitpick this. It’s become an epidemic on AAM.

            The research on efficacy is not my point. My point is that some conditions or diseases are treatable in multiple ways, with the pharmaceutical option often being the option that’s harder on the body. I’m not interested in debating the specifics of each disorder.

            1. SignalLost*

              Then why did you bother to bring it up? The research is not there yet, and leaping in with “it is a much safer option” is a pretty definitive assertion that you have a side you’re prepared to back. If you truly don’t want to invite discussion, something like “it may be a safer option for some people” will just go right past everyone because there’s no side there to take or oppose.

            2. TL -*

              No, the pharmaceutical option is the safe, effective option that has been tested. The efficacy can be described. The side effects can be tracked and monitored because we know what they are. That is important.
              That’s not for specific disorders, that’s for every disorder. There is very little data on using pot medicinally. That is a problem, regardless of how you or your friends find it helpful in your day to day. We need more data before it can ethically be prescribed as a treatment.

    3. Nursey Nurse*

      Yeah, I was a bit surprised by this answer. The fact that a substance is legal doesn’t mean that employers can’t take adverse actions against an employee who uses it. If the U.S. government legalized marijuana tomorrow, my hospital could still discipline me if I showed up after smoking it on my lunch break. They could also discipline me for legally drinking alcohol on my lunch break, legally taking certain prescription medications on my lunch break, or doing anything else that they thought could compromise my ability to do my job safely.

    4. Lora*

      In my experience it’s so the insurance companies can fight over who has to pay. The site owner has responsibility for an unsafe work site, the contracted firm has responsibility for how you work. If you fail the test, then the engineering company’s insurance has to pay, not the client.

    5. GlorifiedPlumber*

      Some good discussion here!

      Some of my thoughts from folks’ response:

      I understand fully why people are tested following an accident, the issue is that the results of the drug test taint the investigation and mitigation of the safety incident. If someone is hurt, and the individual who caused the problem tests positive, then it is assumed that the drugs were a contributing factor to the incident. This may or may not be true.

      As someone who works onsite, who has seen safety issues go down, I don’t want to be the recipient of a repeat safety incident because causal factors from the first incident were NOT corrected because the individual tested positive.

      My client thinks like senate/house republicans when they misguidedly pursued drug testing for welfare recipients and suprise suprise, very few tested positive. The client thinks all its contractors are druggies… once, they demanded a project wide test for a large onsite project after a string of safety issues, and tested ~5000 construction workers. Something like only 75 tested positive and were let go. Drug induced safety incidents are rare… bad practice safety incidents are common. Turns out it actually was an unsafe environment causing the problems, not drugs.

      Regarding medical marijuana, I think a lot of posters hit upon the answer. Treat it like we would any other medication. I stamp engineering drawings… if I need to go on say prescription pain killers, I need to disclose this and I wouldn’t be allowed to do so until it ended. If I went home, worked in the evening, had 3 glasses of wine, and decided at THAT moment to seal the drawings, and it came to light, there would also be trouble.

      I don’t see why it can’t be treated and regulated like any other medication. Which, there are flat out certains jobs you cannot do while on certain medication. Sucks… but there are reasons for it.

    6. Desdemona*

      In my former industry, we got insurance breaks for implementing policies to drug test after every accident. It cost us several of our best employees over the years, even when drugs obviously played no part, like the guy who was attacked by a dog we already knew was mean, that was supposed to be taken off site when we were scheduled there. Knowing what the test would show, he walked away from the job and started doing great work for another company. I was never convinced the insurance savings was worth the cost of the people we lost.

    7. Desdemona*

      I think if pot is fully legalized, discrimination will be treated similarly to smoking. There are states that tell employers they can’t refuse to hire smokers, because smoking is a legal activity. The employer can set policies that employees may not smoke on company property, nor report for work smelling like smoke, but employees are still free to smoke on their own time.

  11. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 All other things aside, it’s not discriminatory. Inconsistent, perhaps. But not discriminatory, unless it disadvantages or excludes a protected group. And I suppose that could include people who need medical marijuana for pain relief, but we’re talking about recreational use here. I don’t think it sounds great to be having cocktails with lunch every day. While I’m guessing the food is soaking up the alcohol, I’d be interested to know how that fits with your drink-drive limits there. I think the problem is not that you aren’t allowed to smoke pot but that your coworkers are getting drunk every day. Do you really want to join them in being that reliant on a narcotic to get through the working day?

    1. TL -*

      Yeah. The problem isn’t that you can’t smoke; the problem is that they’re being allowed to drink at work (!) every day (!).
      I’m not against Friday afternoon happy hours or the occasional happy hour after work/during the last few hours of work but there are very few industries where alcohol consumption should be part of your daily work routine. And same for pot – if you need it medically, you should work something out with your employer and doctor but other than that, no.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Yep. And I am not as prim as I am probably coming off right now. But I just don’t think routinely drinking at lunch is healthy or necessary.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Not sure they’re drinking AT work, though. It seems more likely that they’re going off site and coming back.

        1. Karo*

          FWIW when I read “drinking at work” I take it to mean “drinking during work hours.” I know there are some people who actually drink AT work, but that’s generally sanctioned (like after 4 at ad agencies type of thing) or HIGHLY problematic.

      3. Gaia*

        We have regular celebratory events at which there is alcohol served. But it is understood that you have 1 drink unless it is the end of your day and then you have 2. We never serve alcohol with our company provided lunches. The very idea of two cocktails at lunch every day is crazy town to me.

      4. Susanne*

        I think the bigger issue is why is there a culture at this workplace where “all together now” drinking even exists. Scratch a bunch of people who engage in frequent “all together now” drinking, and you’ll find someone who has a real alcohol problem and encourages the “all together now” drinking because he can feel better about himself and rationalize his drinking if everyone else is doing it too. These are the same kinds of people who inquire of people who aren’t drinking “how come?” and shame them for not drinking – as if there is something wrong or party-pooper-ish about simply choosing the iced tea this time.

        1. TL -*

          I don’t think it’s the company’s responsibility to manage someone’s drinking problem. It’s the culture, not the cause, that’s the problem.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I don’t drink at all, and wouldn’t find a workplace where we often had lunch at the local brewpub and many people ordered a single beer with lunch to be particularly shocking. It’s not clear that anyone is returning from lunch with any level of impairment at all.

      5. Ramblin' Ma'am*

        Yes. I do occasionally have a beer at lunch (maybe one every few weeks), but 1-2 cocktails every day seems like a lot. I assume they’re taking a normal-length lunch break of an hour or so. 2 drinks in an hour is legally drunk for most people.

        Or they’re taking longer lunches to space out the drinking–but then I can understand why the pot-smoking, non-drinking OP would be annoyed.

    2. Shadow*

      It is indeed discriminatory to treat one group differently, its just not illegal discrimination based on a protected category

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        Then don’t call it discrimination. It is a loaded word in the workplace.

        Call it a bias, but not discrimination

  12. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2 – he trash talks everyone. That means yes, he’s going to do it about you, but no-one is going to pay it any attention. So it’s OK to go forward as if it’s an irrelevance – because everyone who hears him will treat it as such!

  13. pot smoking anon*

    OP3: If it is important to you to smoke pot during your work breaks, get a job where you can work from home most days and where you aren’t drug tested.

    If, however, your question is about the unfairness of different substances being treated differently: yes, Alison is correct that the different federal status of pot means your company will treat it differently than alcohol. Yes, it’s unfair. It’s a hell of a lot more unfair that so many lives have been ruined or ended by drug policy. I would *love* to live in a world where the biggest injustice related to drugs was some employers banning pot smoking on your lunch break, rather than disproportionate incarceration of racial minorities, criminalizing people who need mental health treatment, and creating a black market that funds terrorism.

    I live in a state where pot is legal. I smoke pot. And I hope other people who have benefitted from state-level legalization can see that this issue is much larger than whether or not we can smoke a joint on our lunch break.

  14. AB*

    #2 i’m sorry that your boss is a jerk. My friend recently went through a similar situation. The CEO at his start up, who was also his friend, had a similar attitude where he felt like because he was paying poeple’s salary that he basically owned them, and he felt deeply betrayed by anyone leaving and trash talked them. Anyone who left was then ostricised by everyone else still at the company who were still drinking the kool-aide.

    You don’t owe him anything though. He’s not doing you a favour by paying your salary, if anything it sounds like you’ve been doing HIM a favour by providing him with your labour and talents for less than what you’d earn elsewhere.

    My friend had a really bad time looking for work after leaving. He’d been at the start up for a couple of years and the CEO told him he would provide a good reference, then refused to give one when contacted by an employer which lost him the job. But you already have a new job, and it’s in a new field so your old bosses opinion matters even less. Be happy you’re able to make a clean break and remember that you don’t owe him anything.

  15. Daria Grace*

    OP#5, depending on your field and other experience, it’s possible the MOOC certificates might help but I’d be giving them a brief mention in a professional development section towards the end of your resume rather than putting them in your main education section as they aren’t like a degree. You could also leave them off and only bring them up in the interview if asked what you’ve been doing to work on your skills.

  16. MacAilbert*

    #3, it sounds like your coworkers aren’t really allowed to drink, they just get away with it. I agree it’s unfair, but it’s legal, and it is how it is. Honestly, as a bartender, I’m really not for drinking on the job or short breaks from the job at all (yea, a lot of bartenders do it and get away with it, but it can balloon into a problem REAL fast in this industry,), and it sounds like your HR department isn’t either, at least on paper (do they know the drinking occurs?).

    Now, I’m all for doing what you want AFTER work, I voted for pot legalization in California, and I agree that the fact you can be fired for testing positive for pot you didn’t use during or prior to working is really bad law, but Allison’s right in that for now, it is the law.

  17. Mookie*

    Re Letter 5, I don’t think such courses belong anywhere on a resumé, but if you’re looking for a lateral move I can just about see mentioning one if it led to a significant and demonstrable accomplishment at work; like, you took on or were assigned a role in a project that required background knowledge or a technical skill (or skill upgrade) that the use of the course aided you in acquiring, particularly if you timed the course to correspond with that project and your employers were both aware of this and approved of it. This, however, is much more true of summer and extension coursework, as indicated above, and that is only in a handful of very specific fields. On-line certifications, on the other foot, have an even narrower application (technical writing, for example). You probably know your field best and, if you don’t, I’d reach out to a professional contact you trust to sound them out on this before spending any money.

  18. AdAgencyChick*

    #1: No way, nohow, for so many reasons.

    If Rebecca is told no, what happens to you? Management now thinks you’re ready to leave and may decide to push you out before you’re ready. Hell, even if she’s told yes this may happen.

    Besides, even if you were the one getting the counteroffer and were asking for things to change, I have yet to see a counteroffer result in any change beyond the salary of the person taking the offer or moving that person to a different team. Organizations don’t make major changes because they got an ultimatum from a single employee. If they really want to keep you and moving you onto another team will get rid of some of the problems you’ve been having, they might do that because it’s not that hard to move someone to another team. But the things you mention asking for are not simple fixes. At best, you’ll get lip service for a couple of weeks, and once the immediate danger of your leaving (or Rebecca’s leaving) is past, things will go back to the way they were.

    I’d ask Rebecca to keep her negotiations focused on herself.

  19. ACS*

    I feel for you, LW #3. My spouse has a medical condition for which he can take a Schedule 2 drug that destroys his liver and kidneys, or he could use marijuana in any form (even pills). Due to his job, he has to use the meds. The pharmaceutical industry is a clever parasite.

  20. Ms. Meow*

    #4: I have found that even if you put your cell number as primary and your house phone as secondary, some people still believe that a landline is more reliable. If you really want people to call your cell, I agree with Alison: only list your cell. At this point I don’t even have a landline and no one has questioned the fact that I only put down a cell number. Or in the case where Home Number is a required field on an online application, I just put my cell number in there.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      I’ve noticed this too. Just because an employer asks for a “home” number doesn’t mean you have to give them one – increasing numbers of people don’t even have one. I haven’t in years.

      1. Antilles*

        The idea of ‘home’ number has shifted with the amount of people who either gave up their landline or (adults under ~35) who have never had a landline. Home number used to mean the actual landline at your house, but now the meaning has shifted to a more generic “number we can contact you at when you’re not at the office”. That could be a landline, your cell, Skype, whatever, as long as you’re reachable.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I have both and list the landline as primary, and I’ve noticed lots of places just call the cell anyhow. I’d posit that any time there are two numbers, someone will go through some mental shuffling about how you probably don’t mean ‘primary’.

    3. DCGirl*

      I stopped giving out my landline to my employer at the last job. My boss called at 11:00 at night, when my husband and I were in bed, for a completely non-urgent matters. At the time, my father-in-law was in hospice care, which she knew. Of course, since nobody calls us that late, my husband thought the end was imminent.
      He leaped out bed and went running for the phone so quickly that he tripped, fell, and hurt himself badly on the corner of the dresser. When I asked not to be called that late at night, I was told that as my manager she could call me whenever she damn well chose. I went to HR and took my landline out of all records.

      1. schnauzerfan*

        I will say that people need to be aware of what their phone number “says” about them. If you have a cell with a different area code than is usual in your area prospective employers might disqualify you sight unseen because they don’t want the hassles of dealing with candidates who aren’t “local.” We still have difficulty making long distance calls. IKR? if I want to call a “non-local” number I have to get an access code and log the call… My department gets billed for the call. Not a big issue now as I can email most candidates, but it is still an issue.

        A friend got called in by her boss to talk about her “move” out of the city. She works for the municipality and is required to live within x distance of the work site and her new phone number was from out of state. She was able to reassure her boss that she was in fact local still, but…

        1. (Different) Rebecca*

          Sorry, but with most cell numbers being portable as of, oh, about a decade ago, your business needs to get with the times. I haven’t lived in the midwest for six years, but I have an Indiana area code.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. My son has a DC code although he has lived in all the west coast states since then. I have an out of state code; why would I change phone numbers and make it impossible for distant relatives and such to find me? Half the people I know don’t have local phone numbers.

        2. Yeah I'm Commenting!!*

          I do recruiting and an out of area phone number does not alarm me at all. I myself have an out of state cell phone number that I have had for 14 years but haven’t lived in that state for 7 years. I think people who do hiring with any regularity will not be concerned.

        3. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

          IME this is not an issue. This may be because a lot of people move to my city: our population growth is precisely 50% children born, 50% people relocated. Many people have cell numbers that aren’t local.

        4. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          Yeah, this seems really odd to me. Are you in a smaller town, schnauzerfan? I live in a major metro where a lot of people move for college and stay, and starting with people around my age (mid thirties) it’s become very common for people to carry the same number from place to place. I put an address on my resume, I would think that would be enough to establish that I’m local.

        5. Specialk9*

          That’s so strange that I can’t believe it’s the only bizarre thing that company is doing.

        6. Anonymous for this*

          I have a DC cell phone number, but I currently live in San Francisco. I have found that people in DC will be less likely to call you back if you don’t have a 202/703 number. People in the Bay Area couldn’t care less whether you have a 415/510/650 number. So my solution was to keep the 202 number. I still set up a Google Voice 415 number, though.

    4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Yup, this. Just don’t list it. This is the advice I gave to my mom when the nursing home my grandmother was at kept calling her landline when she told them *repeatedly* not to (at the time she traveled for work so she was not reliably *at home* to receive these calls).

      I think there are a lot of “old school” people who believe landlines are the more reliable communication, and similarly a lot of “new school” who think the opposite. My advice is to just list one phone number, which is the number in which you prefer to be contacted. I don’t know why so many places still ask for multiple numbers. It just creates confusion and assumptions.

    5. rubyrose*

      Just give them the number you want them to have and no more.
      My particular beef on this issue is doctors offices. Even if the landline is listed as primary, they go straight to the cell. So they no longer have my cell number.
      Yes, they will try to pressure you into giving them the number you don’t want them to have, but just stay firm. Not everyone has a cell, and not everyone has a landline.

      1. KellyK*

        Yes, this! I’ve also had a doctor’s office be the worst offender on this a few years ago. My cell access was spotty at best, both at work and at home. (Home was a total dead zone; work was intermittent.) No matter how many times I would tell them to call the landline, they’d call the cell. They also apparently had multiple record systems with contact info, so it took several go-rounds of “no, really, remove my cell number” to get it fully removed.

        The fact that this was a *fertility clinic* and that the phone calls I was missing were about whether they needed me to come back *the next day* made it even more “fun.”

        But, yes, people are horrible at respecting other people’s communication preferences. If they have a number for you, they will call it, regardless of how many times you’ve told them you can’t access it at X time or on Y days. So, only give them the contact info you want them to have.

  21. Trout 'Waver*

    #2, It’s a classic case of ‘Haters gonna hate.’ Trust that the people who matter will recognize him as a hater like you have and they’ll disregard his opinions on other people like you have.

  22. nnn*

    For #3, since alcohol is actually prohibited in the employee handbook, I wonder if you could get fired if you tested positive for alcohol as well. Just because people are doing it doesn’t mean it’s allowed.

  23. nnn*

    #4 is funny to me, because I have my home phone as my primary and my cell phone as my secondary, and people keep going straight to my cell, despite the fact that I repeatedly tell them that it’s not a good way to reach me and that I’m the only one who answers my home phone. I almost get the impression that they think it’s rude to call my home phone, when in fact it’s far more convenient for me.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The reasoning for both, in that order, is usually that it’s easier to receive and deal with messages at home… but every once in a while they are calling to cancel your appointment when you’ve already left the house.

  24. Erin*

    #3 – Yeah, with marijuana staying in your system for 30 days they’re definitely telling you they don’t want you smoking at all, not just on lunch breaks. That seems like a huge overreach when you’re in a state where it’s legal. I didn’t realize that happened. And yes that certainly sucks with your coworkers having up to two drinks with lunch.

    The country is making huge strides with marijuana but obviously it’s still in a work in progress. Sorry you’re in this crappy position.

    1. Erin*

      *Note: I meant crappy position in general, not literally your position at this company. For all I know it’s a very decent job and this is the one caveat, in which case, it might not be the hill you want to die on. Again, sorry that situation sucks, though.

    2. SignalLost*

      It’s not different from any of the other weird prohibitions employers can set. I’ve seen ads for workplaces that don’t tolerate drinking or cigarette use even off the clock, and those are both entirely legal assuming you’re over 21. I’ve seen companies that advertise their religious practices as well, and I don’t apply there since I don’t think Jesus needs to come to stand-up. The employer’s rules are not an overreach as long as they comply with state law – they can’t require you to use pot in a state where it’s illegal, they can’t ask you to kill someone, etc. If OP feels that this is not tolerable, they need a new job, but the company can set the rules they like as long as they’re equitably enforced and up front about those policies.

  25. Blue Anne*

    #2, I had exactly this happen to me last summer. Very similar situation – so close that I’d wonder if we were talking about the same company, except that myself and my colleague who also quit weren’t close friends with the owners. (Althought they might have told people we were to make our betrayal seem worse?) I quit with no notice, knowing that they were going to trash talk me when I left. Sure enough, former colleagues who were still there told me that Shady Bossman basically told everyone that I hadn’t quit, I had had a mental breakdown. Nice!

    Just leave. Don’t worry about it. Everyone who hears them will know it reflects their character, not yours.

  26. AdAgencyChick*

    #2, I guarantee that if you offer to volunteer afterward, your boss is still going to be mad that you quit. You owe him nothing. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    1. Grits McGee*

      Yes, it seems that volunteering only compounds the problem, namely that OP2 isn’t paid enough and doesn’t want to work there any more.

  27. Kat M.*

    #5, are you new to the workplace or hoping to change careers? They can be somewhat helpful if you don’t have experience in the field you’re trying to break into, in a “Look, I know perfectly well you’re taking a chance on me, but this is me trying to get as much of a running start as I can,” sort of way. But it’s better if you can turn around and actually *do* something with the knowledge, even if it’s just as a volunteer.

  28. Internet Marketing Manager*

    How about just be a professional and grown up and not smoke pot during lunch? Same goes for the people drinking, which is also a terrible idea. Forget “fairness” and focus on being professional. This isn’t hard.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        I am agreeing with IMM. You shouldn’t be smoking pot and your coworkers should not be downing cocktails every day of the week.

        The fact OP 3 is using the “But they did it” when rule is no impairment PERIOD makes OP 3 look childish, let alone claiming it’s “discrimination” (which is a loaded word).

        1. Shadow*

          I don’t know at what level of weed impairs you but one glass of beer/wine usually isnt enough to impair you. And that is really the only concern with alcohol isn’t it- the impairment . Weed possession though is illegal in and of itself which is probably a bigger issue for the company.

          1. Lady Phoenix*

            Op said that they are drinking every day of the qeek and at least 2 cocktails. So… might get someone impaired.

        2. PM Jesper Berg*

          But Shadow asked *why* having a glass of wine with lunch is so terrible. Your answer just restates IMM’s stance without explaining why.

      2. NaoNao*

        I don’t know that it’s a “terrible” idea, but wine, beer, or cocktails *do* impair one’s judgement, cognition, etc.
        Being a bit fuzzy at work isn’t the worst idea in the world, but it’s not professional either.
        Having 1-2 cocktails *a day* at lunch does raise my eyebrows a bit. It’s one thing to have a beer at a company event in the middle of the day and then bop out at 2 or 3, having wrapped things up for the day. It’s another to work every day slightly muddled after lunchtime cocktails or toking!

  29. anonymous for this*

    Jumping off #5 about the certifications–are MOOC certificates roughly the same as online graduate certificates from state universities? I just got accepted to an online graduate certificate program at a state university that I think would help my job (I’m an information systems analyst, and the certificate is in technical writing). There seems to be a consensus in the comments that MOOC certs aren’t worth putting on your resume, so I want to make sure before I register for courses this fall that my graduate certificate isn’t going to be a waste of $5k…

    1. Alton*

      MOOCs are usually non-credit courses that anyone can join. There may be tests or graded materials, so it’s not like the certificates are meaningless by any means. But it’s different than being enrolled in an online degree/certificate program with an accredited institution.

      For example, if you take a MOOC offered through a particular university, that doesn’t qualify you to say you went to that university. But if you were accepted into that school and enrolled in and completed an online degree program, then that absolutely counts.

      1. Alton*

        I would add, also, that whether a certificate program is worth the money or not is going to depend on the school, the program, and the field you’re going into. So certainly do your research if you’re unsure. But I wanted to point out that a certificate you get for completing a program is different than one you get for completing a course you did independently.

        1. anonymous for this*

          My place of work is going to reimburse my tuition costs, and my manager seems to think that certain courses in particular could be really useful for my team, like a course on writing software documentation and a course on document design. I was just worried that graduate certificates might be perceived the same way as MOOC certificates.

          1. serenity*

            I think what Alton said above is key. Also, graduate certificate programs vary widely by institution. They’re not all created equal, and so my advice would be to research the program you’re interested in and ensure that the school has a reputation that’s solid.

          2. Sarah*

            If your work is paying for the class, that seems like good evidence that they find it valuable for you to take the class! And presumably, given what your manager has said, the classes will lead to increased/expanded job responsibilities, which you will then be able to list on future resumes when you’re job searching.

  30. Liz*

    Maybe in the US, but in the UK it’s not at all uncommon for people to go for a pub lunch and have a pint with it. (Or maybe 2, if they’re session beers, but definitely not more.)

    1. Shadow*

      Total culture shock being on vacation in Spain and seeing tons of business people drinking wine and taking long lunches. We definitely have our priorities wrong in the US.

  31. Kyrielle*

    OP#5 – I’d also ask about course certificates vs. what Coursera calls “specializations” – in your field. They’re just groupings of courses, but a full specialization (taking all the courses) could be interesting in some industries/specializations, I suspect. (I have all the courses but the keystone for one specialization on my LinkedIn, and I still get occasional contacts from companies interested in me for that area of specialization. Which is amusing, because the most recent of them is over two years old and I’ve switched companies in the meanwhile; I have not used it at all since then.)

    1. Kyrielle*

      And I should add, even while I was job-hunting, they were never on my resume. My LinkedIn was; if someone wants to review all my various e-course stuff and my recommendations and so on, I wanted it available to them. But none of it seemed important enough to add to the resume. The only except I’d have made is if I’d been applying for a role in the niche sub-industry where that almost-completed specialization would have been relevant (and it would have gotten one line and no details).

  32. Bend & Snap*

    #1 I would tell your coworker you’re not interested and not to mention your name. It sounds like she wants to use you as leverage. This is not a normal request.

  33. msroboto*

    #1 Rebecca has a job offer. She is using this to elicit a counter-offer for herself. You do not have an official offer and if Rebecca decides to take the counter-offer where would that leave you? Again you are not in any position to be involved in this as you don’t have another job offer and IF one is in the offing it is only if Rebecca takes the position. This is pretty bad place for you to even consider being involved in.

  34. Random Dent*

    OP#5: I have a couple of MOOCs listed on the version of my resume I use for jobs in one particular field, let’s call it teapot marketing. (Just the regular courses – I didn’t pay for the extra certificates).

    My education and formal experience is all in teapot design, but I’ve been doing some teapot marketing as a small component of some of my teapot design jobs, and also as a hobby that recently started generating some freelance income. So I have my formal work experience section first, then formal education, then a “Teapot Marketing Experience” section that includes “Successfully completed Coursera online courses on Teapot Marketing 101 (University of Teapots, 2010) and How To Write Teapot Adverts (University of Marketing, 2012)” as the last bullet point.

    i.e. the MOOCs are a minor item on a longer list that highlights my longstanding interest and informal experience in this related field. I wouldn’t list MOOCs alongside formal education, or make too much of a big deal out of them in any section, but I think they can work in some contexts.

  35. Brett*

    OP #2
    Just wanted to point out that you are working for a doomed startup anyway.
    Startups survive on expanding and scaling up. They inherently lose money. They have to be able to expand and scale proportionally faster than they lose. As long as revenue keeps increasing, they can stay in the red for another round of funding until they hit the point in their model when they turn a profit or exit with a good return.

    If their only form of retention is gratitude and loyalty (and not salary, wages, or benefits), then there are not going to be able to recruit the talent they need to expand and scale. That means they are worried about revenue, instead of expanding revenue rapidly enough to reach their exit point or profitability point.

    Not meeting revenue goals, losing talent, and being unable to recruit all means that they are doomed no matter how great the central idea of the company is. You probably know this, but this means that any “volunteer” hours are part of a dying effort.

  36. Brett*

    For tech/IT, all you need is course completion, not the actual certificate.

    The exceptions I can think of is when you specifically need the course for certification or continuing education requirements. (And for those situations, you really need to make sure that your specific MOOC has been approved before you take the MOOC anyway. Then you will know ahead of time if you need the certificate.)

  37. Colorado*

    OP#1: Tell Rebecca no. It seems like she’s using you for her own leverage and that could seriously backfire for you. Just no.

    OP#3: Life isn’t fair. Your employee handbook says no one is allowed to be under the influence of anything, that includes alcohol. Be your own person and stay professional, you will go much further in your career that way. Don’t get into the habit of drinking or smoking pot at work, just don’t. Save that for after hours. (disclaimer: I’m pro-legalization and I enjoy a cocktail as much as anyone, but I keep my career separate from my personal life. And I’m not talking about for medicinal purposes, that’s a different topic).

  38. The OG Anonsie*

    #2 One thing that’s hard to come to terms with when dealing with someone like this is that no good behavior on your part will make that person speak well of you. They’re going to talk trash about you once you leave no matter how much you give, because they are not ever satisfied with what you do for them.

  39. dontblink*

    #2 A coworker witnessed my boss of 4yrs literally sabotaging my paperwork. I interviewed, got another offer and gave my two weeks notice. She paid out the two weeks, told me come in and pick up my belongings and told the entire office (including department heads!) that I’d been fired. I didn’t find out until I ran into the business office head at a funeral months later and she asked if I’d found anything yet! Her trash talking has had no effect on my career, now seven years later. I would have been much worse off if I’d stayed with her and her negativity. Get out while you can.

  40. BMO*

    #5 – I took a Coursera course (programming language) as I thought about applying to an IT role within my company. I told my manager about taking the class and she told the IT manager. The IT manager was impressed with my initiative. In my case, I did not list it on my resume because the job I ultimately applied for and got used a different programming language. I did mention taking course during my interview but didn’t make a big deal out of it, but the panel did like that I went out my comfort zone and was willing to learn new things on my own. Even if it had been for the same programming language…IDK, I still don’t think I would have listed it since it was a MOOC. If I took it at a JC, then I would have definitely listed it.

  41. Hiring Mgr*

    I don’t think I understand #1…How does roping you in even help Rebecca? Unless she’s just surveying various employees to try and take a pulse of the general mood as a way to gauge her next move? Either way OP, stay out of it!

  42. Jay Bee*

    OP#2- I worked in a similar environment. My old employer was SO betrayed by people leaving that she wouldn’t actually refer to them by name, is it was “too hurtful” but just referred to the person in the role before me as “your predecessor”

    When I gave my two weeks notice, I was actually told not to come in for the second week, so be prepared for that possibility. She “just couldn’t handle having me in the office anymore” so, I got an extra week off before my new role started.

    And just keep in mind that the next person in your role will hopefully also recognize the crazy, and not put any stock in the things they might say about you. By the time I left, it was so much easier to just put the whole thing in my rearview mirror than worry about what was happening in that office. (They actually followed up to ask me to remove their name from my LinkedIn profile as they didn’t want me associated with them when they GOOGLED THEIR OWN COMPANY) Definitely don’t volunteer after you leave! It’s best to make a clean break from crazy.

  43. Noah*

    re #3, it’s likely employers could treat non-medical marijuana use differently even if it were completely legal. If they want to have a policy that you can drink as many shots of whiskey at lunch as you want, but otherwise can’t drink alcohol, that would be legal, too.

  44. Megan Johnson*

    My employer screens for tobacco use and will fire anyone found to be using it. I don’t think the legality of a substance plays into weather or not a company can prohibit it or test for it.

  45. AB*

    In regards to MOOCs/online courses, where would courses like the Google Analytics course, adwords course, or Hubspot marketing certifications fit in? I was applying recently for a position that asked if I was certified through Hubspot, so I’m assuming if it’s relevant to your field those ones would be okay to add to a resume?

  46. Observer*

    #3 you’ve gotten some good responses. I want to point out something that you need to realize. Do you realize that the effects of marijuana ARE different than those of alcohol? It sounds like you don’t 0r you would realize that it’s quite possible to have a drink (or even two, depending on the person and drink) and not be “under the influence”. It’s not possible to smoke enough weed to feel the effects and NOT be under the influence for at least an hour or two.

    If this is something you are unclear about, you really need to rethink your use of marijuana. If you do understand that, then you need to grow up and stop whining about what other people get.

  47. Anonforpot*

    I’m seeing a lot of opinions about “getting high” at work but no one has really tackled the issue of medical marijuana use, which the OP3 did also ask about. I am an MM user in a state where it is legal. The strains and edibles I use for pain management and anxiety do not get you “high.” They have a greater concentration (>10%) of CBD, which is not psychoactive, and very small amounts of THC (<1%) which is the part that gets you "high." I would certainly say my CBD edibles do not impair me at all whereas a beer on an empty stomach can impair me quite a bit. I do believe that it is a double standard (ethically, medically, and legally) to allow people to take opiates on the job for pain, or benzodiazepenes for anxiety, but not use CBD for those conditions. But the legal battle to establish this is still ongoing.

    As for actually getting high – at small doses there are strains that affect me quite similarly to having one or two drinks. I might feel acute effects for 20-30 minutes, but after an hour feel very little. In my field it's acceptable to have a drink or two at lunch, but there is still a stigma about using marijuana. There are fair concerns about the lack of standard dosing for different ingestion methods, and differences in individual tolerance, but those concerns apply to alcohol also. I think the norms on this will change eventually (much like smoking cigarettes has declined a lot in popularity as medical literacy increased) but for now, I err on the side of being discreet and don't discuss the details of my medical situation with coworkers.

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