open thread – November 10-11, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 1,331 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie*

    How much would you say your friends/family know about what you do?

    I don’t mean in the sense that you’re in some sort of covert organisation (although that’d be pretty interesting), but rather whether they have a completely different idea of what your job actually entails as opposed to assumptions made based on your title or company?

    1. La Revancha*

      Probably only my husband! I don’t talk much about work with family or friends, no reason really just not something I discuss (probably because my job isn’t that interesting).

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My friends have a pretty good idea of what I do; most of them work in the types of jobs where they would encounter someone who does something similar to what I do, especially if they themselves work in sales or marketing. My family? Ppffbbtt. No clue. My mother, especially, never bothered to try to understand my work. I switched industries and she kind of gets it a little more, but if someone asked her what I do for a living, she could name the department but not explain it. She, by the way, is a physician. No explanations necessary.

    3. Second Lunch*

      I’m a digital communications person, which I agree is pretty vague. Depending on the person, I’ve heard family members explain that I do marketing or “web stuff”.

    4. HR Expat*

      One of my family members asks me all the time- “What do you actually do? I mean, is hiring and firing people your entire job?”

      On the other hand, my brother also works in HR, so he completely understands.

    5. Murphy*

      In a small talk kind of situation, my job is somewhat difficult/boring to explain. I work at a university and the word “research” is in my title, so people think that I do research when I don’t. I explain to close friends and family what I do, but otherwise I leave details out unless it’s an extended conversation.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Mine too! Plus I shifted from doing to facilitating research, so a lot of people think they might know what I do when that’s what I used to do.

      2. Alcott*

        Same here – research in the job title, but I don’t do research.

        Except if you ask my brother, he’ll tell you I work in admissions (and I’ve told him to say literally anything else if he’s not going to bother to figure out what I actually do!).

    6. m*

      My spouse knows a lot about what I do because we talk about work a lot (I know a lot about his job as well). Other than that, most probably only have a rough idea. My mother-in-law has a pretty good idea what I do, but that’s because she’s familiar with my field.

      1. Carrotcakebringsrabbits*

        Sometimes when my kids can’t get to sleep, I describe my job duties to bore them to sleep.
        If my job was a character in a movie, I’d be the Robert DeNiro HVAC repairman in “Brazil” – only with paperwork, not A/C units.
        Sometimes when I get worked up about something at work, I mentally flash on Chandler Bing talking about the “Wenus”

    7. Amber Rose*

      There’s one of those “what they think I do, what I think I do” memes for my position that is painfully accurate. Most people think I go around with a clipboard, yelling at people. What I actually do is sit at my desk with my head in my hands, surrounded by stacks of paper.

      Husband has a fairly decent idea what I do because I rant about it to him all the time.

    8. Anon for This*

      My family and non-industry friends have a vague understanding of what I do, but they really don’t understand what I do. However, I think that is pretty typical, especially in more niche industries.

    9. Asha*

      My title is “communications manager” and literally no one knows what that entails day-to-day – even other comms managers, since there are so many different aspects of communications that could fall under that title. Most people think I look at photos and skim social media all day.

      1. Jiggy*

        Me too! I’m in my second Communications Manager role and about 40% of the duties are the same from my first to my current.

      2. NeverNicky*

        Another Comms Manager here. Most people I think know I write health information, edit several publications, post on social media, manage a website and get interviewed for the traditional media as an organisational spokesperson. However they don’t really know the nuts and bolts of how much it takes to get to the point of having the above tangible results.

        1. Asha*

          Yes. That’s pretty close to my role (different industry than health though) and there’s so much more to it.

    10. Tableau Wizard*

      My mom has no idea – she’s a bit out of touch with everything.

      My dad THINKS he knows what I do, but probably only understands about 20% of it. He’s in an adjacent industry and has a similar educational background, but he’s been running his own company for so long that he’s lost touch with what any other workplace actually looks like.

      My husband understands it pretty well. He’s in government and I’m in the private sector so there’s some differences there that he can’t quite wrap his head around, but he gets it.

    11. NW Mossy*

      Amusingly, I have a dear friend whose sister works for “the Department of Defense,” which is understood to mean that she actually works for the government in a covert/secret capacity of some kind.

      Many of my friends are in the same industry I am and understand what I do pretty well, but for family and non-industry friends, it got a lot easier to understand my job when I moved into management. They can grasp “manages 10 people at a financial services company” much better than “retirement plans regulatory consultant.”

    12. selina kyle*

      It’s hard to say? I think that on day-to-day stuff both my boyfriend and my folks are in the dark. On a larger scale, such as when I have bigger projects with actual outcomes that I can talk about (i.e. – “this pamphlet I’ve been working on is now on tables at this event I was also working on”) they have more of a sense of it.
      This is such an interesting question though!

    13. Anon Accountant*

      Not much. They understand some basics such as payroll and taxes but it’s basic. They think it’s a very quick process and shouldn’t ever have overtime, etc.

    14. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      My friends know a decent bit because most of us are tech-savvy or in some IT type role, and my sister gets it, but my parents are pretty clueless, even though I talk to them about work often and have explained many times what I do. My actual title is ETL developer, so I usually keep it simple and say “database developer.” All my parents can really understand is that I “do things with databases,” and they keep thinking I still work in distance education, when in fact it’s been almost 4 years since I moved on from that area. I don’t think any of my extended family really have a clue what I do, as they also keep asking me how things are in distance education and ask, “are you still working with Blackboard?” Thank god, no I’m not.

      I just don’t really talk about work without anyone outside my immediate family, and my parents aren’t that tech savvy to really grasp what I’m doing, which is ETL development on a data warehouse. It’s easier just to say “database stuff.”

      1. Delusions of Blandeur*

        Nice to know that the people who make Blackboard hate it as much as students do! That site was the bane of my college existence.

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          Oh I didn’t make it – I just supported it at a university. But I think you are right – I’ve worked with a lot of Blackboard employees on various projects and none of them seemed to last more than a few months!

    15. Quinalla*

      This is something my husband and I joke about all the time is no one understands what we do and we’ve given up trying to explain better to some people as they have their misconception stuck in their head and they just don’t get it :)

    16. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My partner is probably the only person outside of work who has any idea what I do, and that’s mostly because we’re in the same industry (we actually work for competing companies in the same market).

    17. SCtoDC*

      I deeply love my job, but most people’s eyes glaze over when I tell them my position/area of study. I usually only discuss my job from the 35,000 foot level, otherwise it gets to wonky. My parents and husband know all about where I work, but I don’t think they could really explain what I do. It’s also hard when I am with my husband and we are both introducing ourselves. He is a political journalist, and as soon as he tells people what he does everyone is way more interested in talking to him than to me (the researcher).

    18. Temp4This*

      Not a lot! I have a sort of weird (and covert) job right now, so best friends and family get an actual outline of what I do, but everyone else gets vague wishywashyness. I can’t say anything though! It makes it hard to have conversations.

    19. ClownBaby*

      They don’t know the day-to-day. If I ever talk about work outside of work, it’s only about the unbelievable, rare, unusual bits. My family and friends actually think my job is way more crazy and stressful than it actually is.

    20. Temperance*

      My friends understand, because they’re mostly also lawyers. My family has no clue, and I’m fine with that.

    21. AdAgencyChick*

      My husband knows a lot. My niece, who is training in a related field, knows quite a bit. Everybody else in my family…not a bit.

      A few select friends have a pretty good understanding, but usually when I discuss work with friends it’s in the context of clients and their behavior rather than what it is we do for them.

    22. paul*

      They don’t have a clue but that’s OK, because I don’t really understand what the heck most of them do day to day either.

    23. oranges & lemons*

      I work in a field that I don’t think of as particularly obscure (book publishing) but I’m always a bit surprised by how few people understand what it actually entails, based on the weird questions I get. I also get the impression that most people find it extremely boring.

    24. REd 5*

      Depends on the person and the conversation. But most of what I do is pretty easily understood, since I work in communications and everybody communicates or is communicated to. The ins and outs of some specific reports can get a bit in the weeds but I only ever have occasion to talk about that with a few friends when I’m complaining, and usually it’s with a friend that also has to do a bunch of silly reports of her own so we talk more about the annoyance of compiling reports than the specifics.

      But again, I’m lucky, my title and my job line up pretty accurately with what people assume about it.

    25. username*

      Somewhat – the big picture “study abroad” people mostly get, but explaining what my job entails is hard, especially because it’s constantly changing. But they do see that I travel a lot, so that’s the easiest thing to talk about.

    26. Bank Auditor*

      Very little – largely because due to privacy of customer financial information I can’t talk about 90% of it and also partly because I don’t find most people are particularly informed (or interested at all) in what bankers do aside from cashing checks and lending money. Some of the investigating I do is absolutely fascinating to me but alas, the world may never know it. ;)

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I did some work with my firms fraud department and found it really interesting and my boss used to work for the local police department some of the investigators he was involved in were fascinating

    27. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I’m an accountant and everyone just assumes I do taxes. Nope – I’m the corporate general ledger analyst. No one knows what a general ledger is.

      1. Deschain*

        It’s the same for me! I own a bookkeeping business and my husband is an A/R accountant for a large international pharmaceutical company, but yet our family thinks we’re tax accountants. Um… no, no, no!

      2. Freelance Accountant*

        I own my own bookkeeping business, and work exclusively with SMBs developing bookkeeping processes, implementing and training on bookkeeping software and related apps, and doing books for businesses. So, soooo many people ask me if I want to do their taxes.

        No. No, I really don’t want to do that.

        My mother-in-law thinks she really understands what I do, because she worked in a payroll department of a large organization forty years ago (she has no idea). Business owners, other bookkeepers, and accountants understand what I do. I think most other people picture me with a green eyeshade, a manual ledger-book, an adding machine with a roll of paper tape spilling onto the floor, and piles of receipts.

        1. Red Reader*

          “I think most other people picture me with a green eyeshade, a manual ledger-book, an adding machine with a roll of paper tape spilling onto the floor, and piles of receipts.”

          When I was little, that was exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. I even had one of those green-shaded desk lamps.

      3. Beth Anne*

        YES! I am a bookkeeper and everyone asks me tax questions as well. I really have NO DESIRE to do taxes. My MIL thinks I’m a CPA. And I’m like no I am not. But she also calls her CPA her bookkeeper which is so degrading imo. Oh well.

    28. Kat_Map*

      This question actually just reminded me of something cute involving a friend — her husband is an animator, but his grandmother-in-law isn’t able to totally grasp that, so she thinks he’s a puppeteer. It warms my heart.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        My work-related grandmother story that warms my heart every time (and will “out” me to the few who know this story) deals with the fiction side of my writing career. My grandma was a sweet but conservative Baptist who read as avidly as me, but mostly Christian romances, sweet romances, and Westerns. She helped foster my love of reading and writing and was super proud of my getting published. I assumed she wouldn’t actually read my first published book because it was in the urban fantasy genre, outside her general cup of tea. She proudly told me she read the whole thing and loved it. My grandfather then ratted her out by saying, “Yes, but she read it with a pen in hand so she could scratch out all the bad words.” I grin every time I think of that.

        1. Mananana*

          Oh, F&F, that made me smile. I come proudly from a long line of conservative Baptists, and I can easily see my beloved Grandmother, my Mom, and all her sisters doing the exact same thing.

      2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        I’m an applied anthropologist (currently working in healthcare). My grandma always cuts out newspaper articles on dinosaur discoveries for me. (Bonus though, because dinosaurs are cool!) Also I had an internship at the UN while in grad school and my grandma thought I was a UN interpreter. Not sure why, but that was the only job she could picture at the UN.

        1. The Expendable Redshirt*

          Oh gosh! Fell over laughing at this.

          My degree is in anthropology, and the parents think that I studied dinosaurs.

    29. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I work for a pharmacy / home infusion provider so everyone thinks they know that I do. I am not a pharmacist or a nurse so my job isn’t really addressed in what our company does. That confuses a lot of people. My mom knows that I work with insurance and as a result thinks that I’m some kind of expert for understanding her health plan. My husband knows a lot of what I do because we talk about our jobs. I have one friend who fully understands what I do as she works for a similar company (as a nurse) and knows that my job is important for her to get paid for her job. :) Aside from that…no…nobody knows what I do. I kind of like it that way. I actually use their ignorance as a way to not talk about work. “How’s work going these days?” “Oh you know! I’d love to talk about it but those dang HIPAA laws…..” and then I shrug helplessly. There’s always a nod of understanding and we move on to other topics.

    30. Sara*

      I have to be honest – I know very little about what my friends do. I know their titles but not really their companies or specifics. I have a really hard time retaining work information about other people. Probably because I find my job so dull and uninteresting, I tend to zone out of work related conversations.

      1. fposte*

        I was going to say that my friends know what I do since they work for the same department, but then I realized how little I know about what they do.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I never really did figure out what my father did for a living. What was puzzling to me was how did he know what to do and when to do it. So he ended up with a stack of blueprints with his name on them. When I first met my husband he asked what my father did. I showed him the blueprints. He couldn’t figure it out either.

        I had one job where I did the actual job 25% of the time. The remaining 75% was trouble-shooting and putting out fires. “So you do x for work. Explain to me again how you ended up dealing with that plumbing problem?” ugh. It would take too long to explain it.

    31. Mimmy*

      I think my husband is the only one who truly has a sense of what I do. I’m a keyboarding instructor with blind & visually impaired adults. Everyone I’ve told asks me if the keys are Brailled. I say “no”, that I teach them how to touch-type (or try to! Some students with usable vision can be resistant).

      (I hope this is what you were asking!)

      1. Specialk9*

        That actually sounds like one of the more straightforward jobs. I wonder if you said “I blind and partially blind people to touch type without needing Braille” instead of your title, you would find comprehension goes way up. It seems so much more tactile than many job titles!

    32. Ramona Flowers*

      I work for a charity. I’d say people have a vague-to-good idea of what I do.

      When I was a journalist, they didn’t get it. I was forever having people ask me if I got writer’s block, which is… not what journalism is about.

      1. Karen D*

        My friends are generally pretty interested in journalism and always asking me about my take on national stories, which is cool. My best friend stalks my publication’s website and will often email me in the morning in response to something I’ve written.

        My family … 100 percent not interested. I don’t think anyone in my family has ever read anything I’ve written for publication. That kinda stings, to be honest.

        1. Rainy*

          I’ve worked for my current organization for 2 1/2 years, in 3 different roles, and my parents have not had any idea of what I do for probably 15 years, going back to before grad school.

          My mother is so out of touch that I had to stop her giving my younger sister terrible grad school opinions (I hesitate to dignify something so wildly off-base with the term “advice”), and she still occasionally tries to give me advice about my career, which is weird, because she’s one of those people who is so unpleasant she cannot actually work in any role that involves any human contact whatsoever. She had to take early retirement (read: stop looking for work) because interviews have gotten more targeted toward fit and she’s so obviously not a nice person to be around even when she’s exerting herself for an interview.

    33. TotesMaGoats*

      People probably understand in a general sense what I do on a daily basis but there is a lot that the general public doesn’t know about higher education and what we do. My mom understands because she’s in my field.

      My husband has a job where he can talk about where he is employed but not what he does. Although he’s excellent at the keeping his lips zipped part, he does chafe at not being able to share the cool things he does. Not that we would understand it because it’s super technical.

    34. Phlox*

      I manage a very visible bike outreach team in my city so a lot of friends know what my team does, who they are etc. since most of us bike for transportation. Family knows some of the what they do but hears more of the management side from me. Looking forward to eventually having a less visible job.

    35. Yeah, I'm in computers*

      People think I am either a web designer, programmer, financial analyst or translator because I typeset financial documents in multiple languages.
      So pretty much no idea.

      1. Specialk9*

        Typesetting used to mean physically moving carved letters into place, right? I’m assuming it no longer does. Do you basically design layout of documents?

    36. StudentPilot*

      There are so many misconceptions about what I do, and a lot of what I do is confidential information that I can’t share. Weirdly, my friends and family even get the language that I work in wrong (I work for the Canadian federal government, everyone seems to think I’m dealing with French, when it’s English. It’s very bizarre to me, since I’m an Anglophone, and they all know this)

    37. jstarr*

      Literally only other people in my position at other companies know what I do. It’s difficult for even my boss to understand what falls under my legal adjacent field and what doesn’t.

      My s/o has a decent grip on it but my folks would rather talk about my brother’s easy to describe tv job.

    38. Wendy Darling*

      My jobs have all been weird, and how much the people in my life understand about what I do depends on 1. how technology-literate they are, and 2. how much they’ve asked me. My job titles are really uninformative.

      Basically everyone except my SO just knows I do something with chatbots.

      1. Specialk9*

        Do you tell them your title, or a description? I am picking up that lots of people use formal titles rather than real language descriptors.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I don’t tell them my title because my title is not descriptive *at all*. My current title is basically just a few words of business jargon that are uninformative and actually slightly misleading.

          I tell people I work on making chatbots understand people better, because that is the super-short description of what I actually do.

    39. Arjay*

      They know what I do physically all day – I sit at my desk and type, then I go to a meeting, then I come back and type some more. As far as what I might be typing or meeting about? Zero clues.

      My favorite story about this was actually with a coworker who does an Intake task all day: 60 second tasks over and over all day long for 8 hours. We were talking in the elevator and she asked me what I do. I gave her the elevator speech of “Oh, I work on X, Y, and Z.”
      Her priceless answer: “Wow, that sounds really boring.”

    40. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      My mother’s got a good idea, because her career was also finance and she handles finances for a couple of elderly family members, so we talk shop a lot. Dad knows because he listens to the conversations, but doesn’t add much.

      The rest of the family? My grandmother keeps calling me her “banker granddaughter” and the rest mostly know I just do something to do with Wall Street. To be fair, my cousins are a computer and a mechanical engineer respectively, and I’ve only got the vaguest idea what they do either.

      1. LKW*

        Oy – in my family we jokingly refer to all PhDs as Mr. / Ms. Doctor. As in “Hello Mr. Dr. Smith and how is your day?”

    41. Friday*

      My husband and I are in the same field and industry so we know a lot about each other’s jobs – comes in handy sometimes when one of us is stuck on a work thing and needs to talk it out.

    42. Turquoisecow*

      I’ve always had boring jobs. I’d love to talk about them more with friends and family, but I can see eyes glazing over if I go on for too long, so it’s easier to just gloss over the details and give vague descriptions.

      My husband knows a little more, but a lack of real interest leads him to not really remember details. He’s also not in (and has never been in) my industry, so some of what I talk about doesn’t make sense to him either.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Oh, and my husband works in technology, and while I can explain the big picture of what he does to others, I don’t have a super clear picture of his day to day or why he’s doing it. Meetings with vendors is the most of it!

    43. Marzipan*

      Ironically my team was just moved from one department to another department, following a process where the idea was formally put to the very senior decision-makers who said to do it, and *then* everyone above us but below them gave some consideration to what we actually do rather than (or, more precisely, in addition to) what they initially thought we did, and realised they maybe didn’t want to transfer us after all but were basically stuck with it because they’d already had it approved. It’s quite entertaining!

    44. Lora*

      I have a lot of friends in the same field, but my friends outside of pharma? And family? Pfffffttt. Most of em imagine I dissect frogs all day because that’s what they did in high school science class.

    45. ERugg*

      I wear many hats and I think most friends/family know one of my areas – the one that I simultaneously enjoy the most and gives me the most headache, but beyond that – not so much.

    46. Theme Park Employee*

      My wife has a pretty good idea of what my job entails (and I hers).

      Friends and Family – perhaps not so much. I work for a global entertainment company (which runs theme parks, among other things), technically in their corporate HR department, although my job is as an IT analyst providing support as well as release/outage planning for systems used for recruiting, learning management, performance management, and talent/succession planning.

      There are basically 3 levels of comprehension –
      #1 – understanding that I work for a company that runs theme parks: “Oh! Are you (Costumed Character)? Or are you a ride operator?” (I actually did formerly work as a ride op, so I’m kind of ok with this)
      #2 – understanding that I work in IT: “Oh! You work in IT! Can you fix my printer?” (no, no I can’t)
      #3 – understanding that I work in HR: “Oh! You work in HR? That must be a really boring job”

    47. LizB*

      I work for an organization that is very well known for doing X, and I do Y. We do a terrible job of advertising our Y services to the public (which is a shame, because they’re super cool), so when I describe my job, I tend to leave out the name of the organization and just say “I manage a department that does Y.” Most of my friends and family have gotten the hang of what I do by now, after lots of repetition. (It helps that many of my friends do Y-related things, so they understand the field.)

    48. SeltzerForever*

      Not at all. It’s difficult to explain so I typically don’t even bother.
      I never tried to explain it to my parents because back when I was a reporter, my father once described my job as “wearing nice clothes and sitting at a computer typing” so I gave up. My parents worked very blue collar jobs their whole lives. If you’re not literally assembling something, they have no idea what you do.

    49. Sled dog mama*

      I would say my husband has a reasonable idea, obviously my friends in the same profession. Beyond that nope but 95% of the population doesn’t know my career exists

    50. Turkletina*

      I’m a project manager, which is a title that means absolutely nothing. I try to explain to people what I do, but I get a lot of nodding and smiling.

      Most of my job is monitoring and managing quality, which is neither sexy nor easy to explain when people don’t understand what I’m monitoring and managing the quality *of*.

    51. ginkgo*

      This is a timely question. I was on the phone with my dad the other day and he said something about a particular tech gadget he’d been playing with lately. I said “Oh yeah, I know about those because of my job.” He said, “Your job? What do [tech gadgets] have to do with marketing?” I said, “Do you not know what my job is?” I am indeed in marketing…for a nonprofit that teaches girls technology skills. (I’d definitely told him that, but I guess he just forgot.)

      I used to work in book publishing, which was nice because my mom could understand it. When I changed jobs and told her my new organization taught girls to code, I think she actually did think that that meant some kind of spy work.

    52. burner name!*

      I work at PayPal, and almost everyone assumes I work with people’s money – like I’m some internet bank teller, like I have control over eBay seller/buyer disputes, like I have input in seller fees which are industry standard (like credit card processing fees for merchants). I ACTUALLY project manage marketing campaigns, which is a pretty generic job that I could do (and have done) in a variety of different industries. If you’re in the US and you get emails or see web banners from PayPal – particularly if you are a merchant or a seller who uses a business account, like if you use PayPal products to run your business and process your sales – then there’s a 50/50 chance that I project managed the campaign, through creative development, legal approval, implementation, launch, etc. Even my mom or my wife, the people who listen to me talk about work the most, would be like “I’m not exactly sure what she does, it’s project management but I think it’s got something to do with email? She’s on conference calls a LOT.”

      It was worse when I technically worked for eBay (before PayPal split off in 2015). When I worked for eBay I worked in their mobile advertising business – essentially project managing the placement and performance of mobile ads for other businesses like Ikea or Disney or Honda, working with third parties to place them on websites and apps then tracking their performance. It had literally nothing to do with the public-facing side of eBay; eBay owns so many other types of businesses that have nothing to do with the auction site. People who heard I worked for eBay always assumed I worked in some merchandise warehouse and had something to do with product sales – reminds me of that commercial with the old ladies. “That’s not how this works, that’s not how ANY of this works!!” It’s pretty remarkable how the general public doesn’t seem aware of the types of roles that are required to keep a massive global corporation running – people assume that everyone at the company does the one thing they’re aware of that company doing. Like, you work at PayPal, you must handle people’s money. There’s like 20-30k people who work for PayPal, most of us have nothing to do with transactions. :)

      1. nonegiven*

        I think one of my son’s friends is a system administrator for eBay. Doesn’t make me think they know anything about money or the stuff for sale on the site.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Same thing here. I work for an airline therefore I must be either a pilot, a flight attendant or a ticket seller. (Or sometimes a mechanic or baggage handler.)

        There are literally hundreds of job titles – maybe thousands – involved in running a large airline that have nothing to do with those things. But since that’s what people see, that’s what they automatically assume.

        Same with when I worked for a theme park. (Which I see theme park employee above has also experienced.) I must be a ride operator or a costumed character. Nope. Well, I was a ride operator over a decade ago, but none of the rides I was trained to run exist at the park anymore.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I hear you. I did financial statement account for a resort (the spreadsheet that distributed the property taxes was especially…interesting), but capitalizing a golf course isn’t nearly as much fun as people might think. I did get hugged by one of the Clydesdales, the sweetest mare in existence, when we did a site visit. Had to wash my hair that night. Biggest mistake I ever made was a lateral transfer to the window plants, the manager was a woman who had already driven me crazy, and try to explain to her that GAAP seemed to be different to different managers was um, exciting. She kept making me try to guess what how she wanted things instead of just telling me. Not there now, though.

      3. Rainy*

        My fiancé used to work for Netflix, and the next question was ALWAYS “Oh! Can he get [favourite movie] on Netflix please?”

        No, he can’t. In the same way that he currently works for IBM and cannot get you more cloud storage on their servers.

    53. Cloud Nine Sandra*

      They have a fairly good idea, since the position is pretty unusual. Anyone who’s asked me to explain the position, I have to go into a certain amount of detail.

    54. Tired Scientist*

      I’m a scientist, and perhaps only my husband (who used to hang out with me in the lab in grad school) has any kind of understanding about what I actually do. I think everyone else imagines me with brightly colored liquids in large flasks, entertaining and visible reactions, etc. In reality, I mix clear liquids with other clear liquids in tiny amounts and any reactions can generally be seen only by special instruments. I do a lot of writing (about 50%-60% of my job), which surprises people when they find out.

      Also, my friends and family assume that since I’m a scientist, that makes me an expert on everything. They are irritated whenever I say I don’t know. And for things that I actually am an expert on, they expect that I can explain it all to them in 5 minutes so that they understand as well as I do. It’s annoying.

      1. LabTech*

        Hey, you just described most of my field! (Analytical chemistry.) Everyone I’m close to knows what I do, because it’s such a big part of my life. Plus part of my jobs have always involved explaining technical concepts to people from a range of different educational backgrounds, so crossing the technical divide comes pretty naturally to me.

    55. Teal Green*

      My Spouse knows what I do. Friends who also work in the industry know generally what my position entails. Family…well they understand what my company does overall but don’t really get what it is that I do.

    56. Kirsten*

      I realized at some point that my parents, and probably many of my friends, pretty much have no idea what I do. I am a music therapist, so I guess they know in general terms what it involves, but if any of them were pressed to explain specifics of what I do, I don’t think they could do it. I think it’s a tough field to explain, because it can look vastly different depending on what population we are working with, plus with confidentiality rules, people rarely have the opportunity to actually observe our work.

    57. nep*

      On a related point — I couldn’t say precisely what my brother and sister do. One vague sentence putting them in a particular industry and perhaps discipline, maybe, but that’s about it.
      When I was working overseas, people had absolutely no idea. The remoteness gave it an extra layer of obscurity — it was just…exotic and I was off probably fighting off wild animals in the bush.

    58. LabAnimalVet*

      Hmm… of my friends/family not in the same field, hubs probably has a semi-reasonable understanding. My folks slightly less so. Everyone else could probably give you a 40,000 foot view but not actually tell you what having this job means I *do* all day.

    59. Half-Caf Latte*

      Sibling works at Google, and they recently had Take Your Parents to Work Day. There’s a video on the Google twitter feed that is just a montage of the emcee asking parents what their kids do at Google, and parents’ blank faces/I don’t knows in response.

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        My niece works for Google, and I have no grasp of what she does or how she spends her day accomplishing it. I really need to get her to explain it again.

    60. TallTeapot*

      barely anything. My job is pretty broad and is in higher ed, which most of my family only have vague impressions of what happens anyways.

      1. Ghost Town*

        Yup – since I changed positions earlier this year, my focus has changed, which makes it easier to describe. Now, I’m “basically marketing (PROGRAMS) to (SPECIFIC POPULATIONS)” instead of “anything student facing vaguely related to (PROGRAM) I either do or tell you how to do it, plus all this marketing, website/social media, reporting, grant-focused, and student development stuff.”

    61. JeanB in NC*

      I’m a bookkeeper so my job title is fairly straightforward. The only people I have to explain it to is kids, and I just say I pay the bills.

    62. JHunz*

      I’d say most of them know what my job is, but not what it actually involves on a day-to-day basis. My wife and mother are the only ones I bore with the day-to-day details.

    63. Tech Writer*

      Friends/family know basically nothing about what I do. They joke that I write books no one reads, and I never share actual info because it’s all proprietary.

    64. AnotherAlison*

      Saddest Thanksgiving small talk every: My favorite aunt (who I was very close to growing up) asked me if I was still in HR? I’ve never, ever been in HR. She said that was what my mom told her I was doing. : (

      My degree is in engineering. I had engineering jobs, then moved to a market analyst job at the same company (which, granted, is a little vague but seems clearly not in HR to me), and at the time was back on the engineering side as a project manager. I don’t necessarily expect my family to know what I actually do, but maybe the right domain of work or job title would be nice. (FWIW, my mom is in accounts payable, and I know what she does. Lol.)

    65. DuckDuckGoose*

      I’ve worked in libraries for awhile now and most people think I just check books in and out or read while I wait for someone to check books out to.

      I’ve explained to my family and friends that my main job is more like coding (I work a lot in cataloging) and material repair. People closer to my age seem to understand, my older family members not so much.

      1. Academic Librarian*

        Same here. My step mother thinks I check books in and out. Because I am a subject specialist and manager of a special collection and archive, I am positive even my husband is clueless to my daily work…writing grant proposals, project management, collection management, digital and physical conservation and data access, academic research and writing, mentoring, committee meetings, pr, managing staff and work, supervising interns and volunteers, community relations, fundraising, special events, and teaching.

        1. DuckDuckGoose*

          There really is such variety in library tasks – part of why I love it! Rarely a boring day.

          I am jealous of you being a special collections manager! I’ve always wanted to be a conservator but can’t seem to break in to that realm of libraries.

      2. Ajewel*

        Those stereotypes persist for librarians. I’ve had so many customers and even members of my own family tell me how they wish they had my job because they’d just love to be able to read books all day in peace and quiet. Well, I would love that job too! But that’s not even close to what I do. Budgeting, invoicing, collection maintenance, meetings, program planning and a host of other administrative and supervisory tasks take up the bulk of my time each day.

    66. D.W.*

      Little to none. I’m always getting asked the question, “So what do you?”. They know I work with a marginalized demographic, but that’s it.

    67. Q*

      *sigh*

      My friends keep trying to suggest things that will make my job easier or offer my cheat sheets for…things I don’t need to know or do. It’s literally not involved in my job.

      But they think it is.

      And when I try to demur, they go, “well, it’s here if you need it…”

    68. bohtie*

      I’m bound by confidentiality on some things, but otherwise, I talk about my job in generalities a lot with my friends and family. My dad and i are in similar lines of work (he’s infosec and I’m info mgmt) so we in particular talk about our jobs a lot. Most people have no idea what an archivist or records manager is anyway so they might as well get the full, excruciating picture ;)

    69. Windchime*

      The only person in my family who understands what I do is my sister who is also in IT. My parents know it’s something to do with computers but that’s about the extent of it. When my sons were teenagers, they thought I just sat and typed all day. I’m a SQL developer, so technically I *do* a lot of sitting and typing, but there’s no way to explain that my job consists mostly of thinking.

    70. Someone else*

      Basically nothing. It’s not a secret. They just don’t get it/don’t have enough interest to bother getting it. A lot of my company’s clients are well-known names, so their understanding of my work pretty much starts and stops at “works with NAMEI’VEHEARDOF sometimes.” I’ve explained it more than that, but that’s the part that sticks. So I pretty much stopped talking about it.

    71. A Non E. Mouse*

      My husband and geek friends understand what I do; non-geek friends try really hard but in all fairness, I only get the general idea about their jobs too.

      My family has no freaking clue. I’ve tried to explain over the years, and they’ll even ask for help on pretty mundane tasks…and then question every move I make.

      Hence, the great “Yes, I know how to run a network cable” incident of 2010 and my father’s absolute amazement that…I could plug something in?

    72. Trisha*

      Few people in my friends and family network (outside those who work in the same department) have an idea of what I do. Not because my title is that confusing – I mean it is a bit but it does have “manager” in it (I am a Business Expertise Manager) but most people just know that I work for the government and still think I hold the same position I originally was hired for (Call Centre Agent). I frequently have to explain to people that no, I don’t still work in the call centre after 16 years.

    73. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      My dad actually called the other day (looking for job application advice) and opened the call with “You have something to do with this HR type shit, don’t you?”

      Thanks so much for that glowing assessment of my eight-year career, father.

      My husband is a professional hacker — that’s always a fun one to explain, especially to older family members.

      1. pandq*

        I would love to see Alison interview a professional hacker. What does that job look like?
        Not that your “HR type shit” isn’t interesting also, but I know a bit more about what is involved there. :)

        1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

          That’s okay, his job is definitely more interesting :P

          So he works for a company that gets hired by… anyone really (government, big banks, medical centres, you name it) who have built software/networks/systems/whatever. He… hacks it. Finds out holes and ways in, as a user, accesses data he shouldn’t be able to access. Then he writes up a big report for them that tells them how he got in, how they can fix it, how they can prevent those holes from being created in the future.

          They also do cool stuff like testing a company’s security procedures by sending out a company-wide phishing email and reporting on how many people click the link. Or just straight up seeing how far they can bluff/tailgate their way into a secure building.

    74. Beth Anne*

      I’m a bookkeeper for a local restaurant. My MIL insists that I’m a CPA. She doesn’t understand that the two things are TOTALLY different things. She also calls her CPA her bookkeeper and kind of feel bad that she downgrades her CPA so much.

      I usually tell people that don’t know what bookkeepers do that I pay the bills and solve problems. I don’t know if my work stories are interesting. I think they are. lol

    75. Delusions of Blandeur*

      My title has the word “marketing” in it, but because of the industry I’m in, my actual day-to-day responsibilities look nothing like most people’s idea of marketing. And the industry itself is also really niche and weird to explain. So basically no one really knows what I do! I have my go-to analogies, but I mostly get polite-but-confused nods in response.

    76. CleverGirl*

      I’m a “data scientist”. I’m pretty sure my boss doesn’t even know what I do most of the time, so…

    77. ElinorD*

      I’m faculty in higher ed (community college), so my friends/family have some idea of what I do but the depth of the responsibilities flies over their heads. They don’t know how much outside the classroom work there is, and for those who also teach (k-12), they don’t realize how much advising and committee work I have to do. All anyone sees is the time I get outside of the classroom. For example, I might not have classes on a Friday, so I can run errands and do personal appts, but that pretty much guarantees I’ll be working on the weekend. If I have committee meetings or student appointments on that Friday, it still guarantees I’ll be working the weekend. Some close family members get really angry with me when I am on a break, forgetting that I’m probably pulling 10+ hour days during that “break.” And during the summer I have to scramble to pick up extra classes to make ends meet. I’m really passionate about what I do, but I’m learning how much I need personal time. My new goal is work/life balance. My students need a lot from me and I’m happy to give it, but I get to have something for myself too. Oooooo I went all confession-y on you. TL;DR – Nope. They know a little about what I do, but not how time or energy consuming it is.

    78. Amorphous job title for the win*

      I have a highly specialized/niche role at the intersection of two complex systems (health care and government) and the total number of people in my specific industry can comfortably fit together in a hotel ballroom. My husband is really the only one who understands what I do; even my parents and siblings will tell people I work for [well-known hospital] and hope they aren’t asked for more details. I love my job and my tiny group of peers, though. :)

    79. Ktelzbeth*

      My mom understands well because our jobs are very similar. I’ve followed in her footsteps. My dad understands fairly well because he’s married to my mom and in medicine as well, just a different specialty. My brother is also in medicine and has my mom as a mom, so he also generally understands. Beyond that, I think understanding is limited.

    80. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      I’m an archaeologist. Even though I have been interested in this field since I was a kid, so 30-odd years, half my family still thinks it has to do with dinosaurs and the other half thinks I’m either Indiana Jones or I do all my digging with a paint brush.

    81. Mrs. Fenris*

      90% of the people I know have no grasp of how I spend my work day. I’m a veterinarian, so most people think I am either playing with puppies and kittens or doing awful, heart-rending euthanasias. My mom thinks I spend my days giving “rabies shots” and “worm medicine” and has no idea why I get so tired and stressed. What I do: see appointments, talk on the phone, do a lot of directing and delegating, do surgery, fill forms out, and spend a lot of time just thinking really hard. The challenge with veterinary medicine is not “all of those different kinds of animals,” it’s all of the specialties I juggle in a single day. No human doctor does infectious disease, endocrinology, cardiology, surgery, and pediatrics in a single morning.

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        (I should add that yes, I do play with puppies and kittens, I do plenty of euthanasias (and hey look, euthanasia season is coming up!), and I do vaccines and deworming too.)

            1. dawbs*

              Makes sense to me.
              When we had to have our pup put down, it wasn’t because of carrying her 50 lb ass up and down icy steps a gazillion times a day (we just did that, because, you know, you do that), but her inability to walk was magnified by icy walks and crummy weather (because ‘make sure she gets some exercise, but doesn’t over-exert’ is harder when it’s sleeting and your dog gives you “WTF, do you hate me?” look when you try to make her go outside :P), and it probably hastened things.
              (And it sucked, but, it was the right decision at the right time. And I am at peace with it–and how many puppies abandoned at 2 weeks old, who have some pretty impressive health issues make it into a happy loved teenage years?)

              (Not to bring things down and fall down a rabbit hole :)

          1. Mrs. Fenris*

            We do plenty all year, of course, but we do a ton more around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nobody is really sure why. The cold weather probably stresses a lot of animals that were already having problems. Also, sometimes family comes home for the first time in awhile, looks at the dog, and asks how long Fluffy has been that thin. :-(

    82. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I work in local TV broadcasting, so I’ve had friends/family who are curious come in & watch a newscast. They’re even more confused when they leave. Impressed, but confused. “How do you know how to do all that” is a very common reaction. For strangers, I just say that I yell at people for a living even though my yelling days are long, long over.

    83. Network Engineer*

      They know I have something to do with the internet, which no one really understands, so I might as well be a wizard from Mars. My parents are pretty good troopers, but even trying to tell them about something that happened involves a 20 minute explanation of what I’m even talking about, which I’m not sure they even digest. My mom’s learned to laugh at the right parts though. I don’t even bother with friends unless they are technically-inclined themselves.

    84. Optimistic Prime*

      I don’t think anyone in my family actually understands what I do. Mostly I think they think I just play video games all day, which…is not what I do.

    85. Epsilon Delta*

      I find it difficult to adequately describe my job! I am a programmer but I work on a quite obscure type of software. I can either describe it with a short story (and about 80% of people will get it) or I can just say I make software for teapot users which is my company’s main product (and one that even your grandma knows what it is).

      My close friends and relatives have heard the short-story version of my job, but I think their takeaway is that my job involves a lot of code releases.

    86. Clever Girl*

      I’m pretty sure that no one in my family know what I do, except work 10-14 hour days, go to a lot of meetings, and work with Excel and PowerPoint, despite the fact I work on DoD project that has been in the news a lot recently. It was even referenced in a recent NCIS LA episode a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been on this project for over 20 years lol.

      1. Clever Girl -> BatteryB*

        Not the Clever Girl who posted above me. For future posts, I’ll change my name to BatteryB

    87. EasilyAmused*

      When I was a lighting and compositing artist for feature films, everyone knew I worked on movies but I don’t think anyone at all had any idea what a day in the life looked like or what goes into creating CG (hint: it’s not a magic computer pen and it’s not a glamorous lifestyle – think 80+ hour weeks sitting in dark rooms for months without any breaks). My husband got it but only because he worked on the set side of things and had years of my stories blathered at him. I’m now a Software Developer and I’m not sure my job duties have become any more clear to anyone. LOL!

    88. bookends*

      I’m a union representative/business agent. My parents both have a vague idea of what I do because they’ve both worked in union workplaces before. My partner knows much more of the day to day. I represent workers in the health care sector, though, and my grandmother thought I sold health insurance or assisted people in finding it or something for a while.

  2. Horizons*

    I have an interview! It’s a middle management position, and during the interview I will be formally meeting with my would-be team. Any suggestions for questions I could ask to give me insight into the group dynamics and culture? (I’m planning to ask about communication patterns, and strengths and challenges for the team.)

    1. Jadelyn*

      This might be the same thing you already mean when you say “communication patterns”, but I’d ask about systems. Do they have regular team check-ins? Shared documents to track things needing done, or something like Trello? How do they break up work amongst themselves in the absence of managerial directive?

      I’d also ask how long everyone’s been at the company. If everyone’s been there less than a year, you’ve maybe got an opportunity to shape the team dynamic from the ground up – or you may have deeper org-wide problems causing a lot of turnover. If everyone’s been there for 20 years or more, you may need to be prepared for resistance to change.

    2. FTW*

      Are you meeting with each 1:1, or with the team as a group?

      Depending, the types of questions you might ask are different.

      Questions that would work for either:
      – Does upper management seem to understand the challenges of your group? (Helps you get a sense of organizational alignment, communication, and culture)
      – What have been the group’s biggest achievements?
      – what other teams does your group interface with, and how does that go?

    3. WITney Houston*

      I would just advise you that this team “meeting” is actually an interview. In one of my past roles , our VP had been looking for a director to manage our high-performing team for nearly a year but most candidates were decided against by our team (upper management liked the person, but we didn’t). Our team was lucky that our VP had our back and realized that whoever was hired needed to be a fit with our team overall.

      The candidates who most turned us off were ones who treated it like they were already hired and having their first day introduction meeting with our team – telling us how they were going to drastically improve our work or make sweeping changes. Again, we were considered the best team at a leading multi-billion dollar organization. We did not want to be told how everything should be overhauled by someone who didn’t know us or our company.

      So I guess my advice is to treat this as an interview, and anticipate that the team could have a lot of influence in the hiring decision (especially since the company is making it part of the interview process).

      1. Horizons*

        Oh my goodness, yes! I definitely see it as an interview, and while interviewing goes both ways, I assume most of the time will be spent answering their questions. But I’ve found that it’s always good to have a list of questions for any spare time.

        1. WITney Houston*

          Yeah, I just thought it would be helpful to let you know what turned my team off to candidates :)

          Best of luck!!!

    4. Specialk9*

      My experience with high performing teams. From the outside, managing looks like barking orders and making all the decisions. From the inside, managing is about herding cats, fixing problems, and keeping things on task. It is a curiously serving-supporting-nurturing role.

      So the question for the team (your future subordinates who decide whether you’re hired):
      “What could someone in this role do to make things work better, and make your job easier or more effective?”

  3. Apple*

    Semi-related to one of the short answer questions earlier: what would you say is a reasonable / non-red-flag-raising level of turnover?

    In my last job there was also a split of people who have been there for decades and those who are relatively ‘new’, however I think the average for the newer staff is around 2 to 3 years. I was there for 5 years (but was probably ready to leave after 3 years had the opportunity presented itself).

    I started a new job a few weeks ago so I’m not sure what the turnover here is, but there have been a few departures since I started and when they do the leaving speeches it sounds like 3 to 5 years is pretty common here.

    1. Murphy*

      It’s so field dependent. I’m in a field where people tend to stay, though not always in the same exact position. Most people who have been here a short amount of time are new position or replacing retirees.

    2. Infinity Anon*

      I think it depends on the job. Is the turnover expected or surprising (as in when someone is hired, how long are they expected to stay)?

    3. Jillociraptor*

      I’d be more interested in why people leave and why people stay, rather than duration and turnover. Turnover can be disruptive, but so is having folks sticking around who are no longer a fit for their position. If people are leaving because the environment is crappy or people are mean to each other, that’s definitely a red flag. But if people are mostly leaving due to getting great opportunities elsewhere, that’s not such a bad thing, especially if they’re sticking in your field. It can create a great interconnected network.

      Similarly, if people stick around because they’re happy and feel like they can continue to grow within the organization, great. But if longevity is mostly caused by a lack of performance management, that’s not so great.

      1. REd 5*

        Yup, same. There’s high turnover in some areas at my job and it’s related to specific people and policies that don’t impact my everyday life, or that of my immediate department. That’s an easy thing for me to pay attention to but not necessarily worry too much about.

        And when people do leave it’s very rarely a burn all the bridges on the way out of the building type exit. They usually come back to visit regularly and are welcomed with open arms. That says a lot about the culture.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        This. Also look at who is staying and who is leaving. Excellent, high performing, nice people are staying? Probably a great place to work. Those people are leaving after a short stay? BIG red flag.

    4. Thlayli*

      Easy way to work it out is to think about how long do you expect people to reasonably stay at a particular job and what sort of opportunities for advancement are there in that department. For example if you have 20 llama cuddlers which is a junior position with no experience, and most would be expected to want to move on within 5 years, then you would expect on average one to leave every 3 months. If there are only 2 llama grooming positions in the organisation and people would expect to stay in that role for about 10 years, only one out of 20 llama cuddlers will become a llama groomer. The other 95% will leave for a different organisation.

    5. Death Lawyer*

      I also think it’s generation specific. From my experience, millennials and gen-Xers tend to move around more, since they weren’t raised with the same expectation of company loyalty that boomers were. I’m an attorney and I know a lot of big firms are struggling with turnover among younger lawyers because it’s not something they have really experienced up until the last decade or so. At my firm, most of the associates have been here for five years or less, where the older partners have spent their entire careers here. This could, of course, be specific to my field!

      1. Wilbur*

        My experience is that it’s not necessarily the age, but the type of employment. A lot of younger people in my area are hired as indefinite term contractors, where they’re making 20% less with worse benefits. A lot of people in my area haven’t gotten a raise in 2-4 years. Personally, the only real raise I’ve gotten in 3 years was when I got laid off and rehired. Only recently have things started changing, with opportunities for advancement opening up. In a world where you can’t rely on a company to take care of you, why stick around? Loyalty has to be earned.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          I think this, and find at my current job, that advancement is a big part of the question. Some companies don’t have an upward mobility track for employees so they mobility comes from getting a more senior position elsewhere. To me, it’s more important if your employer is aware of the lack of advancement opportunities. (This is an issue at my current job and they’re aware of it but it’s a university so up isn’t an option always so they’re supportive when positions open up at other schools.)

      2. Rosamond*

        There’s a huge generational gap at my Org, but not because of different approaches to jobs & longevity. It’s because all of the upper management levels/c-suite are occupied by Boomers who’ve been here for 10 years minimum and who are nowhere close to retirement (there are several colleagues of mine who have been working *at this org* for longer than I’ve been alive). There’s a very limited level to which anyone can rise, and it becomes obvious to new hires very quickly. The only open positions are entry and middling-experienced, which are mostly filled by millenials & gen Xers, until they want to actually progress – then the only option is to leave.

    6. CoffeeLover*

      I think 3 to 5 years is respectable. Particularly if you’re dealing with non-strategic positions (I would expect a director to stay longer than a developer). I think there’s also such a thing as staying too long these days. Places that have 10+ year average tenures tend to be stuck in their ways. Less willing to change and more prone to group think. Less than 3 years points to problems. I worked at a place where the average tenure was 2 years (many left after a year). Needless to say they left for a reason.

    7. Tired Scientist*

      It also depends on location. There are places where a particular company is the only one within reasonable driving distance that employs a particular skill set. Those companies will have low turnover because, in order to leave, people have to be irritated enough to completely uproot and move elsewhere.

    8. Ghost Town*

      I think that not only is it industry specific, but also depends on where people are going. That the departures are having speeches is a good sign, because to me it says that it is employee motivated and a natural career progression instead of desperation to get out of a bad situation.

      In my current position, there was 100% turn over for my specific unit (I’m the only one whose sole responsibility is this one program and I report to people who manage multiple portfolios – higher education is fun!). But… those that left did so for opportunities they couldn’t pass up and that sought them out. Their tenures were short, but around the office generally (multiple academic programs), the tenure ranges from a handful of years to over 20. Because I had been talking to some of the people involved for a while, I do feel like I got a more candid explanation of everything and saw the turnover as a result of actual professional mentorship and development within the office.

      I was in my previous position for one month shy of 8 years. Like you, I was ready to leave a few years earlier, had the opportunity presented itself, but I also pursued new opportunities at varying levels (and had a baby in 2014, at which point I decided not to rock the employment boat because I genuinely liked what I did and had immense flexibility to attend to new baby needs).

    9. Q*

      So, at my company, we have tons of people who have been working for this company for just decades (I’ve been here just shy of 6 months now)

      And yet, they don’t seem to be going anywhere with their careers.

      For instance, my job in entry-level (I’m only 24; this makes sense to me, and I’m fine with this role), but the other with my same job title has been here seven. And our team lead, who has our job with only marginally more responsibilities, has been here her entire career and she’s retiring in four years.

      I’ve been going through our files, and one of the people above me was doing my job in ’99, but she’s only one step above me, and in fact we just hired someone even younger than I to do her same role.

      This seems exceptionally strange to me, but I’m only 24 and don’t have a lot of experience. Is this a red flag RE: advancement issues here?

        1. Nacho*

          Same. I don’t know if the website is having problems right now, or if we both just messed up. Oh well.

    10. Nacho*

      We in the middle of a pretty major reorganization at my office, and one of the things we’re doing is focusing on “communication styles.” Everyone is either a driver, analytical, expressive, or amiable, and we’re being told things like how we need to flex our communication style, or that our style will impact how feedback is given to us.

      Anyone else’s office do anything like this? Is it as stupid as I’m thinking it is, or should I give it a chance?

      1. Nacho*

        Sorry, I could have sworn I did this as a new thread. Not sure how it ended up a reply to someone. My bad.

  4. AdAgencyChick*

    I’m running into a potential issue with my direct reports and the potential appearance of favoritism.

    Outside of work, I’m involved in a performing group that specializes in a style that not a lot of people my age are interested in — let’s say we’re llama acrobats. As part of my membership in the group, I’m required to sell several tickets to each of our acrobatic shows, or pay for them myself if I’m unable to sell them.

    I’ve mentioned being part of the group to my coworkers, although I never initiate a conversation trying to get them to buy tickets because that would be obnoxious. (It’s more like they hear it from me in the context of, “I can’t stay past 6 tonight, gotta run to llama practice!”) But, lo and behold, one of my reports (my grand-report? I’m his grandboss) happens to be really into llama acrobatics, and asked me to sell her a ticket to our first performance of the season, which I did.

    Now she’s asking about coming to more of my shows. Normally, upon finding a regular customer for llama tickets, I’d be ecstatic. But, I’m worried about the appearance of favoritism — I don’t want anyone on my team feeling like they should attend llama shows (much less PAY to attend a llama show) to curry favor with me. I also don’t want to tell this person, “No, you cannot come to my llama show” when she seems to be genuinely interested in the performance!

    WWYD, hivemind?

    1. Mongoose*

      Is there a different way for them to purchase tickets (vs. directly through you)? I imagine that could help feel less icky.

      1. Infinity Anon*

        I agree that if there is another way she can buy tickets it would fix the problem. Since you need to sell tickets I think that it is getting too much into a grey area for comfort.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          There are a couple of ways she could do so:
          1) Buy through the group’s website. This would significantly increase the ticket price, since we perform at a well-known venue that tacks on all kinds of “convenience” fees.
          2) Buy through another performer in the group. This seems a bit convoluted (she doesn’t know anyone else in the group, so I’d have to either introduce them or secure the tickets from the other performer and then sell them to my grand-report), but I could make that happen if necessary.

          1. Thlayli*

            Definitely don’t act as a broker for the tickets – the whole point is to take you out of the equation altogether!

            1. REd 5*

              IDK, I don’t think just introducing somebody else who sells the tickets and then letting them deal with it is acting as a broker, and I think it’s a fine medium.

              I also don’t see a problem with letting the person buy tickets from you as long as you keep things above board because anybody could buy tickets if they wanted, and there are likely ways to have enough of a trail to show that you aren’t behaving differently towards your employee. But then, I work in an office where this would be totally not a thing to worry about, we actively try to support each other’s outside endeavors regularly.

              I think that the way to do it if you’re worried, just to ease your own mind, would be to think of somebody else in your llama group that you know is trustworthy and answers communications well, and then just tell your subordinate “Hey, if you want more tickets, why don’t you buy them from Joan? She’d be happy to help you out. I’ll send you both an email to introduce you to each other.” And tell Joan “Hey, one of my co-workers wants to buy some tickets, and I don’t want it to be weird so I thought I’d pass her on to you instead, is that cool?” Then one quick email saying “Hey guys, have fun working out the details!” and peace out, and you’re good to go, IMHO.

              1. Thlayli*

                Introducing them is fine, but “securing the tickets from the other performer and then selling them to the employee” would be acting as a broker.

          2. Infinity Anon*

            Either introduce her to another performer or direct her to the website. Then there are no potential issues.

          3. Chriama*

            I think you need to take yourself out of the equation. Tell her you can’t sell her any more tickets and offer her alternatives if she’s interested. That might mean she can’t buy the discounted ones anymore. If there’s like a social media group or something where she could meet other enthusiasts and lead about how to get discounted tickets that way, that would be great. But if not, I think no one is entitled to discounted tickets and quashing the appearance of favorititism is more important than letting her indulge in her hobby at a cheaper price.

          4. Observer*

            Yes, you really need to either direct her to the site or make an introduction and bow out. Besides what others think, it’s just way to easy for her to start thinking that you have a special relationship.

          5. Megan*

            Given this, I think it’d be weird to not sell her the ticket. I think you want to continue making sure there’s no pressure for her to buy and there’s no favoritism, but I’d be pretty put off if my grandboss wouldn’t sell me tickets that I was interested in and now I had to pay more for them, and I’d think it was weird if he wouldn’t sell to a coworker.

    2. Mr. Demeanor*

      It sounds like your boss would attend whether or not you were involved. Sell her the ticket with a clean conscience. Break a (llama) leg.

    3. Combinatorialist*

      Is it obvious you are required to sell tickets? Because I wouldn’t think this is assumed. And if people don’t know, I can’t imagine they would even think that attending a llama show would actually be in any way a favor to you.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, in that case, it would read more like you’re doing her a favor — helping avoid the ticket fees — which you might still want to avoid, but at least there’s no implication that she’s helping you out by buying the ticket from you.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oooh, this is interesting. I am also involved in an activity where there’s ticket-selling that is also not appealing to a lot of younger people. To be honest, I’ve been really lucky; the one time I sold a ticket to a subordinate, my manager went as well (my manager used to go to one event every year– I think she still does, even though I’ve moved). My advice? I don’t really know. I think what makes it tough is that this is probably a public performance, so you can’t bar her from buying. Maybe introduce her to another llama acrobat for her sales? I’m not sure, but I will be watching this closely, especially as it’s coming up hard on my own llama acrobatics season. :) (My peers want to buy tickets this year, and that’s ok by me… plus my current group doesn’t have a ticket sales requirement, thank heavens.)

    5. Amy*

      I definitely don’t think it’s necessary to tell her not to come! She’s interested of her own accord, and presumably would be interested even if you weren’t involved.

      I do think it’s at least possible that her buying the tickets directly from you could give the appearance of currying favor, especially since you have to sell them, so buying your tickets (as opposed to someone else’s tickets or tickets off the main site) could be seen as doing you a favor. If there is a reasonable alternative way for her to get tickets, I think it would be good to point her there. If there’s not…well, it’s borderline enough that I wouldn’t make a huge stink of it, but I’d be very careful not to do anything else that could be interpreted as favoritism.

    6. Nanc*

      Hmmm, if you’re worried about either favoritism or the appearance of strong-arming how about offering her a buy one, get one free deal after she’s attended a few shows? You’d have to eat the cost of one ticket but it might help. Who doesn’t want a free ticket for llama acrobatics?!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Oh! This just reminded me of something! I did have a couple of subordinates come on my dime one year; three of them expressed interest in going so I gave them the tickets as one of their holiday gifts (managers gave gifts to their teams every year). It sounds kind of self-serving, but they loved it. Totally forgot about that one…

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          I actually find it surprising and fascinating that so many people think the money is the problem! (If it is, I’d be happy to just give her the ticket, also — but it becomes more of a financial bite if more than one or two of my team members decided they wanted one.)

          I was wondering whether it’s an issue that one of my reports takes an interest in this particular pastime of mine enough to attend performances, and at least some of the others do not. Does it look to the others like they’re missing out on a chance to “get in good” with me simply because they don’t care about llama acrobatics?

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            It’s not the money that’s the problem at all; it’s the idea that a subordinate is SPENDING money to see you. To me, that makes it trickier. In my case, I gave tickets to several people, because I didn’t want them to spend money to see me, which could appear like they were trying to buy my love or something. By making a gift of the tickets to several people, in my case, I was making it more equal. I think.

    7. Blossom*

      I would think nothing of any of this. It would not cross my mind that it could look like favouritism, and I still don’t think so even upon consideration.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        Yeah I’m not seeing a big problem either. If it was every month and you were pressuring the people in your office to buy tickets that would be one thing, but this seems pretty innocuous. If the OP is a performer they won’t be spending extra time with the subordinate anyway, unless they see them after the show.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Huh, interesting. I was afraid this might be like the boss who goes out drinking with one employee and not others: might the others think that I’m partial to this person because she’s attending my performances and the others are not? But it sounds like the time spent bonding is the issue there, which is definitely not part of the equation here. (She was long gone by the time I was able to get off the stage and out of the building!)

          But I do know that I of course cannot attend OTHER llama acrobatics performances with this person :)

          1. Llama fan*

            I don’t see a problem with going to a show with her, either! Rarely and with professional conduct. What a great way to develop a peer relationship with someone in a more senior position.

    8. Anon anon anon*

      Could you give her a free ticket? Or counter the cost somehow? Like introducing her to people, giving her a tour, etc.? I would definitely support her interest in it, both as a grand-boss and a participant in the activity. Just find a way to make it less financially weird and have firm boundaries. Have a separate friendship (maybe that’s too strong of a word) outside of work.

      But this brings up another issue. You’re in a group that holds people responsible for selling tickets or covering the cost. So this type of issue won’t go away. Are there alternatives to that model? Could this group do things differently? Could you join a new group or start a new group? I would seriously look into the other options.

  5. A call for quirky bosses!*

    I’m sure we’ve all had some interesting bosses, I would love to know some of their quirks and weird things they do/make you do.

    Here is mine: not the worst boss but definitely quirky!

    1) Another girl and I started on the same day for this job at a big company. He made us do a scavenger hunt, trying to answer random questions about which department does x or y, who is responsible for x or y, I thought it was a fun way to get to know people until I realized that he loved to play bizarre games that aren’t related to the work we did. One time he made new girl and me play a “how well we could listen to instructions” game which was something he was very big on and always preached it in emails and meetings. So he sat us down in the conference room and told us that we needed to write down exactly what we hear him say. One of the things was the spelling of his Ukrainian wife’s 30 letter last name. Needless to say we got it wrong and got an hour long lecture about how we needed to listen better (he also made us take copious notes and send him summaries of the notes, which he was very picky on how the summaries were done and would make us redo them if it wasn’t up to par with his standards).

    2) A few times, he would send our team of 4 people hypothetical questions that were related to the industry but had no part of any work we did at the company (and we had a deadline). We had to stop all work we were doing. Whoever had the correct or best answer received a reward like a half day off or leaving a few hours early on a Friday.

    3) We had a chat system for the company that automatically logged us in every time we sign into our computers. For some reason, boss thought everyone on the team was chatting it up and made us sign off (every day!). One time I didn’t and he sent me a jabber message during a deadline for a non-relevant thing he made us do and said “15 min left” and I responded “ok!” then he goes “YOU NEED TO SIGN OFF YOU’RE NOT WORKING!!” lol! This made me chuckle, should I have not responded to your message dude?

    4) If he ever got upset with you, he would make you feel like absolute shit. Digging you a hole and dumping horse manure all over you. He was a very loud talker so other people could hear him being condescending and rude (on the phone and by your desk). Super embarrassing to be treated like a 5 year old. Then the next day, he would call you into his office not to apologize but to tell you how wonderful you are and how you’re so good at doing x and y. Manipulative much?

    5) He always picked favorites depending on what mood he was in. These favorites changed every couple of weeks and they got to work on more confidential projects for the higher ups.

    6) Whenever we had meetings, we would book the conference room through a system online. Almost every time he would want us to book a different conference room at the last minute. The rooms he wanted were usually already booked and so we had to email the person who booked it asking if they could move their meeting. Lol!!

    7) He NEVER let any of the new people do actual work. It was always a “oh you need more training for this and I’m in meetings all day” or “oh you’re not ready for this” so in the 6 months that I worked under him, the only thing I learned was how to take good notes and write good summaries :P

    1. Second Lunch*

      I once had a boss who would pay us to do crazy things. Like, “I bet you can’t stuff 8 cookies into your mouth at once” or “I dare you to drink pickle juice”. It would be auction style where he’d ask how much people would be willing to do it for, then the lowest “bidder” got a chance to complete the challenge for the money.

        1. Second Lunch*

          It was the definition of techbro culture. I say this as a female whose exit interview included the boss commenting on how he knew I would move on since I was more “polished” than the rest of the group.

          1. A call for quirky bosses!*

            Glad you were able to move on! Did his boss know he had cookies in your mouth stuffing challenges? lol, still can’t get over that. ridiculous.

    2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      My last boss was so much like Michael Scott from the Office that it was painful to be around. Thankfully he wasn’t as boundary-violating, but he did do some weird things in order to make people like him. He always seemed desperate for approval, so he would drop comments about his clothes or glasses or mug choice or whatever and see if people picked up on them. I remember him one time walking around with a pink travel mug, and holding it out so awkwardly that you knew he wanted you to notice it. We were having a meeting and he kept taking these big, dramatic sips from it. When no one said anything, he randomly said, “Oh this pink mug! It’s my wife’s. it was the only clean mug at home. Not that I’m not confident enough to be worried about what people think about a pink mug!” We all just stared at him, like wtf? No one cares about the mug. It’s like he really wanted us to comment about how it’s pink and feminine. He made other weird comments like that about various things, and it always made things really tense and weird, and we just had to move past it.

      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        I get hardcore second-hand embarrassment watching scenes like that on TV, but I think I would melt into the floor if I had to witness something that awkward in person.

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          Me too, and he was SOOOO cringey. One time he made a comment about our director – in front of our director – that he was basically copying everything the director did/wore because he wanted to be him. It was SO WEIRD.

          This guy was very hung up on appearances. I began to notice he would copy people – mostly our director. Like if Director got some new glasses – Cringey showed up with the same glasses a week later. New phone? Cringey got the same one, and made a show of using it during meetings. Director grew a beard? Guess who grew one. It was too bizarre to be a coincidence.

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          Sounds like an old stage director I worked with once. Director Hellman once made my colleage Daenerys gallop around a piece of set for forty minutes straight, knowing full well she had dodgy knees, all because he was after a particular Gangnam-style side-to-side wobble that, with her knees, Daenerys could not physically do. Two weeks of utter hell.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        at OldJob I had a “Michael Scott-like” boss. He was less interested in the business and more interested in playing practical jokes. One time he said he had a spectacular April Fool’s Day prank all planned, but decided against it because he didn’t know how all of us would take it. Said our group had varying degrees of senses of humor.

      2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        Yeah, that does sound just plain terrible! He sounds like a bully, especially with the thing about moving conferences rooms at the last minute. Like he KNEW the room was booked, and he just wanted to show people how powerful he was by having them move their room.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Seriously. Quirky bosses can be odd or exasperating, but overall charming. This guy just sounds like an asshole boss.

    3. DaniCalifornia*

      I’m sorry the further I got down your list all I could think was ‘This guy is insane and horrible, not quirky.” And he wasn’t your WORST boss? Ugh. I’m sorry you had to work for him!

      1. A call for quirky bosses!*

        @Dani, he actually was MY worst boss but in the general sense of worst bosses, not the worst from what I’ve read on here :)

    4. Ingray*

      My former boss has a thing where she wants you to be a True Believer in whatever policy she is implementing or decision she or the higher ups have made. I used to assume (foolishly) that I could voice my disent (appropriately) or ask a lot of questions as long as I went along with the decision and presented it positively to the people I managed. It used to irritate her I guess and finally she addressed it with me by telling me that it wasn’t good enough and she wanted me to basically agree with every decision she or the company made. She felt that she had the right as my boss to dictate not just my actions, but my feelings. I left a few months ago and now she is doing the same thing to my replacement.

      1. ElinorD*

        I used to work in a small ad agency, where I was an admin. I was assigned to assist a dept of one as part of my duties. That “one,” wasn’t really supposed to be my boss, but she thought I was. She loved having a minion. At one point, one of our biggest client’s account team was short staffed, so i was assigned to help them. (In my spare time lol.) Dept of One lady was furious, and instead of finding ways to make it work she made it her mission to make me screw up, so she could point to the owners and say, “See? You shouldn’t have given her that extra assignment.” She went off on a work trip and called me, *demanding* that certain documents be overnighted to her very remote hotel by 8am. Long story short, in order to get documents to her on time, I had to drive to the airport to get them on the overnight delivery service plane in time. I made it. The next morning, she called me, and I asked, “Did you get documents?” She said, “Oh, we left before 8am.” I lost it in front of my *actual* boss, who said, “It’s time to bring this up to mangement.” That meeting turned into a “why Elinor sucks at everything” meeting and I got written up. She was something.

    5. Beaded Librarian*

      At my current job we had a new director for one month that is now frequently referred to at the hurricane. I work at a library.
      She decided she wanted to make room for a large maker space ASAP and the only way to do that was to do a massive weeding. Potentially not a huge deal. However she managed to weed 7000 items in a month! And the weed edging job was so bad and haphazard that when we were looking at what might need to be weeded in prep for doing an inventory for the first time since at least 1998 (long story there too) we discovered at least 3000 items that had NEVER been checked out in the computerized system. Now clearly the staff member who should have been doing weeding as part of their job had not been bu the director didn’t bother to pull good lists. It took me about 5 minutes to do it and those kind of reports are only tangentially related to my official job duties.

      She also happily threatened a coworkers job in my presence where I couldn’t easily remove myself as I was at my desk and had reason to leave it via the back way the they were standing right by the other exit area.

      She yelled loudly at patrons across the library and wouldn’t listen to the complaints from patrons about very fast changes she made than did not help patrons and in some ways made things more difficult.

      Apparently she was asked to resign after only a month but did not bother to tell anyone I needed the library except for me because she wanted contact info for someone that she had been talking to about a possible collaboration. That was awkward because I had no idea if I should tell any of my coworkers.

      Thank god it was only a month. I was lucky she decided she like me for some reason but it was very stressful even for me.

      1. JeanB in NC*

        7000 items in a month isn’t weeding – it’s more like strip-mining! I mean, when I was doing the weeding in my one and only library job, I was super ruthless but I didn’t get anywhere close to that! (Weeding was basically my favorite task in the library.)

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          You are total correct, and she wasn’t paying any attention at ALL, she weeded several recently purchased books for no reason that I could see plus several books by/about players of our well loved state football team. It was ridiculous.

          I should add that my understanding is that some of it was back issues of magazines (we went from like 2 years back issues to 6 months) but I’m pretty sure it was a minimum of 3-4,000 of just books. We’re actually doing some pretty heavy properly done weeding right now to get right of those volumes that should have been gotten rid of years ago and I don’t thing that it’s been over 600 items a month during the process.

    6. Admin Happens*

      Wow that adds up to very bad.

      My fave/worst is when I spent a Sunday afternoon coordinating my boss to get his golf club fitting which I had been pinging him on for weeks- lots of texts and calls back and forth between the club and got him a last minute appointment.

      Only to be chewed out on Monday because I hadn’t explicitly told him he needed to bring his clubs to the club fitting.

      1. crookedfinger*

        Well OF COURSE it was your fault… I mean, who would ever think to bring clubs to a club fitting? That’s ridiculous!

      2. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        I had a “Michael Scott” boss too. Every time someone came back from the rest room he would ask “Did everything come out OK?” I mean EVERY DARN TIME!!! He would laugh his head off too. Don’t miss him at all.

    7. Cassie*

      My weirdest boss was when I was a server. My husband would pick me up when I worked nights, because otherwise I would have had to walk several blocks in the dark, alone, carrying rolls of cash. He came into the foyer and waited for me to finish closing chores, then escorted me to whatever parking spot he’d found.

      The manager of the restaurant was absolutely insistent that my husband was constantly inebriated, because he has mobility problems. He had a badly broken leg that never healed right, and in bad weather he limps quite badly. In good weather, he still struggles with stairs and with high chairs/restaurant stools (where he would sit to wait for me). She would see him lurching in to pick me up, and 4 out of 5 times would pull me aside and whisper about how she thought he had been drinking. It was ridiculous.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Wow, that’s horrible. Not that you had to tell her, but if you did mention he had mobility issues and she still did this? Ugh.

    8. Anon anon anon*

      In a public sector job, I had a boss who refused to talk to me. Refused to be in the building at the same time as me. When we did cross paths, she would complain about it in front of me. I have no idea how this happened, but she was able to get some kind of, “I can’t be in the presence of this person,” thing on paper but remained officially my boss. I never said or did anything odd that I know of during the conversations I had with her when I started. My grand-boss took on boss duties. But, being a public sector job, my responsibilities were very well defined and there weren’t often any reasons to talk to a supervisor. But she made her disgust at me so obvious, and without giving any clues as to why, I’m still creeped out.

  6. Blue Anne*

    I’m a 28 year old woman in Cleveland. I have a growing rental business (nine units), and I’m doing fine as a bookkeeper/accountant. I’m a little underpaid but I have a fine job at a small firm with flexibility and health insurance.

    Would it be crazy to quit and start over with an electrical apprenticeship? Because I absolutely hate working in an office but I love the hands-on work I do on my rentals.

    1. Look What You Made Me Do*

      As long as you could sustain yourself while you were doing the apprenticeship I don’t think it’s crazy at all. You’re only 28! Go for it!

    2. SometimesALurker*

      I don’t think so! Certainly, there’s some risk/reward stuff you’ll need to take into account about the timing of your change, like how much of a savings buffer you’ll want and it’s practical to create (if any) before quitting your job. You should work in a career that you don’t hate a big part of, if you can help it.

    3. FormerOP*

      Check the economic data/forecasts for your city. Mine has a projected electrician shortage within 10 years and avg pay for master electrician is 50,000 per year. More info might help your decision. FWIW, make sure you are comfortable going into crawlspaces, basements, attics.

      1. the raven*

        One also needs to make sure they are comfortable working in extreme heat and cold. It’s not uncommon to be working in a poorly ventilated building at the height of summer with no fans in sight, or in the barest frame of a building with no walls in the middle of winter.

        Also, if one has a fear of port-a-potties, don’t apply. You’ll rarely be working somewhere with a real bathroom and running water. :/

    4. selina kyle*

      That sounds amazing. You’ve had some experience with it, you have the rentals to help sustain you. I say go for it! Best of luck!

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I’d do some night classes just to be sure that you would be happy doing the work and math. It’s such a great skill to have whether you change careers or stay in your current position! But if you are sure that it is the path for you, then there isn’t much risk. We will always need electricians and there are so many opportunities with it- you can be in business for yourself, with a company, you can work for a hospital or university, you could be doing development or aeronautics…

    6. LCL*

      If you don’t have any other experience in this trade other than working for yourself, don’t quit yet. Contact the union and local community colleges and see if you can take a ‘math for electrical trades’ or whatever they call it class. If you can do accounting and bookkeeping the math will be easy for you, but different from what you are doing. It’s will be a lot of trig and simple algebra. While you are taking the class hopefully you can learn more about the employment prospects and what you will have to do to get hired for an apprenticeship.

      I remember from your previous posts that sometimes when people are jerks at work it can really affect you. It would be helpful to learn how to not let someone’s shi$$& behavior ruin your whole day. Because otherwise being an apprentice can be hard on your self worth. It’s not an abusive atmosphere, don’t get me wrong. But you will be reminded most days that you aren’t running things yet.

      1. Blue Anne*

        A lot of good stuff here, thank you. We have a really good community college here so I’ll see what I can take. I looked over the apprenticeship requirements at the local union and I meet all of them, but it would be good to actually do some of the studying.

        I have wondered about the social thing. It’s probably my main concern. But my experience so far is that if I can understand that it’s part of the environment, or part of my boss’s general character, rather than me being an incompetent idiot, I’m pretty okay with it. Does that make sense? I have a grumpy boss here and I can take him yelling at me because I know I do okay work and he’s, well, grumpy.

    7. orlily*

      I’m on team Not Crazy. Obviously, you’ll want to do some research to see how viable it is and chart a path to getting there, but not at all crazy.

      One thing to consider: the few licensed electricians I know do not work on their own properties due to insurance / liability issues. (ex: so the insurance company can’t declare that you purposefully burnt your house down by making a wiring error) You may want to account for things like that if you were considering the savings on your own property.

    8. Ashley*

      The trades generally need people. You can make a good living, but I do believe the work ages people faster then office work. I would definitely looking at exploring it. Worst case learn the work, go back to an office job, and you just do side work. (Watch the family / friend freebies because it can get out of hand.)

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I just said this to a friend and then thought it in response to a resume I was reviewing – it always makes sense if you quit your job to do something radically different and then end up wanting to go back to your old career. You gave it a shot! But still have the previous skills to get back in.

          1. nonegiven*

            Electricians have CEUs, accountants have CEUs. I’d keep up with both. You might not want to be crawling around in attics or climbing up and down ladders all day in your 60s.

            1. Blue Anne*

              Well, I’ll still be doing all the bookkeeping for my property business, so I will try to keep up on accounting stuff. (And hopefully by the time I’m in my 60s I’ll have a hundred or so properties!)

    9. voluptuousfire*

      Go for it. Life is too short and you can potentially get into a union, which can be a great thing.

    10. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Not crazy at all, I say go for it. My husband quit construction after 20 years to go back to school for computer programming. He was in his early 40s and successfully made the transition. It was a little lean while he was in school (we hadn’t met yet and he was single), but he did it, and so can you. You also have the benefit of having other sources of income and a current profession that isn’t restricted to daytime hours, so freelancing might be possible also. I think the value in doing something you love really outweighs the negatives here. Which really, are probably mostly in your head (I’m too old, it’s crazy to leave a stable job, etc. – none of this is necessarily true).

    11. zora*

      Not Crazy!!! The trades always need people, especially women, and not enough women are encouraged to check it out! I’ve mentioned this before, but there are “Women in Trades” groups all over the country, some are more just support networks, others do more concrete things like specific open houses or offer women-only training classes. You should definitely look for some to join, I think that could make a huge difference. From what I know from friends, the trades can still be really big on networking and ‘knowing people’, which is why the groups for women are so important.

      Best of luck and keep us posted!!

    12. Natalie*

      It’s definitely not crazy, but just a couple of comments from my spouse’s experience as an apprentice electrician.

      – I obviously don’t know if things work the same way in your state, but in MN you get put on a list for an apprenticeship and then you have to wait for your number to come up. That can take a long time (my husband waited over a year). So probably don’t quit your job until you actually have a start date for your apprenticeship.

      – Electrician work, especially in the first few years, is really physically hard. A lot of your job as a newbie is carrying around a shitton of wire and running around the site at the end of the day picking up. So if you’re not in good shape, probably get working on that.

      – The trades can be a difficult place for women. It’s certainly not a reason not to do it, just be ready for it.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Thank you, this is really helpful! I’ve looked into the process for starting an apprenticeship and I know it’s done through the union and pretty much what I have to do, but I’m not sure if there’s a wait. I should call someone there and ask about getting started. Luckily, I’m in good physical shape, very strong for a woman.

        1. A Different Person Definitely Wearing Groucho Marx Glasses*

          Good luck! It’s pretty interesting work, a lot more intellectual than people give it credit for. And there are so many subfields – new construction, remodel, repair, low voltage, residential… once you get through your apprenticeship and journeyman (not sure if they’ve updated this terminology?) you have a lot of options.

    13. the raven*

      Female electrician here. Dont do it. Despite the current and projected shortage of employees in all skilled trades, none of the trades seem to be doing anything to try and appeal to new employees to make them consider going in to the trades as opposed to nearly any other job one can get.

      Pay rates haven’t changed in the 10 years since I started. The gas stations around d where I live have a better starting pay then my company does, and the pay doesn’t improve all that much as you gain experience over the years.

      Plus, and this is my own observations from the company I work at, but women don’t seem to be given a lot of opportunities. Where I work I see the guys with less years in getting better chances to advance then any of the women get, myself included. I’m actually looking to get out of the trade completely, I just don’t know what to try and get into.

      If you really want something hands on, the trade I would recommend is auto mechanic. They seem to be paid well. There are companies everywhere, so if you aren’t treated well you can easily find another job. And from what I know it is a lot easier to start your own business down there road once you have the needed experience.

      If you want more info or have more questions, feel free to reply to this post and I’ll answer back. I’ve got my email included in my info on here but I don’t know if that will allow you to email me. Feel free to do so if it does. Hope this helps.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Hi Raven, can I ask what part of the country you’re in?

        I looked up information from the local union here (it looks like all apprenticeships go through them) and their apprentices start at $13.17 an hour, with raises every six months of 5% of a journeyman’s rate. ($37.63.) I’m on $17 an hour now so that seems pretty fair to me.

        Unfortunately I have zero interest in cars. :(

        1. Natalie*

          Just another data point, the union positions in MN are similar to what you describe with systematic raises and COL increases based on how much experience you have (in work hours). I wonder if raven is non-union.

          1. Blue Anne*

            Thanks, this is good to know.

            I’m not totally clear on how the union jobs work. During the apprenticeship it seems pretty straightforward (and I know that lasts for years) but once you’re journeyman do you go get your own jobs elsewhere? Or does work come through the union?

            I’m a raging socialist so I wouldn’t want to go non-union.

          2. the raven*

            You are correct, I am non Union. Though from what I have seen there wouldn’t be much difference in things for me. I could be getting paid more if I joined the local Union, bit I would lose out on my paid vacation, Holiday’s, and medical insurance. I would rather not be having to pay for all that on my own.

        2. the raven*

          I work on the east coast, and I should have noted I am not union. That said, the Unions around here do pay better, but unless you get in permanently with a company you won’t get any benefits. No medical, dental, paid vacation or holidays. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t join the union. I don’t say that to discourage the Union, especially since it is the only option in some places, just to provide info. If you do consider the Union make sure to ask about how benefits work.

          To answer your question down below,
          if you don’t get a job with a company directly, it is supposed to be he job of the Union to get you all work. If you do work directly for a company it is up to then to find you work.ifthwy can’t, they might send you to the Union hall and have them find you work.

          1. Natalie*

            That’s fascinating, up here the health benefits are through the union and vacation and stuff is determined by the CBA. But basically every electrician here is union, maybe that’s why it’s different.

            1. the raven*

              Benefits are included?! You’re making me want to move back to my birth place (I’m from South Saint Paul). But yeah, where I am at you don’t get those benefits if you work out of the Union Hall. Only if you manage to get a job directly with a Union Company, which is in no way guaranteed.

              Also, Blue Anne, if you do decide to take a class or two at a Community College don’t go for a full degree in Electrical unless you want to become more than a field electrician. The education that they provide you will be the same as what you get from an Apprenticeship as most send you to classes in addition to on the job training. If you go to the college you will just end up spending a bunch of money on something that while helpful, won’t really put you ahead when you get out into the job market. In electrical, a college degree is good, but it’s the field experience that matters the most.

              1. Blue Anne*

                Good advice, thanks! I looked at the community college this afternoon and you can only do their program if you’re already in an apprenticeship program, so I’m going to to do an online “math for techs” type class and see how I get along with that.

              2. Natalie*

                Twin Cities homie! Yes, when my husband was in the IBEW local in Minneapolis the health care was through the union, not his employer. And it was kick ass coverage, for what it’s worth.

                I can’t speak to how it works when you’re licensed since he had to leave due to health issues, but I think it’s for everybody.

    14. Denise (in las vegas)*

      kinda random:

      At the age of 40 I graduated as a Biomedical Engineering Technician. I love it. I get to take apart equipment and then put it back together. I’m currently doing preventative maintenance on Syringe Infusion Pumps (Alaris 8110, look’m up!). There is the right amount of running around the floors of the hospital and sitting on my rear, Oh SHIT! scrambling and cruising along. Lots of hands-on. TONS to learn. Plus? No crawlspaces and I’m not outside in the weather. Or inside in an unair-conditioned space (been there, done that, nope).

      The guys do watch you to see if you’ll pull your own weight and there have been a couple of chauvinistic pigs (they were subtle because they knew they were wrong and that the other guys would call them on their shit). So be prepared for that kind of shit.

      The trades are good for the physically healthy people. Once you start having problems w/your hands? Time for a new career.

      You are not crazy: Go for it! :-D
      Except for the quitting part. Can you hold off on that? Work around your school schedule? Much easier to study when you’re not worrying about the elec bill.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And knees from kneeling to work all the time. OP, knee pads are a necessity or have something to kneel on.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Oh yeah. I already have some knee pads I use when I’m putting plank flooring into my properties. Those things are magical.

      2. Natalie*

        For what it’s worth, the union apprenticeships are a earn-while-you-learn situation, so Blue Anne would not be without income.

      3. Blue Anne*

        Luckily, I have a couple other sources of income, and apprentices do get paid an okay wage here. :)

      4. Mrs. Fenris*

        Oh my goodness, I am a veterinarian, and people who can make a fluid pump or syringe pump work are my daily heroes! That’s a cool job. :-)

    15. Today's Anon*

      Definitely Not Crazy! Sometimes we think we want to go into one field, but then find out that we dislike it or it makes us miserable. The field I’m in now is my 3rd. I tried it out when I was around 30, & I love it. Both of my previous fields were things I thought I’d like, but I’d be miserable if I’d stayed in either one.

    16. KR*

      I think it would potentially be a good move for you! You don’t have to just be an electrician too. I work in the south west in solar and there are a lot of technician jobs (not a full electrician) out here where you’re 100% out in the field saving the planet.

  7. Joy*

    (This is sort of only tangentially work-related, so please let me know if it should be posted i the weekend thread instead.)

    In the post about which battles to pick – where discussion largely focused on writing styles – quite a few people mentioned using different styles for work as opposed to, say, your own novel.

    Does anyone have trouble switching their mindset from one to the other? My work involves a lot of technical writing – not necessarily formal, but definitely has to be objective, so no ’emotive’ words or anything that could suggest personal bias. At the same time, I really want to take up creative writing again – not as a means to another career but purely as a hobby. Sometimes though, I find it hard to convey emotion since it’s sort of been trained out of me.

    I can remember doing this before I started working (mostly during university) when prose would flow so much more easily, whereas now I feel like I’m overthinking every word. Maybe I’m just out of practice, but the switching of mindsets between the work day and the evenings/weekends is proving something of a barrier.

    (Sidenote: one thing I’m doing to deal with this is instead of writing I’ve started drawing plot points out storyboard-style. Not sure how much It’ll help but at least it feels like I’m still working on the story without having to deal with the words for a while…)

    1. Writing as a side hobby*

      I’m in a similar situation, and what I’ve been learning from experts is that in creative writing, you should not worry about the words when you’re first writing your story.

      So now I stopped to overthink every word and just write down the scenes I’m working on, even if the words sound overly technical / formal. Later (before submitting a first draft to an editor), I’m going to go back and rewrite in my “creative voice”. Perhaps you can try to do the same and see how it goes!

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Ooh yes. I don’t do creative writing, but I used to be a much more engaging writer generally when I was in school. I think a big part of it was because I was reading so much more. Now, so much of what I read is generic-to-badly-written professional emails, and I do feel that my writing has gotten much duller as a result. I just don’t have as many interesting turns of phrase in my life as I did once!

    3. Jadelyn*

      Some of it is probably a practice thing tbh. If you haven’t done creative writing in a few years, it’ll take a bit to clear out the cobwebs and get back into the swing of it.

      You might try starting your creative writing session with some freewriting, with or without prompts. Set a timer for anywhere from 5-15 minutes, get your prompt if you’re using one, and go. No stopping, no self-editing, just pour words out on the page. They’re probably gonna be bad. Really bad. That’s okay, that’s the whole point of this. When the timer goes off, either save your freewrite or don’t – I used to keep a running word doc that I would just add new entries (dated) at the bottom of the document then save it; I’ve had friends who saved individual freewriting sessions each in their own file; or just delete it and let it go – and then close it immediately. DO NOT GO BACK AND RE-READ ANYTHING. Close it and switch over to your creative work and write away.

      I emphasize the not rereading part because the whole point of this is to bypass the editor-brain and let the writer-brain out to play. If you go back and reread, you’ll either be embarrassed at the quality (which is discouraging when you then try to go and write more) or you’ll want to edit it (which puts you right back in the editing mode you’re trying to get out of).

      And here’s the other thing – give yourself permission to write a terrible first draft. As writers we often expect even the first draft to at least be good, if not perfect, but the first draft is really more akin to the rough cut for a craftsman making things from raw material, or the pencil sketch a classical artist might start with before getting out the paints. It’ll kinda resemble what your finished product is supposed to be, but only kinda. That’s what the editing and rewriting process is for. So just get the framework out onto the page. Worry about sanding and polishing and painting later.

    4. NeverNicky*

      It’s not so much the change of voice, it’s just the whole brain space/creative capacity is drained by the functional/informational writing I do – which requires (from me) as much creative effort to make educational and engaging as writing any fiction.

      Possibly if I had a burning desire to write the next great British novel I’d try harder but currently I divert my creative mind into yarn and needles stuff.

    5. Quinalla*

      It’s definitely a mindset switch, but I think you could get used to it. I don’t write stories, but I do a lot of for-fun writing (forums, long emails, journaling) and I definitely don’t use the same writing style I use for formal work communication that has to be 3rd person with careful language that a lawyer might someday pick apart. I don’t have trouble switching, but sometimes if I’m doing a lot of the formal work writing I might have to make more of a effort to get back into my casual voice. Maybe set up your home writing area in a way that very different than work and have some sort of short ritual to get you in the right mindset (special drink/snack, taking a few minutes to focus on something or meditate, scents, etc.) Good luck!

    6. Q*

      Well, I don’t, but I’ve been writing creatively since before I really used writing for anything else, so if anything, that’s my “default” and have always had to know how to switch it off. Switching back on again…well, I definitely have read some writers who have trouble with that.

      But really, I think practicing would help you the most! Also, I keep a notepad near me to write down plot ideas freely–and remember you can always edit!

  8. Jiggy*

    Was recently having a discussion with friends about his topic and just want to hear others’ perspectives: how long does it take you to feel really confident at your job? (Not necessarily “happy” since I know some people have crappy jobs.) Feeling like you know what’s expected of you and that you have a handle on how to do it.

    Six weeks? Six months? A year? NEVER?

    Fascinated to hear what other people’s experiences might be…

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It really depends on the job for me. My current job? Still learning, still having confidence issues, but I started feeling good about things about 6 months in (it’s been 11 months). Last job? Thought I was great at 6 months, but the goalposts kept moving and I never got my footing.

      In my current job, I expect it to take another 6-7 months before I feel really comfortable with what I’m doing.

    2. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot*

      It probably took me about a year before I was fully confident in my job. I did a complete industry switch to something I thought I would NEVER do. I look back at work that I did the first 6 months I was there and cringe at some of the work I did.

      1. No Green No Haze*

        From what to what, if I may ask, WTF? I’ll be trying to jump industries in the future and it gives me hives to think about.

        1. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot*

          I was a kindergarten teacher and switched to a financial paraplanner. My school lost its charter so I had to find a job really quickly so I was just looking for any admin job I could find. I ended up getting my paraplanner certification within 2 months of working here and I haven’t looked back since! I have been here 3 years now. If you could have told me I would end up in the finance world I would have laughed at you. Now, I absolutely love it and have learned so much! I still use my teaching skills for this current job (organizing, calling clients, dealing with difficult clients with kid gloves). I know it may seem scary, but you never know what you are capable of if you don’t give it a shot!

    3. Amber Rose*

      Six months for enough comfort to suggest changes, a year before I start making most decisions without running to someone to ask, and however long it takes to be smacked with every conceivable problem before I feel like I can handle anything that comes my way.

      My last job was such a gong show that I never found my footing, but I’ve been here for three years and going it alone for a year and a half and I feel pretty much OK about my work.

    4. SCtoDC*

      In my current position, it was a solid 8 months before I really felt confident. Looking back, I can pinpoint almost exactly when the switch happened and I went from feeling like I was failing at everything to feeling like I was okay. In the position before that it was probably closer to 3 or 4 months. I think it depends on the position, but also the company as a whole.

    5. Ms. Meow*

      At my entry level Chemist position I got right after getting my bachelor’s, I would say I felt comfortable about 6-8 months in. I knew the tasks, systems, and people well enough to feel like I knew what I was doing most of the time.

      My current position is my first after getting my PhD. Since I’m in a higher level position that is much less cut-and-dry than a bench level scientist, it’s been an uphill battle the whole time. I’ve been here just over 2 years, and on a comfort scale of 1-10 I’m at about a 5: I feel like I can handle about half of my tasks while the other half I have to ask for guidance. I’ve been told by more senior people in my position that it may take up to 4 or 5 years until I really feel like I have the hang of everything.

    6. NW Mossy*

      It really depends on how much difference there is between the job you had before and the job you have now. In my current job, it was a lateral (I managed llama herders and now manage alpaca groomers; was formerly an alpaca groomer myself), so I was up to speed in a few weeks. When I’ve switched departments, more like a few months. When I switched companies, more like a year. I’ve never switched industries, but imagine that would be longer yet.

    7. Anne of Green Gables*

      At least a year for me, though really, two years. I am someone who does things better the second time, so getting through time 2 or 3 of doing something (I’m thinking things that are annual) is really where I hit my groove.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        At OldJob and at CurrentJob, it’s taken me about three months to feel comfortable and confident in my work. Where I could pretty much do my job without a lot of supervision and with relative ease and speed.

    8. ClownBaby*

      Will it look tacky if I bring a friend to a business outing?

      I was invited to an upper management dinner followed by a sporting event recently. I am the youngest by over 20 years, the only woman, and the only one without a significant other. When asked how many tickets I want for the sporting event, I said 1. The Vice President of the company then said something along the lines of “Take two, find someone to bring.” They will all be attending with their wives.

      I am not dating anyone nor do I have much interest in dating anyone at this moment. Would it look unprofessional for me to just bring a friend? Or should I download Tinder and start swiping to see if I can find a potential date? The event isn’t for over a month, so I guess I have time.

      1. Murphy*

        “Find someone to bring” says to me that you can bring whoever you want. I think a friend would be fine! I think that’s better than bringing a casual/new date.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Bring a friend! They gave you two tickets for exactly that purpose. Do make sure to pick a friend who you are 100% sure will act appropriately. Your buddy who likes to get too drunk and argue about politics is not someone you want to meet upper management.

    9. Maya Elena*

      For me in several positions (analytical corporate type jobs, none of them officially supervisory though), I’d say a year before I felt like I was competent and doing meaningful tasks (rather than mindless busy-work).

      At one job in particular I was ready to leave at one year, but didn’t feel like I had much to show for myself in terms of accomplishments; in two years, I was confident in my resume and did not regret staying the extra year, as well as leaving at a much more opportune time due to unrelated factors.

    10. TotesMaGoats*

      I’m in higher ed and I won’t feel confident until I’ve been through a full sequence of semester starts. Different things happen each time. So, for me that will actually be the one year mark.

      1. Ghost Town*

        Exactly – in higher ed administration, there are so many things you only do once a semester or once a year that you don’t truly understand the full scope of a position until you’ve been there at least one year. And because you only do somethings once or twice a year, they can continue to be tricky or confidence destroying for several years to come!

        That said, I’m starting month 7 at a new position in a new school at the same university and am beginning to feel like I have my legs under me most of the time. Still totally have crises of confidence on the regular, and know that the spring semester will probably throw me some curve balls, but knowing that (and having a base level understanding of the university and its systems) helps me feel comfortable and better able to deal with it.

    11. Ingray*

      A my first job out of grad school, it took me a good two years. I’m surprised I toughed it out that long.

    12. Anonyme*

      I’ve been nursing a few years, but moved into Critical Care 10 months ago. I can do the tasks but still feel nauseated with terror every day.

    13. Crylo Ren*

      It largely depends on the company culture and how supportive my team members/managers are. 4 out of the 5 jobs I’ve had, I’ve felt confident a year in. The most recent role I left, I got a new boss a year in and felt like I was starting all over again. (That was one of the reasons I decided to just leave.)

    14. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Depends on the job. At my last job, it took a couple months, but I had worked on the same product elsewhere, so I had a starting advantage.

      In my new job, it took probably 9 months before I started to get really comfortable and confident.

    15. Lora*

      It depends soooo much on the job. If they are one of the places that is constantly re-organizing (literally last 3 full time non-consulting jobs I’ve had, from small to huge, the companies were all constantly playing Musical Management), at least a year. If they are stable with minimal churn and have a good onboarding and training program, 2 months is plenty.

      It’s one of the things I like about consulting work. The project is defined and I don’t have to worry about finding my way around quite as much. I do Thing. I will contact Project Manager. You pay me, then I go home. I’m sort of always in my comfort zone because I only do exactly what I’m comfy with.

    16. Manders*

      It normally takes me about six months to feel like I’m starting to settle into a groove. At my current job it’s probably going to take a bit longer, because 1) things might change soon due to factors I can’t fully control, and 2) some rough stuff is happening in my personal life, so I think I’d feel like I was floundering a bit at any job.

      I think tenures in my field tend to be on the short side, there aren’t many people who stay in the same position in the same place for a decade or more.

    17. Quinalla*

      For my last job switch, 3 months I felt like I was getting close to being as efficient as I thought I should be. 6 months is when I started feeling much more confident.

    18. only acting normal*

      From scratch in an entry level professional job:
      6 months to think I knew what I was doing. 1 year until I could quietly and confidently go back and fix the things I did wrong at 6 months. :)

    19. Windchime*

      I would say about 6 months at my current job, but it’s basically the same industry as previous jobs. I had to learn some new data models and get acquainted with new customers, as well as adjusting to commuting to the Big City. I’ve now been there a year and I feel really comfortable.

    20. Admin of sys*

      I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride at 6months into the new job, but I floundered really badly at the 4 month mark and used the 5ht month to drag myself back into productivity. (delayed response to prev. job burn out, I think? Plus failing to adjust to different job expectations and environment)
      But I think it really depends on the job and position in your career. I picked up speed much better at my last position, and I wasn’t anywhere near as good at what I do then as I am now – I just had different expectations of how things worked.

    21. MissDisplaced*

      When I was doing graphic design, I would say about 4-6 weeks (sometimes not even that! -there was a lot of hit-the-ground-running). But now that I’ve move up and onward beyond design into communications roles, I would say 3-6 months to begin feeling confidant and knowing who/what go to and when. My last job was in a regulated industry, so it took a long time to learn how to write for that. It also can depend on the size of the company.

    22. Delusions of Blandeur*

      For me, it takes about six months to feel like I can usually get things done without asking for help, and a year to feel like I know enough to start helping others — which is my personal metric for confidence. However, every time I’ve changed jobs in the past, it’s been into a completely different position or field, whereas at my current job, which is very similar to my previous role and in the same industry, I’m feeling almost as confident just three weeks in as I usually feel after three months. Which is a nice change!

  9. Eugh*

    Gah, anyone good at wording emails? I received an interview offer for next week, but can’t make it due to a prior commitment (which I can’t change the time of). The job can’t do any other day for the interview as they’ve (which may be a yellow flag?) How can I say that I want to touch base if they have another similar role in the future?

    1. Asha*

      Thanks again for the invitation to interview. I won’t be able to make that time – unfortunately, I have a prior commitment that I can’t move around. I’m still excited about this position and would love to interview at a different time if that becomes a possibility, but if not, I hope you’ll be able to keep me in mind for any future roles like this one!

      1. Jessica*

        I like this response the best, but that last sentence is quite long. I’d say:
        I’m still excited about this position and would love to interview at a different time if that becomes a possibility. If not, I hope you’ll be able to keep me in mind for any future roles like this one!

    2. Combinatorialist*

      Dear Hiring Manager,

      I am really excited about this opportunity, but unfortunately have a prior commitment on DATE that can’t be moved. If it really is not possible to interview on any other day (or time if your commitment isn’t all day), I would love to hear if you have any similar roles in the future.

      Best,

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Hiring Manager,

      Unfortunately, I have a conflict on Interview Date that I can’t reschedule. I understand that you aren’t able to schedule an interview for another day, so I am going to have to withdraw from consideration. I really appreciate the invitation to interview; I am impressed with Organization’s work and excited by the possibility of joining your team. If you have another opening for which I could be a good fit, I would love to be considered again at that time.

      Thank you again, and I look forward to reconnecting in the future.

      Best,

      Applicant

  10. Hard decisions*

    Any advice on jobs that require moving? I don’t have an offer yet, but I’m down to the final round of 3 people and interviews are over. It’s across the country, and I would have to make my fiancé move, but we’ve both been stuck in “part time/internship purgatory” and this would finally be a full time job in my industry. I know it’s a really personal decision, but any tips/advice on considering these things would be greatly appreciated! It’s an entry level job for very little money—but it’s in a really tough industry to get into, and it’s a great entry level job for that industry. My biggest concern is that all of the interviews have been phone or video, so I haven’t had a chance to go see it in person.

    I have no idea what to do, and it’s really stressing me out. Any advice?

    1. Combinatorialist*

      If it is all financially feasible for you, if you get an offer, I would ask if you can make a trip out (potentially on your dime) before you make a final decision because you are very interested but want to meet in person before moving. And then be prepared to go quickly so you can get some sense of the area as well as the people at the job. This is especially true if you haven’t been to the area that the job is in.

    2. HR Expat*

      I’ve been moving around for jobs at my current company for the past 7 years. Advice: Make sure you’re ok being far away from friends/family. It can be hard to build a social life when you’re in a new place, so be prepared that you won’t have your support network nearby.
      Tips: Check if your bank is located in this area; If you have pets, is it standard for places to allow for them (if renting); what’s the cost of living like in that area vs potential salary you’ll be making; are there opportunities for advancement in this location, if that’s your career plan; does this area have any of your hobbies nearby.

      One random experience- when I moved from the Midwest to Long Island, I kept asking about garbage disposals. Apparently, the county where I was living isn’t allowed to have them. I had no clue and everyone kept looking at me like I was crazy. Not a big deal in the end, but I learned to do my research before moving the next time.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Huh, I hadn’t heard that about Long Island, but garbage disposals are VERY rare in Manhattan. We have one right now, but we’re looking to buy a place and none of them have disposals. Some of them have a washer/drying, but no disposal.

        1. HR Expat*

          It’s something about the sewage system in Suffolk county. Apparently you can find them in Nassau county though. But alas, I couldn’t find any flats with them in the UK either. I’m cursed :(

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              I’ve never seen one here. But we do a lot more composting, both in the garden generally and through the council waste collection process.

      2. KAG*

        And refrigerators! Moved from NYC to Los Angeles and found I had to buy my own refrigerator. Got rid of it when I moved back east and now I find myself in Arkansas – and in need of another refrigerator.

      1. Hard decisions*

        He’s not thrilled, but he understands we may have to go. I moved to our current city five years ago for school; he’s been here his whole life. If it was just me, I might have an easier time making the move (it’s actually slightly closer to where I’m from), but I love current city and our lives here, and I know he’s not eager to leave. The mood is very “we gotta do what we gotta do.”

        1. Specialk9*

          I’d love to build your career, while you can. Later in life it can get harder – eg local family helps a lot for child coverage; for several people I know they have a barn with flock of sheep or goats.

    3. Product person*

      Things that I’d be considering:

      1) Is this role a stepping stone for something in the same company that pays more / leads to advancement? It’s one thing to move across the country for a low paying job if you have the opportunity to be promoted to higher roles in due time. It’s an entirely different thing to be in a role where people typically stay forever without any career progression, or the company is so small that the odds of getting a promotion are pretty slim.

      2) If the answer to the first question is “no”, is the place where you’ll be moving to a place with great opportunities in your industry? And would your title in that industry help you get opportunities down the road to move to another company in a better paying job? (For example, if you wanted to work for the llama grooming industry and moved to a city where there is only one llama grooming company, or you got a job as a receptionist a llama grooming company in hopes of becoming a llama trainer down the road but the llama grooming industry is well-known for only hiring trainers with a background of lamma breeders, never a receptionist, these would be red flags for me.

      3) What about your fiancee — will this new place have opportunities in his/her industry / line of work? I once moved to a city in the U.S. where in my industry, you could only work on one of two big companies. People shifted back and forth when they wanted to change jobs. When I was ready to jump ship, I decided to move to another city where there is plenty of companies hiring for my role and my husband’s. This can make a huge difference for both of you to be in a place with multiple job alternatives, as it makes it much easier to deal with layoffs, bad managers, etc., as if one of you loses your job, the other can be in a better position to cover the expenses for both.

      1. Yorick*

        Right, you want to make sure you are moving to a place with many opportunities in your industry, in case you don’t like this company.

        Also, consider whether the area has opportunities for your fiance.

      2. Gaia*

        This. This right here. I moved to my current city for my job and I love both my city and my job but if I ever leave my company I have nowhere to go. This industry and field doesn’t exist here and the nearest jobs would be 4+ hours away. The reality is, when it comes time to move on, I’m moving.

    4. rubyrose*

      Are they offering a relocation package? If so, look at the fine print and know how long you have to stay there without having to repay.

    5. Moving*

      I took a job a few years ago that required moving us – not across the country, but several states away. I was pretty miserable at my old job and was searching, but not outside that city, never mind the state. Then I got a call from a colleague at a “sister” organization asking if I would be interested in interviewing for an open position there. I ended up getting the offer over the holidays that year and it was a really hard week making that decision since it wasn’t anything we had expected or planned for. Factors that helped for us:

      I work in a small(er) subset of a small part of a huge industry, if that makes sense. Very hard to get into and even harder to stay in if you want to make a change. I adore my job, but the teams that do this work across the country are small in number and size (usually 2-4 people, sometimes 1; the biggest I know of is 6). This was an offer from one of the top two orgs in my field and a huge step up in prestige and opportunity.

      I had known, liked and respected the person who would be my new boss for a number of years from the work we both did with our trade association. I also knew and liked the person who would be my coworker.

      We were familiar with the area because we have family here, and at the time there was a health situation with a relative that made a compelling case for being geographically closer if we had the opportunity.

      I think if I had stayed in my former city and taken a job in another line of work, I would have been trading one type of misery for another, because as cheesy as it sounds, what I do now is really my calling.

      Advice: Really talk everything through with your significant other, and look at your budget. Moving is expensive. We had somewhere to stay for a while until we got sorted out but we had to put a lot in storage, which was another expense, and then move again when we found our own place. Scope out housing costs (pretty easy to do online), area amenities, even think about things like weather/climate if that will be a big change and affect activities you enjoy outside of work. See if there are opportunities for your fiance, even if it may take time to get something in place (and make sure you will be okay if it takes longer than you think). It was a huge leap for us, and there were some uncertain moments, but looking back, I would definitely do it again.

  11. Asha*

    I need help deciding if it’s a bad move for me to get a new job. I’m only 25, and in my first US office role after graduating. I spent 2 years after college in a contract position overseas – for a US company, working in my field, just not in a typical environment, and not with any worries about my length of employment since it was a contract. I’ve been in my current role for about 18 months now, and it’s a disaster. It’s an incredibly toxic work environment. On a team of 30, there are 22 actively searching for a new job, so I know it’s not just me. I love the day-to-day role, but the leadership is impossible to work with. I made it to the third round of interviews for four different positions, and am expecting an offer soon from at least one of them. All of this is great news – I’m in a bad work environment, I recognized it, and I’m almost out – but here’s the problem.

    My husband is in grad school right now, and I’m dealing with some health concerns that don’t affect my work. When grad school is finished and health is all better, we’re going to relocate for his new job. That could be as soon as a year, or as long as three years from now. Is it bad to go ahead and accept a new job knowing that I could be leaving a year from now? I’m not planning to leave that quickly – I really think it’ll be at least two years. If it’s a long time, there’s no way I can make it in my current environment, and staying for 2+ years would be perfectly normal. But I don’t want to accept an offer in bad faith, knowing that there’s a chance (unlikely, but a chance) that I’ll be leaving “early.”

    1. Combinatorialist*

      Since you aren’t planning to leave within a year, I don’t think that is in bad faith. Since you know you can’t survive a long time in your current environment, then I think you should take a new job as soon as possible to maximize the length of that offer.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Agreed – plus, none of these things are definite, whereas a job offer would be. Take the job offer and see what else materializes in your life later.

    2. King Friday XIII*

      “A chance” is not bad faith. Anything could happen regardless of your plans. If you expect to stay at least two years, IMO you’re fine.

    3. AMT27*

      I think two 2-year or less jobs straight out of college is normal. A third job with a shorter time-line is totally understandable if you are relocating for family reasons -its not a ‘I just got bored and want something different’ kind of switch. And you don’t know when or if you’ll be leaving, you don’t have concrete plans yet, so taking an offer is not taking it in bad faith.

    4. Asha*

      Thanks – that all makes sense. Essentially, I feel the same way, but needed someone who isn’t also a super young professional friend to tell me I’m not making some ridiculously mean decision to try to move forward.

    5. Maya Elena*

      If there is a real chance that your toxic job changes for the much better in six months, consider staying. “Real” means toxic boss retiring in a month; enough toxic people leaving that you get to refresh your team on a better footing; etc.

      Otherwise, find a new one. Your sleep or sanity or health probably isn’t helped by being in a bad job.

    6. Amy*

      There’s always a chance something could go screwy and you could need to leave a job earlier than expected. Your family could move for your spouse’s career; you could get an unexpected but amazing opportunity you can’t pass up; a family member could get sick and need caregiving; you could get hit by a bus. Life happens. I don’t think it’s ‘bad faith’ unless you’re suggesting that you plan to stay for a while, while privately thinking “In three months I’m out of here no matter what”.

      1. WITney Houston*

        Agreed! I don’t think this is bad faith at all. Plus you’re assuming that if you have to move, you won’t be able to stay with the company any more. If you do a great job in that year, you could potentially be transferred to another office or allowed to work from home. Companies value good employees and make special concessions for those employees when possible. Maybe realizing that moving doesn’t necessarily mean quitting will help alleviate your guilt?

    7. MissDisplaced*

      If you know you’re planning to relocate within a year to year and a half, I would stick out the crappy job until then. Otherwise, you’d be taking a new job and leaving within a year, which doesn’t look good.

      Who knows, crappy job might just lay you off or go out of business.

  12. FormerOP*

    Question for the commentariat. I have been teaching Dothraki teapot-making for several years in my city. A few months ago, I decided to formalize my business and expand what I do. I have gone to a few workshops at a tax-payer funded organization designed to help small businesses. I’ve been growing slowly but steadily, and at this point I need advice regarding general business needs like real estate, insurance, hiring employees, etc. From my experience with tax-payer funded organization, I knew that this is the kind of advice that they offer 1-1. So I called to ask about this and the conversation was at best useless and at worse discriminatory. Tax-payer funded organization employee thought I needed help with marketing (I need help with general business needs, not specific to my industry), and kept making comments about how “specific” my questions were. I felt my questions were applicable to any business that is not an online business. I was told to contact the Dothraki Chamber of Commerce and to check out the Essos Culture Festival. My question is, is this somehow understandable given that lots of wackadoos probably ask for help with businesses that will never work, or is it worth bringing up that tax-payer funded employee is either a very bad listener or did not want to deal with something because it is Dothraki? FWIW, the vast majority of my students are not Dothraki. I hope that this question makes sense! It was a bizarre, and angering experience and I am hoping to get some perspective.

    1. King Friday XIII*

      Can you call back and talk to someone else about your business in more general terms, if you think it’s scaring them off? Obviously I’m not there but the way you describe it sounds like perfectly reasonable questions to ask with that kind of org.

      1. FormerOP*

        Thanks for responding. The thing is, is that my questions were very general, and had nothing to do with being a business that is related to Dothraki culture. The person kept bringing up marketing to Dothrakis. I’m asking if this is just run-of-the-mill poor listening skills, or something more xenophobic?

        1. Lora*

          It can be both. Can you request to speak to a different person? SCORE’s Boston office has been very helpful to me, but I was also able to specifically request someone with previous biotech experience and they were very careful to ask, what type of questions do you have, and find someone whose experience would be helpful to me. Afterwards they sent me a survey asking if my questions had all been answered (they had, the gentleman they had me speak with knew his stuff and was very helpful – his background was more medical devices than biotech but he was familiar with the terminology and understood my questions about terms & conditions and NDAs and data security and whatnot). You can also call the national office and ask to be directed to a different office: I had a choice of Boston or a closer satellite office.

          Also check if any local colleges/universities do small business outreach. There’s a small local university that has a small business clinic with specialists in SBIRs, marketing, real estate etc. all free to anyone who signs up. In my area (New England) there’s a group called Center for Women & Enterprise that offers assistance to small businesses including the general business things you mention – I’m sure they aren’t limited to women only, the classes I took had men in them as well.

        2. King Friday XIII*

          Sorry if I was unclear, I meant that your questions sounded perfectly reasonable and that maybe the person you were talking to was making a bunch of assumptions because you said Dothraki, whereas you could talk about teaching teapot-making in a broader way without giving them the opportunity to make assumptions and see if that gets you further.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’ll be the Cynical One, here. Government funded programs can be hit or miss. Some are good and some are just alright. Some are too general in nature to be that helpful.
      Your answer could be that the person you spoke with was totally unfamiliar with what you are talking about. That is what it sounds like to me, “too specific” can translate into “I have no clue what you are saying.”

      A friend used SCORE in her area and got good advice that way. I do agree you want a SCORE volunteer who has some experience or tangent knowledge to what you are doing.

    3. CoffeeLover*

      Similar to the comment above saying government programs are hit or miss, I’ll also add that small business advisors can be hit or miss. I don’t think your conversation sounds particularly xenophobic, I think it’s sounds like the person doesn’t know business (because there’s a lot more to it than marketing). I think it’s comparable to trying to find a

  13. Beaded Librarian*

    So I’m curious what the commentariat here thinks of this. I do triathlons and so am part of a a Facebook group for triathletes. Today one of the posted that her friend got a job by listing that she was an Ironman on her resume. I thought that seemed like it might be a good idea for some jobs but for the most part a bad idea. However many commenters said that they had either had it on their resumes or it came up in the interviews and the got the job because doing an Ironman shows that they have commitment and know how to get lots done.

    1. Murphy*

      I think it would look out of place on most resumes, but I could see bringing it up at an interview (in some kind of relevant context).

      1. Asha*

        Yes. I could see it being resume-level relevant rarely, but also see why hiring powers would like it. Interview seems like a great spot for that.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m always skeptical of “it got me the job” stories like this. It might have been a point of interest with the interviewer, but it’s very, very unlikely that it actually is what got them the job, unless they were hired by a truly terrible hiring manager who doesn’t know how to hire. It’s more likely that they would have gotten the job anyway, and they’re assuming causation where there isn’t any. Or at most, that they were a top candidate anyway and the rapport with the interview pushed them over the finish line.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        Honestly that was my thinking when I saw that. Would have gotten the job anyway or not a good hiring process and it might not end up being a good thing you got the job.

      2. Ghost Town*

        I agree with this. At most, it helped the hiring manager/committee remember the candidate because of the unique characteristic, but a one-off like this isn’t The Why behind getting the job; it is a feather on the scale in your favor.

    3. selina kyle*

      It seems like something to mention in an interview rather than a resume unless you work in a sector where it’s really relevant.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      Did the resume say that she ran marathons and had an Ironman title, or that she was Ironman? Because I would totally hire Ironman.

        1. Aurion*

          Given Tony Stark’s problems with authority and maverick tendencies, I’m not sure hiring managers would hire Iron Man… XD

    5. LCL*

      I wouldn’t want to see that on a resume. Because I would tend to think, based on my work experience, that the person would always be trying to leave early to go train, and miss a lot of work due to Doctor appointments and recovery. And even if they did show up to work they would be too busted up to fully do the job.

      I have no doubt that in the US being a triathlete gives one an edge in being hired. Because our current definition of physically attractive is being slim and fit. And people tend to think (wrongly) that slim fit people are just generally better all around, smarter, and have a better work ethic. The biggest slacker I know personally is a triathlete.

      1. Anon for This*

        I had a co-worker many years ago who was a big marathon runner. He came in late all the time (often not until 10a.m. in the winter) so that he could fit in his workouts. He would frequently leave early to miss the crowds at the gym. He traveled all over for races, and so regularly took Mondays and Friday’s off. He ended up being fired, because it was clear his running life was more important than his job.

        I think he was the minority. Generally, people who are triathletes and long distance runners, i think show a level of dedication and perseverance that is admirable. And often those same traits are found in that person’s work ethic. But, I do think that it’s prudent to be cautious because not every hiring manager will automatically think good things when it’s brought up.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh yeah, I’ve seen that too. Not to that degree, but coming in really late to get a 20 mile run in, or leaving early. Marathon people don’t generally seem to stick with it long term though, I’ve noticed, what with injuries or wandering off.

    6. PB*

      I haven’t seen this on a resume. However, a while ago, we were doing reference checks for candidates, and one person’s references all made a big point about her being a marathon runner. We were just kind of like, okay? It didn’t cost her the job, but it didn’t do anything to boost her candidacy. When I’m hiring, I care a lot more about how someone will perform in their job. In my experience, athletic excellence does not necessarily translate into excellence in employment. The two are by no means mutually exclusive, but neither does the one guarantee the other.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        So you think it’s a good idea or at least reasonable for someone to list on their resume? For what it’s worth I’m still trying to figure out how they listed it.

        1. Jaydee*

          I think this would be reasonable to list as a hobby/other activity if you happen to have room for that on your resume. Ironman results are easily verifiable (you can look it up online) and it requires intense training and is objectively impressive. If you can swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles, and *then* run a marathon, that is totally bad@$$.

          1. EasilyAmused*

            That’s where I would expect it to be. Other commenters are making it sound as though that section is not common anymore. Are people not including “other activities” anymore?

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      I would find this super strange on a resume for any job I have ever hired for and I would probably think less of someone for listing such an out of place thing. Of course, higher ed is weird, but I wouldn’t do it.

    8. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I do triathlons (but not Ironman distance!). It’s an interesting fact, but not something I’d put on a resume. And Ironman training is a serious time commitment. (That’s the major reason why I doubt I’ll ever be able to race that distance–you have to train several hours each day.) To be honest, if I were hiring for a job that required regular overtime, I’d probably ask about the Ironman commitment in the interview to see how the candidate would prioritize work with their training schedule and other commitments.

  14. K.*

    I alluded to some upsetting news about work in last weekend’s thread: I found out that my role is being downgraded to a much more junior level, so I have to leave (the pay cut is tens of thousands; I couldn’t afford to live on it). I’m not that upset anymore (this role is new and was poorly defined from the start – I’ve been very unhappy), but it was a shock. I’m going to take a little time off, though I’ve had some good networking conversations.

    Also I am working with someone who is prone to email tantrums (all caps, really condescending tone), which is putting a damper on my mood. How do you deal with people who speak to you that way at work?

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I usually tried the “kill them with kindness” approach by being as easygoing and friendly as possible. Sometimes it would calm them down because I seemed to actually care about their problems. In rare cases my methods made them even more angry because they were spoiling for a fight and I refused to play.

      It’s not easy but remind yourself it’s not forever. In some ways I pity those types. Their lives must be pretty miserable being that angry and unhappy all the time.

      Good luck with the job hunt.

    2. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot*

      I had a boss scream at me in front of co-workers one time. I was mortified and let my emotions get the best of me (insert tears and walking to the bathroom). Now, I just do the “kill them with kindness” trick. If they want to throw tantrums, let them. You know it is nothing you can change about them, that is just the way they are. Respond politely and don’t give it another thought!

    3. Wendy Darling*

      My boss berated me in all-caps underlined bright red italics. I closed my laptop, started my weekend like 3 hours early, and then quit first thing on Monday because the job was a complete dumpster fire in every other way and openly hostile email tantrums were a bridge too far. Somehow my boss did not connect her tirade with my quitting, like, at all.

      I’m interested to hear how one handles that sort of thing productively, because my mic-drop strategy, while the right choice for me in that moment, is not very productive.

      1. Specialk9*

        I used to have a job that simultaneously had a degree of authority/expertise, and required a great deal of eating spit from clients. What worked weirdly well when dealing with someone who was routinely abusive was to have careful ‘not a victim’ body language (pretend you’re a puppet with a head strong that someone is pulling taut, so your whole body is straight and tall) and not laugh or be friendly when someone is being a jerk (I channeled my inner school marm). Inside your head, tell them sternly that you expect them to behave – people pick up on what you’re thinking but you haven’t actually said anything that could get you in trouble.

    4. Carrotcakebringsrabbits*

      For toxic co-workers – I’d go either the act like you are a behavioral scientist and they are a subject you are observing. Or I’d treat them like they are my favorite person in the world (albetit favorite 5 year old) and any condensation is just their misunderstanding of well, everything.

      1. K.*

        Yeah – this person isn’t my boss but they sure do love telling me how to do my job!

        I’ve looped in my actual boss, and have taken to responding very matter of factly, with no more words than are necessary.

  15. ella*

    I just had a job drop in my lap with a 30% pay raise. And health insurance. And I think it’ll be a good fit for my skills. And it’s a supervising student workers, I’ve never supervised anyone, I’m kinda freaking out. Aaahhhhhhhhhhhhh *breathes*

    1. selina kyle*

      Congrats! You read AAM, you’ll have tons of resources/know-how for supervising those students, it’ll work out!

    2. DuckDuckGoose*

      Congratulations! In my last position I supervised about 20 student employees and it is so rewarding to watch them grow and graduate.

    3. Gloucesterina*

      congrats ella! I don’t have any experience supervising student workers but I know that my students benefit from clear expectations/goals, and knowing when I expect a new task they’re learning may feel difficult or unfamiliar to them. I have no idea much transfer there is from teaching/learning context to a management/supervisory context though. I’m sure you will be a great role model for them. And introducing them to AAM will be so helpful as they advance in their working lives!

    4. Ghost Town*

      Congratulations! For student workers, generally try to remember that it is likely their first professional experience, you’ll be explaining things a lot (and over and over), and there’s probably a clearly defined end date to their tenure with you.

    5. Amy*

      CONGRATS!

      What age students are you supervising? I’m a current phd student, if you ever want perspectives from the other side I’ve had some interesting experiences over the years.

  16. AndersonDarling*

    My hubby is 42 and just put in for his first paid vacation. He’s been working since he was 15, mostly for small companies and restaurants that didn’t give vacation time. He’s taking a whole week off and he was saying that he doesn’t know what to do with the time. We are going on a trip for a few days, but the rest he will be working on projects and dallying at home.
    Not to get political, but it’s amazing that someone can work their whole life in the US and not have a single paid vacation day. I always worked in offices and vacation time was standard so I never thought about it.

    1. King Friday XIII*

      It was like a revelation to me when I got a job in banking and it was explained that I’m actually *required* to take a week’s vacation for security reasons. I’ve taken days here and there before but I didn’t even get two days off for my own wedding! I hope you and your spouse have a great trip and he enjoys his time off.

    2. Jadelyn*

      I almost cried with joy when I got my current job, which is the first I’ve had that offered paid sick leave, much less vacation. It was so strange to me, the idea that if I got sick I didn’t have to try to force myself to function through it, but could actually take a couple days to rest and get better.

      Back when I was temping here at my current job before they converted me to FT, I started having awful muscle spasms in my back. I ignored it for several days, even past the point where getting out of bed in the morning almost made me throw up from the pain, and came to work because if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid, and I couldn’t afford to lose the income. That day, I had a bad moment trying to get up from my desk to get something from the printer, and I couldn’t hide that I was hurting, so my unofficial supervisor who I shared an office with asked me what was wrong. I explained, and she was like “…so why are you here instead of resting at home??” I laughed a little and said “Nicole, I don’t get sick time. I can either be in pain at home, or I can be in pain here, but at least if I’m in pain here I’m still making money for the day.” She was horrified. So she told me to go home, but that she would fill in my timesheet with 8 hours of work for the day so I didn’t lose out on the day’s pay.

      Honestly, not giving people sick time and the ability to use it is barbaric.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        My company took over a little office and when we sat down the manager and told her that she would be receiving benefits (medical, PTO, tuition reimbursement) she really did cry. She was struck that she was offered tuition reimbursement to continue her education. She didn’t even know that it was a thing to pay for employee’s school.

      2. Cloud Nine Sandra*

        Some cities have laws that you must get paid sick time. I loooooooooooove living in one, as I’ve been temping for the last 2 years, but can still stay home when I have migraines or need to leave early for dr appts because my agency is required to pay me. (The hourly requirements here are something like work 12 hours a week, iirc.)

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yes, some places have those laws now. In fact I’m in CA, which is one of the only states that has a statewide sick leave law. But they’re all pretty recent – the CA statewide one only took effect in 2015, iirc.

          What we need is a federal regulation on it. Ah well, one can dream.

      3. Specialk9*

        “Not giving people sick time and the ability to use it is barbaric.”

        I researched cost of nanny vs daycare, and was determined that any nanny in my home would have paid sick leave and vacation. It was surprisingly hard to find a good tutorial on how to be an ethical employer. (Though admittedly my google-fu could have been blocked by newborn brain fog.) I ended up with work subsidized daycare, but it really points out how in the US our most vulnerable and closest to the edge financially have the fewest protections.

    3. Mazzy*

      Well, to get this out of the way, it is definitely not political, it’s the bad decision of business owners. That aside, I find this kind of sad. Not to make your husband feel awkward and I’m glad he’s in a better job, but this sort of attitude is sad. I could take off a month or two and be busy every single day. Part of that though is because my job is mentally draining so I don’t have time and energy at night to focus on hobbies that require too much sitting or brain power, I tend to do physical things.

      1. Natalie*

        I mean, it is political in the sense that there are many countries with statutory minimums for vacation/sick time, and the US doesn’t have those because of different governance philosophies (on the whole, not saying those philosophies are shared by every American).

        1. Blank*

          Agreed. Workers’ rights and the labour movement are absolutely political, with other parts of the world giving mind-boggling amounts of paid leave. (I’m not in the US and I get 28 days of paid leave per year – if I was full-time it would be 32 days, not including statutory holidays.)

          Not knowing what to do with yourself for a full week off is also political, if you’ve never been in a jurisdiction which mandates time away from work.

          1. TL -*

            Eh, I’ve always had paid vacation and I am definitely the kind of person who doesn’t know what she would do with a whole week off – I generally only take vacations when I have something planned.

    4. zora*

      I still have trouble wrapping my head around paid vacation and paid holidays sometimes! I spent years in retail/temp jobs where I often took days off, but I wasn’t paid if I didn’t work, so I had to put a lot of mental energy into the financial aspect of the smaller paycheck and how to make that work. And my dad has been a government contractor almost his whole career and has never had paid vacation, so it was a constant conversation in my house my whole life. Sometimes it still blows my mind when I’m at the beach with my family and I realize, oh right, I’m getting PAID for today as if I was working! Crazytown!!

      1. only acting normal*

        Just for comparison. The UK legal minimum paid leave entitlement for full time workers is 28 days per year (including bank holidays). That’s 5.6 weeks. And good employers give more.
        So from this side of the Atlantic, the US vacation allowances (or lack thereof) sound practically medieval. :-S

        1. zora*

          Wow, I have literally never had that much paid leave! The most I have had was one nonprofit that paid less than nothing, but I had 4 weeks of vacation, and that felt like magic.

          Also, I’ve never had free health care, and have even had several years when I didn’t have any health care at all, I’m currently paying off a $6000 hospital bill from one relatively small illness. So…… um…. yeah…..

          1. EasilyAmused*

            Just to clarify, employer subsidized healthcare is not free for the employee. It is paid by both employer and employee – money is taken out of your paycheck.

        2. Specialk9*

          Whoa. 28 days paid leave as the minimum?! I’m a fairly senior SME and “only” get 15 days of paid leave, and am grateful (until I talk to Canadians and Europeans).

          1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

            Here in Canada we get two paid weeks plus paid statuary Holidays. The norm is usually to start people with three weeks vacation though. I get two weeks which I can choose when to take off and then the third week is between Christmas and New Years because we are closed. I like that because its fair for everyone to have time off with their families.

          2. Natalie*

            Keep in mind that the 28 days can be inclusive of holidays (bank holidays or federal holidays). If you get paid holidays its typically 8-10 a year, and then if you have 3 weeks PTO you’re in the ballpark of that minimum.

            1. zora*

              Ah, right. Yeah in the US, holidays are separate, so I probably did get close at that one job, I had 20 days of paid vacation, 10-12 paid holidays and sick leave was separate, I can’t remember how much. But I definitely don’t have that much now at my current job! :::eyeroll:::

              1. Can I retire yet?*

                I work in local government / public sector in the UK. When I had done five years, I went from 28 days annual paid leave to 33 days. That does not include bank holidays (8 a year) which I also get. Paid sick leave is separate. If you are ill less than a week, you can self-certificate. If you are off longer, you need to get a doctor’s certificate. With that, you get full pay for the first 6 months, half pay for the second 6 months. During this time, you have to have interviews with your manager (I have attended interviews as the sick person’s union rep; they vary in tone). Your time off gets noted and you might get pulled up on it if you have a lot. I am American and have lived here for over 35 years. Sometimes I forget to be grateful for stuff like this and for the National Health Service.

    5. Red Reader*

      My 37yo husband is about to get his first PTO ever, aye. (And he still had to wait a year past hire to get it.) We had to have discussions at one point to the effect of, I literally get four times as much PTO as he does, and since I work from home I -a- almost never need the sick time and -b- suck at taking time off but staying home, so under what circumstances is he ok with me going on mini vacations without him. (So far they’ve all been to Disneyworld, though I’m thinking a civil war battlegrounds road trip next spring.)

    6. Emac*

      I really wish that there were some sort of required course in high school to teach kids about the differences in benefits in different companies and industries, and in what’s required by different states for benefits, minimum wages, and employee protections. Maybe if kids had more awareness of these things before finishing high school, they might be able to make decisions that would influence more companies/industries/states to offer more.

      I had sort of the opposite experience from your husband – my first office job where I was an employee, and not a temp, paid 100% of health insurance. I had no idea how rare that was and basically quit for really stupid reasons. I thought it was standard and didn’t realize what it said about how much that company valued its employees.

  17. Jan*

    I started a new job and my slightly senior colleague “Marsha” and I work together. She has been training me and is pretty nice for the most part. I’m pretty shy and quiet, but am trying to “break out of my shell” a bit. Marsha says that she is happy that I was hired, because the work was too much for her. But at other times, she talked about how she was the only one in her department and how she accomplished this or that. She sometimes seems annoyed if I hang around her office, but then if I don’t come by her, she’ll ask me if I’m okay/see what’s wrong. (She runs hot and cold.)
    We all go out to lunch and the head boss likes to have a group of people- he’ll tell me what time we’re going, etc. But sometimes Marsha tells me, “You don’t have to go.”

    I’m confused because the head boss invites me, so… I don’t know if Marsha doesn’t want me to come with or what is going on. Part of me wants to say, “Do you not want me there, Marsha?” but I don’t want to sound hostile.

    I don’t know what to do! Does she not like me or not want me around? Am I being too sensitive?
    Any advice?

    1. Dee-Nice*

      From your description, I feel that I’ve encountered Marshas before. If I had to guess I’d say she’s office-mothering you a bit in her own slightly brusque, inadvertently condescending way. Probably the kind of person who thinks shy people need taking care of, so when she says “you don’t have to go,” she thinks she’s doing you a favor by releasing you. If you say something like, “No, I’d actually really like to go, I think I’d enjoy it,” and she seems fine with that I’d let it go. I don’t think you’re being too sensitive– this kind of behavior can be confusing if you haven’t encountered it before.

      1. AMT27*

        Oh, you’re being much kinder about Marsha than I am internally (though I am not always very nice so take my comments with a grain of salt!). But it’s possible that Marsha is insecure now – if she was the only one doing the work before, sharing responsibilities might be making her anxious about being ‘needed’ in her job, or threatening her sense of job security, and making her (hopefully subconsciously) try to diminish your importance there. But if that is the case, hopefully time will help her adjust. Just my two cents.

    2. Lumen*

      Don’t worry too much about how Marsha feels. Maybe she’s annoyed when you come by, maybe she isn’t. If she is, it’s on her to communicate what the problem is with you coming by (if there is a legitimate problem and not just her own varying stress levels). Maybe she’s happy you’re there some days and feels threatened other days. Maybe she worries that YOU don’t like HER. Maybe she’s upset if the boss invites you because she has baggage about your boss. Maybe she thinks you don’t want to go to lunch because you’re shy and she’s trying to ‘help’.

      All of these things are Marsha’s problem. Marsha’s and Marsha’s only. They aren’t about your quality of work, and if they are, it is really her responsibility to communicate that to you, not make you guess at her feelings and try to read her mind and adjust accordingly.

      Do your job, do it as well as you can, and do what makes you happy. And when you start worrying about how Marsha feels about it, tell yourself “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” For some reason that always works for me (because I am constantly fretting about what other people think of me).

      1. Specialk9*

        Technically yes, Marsha needs to communicate her needs. But expecting people who aren’t using their words to start is not a wise course because it’ll likely not happen. It may be frustrating, but most of us have to infer feelings by subtle indicators.

        That said, OP, give some thought to how much power you’re giving to Marsha, and how anxious that is making you.

        It might be helpful to decide that you really really like Marsha – that comes through in all kinds of ways, and nobody can resist someone who likes them. Ask someone who adopted a dog or cat, and a huge number of them will say they chose the one that came up to them and played/allowed petting etc. We’re all a sucker for being liked. The good news is that, while you don’t control Marsha’s actions, you can decide on your own. So choose to tell yourself regularly how much you like her. I think you’ll find that works!

        1. TL -*

          Eh, I have treated people who run hot and cold as if their feelings weren’t my problems and as long as I am consistently polite and in a good mood, it’s actually worked out well.
          Ignoring moodiness is a great way to get it to stop, in my experience.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s fairly normal for people to talk about what they did at an earlier point. When she says she did x a while ago, try to find something cheerful to say. “Well, now that you have me, we will become a real Power Team”. Notice the “we”, notice the “team”. Or you can say you are grateful she is there to train you. Yes, a little like buttering her up, people love compliments. People love hearing “thanks”. Sprinkle these types of things in where it makes sense- don’t over do but just say something that will make her feel good once in a while.

      Remember training is tiring. She has her own thing she is doing and then she is trying to map out your thing that you are doing. At some point you might decide it’s a good idea to have a designated check in time. If she is snippy, ask her if there is a better time. Or maybe you can find patterns in her snippiness and deduce on your own how to time your check-ins or questions. Keep in mind that she may just be tired, when you talk to her assume she is tired and craft your response as if you are talking to a tired person.

      For purposes of clarity, I go with what the boss says and not what the trainer says. If you are invited then you should go. You can just say to her, “No, it’s okay. I will go.” She may be picking up that you are tired also.

  18. Ron McDon*

    Commiserations please – my previous, awesome boss left recently.

    She had a huge amount of knowledge about everything in my workplace, which is quite an unusual place to work and has its own set of rules and regulations (trying to be vague so I am not recognised!)

    The PTB decided that instead of waiting approx 1 month for someone who had worked in this industry before and had all that institutional knowledge, it would be better to get someone who could start immediately but has never worked in this sort of company.

    So now I am spending most of my time at work either explaining really basic things about our industry, or saying ‘that was something old boss dealt with and I don’t know what to do with that, sorry’.

    New boss has done virtually nothing in the past 2 weeks. I am getting questions from other staff that used to go to old boss, because new boss has no clue!

    I like new boss, she seems nice, it’s just so frustrating for us both. There are people in similar jobs in our industry locally that she has been instructed to reach out to (this is very much a thing in our line of work) but she hasn’t availed herself of their help and just keeps telling me/everyone that she doesn’t know how to do ‘anything’.

    Old boss trained her for a bit (no real handover, it’s a complicated situation) and has offered to come back in for another session but new boss is reluctant.

    Sorry to go on for so long! It’s frustrating when someone is given a job they’re not really prepared for, and won’t use the help that’s being offered.

    I hope everyone else had a better work week than I!

      1. Ron McDon*

        Haha, when my boss resigned just about everyone I work with/family said ‘are you going to apply for her job then’?

        I don’t have the necessary qualifications, nor would I want the stress of her role… I wouldn’t mind her pay though :)

    1. ella*

      That does sound frustrating. Hopefully something changes soon–new boss finds her feet, PTB decide something needs to change, something.

  19. qwertyuiop*

    How soon is it to tell that you’re not a good fit for a position? I’m at my job for 3 months and am having second thoughts. I work with my co-worker “Gladys” and she said that the reason that she gets along with another woman is that “they’re the same age.” I’m a lot younger than Gladys, but didn’t really even factor that in or think of it as a concern.
    Some people talk to me, but it seems forced and they seem uncomfortable, like they would rather be some place else/talking with someone else. I’m trying to be friendly and social, but I’m introverted so it’s difficult.
    Otherwise they just talk with one another and I have a hard time joining in, so I sort of give up and do my own thing, but I don’t want to get in trouble for not being a “team player” or anything.

    It would be nice to have someone to talk to and hang out with like the rest of them do, but I’m not sure if that will ever happen.

    Besides age, things are clique-y in terms of race, which I can’t help either. I just don’t know if it’s too soon to tell or if it isn’t a good fit for me.

    1. Anon for This*

      I like to give myself at least 6 months to a year. The first year of a new job can be really overwhelming, and so I’m never sure if it’s not a good fit or if it’s the anxiety of learning a new role.

      However, there was at least one job that I knew by the end of the first month it wasn’t going to work.

    2. Lumen*

      Give it some more time. At 3 months in my current job, I felt the same way. I felt like no one wanted to talk to me, on my team or otherwise. It was rough, and made me doubt that I’d made the right decision to come here.

      I’m a year and change in now, and I’m really glad I didn’t take those feelings as permanent realities, rather than… well, feelings. People were slow to warm up, they were busy, and I learned later that many of them were pretty new themselves, too. There are still cliques, and weird people like Gladys who only want to work with people like themselves, but… meh. I don’t care that much anymore.

      Be patient with yourself, and with others. Keep an eye on anything that seems racially motivated, because that is definitely a yellow flag (to my mind). It’s too soon to know for sure. In the meantime, focus on your non-work relationships and interests, and keep trying to slowly get to know people.

    3. WITney Houston*

      IDK man, in theory I agree that you should give a job time, but sometimes when you know you know.

      I accepted a job at a start up after working for a huge company and on day 3 I realized what a terrible mistake I’d made. The hardest part of the situation was that there wasn’t anything specific that went wrong – everyone was nice, the job was fine…it just felt wrong.

      All my friends told me to stick it out, give it time, it would get better, I had culture shock etc, but every day I woke up with a pit in my stomach knowing that this was wrong for me, and Sundays were torture as I knew I’d have to go to work the next day.

      I ended up quitting after 5 months, and everything has worked out. I may have tried to stick it out longer had my work experience (for my resume) not shown that I had the ability to spend multiple years at a company so I knew I could explain this anomaly in future interviews.

      1. AeroEngineer*

        This is exactly what I am having right now, glad it is not just me. Just finished the first month, but everything you describe is what I am feeling. Luckily another company (in a different country, exactly where I want to be) just contacted me for an interview, so hopefully by the end of the year I can also say goodbye.

    4. MilkMoon (UK)*

      I knew on the second day at my last job, but I needed to get paid so I decided I’d just endure it for as long as possible to give myself a break from job hunting. I told them to shove-it at five months :) Trust your gut.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t let Gladys come in between you and that other coworker. Decide to be consistently friendly with both of them.

      I think when we start a new job, that it’s all about THEM. Let them talk about themselves, pretend not to notice that you can’t fit a word in. Take an interest, know something specific about each person and inquire about it. “How did your kid make out in the championships?” or “Is your dog feeling better?”

      Instead of focusing on how forced conversations feel, focus on a positive thought such as, “Isn’t that nice that person came over to say hi.” Talking to a new person IS awkward- it’s awkward for you and for them. There are people who decide to power through the awkwardness and talk to the new person anyway. Try thinking things like “thanks for trying to make me feel welcome”.

      Another little trick you can do is say to yourself, “Some time I will have a new coworker. I can watch how these folks talk with me and learn what to do and what not to do with the newbie.” This turns it into a little study type of thing where you become an observer.

    6. AshK434*

      I can totally relate! I always have a rough time adjusting to new workplaces bc I’m naturally a quiet introverted person and I think that freaks people out. In my current job I’m surrounded by extroverts and I initially sat far away from rest of my team when I started which didn’t help. My coworkers would all actively try to disengage from convos with me as quickly as possible, and just generally weren’t very warm and welcoming. One time I was walking with a coworker to a meeting and he literally ran away from me to avoid talking with me. I even told my manager I was considering quitting. But a few months ago, my desk was moved and I now sit with my entire team, and that changed things dramatically. I still don’t consider them work friends, but I feel like part of the team now and can hold a convo with them and we laugh occasionally. Unfortunately I can’t point to anything in particular I did, but I’m glad I did wait it out.

  20. The Layoff Worrier*

    Someone at my job got let go last Friday. There wasn’t a big announcement, but he was met by his boss and security at the front door and escorted out. Office gossip is that he was let go for underperforming but there wasn’t any sort of PIP or corrective action, which is strange because I work for one of the oldest and largest employers in my city.

    He started a few months before I did so now I’m antsy about a surprise layoff. My boss hasn’t said anything about being dissatisfied with my work, but we work in different offices and I work largely independently from him, so I could be missing something.

    How should I ask him for feedback on my performance?

    1. Jules the Third*

      Ideally, you’ll have a regular meeting with your boss to talk about your work / boss’s expectations and requirements. Once a week, once a month, once a quarter – frequency varies with jobs, bosses, etc. By the time you get to your annual review, you and your boss should have had 4 – 40 conversations about what you do, boss should be pretty familiar with your work, and you should have a written record of boss’s thoughts.
      If you don’t have this meeting already planned, ask your boss for one. Don’t refer to the guy who was fired, just say, ‘I’d like a regular meeting to make sure you and I are on the same page’.
      Go to the meeting with the list of things you’ve accomplished, the things you plan to do, and a list of things that maybe could get done. Confirm that your accomplishments and plans are where the boss wants your attention, and ask if there’s any suggestions on prioritizing plans.
      Follow up with an email that has the list of accomplishments, plans, priority suggestion, and a ‘thanks for your help, boss person!’

    2. fposte*

      How long have you been there, and how much contact do you have with him? Can you ask for regular check-ins if you don’t have them already?

    3. Phoenix Programmer*

      That sounds like a serious performance during to me. Some things are so bad it warrants skipping the pip.

      Follow the advice above for your own performance but I think “pending layoffs” is the wrong message to take from this event.

    4. Girasol*

      It might not be what you’re imagining. It might have been gross underperformance or he might have broken one of the unbendable rules like hitting someone or theft. One person quietly and immediately walked from his job isn’t usually the signal for a major layoff in a big company. But if you have a reasonably friendly relationship with your manager, you can probably say, “I know Fergus left us. And it made me wonder: is there anything I should be concerned about with respect to my job? Should I be doing anything differently?” A good manager generally understands that a sudden exit can worry people and will help you understand your situation (without, of course, explaining what happened to Fergus.)

    5. Specialk9*

      Do what people here are saying, but this sounds like a situation in which the guy who was blocked from entering did something dumb or scary. I had a boss once who disappeared after sending a ranting email to the CEO. (Well, that was the scuttlebutt; it sounded possible.) Other times it could be that they looked up porn at work, or beat up a co-worker over the weekend or some such. Don’t let it get you too jumpy if they don’t usually do the front-door block for regular layoffs.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Porn. This is so true. I know of a person who was caught with porn on their computer and they were quietly asked to take early retirement. On the surface they were there one day and gone the next. Some offenses are such that there is no coming back from them. The person just has to leave.

      2. The Layoff Worrier*

        “Do what people here are saying, but this sounds like a situation in which the guy who was blocked from entering did something dumb or scary.”

        I can’t picture this guy doing something questionable, but he was also very quiet. He basically just quietly worked at his desk and barely spoke. So it could’ve been that he was told to shape up but ignored it. Or it could’ve been a case of the quiet guy exploding. Who knows?

        Another guy was let go in the same way a couple of months ago, so I can’t help but be a little jumpy. I’ll directly ask my boss about my performance but without mentioning the firings. Thanks!

    6. Observer*

      Sure, there are bosses who fire people with no warning. But it’s highly unlikely that he was met by security at the door and escorted out due to performance issues in the normal sense. Of course, if they mean performance in the sense that they discovered something outrageous about his performance, that could explain it – the key word being outrageous.* But, in any case this doesn’t sound like a situation that is likely to portend a surprise firing.

      If you have a good relationship with your boss, ask about it. Not in a “Ooooh, I want the gossip on Fergus!” way, but “Is what happened to Fergus a sign of how the company handles less than great performance?” kind of way. Of course, don’t be confrontational about it, but make it clear that you are not interested in gossip, but just to know if you need to worry.

      * For example
      A letter carrier in NYC spent a period of time neglecting to actually deliver letters. Instead, he would bring them home and dump them. (When I googled to find the story, it turns out that it has happened more than once.)

  21. Mona Lisa*

    Do you tailor a LinkedIn profile the same way you might a resume?

    I’ve done some awkward jumping around in my career, and after spending a week at a conference and connecting with people on LinkedIn, I’m concerned how my work history might read to some of them. I went from being an admin assistant at my first job to a system administrator at my next by way of the classic non-profit “Oh, you have a little experience in X? Great, you’re our expert now.” That workplace was frankly pretty toxic, and I started looking for an out around the one year mark. I spent two years as an admin assistant again (making 28% more than at the Awful Non-Profit), but there was finally an opening for a systems admin in the same CRM at my current organization so I’m back on a career track that I want to pursue long-term.

    I worry what it looks like for my resume to go assistant -> admin -> assistant -> admin and was wondering if I should take that assistant positions off my LinkedIn in the same way I might a resume? That would leave me with several years gap in work experience though (my 3 years as an assistant currently outweighs my 1.25 years as an admin) so I can’t decide which is the right way to go.

    Thanks for any advice or thoughts you might have!

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      I wouldn’t take it off of my resume/linked in if it leaves a huge gap. I went from being an admin asst to an office manager and then to an admin asst. The place I was an office manager unexpectedly closed so I had to take whatever I could after temping. My current admin role pays huge salary over that office manager for $12/hr job. If anyone even asks you could just explain like you did here. That when you joined the non profit they asked you to do this. Or state in the bullet points (if you were I was unclear) promoted to sys admin at the non profit. I think Alison has a post about including promotions into job titles on resumes.

  22. Anonymous for this*

    Does anyone have any experience with non-profit arts orgs (specifically professional orchestras) and terrible/corrupt management? We musicians are at a loss as to how to proceed and need HELP.

    The orchestra I’ve been performing with for 12 years recently fired its conductor of nine years for no good reason. The Board was likely given bogus reasons from the board president and from the new exec dir, who has been with the org for only a year, as to why they should fire him. Orch members are FURIOUS and we are trying to figure out what to do about the situation. From what we’ve heard, the board pres and the new ED are both manipulative and somehow managed to convince the board to oust the conductor in favor of the ED (who, did I mention, has only been here a year???). The conductor is VERY musical and had gotten incredible results from the musicians and had also raised a lot of money for the org, enough to get us out of debt (!), whereas the ED has done…very little, except managed to get us $60k back in debt (in the course of a year) and blamed the conductor for it. ED also accused the personnel managers of lying when there’s proof that he was the one who lied, and various other ridiculous situations (long story; this is merely a very brief summary).

    Do we have any recourse here? Can we oust the board pres and/or the ED (preferably both)? How would we go about doing so? HELP.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        Thanks. I’m not sure where I can find the bylaws though. Would I have to ask the Board? (They are, not surprisingly, being pretty non-responsive as of late.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, I’m sorry, I read too quickly and thought you were a board member. I just realized you’re not. Your best bet here is to approach the board as a group and share your concerns. The more of you, the better.

          1. Anonymous for this*

            Thank you! I was thinking about us doing this so it’s great to know that that is a good idea.

            1. no one in particular*

              From the setup you described, I don’t think you have much official recourse, but you can try to use the power of persuasion that Alison recommends. The board president is the head of the organization, and the executive director and the conductor/music director serve at the pleasure of the board. The only way any of those three people are going to be ousted is if the board votes in favor of it. I’ve never seen an organization where a musician was an actual member of the board (only ex-officio), so unfortunately you don’t hold that kind of power in the organization.

              As someone who is involved in the industry, I would say this: when you approach the board, focus on the positives of the conductor and her relationship with the patron community, donors, and musicians. Leave out any part about supposed shenanigans between the ED and the board president. Even if something fishy went on, your case will be much stronger and more well received if you focus on the positives rather than point the finger and allege wrongdoing of the very people you are trying to get onto your side (the board).

      1. Anonymous for this*

        We are not unionized, unfortunately, but we have asked some union people for advice. For one, we should probably unionize.

        1. No Green No Haze*

          I don’t have great hopes.

          I’ve been in and around non-profit arts organizations with horrible management, including one professional symphony orchestra, and the only thing I can tell you is that this is the single reason unions exist — to give you the resources that get you a seat at the table with an employer who might otherwise be unwilling to consider your concerns.

          My experience with non-unionized arts organizations that are also crappy to their employees (the one does not necessarily imply the other) is that you don’t have a lot of recourse in this moment, unless your ousted conductor was popular with a major donor who happens to be good buddies with one of your orchestra members. But, unearned income and the well-heeled people who provide it are the board’s home turf, and getting in the middle of that is a terribly dangerous idea.

          If you’re in the US & you’ve talked to the AFM, do you have the sense that their organizing/outreach wing is competent and understands nuance? I would ask them about the pros and cons of starting an organizing campaign immediately: if the board sees you begin the process of debating unionization, it may decide to take your concerns seriously in order to head that off, or it may retaliate. I would chat with the professionals to evaluate those likelihoods. Does your orchestra itself have any governing board or group to represent musicians’ concerns internally or w/r/t employers? If so, such a group should absolutely consider add unionization to its agenda for discussion with all members. The AFM may also have some useful guidance about media relations, as well, if this firing is having a community impact that can be leveraged.

          Are there any volunteer organizations affiliated with the orchestra, like a volunteers’ guild or patrons’ groups, who could be looped into these discussions? Did the conductor have professional relationships with community partners like schools or businesses who might themselves be surprised or affected by his termination?

    1. Another Musician*

      How large of an organisation are we talking about? A musicians strike is often the only recourse you have in these situations, but that comes with the risk of being replaced by an unsuspecting player who just needs to pay their electric bill.
      Even if you’re not AGMA, you should see if they’re willing to give you some guidance. Arts admin is rife with shady shit because personal charisma is a huge selling point with donors.

    2. A.Ham*

      This sounds very similar to something that happened awhile ago at a theater company in the city I used to live in. (I did not work at that company, but I am in the industry and have a lot of friends who worked there at the time, so the information is first hand, but I may be missing some details, since I wasn’t directly involved.) In that case, the reason the Board made the decision it did (to oust the long time, much loved artistic director, and give the new managing director both jobs. ) was because they were going through some pretty major financial hardships, and the managing director convinced them that that was the best thing to do. It was the wrong decision. There was an UPROAR. From the staff. From the artists. From the community at large. Daily protests happened outside the building, so now the company had financial problems AND a PR problem. They eventually managed to fix the mess, but it involved a long visit from the founder of the company (from 50 years ago) a pretty public firing of the MD, the return of the AD, a very large one time donation from an anonymous donor , and a long-term fundraising campaign that continued on throughout the season.

      Was your conductor popular with the fans/community too? I don’t want to be an instigator of mayhem- calculate the risks and rewards in your particular situation – but these days a well written “op-ed” style piece that gets around social media could do a lot to get the Board’s attention. But it shouldn’t be written by a musician- then it just feels like whining. It should be by a prominent member of the community or perhaps a newspaper critic that has been kind to you in the past and feels a dedication to the company. It’s amazing how much a community will rally around a beloved arts organization if they feel like it is in trouble.

    3. Argh!*

      Nuclear option: tip off a reporter for the local paper & offer documentation of the financial aspect. No need to get into the internal politics. “Orchestra in Financial Trouble” in a newspaper headline will get some attention. How did you find out about the debt? If it was easy to come by that information, a reporter may be able to keep you (or you-all) anonymous for this.

      Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely figure out where the money comes from, large donors, taxpayer money whatever. If they are an official tax deductible organization somewhere in your state is a government official who is paid to be interested when someone says, “corruption”. They must have their books reviewed by an outside party.

    4. Anonymous for this*

      Thanks, everyone!!!! All very good advice and I’m bookmarking this page for future reference. These are all ideas we’d come up with but no one in the group was very sure which one would be the best or in what order we should try. Next step is contacting the Board and letting them know how many of us are upset. Then asking the state to look into the money issue and then possibly contacting the press. I’ll try to keep everyone posted about how this turns out, but I think it’s going to get a lot uglier before it gets better.

  23. Fenchurch*

    How do you work with a boss who’s not good at communicating?

    I have been in my new role for about 6 weeks now, and it’s been a bumpy ride at best. The main issue is the manager who appears to be spread too thin. Unlike previous managers, she did not provide me her phone number, despite multiple attempts to get it. She’s often forgetting to do things for weeks and brushing off issues that I have.

    She’s left it to me and my teammate to figure out what our goals are and hasn’t been able to provide our job description to us to help shape them, again despite multiple attempts to get them.

    It’s frustrating because all of my previous managers have been top tier, and she’s fallen so incredibly short. I know I’m only one of 20+ employees she’s managing across 3 teams, but surely there must be some way to still manage me!

    I’m also concerned about my year end review. I have serious doubts about her ability to properly assess my work since she’s barely spent 10 minutes with me.

    1. Girasol*

      Sometimes it works if you repeat back the goals of the team and your own personal goals and priorities for confirmation of your understanding. Sounds like there’s nothing to repeat here, since she hasn’t told you, but you can make a good guess. If she can’t formulate goals, your statement can give her a stepping stone, so she can say, “Well, not exactly that, but this” when she was unable to say “I want this” starting cold.

    2. Argh!*

      Do you work for my boss???? Oh wait, my boss only has trouble managing 6 people!

      This flattening of organizational structures fad has been bad for everyone but the C-Suite people who used the money that middle managers used to get to line their wallets (I lost my job to this kind of thing 8 years ago.)

      My manager is “too busy” because she’s a micromanager for the stupid stuff, which makes her an undermanager for the important things.

      Yours will either:

      1) Give you a glowing review rather than bother truly assessing you.

      or

      2) Give you a vaguely negative review and tell you it’s because you’re “new” but really it’s just due to not wanting to truly assess you and guessing that being new means not being up to speed yet.

      To protect yourself you can document everything you do and if you have to provide something like that for your review you’ll be ready. Even if you don’t *have* to, you may be able to sneak in some paperwork that shows how stellar you are. Of course you and the other 20 people may have knee-jerk, gut-check reviews without one glance at what you truly do (assuming your boss is like my boss, here). But all you can do is all you can do.

    3. Specialk9*

      Well, you aren’t going to change her (she won’t give you get phone number?!), so your choices become: leave or adapt. Adapt may mean focusing on getting good performance reviews.

      You need to take charge and manage yourself, and make her life easy as possible. And silver lining, it’s an opportunity to get things done the way you think they should be. Write goals you can meet easily (without being too obvious), then provide a weekly status report (action items for her in bold italics). Be thorough and document everything so if she asks for X, you can give her ‘Golden X With Tiara’. You basically want to be the employee who so totally has her stuff together, and makes her both impressed and vaguely guilty.

  24. Lauren*

    If you are an exempt employee, how much extra time can you be required to put in? I’m a high school teacher, and regularly average 50-60 hours per week, while my contract hours are 35 per week (all but 7 hours of that is spent actively teaching ). Despite this amount of time spent working, I still have stuff that needs to be done and constantly feel behind. I feel like I should be spending more time working.

    Also, is it reasonable to ask how much time per week are should be spending on certain tasks? Or even just percentage of time? Like, can I ask if I should spend a minimum 3 hours a week planning, minimum 2 hours calling parents, etc? Or can I ask if I should spent 20% of my time planning, 15% of my time calling home, etc? Is that reasonable?

    As far as I know, none of this is covered by our contract – only the duty hours, which is only for 35 hours per week.

    Thanks!

    1. selina kyle*

      Oof – teachers are a whole other ballgame. There’s a whole culture of needing to put in extra time. My mom’s a teacher and eventually started just allowing herself certain amounts of time. By now, she spends three hours on Saturday/Sunday, and about an hour half of the working week. It’s been really good for her to limit the time she spends on it – accepting that things will be good enough if not perfect seems to be a real challenge in teaching.
      I hope that helps a little – I know teachers deal with doing way more work than their contracted hours. :(

    2. blackcat*

      Are you early in your career?

      I ask because my first year teaching, I was regularly working 60-70 hours/week. By my third year, it was more like 45-55, with a few golden weeks down around 40. FWIW, I also coached an academic team (not sports), which added zero time in off season but up to 15 hours/week during competition times, with one brutal week a year of back to back 12 hour days on the weekend (damn those kids and always making it to the state competition!).

      I think it’s fine to ask coworkers how they handle keeping up with tasks. It’ll be most beneficial to have these conversations with folks who teach the same subject as you (eg, I was a science teacher, I spent a bit less time grading than some colleagues but A LOT more setting up labs/ordering & maintaining equipment/etc). Do not ask your boss. They will not have a useful answer, and they might think you are tone-deaf for asking.

      This is what experienced colleagues are for. Get their help. Lots of it.

      If there are no folks at your school with 10+ years of teaching that you can talk to, I’d go outside your school for advice (and, frankly, consider working elsewhere).

    3. A.N.O.N.*

      50-60 hours per week is very normal for teachers.

      My partner is in his 3rd year of teaching and between actual classes, lesson planning, grading, helping students before/after school, supervising a club, and writing college recommendation letters, he easily spends 55+ hours per week.

      If you’re having trouble managing the workload, definitely try to find a more experienced (and successful) teacher within your school and let them mentor you. Network with other teachers who teach the same subject so you can use their lesson plans, etc. It’ll get easier each school year.

      1. zora*

        I just want to +39348293 the ‘ask for help from more experienced teachers’ in your school, my mom just retired this year, but she was always happy to hand off as many of her plans and lessons to new teachers to help them get started. Keep asking around until you find the most supportive colleagues, even if they teach a different grade, they still might have stuff or advice to give that will help you get going.

        That said, my mom worked 12 hour days + 10-15 hours on weekends as long as I can remember. It’s definitely one of the worst things about teaching, and if you really don’t want to do it you should start thinking about alternative career paths now that you might take in a couple of years. Teaching college-level education, administration, specialist, curriculum development, etc, there are non-classroom options that you can leverage your education background into, but it takes a little more work than just following the classroom path, so you want to start doing some research. There are a lot more forprofits/tech startups working in the education field than there were even a few years ago, so consider that as an angle as well.

    4. fposte*

      Federally speaking, there’s no limit to the hours an exempt employee can be asked to work; some states have exceptions like the one day in seven rule, but even there there are loopholes and it’s not always clear that it would apply to teachers doing prep work at home. It would be up to your contract, and from what you say your contract doesn’t stipulate a limit to work hours, just duty hours. (Are you union? This is a good question for a union rep, if so.)

    5. FormerOP*

      Have you read Getting Things Done? It was a lifesaver for me a few years ago. One of the points is, that we don’t manage time, we manage tasks. Highly, highly recommended. You’ll get more done if you focus on tasks rather than time.

    6. Lauren*

      Hi – thanks for the comments!

      I’m actually in my 4th year of teaching, 3rd year at my current school. I enjoy teaching, but I just feel like this job is taking up too much of me. I keep wondering when enough is enough, especially since it seems like they just add more and more stuff we need to do each year on top of what we have already been doing.

      I’m managing everything okay at this point, but I always have other things that need/want to get done that I don’t because I don’t have enough time. I just wish I knew what was the limit beyond which I can feel like I can say “this is enough and I don’t need to do more”. I was talking with a co-worker, and we both agreed we could easily work from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm, and still have stuff we’d want to do.

      I also wonder why it’s okay to do this to people in certain professions – there’s bound to be diminishing returns after a certain point. I know teaching isn’t the only profession like this.

      I’m more than willing to spend extra time at my position, I just want to know how much more than contracted is expected of me. I feel like that’s a reasonable request, but perhaps not?

      1. Julianne*

        I think the issue is more that administrators are likely to say, “Well, you’re not required to do anything beyond contract hours, that’s why you have prep time.” (Exceptions would be if you have some sort of extra compensation for specific work, ex. I’m my school’s ESL lead, on top of my teaching responsibilities, and I get a stipend because that role comes with a stupid amount of paperwork.) One of my coworkers recently spoke to our VP about her workload, and VP’s first question wasn’t “How can we adjust your workload to keep it manageable?” or “Can you tell me more about your workload?” but rather “How are your time management skills?”

        To be clear, I’m in exactly the same boat and I agree 100%: we have way too much to do, too little time, and it’s not sustainable. Unfortunately I don’t see most administrators being willing and/or able to address the problem.

      2. zora*

        Well, it’s still a little different for teachers, so my mom would frame it differently.

        It’s not really about what is expected by your boss usually, one upside of being a teacher is that it’s not usually very easy to fire teachers, and most principals don’t fire a bunch of teachers for not working ‘enough’ extra hours. (especially bc my mom was in a unionized district, but that might not be your situation)

        So, it’s really about setting your own boundaries and priorities. She would say you should give yourself a time limit for each day/week. Do what you can until 6:00pm, for example, and just stop. Your kids will still be fine, and you will always come up with more things you want to do than you have time to do.

        Anecdote time: My mom had one teacher in her grade who walked out the door 15 minutes after buses left every single day. All the other teachers were frustrated that she was so unwilling to anything extra, but she worked until she was ready to retire, and never ‘got in trouble’ with her bosses or anything.

        On the other hand, my mom’s best friend teacher would stay until 8-9 at night every night, and do at least 20 hours of work every week, because she was a control freak and just always had 20 ‘just one more’ things that she just had to do. Most of them were purely superficial things like recovering books or making personalized cubby signs for each month. She also worked until she was ready to retire, and never got any additional accolades, raises or anything for working so many more hours than Teacher 1.

        In my mom’s experience, being a teacher is really about being self-directed more than you’d think, and deciding for yourself how much energy you want to put into your curriculum and students. So, I would encourage you to start figuring out what you want your boundaries to be and setting up your own priorities/rewards system for yourself. That’s not something your boss does for you like in other professions.

        1. A.N.O.N.*

          +1000

          Teaching is so self-directive. There’s also a teacher at my partner’s school who told the principal that he needs the weekends/personal time to recharge and thus refuses to do any extra work on the weekends or after school. Some of the other teachers frown upon that sort of attitude (in part because it can put more administrative work on them), but it is allowed.

          It can be hard to set up boundaries because it’s something you care so much about. And since you’re no longer a new teacher, your principal may be putting more non-teaching duties on your plate. If that’s the case, I think it’s totally ok to tell her that those things are eating up too much of your time and that you need to scale back.

      3. Specialk9*

        I get indignant on teachers’ behalf, a lot. You guys get conned early on, by idealism and loving kids and knowledge. Then they pull the Women’s Work BS on you – get this crazy expensive amount of schooling, but we’ll pay you like janitors, expect you to work nonstop, expand the scope to actually raising many kids for their parents, and often get abused by parents without administrative protection. Um, sign me up.

        I think teachers are heroes, but you couldn’t pay me enough to be one! (Which is ironic because the pay is SO low compared to office jobs!)

      4. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Oh, four years in is the worst for “I can’t keep this up long term!” And your co-worker is right, there is never, ever a point of ‘all done’ in teaching. The trick is, to accept that teaching will take up every second of time you give it and, paradoxically, give it less time. I also felt that I had to work all the time and couldn’t do anything for me when I was at your point in my career (I’m at 8 years now), but I was also feeling burnt out so I took up one non-school activity and took that one night “off”. The kids survived and I started to feel human again. I’m up to three evening hobbies, and I know I can’t do more, but the balance is a bit better.

        1. Julianne*

          Yeah, I’m in my 4th year (3rd at my school, same as Lauren the OP), and in a lot of ways, this year is so much harder than my first year. Every week I’m bouncing between how is it already the Nth week/how is it only the Nth week. In past years, I’ve struggled because of challenging kids, this year I have challenging adults on top of it.

    7. Specialk9*

      I only work extra hours if something’s burning (both literally and figuratively) – but I check email all the time and respond at night and on weekends. Teachers get taken advantage of hard, in comparison to us office drones.

    8. urban teacher*

      I don’t bring work home at this point. If I don’t do an administrative task in the day, then it won’t get done. Unfortunately, districts and the federal government have decided that teachers are expendible and incompetent hence the extra paperwork. My lesson plans are now 12 or up pages. I have figured out shortcuts in order to produce them.

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      I think it depends on a lot of things. I’m in Canada, so my experience is different, but this is my 14th year. Here is what I can tell you.

      1. Things will get easier eventually. I’ve been teaching the same subject for years, and I’m not expected to write big lesson plans anymore. I do keep my planbooks from year to year so I can see where I am now relative to last year. Eventually, you just know (which I know is not helpful right now).

      2. New teachers in their first few years often get a bit screwed by the whole “prove yourself” mentality. They often get the crappy timetable (enjoy teaching ten classes of health that no one else has room for in their schedule!) and they take on extra stuff, like coaching, to prove they should be hired on permanently. It can be easy to burn out.

      3. It does eventually get easier in time, especially if you teach the same subject, or same kids, or coach the same thing. But it takes time. This year I am teaching six classes (including a subject I’ve never taught before, so that’s been a bit crazy), running an overseas trip, advising the student council, and working to renegotiate our collective agreement. I don’t coach, I don’t do other clubs.

      4. I agree with other posters: find an experienced colleague if you can for mentorship. Talk to your admin and say you would benefit from having a mentor. Ideally in the same subject area. If nothing else, they can tell you how to make things faster and more efficient in some ways.

      5. Protect your private time. I used to either stay at school until 8pm, or bring a ton of work home. Now, occasionally I will stay until 6 (in some circumstances, like if I have a ton of big projects to mark) but I will leave at 6 and I never take work home anymore. No one noticed I was doing this insane work, it certainly didn’t win me a prize or respect or anything, and just made me crazy. Home time is for home now.

      6. If you are unionised or have a collective agreement, read it to see if it says anything about instructional time or assignable time. Where I am, instructional time is capped at 907 hours a year, and assignable time (which includes instruction, supervision, parent-teacher interviews, etc – basically anything your employer tells you you have to do) is capped at, I believe, 1200 hours year (which means just under 300 hours of assignable above instructional). How that time is distributed is partly up to your boss, and partly up to you. You can (and are) told what classes to teach, where to supervise and when, and what time to arrive and leave. You should also get a certain amount of prep time. How you allocate your prep time is usually up to you. There is no clear answer about what percentage you should spend planning, or calling, etc. FWIW, I hardly ever call home. If there’s an issue, I email. I can do this while my students are writing a test, etc. For teachers where there’s an expectation of constant communication (elementary, etc often have a weekly communication), a mass email is usually better and faster.

      7. Speaking of email, take it off your phone. Don’t answer after a certain time (say 7pm). I tell my students that I don’t read email after 8pm because I’m old and need my beauty sleep. If your admin has directed you to be available always to answer emails, that could be considered assignable time. (Also assignable time, in some places: being told to arrive at a certain time and stay until a certain time. So if you are told to arrive at 8, let’s say, but classes don’t start until 8:30, that’s a half hour con assignable time every day. If classes end at 3 but you need to stay until 3:30, that’s another half hour every day. It adds up fast.)

      Sorry this is a bit scrambled. Hopefully things get better for you soon!

  25. MechanicalPencil*

    What are your workplace annoyances today?

    I have someone telling me that a white logo is FINE for print purposes. Yes. I like having invisible ink on my print pieces. White is totally a printable color because they TOTALLY make WHITE INK for WHITE PAPER.

    1. Squeeble*

      Ha!

      Mine is a double charge on an expense report that I can’t fix without calling the bank. Just a pain.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I am working from home today and am using Microsoft Remote Desktop on a Mac. Which means I have to use control to do things, not command. Which I forget. Every. Time.

      1. Buffy*

        My workplace implemented virtual desktops on our PCs, and I have a Mac at home and cannot get it to work! Asked IT a bunch, they said to download the Microsoft Remote Desktop app and then when I asked what the input things should be for the info it asks when it comes up, they just shrugged and said idk. Arghhhhhhhh.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          It actually works really well for me apart from the whole ‘stuff you’d press command for is mapped to control’ issue. But you do kind of need your IT team to give you the details!

          Ours goes like this: https://webaccess.WORKURL and then it’s the same username and password I use for Office and the intranet.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I used to use a mac at home and Windows at work and the first hour at work and first hour at home every day were spent hitting the wrong ctrl/command key and swearing. I NEVER got used to the switch.

    3. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      It just got colder here, yes, it’s colder. Do we need to re-hash it multiple times during the day?? PUT ON A SWEATER!!!!

    4. CCF*

      I have been at the company for 11 years and have worked on a specific project for 8 of those years, now being the lead on it for at least 4 years in a row. Someone who started over the summer and is brand new to the project is trying to teach me about it.

      1. 2 Cents*

        I feel your pain. Been working in the field for 3 years. Someone who just started 4 months ago asked me if I needed a *tutorial* about a basic function of my field. I guess my secret superpower isn’t shooting lasers from my eyes, otherwise this guy would be toast!

    5. Mike C.*

      I’m getting so sick and tired of non-data people telling me exactly how they want their data visualized without understanding that there are a million better, easier and faster ways of getting the results they want.

      Then they wonder why I’m not finished. >.<

    6. Anon!*

      Haha! As a (fellow?) graphic designer I sympathize. One of my student interns will not stop formatting dates “December. 1” and I know it’s just a period and it’s easy to erase– but man, it’s driving me up a wall!

      1. Specialk9*

        I would be getting murdery. “December. 1” is nuts. I can’t even. 12/1 (or 1/12 in Europe), Dec 1, 1 December, December 1… All of those are ok.

    7. Turkletina*

      Some audio files I need have gone missing in transit from one server location to another. They’re not in the original location and they’re not in the new one, and if they’re not found I’m likely to miss a major deadline.

    8. Teal Green*

      I have a spreadsheet I’m responsible for distributing to Team Alpaca and gathering updates to the information. I am not the creator of the spreadsheet, that’s my counterpart on Team Llama. The spreadsheet has been released in a new version that the creator has locked part of and won’t share the password. Unfortunately, the labels are in the locked portion so my spreadsheet says Team Llama all over it and I can’t change it to Team Alpaca myself, I have to ask Lloyd from Team Llama to do it for me.

      Just let me have the &%#@! password so I can make it say Alpaca instead of Llama.

    9. Bluebell*

      Oh logos. Our multicolored logo is only supposed to be used on a white background. An internal invite went out this week against a colored background. This department refuses to use the solid white version Nails on a chalkboard to my eyes!

    10. zora*

      People being all ‘OMG we need this information NOWWWW, HURRY HURRY!!’, I scramble and get it to them, then radio silence for 2 weeks till they surface again asking me to start all over. Lovely.

      HR and Finance being strangely useless and always being either super vague, or just straight up screwing up every single thing we need them to do.

    11. Grumpity Grump*

      I share an office with a co-worker. This is mostly no issue, as it’s spacious and we have defined spaces. But co-worker makes and recieves Every. Single. Call. on speakerphone.

    12. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I have had 3 internal clients this week act like I’m nothing more than a trained monkey here to press whichever buttons they tell me to press. I’ve been a professional graphic designer for over 20 years and I’ve won 7 awards for my work in the last 10 years. These people are sending me “designs” they did in PowerPoint that they want me to simply copy at the correct resolution and specs in InDesign. No Rosemary, that’s you’re baby. You take care of it.

    13. Amadeo*

      I’m a web specialist at a university. About an hour ago I got an email from an admin asking me to convert a PDF to a Word doc. What logic cascade leads to ‘oh, I know, I’ll email Web for document conversion!’?

      Not to mention the PDF had selectable text. It would have taken half the time it took to email me and wait for a response to just copy and paste, type it back out (it was like 20 lines of bulleted text) or just open the flippin’ PDF in Word.

      1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        Im currently in a walking cast for a non work related injury. I’ve been called hop-along about a million times today. FYI Its not original and its not funny! Can I not just have sympathy for my condition?

    14. Fenchurch*

      Work has been so slow. But we have a phone queue that can be called by a client (this has happened exactly once in 4 weeks). Only me and one other person are charged with being “available” to answer calls. The other person is studying for an exam and has not been able to be on the queue. So I am glued to my desk watching an empty phone queue for 6+ hours a day because management is afraid someone will call without someone answering….

    15. KR*

      My coworker speaks SO LOUD when he is on the phone. And he is on the phone (personal conversations) extremely frequently. Buy some freaking headphones!!!

    16. Tiny Soprano*

      Oh I have a doozey. Our dishwasher disappeared. A tradie went upstairs to look at a tap, and with absolutely no instruction to do so removed our dishwasher and disposed of it. Needless to say both my manager and I are *very* annoyed.

    17. EasilyAmused*

      At last toxic job, a co-worker in an open office setting used a mechanical keyboard. The day he brought it in, he said “this is going to be really loud”. He also types very fast so it literally just sounded like someone frantically tapping a pen on a desk… All. Day. Long. Some of us couldn’t stand it and I shared my annoyance with a co-worker who was a friend. Eventually, the keyboard disappeared and I heard him say that the higher ups told him he couldn’t use it anymore because it was distracting.

      Cut to a few months later when friendly co-worker decided we weren’t friends anymore for reasons in her own head. She and another guy who were fully aware of said keyboard situation start shopping for them online right behind me. The next thing I know, there are now multiple mechanical keyboards clicking away behind me. It was a ridiculous situation with ridiculous people and I could not get out of there fast enough. (This story being one of many instances of toxic behavior at ridiculous workplace)

  26. Dee-Nice*

    I know there’s been talk on this blog before about legit uses of sick time, but how do managers feel about otherwise decent employees who use ALL their sick time?

    FWIW, I’m in academia. By several objective measures, I am a good employee. I got a great performance review for last year, a special bonus (not a usual thing for people in my role), a (small) merit raise, and outside email praise from a couple people affiliated with us. But I have small kids and since my youngest started daycare either she or I have been sick every month (I get one sick day per month and it rolls over forever). And I mean flat-on-my-back sick: flu-like virus one month, stomach bug the next, etc. It seems like I can’t accrue more than a day or two of “reserve” time before I’m down again for one reason or another. I also get 3 weeks of vacation and I take all of it every year.

    No one has ever given me any crap for taking sick time, but I see so many conflicting opinions online that I worry it’s affecting my optics without my knowing. I also worry that it will hold me back if I ever want to go after promotional opportunities. Thoughts/opinions?

    1. DuckDuckGoose*

      This is just my opinion so your department and university culture may vary:

      I supervised a department where the work was very heavily student oriented. We had specific hours to be available. It made everyone’s shift more intense (less time on non-student facing tasks) when people were out and it was a little hard to contain staff’s negative emotions when the same person was out for 4-5 days every month. It’s hard to balance someone being truly sick and also needing them there consistently. But doesn’t sound like you’re in a particularly “service” oriented academic position, so I honestly think you’re fine. Your work is getting done, you’ve been getting great feedback, I wouldn’t worry about it. Even if you were in a service-type role, it doesn’t sound like you have a history of calling off this much so that should work for you. If you’re concerned, I’d just ask your department head.

      My employees earned about 1-2 days of sick time per month and it didn’t roll over. I talked to them about using it all and we discussed days that would work for everyone for them to “call out sick” so they didn’t lose time off they’d earned. I am staunchly in the camp of You Earned This Time You Get To Use It.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Tolerance for sick days varies by office culture. Mine doesn’t care, esp since we can work from home easily. I’d say check with your boss, but that risks making them focus on something that maybe hasn’t registered, and then having selection bias make it a problem where it wasn’t before. Maybe check in with people at your level (even if in other depts) about how much of their sick time they use?

      Also, since it seems regular, have your ‘sick time protocol’ in place and available to whomever has to take over while you’re sick.

      If it helps any, we had the same problem the whole time my kid was in day care. It gets better later in the year and as your kids get older, though we still have a regular cold every September when everyone gets back from summer vacation. Make sure you get your flu shots, and maybe pick up a 1-a-day vitamin for you. My experience has been that no amount of hand-washing / coughing into your elbow does more than delay transmission for a couple of days, so I focused on boosting my immune system.

      If you’re managing the time out well, a lot of employers will be understanding while the kids are small.

    3. Dr. Doll*

      I think it depends upon your role. I have heard of people in more admin-type roles not being chosen for better positions because they were “earner burners” (among other reasons). But it doesn’t seem to be an issue for people higher up on the food chain. This is probably because the higher ups are exempt and tend to keep working no matter where they are or how they feel, whereas the hourly admin types are *not allowed* to work if they are out, so the direct impact is greater.

      Are you taking vacation as planned vacation, or having to use it to cover sick time? That might also play into the optics.

    4. Dee-Nice*

      Thanks for these replies!

      A little background: my position is not very front-facing or student-focused, but I do support two or three pretty important people, mainly doing scheduling. I have never missed work the day of something important (and last winter I came in with a fever to run an event I’d been planning for months– I know, not great, but there was literally no one to delegate to and I was not coughing and I didn’t shake hands with anyone). I have used one vacation day to cover sick time. Even though I’m not “allowed” to work when I’m out, I check my email anyway and forward any urgent requests to another peer colleague (this is almost never necessary). I use my away message to refer people to my colleagues but I strongly encourage my them to only handle urgent matters and let anything else wait till I get back in the next day or two.

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        I think you’ve handled things in the most appropriate manner possible, especially if you’re still keeping an eye on email and forwarding any ‘this issue is on fire’ emails but not responding to regular correspondence. I’ve had some people tell me that these email fires aren’t my problem if I’m sick, but I always had to clean up the ashes from those fires after I got back so I decided it was my call either way.

    5. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I think unless your sick time causes work logjams or missed deadlines or extra work for someone else, I can’t see why anyone would care. Unless your office is staffed with the “I never take a sick day” types who come in sick and spread their viruses hither and yon, who seem to feel that staying home sick is a moral failing. Most reasonable people know that kids get sick and that as a result, you will get sick, and would far rather you stay home. If you’re getting your work done and not impacting deadlines or projects, I wouldn’t worry too much. I assume that if you weren’t, someone would have mentioned it by now.

    6. Nan*

      I don’t enjoy it when my people use all their sick time, but I deal with it. It’s a benefit we offer, so they can use it.

      It does bug me because then if they have an extended illness or emergency, then they are out of time, and have to take it unpaid. I feel that we are pretty generous and people really shouldn’t run out, and that giving extra time off, even if it is unpaid is sort of an extra benefit.

      I accrue about 1 day every two weeks, so if I used all mine, I would consider that excessive. But, those who have been here less time earn less, we are on a sliding scale of how many days you get. So it kinda depends there, too.

      Our PTO is all in a lump bucket, it doesn’t separate sick from vacation, so if they use all their time and then complain they don’t any time for vacation, I shut that fussing down real quick.

      1. Yorick*

        Unpaid time off to be sick isn’t a benefit. Don’t you think they’d rather be healthy and making money?

        1. Specialk9*

          Yorick, unpaid time off really is a benefit – the benefit is not losing one’s job. It’s all the protection the US government gives to females with the temerity to procreate: a scant 3 months of unpaid leave without losing one’s job, but many people don’t even get that protection.

      2. Specialk9*

        You earn 2 days of sick leave every month?!?!?! So you get **24** sick days a year?! I’m literally gasping here. I get five a year, period, full stop.

        1. Drew*

          I think that’s all leave time lumped together. My office does something very similar, and we cap at four weeks – so managers are encouraged to keep an eye on subordinates’ leave and encourage them to take days off if they’re getting close to the cap rather than losing leave time they’re entitled to. Plus, our company president REALLY hates having sick employees in the building, so if we as much as sniffle, he asks us if we need to take a sick day.

    7. cornflower blue*

      Most places I’ve worked have tended to grant (informal) leeway to parents of young children when it comes to sick leave. It’s understood that daycare and preschool are germ factories, kids need to be minded when they’re unwell, and they’re contagious as he11.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s been my experience as well. People are pretty understanding that someone with young kids has their own sickness + kid sickness to deal with, and adjust their expectations accordingly.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Some bosses get really ticked from what I have seen. Other bosses just shrug and say, “That is what it is there for.”
      The only time I have seen it bite anyone is when there are other problems going on.

    9. copy run start*

      Not a boss, but the only times I’ve had issues with coworkers was when it really appeared to be abuse of the system. For example, constantly going home sick on Friday afternoon, exclusively in the summer, when we all know you have a lake cabin 2 hours away you visit every summer weekend….

  27. selina kyle*

    Started a new job about two months ago and I still feel like I’m not doing enough. It’s a slow season for some aspects of my job, but it feels like other areas I should have more to do. I have a lot of downtime and when I mention to my boss that I’d love to take on my responsibilities, she never has anything for me. It’s a little frustrating, but I do love other parts of the job.

    1. It's all Fun and Dev*

      I had that same issue when I started – my job is primarily relationship-based, and there’s not much I can do until I’ve built those relationships. It’s only now, 5 months in, that I feel like I’m truly getting started. But I just hate that feeling of sitting around doing nothing! Just keep reminding yourself this is a normal part of the job, and take advantage of the slower time now (if you can) in preparation for the crazy busy times of year.

    2. Angie G.*

      I feel the same way with my job and I’ve been here a year and a half. Unfortunately some positions just need warm bodies but not much to do. It bothered me at first but now I enjoy it. I started learning a new language a year ago so I study and chat with people on Skype that I’ve met from different countries, I plan my vacations (seriously have about 5 years of vacations planned lol), I budget my finances, I make to do lists, plan my work outs and meals for the week. It’s actually kinda nice!

    3. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      I went through this also. What kept me busy was writing out steps in the processes I was learning about. I made my own study guides/cheat sheets for my job. I read industry publications at my desk. I did a bunch of online training courses. I made a list of emergency numbers (911, building security, closest hospital, etc.) to post in my cubicle (lol, what a nerd). I also spent a bit of time internet browsing, which wasn’t work related, but it kept me from falling asleep at my desk. Eventually, the volume of work did pick up.

  28. Amber Rose*

    So it turns out one of our new employees is a veteran. We were gonna get a card for him, but the stores don’t carry any. So we’re going to make a card for him instead and get everyone to sign that. We spent 10 minutes debating relative paper quality (like, yellow card stock VS white glossy). Only really quietly in whispers because we want to surprise him later.

    It’s little things like this that remind me the people who work here are good people. Kind of a nice way to end the week.

    1. Lumen*

      I’m so glad other offices are doing things for veterans on staff. Post-service life can be difficult to varying degrees, and there really is not enough support.

      Almost a quarter of my company’s total # of employees are veterans, which is awesome in and of itself. They sent out an email this morning recognizing all of them and thanking them for their service, and the activities committee at HQ made little presents of red, white, and blue popcorn for the local servicemembers. Also in our monthly meeting this morning, one of the C-suite took a moment to also recognize people we work with who have family members in the military.

      It’s just a nice thing to do, and takes so little effort, to just say ‘thank you’. You don’t have to be one party or another, and as someone once told me, “you don’t have to be pro-war to be pro-soldier”. I love that you all whispered about what kind of card to make for your new coworker. That’s incredibly kind.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I like him, he’s a nice person and he works hard. I’m glad someone knew that he was a veteran so we could thank him today (I had no idea). His card turned out pretty well too. :)

    2. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      That is super sweet and considerate of you, but for others, I just want people to be aware that vets don’t universally like being thanked for their service. My partner is a disabled vet (3 tours of duty in Afghanistan, considered 100% disabled by the VA due to injuries he sustained while in the military), and he absolutely hates being thanked for his service. He knows that people mean well when they thank him, but he also has business cards printed up asking people not to thank him, but to vote instead (also on the back of the cards is a list of his favorite veterans’ organizations that people can donate to).

      1. Amber Rose*

        See, I briefly worried about this, but then I figured a card is low-key enough that if he doesn’t like it, he can just say so and we won’t do it again.

      1. Specialk9*

        Veterans Day – it’s a day for thanking soldiers and former soldiers for their service and sacrifice. Memorial Day is a separate government holiday for honoring soldiers who died. Outside the government, companies may give Veterans Day off work but I think most don’t (?) while Memorial Day is usually a day off.

        1. Thlayli*

          Oh yeah they do that remembrance thing in Britain too, I forgot about that. The 11th day of the 11th month and all that.

  29. AnonAndOn*

    Did anyone here watch “The Job Interview,” the show that premiered Wednesday that was mentioned here last week? It is as much as a reality TV mess as it was predicted to be. Each episode focuses on a business that is looking for a new employee. The first two episodes aired were for Xendoo (looking for a bookkeeper) and Love Cork Screw (looking for a brand ambassador). Each employer has five candidates that they were interviewing. The girl in the shorts that I mentioned standing out to me in the preview last week was even worse than expected. She interviewed for Love Cork Screw, seemed high, and mentioned being a free spirit. She looked like she rolled out of bed. The sweaty guy was also bad. He also interviewed for Love Cork Screw and was inarticulate. When he tried to use tissue to wipe the sweat off of him some of it stuck to his face.

    I didn’t like some of the questions that Xendoo asked. I feel that there’s a better way to ask how organized a person is than “What does your closet look like?” When asked “Tell me about yourself,” one Xendoo candidate mentioned being from Colombia and being raised by a single mom. One of the Love Cork Screw candidates mentioned being homeless. That stuff may fly on reality TV but shouldn’t be brought up in interviews.

    Only a few candidates wore suits to their interviews. While the woman in shorts was the worst, there were women without blazers and men without ties. No one came with a portfolio or a hard copy of their resume.

    When the show said that the five top candidates were picked to be interviewed for these organizations, I thought, “They’re probably the best of those who’d be willing to appear on reality TV! The better candidates probably said ‘Forget this’!”

    Any other thoughts? I’ll link to the videos in a response to my comment.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind these aren’t real interviews, and they’re definitely not intended as good examples of interviewing on either side of the table. Questions are almost certainly being provided/pushed by the people producing the show. It’s entertainment, not genuine job searching examples. (Which is good because they’re uniformly awful examples.)

      1. Beth Anne*

        I haven’t watched but based on what you described it sounds like they picked the best people to make for entertaining reality TV. I bet the clothes were also provided to them by the show as well.

        1. AnonAndOn*

          I think they were wearing their own clothes. The sweaty guy’s clothes looked too tight on him though.

          Another woman (a Love Cork Screw candidate) had burgundy hair, burgundy eyebrows, and loud gold eye shadow. Her hair and brows matched a sweater she wore over a black top with a lacy peephole decoration on top. As she waited for her interview she appeared to be taking selfies.

    2. NewBoss2016*

      I watched it, and was screaming inside THESE PEOPLE ALL NEED TO READ AAM. It was pretty entertaining, so I’ll keep watching it. I was wondering how I would have kept it together as a canidate when the Xendoo guy leaned back in his chair and did a back-flop on the floor.

      1. AnonAndOn*

        They definitely do need to visit this site.

        They showed a shot of the candidate laughing after the Xendoo guy fell out of his chair, but I think that was a case of reality TV editing where a random reaction shot is thrown in out of context.

    3. AshK434*

      OMG I totally agree with you about everything. Xendoo asked really dumb questions. For some reason the question about closet organization really irked me. I have a really messy closet, but I’m super organized and detail-oriented at work. Those two things have no correlation for me.

      1. AnonAndOn*

        That’s what bugged me too about that question. It has nothing to do with how someone performs at work.

    4. JamieS*

      I hadn’t seen it but watched both episodes after seeing your post. Suffice to say I had to pause it a few times because it was too painful to watch. I know it’s a reality show and probably mostly scripted but there were moments I legitimately felt bad for the “candidates” and the train wreck they were just making even worse. When that Xendoo candidate Robin said she wouldn’t go back to working in a CPA form while interviewing for a job at a CPA form…OMG! There were some doozies but hands down she was the worse IMO.

        1. JamieS*

          Yeah I think it could have been salvageable if she’d remembered they were a CPA firm and didn’t make such a fall on your sword statement. For instance instead of “I’d never work for a CPA firm” maybe say something like “I wouldn’t want to work for a traditional CPA firm which is what attracted me to Xendoo because you guys (insert how Xendoo is different)”.

          Course that’d require remembering they’re a CPA firm before they remind you and the statement needs to be true so it doesn’t sound like you’re blowing smoke even if you are.

          As for Xendoo’s questions they weren’t the best but I didn’t think they were too te