open thread – February 9-10, 2018

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.

{ 2,359 comments… read them below }

  1. Pat*

    Since this came up a few times this week: in terms of perks/working conditions, what would you consider big enough a deal to leave your current job over? I specifically mean change in CURRENT conditions, not about perks that would sway your decision on whether or not you’d accept an offer.
    For example, if your dog-friendly office has decided to ban dogs (for whatever reason), or they switch to hot desking, or take away WFH arrangements etc.

      1. Nyxalinth*

        Long-time TES fan appreciating your name!

        I hate host desking. I encounter it a lot in my call center jobs. It feels impersonal and like we really aren’t valued.

        1. Jesca*

          I literally just got an email from my son’s teacher today telling me that in his 4th grade classroom, they are implementing hot desking!!! In his forth grade class!!!

          1. Itsnotacoldjustafever*

            Hot desking was designed to save space – the design means less desks that the number of employees, for companies whose staff are at off site meetings, at back2back meetings. Does the school really suffer from that high a rate of absenteeism, or do they really expect the kids to be in meetings all day? (Ms. Teacher, hold my calls, I’ll be in the board room)

            1. The Curator*

              It is not unusual for elementary and middle school student not to have a “permanent” desk. I worked fifteen years in a school where there were no “desks” just tables that moved around in groupings . Personal items, jackets, books and notebooks were stored in cubbies.

              Its funny that on this blog this is referred to as “hot desking” when groupings with no permanent desks are considered best practices for this age group.

              1. Jesca*

                It is not refered to on this blog as hot desking. That is literally what the note said.

                And yeah kids do normally have permanent desks that are then switched around at various times throughout the year. They keep things in their desk that they are working on. Now, they will not have that. Also, just so you know, my son is atypical and on a 504 plan. Keeping himself organized now is a struggle. Now that every day he doesn’t know where he is going to sit? Best practices? Please gurrrrl.

                1. DouDou Paille*

                  I never had an assigned desk at any school I went to, but I’m 48, so maybe this is a newer thing? That’s what lockers/cubbies were for – storing your stuff since you couldn’t keep it in a desk.

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  Ouch. I know some kids who struggle with that, and upending their routine and sense of predictability is rough.

                3. Oxford Coma*

                  I was just going to say that having preferential seating is a very common IEP accommodation, so I’m surprised to hear that hot desking in a classroom is the norm.

              2. T3k*

                That’s really odd to me, because I can remember having assigned seating all through elementary and middle school. It wasn’t until high school that we didn’t have assigned seating (but by then, most followed the common practice of “we don’t have assigned seats, but I”m claiming this seat” mentality).

                Where I am, people love to display things on their desks and shelves and is almost part of the company’s culture, so if they switched to hot desking it’d definitely ruffle feathers, not to mention losing personality for one’s workspace. Thankfully, because certain groups really need specialized equipment and rooms, I can’t see the company doing this anytime soon.

                1. Jesca*

                  It is a lot newer concept. And it not exactly like people are describing it here. At his school they apparently refer to it as hot desking. But there are other names.

                  Basically it is meant that kids walk in every day a decide where they want to sit in the room, who they want to sit beside, who they want to work with that day, and on what type of “object” they want to sit (like how in some hot desking places they have couches and different types of furniture). The bullying aspect of this is going to make my son’s life hell. It already is hell. Hell, his entire therapy right now only involves how to deal with the bullying. They won’t even let him sit down at lunch where there are no assigned seating.

                2. Coalea*

                  Back in the Dark Ages when I was in elementary school, we had assigned seats, but some teachers would choose to “shake things up” by revising the seating plan at the start of a new quarter or semester.
                  I’m grateful that we had assigned seating back then because I was socially awkward and unpopular. If the trauma of the lunchroom carried over into the classroom, it would have been excruciating.
                  I work from home now, but in past jobs I always had an assigned space (cube or office). I cannot imagine hot desking, as I am very particular about how I like my space set up and because I have so much printed material that I rely on.

                3. Beth Anne*

                  When my mom taught 4th grade she did a version of this with a lot of kids. All there stuff were stored in a box in the coat closet. But she did this more b/c their desks would get so GROSS. They’d put all sorts of weird food and stuff in them. They would just shove papers into the desk and they couldnt find assignments. So basically certain kids lost their privilege of having a desk.

                4. memyselfandi*

                  I am on the old side, plus I went to an elementary school that was built in 1873 and had desks from the 1930’s with inkwells. The desktop was a heavy wooden lid that lifted up and you stored all your stuff in the desk . This was in an old New England mill town. If you’ve ever read Amy and Isabel by Elizabeth Strout you have a pretty exact picture. Keeping your desk neat was something we were evaluated on. It wasn’t until high school that we had lockers. The high school was modern. It was the first single story high school built in my state and the design was considered to be innovative. Having my own desk was very anchoring for me as a child. I grew up in a large family and everything was shared. It is different for most children today at home, but I still think regularity and routine are important. Whether or not you need a desk at school for that, I don’t know, perhaps there are other ways, but it seems some children, like Jesca’s find it useful.

              3. Elizabeth H.*

                My experience was: lab school for grades 1-2, no desks at all just tables. We had cubbies for our stuff. Grade 3, our own desk with a space underneath for our own things. We had our names on name cards taped to our desks and they were in a U around the room all facing the teacher. Grades 4-5, we had tables that were like islands with four kids assigned to each desk. It got switched a few times during the year. We kept our stuff in backpacks/in coat etc area. Grade 6, we had our own desk in homeroom where we kept our stuff, and that was our classroom for two classes, but for other classes we sat at other kids’ desks (assigned). No desks after that, I think. But we always had assigned seats. I think in high school, for most classes, we could pick where we sat but then we had to stay there. I think it’s really bad not to assign younger kids seats, regardless of if they’re desks or tables, because it is absolutely awful for kids who are shy, who are bullied by peers, or who have some kind of social problem. everyone’s more comfortable with an assigned space. (Same with partners in gym – I will never for the life of me understand why any teacher, ever, lets kids pick partners rather than assigning them )

              4. Akcipitrokulo*

                Always had my own desk until high school (where you’re in the classroom for 50 minutes).

              5. Totally Minnie*

                All of the elementary school teachers I know prefer to assign seats. One reason is to accommodate students whose educational needs mean they need to be closer to the front of the room, or farther away from distractions. Another reason is that 8 and 9 year olds are not known for their impeccable judgement. You assign seats so that the kids who would end up bickering all day aren’t always on top of each other. Or so that your two class pranksters don’t end up sitting together and causing shenanigans that upset the learning of everyone else.

                I’ve never known of a teacher allowing kids to choose their own seats before about age 12.

            2. Coffee Cup*

              This is so strange. I personally know a 4th grade class (my own) that would have killed to have “hot desking” but was told that we weren’t old enough to not have assigned seats…

          2. AnotherJill*

            Honestly, I don’t think that is such a bad idea. If students are moved around, it has the potential of letting them get to know other students and maybe fewer cliques are formed. Giving the students an opportunity to pair or work with various people can help them broaden their horizons a little.

            1. Jesca*

              Sure. Unless you happen to be atypical and the target of bullies. My son can’t even get a seat to eat lunch and normally has to throw all his food away as he spent most of his time trying to find a place to sit. All of his class mates will not let him sit to eat. One day a student even stood up and knocked all the food out of his hands. So now when he walks into class … yeah you can put it together. So nah. Good for some kids. Not good for others.

              Sigh. Just another thing I need to worry about and another thing I have to go into school to discuss (he is on a 504 and this little exercise interferes)

              1. Teacher trainer*

                It sounds like you have a majotpr bullying issue, with or without this approach to seating. That’s not really about the educational benefits of the seating policy in general.

                I’m sorry you are having to deal with that. I hope you and your son’s school can sort that out soon.

              2. Anoun E Moose*

                Is it possible to have your child switched to a different school in the district? There are honestly so many issues here. The fact that the teacher and/or school aren’t taking steps to stop the bullying is mind boggling. And if your child is on a 504 and it’s reasonable for him to have a regular, assigned seat…then why in the world wouldn’t they just give him an assigned seat? The whole point of placing a child on a 504 plan is to make adjustments (within reason) to accommodate the child.

                As the parent of a child on an IEP, I understand the challenges and I’m so sorry that you and your child are having to go through this. Hopefully you’re able to get things straightened out for your son.

              3. Lissa*

                Good for some kids, not good for others, as you say, but does this mean you think they shouldn’t change what’s going on because it’ll disrupt some kids, or just that you’re personally frustrated? I just can’t tell from your posts if you’re saying you think this type of system is something the school should not be implementing at all.

              4. Half-Caf Latte*

                Sorry to hear that your son has these struggles and that this adds to your worries.

                It sounds like you’re a wonderful advocate for him, and I hope that you’re able to solve this problem quickly and painlessly.

                Gentle hugs from an internet stranger, and evil glares at the adults who allow such blatant bullying to go apparently unchecked.

              5. Specialk9*

                My sister’s kid was being badly bullied, was on an IEP but the school was not really following it (years of struggling), and was covering up the bullying. An older kid tried to kick him in the head, but a teacher stuck her leg out instead, and the teacher had to go to the ER from the force of the blow (so, basically, a potentially killing head kick). The school covered it up completely – someone who witnessed it told my sister, and the school still tried to hide it, but once she knew and was able to make the right demands, it all came out.

                She had to sue, and won, and the school district had to pay for him to go to a fancy private school for his needs. It changed his life – he had friends for the first time, with a classroom full of other kids as awkward and with the same issues as him. And he finally started talking about all the bullying, which he thought was just normal. A lot of problems that we thought were in his brain chemistry were actually stress.

                All to say, it sounds like your school is allowing bullying. Lawsuits sometimes are the answer.

            2. T3k*

              This is a bad idea to me. Having been the outcast for many years in school, it was tough enough having to find a group to join for mandatory group projects, but if I was then forced to have to sit with a group because it was the only available desk and I can tell they don’t want anything to do with me, I’d be angry and upset. Having students freely move around will only let cliques form because now they can choose to sit with their friends rather than be forced to be beside someone they’d never willingly interact with if they could choose. Hell, even lunch was a nightmare trying to find somewhere to sit until I made a few friends.

            3. KayEss*

              Unfortunately in reality it plays out exactly as it does in the office world, where everyone has an unofficial “claimed” seat and sits there every time. It’s pretty much human nature to want a consistent space of our own.

            4. Falling Diphthong*

              What you are describing would be the opposite of elementary hot-desking–the teacher assigning seats and overruling kids’ desire to sit in their existing cliques.

            5. pcake*

              It would have been awful for me. I was great socializing with adults when I was 5 through 13, but I wasn’t good with kids my own age. I felt cut off and miserable, and having to sit near different kids each day would have made things much worse. Besides, from middle school on (I’m older so we had Junior High School starting after 6th grade), things are so cliquey that the loners will end up relegated to the least appealing seats every day.

          3. Jules the Third*

            My 4th grade kid has not had an assigned seat in at least three years – International Magnet school in a large, relatively well-off district, US South. 33% free / reduced lunch, if that works as a benchmark.

            The classes are all small round tables, 3 – 4 seats at each. The kids do a group project two or three times a week, or break out into small groups to study different topics (eg, 1 desk has ‘rocks’, the other has ‘minerals’, and the next day they switch). It is designed to give the kids more of a chance to learn team work, or at their own pace. The teacher starts the class with a brief lecture (eg, ‘here’s things to look at with Rocks or Minerals), but then lets the kids free to fill out worksheets and do some hands on work. Also, some of the tables are higher, and the kids can stand while writing. It’s great for fidgeters.

            Resources like pencils / papers sit with the desks, not the kids. We send in a package of supplies at the beginning of school, the teacher manages it. It’s a quiet way for us to support the poorer students.

            My kid did great with this through 3rd grade; he’s now struggling a little bit with the less structured environment, but we’re working with the teacher on ways for him to handle it. It works best with classes that have 1 adult per 12 – 15 kids, usually Teacher + Aide.

            So, don’t dismiss ‘hot desking’ in school just because of the name; like Common Core or New Math, there are reasons behind it, and studies that show the benefits for kids overall. Some kids will struggle, but that’s true in the ‘rows and lectures’ version too.

          4. essEss*

            This is a bad thing in school. Kids will gravitate to sit with friends and will be distracted by talking and sharing among each other. I recall in school that the teacher frequently had to adjust the seating chart to keep the ‘talkers’ from being seated next to each other in order to keep order in the classroom.

            1. Luna*

              Yes, exactly, and the “uncool” kids will be ostracized. We always had assigned desks when I was in school in the 80s and 90s, the teacher would usually just switch up the seating arrangement every quarter or so, this way the kids are forced to socialize with almost everyone in the class by the end of the year.

            2. Natalie*

              It really depends how it’s done. A friend has some kind of set up with a speak-and-spell toy that assigns the kids seats, for precisely the reasons you outline.

          5. SallytooShort*

            I went to elementary school in the late 80s/early 90s and we didn’t have permanent seats. I don’t think this is new.

      2. Comms Girl*

        Luckily hot desking doesn’t seem to be a thing here in the Old Continent – or at least for full-time employees.
        I think most people would find it majorly weird because each person has their projects dossiers, their own office supplies and material, their own space, etc. Playing musical chairs, office edition, would just demoralise everyone and possible cause a few arguments.

    1. Rat Racer*

      If my company took away my WFH privilege I’d be gone in a hot minute. It is one of the major reasons I’m at this job, and why I think it will be so hard for me to leave. The nearest office isn’t even that far away, but I’ve gotten so accustomed to working East Coast hours from California in my pajamas all day long that I can’t fathom having to put on real clothing and driving to an office. My whole life would have to change: I’d have to hire a baby-sitter for my kids in the afternoon, buy a whole new wardrobe. It would be a deal-breaker.

    2. Justin*

      Actually leaving my job?

      Uh, well, I’m paid by a university (although I don’t actually work on campus), and they pay for education up to a certain point. If I get into my doctorate program (fingers crossed…), my job will pay for what works out to, oh, 40% of it.

      Soooo yeah if they took that away I’d…. find some other job that would pay for it (or go into more debt than I want to, on top of my masters).

      1. Buffy*

        Good luck on getting in! I work for a University as well, getting my masters 75% paid for and loving it.

        1. Justin*


          And yeah, I should have done this for my Masters, which I have 5 more years to pay off (public service, which even Betsy DeVos cannot succeed at taking away from my wife and I since we signed up years back).

          If I play my cards right, my household will be debt-free by the time this program finishes, if I get in. Then, maybe, we can buy property. Lots riding on this, so definitely a deal-breaker for the job.

      2. KL*

        Another university employee here! If they took away for our program, there would be rioting on campus. We have pretty awesome one were you can up to 9 hours for free each semester and your only responsible for taxes after you go over a certain amount in tuition each year (I don’t want to out where I work). There are caveats, like you can’t enroll in certain programs on this program, but this is one of the big reasons I’m not looking to leave for a while.

        1. Justin*

          Yeah, they only pay for classes related to your job at mine, but that definition is very broad (and mine is anyway, but still).

          There are 20ish people on my team and it seems almost half of them have become students at some point during their tenure.

      3. Specialk9*

        I don’t understand – you’re paying for PhD instead of being paid? I thought that was the deal – students pay for undergrad and Masters, and get paid (a pittance) for PhD.

        1. Maude Lebowski*

          I used to work at a university (in an admin job) that paid for tuition for undergrad and Masters. As for PhD, it varies by place and program. I paid for my Masters myself (not at the uni I worked at), but did get some Teaching Assistant and Research Assistance work (however I still had p-t jobs outside of school at the same time). For my PhD, I got into a school in the US and one in the UK, neither of which offered any tuition assistance nor did they guarantee any income (in the form of a TA or RA), so I declined both (too flipping risky not to be guaranteed some kind of job). In some schools / programs you get funding bec you are aligned with a prof (ie supervising you) who brought in a research grant and you work on and get paid for that project for x years (so that would be the topic on which you’d be doing your dissertation). In my university, at home in Canada, we get no reduction in tuition, but do get a guaranteed TA position for x years (a generous number of yrs that the uni is now trying to reduce) BUT for my ~$19,000 a year in wages (I forget exactly – that sounds about right), I had to pay approx $6000 in tuition a year. On top of that, you apply for government grants to do your research, but if you get one of those then the university claws back your TA/RA wages, in effect subjecting you to a maximum you’re allowed to make in a year.

    3. hermit crab*

      Casual dress is a big one for me. I’m not sure I’d *actually* quit if I suddenly had to wear a suit/nice shoes/makeup/etc. every day… but I’d definitely consider it.

        1. Specialk9*

          I mean, maybe – between eBay and ThredUp, you can get an awful lot of the basics, especially if you already know the pieces that look good on your body shape and with your coloring. (And if not, MissusSmartyPants dotcom provides that for $15/3 months.)

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Oh, yes. I will absolutely not ever work in an office that requires anything better than pajamas, tbh.

      2. Peggy*

        me too. I’d be ok giving up hoodies and sneakers, but don’t take my jeans away! I am on the phone or slack all day, or working independently… wearing an uncomfortably formal outfit would be absurd for my line of work, and if it were arbitrarily enforced I’d be trying to get a new job right away.

      3. T3k*

        This would be mine as well. I’ve been lucky so far that all my jobs have been casual/jeans/sneakers, type so in my late 20s, I still don’t own more than a handful of nice clothes, and only 3 non-jean pants, and I prefer it that way.

      4. Lissa*

        If I had to wear makeup and heels I’d leave, definitely. (this would be super weird in my job so I could find another place where I didn’t…)

    4. Alex*

      for me was the work from home. Not having to do rush hour commute and not dealing with a bus and 2 subways have done tons in improving my mental health. Even only once every two weeks (i have to balance with in person meetings) have done wonders on my stress and anxiety level.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Work from home + travel expenses (mileage, hotel, meals) when I travel to our HQ every two weeks. It’s about 3 hours away, so no way could I commute every day, but I do go often, and they pay my expenses, which over the course of a year are significant.

    5. Tableau Wizard*

      I basically left a job when I knew my parking was about to be shifted off campus. It would’ve added 15+ minutes to my 75-90 minute commute and it just wasn’t going to work for me.

    6. Murphy*

      If I lost the ability to work remotely. I don’t use it regularly, but to have that option for snow days/sick me/sick kid/house maintenance is really great.

      Also flex time. I’m usually pretty regular with my hours, but I’ll adjust them slightly if I have an appointment, and having that flexibility is nice.

      1. Amber T*

        There’s an eternal battle between our two head honchos regarding flexibility. I think our top guy would let everyone be flexible on everything, which would honestly result in chaos, and our #2 would want everything to be super rigid, which would result in at least 75% of the firm quitting (probably more). Sometimes it feels like a great balance between the two, and sometimes it feels like everything is gonna blow up in everyone’s faces.

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          I had two bosses like that once! Once was all “We can do anything we want, if only we DREAM BIG ENOUGH!!!!” and the other one was “We must have RULES and PROCEDURES for everything!”

          They managed to keep each other pretty much in check when they were both in the office, but when either one went on vacation, it was absolute chaos.

    7. Anon For This*

      Open floor plan and a cut in PTO.

      We have some other benefits, like casual Friday’s, work-from-home, etc., that I would be bummed to lose but wouldn’t drive me to quit.

    8. Anony*

      Flexible schedule. I physically couldn’t handle it if they got rid of that (and my work doesn’t fit will into typical 9-5 anyway).

    9. HRM*

      Some flexibility in my schedule. I don’t do well with rigid start and end times, and luckily for me I’ve been exempt for about 4 years now but if rigid hours were suddenly put into place I’d definitely have a hard time adjusting and would consider leaving.

      1. Kate*

        Same. My office’s culture assumes we’re all adults who can manage our time. (Everybody’s exempt.) Everybody’s expected to work roughly the same hours daily, but we have flexibility in setting our own start/end times (within reason). I’ve never had any push back on things like taking my kid to a doctor’s appointment. If I suddenly had to arrive exactly at 8:00 every day, or use PTO to attend a check-up, or have my lunch breaks scrutinized… yeah, I’d be job searching pretty aggressively.

        1. Ms. Mad Scientist*

          I get lots of small perks, but probably the biggest deal breaker for me would be loss of schedule flexibility.

        1. OwnedByThCat*

          I recently left a job in large part because of this. Even when flex time was approved by my boss my toxic coworkers would be so petty about it, and go complaining to her that I wasn’t working.

          When I started thinking about returning from maternity leave, I couldn’t fathom having to be at my desk 8 plus hours a day and not having the freedom to go check on my daughter, pick her up if she got sick etc.

          Honestly, if I’d known that I was returning to a flexible schedule and could just get my work done as I needed, I would probably have stayed!

      2. AMPG*

        Same here. In fact, when I was offered the job I have now, they told me the regular hours were 8:30-4:30, and I just flat-out told them I couldn’t do that due to the school bus schedule. I negotiated a 9:00 start time instead, but within my first six months that became a 10:00 start time, and so now my regular hours are generally 10:00-6:00 unless I need to be in early for a meeting (I stay late whenever my workload requires it). I don’t have an externally-facing role and I work mostly alone, so if they insisted I keep the same hours as everyone else (and incur the loss of time with my kids in the morning and additional expense of before-school care), I’d probably leave.

    10. Odyssea*

      If I had to start accounting for every second of my time and adhering to a strict schedule. I’m full time exempt and allowed to set my own schedule for the week – i.e. if I need to leave early or come in late, I can adjust my hours to handle that, or if we’re super busy and I don’t take my lunch break, I’ll leave 30 minutes early instead. If I didn’t have that flexibility, I would very much consider leaving.

      1. Antilles*

        That’s mine as well. My company and most of my industry basically operate under a general philosophy of “you’re a professional Teapot Engineer, we expect you to bill enough hours to be profitable and get your stuff done, but we’re not going to sit here with a stopwatch as long as you’re taking care of business”.
        And I really value that flexibility because it plays into everything. Being able to go out a couple hours for a doctor’s appointment without needing to burn a vacation day. Having the chance to take my ‘lunch’ at a slightly shifted time if I need to run errands. Being able to make evening commitments downtown without worrying about how I’m going to fight traffic. Showing up late if traffic is nuts without worries. And so on.

      2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        I think I might leave over that as well. I have fairly set hours but my bosses don’t care if I’m late because of traffic, or kids, or need to leave early for an appt, etc. I think I’d really be mad if I had to start doing timesheets – which started happening at my last job. We worked from home 60% of the week and ONE PERSON started slacking off, so instead of managing them, my bosses started requiring “timesheets” from everyone. They were a joke and hardly anyone turned them in, so it fell by the wayside, but the principle bothered me. Just another example of terrible management at my last job!

      3. Spcepickle*

        Yup, me too. Being able to leave early when work is slow because they know I will be here late to meet the next deadline is critical.

    11. Kittymommy*

      Restructuring the department I fall under. Right now I work directly for my bosses, who are the highest ranking in the company. If they changed that, but the job didn’t change, I’d start actively looking

      1. Just Jess*

        Restructuring is the first thing that came to mind and I wasn’t sure if it counted. This would be a change to my personal work and not necessarily a perk.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      This is hypothetical, as I both work from home and freelance. (Like, right now I’m hot-desking on half the couch, while the dogs hot-desk one and a half couches, one cat hot-desks a sunbeam on the dog bed, and I don’t know where the other cat is–probably parkouring off something.) But if I had a job where I went into an office every day, I believe hot-desking would result in sending my resumes far and wide. It’s this perfect encapsulation of being treated like an interchangeable cog while adding piles of inconvenience–if you’re going to annoy me this much, it needs to be for a reason that grudgingly resonates with me.

      1. Specialk9*

        Perfect encapsulation of hot desking. “It’s this perfect encapsulation of being treated like an interchangeable cog while adding piles of inconvenience.”

    13. Can't Sit Still*

      Switching to an open office, especially if it’s that pod thing where everyone sits in a circle. Side by side is bad enough, but I would think I would actually snap if I had to sit in a circle all day.

      If we suddenly had piped in music like offices did in the 90s. Bonus points for terrible FM radio reception over the speakers!

      1. Midge*

        I interned somewhere last year that piped music into the open plan office. I think it was Pandora or Spotify stations. I had totally forgotten about that. It was one of the reasons I was kind of hoping they didn’t have a job open at the end of the internship!

    14. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My office may be relocating from ~7 minutes from my house to 25-30 minutes away. I am currently looking.

      1. Neosmom*

        This happened to me years ago. And I actually had to go through the fiction of ordering myself business cards for the new location and then giving my notice a couple of weeks before the company moved.

      2. Future Analyst*

        Ugh, sorry. Been there, I ended up negotiating WFH for 6 months, and it was the loneliest 6 months of my life. I’m 100% an introvert, but apparently I need people in my periphery.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I would love to WFH. I am so so tired of dealing with people. Unfortunately, that’s not an option in my current role.

        2. Mel*

          I am the exact same! I was WFH for almost a year at Old!Job and I absolutely hated it. I have WFH Fridays at Current Job and it’s just the right amount. I wouldn’t quit over losing WFH once a week, though I guess going back to full-time remote would push me to look.

    15. C.*

      Parking was my first thought – either relocating it so that it was more than a block away (I love walking! I do not love walking to my car in the rain after a late night at the office) or charging employees for it.

    16. selina kyle*

      Working from home would be a big one (at least partial working from home!). I love the idea of staying in something comfy and being able to work in Photoshop without being interrupted.

      1. selina kyle*

        Oh shoot – early Friday reading comprehension is low! This is what it’d take to sway me over to a new job haha.

    17. Sam Carter*

      I would be upset by switching to an open plan office, but could deal with that. If I lost flexible scheduling and unlimited PTO though, I would have to leave.

    18. bluelyon*

      Frankly losing any of them would probably be enough to make me look. I took a pretty steep cut in benefits to take this job and every time I turn around I find something that makes me even more irritable. (9 holidays not 12 which no one mentioned in my offer letter and I didn’t ask about it because it’s so outside the norm for my industry/region, only being able to take sick/vacation in 1 hour increments, crummy health insurance etc.)
      I’ve been here nearly a year and I have about 18 months before I can start looking – and if something changes dramatically between now and then I will probably start looking on day one of my potential timeline

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I don’t understand the increments of sick/vacation time… isn’t it good to be able to take it in small chunks (i.e., you don’t have to take a full day of PTO to go to a doctor’s appointment?)

        1. Becky*

          This may not be bluelyon’s experience of the increments, but my husband is in the public sector and is required to take two hour increments of sick time when he’s got a doctor’s appointment, regardless if the appointment will be done much sooner. It’s a little odd.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            I’m public sector, and we’re allowed to take sick time in 15 minute increments. So if I’ve got a short doctor visit near the office, I can take 45 minutes, or an hour and 15 minutes, etc.

    19. Audiophile*

      If my current office moved to a true open office setting or hot desking that would bother me enough to job search.

      Second to that, my office culture is pretty relaxed as far as WFH, which I really appreciate. Also, being a pretty casual dress office is a nice perk, work attire is expensive.

      1. Beth Anne*

        Yes my first job out of college I had this admin job that paid like $8.50/hour but she wanted us to dress like we made $50k a year. She had a lot of high profile clients with money. But they were all retired so they came in not dressed nice. But it was so frustrating b/c I could barely afford to live let alone supply the wardrobe she wanted me to have.

      2. Betsy*

        Yes! Work attire is so expensive! I’ve mostly worked in very casual workplaces. We were poorly paid, so it was great that you could basically wear whatever. I’m in a job now where the pay is good for the country and the industry, but I’m personally struggling to just pay rent and bills at the moment. People here dress much more formally, although there is no set dress code, and I really resented having to spend a significant chunk of my month’s pay check on a few dresses recently.

        1. Artemesia*

          My daughter starting out did really well with this by using thrift shops. She had one where she was such a regular that they would look out for stuff for her and she got some nice pieces like for evening events that way. When I started out, I ended up wearing stuff I had for dress up in college; really terrible stuff. I remember how uncool I felt never having anything really nice for work but the pay was ludicrous and I couldn’t afford a shopping spree.

      3. MassMatt*

        Work attire is especially expensive for women, IMO. I suppose you can always spend more than you have on clothes whatever your gender, but most guys can get away with a couple pairs of shoes and a few suits or jackets (or not—often just a shirt and tie is sufficient) but women are expected to have a lot more variety and the items are pricier. And that’s without even considering hair and makeup.

        1. OhNo*

          Agreed. I can get away with mixing and matching the same four shirts and four pants in different colors for ages before anyone notices, let alone comments. But when my boss wears the same dress twice in a month, I’ve overheard people mention it. It might just be the colors making it more obvious (everything I own is black or grey, while my bosses’ outfits cover the entire rainbow), but it’s still a very different reaction.

    20. ExcelJedi*

      Lots: If my office moved out of my current small city and I actually had to drive to work.
      If they stopped paying for all or the majority of our health insurance (we’re non-profit and my salary is somewhere around 30% less than market rate, but pay nothing for health insurance).
      If they asked those of us in the office 100% of the time to hot-desk.

      I think I’d stay if most of my WFH privileges were taken away (as long as they didn’t expect me to make it in in snow storms), or if some of our generous PTO was cut into, but it would be hard.

      1. Windchime*

        Same here. My commute is already at the limit for me; any longer and I’d have to start looking somewhere else or move. Which I can’t afford to do, because houses in Seattle are insanely expensive.

    21. stitchinthyme*

      My #1 is having my own office. After spending most of my career in cubicles, it is *so* nice to have my own space, and know I can close the door if I want to. (I almost never do, but it makes such a difference knowing I can!) I got a job offer from another company a couple years ago and the main reason I turned it down was because their office environment was not only cubes, but basically open ones (“wall” only maybe a foot or two above the desk). I can put up with a cubicle, but only if it has walls. And even that would be really hard to go back to after my own office.

      Also, losing scheduling flexibility. That basically happened on my last job. I generally go to the gym in the morning before work, but as I’m not a morning person, it’s next to impossible for me to get up so early I can make it to the gym, do a full workout, shower, and get to work by 9am; I normally get in around 9:30 or so. At my last job, I did this for several years, until a medical issue forced me to stop going to the gym for a couple months, so I was coming in by 9 during that time. When I was able to go back to the gym, I let my supervisor know that I’d be going back to arriving a little later (and staying later) like I’d done before…and he told me I couldn’t because the owner had decided to be more strict about when people needed to be in the office. I left not that long after — my job is not one that involves dealing with customers or requires me to work specific hours or be punctual. That wasn’t the only reason I left, of course; getting only one raise in five years was the main one. The schedule thing was just the last straw. (He also denied another coworker’s request to come in and leave a little earlier or later since a recent move had left him with a horrible commute if he came in for “normal” hours. That coworker left a few weeks later.)

      Other things that I’d quit over:

      * Business attire — I have had one job that required suits, and I hated that aspect of it. Business casual is ok (although this job is totally casual, which is way better).

      * Loss of vacation time. I work to live, not the other way around, and I love to travel. No way I’d ever deal with a reduction in time off.

      * Loss of Internet access. Not just so I can goof off on AAM, but also because I actually need it to do my job. I have had two jobs in companies that didn’t allow access to the Internet, and at both of them it was often really difficult to work because I couldn’t just Google when I needed to know something. Don’t think I could work without Stack Overflow. :-)

    22. srs*

      It’s a little different because I’m in government so we don’t have perks like dog friendly offices. But I took a job in a new department in December because the acting director in my former office became increasingly inflexible about things like WFH and flexible scheduling. And then we moved to a new office building which basically doubled my commute, and I had a bunch of major life challenges all at the same time (bought a house, did major renos on the house, and miscarried a very wanted pregnancy at 11 weeks) so the lack of flexibility went from an annoyance to a real issue with huge quality of life impacts.

      I’m lucky, because I have a somewhat specialized skill set and can work in pretty much any department, so I put the word out that I was looking and had an offer almost immediately. I’m very happy in my new office and am literally working from home right now.

      1. JustaLurker*

        I’m curious. What specialized skill can be transferable to so many departments? Honest question.

        1. srs*

          I work in program evaluation and performance measurement. Its basically applied social science research with a strong focus on outcomes. The same principles apply even if the specific program or department changes. It isn’t that the individual skills are so rare, just that I have the right mix and a good track record.

      2. Sarah*

        I’ve worked at a government job that had a dog friendly office. There was one dog that came in regularly, which was amazing, as the job was located in a place with a serious woodrat-in-the-car-engine problem and it was a hunting dog. That dog saved a lot of people a ton of money on car repairs.

    23. NylaW*

      Open office or hot desking, lack of parking, complete lack of work-life balance, inability to work from home, bad PTO plans, bad health insurance plan, doing anything unethical/illegal/against my principles, terrible management.

    24. Half-Caf Latte*

      My reporting structure got shifted around several times at OldJob in under 2 years.

      When I took the position, it shifted my hours so that my commute got worse and I needed to commute in 2 more days per week. I negotiated 1 WFH to mitigate that, and worked for VERY flexible bosses who cared about the work being done, not when/how.

      When I got restructured to reporting directly to CEO, all of that was ended by disapproving CEO. It made work-life balance untenable, and I moved on.

      When I interviewed for NewJob, I was told by manager that she trusts employees to manage their own time, and was issued a laptop “because they want you to be set up to WFH if you needed to.”

      Was a little taken aback this week,
      by how harshly a colleague’s lightly-floated “hey, I’m gonna take my laptop home in case I can’t make it in tomorrow.* I plan to try to come in, but just in case” was shot down.

      Keeping my eye on it, but pay, benefits, commute and other aspects are better than old place, so not totally looking to bail yet. Perhaps a little bummed, but so be it.

      *Tomorrow, in this instance, being yesterday, and the commute issue being the glorious celebration of our SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!

    25. Spooky*

      Summer Fridays. I think it’s still mostly an NYC-area thing, but it’s popular enough here that you can usually assume every company offers some version of it. We currently have the “work early and late M-Th, leave at noon on F” all summer long, and it makes a huge difference. If my company ever cancelled it, I’d seriously consider leaving for another one that did offer it.

      (For people who aren’t familiar with the system, we actually end up working half an hour more per week, but getting that afternoon free every week is definitely worth it.

      1. 2 Cents*

        The best part about my OldJob in NYC was that my department head never made us stay the extra hours to “earn” that half a Friday off. Her philosophy was (we were all exempt from earning OT) that summer was the company’s slow period, we put in extra hours at different times the rest of the year when it was crunch time, so why make us stay late in the summer to just twiddle our thumbs? It was honestly awesome.

        1. Geillis D*

          OldBoss was a staunch butt-in-chair proponent so we did our daily hours, winter or summer, and let me tell you nothing kills morale quicker than staring at AAM at 3:30 PM on an August Friday, when you have didly squat in the work department (but welcome to take off at the expense of your hard-earned banked overtime or stingy minimum vacation days – same goes for the days between Christmas and New Years Eve. Dude never, ever closed the office).

          NewJob is awesome – longer hours between January and June, when no one has time to breathe anyway, and very relaxed summer and fall: Fridays off between July and October, office is closed between Christmas and New Years Eve, an extra week of vacation. This makes a world of difference as at this time of year I’m twice as busy as I was at OldJob but have none of the frustration and fatigue, knowing summer Fridays will start with a long walk on the trail, then with lunch with a friend, then afternoons on the patio with a book and a glass of something cold. Now I crave summer.

      2. Ree*

        Somewhat ironically, this was also popular in Manhattan….Kansas(I am not making this up, the “Little Apple” as it is affectionately called is where Kansas State University is located :)
        I worked in the construction industry and Summer Friday’s Are A Thing. Heaven help you if you wanted anything from anyone on Friday after about 12-1pm, maybe even as early as 11.
        In winter we usually left about 3 or 4pm on Fridays.
        Hands down one of the best and rarely talked about benefits in that town. It was just.. expected? I miss it!

      3. RJ the Newbie*

        I miss that so much. Had it at my old place (engineering firm), but I have better flexibility/WFH where I am now.

      4. K.*

        I loved summer Fridays. I had half-day Fridays and my then-roommate had every other Friday off (we both worked at NYC media companies). Even if you weren’t going out of town, you could get all your weekend errands done on Friday afternoon and have more free time on Saturday and Sunday.

      5. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I’m not that far from where the Kentucky Derby is held and we called these “Derby Days”. I so miss my half-day Fridays (the company was sold and the new parent company took that perk away).

      6. nonegiven*

        DH’s office does that but alternate between Friday 8 hours and Friday off. They actually count their week from noon Friday to noon Friday to make it work out. They love every other weekend being 3 days.

      7. HigherEd Person*

        YESSSS. I never had that until my current university, but we have Summer Fridays. The whole university shuts down at 3pm on Fridays during June-August. It’s glorious.

    26. not to be identified*

      I can’t really think of anything, because the inertia is strong with me. I hate uncertainty and I hate selling myself and I’ve got a feeling that my mix of skills isn’t obvious to people who don’t work with me yet and probably isn’t that unusual anyway …

    27. Book Lover*

      Hmm – I wasn’t too excited when there were discussions about potentially having to share an office, but I would have just spent my spare time in an exam room instead. Not ideal, but not a deal breaker. Plus, everyone complained so much that it didn’t happen.

      This isn’t exactly what you were asking, but I think if I had to see double the number of patients I see now, that would do it. Or maybe even an increase of a third but I would probably give that a try rather than promptly quit.

      I think a lot of things that are perks I just look at as being the way things are – free snacks and beverages, covered parking, expenses covered for books and memberships and trips. And I could live without any of them, though it would annoy me a bit if they went away. It’s not possible for me to work from home but I can imagine that if I did work from home and that were taken away, it would be awful. But the perks we have are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

      So it is the basics of the job that are the most important really.

    28. Lora*

      WFH. I don’t need to WFH every day, but once in a while I need to focus on getting paperwork done, and I can’t do that in an open office. I just can’t. It’s the pits. I can put up with a long commute if it’s only a few times per week, but every day gets old.

      Mainly I’m very picky about who I work with. There are certain people in my industry that if I heard they were getting hired and I’d have to work with them directly, I’d nope outta there SO FAST. “Not having to work with Irene” isn’t really a perk though…

    29. Anonymmm*

      Counter-thread comment – I would be actively looking to leave my job ASAP except that we have an unfortunate retirement vesting system. If I don’t stay for three years then I lose 100% of my employer’s retirement contribution. I don’t feel this is fair, but it’s keeping me here regardless of what perks are taken away.

      One handy perk is that I receive additional PTO when working overtime. If I had to work tons of overtime and lost the option to use it later as PTO, then I would start actively looking.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        In these situations it’s important to really define the value of that perk that you’re staying for.

        Humans are naturally risk-averse, and so it’s easy to see the $10-15k you’d be losing, but not what you could gain.

        I had to regularly remind myself that a $12k loss of banked sick time was not worth hanging around for if I could get even a $10k raise, better commute, etc…

      2. A Cataloger*

        I understand completely! I was planning on staying at my previous job for 5 years for the same reason. I left at a little over two (after 3 budget cuts, and 2 more predicted in the next 6 months (and no raises)). My new position paid almost $12K more, I’m immediately vested in the retirement system and they pay in 10% of my salary to my 5% (opposite my previous position). My thought process was similar to Half-Caf Latte, what I lost from them, I’ll make up due to the higher salary and the higher rate my current employer pays into retirement.

    30. DrPeteLoomis*

      Probably if we moved offices and my commute became any longer or impossible to take public transit. My commute is already long-ish because I take transit. The time is worth it to me now because it saves me a lot of stress, but if it was any longer I’d be pretty sore about it.

      1. Just Jess*

        This would be a deal breaker for me too, but I wasn’t sure if it counted. Who wouldn’t start looking if they had to add five to 10 hours a week to their commute or buy a car because of an office move? WFH could offset this, but I like coming into the office at least twice a week.

      2. DDJ*

        I don’t drive, so if the company moved to an area without public transit accessibility, I’d have to quit. I wouldn’t be able to get to work unless I had a coworker who was willing to drive me! And I’ve read enough AAM to know that’s probably a very, very bad idea.

    31. karou*

      Hotdesking, blocking non-work related internet use ( I would not be able to get through my day with AAM and Twitter breaks!), moving to the other side of the city.

    32. Ihmmy*

      No sun. I’m lucky in that where I’m at I get lots of sunlight, and I could live with a reduction, but not a complete removal of seeing sun during the day outside of my breaks.

      Lack of respect for admins / staff. Not everyone here is respectful but enough people are and enough of the higher ups value the staff and admin. If that changed and slipped into a toxic kind of environment I’d be out. I’ve worked at an awful and toxic place before and I just don’t have the energy to deal with that nonsense again.

      Ban on music. I’m not allowed headphones in my current role (back up reception) but we use speakers on a fairly low volume and it’s fine. If headphones and speakers both were banned I’d lose my mind.

    33. a-no*

      hot desking. I’d be out in a heartbeat.
      I’m currently looking for a new position partly because I’m getting moved into a bull-pen set up. Nope nope nope. If I had a cube or more than a single desk height partition maybe – but there’s zero privacy or sound muffling and I do accounting. Getting moved into a room of people who do customer service so they are on the phone 90% of the day and talking to each other for the other 10%. Not happening.

        1. Windchime*

          I honestly don’t understand companies that don’t allow headphones for people who aren’t doing customer service. It was common to see them banned 25 years ago (“People can’t work while they listen to music!”), but it’s been a long time since I’ve been prohibited from wearing headphones. I’m sorry that you can’t use them.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            My last couple of jobs had strong customer service components to them, and even we were allowed to use headphones to listen to music.

    34. grace*

      My company is HQ’ed in upstate NY, with my office in a Southeast city. If they took away the office and required us to move there or to WFH all week, I’d definitely be looking! I can’t imagine they’d do it, but I suppose it’s technically possible.

    35. galatea*

      a one-two punch of surprise homophobia from upper management and taking away WFH privileges

      either of the above I would probably grumble but stick around; both together — yeah I’m out

      1. MassMatt*

        Sorry, I just had to laugh at the mental image of “surprise homophobia”, I was picturing a crowd of people jumping out yelling “GET LOST, [SLUR]!” With confetti and noisemakers.

        1. galatea*

          Haha, I’m imagining it too, now — in some ways I think that would have been easier to deal with! Alas, nothing quite so entertaining and/or overt.

    36. Persephone Mulberry*

      At my current job – loss of the casual dress code. Loss of half-day Fridays (these are inconsistent but more often than not, but if they brought the hammer down and said we would absolutely be working full day Fridays, I’d be out). Relocating further west – this was on the table last year but that potential line of business fizzled. I AM searching, but the dress code and the short Fridays are really what is keeping me from looking harder.

    37. Bad Candidate*

      Open office, hot desking, PTO cuts, and parking. Right now we have a parking garage and it’s paid for by our company. If they stopped paying for it, that would be a deal breaker. The building we’re in has been sold and the new owners are said to be converting some floors to a hotel. If that screws with our parking arrangement, that might cause the company to leave the building, but it would definitely make me look elsewhere.

    38. Ingray*

      There’s a rumor that my company is looking into enabling tracking on our work cell phones so they can confirm employees are where they say they are. This is bad enough at work but as a manager I’m sometimes expected to have my phone with me on snow days, weekends, and I am not OK with that. If it turns out to be true it’ll be interesting.

      1. Bea W*

        I would leave in a hot second over tracking location, but I’m not in a job where that matters, like delivery or bus driver or plowing snow.

      2. Lora*

        My work cell would be permanently abandoned in my desk drawer if this happened. Couldn’t get me on the phone at 9pm? Sorry, I was in the shower.

    39. Leela*

      I had a company halve the amount of time we were allowed to use the restroom when we got bought out, to increase productivity. I noped out so fast!

      1. Just Jess*

        Why would that increase productivity? Like, show me the study. If people are slacking off in the bathroom then they will slack off at their desks instead. They’ll start using up sick leave that they don’t need.

        Great move getting out of there since that new management probably had tons of “great” ideas that no one bothered to research, test, or think about for more than three seconds before diving right in.

    40. Ama*

      Mine are all largely travel related — I work at a nonprofit so I know that the fact that my org doesn’t force us to share hotel rooms or take the absolute bare bones cheapest flight isn’t something every nonprofit gets, and I would absolutely quit on the spot if I was told I had to stop flying direct for coast to coast flights or share a room on a trip. I am extremely appreciative of the fact that my org’s leadership and board understand that being cost efficient doesn’t mean making their employees’ business travel miserable.

      However, I’d also probably start looking if my job ever changed so I had to travel more than I currently do (it’s currently 1-2 long trips of 4-5 days and 2-3 short 1-2 day trips a year). I have colleagues whose jobs require multiple trips monthly and that’s just not a job that’s for me.

      1. Koko*

        I work at a nonprofit and love that we’re required to take direct flights whenever possible because we track our carbon footprint and purchase offset credits to remain carbon-neutral. Flying has SO MUCH carbon emissions associated with it that going along two sides of a triangle instead of a straight line majorly increases the carbon footprint.

    41. #blessed*

      I’m probably in the minority here, but I have a fantastic boss and would consider job hunting if he left our company.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Absolutely. A great boss can make or break how you feel about a job. I had a boss I LOVED go on maternity leave for 4 months, and it was rough. I realized then that if she left the company, I’d leave too. (She did, and I did.)

      2. Hey-eh*

        No, I agree. I have essentially 3 bosses that I report to. Two are expected to retire in the next 5-6 years but if the other one up and quit I would follow him to a new company or start looking. He is the glue that holds this place together.

      3. Healthnerd*

        my boss is the only reason I am in my job (academia grant funded). Without him, there would be no money for my job but he is also very understanding, supportive of work-life balance as well as professional development. It has been an extremely positive experiences as this has been my first job out of grad school.

      4. Koko*

        Similar to the flexible schedule I mentioned below, I would say my awesome boss is something that keeps me at my current job, but I’m not sure I’d leave if he left, because there’s no guarantee that a new boss somewhere else would be better than his replacement. If he left and if his replacement sucked and if I had credible inside information about another boss who was great, then yep, I would probably leave.

      5. KayEss*

        The one time so far that I left a job (rather than being laid off), it was partially because the director had left for a new position. She was instrumental in advocating for my team’s specialized work in a departmental environment that was otherwise pretty much openly hostile to us, and it was clear that the search for her replacement was not prioritizing or even taking that quality into consideration. Less than a year after I left, the team had been dissolved and members who couldn’t be transitioned to new positions were forced out, so I think I made the right choice, even though it landed me in Hell!Job.

      6. Ten*

        I very seriously considered leaving my last job when my boss got forced out. The only reason I stayed was that I thought another sudden departure would just be kicking my team while they were down.

    42. NacSacJack*

      So much has already happened, I’m already at the “Thinking its time to move on” phase
      – parking moved from under the building to three parking lots away – think city block-size parking lots
      – open plan office/loss of cubicles – my co worker now gets to see me sneeze snot all over my keyboard :(
      – loss of team mates – only remote worker on team, but still sit in an office
      – 401K match given at Jan 31st the following year (all of 2017 match just got deposit last week)
      – Building move / now smaller space
      – lack of upward mobility (for me) right now – a struggle to overcome past reputation – remember that people!
      – lack of skills development (starting to change this year – whoo hoo !!!)

      What would it take?
      – Required to be in the office for early morning meetings (all meetings run on East Coast time)
      – Loss of cafeteria
      – Hot Desking
      – No more WFH / Limited WFH
      – Loss of my boss (he is great!! Awesome! Wonderful! – Would not still be here if it weren’t for him)
      – Benefits cuts – we get a 7% increase in cost of benies every year, come to expect it, but they are GOOD.
      – being told no upper mobility, no opportunity to develop skills (told in absolute terms, never gonna happen)
      – No raises two years running in great economy

      1. NacSacJack*

        Oh, and if the office moved to the other side of the cities or even further southwest or northwest (horrible commutes)

    43. Akcipitrokulo*

      We’re fairly flexible about start and end time – that would be a bit of a dealbreaker for me. If they clamped down on internet usage that would be a pretty big red flag – not because I want to waste time, but because it indicates that they’ve stopped trusting their staff and I’ve seen things go downhill from there before!

      Also travelcard loan is a big thing.

    44. What's with today, today?*

      Small market, family owned radio station: we only get one week of paid vacation per year, but I get comp days for working every major holiday and anytime the office is closed, about 10 Days per year. (exception, I’m off on Christmas). I have it set up where i use most all of those days all at one time (yes, I know the laws) as an extra week of vacation. Last year, Grand-boss briefly considered changing it, and paying time and a half instead. I’ve been there 17 years and I’m the personality, so it was easy to talk GB out of this, but for a few minutes there I was considering options. That second week is IMPORTANT to me.

    45. Peggy*

      I would hate hot-desking but I think I could survive it if I kept me 2 or 3 days per week WFH schedule. If I only had to do it 2-3 days a week I’d adjust, I’d just have to bring home a lot of plants and tea/coffee paraphernalia.

      I think my breaking point would be if they took away WFH – they’ve threatened it a few times but it never sticks. I wouldn’t quit angrily and storm out, but if they permanently removed our WFH privileges, I’d immediately start job searching.

      I was thinking I’d probably want to leave if they made us 9-5 because I’m used to a lot of freedom with my working hours. I deal with people in other time zones and often take breaks to run errands or do a load of laundry or other personal stuff during the “regular” work day because I start working super early to deal with India or the UK, or because I’m working late to deal with people in CA. But the more I think about it… if they made us 9-5, I’d work fewer hours. I’d have my mornings and nights back so it would work out for me in the end, even though it would be an adjustment!

    46. Scott*

      I recently interviewed for a position that involving shift work, that would essentially allow me to have 3 weeks off at a time every other month. As it was, the pay range was much higher than mine now, but even if it wasn’t I would take the job just based on that perk, because while the hours are insane, the potential for travelling is through the roof. Most people in that job are travel junkies.

    47. K.*

      An open floor plan, hot desking, and a commute longer than 45 minutes (public transportation or driving).

    48. clow*

      hot desking, even completely open floor plan would do it. My productivity dropped dramatically when we switched to a floor plan that was one giant room with desks all next to each other in long rows. I will never work somewhere like that again.
      if my manager changed to someone awful, i would look for a new job too.

    49. Ramona Flowers*

      Having to work set hours instead of flexible ones. I need to be here between 10-4. I can start any time from 8 and leave any time up to 7, and vary that as I please so long as I keep my various commitments and work enough hours overall. If I have to be there for a precise time and sit there until arbitrary o’clock just for appearances then forget it.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh, and something else I forgot until after I hit post: my interest-free season ticket loan. My employer pays for my annual season ticket and takes it back out of my salary. Which means I can buy a year up-front (you can cancel and get a partial refund if you don’t need it any more) and get the cheapest possible price.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          My company had never done season ticket loans before. HR asked me to send them details of what I was proposing, they took it to head of finance, and I’ve had one ever since :)

          It is such a big thing.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Ah, I’ve just realised it might sound like a sports thing to a non-Brit. Over here a ‘season tickets’ means a travel pass – I get one for the train into London and it costs thousands, but is a bit cheaper if you buy a yearly one.

    50. rubyrose*

      A timely question.
      Unfortunately, the ability to effectively work only 40-45 hours a week Monday through Friday has become a perk. I warned management about this about a year ago, to no effective avail. In addition, the expectation is that I hand-hold other staff who have been on board longer than I have on basics, such as doing daily reminders on what they have been assigned, saving their work on the network so they won’t lose it when their laptop crashes, talking them through processes we have been over and over and over. I am not a manager, not getting manager pay. These people are experienced staff, not new to the workforce, not new to their position.

      I expect to work strange hours at times; it comes with the nature of the job. I expect (and actually enjoy) training and mentoring others. I don’t think my official purpose should be consistently compromised by others not progressing and being overloaded with work.

      If this situation does not change, it might be time to leave.

      1. Specialk9*

        What the heck? Yeah, good lord, start looking, that’s not normal, and is hugely disrespectful of you as a professional.

    51. Bea W*

      Moving the office outside my perferred commuting area.

      Requiring me to be in the office before 9 AM or a shift to frequent pre-9 AM meetings even if I’m allowed to take them from home. (Huge reason why I won’t return to a former employer bought by a French company 6 hours ahead.)

      Certain changes in management – the type that make your job miserable, like reporting to someone who sucks at managing.

      Expecting non-essential employees to physically come to the office during dicey weather conditions even though the Governor and Mayor have shut down government offices and are telling businesses to let people work remotely and to stay the heck off the roads. (This happened recently. Deal breaker!)

    52. Spcepickle*

      I know I seem like a cold hearted person saying this, but I would quit my job in a minute if that stated letting people bring dogs to work. (I am talking pets, service dogs are amazing).
      I already don’t shop at two grocery stores that let people shop with their dogs.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Yeah, saying “I don’t like dogs” is more often than not met with people trying to convince you that you’d like *their* dog. I’d be out at dogs in office, too.

      2. Specialk9*

        I have and love dogs, and ALSO affirm your right not to. For what that’s worth. :D It seems like a reasonable line in the sand.

    53. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Academia related leave. The CEO and my boss expect us to take as much days as needed, but without abusing it. If that perk ever stops we would start job searching immediately.

    54. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Well, obviously, any change would be weighed against what my other options were.

      But, the things that would make me start thinking about job hunting would be:

      – A significant reduction in PTO.
      – A significant increase in my commute.
      – A switch to a less-flexible schedule (I manage my own time and would struggle if I were expected to be on a strict 8-4 schedule or unable to work from home to accommodate a plumber or whatever).
      – I don’t use the healthcare benefits my employer offers (we use my husband’s instead), but if I did and if the cost of that increased significantly.
      – Being asked to share an office. I don’t prefer open plan offices or hot desking but they wouldn’t drive me out. But having to sit in a tiny cube with another person up in my personal space all day would make me really uncomfortable.

      Some benefits we have that I don’t care much about:

      – We get (small) annual performance bonuses. I work in the nonprofit sector so this is a super rare benefit, and of course I love having more money, but it’s small enough in my overall household income that it wouldn’t be a huge frustration if it were to disappear.
      – We also sometimes, depending on the performance of our organization’s endowment, get extra bonuses paid directly into our retirement accounts. Because this is irregular anyway, I don’t count on it and so wouldn’t factor it into a decision to stay or go.
      – We get $500/year for professional development. That’s nice, but it’s small enough that it’s sort of hard to spend, and I’m not sure I would miss it.

    55. Bea*

      I will never work in a cube again, if when we move one day they want me in one, I’m out! On site parking is a must, I did a temp gig a million years ago at the hospital and they used a shuttle. No no no no.

    56. All I want is blissful silence*

      This will sound petty – I can roll with a lot of things, but two deal-breaking-quit-on-the-spot type issues for me: #1 – open table seating (hot desking as well) and #2 music over the PA.

      I took a job at a professional consulting firm that played a 80s/soft rock Pandora station on public speakers all day long every day in the office. If I had known that, I would literally not have accepted the job. I don’t even want to listen to *my* music all day every day, but I got to the point when Tom Petty or the Eagles came on, I would fly into a face-burning rage. I left that firm after only a few months for other reasons, but to this day when I think about that place, the psychological torture of the PA music is the first thing I remember most.

      1. Hlyssande*

        They do classical music in the elevator lobbies and bathrooms at my current office. At the old location they used to pipe in Christmas music starting right after Thanksgiving…in the office areas as well as the halls, etc. If I ever hear anything by the Carpenters ever again, it’ll be too soon. I feel you.

    57. Lily Evans*

      Having flexibility with requesting time off is big for me. Both jobs I’ve had since college make it really easy to request vacation time off and I’ve gotten used to it. I know so many people who have to pick weeks for vacation at the start of the year and once those choices are made it’s almost impossible to change them and at this point I’d hate that kind of inflexibility.

    58. Betsy*

      My company makes us make up shifts that were scheduled on public holidays. It’s not the exact same thing as having to work them, but it drives me mad because effectively we’re not getting public holidays at all. I’d probably cope with this better if the annual leave provided wasn’t already extremely limited. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to bother my co-workers. There’s also no real scope for promotion or growth.

    59. Healthnerd*

      If they implemented a strict dress code. No official dress code but anything from jeans to business casual are the norm (they are explicit about not staying in workout clothes all day). But if I had to wear a suit/ dress and heels all day, I’d be out. A comfortable outfit really helps me feel more comfortable in my working environment.

      Also maybe a change in how time off is accumulated. We have a roll over system for vacation that maxs out at 22 days. Its nice to know that even if I use a big chunk early in the year, I will still have days accumulated by the end fo the year. My husbands is a set number and a use it or lose it so we have to really budget his vacation days throughout the year.

      The campus is currently under construction so parking it very limited but at least there is an end date in sight for that (they are building a new parking garage).

    60. AnotherJill*

      Every job I have left has either been for a change of career or because of people or processes. I can’t think of any perk that I couldn’t have done without. (Not really considering vacation time as a perk, although suddenly losing all of it would certainly be a contender.)

    61. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Logistically… the only one that would truly lead me to quit is if they took away WFH… I work entirely remotely several states away from our corporate office, so if they revoked that I would have to move to a much higher COL area and away from all my friends and family.

      I don’t think they’ll do this though. Great place to work and lots of emphasis put on company culture.

    62. SurpriseScarf*

      Don’t have many perks here, but if they downsized our PTO and retirement and stopped providing continuing education for free I’d be out so fast, and I’ve already got a 1.5 feet out of the door.

    63. Serin*

      I have a cluster of things that all together add up to “the company treats us like adults.” (For instance: even if you have a position that doesn’t allow for remote work as a permanent status, you can decide to work from home because you have a sick kid or need to wait for a delivery or don’t want to drive in the snow. Our sick day policy is “if you need a sick day take one; we trust you to stay on top of your work and keep your accounts informed.” We don’t “request” vacation, we just work it out with our backups and then put it on the calendar. We wear what we like. If we want to work a non-standard schedule, we work it out with our accounts and inform our boss; no need to ask permission.)

      I can imagine circumstances where the company/department might need to restrict some of those in some way, but I would be very alert to any change in the attitude behind them. Start requiring me to find a doctor who’ll agree that I’m not lying about being sick? My job search would start the same day.

    64. Shortie*

      Loss of teleworking privileges or drug testing. (I don’t do drugs, but have no problem with others responsibly using, and I refuse to pee in a cup for anyone except my doctor.)

    65. Koko*

      I currently WFH two days a week, and on the other three days I keep shortened hours in the office and work an extra couple of hours from home so that I can avoid the commute rush.

      Those benefits are a big part of why I stay in my current job, but it’s hard to say I’d quit if they were revoked because, well, it’s rare to have this kind of flexibility so it’s not like I could just quit and go get another job that did offer it.

      And these aren’t exactly benefits from drug testing, using a time clock, and similar practices that signal the company doesn’t trust me would have me looking for a new job.

    66. RES ADMIN*

      –hot desking
      –so over loaded with work that I end up losing weeks of vacation time because I have no back up and consequently never approved for any real leave time (one of the big reasons I left last job)
      –a manager that treats me as a tool not a person (I’m pretty easy going. For years, I put up with a manager that expected employees to do/adapt to whatever she wanted without communication, support, or training–and definitely without pay adjustments or complaints. I didn’t realize how oppressive it was until I left–and I won’t deal with that again).
      –a bad boss (covers a lot of ground–I have a reputation for being able to work for impossible people and have ended up with some doozies. I’m too close to retirement to put up with that meshuggenah now).
      –I would say micromanaging, however my current boss wants to have a say in every single thing and it doesn’t bother me. She’s nice about it, though, so it hasn’t been a problem.

    67. always in email jail*

      If I found out I had to move offices to a shared office
      If they decided to put my on-call 24/7 with no compensation (I left my last job over this)

    68. Sarah*

      I think I’m at the outer limit of my commute tolerance right now, moving much further away would be unmanageable. (It would be hard for my office to do that without actually moving to a different city, however.)

      Another thing (that is incredibly unlikely given the nature of my job) would be a shift away from a normal M-F schedule. I can deal with the occasional long hours or weekend in an emergency, but I value having a fairly standard schedule. I still remember when I used to work retail and the horrible hours were one of the worst aspects of it.

      Any other one thing would probably not be enough to make me leave.

    69. kible*

      definitely the being comfy with working from home. we’ve already had to start using timesheets (bleh) and setting goals (BLEH)

    70. LQ*

      If they moved out of an easy commute distance (I currently walk, stroll really, to work and it’s about a 7 minute walk). I don’t own a car and I’m not going to buy one ever again in my life if I can manage it. If the building moved from my core “walkable” commute, or maybe easy easy bussing, I’d be looking for something else.

      There is also one specific manager who if I had to report to I’m pretty sure I’d be looking to leave. It’s been a pretty serious concern for me over the last year or so because I’m working really closely with her. On the upside I’m pretty sure my director wants to make me a peer of hers, not a report of hers. Which I could manage. And even though it really would have made sense for me to be reporting to her for the last year, he’s left me continuing to report to my boss (which, honestly makes no sense) who I get along great with and who is really just letting me work directly with director on this project and not getting in the way but being really supportive. (He’s a great boss.) I haven’t said this explicitly to my director, but I’m pretty sure someone else did and I think he knows. (If he didn’t, he would have just switched me over to reporting to her at the start of this project.)

    71. Kylo Pen*

      Was thinking about this today actually! I work at a JK-12 private school and I would quit on the spot if we had to work summers and breaks, and if we didn’t get a discounted tuition rate. I realize that sounds SO spoiled, but the reality is that our pay is low enough that those benefits are a huge incentive (especially the tuition).

    72. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Flexible hours (especially start time – cycling is safer and transit is faster/less crowded if I aim for a 9:30-10 am start)
      Casual dress code, headphones allowed
      Ability to pursue your own projects on your own time without being hassled about it
      WFH (I don’t use it much, but I have a long commute and sometimes at the tail end of a cold you’re well enough to work, but not to cycle or sit on a crowded bus for an hour each way)

    73. zora*

      -Hot desking (fully open plan MIGHT be a dealbreaker, but it would depend on the layout and what I could negotiate)
      -Location change (the bay area is huge, and I just can’t contemplate a 2 hour commute each way, even if it was a company shuttle bus, just can’t do it)
      -Drug testing (on principle)
      -Rigid work hours – I am currently basically 8:30 – 5:00, and I’m hourly, so I’m not as flexible as the exempt folks. But also, I’m not reception or anything, so if my bus makes me 10 minutes late, or if I want to take a long lunch to meet a friend, it’s no big deal. I would not be willing to work for a clock watcher again.

    74. AVP*

      Flexible schedule / working arrangement, and at least a modicum of input on what clients we take on. I’ll work with almost any client happily, but knowing that I can probably spike one every few years if they’re truly awful is a sanity-saver.

    75. Heaven*

      It’s kind of funny to see people who hate hot-desking in the sense that I always thought I would be one of those people. I was kind of worried about accepting a job where there was an open office layout because I thought it would be hideously distracting.

      Now I’ve been there two months I adore it and wouldn’t want to have an office of my own.

      The office floor I work on is flooded with natural light which is doing wonders for my serotonin levels at the most challenging time of the year for me (I have clinical depression, anxiety, and I’m pretty sure I get an extra layer of seasonal depression in the winter. Getting access to sunlight is a must for me).

      Also, I love working around so many other people! I’m quite shy but the nature of the layout means it’s easy to dip in and out of conversations with my team; talking for a five minute break or putting on my headphones to signal I’m in the zone as needed. If I was in an office, even a cubicle, I know I’d turn into a hermit, never speak to anyone, become lonely and convinced everyone hates me, and be miserable.

      We’re moving to hot-desking on the next floor down next month (it’s currently being renovated) and I’m really excited! I like the idea of being able to move between workspaces depending on what I’m doing, and since we’re becoming increasingly paperless as long as I have my laptop I have everything I need. The only thing I’m slightly worried about is getting to a workstation with an extra monitor for when I’m doing spreadsheet work, but given the average capacity in the office now I don’t foresee it bring a problem.

      My boss is also great about people working from home pretty much when they want to. Just this week one co-worker had a planned WFH day because she was having a new oven installed at her house, and another decided about an hour or two before going home that he was going to WFH the next day. So there’s a lot of trust and flexibility, which helps.

    76. Chaordic One*

      I once worked at a dying company and following layoffs, they did away with dental and vision coverage and this was accompanied by employees having to pay higher premiums for health insurance.

      It was “Buh-Bye” from me, and quite a few other employees. The company went out of business about a year after I left. I’m sorry they went bankrupt and couldn’t be saved, but the management should not have tried to balance their budget on the backs of their employees. The insurance things probably didn’t even help them to stay in business for another month or so.

    77. PB*

      I’ll agree with others who said hot desking. My work space is very important to me. I have to spend 40+ hours per week there (I’m exempt, so overtime and weekend hours happen). Currently, I have a private office. A year ago, there was talk about moving all of us office-dwellers to cubes, which was upsetting enough. An open office, or a hot-desking set up? I’m probably be gone.

      Otherwise, I can’t think of too much other than the obvious. If my job took away my retirement match, or drastically cut back on our insurance, I’d be out. Other benefits are always subject to change, and IME often as part of an overall cultural shift. My last job had a great inclement weather policy, which they torched a few years after I started, forcing employees to use vacation leave even if the office was closed. It came in conjunction with hiring freezes, raise freezes, decreased work from home, and the threat of eliminating spouses on health insurance and eliminating the most popular health plan. All of that together, combined with a toxic office, pushed me right the heck out.

    78. Weyrwoman*

      oh man. Hotdesking for sure – being able to personalise my space is core to my workplace happiness. Also if CurrentJob stopped certain benefits like healthcare.

      On a less serious note, I’d be really miffed if I lost access to the 3D printer.

    79. Jesmlet*

      Capping commissions, change in dress code, requiring me to go to multiple offices in a week (I work at the one second closest to my house but hate everyone at the one that’s closer), if my direct boss left and I wasn’t given his job (which I basically do 90% of anyway, but only because I genuinely like the guy), or if either/both of my closest work friends left because I only tolerate this job because of them. It’ll be dominoes up in here.

      1. PB*

        I had “if my direct boss left and i wasn’t given her job” on my list and my last job. Or, more specifically, if she left and Toxic Awful Coworker was given her job, I would have quit.

    80. sparty07*

      The biggest reason I left my last job was due to my direct manager leaving and going up one level to reporting to a Sr. Manager who didn’t understand how to show appreciation for us working until 11 a few nights a month. THe manager who left would make sure to thank us, praise us, etc, let us out early on Friday because of the long hours earlier that week.

    81. The Original Flavored K*

      Nothing specific in my current job, since it pays me beans and I’ve gone back to school fulltime, but in future jobs, if ANY perk that had been the influencing factor in my accepting an offer were removed, I’d be pushing back in whatever way my fiancee and I deemed appropriate, and then, if I was still unsatisfied, I’d be out the door.

      The good thing is: future jobs are likely to be in nursing, so I probably wouldn’t stay unemployed for long.

    82. Someone else*

      My position is 100% remote, with very little travel. If they decided I needed to be in an office, or upped my travel to over 3 trips/2 weeks a year, I’d bail.

    83. Oxford Coma*

      Dealbreaker: requiring me to seek coverage. As someone who has worked in education and food service, never again am I willing to work in a job where I have to find someone to hold my place before I can use the bathroom or answer the phone.

      (While you would think that would be an obvious job requirement that doesn’t change, as one of few women in my field I have sometimes fallen prey to the “oh, get the only other woman in the office to back up reception” trick. No.)

    84. Oranges*

      Unlimited PTO and health benefits (employer pays 80% of premiums and gives us $~1,000 in an HSA for the $2,500 deductible).

    85. Delphine*

      Going from having all vacation days available on January 1 to an accrued system. Going from an office + cubicle setup to a open office plan or hot-desking.

    86. Technical_Kitty*

      I’m actually thinking of leaving right now but will give the company some time to resolve. I work in a small group under a manager and the only other person besides me has the same title, gets paid more than I do and does 10% critical work to my 80% critical work. We also have the same title and my boss has agreed that he is not only very junior to me in the department but he is not doing a good job.

      My boss acknowledges it is an issue but because of restructuring his hands are tied right now. But he also gave me a line about how it all evens out eventually, I’m not very happy with that sentiment.

      So yeah, will be talking to a recruiter next week.

    87. Midge*

      If I had to sit next to a smoker. Second-hand smoke really bothers my allergies, and there are a couple of smokers in my open plan office. We’ll be moving into a new space soon, and people say it’s basically impossible to change your desk once you’ve been assigned one (for IT reasons or something). So I’d be outta there fast if my desk position was affecting my health.

    88. Kiwi*

      Hot desking. I don’t understand how companies get away with it without killing people’s health. When someone starts here, we get an occupational nurse in to make sure their chair, monitor etc are in the right place for them. If I had to hot desk, every time I moved I’d have to spend 15 min adjusting everything, or I’d get a migraine. Absolutely no way.

      And flexibity – and more, autonomy. If I got a micromanaging boss who wanted me at the office at very set hours or to have lots of control over my team’s work, I’d be looking hard.

      1. Specialk9*

        That’s not a common situation, in my experience. My mega-corp once had an ergonomics guy, but laid him off. Most places I’ve worked have not provided ergonomics.

    89. anonynony*

      If I started having to actually run things by the person who’s technically my boss… I don’t think I could handle it, because I just don’t respect him.
      Otherwise, this question is making me see how few perks I have–minimal flexibility, no working from home, no dogs, no parking, no private office, pretty much the minimum time off offered in my industry… dang.

    90. not myself*

      I’m quitting because the boss decided that if we wanted to keep our jobs, we had to move to the other side of the country. A lot of people are quitting for the same reason.

      1. Specialk9*

        You might check your local unemployment laws – quitting because they moved far away is often eligible for unemployment still.

  2. Sunflower*

    For those who have changed careers and had to re-write their resumes, how did you go about doing this?

    I’m in the process of tailoring my resume(mostly event planning and some marketing experience) for recruiting or sales jobs. So far, I’ve been using the requirements/duties in job listings I’m interested in and trying to work them into my resume. I’m curious what others have done.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I just put what I actually did. When I did my first major career switch, I just had about zero experience with what I ended up getting a job in, all I could do was be honest and hope someone took a chance on me (which is what happened eventually).

      You’re in a much better position, because sales and marketing have a lot of overlap. And recruiting can have recruiting events.

    2. MissGirl*

      I added a summary paragraph at the top (about 4 or 5 sentences) tying my past experience to the current role.

    3. Revolver Rani*

      I tried to frame my responsibilities in the previous career in terms of skills that were required for the new career. I was moving from patent law to technical writing, and I figured the folks evaluating my resume would not have a deep understanding of what I did as a patent lawyer, so I emphasized that a lot of really was actually a form of technical writing – I phrased my work as a lawyer in terms of what kind of writing I did for different audiences. I used my cover letter to help explain those connections.

    4. Thlayli*

      I have written resumes with a section titled “llama-grooming experience” at the front that goes into detail on my llama skills and achievements and “other experience” After that to basically fill in the gaps in my career history. In the “other experience” section I will mention any tasks or achievements that would be relevant to llama grooming also.

    5. NaoNao*

      I didn’t change careers per se, but I am looking at jobs that are a bit of a stretch for me and would be management, which I don’t have professional experience in.
      Starting from scratch, I tailored each job accomplishments to focus on networking, change management, pushing new ideas and products through the company, working with tons of groups and levels throughout the company, and so on.
      I kept the accomplishments but tweaked the job duties one liner (for each job I have a one line or two line max description of what exactly I do, as my job titles can be confusing and often HR or phone screen people have no idea what my job titles do!) and the accomplishments to match the jobs I was looking at.

      I also added in my 10+ years of retail management experience, and added an awards, honors, and publications section (to kind of pump up the profile and show possible transferable skills) and changed my “log line” (the one liner about me. In this case from, for example “Tea Experiences and TeaPot Materials Designer” to “Tea Service and Pouring Manager, Tea Service Expert, Tea Experiences Designer”—that kind of thing)

    6. theletter*

      I wrote a master resume that includes all of my achievements, and then I started creating templates tailored to the specific job listing. Copy the master and eliminate everything that’s not specific to that job until you’re down to one page.

    7. LAI*

      My advice would be to also address your career change in your cover letter. Explain why you are changing, and what about the new field particularly excites you. I have reviewed a lot of applications from people who are apparently trying to change careers but leave this part out – then it just looks like you are randomly applying for jobs that don’t fit your background, so it seems like you are maybe spamming every job opening you see. The person reading your application wants to know that you understand what job you are applying for, that you want that specific job, and they want to know why.

    8. Ramona Flowers*

      For me what helped was to stop thinking I had to list all the main things I did at each job, or list things in a way that was proportionate to the role. So for example, if I mainly brewed new tea flavours and also did a bit of coffee development, that didn’t mean mainly focusing on tea flavours and only devoting a bit of space to coffee.

      Instead, I started listing the main things that would interest that employer. If they were only going to care about the coffee, I focused on that.

    9. Emmie*

      Look at the job skills on a few job postings. What have you done to demonstrate experience in that area? Sales has skills like sourcing, closing, negotiating. You’ve probably done that in event planning by sourcing vendors, negotiating prices, and marketing the business. Likewise, you probably have some experience boarding vendors, ensuring a good experience, creating systems and processes to improve that, and sourcing vendors (transferable potentially to sourcing candidates.) So, you have more experience than you think you do. Others have talked about addressing this in your cover letter. I would not call this a career change. I don’t think this really is one. It’s possible that you love certain things about your job, and realize that sales or recruiting (be specific to the field in your cover letter) is what utilizes those skills best. Good luck!

    10. Wordy Nerd*

      I did what Alison hates and created a functional resume :) I was making a shift from project management into editing and really wanted to highlight my writing and editing experience, so I sorted my experience by type and put my writing/editing experience front and centre. I did have a section that listed my roles in chronological order, so that hiring managers could still see what positions I had held, the dates, and the progression of my career in terms of level (I’m government so the levels are very clear and broadly understood – it’s not like private sector where the same position can have 17 different titles).

      It seems to have worked – I’ve successfully moved into an editing role and in the interview they commented on my writing/editing experience.

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      These are all amazing – I am looking to make a subtle shift in focus in what I do and was wondering how to rework my resume appropriately, especially as I am looking to move back from public to private employers. Given me a lot to think about – thanks Sunflower for asking the question and everyone else for answering!

    12. Anonymous Poster*

      My resume had my accomplishments, rewritten in the lens of the new thing. So for example, my old job I ran a lot of little projects, so I rewrote those into real ‘projects’ for more of a project management role versus what I used to do. In other words, I translated from my old job-ese to new job-ese.

      I also directly addressed that my old role did a lot of the same sorts of things, high level, that the new role did and drew the linkages together. So I said things like, “While in my previous role as XYZ I did this, I was managing a project of $W where we did ABC, from initiating up until preparation for initial project launch…”

      That sort of stuff. It’ll take time, but your job is to translate it into something your future job will understand. They won’t translate it for you because they don’t have the time and bandwidth. Good luck!

    13. WorkingOnIt*

      Thanks for the Q! This is basically what I wanted to ask, but completely forgot to get on here on time, and great answers from everybody – going have to play and see which works best.

  3. Is this a bad idea?*

    I am actively job hunting, but my company doesn’t allow access to personal email accounts from work computers – some IT protection thing – we were hacked a few years ago and it was a big scandal. Anyway.

    It is hard to keep up with email from hiring managers and recruiters from my phone, and I’m considering whether, in some situations, it makes more sense just to send an email from my work address. Here’s the question: if the only risk is that my employer reads my email and finds out I’m job hunting, I can live with that. But if it makes me look naïve and stupid to the people I’m corresponding with, that’s a separate issue. Thoughts?

    1. Dovahkiin*

      Don’t give your new company the impression that you’re using your current company’s resources to job search.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This. Do you own a laptop? If not, can you buy or borrow a tablet with an external keyboard? A laptop on your lunch break is the answer to being able to compose long emails. (I assume that’s the issue–emails composed on my phone are short, akin to texts.)

    2. JokeyJules*

      I would absolutely NOT send anything from your work email. On top of the stress of hoping they don’t somehow find out, something about that doesn’t sit right with me. I’d liken it to searching for a new job from your work computer (which I hope you aren’t doing also!)

      Otherwise, good luck! I’m sure hiring managers understand you might not be able to respond within minutes during the workday.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      Don’t do that. I would think it was inappropriate and strange to use your employer’s email for job hunting. I’ve had people hand me their current employer’s business cards in an interview, which I think is weird, but that may be more me. I already have their contact info if I’m interviewing them, and do you want me to call your work desk phone?

      Do you not have a phone you can check email on during the day?

    4. ANon*

      I wouldn’t do it. It could come across as odd to hiring managers. Can you check your personal email account on your phone while at work?

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t do it! It does look “off” to the people hiring. Even if they assume your company knows you’re searching, it’s still not a great look and brings up all kinds of questions, including whether you’re aware of certain workplace norms/conventions. You are much, much better off replying from a home computer in the evenings if it’s tough to do so from your phone. In my experience, recruiters, hiring managers, and HR are very understanding about late-in-the-day emails from applicants, so you’re perfectly fine waiting.

      1. Lily Evans*

        Your last sentence is exactly what I was going to say. Hiring managers know you’re currently employed, so not responding during work hours is fine (and if they expect immediate responses, it’s probably a red flag anyhow).

      2. KimberlyInOhio*

        I’d even send a quick reply on my phone letting them know to expect a more detailed one when I’m not at work.

    6. Sunflower*

      I would definitely not do this. I think the risk of looking naive to hiring managers is actually greater than the risk of your company finding out. I also think it might be confusing to hiring managers if you’re using one email on your application but you are responding from another.

      Can you set up a specific email address to use for job applications? If the issue your facing is difficult trying to separate out what is a job email from a regular email/spam, that may help.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      Don’t use your company email for your job search. It’s a bad use of company resources (especially for a place that will actually ban personal email use at work), and it will also mean that some potential employers may continue to try to contact you at that email address after you’re gone (yes, ideally, there would be some overlap, but what if your company lets you go for using your work email for job searching?).

      1. Lance*

        And that’s another key thing: you don’t always have access to your work e-mail. You do, however, always have access to your personal e-mail. That alone makes it very key to use your personal e-mail for such correspondence, since there’s no risk of losing any of it.

    8. Like The City*

      I wouldn’t do it. From an employee standpoint, I’d be concerned about my company finding out. I know you said you could live with that so it could depend on your employer but I wouldn’t want mine to find out. From a manager’s standpoint, if I received an email from an application that was using their current work email I’d have a lot of concerns. (Ex. Would they use other work resources for personal reasons? etc.)

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Some employers wouldn’t care, but I wouldn’t do it, it will look bad to some of them, especially if you ask for them not to contact your current supervisor. Is the problem with notifications on your phone, or not having the time to look? Can that part of the issue be addressed instead?

    10. Artemesia*

      Can you carry a personal laptop to work to do that from? I am not that tech savvy but can you not use a gmail account accessed through your work computer if all else fails. It runs the risk of internal audit but would it not look ‘clean’ to the recipient? I would absolutely not do it from a work computer if the new company could see that you were so doing. This tells them you would be an employee who cheats the company and misuses company resources.

      1. NacSacJack*

        No, in my office, they have banned any email program. I have an off-brand, non-gmail account with a webmail UI and they block that. I can get as far as the UI, but thats it.

    11. Anony*

      Is there somewhere with WIFI nearby? You could bring your laptop and catch up on e-mails during lunch. Although it seems like it is unlikely you will receive an e-mail that cannot wait until you get home to respond.

    12. Ann Furthermore*

      Yeah, don’t do that. You run the risk of your current employer finding out, and if anyone on the hiring side notices, it could raise questions about your judgement, how much time you spend doing personal stuff during work hours (I mean, everyone does a little bit, but there’s a limit to how much is acceptable), etc.

      I used my personal email for my job search about a year ago and I’m still getting flooded with emails from recruiters. Next time around, I will set up an email specifically for job searching and direct everything there. In your case, you could do that, and if you’re concerned about not being able to respond right away, set up an auto-reply to say that your current situation does not allow you to check emails during the day, but that you will respond within 1 business day (or whatever is reasonable for you/your industry/etc).

      1. Lily Evans*

        It’s also a good solution in that OP could just ignore that email during the workday so they don’t feel pressured to reply ASAP, when completely ignoring their personal email might not be an option.

    13. MLB*

      Nope don’t do it. Just explain to potential new employers that you are unavailable during the times you are at work.

    14. Elf*

      Don’t send from your job email, but if the issue is typing professional-looking emails on your phone, you could consider sending yourself drafts of the emails and then just copying and pasting on your phone, which may solve your tech issue.

    15. Goya de la Mancha*

      Definitely don’t send it from your work email. Just not a good picture for the prospective employers. Can you access your personal emails on your cell phone? A tablet with nearby wifi access?

    16. C.*

      Seconding everyone on it being a bad idea, but I’m curious about having trouble keeping up with it on your phone. Do you have work and personal email notifications going to it and that’s why you’re missing things? Might be worth turning off work email notifications so you don’t miss personal emails, especially if you’re primarily using your work computer to access work emails.

    17. NylaW*

      Don’t do it. Just don’t. You never know what your company is monitoring, and it also can look bad to recruiters. If you’re using your current work email to job search, they would consider that you would do the same thing while you were working for them. The only exception would be if you were self employed and had your own domain and email.

    18. Antilles*

      In addition to what everybody else is saying, I’d just like to add that if your concern is missing an important email for a few hours, you really shouldn’t worry about it.
      Anybody who’s good at hiring will realize that employed candidates are often not able to reply immediately to emails – as long as you’re checking every evening on your home computer, reasonable people won’t be offended that you replied to their 2:00 pm email at 6:15 pm (you might not get a response until the next day of course, but they won’t judge you for ‘non-responsiveness’ or anything).

    19. Thlayli*

      I don’t think you should be job-hunting on your company’s time or using your companies resources full stop. If your phone isn’t sufficient borrow a friends laptop or find an Internet cafe or something.

    20. theletter*

      Set up your phone to notify you when you get emails. Hiring managers and recruiters should know that since you work, you may not be able to reply to emails until your lunch break or quitting time, and you may not respond with a lengthy treatise.

    21. Samata*

      I would caution against this. We once had a candidate we were on the fence about write a thank you note on her current companies stationary and send it to us. It was enough to sway us to not hire her. Just not good judgement.

    22. Jadelyn*

      I won’t pass on someone over it, but I’ll admit it raises eyebrows when I see a candidate’s emails coming from a current work email.

    23. Bad Candidate*

      Additionally, what if in a year or two some HR person remembers you and wants to connect but you’ve moved on from OldJob and no longer have access to that email. Unlikely but not impossible.

    24. Bea*

      My thing is you do not want to use two emails intermingled, that’s where the trouble starts. I honestly never notice what email address someone uses but you’ll lose the email chain if you suddenly respond from another source. Or what about when you’re at home and suddenly cannot access your work email?

    25. Uncertain*

      It’s not immediately clear why using your phone is making it difficult. Do you not have email access on your phone? If you’re worried about using the office wifi, use 4G.

    26. Anonymous Poster*

      It reflects badly on your professionalism. Your new job will wonder if you’ll be using their computer resources, too, for job hunting.

      It’s a larger issue than a current employer optics problem.

    27. Bored IT Guy*

      One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet – if you are applying for an internal transfer within the same company, then you probably should use your work email address.

    28. Casuan*

      It is a very bad idea.
      Do not do this.
      An unintended consequence could be that if you did use your work email for personal reasons, your future self might think “I did this once & it worked out so I’ll do it again just this once…”
      That next time there might be easily avoidable consequences.
      Even if you don’t know you were caught- ie: it was discovered after you left- that could work against you. Someone who knows about it might be asked for a referral, or if you cross professional paths in the future, they might remember the discovery as dishonesty on your part.
      Probably the odds are quite low. Even so, do you really want to risk your credibility on this?

    29. Specialk9*

      If your company has any kind of monitoring, they are often looking for emails to and from from Gmail etc. Especially from your work address to your own private email. (It can be a fraud or corporate espionage thing.) I always stop and think before mixing streams that way, imagining a fraud investigator looking at it and how it would look.

      So no, don’t job search on company equipment.

  4. Pros and Cons*

    Thank you so much to everyone who responded to my pros and cons thread last week. It was incredibly enlightening reassuring to see other jobs in from other points of view.

    My counselor was the one who pointed out that social media is a very manipulative filter to view the lives of our friends and family. We only share what we want people to know, normally the highlights of our lives, while hiding the bad away. It’s true not just of jobs but with all of life’s activities; I just found myself especially hard hit with job difficulties, that seeing my friends post about their jobs frustrated me. All jobs have their struggles, and social media is there to show of the good.

    One friend is a children’s librarian and she shared on FB a fun story time she had with the kids earlier this week. But I know that the rest of her week was full of organizing volunteer schedules, getting yelled at about overdue book fines, and helping out people who barely know how to use a computer. So every job has its pros and cons.

    Would love to see more if anyone else want to share. Thank you again for all the insight; it was great to see that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Thanks!

    1. jm*

      +100 to all this. My social media feed is 98% positive, or positive spin when something bad happens (like my sweet old dog passed away recently, but I used social media to share cute pics and reflect on what a wonderful friend he was). HOWEVER, I’m part of a closed Facebook group for parents of kids with ADHD and behavior/learning struggles, and I am much more willing to share the good, bad and ugly in that group. One person from my general feed is also part of the closed group, which is kind of awkward.

    2. Forking Great Username*

      I’m in education, so things I share definitely have a rose colored perspective, basically because it’s just not appropriate for me to share negative information about my students! So you’ll hear about the ones who brought in poetry they wrote and how awesome it was on social media, but I definitely won’t say anything about the fight I broke up, the medical issues, the kids who are rude and don’t care about their grade at all, etc.

    3. kmb*

      I have really wanted to post about some work struggles on social media lately, but I haven’t been, because I know I will get sassy and mopey if I do. So that’s probably another reason we filter our lives on social media – not only because we want to show that we’re doing good, but also because we could hurt others or our reputations if we talk about the bad.

      (Also we just had another employee make veiled complaints about our CEO on facebook, so the point was hitting pretty hard that I maybe don’t want to be sassy about my empoyer at the moment and it might not be a good look)

      1. Specialk9*

        Exactly. I was mega PISSED about two things that happened at work recently – to me and to another person – but you’d never know based on my LinkedIn or Facebook posts. I give serious side eye to people who post negatively on LinkedIn. Less so for Facebook, bc it’s more appropriate to be more real rather than curated, but there is a threshold even there.

    4. kb*

      I have really wanted to post about some work struggles on social media lately, but I haven’t been, because I know I will get sassy and mopey if I do. So that’s probably another reason we filter our lives on social media – not only because we want to show that we’re doing good, but also because we could hurt others or our reputations if we talk about the bad.

      (Also we just had another employee make veiled complaints about our CEO on facebook, so the point was hitting pretty hard that I maybe don’t want to be sassy about my employer at the moment and it might not be a good look)

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      Couldn’t agree more about social media and the positive spin that everyone likes to post. It can be exhausting, especially when you know what’s really up. I feel it’s sort of like Disney…..they’re trying to sell me the “fairy tale.”

    6. Betsy*

      Not so much work-related, but I really understood this a lot more when I went home for Christmas and caught up with a couple of old friends. Both have exciting looking lives on social media (one has a lot of photos from a recent charity run and looking very fit, and the other seems to constantly be taking short breaks in other cities or sipping cocktails on the beach). Talking to them, I realised one of them had just had a difficult break up and the other was having some issues with trying to get a job in the field after graduating. I’m someone who goes for a balanced approach to social media– I like to reveal some vulnerability without sounding like a massive whiner. I often forget that others are presenting their nicest, shiniest selves online. It was a bit like I’d forgotten that other people also have difficulties, since I’ve recently been living in a different country where I mostly only know people on a quite superficial level. I was only seeing all my friends from home’s lives through facebook, and I hadn’t stopped to think how heavily filtered the perspective I was getting was.

    7. Lissa*

      This is so, so interesting to me as I feel like I have the opposite problem! Too much internet makes me feel like everyone is miserable all the time, and has also given me a skewed idea of how many people seriously struggle on a day to day basis with things like toxic families. If I read too many forums I start to forget there are actually quite a lot of people out there who have positive relationships with their families, like their jobs, haven’t had work environments that gave them trauma etc.

      I am one of my only friends who really likes their job and doesn’t have huge problems with it, and I spent 10 years in pretty miserable job situations – which I feel like I have to defensively mention so people don’t think I’m super privileged!

    8. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      I put the positive spin on social media to motivate myself to see the positives in my life. Because the truth is far from awesome.

      I’ve been married for almost 5 years now. I thought marriage would be the best thing ever, but it hasn’t. After my son was born three and a half years ago, my wife had post partum, which dovetailed into major depression and anxiety, along with agoraphobia. My wife won’t go to couple’s counseling. She’s only been to two therapists for herself. One session with the first, then refused to go for 2 years, then saw a second for 2 months and then stopped going. She has continued to see her psychiatrist at least, and has made some improvements in her mental health, but those have pretty much been baby steps.

      Every time my wife’s mental health improves, she takes 5 steps back. A few weeks ago, to combat my wife’s allergies, chronic hives, and intermittent insomnia, the psychiatrist put my wife on Prednisone. So this week she had a major change in mood and started throwing things, which has never happened before. My wife then put herself on a timeout and made an emergency appointment with the psychiatrist, who is now weaning her off the Prednisone.

      I can’t stand cigarettes and my wife started smoking 4 packs a week. She used to smoke in her younger days, but when we got married, she had been a nonsmoker for 3 years. She rarely brushes her teeth and doesn’t want to go to the dentist. She probably showers about once a week. She’s been unemployed for almost 2 years, and when I come home after a long day at the office, there is a 50% she will be having a massive anxiety attack when I walk in the door. She hates my parents, who are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and they aren’t welcome in our home. But I have to tolerate her mother, who’s not very warm to begin with, for 8-10 weeks at a time when she comes to visit from Europe. About the only saving grace is that my wife is a wonderful mother to our son and her mental health issues haven’t impacted him.

      Through everything, I’ve tried to be the best, most patient husband I can. When my wife’s having a good spell she always tells me how wonderful I’m being to her. How much my support means to her. But when she slides back into her depression and anxiety, I’m enemy number one, her figurative human punching back.

      My frustration continues to grow because I feel like she isn’t doing everything in her power to get better and fight for our marriage and her mental health. And after 3 and a half years, I don’t know how much more I can give.

      Then I come to work. There is so much I love about my job that I really don’t want to leave it. But there are two things that drive me nuts about my work and make me want to leave. First, I’m a government attorney and our agency head, along with the # 2 in our agency, are terrible about monitoring and supervising the managers in our office, of which I am one. Normally I wouldn’t care because I’m good at my job and do whatever I can for my direct reports. However, this lack of oversight runs right into the second problem. About 5 years ago we reorganized our office to have two managers “co-manage” each of the three major divisions in our office. It didn’t work on the American version of The Office between Michael and Jim, and it doesn’t work in our office either. My other co-manager is a goldbrick. He’s the laziest person I’ve met. He loves giving our direct reports a hard time, and he is a universal a-hole to everyone.

      Even when I get him to agree to a consensus on an issue, he goes sideways at the last minute. When I call him on it, it says, “you’re not my boss.” When we go to our boss to resolve our differences, our boss throws up his hands, disclaims any responsibility to fix the problem, and says, “we pay the two of you to get along.” So my loser co-manager basically gets to veto through inaction anything he doesn’t like because of our hands off boss. And when I implement changes on my own to make our division better, the praise from above is directed to both of us, because we’re co-managers.

      By the time I get to post on social media, if I don’t post something positive, it just makes me sad about my life and what it has become.

      1. jm*

        Where’s the Le-Toose? – I’m sorry for the struggles y’all are facing. I hope things improve for you and your wife.

        1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

          Thanks jm! And I’ve always liked the expression “y’all.” We don’t get it enough here in California.

      2. Lora*

        I’m sorry you’re going through this.

        Sounds like your wife and my ex should hook up. He had shameful hygiene and wouldn’t go to therapy or stay on SSRIs, preferred to self-medicate with alcohol, weed and coke. Which didn’t work.

        Have had major depression. It’s hard to keep people from getting frustrated with how little you’re able to do, how little energy you can summon. So on that front I understand, but it’s also not your job to be her therapist/doctor.

        And it sucks extra because you keep hanging in there hoping the nice version you married will somehow reappear with the right combination of therapy and whatever. One of my uncles stayed with his severely mentally ill wife until she died, hoping that somehow the right combination of medication and ECT would fix her, carting her around to every treatment and hospital in the country. It didn’t. And you don’t want to be the bad guy who abandoned her while she was sick, because that would make you an a-hole, and who knows what would happen if you weren’t there to bring home the bacon and make sure the house isn’t a sty and there’s food in the fridge.

        Honestly, there’s no great solutions. I got divorced and after a looooooong recovery period got my act together and decided to focus on my career and a couple of hobbies I adore. I have friends who stayed together and plan to stay married until the kids are grown – to stay close to their kids who would otherwise have to live with a grandparent part time, as well as for financial reasons, and because getting divorced when there’s mental illness of that particular stripe in the picture is absolutely nightmarish. Neither option is any fun at all.

        I’m sorry. This sucks.

      3. InfoSec Semi*

        That personal situation sucks, I’m sorry.

        If you can, I hope you are working with a therapist for you, to support you in this really stressful life. Caregiving for a sick or disabled person is rough at the best of times, and you’re not describing the best of times.

      4. TL -*

        That really, really stinks and I’m so sorry.

        I don’t want to add on but I do want to note that your wife’s mental health issues are impacting your son. She can still be a really good mother but if her hygiene is bad and she’s having anxiety attacks every other day and is struggling with agoraphobia – it’s impacting your kid. Kids with mentally ill parents tend to be really, really good at hiding their problems from their parents, even from a young age, because they lack the security/trust necessary to let their issues show. But they still notice and it still affects them.

    9. anon library person*

      I once posted about a bad day at work and was chastised at work about it. They said I had to take down the post. We are not allowed to say anything negative about our workplace or jobs. This happened during banned book week and I work in a library. So free speech to all except the employees.

      1. Specialk9*

        That seems pretty reasonable to me. Free speech means free from the government killing or imprisoning you, not freedom from consequences or rules. Your work saying you shouldn’t complain publicly about work is… a pretty basic expectation. Use strict privacy settings if you really feel the need.

    10. Oranges*

      There was a study that setting expectations was incredibly important in overall happiness. I mean we have it so much better than people 200 years ago however we’re not any more/less happy because the way our brains work. We are content/happy when we’re getting the same (according to the social rules of what work gets what rewards) as other people in our current environment.

      If (generic) you see a bunch of people who’s lives look perfect of course you’re going to expect that from your own life and then be sad/depressed when it doesn’t happen. You can’t even remind yourself that they’re only posting positive things because it only slightly offsets the effect. It doesn’t cancel it.

  5. Amber Rose*

    Am I in the wrong here?

    We got hit with snowmaggedon yesterday. By 7 am the snow had mostly covered my car tires. By 10 am the snow was over my wheel wells and half my car was buried. The roads also had several feet of snow so even if I made it out of my spot I’d probably be stuck in the road. I called in “probably late” and waited to see if things would improve.

    The snow worsened. The news showed accidents on every major road. Husband’s boss told him to stay home. Visibility approached zero. I made the executive decision that my life is more important than my job and gave up on going to work.

    My supervisor had taken the day off but ended up going in to handle work. I get the impression most everyone else went in too. I feel like people are mad at me.

    Am I nuts or are they? I don’t want to die in a ditch for a job. In the space of a couple hours, over 100 accidents occurred. Isn’t my safety worth anything? Or am I just being a wuss.

    1. Lora*

      They are nuts.

      Source: lived in Lake Effect area and New England many years. If you don’t stay OFF the roads, the plow trucks cannot clear them in a timely fashion.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I don’t think you’re in the wrong. We’re in the Chicago area and getting that snow today. My whole team stayed home, my husband was planning to stay home anyway and they closed his work. I did have to physically bring a phone home to answer calls, but it’s fine, and better than being out on the road. Your physical safety trumps going to work. If other people want to put themselves in danger, well… that’s their prerogative, but I think your company and boss suck for putting people in that position.

    3. NoName*

      I live in a snowy clime. I’d have stayed home too. “Snow over wheel wells” is not safe driving – it’s tricky even if you have a tow truck. I have a neighbor who drives for a towing company and has to be careful not to get stuck himself on days like that.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The only time I’ve ever actually called a tow truck: I had pulled into a circular driveway with some snow (mid-winter, lots of snow piled around) and it quickly turned into a foot or so uncleared rather than a few inches from that morning’s snow. The tow truck wasn’t equipped to handle that–they could only pull you out if they got to park on the plowed road and pull from there. (My husband, who is wonderful, came when he got off work and told me to take his car and our child and go home–I was freezing–and he eventually shoveled and traction matted it out.)

        The moral of this story being don’t assume the tow truck can pull you out if you get stuck. Stay home.

    4. Nutella Jar*

      Nope! I don’t think you’re nuts at all. You didn’t feel safe to drive in the snow, and I think being safe is the right choice.

    5. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Nope, you are not a wuss. Your safety is absolutely more important. Let them be mad, there will be times that you will need to fill in for them at some point and it will equal out. You can feel better knowing that you were not on the road and being in the way of plows and emergency personnel.

    6. AnonyMouse*

      Also in snowmageddon territory. I had a training in another building (would have required me to drive there) at 9 am. I texted my boss to ask if I could drive straight there instead of coming to the office first (to minimize the amount of driving I was doing today) and it seemed like my boss was also annoyed. But I agree, I’m not going to die over a job that would probably replace ASAP if I died. Someone gave me that advice once (“don’t kill yourself over a job that would replace you in a matter of weeks if you died”- obviously it’s meant to be more of a metaphor, but literally applicable here) and it has stuck with me.

    7. Snark*

      I think you’re on safe ground. The drive some people have to “go in to handle work” when they have no business being on the roads, getting in the way of snow removal and emergency response, utterly baffles me. It’s like, god damn, dude, you’re not going to get a medal for it.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Right? I had a couple orders sent in but I doubt the delivery trucks were able to get them so what the heck. The customers aren’t going to throw a fit over a snow delay of one day.

      2. DrPeteLoomis*

        Yeah, this is my big problem with the people who act like they’re a hero for going in to work during a snow storm. Like, no, actually you’re just getting in the way of those who have the real work to do right now – ya know like clearing the snow and saving your sorry ass when you slide off the road.

        Amber Rose, I think you are in the right here, but I totally get how you can feel wrong when everyone else goes in to work during conditions like these. Especially when one person came in when they had the day off. It might affect your reputation at work, which really sucks, but there’s not much you can do about it if everyone else is going to be unreasonable about it.

      3. designbot*

        or maybe they just live in a neighborhood that got less snow, is closer to the office etc.
        It sounds totally reasonable that Amber didn’t go in given her circumstances, but others might have had different ones.

        1. Fiennes*


          Different people will have different levels of difficulty getting through a big snow. Somebody who lives within walking distance can almost always get in; someone with an hour commute from a rural area that got hit hard probably can’t, etc. Here’s hoping your office folk realize this.

    8. Guacamole Bob*

      I think your coworkers are probably the nuts ones, but this really needs to be calibrated to the typical winter weather where you live. In the vast majority of the U.S., at least, a multi-foot current snowstorm (not overnight snow, but snow actually falling fast during the morning) would be reason to stay home and anyone who’s mad at you is being ridiculous, but there may be places where lots of snow is common and expectations are different.

      If there’s public transit where you live, was it still running normally? Did the highway department or the governor or police or anyone urge people to stay off the roads? Did local schools close? Those are some indicators of how people in your area are expected to handle different amounts of snow.

      1. Amber Rose*

        The trains were not running. The buses were, but with delays. The government issued a snowfall warning and begged people to stay off the roads. Public schools did not close, but I’m led to believe that’s because the one time they did 15 years ago, parents threw fits. Surrounding townships and private institutions closed their schools.

        AMA estimated 7 hour waits for a tow.

        1. Antilles*

          The government issued a snowfall warning and begged people to stay off the roads.
          This has always been my clear and unbreakable line.
          I follow the laws and orders of the municipal government as best as I can – if they’re telling me to stay off the roads, then I am not driving. End of story.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          Yeah, your boss and coworkers suck. As did whoever didn’t close the public schools. At the point where the government is asking people to stay off the roads, you really shouldn’t be expected to go to work unless you work in emergency services or some other legitimately essential role.

          When I was in college I remember the dining hall being stripped to minimal staff during major weather events – but it was literally the only place for hundreds of college students who lived in dorms on that campus to get food on those days, so they had to mandate that at least a handful of people come in, even in terrible conditions. Same with people who staff hospitals, nursing homes, etc. Regular office work where health and safety aren’t immediately affected? Please stay home.

          1. Annon Former Grocery Worker*

            Barely above minimum wage job at the grocery store…essential workers. Mind numbing

        3. JeanB in NC*

          School wasn’t closed even when the govt asked people to stay off the roads? That seems kind of stupid. Plus, there were probably more parents that kept their kids home than those who actually sent their kids to school.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            That astonishes me.

            I think my own district’s sane closing policy of the last few years grew out of an early aught episode where they dismissed early, into the teeth of a ferocious blizzard that had brought most ice-covered roads to a complete standstill, dotted with turned over cars.

            1. Jules the Third*

              yeah, we had one of those about the same time. They let the schools out early, but after the ice started, and it accumulated much faster than expected. Some kids didn’t make it home that night – they had to go back to the schools bcs the busses couldn’t make it over the ice. Parents who tried to get home ended up gridlocked on ice. I spent 2 hrs going a half mile on I40 – forward two feet, back one, sliding back down the hill on 1/4″ of ice, wait 5 minutes for the next chance to move. There were easily 40 cars on the shoulder in that half mile; a few waaay off from sliding, but most running low on gas.

              After that, they have erred on the side of closing early. Ice is no joke.

              1. Yetanotherjennifer*

                Our district has a policy of not closing early, so if snow is forecasted for the end of the school day, they’ll cancel the whole day. It’s nice because then parent’s aren’t left scrambling to arrange child care.

          2. Talvi*

            Where I grew up, schools never closed. (I’ve never had a snow day!) School buses (especially in rural areas) would be cancelled during bad weather, but the schools remained open to ensure that those kids who did show up had somewhere warm to go.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            When I was growing up, if the buses couldn’t run then they closed the schools. It was a small rural community so they had to judge whether or not they could get to the most remote pickups. If the answer was no, we stayed home and played in the snow.

      2. Forking Great Username*

        I think a lot of it depends on how long it has been since the snowfall as well. I live in an area where regular big snows are pretty typical for winter, but the way we got hit very early this morning meant that as morning commute time came, most roads hadn’t been plowed and salted yet – there just hadn’t been enough time. And then you had the indicators you and others had mentioned, like the police issuing a warning to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary, schools (even universities where students live on campus) closing, etc.

        So yeah, I’d say the employer is the unreasonable one here. I get it though – my husband did make the very unsafe drive in this morning. However, he works in an industry that is more important during winter weather, so obviously there’s an expectation due to that, and the employees know that.

    9. CheeryO*

      I live in one of the snowiest cities in the U.S., and my office would be a ghost town on a day like that, unless it was a very narrow snow band that only affected a handful of people. It’s almost not physically possible to get to work through several feet of snow.

    10. Menacia*

      Nope, not a wuss at all, considering the alternative to what could have happened. It’s too bad more don’t feel that way. I have done the same and did not think twice about it.

    11. MLB*

      Agree with everyone else – your safety is more important than trying to get into work. If they don’t understand that, you work for a crappy company and/or manager. Any reasonable person would understand.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      They are nuts.

      But. I have worked for many employers who did not see sever weather as an excuse for not showing up. The boss gives people “The Treatment” if they fail to drive through a CLOSED county during an ice storm. So you end up choosing between the ice terror or the boss terror. In the end I realized I would not die from the bad boss but I could die from the ice. The ice won.

      A person asked upthread about deal breakers. This is one my very few deal breakers. Bosses who make you come in no matter what.

    13. Future Analyst*

      I had the same issue when we had ice in Houston. My refusing to get on the road actually had less to do with unease on ice (I lived in the midwest for 14 years), and way more to do with drivers down here not having a clue how to behave on icy roads. I felt like my manager was annoyed that I didn’t make it into the office (we were only open for 2 hours that day anyway), but I’m just fine with that. You made the right call– almost everyone I know in your region (I’m guessing) stayed home today.

    14. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I just shoveled 6 inches of snow, and it’s still falling. My office is open, but pretty much the only people there are the ones who don’t need to drive to get there or absolutely have to be there. There was even an email that went out from mgmt that it’s a snow day – work from home.

      They’re nuts. The best thing to do when it snows a lot is to stay home, out of the way.

    15. Mbarr*

      Sooooo I’m going to be the one person who maybe kinda disagrees? There’s so much context that determines an answer to this.

      1. Do you have the ability to work from home? Could you have brought home a laptop in preparation of snowmaggedon?
      2. Was the snow actually that high everywhere? Or just drifts in front of your wheels? Could you have made it to a main road that had been plowed?
      3. How often does snowmaggeddon happen where you live? If this is part of every winter, then you probably need to get used to it.

      That being said, as everyone else has stated (and I agree), your life is more important than your job. My dubiousness stems from a) being Canadian, b) there’s always that one coworker who panics over the snow when it’s part of every day life that we have to deal with here. My personal entertainment for snowy evenings is watching cars try to drive up the hill my house is located on, get stuck, and have the slide back downwards cause the road is too slushy to make it up the whole way…

      1. JHunz*

        Re. #3, I think any company that operates in an area that has multi-foot snowfall every winter needs to do some contingency planning for working from home or office closings when appropriate. It’s not reasonable to expect employees to endanger their vehicles and lives on the road in unsafe conditions.

        And just because main roads are plowed doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive. A couple winters ago my car was totaled by a city snowplow while trying to get out of my subdivison (he was plowing the wrong side of the road on a curve that meant we couldn’t see each other until too late)

      2. Rainy*

        In re 2: Even if the snow “isn’t that high everywhere”, you can die trying to “[make] it to a main road”. Not everyone lives a block away from a plowed road.

        I’d also tend to argue that if the majority of cars trying to drive up your hill can’t make it, your neighbourhood is probably pretty unsafe in inclement weather.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yep. I live four blocks from a plowed road and it can be a huge PITA to get to it if the snow is deep or if there’s a lot of ice. We don’t get our side streets treated. You can easily get stuck in your neighborhood here.

      3. Amber Rose*

        1) No. My job, the time sensitive part anyway, is to handle sales and process orders. There’s no way to do that from home, I need access to inventory and the shipping bay. Regardless, there’s no such thing as a company laptop here. My boss is anti-tech. We don’t even have voicemail on our phones.

        2) Yes it was. There was no wind, it just blanketed the city. Like I said, even if I’d dug out my car, the entire parking lot and all the side streets were just as deep. The main roads were being worked on, but main here means highway and downtown.

        3) It happened once last year, and prior to that it hadn’t happened in probably a decade. Lots of snowfall during winter is normal and expected. Snowmaggedon, where it dumps feet of snow in a matter of hours, is rather rare.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I live in New England, where would-you-get-off-the-roads-already?!!! storms probably happen about once a winter on average. Snowmageddon can be routine and expected, but still dangerous enough for the state to want everyone off the roads.

        Weekly October-April, sure, everyone keeps sled dogs.

    16. Snow Day Lady*

      I don’t think people are mad at you just because they went in and you didn’t. You might just be overthinking it. I live within walking distance of my office, so when it snows I can still make it to work unless the weather is so severe that they need to close the office. However, several of my coworkers have to commute and they will often be late or wont make it in on these days. I completely understand! I would never fault them for trying to be safe just because my commute is more convenient than theirs. That said, when this happens they always work from home unless the office is closed. So maybe next time you can just plan to work from home? If that isn’t a possibility for you, then I’d say don’t worry about it. It’s your health and safety on the line, not theirs.

    17. Akcipitrokulo*

      They may not actually think you should – unless someone actually says it, it’s best acting as if they agree of course you were reasonable! If they are being reasonable, that’s all correct, and if they are disapproving, behaving as if of course they are sympathetic is good!

      1. SP*

        Also in Chicago and everyone is in the office today who lives in the city is here because transit was running ok. Except you know who isn’t here? The boss who sent the all staff email saying we were expected to come in today…

    18. Bea*

      Hell no. I’m glad you stayed home and are safe. Also happy your husband’s boss is a logical person who values his employees lives more than a day or so of productivity.

      If you’re not in medicine or first response nobody should be out in those conditions

    19. Emmie*

      You’re not crazy. There are very few positions where there are exceptions to this: police / first responders, nurses / doctors, tow truck drivers.

    20. WonderingHowIGotHere*

      Playing sort of Devil’s Advocate here – did you upgrade your “probably late” to “Definitely not coming in”?
      Just a thought, but people could be a little ticked off by a lack of update? Not risking your safety, but if they think you might be risking it and then don’t let them know until the following day when you are next in – they could just as easily think you had died in a ditch in your attempt to just be “probably late”.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I did though. When I realized it wasn’t getting better I sent an email saying I was stuck and not able to go in.

        1. WonderingHowIGotHere*

          Then I completely rescind my advocacy and echo the other comments: your co-workers are the nuts ones, not you!

    21. Millennial Lawyer*

      It’s possible because you’re worried about this you’re misinterpreting others being mad at you for that specific incident. If even your supervisor took the day off, but then something came up I’m assuming, I would assume that it would be encouraged for others to take the day unless they wanted to.

    22. A.*

      I got stuck in the snow on my way to work once. Now I will not drive in snow or if it is icy out. It is an automatic WFH day for me. My safety is more important.

    23. LilySparrow*

      Where I live, we don’t get a lot of snow, but the terrain and weather patterns vary drastically.

      You could live on 1 side of town and get a dusting, or the other side and get completely iced in.

      You could have a dry clear highway to your office, but be unable to get your car out of your neighborhood because the entry road is a 45 degree grade in the shade, and stays impassible for 2 days.

      Decent managers understand that not everyone is affected the same way and trust their employees to exercise reasonable judgment.

    24. Oranges*

      One way to parse if you’re overthinking this: Does your office culture run on dysfunction? Are people who put out fires (usually of their own making) given raises/accolades while the people who actually follow procedures get ignored? Is it always about how much you give to the company and a feeling of one-up-manship?

      Those all point to signs that you’re in a sick-system and in those, oh man can people be… unreasonable.

      Otherwise you’re probably just feeling guilty about the script of “I should have tried harder” and no one else is actually giving you side eye. Okay, one or two might be but they’re being idiots.

    25. Elizabeth West*

      That’s stupid. You couldn’t get out of your house–it’s a valid reason not to go. Do they live closer than you? Are you on a road that doesn’t get plowed? At OldExjob, one person could never get out of his driveway if it snowed a lot–he lived in a more rural area. I could get there but if it were icy, I’d always be late, since I’d rather drive like a little old lady and be tardy than spin into a semi truck. Access does vary in a snowstorm.

  6. Nutella Jar*

    I have two things. I’m sorry this is so long.

    1.) I’m worried my boss’s “current” daughter-in-law and her former daughter-in-law are costing me my job.

    I work as a full-time teapot maker at a small family business with 6 employees, including the owner. When I was hired back in August 2017, we were super busy, but since December we had very little client work. 5 of the 6 employees are teapot makers, including the owner Mavis, a full-timer Cana, and part-timer Lucy. Our work involves customers bringing teapots for us to alter, and we give customers estimates based how long it will take to do certain changes.

    Mavis and Cana have a close relationship as Cana is/was dating Mavis’ son. All I know is he kicked Cana out a few months ago, but according to Cana they are still “dating”. Lucy is Mavis’ former daughter-in-law, though they are still very close. (No, Cana and Lucy don’t work the same hours, since Lucy’s ex-husband cheated on her with Cana)

    During our busy season, Cana would take work home and claim overtime, though her work would always come back incomplete and looked untouched. Meanwhile, Mavis would pay Lucy a special triple pay for certain tasks that are part of our every day job. For clarity, if Lucy did 3 hours on one task, she would get paid 9 hours for it.

    With the combination of false overtime, triple pay, and less work, our finances fell into a hole and we’ve struggling. Cana is on temporary lay-off but receiving unemployment benefits. Lucy has only worked a few days since December, and the other part-timer has not been in since December. Besides my boss, I’m the only full-time teapot maker at work every day.

    Our office manager (Erza) has been on temporary lay-off since December and is not receiving unemployment benefits. She warned our boss finances would go downhill from the fabricated overtime and the triple pay. However, Mavis is giving Cana work that I should be doing, and the few times Lucy has worked she still receives triple pay. We still have to pay taxes and such, and sales have been so low for the past two month that I’m worried my check is going to bounce. Erza told me I should start looking for another job and offered to help me job search. I really love what I do, and at my last and very toxic employment it took me a year and a half to find a new job. Our sales will increase in April just based on our industry, but I’m still worried about my job security. Should I try to stick it out since we will get busy again or start job searching?

    2.) We all work in one room at the same work station. I’m a shy, quiet, introverted person in my mid-twenties, while everybody else is over the age of 45. These ladies love to chat/talk/gossip as they work, and as a quiet person who is normally focused on my (tedious) work, I don’t normally participate in these discussions, especially since many of them are super personal (and probably unprofessional to bring up at work). There are many times when someone will ask me why I’m so quiet. Sometimes I can be bubbly (and sweet as these ladies put it), but sometimes I just want to focus on my work and not talk, especially since engaging in conversation can consume a lot of energy for me. How do I get my coworkers and boss to stop asking me why I’m so quiet?

    1. Eye of Sauron*

      “How do I get my coworkers and boss to stop asking me why I’m so quiet?”

      By telling them that you’re too busy looking for a new job to chat with them.

      Seriously, I think you have answered your own question in #1, this is a sinking ship that is being mismanaged. Just because the shenanigans can be hidden during the fat times doesn’t mean that it will be able to forever. Start looking for new work now, because sooner or later you will show up to work with a bounced payroll check in your hand and a “Closed” sign on the employee door.

      This won’t get better.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          Me too. Time to start looking, IMO. If it does get better, that will only be temporary because you have a boss who is completely clueless about some extremely fundamental things.

      1. Casuan*

        Even if things get better, it will be temporary.
        there’s a caveat:
        You already have more than enough evidence to know how dysfunctional this office is. So just be sure not to let the “good” (ie: if/when things are operating with some normalcy*) convince you that the situation isn’t as bad as you were thinking it was.
        Nutella Jar, I hope you find a new job soon!!

        *normalcy: the definition here is “an office that strives to function as the textbook ideal”; ideally the definition is whatever is considered normal in this office, although I don’t think you have a baseline for that

    2. Aaron*

      IWhen things get busy will you have an easier time finding other teapot makers that are hiring? That might be an option.

    3. AMD*

      1. Start job searching. “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.” That is a super dysfunctional environment.

      2. I definitely feel you here – I got in trouble at my first job because I was so quiet, everyone else pegged me as stuck-up and cold and so I was terrible mistreated. Make a point of saying hello, how are you, etc.. Find out a sports team, family member, and/or hobby of the other ladies, and make a habit of asking after them. “I saw the Pirates played last night, how did they do? Did you watch the game?” “How’s your adorable grandson?” Especially during break times. Then announce things like, “I’m sorry, I’m enjoying this but I need to put my head down and focus on (task) for a few hours.” Kind of thing?

    4. hiptobesquared*

      This sounds extremely poorly managed, to say nothing of the apparent ex’s of the owner’s son all working together?

      Even if sales increase, I doubt Mavis will change how she handles anything. If Ezra thinks you should leave, you might want to take that advise to heart.

      And in response to your second question – there is nothing wrong with being quiet, so a simple: “I’m a quiet person, it’s part of who I am, and would prefer to just focus on my work” should be enough. Being direct in these situations is usually best.

    5. Sunflower*

      Yikes this sounds super dysfunctional and talk about drama. Start job searching now. This stuff doesn’t change.

    6. Natalie*

      I really love what I do, and at my last and very toxic employment it took me a year and a half to find a new job. Our sales will increase in April just based on our industry, but I’m still worried about my job security. Should I try to stick it out since we will get busy again or start job searching?

      You’re kind of making it a mutually exclusive thing when it doesn’t have to be. You aren’t going to quit to start job searching, so there’s nothing keeping you from starting a job search now and just seeing what happens in April. Maybe you’re thinking (consciously or not) that you have to decide whether you’ll take a job offer or not before you even start looking, but actually you don’t! Cross that bridge when you get a job offer, and decide based on what’s in front of you *at that time*.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        That’s an excellent point. “Job searching” =/= “job changing.” So by all means, see how it goes, but in the meantime, start planning for if it goes badly, and that includes a plan to exit.

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      I would start looking for a new job, since you said it took you quite awhile to find the one you have now. I worked for a family-owned business in college, and while there were some great things about it (people were very close, the owners were awesomely understanding about me needing to study for exams or write papers and needing to cut back my hours for a week or 2 here and there, the office manager “mom” would slide me a $20 every now and then when I was really broke), it was a weird and dysfunctional place to work, and the family dynamics always made their way to the workplace. Bottom line — if you’re not a blood relative, or deemed “family” due to your relationship with a blood relative, whatever that relationship may be, chances are you won’t be part of the inner circle and probably the first one let go when the business starts to struggle. That’s not to say that the job or work itself can’t be rewarding, or that you shouldn’t work for a family-owned business, but it is something to keep in mind if the business is struggling.

    8. KatTheRussian (France)*

      As Alison often says, “family” businesses often have a lot of problems, and your job is like the poster child for them!
      I too think that you should start jobsearching. It’s not like you’d have to accept any offer that came along, but it does sound like things might go south very fast if you’re already worried about checks bouncing, so I say it can’t hurt to look around for something that you’d enjoy doing more.
      Also, believe it or not, there are workplaces where no one will ever pester you about why you’re so quiet all the time, and you may end up in a better work environment overall.

    9. Havarti*

      1.) Get out ASAP. That place is toxic even if sales increase in April. In family businesses gone bad, the outsiders will always be the losers. All that who is dating or cheating on who is the sort of drama you get with teenagers working retail. You don’t need that drama.

      2.) Given 1.), I feel like this is the least of your problems. But you can try some light-hearted comments like “Oh I was just in the zone” or whatever. If it were me and I didn’t care about getting fired, I’d sing “100 bottles of beer” at the top of my lungs when asked. Or do that cowboy yelling bit from the song “Big Enough.”

      But seriously, get out.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      This is a sinking ship because the owner refuses to change to better money management practices. You are probably still there because of your rate of pay. The chances are pretty high that you are being used.
      While I understand that it took you quite a while to find this job, you should start looking NOW. stat.

      Getting them to stop asking you why you are so quiet, is probably the least of your worries here. Pick a statement and keep repeating the statement. “I am just concentrating on my stuff here.” Craft a sentence in your own words that you will be semi-comfortable saying and use that sentence as your go-to. Once you get used to it you can build in some slight variations but with the same meaning.

    11. King Friday XIII*

      I’m hoping this is one of those cases where it’s helpful to have a dozen people tell you your office is full of bees.

      YOUR OFFICE IS FULL OF BEES. Start job hunting now. If you’re still there in April, you can see if it picks up. If the worst case scenario happens, you’ve already started your job hunt.

      1. Specialk9*

        Full of full of full of bees!!!

        Let’s recap:
        My company openly engages in fraudulent finances based on nepotism, overlooks slacker liar because of nepotism, and oh yeah the company as a whole is slowly driving off a cliff. It’s takes awhile to find a new job, should I start looking now?

        Uh, yeah.

        Yes indeed.

        Start today. Like actually start today.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      Finances would go downhill from the fabricated overtime and the triple pay. However, Mavis is giving Cana work that I should be doing.

      Run. Run now.

      Or, okay, job search. Job search now. You are telling yourself the classic terrible relationship thing where if things were good once, they can be that way again if you’re just patient and wait long enough. Even if things pick up in April, the terrible financial practices and family-first mentality is going to bring things down soon.

      Just this morning I was reading a national news story, and reminded of Alison’s rule that there ain’t no crazy quite like small, family-run business crazy.

    13. Nutella Jar*

      Thank you everyone for replying and giving advice. Looks like I’ll be sending Erza my resume to get her feedback. While she’s been on lay-off, she’s been taking classes, so it looks like she’s planning her exist. Mavis is expecting her to come back when things get busy again, but I know Erza is so fed up and very likely won’t come back.

      The work culture is quite… strange. It’s almost like a girl’s club. I’ve seen Cana and Mavis cry, a lot of hugging and pats on the shoulder, Cana’s constant talk about her ex/SO/Mavis’s son/whatever and how he’s going through a midlife crisis, personal discussions of mental health, and lots and lots of gossiping.

      1. Natalie*

        For what it’s worth, in that kind of environment deflecting is a great strategy. Be obsessive about something innocuous in your life – your prize winning roses, your dog, a terrible reality show, doesn’t matter. “Share” by sharing a lot of shit you don’t actually care about and they won’t notice so much that you’re not talking about all of your deep personal life details.

        1. Casuan*

          This is great advice & I just realised I need to incorporate it more in my own life.
          Except my impression is that Nutella Jar doesn’t want to talk much about anything because she is introverted & just wants to concentrate on her work. I can relate!
          Which leaves compromise: “Yes, I had a great weekend. The weather was gorgeous & I spent lots of time outside with my dog, Fido. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get this work thing done before I lose my thoughts on it.”
          or: “I had a great weekend! Now I need to get to work.”

          If things are really verbally untenable, make your topic about something you know that person doesn’t like. That’s pushing your own limits although it can pay off quite quickly.

      2. Samata*

        I know you said your last job was toxic. But quite honestly this one doesn’t sound healthy at all. I think polishing up your resume and forwarding it on is the right choice here.

      3. Ursula*

        Sounds like you picked the right pseudonym for Erza, she’s definitely the one to follow in this situation!

      4. DDJ*

        I’m really sorry you’re going through this. My brother worked for a family business like this (fabricating timesheets for the owner’s children, people who got paid but did no work, etc) and when they were eventually bought by another company, it turns out that the owners had been slowly shredding and disposing of a LOT of files that would have gotten them into trouble. Which was discovered because entire months of financial reporting were “misplaced.”

        The new company ended up paying employees for weeks of work that hadn’t been paid yet, overtime, etc.

        Of course, turns out that the buyers are ALSO a family business and things are not really much better. Ugh.

        Not saying a family business can’t work, but I have yet to see a case where it does, personally.

        I agree with Natalie about deflecting/coming up with something super innocuous to talk about. Survivor is starting again soon, so that’s going to be my go-to. Also food. I talk about food all the time. People at work think I’m some kind of weirdo about food, I’m sure, but it’s such an easy thing to talk about.

    14. MsChanandlerBong*

      Oh my gosh, this could be a story taken out of my experience with my FIL’s business. My husband worked there for four years, making the princely sum of $7.25 per hour. He asked his father for a raise to $8.00, and his father said no. If he wanted to make more money, he could come in early and stay late. Mind you, he doesn’t pay any overtime–the extra time would still be at the $7.25 per hour rate. Meanwhile, my FIL’s second wife also worked for him, except she made $15.00 an hour (for the same job my husband did) and was paid overtime. She would put 100+ hours on her time card in a single week, and my FIL would pay her the first 40 at $15 an hour and the other 60 at time-and-a-half. My husband got disgusted and left the company. As you can imagine, their years of financial idiocy have caught up with them, so now the company is down the tubes.

  7. Volunteer*

    How do you respond (if you do) to co-workers who talk out loud to themselves?

    I sit next to someone who does that, and I never know whether I’m expected to acknowledge/respond to them. She does it at the same volume as she does when she’s actually talking to me, but if it turns out she wasn’t addressing me then it feels a bit like eavesdropping if I reply (much like you wouldn’t interrupt any other private conversation).

    1. ANon*

      “Sorry, where you saying something to me?”

      Hopefully done enough times, and she’ll start realizing.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        I do this. Sometimes they’re talking to me, sometimes they’re on a conference call, and sometimes they are talking to themselves. I don’t think it’s impolite or eavesdropping either when phrased this way.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I just would ignore it. If she is really talking to you and you ignore it, she’ll repeat it more loudly and address you directly.

    3. NoName*

      I think if there’s any doubt, you can say something like, “Ginger – are you talking to me, or just processing?” and then when she responds that she wasn’t talking to you you can say “Ok, just checking. If you do need something from me, just get my attention first!”

      That is the approach I take with my kiddo who both talks to himself a lot and also will start addressing the room at large when he needs help without checking to see that someone is listening.

      It communicates that 1) you can hear her, and 2)you’re going to ignore her voice unless she explicitly asks you to listen, so you can start tuning it out.

    4. Snark*

      I think you can ask them to stop, personally. I get occasionally muttering to yourself under your breath, but if you’re talking to yourself in a conversational tone, that’s HELLA ANNOYING and you need to stop.

    5. Argh!*

      I used to work near someone like that, and I kept raising my head from my work to answer her. I asked her to use my name when she needed to talk to me, and otherwise I would ignore her. Sometimes I told her to stop talking when I really needed to concentrate. I know it took tremendous effort for her to do that for me.

    6. Maude Lebowski*

      Given that you describe it as her talking and you’re not sure if she is talking to you (instead of it e.g. being a case of it driving you nutso, which you don’t seem to imply), I think it would be reasonable to say, “Hey, Jane, I’ve noticed you talk to yourself, but I’m not quite sure if you’re meaning to address me. Maybe if you want to get my attention on something, could you explicitly ask? Otherwise I’ll just go merrily about my work.”

      1. Dinosaur*

        As an external processor who definitely talks to myself a lot, this would be my preferred way for someone (who wasn’t irritated about it but just confused) to handle it.

    7. Tableau Wizard*

      I have a coworker who does that. I can usually just ignore her, but it sometimes means that she has to call me by name or make some other obvious signal that she’s trying to talk to me in order for me to register what she’s saying.

      It might help if you had headphones in so that she has to alert you when she’s trying to get your attention. Plus it’d be easier to ignore her.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Start talking out loud yourself?

      I would just say, “You know, every time you think out loud, my train of thought derails and I have to start over.”

      Don’t expect any immediate miracles. The times I have used this I have gotten maybe a 50% reduction in out loud thinking.

    9. Sunflower*

      If it doesn’t bother you, I would just ignore it. I know I have done this by accident time to time (whoops!). I always directly address someone when I have a question since I assume they may be busy or working on something and not be able to chat right away.

    10. Thlayli*

      The guy I share an office with and work closely with does this all the time. He also doesn’t hear me if I ask a question unless I give him a heads up beforehand. Also both of us have lots of phone calls too!

      We have come to an agreement that if either of us wants the others attention we say “excuse me Fergus can I ask a question” first – and we basically ignore everything else we say unless prefaced by this. Otherwise it gets too confusing.

    11. Muriel Heslop*

      I am that co-worker (though I try not to be) and I advise you to ignore me. When I realize that no one is listening to *anything* I say I become more aware and diligent about keeping thoughts to myself.

    12. K.*

      I occasionally mutter to myself at work and it’s totally fine to me to have someone say “Sorry?” or “Are you talking to me?” Also if I’m at work, the muttering is always about work so I definitely wouldn’t consider it eavesdropping. It’s stuff like “Dammit, the internet is slow today” or whatever. Totally fine to comment on, IMO.

    13. Kittymommy*

      I occasionally talk out loud to myself and no I don’t expect anyone to acknowledge it. Heck, half the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. And when I’m around others talking out loud to themselves, I just ignore it.

    14. Ten*

      Ugh, my deskmate does this. It’s SO irritating. I’ll just ignore her until she addresses me by name.

    15. LilySparrow*

      Unfortunately, I do this sometimes. I know it’s terribly annoying and I don’t mean to. Most of the time I can keep the quiet part quiet, but if I’m concentrating hard on something tricky, my filter slips. I usually don’t know it’s happening, or don’t realize until it’s already happened.
      This is why I try to get workspaces on my own and why working from home is better for me now that I have the opportunity.

      You’re not eavesdropping. If you really aren’t sure if she’s addressing you, just ask. This is the best way to reboot the filter.

      As far as long-term reducing the behavior, I wish I knew. I’ve been working on it for 40 years.

      But if youre trying to get her to stop, don’t pretend to be confused when you’re not. That’s passive-aggressive.

      It’s really no different than any other annoying, semi-conscious habit like humming, tapping, or talking too loud on the phone.
      Mostly a short conversation about how it’s distracting and could she please try to keep it down, is a good place to start. Then the occasional “you’re doing it again” or whatever your friendly equivalent may be, should suffice.

    16. Triplestep*

      I share an office with someone who does this. At first I just kept saying “What?” Or “Excuse me?” Or “Are you talking to me?” as natural responses. But then I got used to it; I can tell the difference now and know when to tune in. Because I really like this guy, I find it kind of endearing, but I can See how it would be annoying. I think had I not gotten used to it, my initial responses would have broken him of the habit eventually.

    17. Casuan*

      Duct tape solves most problems.

      That said, you have more appropriate options.
      What works for me:
      -Any random conversations are background noise, regardless of how close the voice[s].
      -Thus, I ignore the noise, whilst inwardly cursing at the person who talks too loudly whilst he’s on the phone, the other person who goes into too much detail about her dog’s intestinal issues when she replies to someone’s “How’s Fido?” query, myself for not being able to ignore her words, that poor Fido [who doesn’t deserve my inward curses] & the idiot who can’t talk because he’s too busy chomping his chewing gum.
      sorry, I digress…
      -The key here is that I’ve trained people that I will ignore comments unless they get my attention first by saying my name & that they might need to repeat it & wait a moment for me to process that they’re talking to me.

      This is actually quite easy to pull off & I’ve never had anyone be offended by it.
      “Jane, just so you know that I tend to filter all conversations as background noises so if you need my attention please get my attention first by calling my name/tapping on my shoulder/knocking & I’ll do the same with you. Is that okay?”

      :::checking to be sure the duct tape is still in my drawer:::

  8. Bobrowsky*

    What do you do to quiet the all consuming guilt that happens when you’re job searching / interviewing during a busy or stressful period, knowing your departure will cause everyone a lot of pain and stress? Especially re: the question about Fergus dropping work on his team, now I’m extra nervous!

    As reference, I’m applying for a few jobs and there’s a decent chance I’ll leave in the middle of the rollup to a huge event, for whom I’m a main organizer.

    I know it’s just business and you should do what’s right for you. I know the company would fire me in an instant if they needed. I’m not really feeling bad about leaving the company I’m feeling bad about leaving the people working there. I like them for the most part! And I feel so guilty knowing I am going to be the reason for a few super stressful months.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Sometimes you can’t help but feel guilty. But you have no reason to. Yes, it sucks for any company if someone leaves in the middle of an important project. Companies deal, though, they should be set up to do so. It will be a strain, but they can manage. Leave a lot of good documentation?

    2. Maude Lebowski*

      Ya, make your announcement to boss, leave good documentation like Bobrowsky says, give a reasonable amount of notice, offer to meet (more than once if req) with staff who will be taking over (that would be in addition to the documentation – gives them a chance to ask questions), keep the company as a good reference, move on to something that hopefully gives you lots of work satisfaction. Ppl might be cranky and stressed, but they’ll be understanding / get over it if you’re a good colleague about it.

    3. Artemesia*

      If it were in the company’s interest to fire you tomorrow regardless of your family need, mortgage or career they would do it in a heartbeat. Never assume the need to be loyal to a company in the sense of sacrificing your own interests. If you died tomorrow, they would replace you and not miss you in a couple of months. Never penalize yourself or tie yourself in emotional knots over a job. They do not do the same on your behalf.

      The only exception would be a company that say carried you for a long time through an illness or disability above and beyond your normal benefits. I can see feeling committed to sticking with them for some period of time after that. Otherwise, it is business. Do what is in your interest; they will certainly do what is in their interest even if it means not promoting you, not giving you a raise or laying you off.

      1. Lora*


        It took me many years to realize that I was in many instances the only person who gave a crap about people who didn’t give a sh!t about me.

        If they don’t care for themselves enough to get it together on their own behalf, let them drown.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You could just decide, “Yeah, I feel bad about leaving these people but I am going to do it anyway.”

      If you think people would not repeat what you say, you could express regrets to those folks. “I am sorry that this is such a bad time. I have really enjoyed working with you and I do wish you the best.”

    5. Sunflower*

      I think this is natural and a lot of people feel the same way you do! It’s very normal- what’s not normal is letting the feelings affect your job search or not leaving because of the feelings of guilty. All you can do is remind yourself the company will still function and succeed without you. I’m sure your coworkers are sane people who won’t take it personally and understand!

    6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      If you have a bit of spare time one day, you could compile a short list of consultants who seem like they could pick up where you left off? Just so you can present it to the company as an option. I don’t think you have an obligation to do it at all, but it might help give your co-workers footing to request some outside help!

    7. Jules the Third*

      One way to ease the guilt is to be comfortable you’ve done what you can to make their transition easier. Some strategies for that:
      * Focus on leaving your work in good shape, and with good documentation – for example, both big picture project overview (timeline / tasks) and detailed list of the vendor contacts / phone #s and responsibilities, posted in a project team room.
      * See if there’s someone you can cross-train on what you’re doing before you give notice.
      * Consider an extended notice period – 4 / 6 weeks instead of 2.
      * Consider offering them 1 – 2 meetings after you leave to answer specific questions.

      All subject to your health and time constraints, of course.

    8. peachie*

      Oh boy, I don’t have an advice but I am right there with you. I’m leaving my job a week before a major conference I’ve been planning for a year and was supposed to run by myself. Also, I work in a department of two and I am genuinely worried about the number of things which only I can do. I don’t feel bad for the company, exactly, but I feel so bad for putting my boss, who is an amazing boss, in a rough position.

    9. Betsy*

      I have a really similar issue. I have a job interview, but I know the new job would want me to start before my current contract ends. I feel terrible for even thinking of leaving, and I’m hoping I could finish teaching for this semester before starting at the new job, but I don’t know if the timelines quite work out. I am super stressed about this, but I don’t want to miss out on what could be a great opportunity.

    10. Sam Foster*

      Let it go. It’s a normal feeling but as you stated, you have to do what’s best for you and any one of your coworkers or bosses would do the same thing. Empathize with those who remain but guilt is far too much.

    11. Casuan*

      Paradigm Shift:
      You’re in an accident & away for several months. The company will stay in business & your colleagues will sort things out without you.
      Because life happens.

      You, In the Real World:
      You have decided to job search & you might be leaving the company. The company will stay in business & your colleagues will sort things out without you. You can help them by documenting what they should know, especially the things that aren’t easily discoverable (eg: the spreadsheet no one thinks of tho you find it a good resource, to only talk to Fergus at Teapots Inc because he’s the only one who really knows anything over there, etc).
      Because life happens.

      From my experiences, I’m never as vital as I seem to think!
      The work will persevere without me & so will my ex-colleagues. I’m valuable, just not vital.
      Good luck!!

  9. TJ*

    I’m the one who sent in the third question in this morning’s 5 answers post. I wanted to thank Alison. It was a great answer. It was good advice and exactly what I needed to hear. I am appreciative of your response. I am baffled by the comments though. I didn’t really see anyone answer my question. I’m stunned people are urging me to disregard the wishes of my former employee who was fired. The police arrested the user of the device. I don’t know why people would think there was no investigating the company devices and I needed to tell them to do it or about a “cover-up”. The first thing the police did was search all company devices at the same time they searched the user’s personal ones. There was no cover-up. Nothing was found on any other company stuff and no one else was involved. The company didn’t even know until the police told them. I’m not a police officer and in no way will tell them to do anything.

    The police know she was fired. They have no standing to do anything. It is not a criminal matter anyway no matter how wrong it was it isn’t even illegal under the laws in our country. She has no case. The police know and they don’t care because there is nothing they can do about it. The arrest has been in the news. I mentioned it in my post. My fired employee didn’t want to keep the entire story hidden. She just doesn’t want it public she was the one who told the police or got fired. She doesn’t want her name in the news. She doesn’t want to sue and can’t anyways because under the law her firing was legal. The company never threatened her. She has a new job now. She wants to be left alone. I stated as much when I wrote in. I’m stunned people want us to sick the reporters on her even after what I said when I wrote in. There’s no way me or my other employees will disrespect her wishes in spite of the suggestions in the comments. Although I am beyond pleased with Alison’s response I can’t say the same for the comments at all.

    I will say thanks to Alison again for offering helpful advice and actually answering my question. I do appreciate it. Your advice is why I read here every day.

    1. Eye of Sauron*

      If it helps I was a little baffled in the comments myself. I’m sorry you have been in the position you have. It must be absolutely horrendous to work in this situation.

      1. hermit crab*

        I was surprised too. I think maybe people were so taken aback by the horribleness of the situation that they kinda went into overdrive.

        TJ, I’m really glad to hear that your employee has a new job! I hope none of you has to go through something like this ever again.

      2. Specialk9*

        The cover-up we were talking about was the one in which they apparently thought the right approach was to tell them first and not the police. Why? That’s not how convictions happen, in fact it’s how convictions fail. Because they have already acted in malignant bad faith for firing over following the law over policy, we are assuming that the only reason they would want to know before the police is to try to cover it up. (It’s not farfetched, it’s what Subway, Uber, and many other companies have done.) I didn’t see anyone thinking she had been threatened, I may have missed it – if it was said it wasn’t said often.

        It may not be illegal in your country, it is in the US. Sorry, you didn’t mention that you’re not in the US, and we can’t know what laws apply to you if you don’t tell us. We’re not mind readers.

        I thought there was a good dialogue about whether the fired person should have the final say, or whether there was a broader responsibility to reveal a corrupt company. You may have tuned it out.

        Sorry our commenting didn’t meet your needs. We’ll try to provide free services more to your liking next time.

    2. oh my*

      OP I’m sorry for all the conflict you are in the middle of. For the reporting employee, I wonder if there is sometype of whistleblower or discrimination protection? This is way beyond some internal office conflict. For all you know if it had not been reported to the police, it may have been swept under the rug. Has your former coworker spoken to a lawyer to at the very least protect herself, find out if there is anything she needs to do to protect her career. I too am surprised by some of the comments. I think Alison’s advice to support your team as best you can is the way to go. This scenario would leave a bitter taste and I personally would look for another job. Perhaps once you leave, you would be able to better support your former coworker with a reference and better communication.

      1. Amber T*

        I think what TJ is saying is she wants to let sleeping dogs lie (lay?). She played her part, she did exactly what she was supposed to do, and she still got punished, and there’s unfortunately nothing she can do about it. She just wants to move on. It sounds like she has a new job and is starting the process.

        TJ, best of luck to you and the rest of your coworkers – I hope you all get out of there ASAP and into better, less toxic jobs. I hope upper management sees the error of their ways (hopefully in the form of a mass exodus). And I hope your former coworker moves on and truly knows how awesome she is.

      2. AVP*

        There was a really good interview with Peter Buxtun, the Tuskegee whistleblower, published recently in the American Scholar. It talks about how hard it is to “see something / say something” for exactly that reason – outside government employees there’s really not a system in place to help people in this situation. It mentions a small Harvard study of people who blew the whistle on fraud/corruption at pharma companies, and how in the end most of them felt like it wasn’t worth it due to the personal devastation – “30% were financial ruined.”

        It was really an eye-opening story – I think as Americans we expect there to be protections for this and are surprised when they just don’t exist. I’ll post the link below if anyone is interested.

        1. Grits McGee*

          I was reading a another article recently (maybe in the Washington Post?) that said that even for federal workers, there’s almost never a happy ending for the whistle blower. I have a friend who reported misuse of a federal grant. (The nonprofit was using the money to keep the lights on rather than for the program it was intended.) Her position was funded through the grant, so when it was revoked she lost her job and the nonprofit folded. It’s been years since then, and her career and finances still haven’t recovered.

    3. Buffy*

      I just came from that post and I agree, some of the reactions were odd. I think sometimes that’s the nature of groupthink, everyone makes an echo chamber a bit. Glad to hear she has a new job.

      1. Nope*

        I think some people are worried that because the employee was fired, if this happens again then a future employee won’t report it to the police because they want to save their job and the company will hide it. But that doesn’t justify some of the replies, especially the ones advising OP to throw their employee under the bus with the media against her wishes.

    4. MissGirl*

      People are angry and can’t accept there isn’t some big justice for your coworker or comeuppance for the company. Rather than accept that sometimes situations just suck and there’s not much else to do, they are desperately coming up with ways for the company to get in trouble.

      Your coworker did the right thing, and I’m sorry she was punished for it. I hope you find something soon. Good on you for supporting your team under trying times.

      I think if I ever write in, I’ll avoid the comments.

      1. Jules the Third*

        They used to be good, adding specific and interesting experience / details that Alison doesn’t have experience with / time to go into. Google “ask a manager domestic violence Marie” for a great example of the caliber of commentary that used to be normal (though that one is outstanding in any forum).

        Unfortunately, AAM comments are becoming like every other commentariat on the web as she becomes more popular. I’ve watched this evolution before, it sucks. But it takes a lot of time and effort and tech to curate comments into something that doesn’t suck, once you hit a certain level of popularity.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, I think that stuff is still there. There’s more noise in addition to it than there used to be, but that’s the function of there being a larger number of comments. I agree there were advantages when it was smaller, but I still find the comment section far more civil, thoughtful, and useful than the vast majority of others.

          1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

            I agree. I’ve been in countless communities/commentariats over the years, and this site is one of the absolute best.

            Sure, sometimes people can get focused more on unhelpful advice because they’re shocked/upset that something happened. But plenty of communities regularly insult each other in snide, nasty ways and focus on snarky zings than being helpful. This place is still a haven from that.

      2. Oranges*

        Agreed. With the first part.

        For the second part I think it depends upon what I wrote in about. Something that will make other people see red? Then yes comments = skipped. Normal stuff, probably not. But that would be my choice. Other people will choose what’s best for them not me.

    5. The Tin Man*

      For one, the company ordered you to not give a reference to the fired employee OR the employees quitting over this? I am fully on board with you ignoring that.

      I hadn’t seen the comments about it yet, it sounds like people want the company to be punished and the best way for them to be punished is to go public. This ignores that the fired employee would have to go public and that would affect her life. It’s saying that she should sacrifice her privacy to make this scummy company pay.

      There is no good answer beyond what Allison said. If that many people are quitting or job hunting it will affect the company, but who knows by how much.

      Good luck with the job search to you and everyone else leaving!

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        I think what people forget in wanting to make the bad guy pay is, that other good people can lose out. If I were the fired employee I would be thinking about what results my actions may have. If fired employee went to the media and it blew up there could be bad consequences for coworkers who did nothing wrong. While the OP said many of the staff are furious and want new jobs anyways what if bad press led to decreased revenue and eventually lay offs? People on social media these days fire first and never ask questions. Innocent bystanders (aka other employees who had nothing to do with it) could get ripped to shreds.

        It sucks, and bad things happen, but I think the fired employee took the right route. Agree with you about Alison’s advice.

    6. LKW*

      Consider that for most of us – the response was immediate outrage and wanting to right a wrong (your friend being fired). Of course we say this from a position where we have no obligation to your friend, no obligation to keep working for a bad company and no idea of the laws of your country.

      It’s the initial reaction to hearing such a terrible story – both in the initial crime and the subsequent firing. But yes, your question wasn’t really answered. And I don’t know if I have anything other than what Allison advised. But good luck in finding a new job and I think you’re right to still provide references even though you’ve been told not to.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It’s the old axiom – no good deed goes unpunished.

        The coworker did the right thing and got penalized for it. That is definitely going to get people up in arms in any circumstances, but especially when you’re dealing with something so egregious as CP.

        I am glad to hear that she’s found new employment and I wish TJ the best of luck in his own search.

    7. Bagpuss*

      Thanks for commenting,. It’s always good to hear back from LWs.

      I suspect that the reasons (or one of the reasons) people were suggesting that you disregarded your coworkers wishes was because the actions of your company were so egregious that people want to see them punished for it – on the fact of them, sacking someone for reporting a crime (particularly a crime of this type) is so outrageous that people don’t want to accept it.
      I think also that there is a concern that if the company has a policy where staff are discouraged (bu the risk of being saved) from reporting something like this, it creates an environment where it is less likely that the next person who stumbles across something of this nature will feel able to report it, out of fear for reprisals, so it help to create a situation where crimes are more likely to go unreported.

      Personally, i don’t think you should ignore your coworker’s stated wishes but I think that you would be doing a good thing if you were able to find a way to publicise what happened, and how the company behaved, without ‘outing’ her or bringing the press to her door. whether there is any way to do that, I don’t know.

      1. Anony*

        I think many people either skimmed and missed the comment about what the coworker wanted or forgot about it in their outrage.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          What the co-worker wants is not the end of the story. If the co-worker wanted the LW to keep quiet about a crime, would that be OK? I wouldn’t think so. And some would argue that the company is committing a crime by firing a whistle-blower.

            1. Jerry Vandesic*

              That sort of determination needs to come from a judge, or at least someone well versed in the law. By keeping it all covered up, it’s hard to rigorously determine legality.

    8. Muriel Heslop*

      What a crummy situation for everyone (except the person who was arrested – he’s terrible.) I think that offering to be a reference for your former employees and for others who may be looking after is the best you can do. I’m sorry your company handled everything so badly and I hope you find a new job with a great company very soon. Good luck!

    9. Michelle*

      I just reread your submission. It didn’t say that the fired employee had already found another job. The fact that this woman might have been unemployed could have caused some of the comments.

      Also, this line: The company says she should have notified our manager so the company could investigate and interview both her and the employee before deciding whether or not to call the police . That makes it sound like the company may have decided not to call the police.

      I think your former coworker did the right thing and it seem really unfair that she lost her job for following reporting laws regarding child pornography. Your company sucks and should be ashamed of their self.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This sounds like a variation of what the Catholic church went through. Child abuse of any sort is not an internal problem. It’s an external problem because it’s against the law. “Solving it” internally is not an appropriate or ethical response at all. (And it’s also not a solution, either.)

      2. Kittymommy*

        Yes this. The directive from the company about bit being a reference coupled with the admonishment that they should have been consulted first, before the police and implying that they may not inform about the crime, definitely got people up in arms. And coming on the heels of the USA gymnastics and Hollywood scandals, ehh, there may have been more passion than necessary in a comment thread.
        That being said, some streams did take a decidedly unpleasant turn and that wasn’t cool at all.

      1. Natalie*

        You mean the comments on that post? There is a post near the bottom from TJ, and as far as all of the individual comments if I was them I wouldn’t even know where to start.

        1. fposte*

          And it’s also not the OP’s obligation. She’s been kind enough to fill in the picture for us here; she doesn’t have to do that, let alone do that in particular spaces or more than once.

          1. Mike C.*

            I don’t think there’s an obligation either.

            It just feels a little unfair to complain about people in a separate area without even addressing them directly. More importantly, there are often important details that an OP can add later on that greatly improve the understanding and usefulness of the ongoing analysis that occurs in the comment threads.

            1. fposte*

              One of the things that never stops fascinating me about this site is the way people tell their stories and how different that is from what I’d like to know. I bet if you’re doing something like unemployment hearings that must be an ongoing challenge.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              The OP did respond over there as well.( But I strongly agree with fposte that letter writers have no obligation to engage with the comments at all, or engage in the exact way people want them to.)

            3. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

              I don’t think posting in a separate thread was intended badly. I think it’s just that the situation is really personally and professionally taxing, and engaging dozens of individual commenters can seem overwhelming and exhausting when the letter is your lived reality. I think many commenters come to the site for the discussion, which I often find thoughtful, passionate, and constructive, but these situations are still distant to us. A lot of letter writers just write for the advice and don’t intend to hash out their situation with strangers. I think that’s understandable.

              1. Lissa*

                Yes, I agree! I imagine that had the OP engaged with some of the more intense comments, the response would not have been an immediate “oh, I get it now!” but rather more arguing and explaining to the OP why they were super wrong, how if the commenter was in that place, they’d do X and Y, then the OP would have to come back again to say, well no that wouldn’t have sense because of other things….it would be extremely emotionally difficult, much more so than for the people angrily dashing off a comment about a situation they only have a bit of into about. I’ve seen this exact thing play out where OPs end up going into the comments and arguing with all the commenters who see their situations differently and honestly it rarely ends productively or well.

    10. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      I think so much of it may be because from what I have seen, a lot of the commenters here are in America (although we do have a good amount of diversity!), and given our current climate around crimes of a sexual nature, it was just an addition of fuel to the fire many are feeling right now. Of course, I don’t think this would be taken lightly at any time, but maybe a lot of us read into the fact that the company was outraged that she went to the law first, and it almost seemed (given recent experiences especially here in the American media, I can’t speak for other countries), that maybe the company would have wanted to just cover it up, like has been happening here. I think it’s largely an emotional reaction, which doesn’t make it somehow less irksome for you, I know.

      If the former employee wants to leave it alone, that’s certainly fine. It also seems you’re in a different country, maybe? Here the firing would have been pretty illegal, I think, so perhaps that also didn’t come to mind during the outrage.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        I have serious doubts about if this situation would be illegal in the US. I am not a lawyer, but I read reddit’s legaladvice thread and the amount of insane sucky things companies do to their employees that is perfectly legal is amazing. So it would not surprise me if this was legal in the US and the company could come up with some BS excuse about Not to mention the many letters Alison gets where companies do horrible things yet nothing illegal.

        1. Nope*

          I think that, were it to come out that a company had a policy of requiring employees to report crimes to management first and crimes had been covered up because of it, that would be illegal.

          Unfortunately, I think in most states having the policy at all or firing employees who didn’t follow it would be questionable but not necessarily illegal. Even if it was considered wrongful termination, in an at-will state an employer would just have to wait a couple months and then make an excuse.

    11. Little Twelvetoes*

      Your former coworker is a hero and deserves to have her wishes followed. You are a good person for respecting her wishes, and I would applaud your decision to ignore the company’s rule about references.

      Makes for an interesting “Reason for leaving previous employer” – “I /coworker got fired for turning in a pedophile to the police.”

    12. Lora*

      “The first thing the police did was search all company devices at the same time they searched the user’s personal ones. ”

      This is relevant. Many police departments are not sufficiently funded or trained to investigate or prosecute computer-related crimes. Many many many. There have been high profile instances of women getting death threats and rape threats and people dying in SWAT attacks where the police just shrugged and said, “well don’t go on Facebook then” and didn’t know where to begin with it because that’s really not what they are trained for.

      Without this information, it appears very much from your initial letter that the company was trying to cover up something shady by firing your colleague.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        …and stating she should have reported it to them first so THEY (the company) could decide whether or not child pornography was serious enough to report to the police… oh and also you’re forbidden from giving her a reference! Those are not details that should be dismissed out of hand; they’re very serious, concerning behavior!

    13. essEss*

      I started to ask if this was a violation of the whistle blowers act. I did a quick google search and I was stunned to find out that employment protection for alerting law enforcement to illegal practices is only protected for federal employees (or military/contractors on federal jobs)

      1. fposte*

        That is a limitation of the actual federal Whistleblower Act, but additional protections often apply at a state level.

        (Obviously it’s a moot point since it turns out this person wasn’t in the U.S., but it’s useful to know.)

      2. Specialk9*

        I posted 18 USC 1513, which protects one from being fired for reporting a Federal crime. Not apparently applicable for the OP after all, but useful for other commenters in the US.

    14. Jules the Third*

      The comments section has not been as thoughtful as it used to be. I avoided reading those this morning because I have been so disappointed lately, and I could tell that people were going to be intense about your letter.

      Kudos to you for respecting your employee’s wishes. After the kids, she’s the person most harmed by this, and she’s the person whose wishes (I think) should be respected.

      I wasn’t entirely sure what you were asking, if that helps explain the comments. Alison answered “How can I best help my current employees”, but there’s room for interpreting that post as an ask for “how do I get justice for my fired employee” and “how do I make my employers become decent human beings”, which are probably the questions that lead to weirdness in the comments.

      If you want to poke at those last two questions:
      It wasn’t clear to me how high the issue went in your company – I would say that if this was just a level or two above you, you might have room to take the issue to the top levels and explain to them the moral, morale, PR and legal risks of the company’s reaction to this situation, and ask for them to review their policies with this in mind.

      If the top levels of the company were involved with firing your employee, or set the policy in the first place, well, your boss sucks and they’re not going to change.

      1. Annie L.*

        Hate to concur because I love this site, but yes, I believe you are right; the level of vitriol in the commentariat has increased. Not sure if it is due to the site becoming more popular and/or because the national discourse in the U.S has become so debased… ugh. Alison’s advice, thankfully, remains spot on.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I think one problem is that people forget not every situation has a pat solution. Life isn’t a TV show where the problem is wrapped up in 45 minutes, or with just the right suggestion at the right time. Things aren’t always as straightforward as all that.

          It’s tempting to what-if it to death, but that’s not always helpful, especially if there is nothing anyone can do about it. As much as we want to do something, sometimes we can’t, and we just have to say “Well that sucks,” and let it go.

          1. Tedious Cat*

            Yep. I was talking with a friend and fellow reader about my frustration with the dogs in the office question from this week: “It’s not fair to lose a perk like that while other people in your office get to keep it… but it’s also not fair to have to deal with an animal you’re terrified of at your job. Sometimes there are no good answers.”

    15. DaniCalifornia*

      I too thought comments about sicking reporters on the company was out of place. I get that what the company did was a terrible thing to your employee who reported the crime. But in many cases and in many countries it would not have been illegal. Maybe I read too much of r/legaladvice on Reddit, but if there is a doubt the first place to check is with a lawyer, not create a news story.

    16. DietCokeHead*

      Thank you for the update! I’m glad to hear that you fired employee has found a job and I want to wish you luck in finding a new job as well.

    17. Madame X*

      I’m so glad to hear that your coworker found a new position. I hope it is with a better company and overall better fit for her career wise. I thought Allison’s response covered everything you need to know in light of the information you gave her. As for the comments, I think that people were just so angry for your coworker that they wanted some type of satisfying closure in which the bad guys (a.k.a your company) were rightfully punished. However, as you said, none of that is relevant now.

    18. Delphine*

      People were outraged on the employee’s behalf and expressing that emotion. And reacting to the fact that it seemed like your company was more concerned with their inability to cover up the crime, rather than the crime itself.

  10. would you apply?*

    When job hunting say there is an advertisement for a position with a salary range of $50-60k. The position is in your field but in a niche you have no experience in. You have 15+ years experience; the advertisement wants a minimum of 3 years. You meet all other requirements except for some specific niche tasks that the company is willing to train you on. Your asking for a salary range of $60-$70k. You are willing to accept $60k, but that’s the absolute lowest you can go. This would be a great way to learn some new experiences (in a niche that is considered difficult to learn and extremely hard to break into) but it seems like there is very little wiggle room for negotiating salary wise. Would you apply?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You can apply. Unless you have something extraordinary to offer them (15+ years’ experience but not in the niche field they need isn’t going to cut it, if I’m understanding you correctly), they really have no incentive to A) hire you or B) put you at the top of their salary range.

      Most of the time—barring all candidates being horrible—hiring managers will just go with whomever they think is the best candidate. If you’re the best candidate, you can make demands. If you think you’ll be up against people who do have 3-5 years’ experience in this niche of your field, then you don’t really have a place to bargain. If you have a feeling you’ll be in the top of the candidate pool because the niche is so niche as to basically not exist, then maybe you can bargain it up.

      I would apply. $60K is in the range. They don’t have to hire you, and you don’t have to take the job.

    2. Ambpersand*

      If it was a niche that I wanted to break into and wouldn’t have many options otherwise, I definitely would. The lower salary would be a bummer, but as long as it covers your cost of living there is always room for growth with raises and bonuses as time goes on in the position.

    3. artgirl*

      I wouldn’t. The experience differential is huge, and what they would want out of an employee at the 3+ year level would probably be very different from I would want out of an employer at the 15+ year level.

    4. Janet*

      Sure — what’s the worst that can happen? You might waste some tie on an application/interview. Give it a try.

    5. MLB*

      You have nothing to lose in applying, but keep your expectations realistic especially since you require the high end of the salary range. Keep an open mind if it comes to the point of an offer and it’s lower than $60K, because there may be other perks that can compensate for the loss in salary.

    6. Natalie*

      I definitely wouldn’t apply unless you’re genuinely willing to accept $60K without asking for more. They’ve given you their range already.

      Also, consider whether getting into this specialized niche is a) something you want to do and b) worth sliding back down in position level quite a ways. The latter can be surprisingly grating, and it might be worth holding off until something a little more mid-career (5-10 years experience) comes along in this sub-specialty.

      1. Anony*

        I should also say that it depends on how prominent those niche tasks are to the job. If you will mostly be working on things that you have experience doing and the niche tasks will be 10% of the job, then go for it! If the niche tasks are 50% of the job it will be a stretch and you should only apply if you are willing to spend the time based on a slim chance they will meet your salary requirements.

    7. Thlayli*

      Apply. If you are the best candidate and the lowest you can go is 60, you will get 60. Ask for a little more than 60 I would suggest; that way you are more likely to get 60. But then you risk that they have another candidate who only ask for 60, but if you are strong they will probably cal you back and tell you it’s 60 or nothing.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I would apply, on the reasoning that you won’t know if you don’t ask.

      That advice would change if your entire job search were reach jobs below the salary you want, but as a one-off unexpected opportunity wandering by, no harm in offering it a cookie.

    9. AnotherJill*

      I think it really depends on how much you want to make the change, how desirable the new organization is, and whether or not you can feasibly take a lower salary. Sometimes the things other than salary are the most important, so it really depends on how important salary alone is for you. Personally, I moved from industry to academia with a 40% reduction in salary (which I could fortunately do as part of a two income empty-nester family) and never felt a twinge of regret.

    10. Bea*

      I would apply. This job market is slushy and they may give you a shot depending on the pool they’re drawing from.

  11. LO*

    Hey everybody!

    What questions did you ask in an interview to get a feel for the company environment and to avoid a bad environment/bad manager?

    1. Rob*

      I asked how long people had been here. Several people had been here ten plus years, with three being here 20 plus years and one co-worker who just had his 30th anniversary! This showed me, in my opinion of course, this was a pretty god place to work. I will be here in 9 years in June.

      1. Future Analyst*

        This can go both ways, though. When I hear people have been there for 7+ years, I want to know if they’re still in the same dept. and/or roles… sometimes, when people have been in a company for so long, it very much lends itself to “we’ve always done things x way,” and can be isolating for a newbie to walk into.

        1. Alternative Person*

          Yeah. I work for a company that has zero upward mobility for the semi-specialised role I’m in, none of the concurrent support/semi-supervisory roles and zero training expectations/best practice standards (this is part of the toxic mentality around my field+geographical area, not just my company). The two people who are my peers have been here since the office opened six-ish years ago and probably will be there long after I’ve gone (I’ve been there nearly two and am on track to be out by the three year mark). I don’t entirely fault them for this, one of the things the company did get (mostly) right was the pay/hours system, it’s better than pretty much everything else at this level.

          Unfortunately, the rot of minimal targets and minimal incentive to be better/move on has well and truly set in, not just with my full time peers but the part-timers too (even if its not reflected in their pay). One of the full timers stopped talking to me after two months, the other after about six and they have by some degrees set other staff against me (I haven’t been totally innocent in this) and it’s been pretty isolating. I asked for a transfer, even partial which looks like a semi-starter come the new financial year.

          I’ve been fortunate in that I have a manager who is supportive of me and my ways (thought he won’t let me train staff for fear of upsetting them), and an exit strategy . Whilst I can’t say I would have done much differently, this job allowed me to save up for the further training I’m doing faster than 99% of other same-level positions, I do wish that I hadn’t/don’t need to make the calculation of B.S vs. money vs. long term plans both when I took the job and when a co-worker says something ridiculous.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        That can be a good indicator. Sometimes it can be a bad one, though. I had one place brag to me about how many long-time employees were there. It wasn’t a horrible place to work, but the tiny bit of toxicity there was definitely due to the long-time employees. There were a handful of people who’d been there 10-20 years, and they were all in upper management and were never going to leave. Lots of bright new employees with fresh ideas would leave within 1-3 years, because they saw they’d never be decision-makers or have a chance to move up.

        1. zora*

          Yes, one place had too many people who had been there for too long, most of the senior staff had started at the bottom and worked their way up, which can be great. But most of them had literally never worked in another organization in their entire adult lives, so they had no perspective and it was really hard to suggest changes or even just to point out when something was outdated.

          This is still a good question, but it’s good to dig for a little more information about whether people get promoted, how good they are at leadership development, things like that.

        2. K.*

          Yep. There’s a woman where I used to work who has been there for literally decades and can’t keep a person under her for longer than a year. The average tenure is around six months. She does things objectively, quantifiably wrong, people come in and point this out, she rebuffs them, and they leave. She’s very senior and close to retirement, so I think they’re just waiting for her to retire.

      3. Anonomatic Yo Yo*

        Im in a place right now with what seems like a barbell shaped distribution – a ton of long-tenure (20+ yrs) senior management at the top, a ton of grads in the grad program at the bottom, and the people in the middle all seem to change over in 1-3 years. The graduate program is really strong and as such the grads are highly networked…. with each other. And since they can’t recruit enough people externally they build up the grads… by giving more experienced workers the shaft and giving their work to graduates to keep them engaged. Let me tell you, its bizarre, it sucks, and I am looking to get out of here ASAP.

        I would amend the question to ask about how long people tend to stay and move around – to indicate that it is possible to move/be promoted internally, a lot of people take them up on that, etc. Of course there will always be long term types who have a lot of the knowledge – the problem is when the balance is tilted too far that direction and poor work habits and thought are allowed to fester.

      4. Specialk9*

        I ask some really direct questions. I learned a lesson from a story about someone who was giving a security clearance background reference, and the investigators didn’t ask the right questions to get ‘he was a total unstable and vindictive loon who above all you shouldn’t give a clearance to’, so the guy got the clearance. So now I try to guess what question would get me to give a hint about an office full of bees, if I were the one doing the interview. (Because many of us have been miserable and looking, but don’t have a job yet to jump to, and don’t want to make waves.)

        I’ve had suprising luck with “Would you recommend this job to your favorite person, if they were qualified for it?”

    2. ANon*

      -How would you describe the culture here? Do you have any examples?
      -What’s your favorite/least favorite part of working here?
      -Would you say the department is more proactive or reactive? (YMMV for this one – it was pretty telling for me in HR)

      1. Linzava*

        This, I always ask about the company culture now. A lot of red flags can pop up during this question.

        I also ask what their management style is.

      2. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        Oh the proactive vs reactive is the most critical question for me. I’m not in HR, but it’s huge for me. I worked in a 100% reactive department once and it was my personal hell.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      No question is foolproof, because some people are just smooth talkers and really good at making things up. That said, asking how a person finds the balance between not knowing what’s going on and being a micromanager can give you good insight into the culture of the place. Even asking what they like best about the company right now and what they would like to see changed in the future can give you a sense of what their priorities and concerns are.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      And, of course, just be in the lookout for red flags like “We’re a family” or “We like to work hard / play hard.”

      1. Leela*

        Oh man. “We like to work hard/play hard” = We do not respect your personal life or time at all but hey! We have a Foosball table and sometimes drink on the job. Isn’t that fun?

        1. Bostonian*

          I see that criticism a lot, but I work at a place with a “work hard/play hard” motto. If I had seen that as a red flag, I would have missed out on a job that’s a great fit, offers WFH, 4 weeks of vacation (that I take guilt-free every year), great pay, bonuses, stock awards, commuter reimbursement, supportive boss and coworkers… I could keep going, here.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            “A red flag” doesn’t mean “Under no circumstances should you ever work here.” It just means you should be wary about taking that job. I mean, I could walk up to you and say “I hate you,” and then not rob you or do anything mean to you and, in fact, be a nice person. That doesn’t mean “I hate you” is not an indicator that you should be on guard with that person. Same deal with “work hard/play hard.” It’s often an indicator that there’s no respect for work/life balance (all work, no life). You managed to find an exception. There will always be exceptions.

    5. Mbarr*

      “If you could change one thing about the company, what would it be?” This was a great question that got me some interesting responses from my interviewers.

    6. The Ginger Ginger*

      When I’m talking to the hiring manager I always ask what kind of work style do you work well with? What work style would struggle? How do your direct reports know when they’re performing well? How do they know when/what they need to improve? Do you have regularly scheduled one on ones with your direct reports? What would your current employees say is your management style? What type of person will mesh well with your existing team? What kind of person will struggle?

      This will hopefully tell you about both the manager’s management philosophy and the team’s dynamics, and it may shed some light on larger culture too.

    7. Science!*

      Twice I got red flags from what I thought were innocuous questions during the interview:
      1. the first was for a post-doc position in a university. I asked about work-life balance and got a long story about how the PI and his wife got divorced because he wanted her to go back to work after the birth of their children before she was ready to. But the other post-docs assured me that he was better now. But it was a red flag on top of other uncertainty.

      2. The second was for a post-doc in a government lab. My speciality was a bit different from the specialities of the other people in the lab (which is why I thought I was being interviewed) and I asked how the PI could see my skills fitting in with the current projects or if I would be starting a new project from scratch. He hemmed and hawed and admitted that he had really thought how I would fit in at all. That was a red flag that combined with his behavior when he called to make the offer made me say no (I already had another offer to consider so I was not very worried).

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        Ohhh I am glad you posted #2 because it is fantastic wording for a question I’ve been trying to figure out how to ask. Many thanks!

      2. Anonomatic Yo Yo*

        This is amazing phrasing – will absolutely use this one next time because I have been caught more than once in a “well we had to fill the seat or use it and kinda get busy for 5 weeks out of the year so…” situations.

    8. Uncertain*

      I try to get a sense of how a company deals with a situation where everything is going wrong: how do they resolve these kinds of situations, who takes charge, how do they manage a crisis “in progress”, what do they do once the situation has been resolved.

      They’ll probably lie, but the way in which they lie can be quite revealing.

    9. Irene Adler*

      Ask the person to whom you would report: How do you support your reports? A good answer includes things like making sure directions are understood, tools and what not are always made available or procured as needed, time is made for 1:1 interaction betw. you and boss, feedback is given, etc. A bad answer: “No one but I can yell at you. Just kidding!”

      Ask how folks spend their lunch time. If they spend it at their desks- problem. IF folks know about the local eateries, or they tell you about the lunch spaces they provide, that’s a good sign.

      Ask what topics the upper management talks about to the employees. Request a story to illustrate how they interact with the employees.

      1. zora*

        Oh yeah, I think that’s how I worded it, too! ( I wrote something similar below)

        “How do you support your reports?” is really good, because I am looking for a manager who sees it as a two way street, and have had trouble with managers in the past. I think the way they answer this can give you a lot of info.

      2. Displaced Midwesterner*

        I love all of these. I never would have thought to ask about lunch before my current job, but people’s lunch habits can be such a huge part of an organization’s culture. We don’t have a lunchroom at my job, and most of my colleagues are really interested in food/the local dining scene, so lots of people go out for lunch or order takeout every day. I couldn’t sustain it financially, so I started bowing out more often and either eating in my office/going for a walk during that time, and I feel like my relationships with my coworkers have suffered a bit for it.

    10. Koko*

      I ask anyone who interviews me when their last long vacation was and where they went. I try to ask it during the small talk part of the interview if there is one, so it seems casual, but my ulterior motive is determining whether employees are actually permitted to use their PTO easily or if there’s de facto no PTO because you’re not allowed or it’s culturally unacceptable to use it.

      I also work for nonprofits so I ask a few questions in the Q&A portion to suss out how involved the BOD is. I’ve worked for places with both a negligent board and a board who was way too involved in day-to-day operations so I try to steer clear of both.

    11. zora*

      “Why is the position open?” Or some other question to find out what happened to the last person in the job. This can reveal a red flag. Once I asked this and the two interviewers (Hiring Manager and Grand-Manager) exchanged a look and said really weird vague things about “It’s our policy not to talk about former employees.” Yup, red flag!! Didn’t take that job! And in another job, this might have helped me stay out of the bad situation, because it turned out they hadn’t told the person I was replacing that she was fired yet! That was a clusterfork to walk into.

      “How long do people usually stay here?”

      “What are the procedures for dealing with difficult volunteers?” or whatever you deal with in your job, clients, customers, vendors, etc. This can give you some indication of whether management will have your back in difficult situations.

      “What does a typical day look like?/What hours does this position typically work?” That helped me find out that a very low-paying job had insane hours expectations.

      “How do you handle communicating mistakes as a manager?” I can’t remember exactly how I phrased this, but when interviewing as an assistant to my current boss, this led to a really good conversation about handling mistakes and errors.

    12. MMM*

      I ask about how feedback from managers is handled, both on a formal/informal basis. Ideally I’d like to hear that while they have some sort of formal review process (annually, semi-annual etc), there is also open communication and ongoing feedback, so that nothing is a surprise at review time.

      This stems from my last job, where my boss would blindside me at my performance review with things I had been apparently been doing wrong for months, but he didn’t mention until reviews (I’m talking small, fixable things that I would have changed immediately if he had pointed them out)

    13. NutmeG*

      1. What are the best things about working here?
      (A nice opener to “Have you any questions for me?” )

      2. What are the worst things about working here?
      (Obvious 2nd half)

      Then follow up with the manager by asking:
      **3. And what are you doing about them?**

      It gives you an idea of not only what the role is like now, but the direction it is headed. It also tells you if your manager is willing and able to make a difference to his reports’ daily experience, or a conduit telling you this is how things are and don’t expect change.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      At my interview on Tuesday, with a company I had serious misgivings about, the HR person said the manager of the position’s department was a really good manager. I asked what made him a good manager. She said he was very laid back, very much helpful to his employees, and really knew his stuff. That left me with a much more positive impression.

      I have some questions for him, if I get a second interview.

    15. David*

      When I was interviewing for my current job, I asked how they handle it when an employee chooses to leave the company. I wanted to get an answer showing that they have a procedure for transitioning people out that isn’t unreasonably hard on the employee leaving.

      Any time I sign up for something, I always think about how easy (or not) it’s going to be to get out of it if I decide I don’t like it. I came up with this rule for things like email accounts, but it seems to makes sense for jobs too.

  12. Kathleen*

    Would you advise someone against wearing makeup to a job interview if that someone was a man?

    It’s nothing outlandish, just basic foundation / eyeliner / lip gloss type stuff – the kind that, had it being on a woman, most people wouldn’t even notice.

    He’s never had issues with it before, but now he’s moving from what would be considered a very liberal industry into a more conservative one (say, theatre to insurance).

    It’s not a question of gender identity or sexuality (he very much identifies as cis and heterosexual), so I don’t think it’d be a ‘protected’ class. His reasoning is that well, if it was the sort of office that wouldn’t accept this then he wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

    That sounds reasonable enough but if you were the interviewer would you consider it something too ‘out of the norm’ for interviews that you’d question his judgement? (E.g. some offices have very casual dress codes but candidates are still expected to be in suits etc.)

    1. Just Peachy*

      In a conservative workplace, I would say in may be considered “out of the norm”, even though you say it’s not (rightly or wrongly).

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      If he wants to wear it every day and it’s important to him, then he has to wear it to the interview. He’s right – if I doesn’t want to work in a place that won’t accept that he wears makeup he won’t feel comfortable working there. When I worked retail I had several male colleagues who wore makeup and I have a few male friends that do. No men that I have taught with wore makeup to school but did on their private time.

      On reflection, I know a lot of men that wear makeup. Good for your friend for doing what feels best for himself.

    3. Future Analyst*

      I think it depends on how selective he can be right now. If he’s okay effectively screening out places that would hold that against him, he should wear it to the interview. If he’s desperate to get a new job, he shouldn’t wear it for the interview, and try to assess if they would hold it against him if he showed with makeup on on the first day.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would be concerned that interviewers would be so taken aback, they’d have trouble remembering him for anything else. I don’t condone that, and I don’t think it’s right, but I can see it happening. For that reason I’d be cautious; maybe tone things down, leave out the lip gloss. Especially at a conservative company and especially in the first interview. I would be less surprised at a woman without makeup than a man wearing foundation, you know? It’s one of those situations where I wouldn’t want that surprise to cloud everything else.

      (This reminds me of that scene in Rock Star. “Is that… eyeliner?” “Um, I’m in a BAND?” “Oh, ok.”)

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Ideally, the foundation shouldn’t even be noticeable other than “wow, what a good complexion.” If you’d take that much notice, then it’s less about the makeup per se than it is about the bad hand with it.

    5. Eye of Sauron*

      Clarification question… does he normally wear makeup or is this a test to gauge reaction?

      I guess if he normally wears makeup and it’s a deal breaker, he might as well go ahead and wear it for the interview knowing that it may disqualify him. But if he doesn’t normally wear it every day then he should attempt to gauge the culture differently during the interview process.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      I’m in a conservative “manly” type industry, and I don’t think that would fly here. We had a skinny pants/bowtie guy here for a while, and people commented on his clothes a lot. Also just interviewed a guy with shoulder length hair who sparked some post-interview comments from my co-interviewers. Most of the colleagues I deal with are at client facing at least some of the time, and I think that would be the problem. Even if he would take it off for client meetings, I can imagine people saying, “Is he going to wear makeup to the site?”

      1. Curious Cat*

        It never fails to baffle me how if a woman decided not to wear makeup, often people would have that opposite reaction. “What do you mean she isn’t going to wear makeup to meet with clients?” I understand the culture we live in, but I am shaking my head at the world.

        1. DDJ*

          I was actually thinking about this exact topic this morning. I may have to start job hunting soon, and I don’t wear makeup at work. Ever. It’s not my thing. I wear it a handful of times a year for special occasions (weddings, anniversary dinners, fancy parties).

          But if I’m going to interviews, I’m wondering if I’m going to come off looking unprofessional if I don’t wear makeup. But I also want to work at a place that doesn’t expect me to wear it every day!

          So I’d say he should wear it if it’s something he does all the time to make sure the workplace is a good fit for him, if he has the option of being choosy.

          1. TheCupcakeCounter*

            My friend is anti-makeup and also works in finance (at a somewhat high level). She wears mascara and a lightly tinted gloss to interviews – she is comfortable with it and just gives her a slightly more polished look for the interview. Plus no one really notices a significant difference when she goes back to her normal.

    7. Ambpersand*

      This reminds me of something I came across several years ago while working at a community college (in the bible belt, no less)… We were hiring for a full time Philosophy professor, and this guy came in for an interview that had long, thick black hair, tied back into a pony tail, full kohl black eyeliner, and a white linen suit and pale pink shirt. Think Khal Drogo meets Miami Vice. He was charismatic and actually overqualified, but immediately after his interview we had a serious discussion about how he would be perceived in our admittedly conservative culture. It was a real fear that by hiring him, he wouldn’t be accepted (or worse, could be mocked). We personally didn’t mind the makeup or the “look,” but we couldn’t speak for the rest of the employees or students. We all kind of held our breath during the first few weeks after he was hired. He ended up getting hired and became one of the most beloved professors we had, but his look was a real factor that almost cost him the position.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        OMG. Your description of “Khal Drogo meets Miami Vice” is painting quite a vivid picture in my head. LOL!!

          1. Ambpersand*

            I’m not going to lie- he was AMAZING. And I’m not lying about the Khal Drogo meets Miami Vice vibe… He had a really eclectic selection of suits. Some three piece and pin striped, some wool. It was insane. His love for GOT went so far that he named his daughter Khaleesi. He was really intelligent though and managed to engage even the most uninterested students. His exams were structured as open discussions, and he’d often order pizza for the class and take his lectures outside. Although he was only with us for a few years, his classes were always the first to max out on enrollment. He was definitely one of those professors that changed some students lives. It was incredible to watch, eyeliner and all.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I had a professor who didn’t dress quite as extremely but he was a dead ringer for Col. Sanders (the KFC mascot), outfit and all. He was a senior prof by then and one of my favorites. Glad it worked out for your guy too.

      3. Anion*

        It’s awesome that people were cooler and more easy-going than you guys gave them credit for. What a great thing to find out! He sounds like a fantastic teacher & person.

    8. selina kyle*

      Depends where you are/what you’re doing (sadly enough – I wish it didn’t matter! It shouldn’t matter!) but I do also think that if it’s not super noticeable go ahead? Maybe skip eyeliner but keep the rest if it makes him more comfortable.

    9. C.*

      I think there are arguments for an against, but for some reason the lip gloss stood out to me, if only because I probably wouldn’t wear it to an interview as a woman. I think because it was such a hallmark of my middle school years that it strikes me as a little immature, or as going-out wear. I think a nude lip or a your-lips-but-better color would be the way to go if he chooses to wear makeup to the interview.

    10. Bagpuss*

      I think that it depends a lot on how important it is to him to get the job, and how important it is to be able to wear makeup regularly if/when he gets it.
      Does he have any friends or acquaintances in the company he is applying to, who he could ask?
      I personally wouldn’t care (and I work in a fairly conservative office) but I can think of colleagues who would notice and would be less likely to proceed to an offer.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Also – it depends a lot how obvious it is. Eyeliner is hard to miss but I am not sure how noticeable foundation and lip gloss are if you aren’t expecting them – maybe he can focus on using neutral colours so it’s a very natural look?

        1. Thlayli*

          When I hear “lip gloss” I assume OP is talking about actual gloss – ie his lips look shiny and glistening. That’s pretty out there for an interview, even for a woman! I wouldn’t wear lip gloss to an interview.

          Some light foundation that’s done well so it just looks like he has really good skin wouldn’t even be noticeable, but lip gloss is kind of “making a statement” type makeup. Which of nothing else will distract from what he is actually saying with his shiny glistening lips!

          1. Makeup Addict*

            Wow, this is so weird to me. Lip gloss is so everyday and normal, I’d be surprised if anyone noticed that someone was wearing it at all. It’s not like all lip gloss is bright pink and vinyl gloss effect, most are quite subtle and just add a subtle shine. Lip gloss is the furthest thing from statement makeup to me!

            1. Thlayli*

              It sounds like we mean different things when we are talking about lip gloss. What I call lip gloss would definitely be noticeable.

              OP if by “lip gloss” you mean something that someone wouldn’t even notice he was wearing, then I don’t see any harm in wearing it.

              1. Petals*

                Lip gloss comes in a lot of different formulations. If you are using that term to mean the 80s style vinyl lip look, that’s a very limited and out of date understanding of what it is. I wear gloss to work all the time, it’s entirely professional looking and no one would ever bat an eyelash at it.

          2. Anxa*

            I don’t know. I’m wearing glosses right now, but they don’t really look glossy at all. I can’t wear matte lipsticks, which seem to be dominating the market right now. I have a bit of dry mouth and my lips are always a little dry, even in summer. When I drink red wine I get that dark line in the middle of my lip (horizontally).

            A “nude” lip is much more intense and obvious on me.

    11. LKW*

      If he wants to wear makeup every day then yes, he should wear makeup to the interview. But he should understand that if he’s in a client facing position, insurance is very conservative, and he will likely have difficulty finding a position. There are companies that require women to dress in skirts. Companies that expect suits every day or have strict policies on visible tattoos. What may be acceptable in one department (IT – jeans and polos), would NEVER fly in another (Litigation – suits and ties). So it’s really how much he wants to push on this.

      I would say that if his makeup is very elaborate – it will likely be very confusing to the hiring team. If he can go for a “natural” look – he might have some success – but yeah, he’s going to have some challenges.

      1. Anony*

        I agree. If being able to wear noticeable makeup is a dealbreaker for him, it is better to find out now rather than later if that is going to be ok.

    12. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Personally, if I noticed, I’d consider it a plus for him, but I’m also staunchly progressive and queer as heck, so take my opinion as you will.

      It sounds to me like you’re looking for ammunition to dissuade him from doing this, and to be honest, I don’t think you should. He’s already told you that he’s using it as a filtering device. That’s his call to make.

    13. Mari*

      There is actually some advice that men should wear subtle makeup to look younger, more awake, fresher, etc…from reputable sources. Is his foundation/eyeliner/lip gloss actually that noticeable (no-makeup makeup look)? If so, I wouldn’t worry about it at all. And, if it is and it’s something he wears regularly, I would ABSOLUTELY wear it for an interview to self-select out the people who would have a problem with it.

    14. Snow Day Lady*

      I see no problem with some foundation and mascara to bring out his natural features. It’s less likely that this sort of thing will barely be noticed. I’d lay off the eyeliner and lip gloss unless both are used sparingly, but I would advise women of this too. For the most part, eyeliner and lip gloss are best saved for the club.

      1. Samata*

        Honestly, my makeup advice for a man would be the same as for a woman.

        Very natural, if applied correctly shouldn’t be noticed anyways. Maybe some blush and nude or toned down lip (as someone else stated) but not glossy, light mascara & possible eyeliner but not heavy. Maybe some concealer or brightening serum around the eyes. Anything to enhance, but not distract, from the interview itself.

        1. Snow Day Lady*

          Yes, exactly! There was a typo in my comment, what I meant to say was “it’s less likely that this sort of thing will be noticed”. I completely agree with you. Keep it natural and light so that the interviewer thinks “wow he has nice skin” or “he looks like he is glowing”. It would be exactly the same for a woman.

        2. Betsy*

          But a man wearing make-up would be noticed. One of the main reasons we don’t notice make-up on women is that we’ve naturalised it so much that we even think they look wrong or ‘tired’ if they don’t. As one of the few women who doesn’t wear make-up, I get asked if I’m tired all the time, even when I’m really not.

          1. Lissa*

            trueeee. I’m also a woman who doesn’t wear makeup – it’s annoying how many guys will say things like “Oh I don’t like women who wear makeup”, because I’m well aware they sure do, they just consider those women “naturally attractive” and aren’t really thinking of it. A lot of guys think a woman is only wearing makeup if it’s like, ruby red lips and dark liner. But the number of women I know (most) who just can’t imagine the idea of going to work etc. without makeup, compared to how uncommon it is for guys to wear it ever, shows how much of a gendered issue this is. I hear women say things like “well, I personally *have* to wear makeup because of X feature” but like, if they were dudes they wouldn’t feel that they *have* to no matter what their features were. (99.9% of the time caveat for people who love exceptions!)

        3. SC Anonibrarian*

          I’m going to disagree strenuously here. Most men (correction, most herero cis men) will probably not realize if a man is wearing very high quality and well applied ‘natural’ makeup. On the other hand, most women, regardless of their own makeup preferences, will ABSOLUTELY know. A decent subset of gay men will ABSOLUTELY know. It’s not actually a subtle ‘invisible’ makeup effect, it’s just internalized in our culture to be not noticed on women’s faces. If he is otherwise masculine, especially if he has facial hair, it will be quite obvious that makeup is involved, especially if foundation or eyebrow color is involved. I dearly wish for more men to wear makeup, so I selfishly hope he does stick to it and weeds out the fusty old fashioned people. But I really disagree with the notion that people simply won’t notice. At best, if he’s very good at it, some men may not notice.

    15. NaoNao*

      What an interesting question! This is one I haven’t seen and it really made me think!
      I frequent Ulta and I confess I do a double take when I see a man in “the full beat” makeup look but I bet tons of men are wearing a dash of powder or a brush of concealer and I don’t even notice!

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      His reasoning is that well, if it was the sort of office that wouldn’t accept this then he wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

      Sounds like he is already aware of the norms of the two industries, and willing to actively narrow his search to the hipper corners of insurance.

      If he asked you, sure, be honest about your opinion. I could see someone naively thinking “splinter” when people in the industry would be “Nope, two-by-four.” But if you’re wondering if he just hasn’t noticed that men don’t tend to wear lip gloss in most industries, that’s probably not a problem.

    17. Jules the Third*

      My guess is that in a conservative field, 90% of interviewers for customer facing jobs would find this ‘too out of the norm’. For internal jobs, maybe 50%. The remaining 10% would be people in large liberal urban centers (NYC, SF, London).

      A lot boils down to how much does your friend want a job in a conservative industry? How much is he willing to compromise for it? Would he be ok with just foundation and subtle eye-liner? I find lip gloss to be most noticeable; an interviewer might not notice natural foundation or subtle eyeliner, especially if there’s glasses involved.

      But yeah, if makeup is a deal breaker for him, then he may want to find similar job roles in less conservative industries.

    18. NacSacJack*

      This is very thought provoking. I’m very curious to see what cis gender men look like with make-up. I have one acquaintance who wears make-up when he’s out and about and it is noticable. (PS I’m not talking men in drag or theatre)

      1. SC Anonibrarian*

        It’s a startling thing because it is just as ‘natural’ as the ‘natural face’ makeup styles women often wear, but because we’re culturally accustomed to seeing women walking around looking airbrushed and ‘polished’ but very rarely to see men looking that way, it comes as a shock. When you get used to it, it looks perfectly reasonable, but there’s still an underlying ‘ooooh that’s a taboo!’ feeling when you see ‘normal’ men looking facially polished and finished like that. It makes most people think that it’s overdone or fake or trying too hard in a way that is rarely attached to women’s equivalent makeup looks, and it’s entirely because makeup is currently coded as a female-specific (with minor exceptions) type of visual improvement. Culture is so weird.

    19. Emilitron*

      It’s hard to answer, because different interviewers might respond differently. While I can respect his reasoning of “if it was the sort of office that wouldn’t accept this then he wouldn’t want to work there anyway”, there could also be concern from the interviewer that this is the tip of the iceberg – if he’d show up to an interview in eyeliner and lip gloss, he must be testing the waters for coming to work daily with glitter eyeshadow. I think that’s the line of reasoning for “we wear jeans to work but expect better at an interview”.
      To continue that analogy though, dress code often is meeting halfway: normal is jeans, conservative-interview is a suit, compromise interview is a sport coat. So he would reject anyplace that would reject him for not wearing a suit, but he might compromise for the interview by wearing a sport coat even if he wouldn’t do that every day. Or to put it on-topic: eyeliner OR lip gloss, not both.

    20. LilySparrow*

      If he wants to self-select out of companies that wouldn’t accept him in makeup, this is a great way to do it.
      The impact on his opportunities is going to really depend on where he’s located.
      I’m in a very conservative part of the US, and I can’t think of any public-facing professional job where this would be accepted.
      And in environments where a lot of women don’t wear makeup all the time, it’s really noticeable. Even “natural, neutral” makeup sticks out a mile.

  13. I need a new job*

    I applied to a job last December without a cover letter (still learning) and the job is still posted, can I reapply with a cover letter. My skill set doesn’t necessarily show itself from my resume but I can make a strong case in my cover letter. Is it worth the risk? I’m really interested in the job but I don’t want to be “that guy”.

    1. Future Analyst*

      Eh, I wouldn’t. It’s too recent, and unless your cover letter really, truly would make you a more viable candidate, it’s not worth it.

    2. SubwayFan*

      Is it possible for you to add a post-script that says something like “I realized that I accidentally left out my cover letter when I applied for this post in December–apologies for the double application”? I’m thinking of that time I applied for a municipal job and had assumed I’d be uploading my cover letter and resume into the system as two separate files, but there was no place at any point to upload the separate cover letter. When I realized my application got submitted without a cover letter, I created a new file with resume and cover letter together and reapplied with a note like that.

      Note: I didn’t even get a phone screen for this job, but it was also a stretch job for me and ended up going to someone very politically connected, so I don’t think it was my double application that hurt me there.

      1. Fabulous*

        I would probably try something like this, but only if your application was submitted via email. Reply to the email with “I just realized that I left my cover letter off my initial application in December. Hopefully it’s not too late to add it! Please see attached for my cover letter (and resume again) to apply for this position.”

    3. PieInTheBlueSky*

      The ATS that we use at my workplace allows a candidate to go back and update an existing application. You could see if it’s possible to add in your cover letter to your existing application. There’s no guarantee that they’ll look at it, of course.

      At my job (higher education), we have hiring committees that decide on the candidates. If the committee hasn’t met yet to select the finalists, then at my workplace you would still be considered even if you added your cover letter at this time.

    4. T3k*

      I probably got one of those “an exception, not the rule” scenarios, but I did exactly this and ended up landing a job within my dream industry. The kicker was 1) the site had no way to upload a cover letter (it was literally as simple as “click to apply”, upload resume, and that was it) 2) it was an entry level position and 3) it wasn’t simply a re-posting but a new position (basically they’d hired someone from the last posting, took down posting, then a few months later posted the job up again for another position of the same name). So my advice is, unless you know it’s actually for another position and not simply the same one you applied for, I wouldn’t do it.

  14. hermit crab*

    Continuing my “help me figure out what to do next” question from a couple of weeks ago… :)

    Another thing I’m considering is taking a year to do an AmeriCorps program. Can anyone share their experiences doing something like this, particularly if you did it at a more “mid-career” age rather than in your early 20s?

    I’m lucky to be in a financial place where I could swing this. I have some skills that could be useful to contribute and there are placements in the city where I live. I know many AmeriCorps programs have no upper age limit, but is this a thing people actually do when they are in their 30s? Will it look strange to future employers?

    1. Action Heroine*

      I can’t say whether or not it will look strange to future employers, but I am a 30-something woman who just completed an AmeriCorps position. I decided to do it as a part-time job while in grad school full time (that being said, jury is also still out on how future employers will look at a 30-something deciding to take a break from a full-time career to go back to school, but I really hated what I was doing immediately prior and had to get out of there). In my case, doing it as an add-on to grad school will probably help frame it as part of my larger goal of redirecting my career path toward something more public-service oriented.

      My placement was at a food bank and I was tasked with delivering a program that brought fresh produce to underserved populations. I very much enjoyed what I did. Importantly (as related to clarifying career goals), I found that it wasn’t talking to people I didn’t like, it was talking to high-maintenance super wealthy people who expected to be catered to and with whom it was impossible to set limits without jeopardizing my job that I didn’t like. Beyond that, I found it really rewarding to be doing something that helped my community. Getting out from behind a desk for the first time in my professional life was also a nice change. While most of my AmeriCorps colleagues were recent college graduates (and one senior in college), there was another woman there of nontraditional age (50s); she had just left her job as an executive director of a social services nonprofit and wanted to do something a little more low pressure. This may have been more a function of having an extremely young, inexperienced program director, but my major frustration was the lack of management — we were kind of just left to our own devices.

      Hope that’s at least a somewhat helpful perspective.

      1. Jules the Third*

        Employers are totally ok with 30-somethings going back to school for advanced degrees. As a matter of fact, advanced degrees are one of the top recommendations for people who want to switch industries, as a way to get the equivalent of experience quickly.
        – MBA at 32, switching from IT to Supply Chain.

    2. Llama Wrangler*

      As someone who did an Americorps-type position at an older age than the rest of the cohort (but still relatively early in my career), it worked out really well for me, in that I got a full-time job out of it, got some useful training (some non-useful training), and a strong network. However, this was at peak Great Recession and basically became a way to jump start my career in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without basically volunteering for a year.

      I’m not clear whether you’re doing this as a career change or a gap year. If it’s the former, I don’t think employers will look at it strangely. I’d focus on what your day-to-day work will be (do they have a clear idea for what you’re doing and is it meaningful, or will you just be picking up loose ends or filling in on projects as needed), your supervision/support, and what paths there are to full-time jobs in that company. If it’s the latter, I’m not sure how future employers would look at it.

      1. hermit crab*

        Thank you (and Action Heroine) – your perspectives are both really helpful!

        Re: your second paragraph, I’m not entirely sure yet either. “Redirecting my career path toward something more public-service oriented” (as Action Heroine puts it above) is definitely part of my motivation, I’m just not sure yet what form I want that to take.

    3. August*

      Hi! I’m a recent grad who immediately transitioned into an AmeriCorps VISTA position, but I know a bunch of VISTAs ranging in age from 27 to 70, so, no, it’s not odd at all to become a VISTA when you’re a bit older! The VISTAs I’ve spoken to who have done VISTA mid-career and then went on to other full-time jobs got generally good reception from employers. The key seems to be 1) explaining what VISTA is (i.e. that it’s a one-year gig, that it’s national service, etc.) and 2) explaining why you went for VISTA (i.e. love of service, gaining important career skills, etc.). So, when you’re applying for VISTA positions, consider how what you’d learn in that position would be relevant to jobs you’d apply to in the future.

      Also (and feel free to take this with a grain of salt, since I’m new to working full-time and experiences tend to differ) I’d advise being reeeaaally thorough in vetting supervisors/organizations during the interview process. In my region, there are several organizations that are well-known for getting a ton of VISTAs (meaning they’re masters at reworking their applications so they can get new rounds of VISTAs past the three-year terms) and for exploiting their VISTAs. Some organizations can draw up very pretty job descriptions, but, in actually, they’re having you do secretarial work, or they end up keeping you for constant 15-hour days to help with events that aren’t within your VAD.

      Didn’t mean to have such an ominous last paragraph, but, so long as you find a position that works for you, VISTA is an amazing, challenging experience!

      1. Spcepickle*

        I was a peace corps volunteer, and they jump all over mid career people. Turns out fresh college breeds don’t know nearly as much as they think. I say go for it!

    4. Joanne*

      This isn’t my experience but a friend of a friend I knew in high school so take it with a grain of salt. The AmeriCorps program she was in paid very little, and was very much a “work hard, little pay” environment since it was focusing on the skills being brought in, and I believe you don’t get to choose the area where you want to go.
      You may want to look into the Peace Corps instead – they’ll let you choose up to three places where you want to go and they’re always looking. You do need to go through several rounds of interviews (as I recall, you need to go through a phone interview and then possibly an in-person one) but they’ll take anyone up to age 60 (unless the country has a requirement – no one over the age of 50 can apply due to these restrictions) which will be made available on their website.
      I don’t think doing AmeriCorps will look strange to future employers, but a lot of the people in the AmeriCorps/Peace Corps programs tend to be younger and recent college grads.

      1. Natalie*

        You definitely get to chose where you are for Americorps! Americorps positions are essentially just jobs at various non-profits, but they are paid through an Americorps stipend. You apply and interview for them same as any other job.

        (They are all poorly paid as far as I recall, since they are full time jobs but the stipend is low. I don’t know if the organizations are allowed to pay you more than the stipend but I doubt many (any) or them do since they’re generally non profits without extra funding.)

        1. Grits McGee*

          The VISTA program in particular is designed to be poorly paid and is tied to poverty levels in the area the position is located in. (Even to the point that you weren’t allowed to do any other paying work.) When I was a VISTA we were told it was so that we could understand the challenges facing members of the community.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        A couple of corrections:

        AmeriCorps is an umbrella program that oversees placements at thousands of organizations. The work and culture will depend on the organization with each volunteer works.

        You definitely do get to choose where you are placed. You apply directly to the placements you are interested in (or, sometimes, through an intermediary organization). It’s not like Teach for America, for example, where you apply to the program itself and wait to find out to what region you’ve been assigned.

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      What is your goal in doing AmeriCorps? Is it primarily to be of service, or to get experience in a field or role that’s new to you, or to make a change in your career?

      In my experience as a manager of VISTAs, the experience can be really effective in making inroads into the nonprofit sector in your region. Excellent VISTAs’ reputations go beyond their organizations — good managers definitely brag about their VISTAs and will work to help them find a permanent role elsewhere if their organization can’t hire them at the end of their service. The program helps you develop a powerful network (especially if your VISTA position is through an intermediary organization like the New Sector Alliance or Promise Fellows).

      1. hermit crab*

        All of the above, I think? I’m currently in consulting and would definitely like to transition into non-profits or government, but maybe not in the exact area where I’d want to spend a year volunteering. So what you say about network-building sounds awesome.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          VISTA managers will be thrilled to have someone with some professional experience — and they will be concerned that you may not stay the whole year.

          VISTAs leaving before their term of service is up is a big problem; it’s very difficult to replace a VISTA member mid-year, because of the required training that happens at the beginning of the year, which means that if a VISTA leaves mid-year the organization is often stuck without anyone in that role.

          That can happen with anyone, of course, but as a manager I’d be more worried about it with a mid-career participant who is more likely to have other options. So I’d encourage you to be prepared to talk about that directly (your commitment, what you’re hoping to get out of the experience, your understanding of how difficult it is when someone leaves before their term is up, etc.).

          I’d also encourage you to really investigate whether you can make it work financially. The pay is super, super low — below minimum wage, in some cases. That’s the main reason that folks leave before their term is up — they weren’t able to survive on the AmeriCorps stipend.

          1. hermit crab*

            Oh, that’s interesting – thanks. I’m pretty well-placed to do this financially (supportive spouse with a well-paid & secure job) but the “more experience” = “more options” thing wouldn’t have occurred to me. I really appreciate your input!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Former Peace Corps volunteer, and I think it’s a great idea. It’s likely to give you something new and out of your comfort zone, which is a great way to figure out where you want to go. And as spcepickle says, people who already have work experience are gold–they just tend to have children and mortgages and not be at a point in their lives where dropping it all to do something else for two years at low wages and high disruption makes sense. But if you don’t have dependents to consider, two years of this can be great.

    7. Displaced Midwesterner*

      My husband completed a year in the VISTA program. He had a title (“Llama Specialist”) within the organization where he was employed, so on his resume, that time appears as a “Community Llama Services: Llama Specialist, 20XX – 20XX.” Sometimes he specifies that it was a VISTA-funded position; sometimes not (going with more general language about it being a contract/grant-funded position). If applications ask for a reason for leaving, sometimes he explains it there. So, if you’re worried about it looking strange down the road, there are ways to describe that employment experience without centering the fact that it was an AmeriCorps position.

      I know that he has used his coworkers there as references; they managed to keep him on a second year with funding from another source, so that was also pretty great. He was a little older than the rest of his VISTA cohort (just out of law school as opposed to just out of undergrad), but he wasn’t working directly with most of them, so it didn’t really make a difference. He currently works for the government in a department that is directly related to the issues that the organization he worked with for VISTA addressed. He’s sitting next to me as I type and says that it was really helpful for him as a way to “kick-start” his resume and make connections. So, if you can swing it, it could be a really useful way to start down a different career path.

    8. valc2323*

      I think I saw at least two people above who said this already, but echoing — I can’t speak to the AmeriCorps angle, but as a Peace Corps volunteer leader (in my mid-twenties) I looooved my older volunteers. They had a ton of relevant experience, they were more open to new things, and they integrated into their communities so much better than a lot of my fresh-out-of-college volunteers. You said you were in a financial place where you could swing an AmeriCorps assignment, especially if there are some in your city, and Peace Corps is a whole ‘nother level of complicated if you have mortgage, car, etc, but think about it.

      Peace Corps volunteers tend to be early twenties or mid-fifties and later because of the requirement that you not have a custodial arrangement with dependent children, so my older volunteers were mostly retirees and not looking to get back into the workforce afterwards. For the younger group, Peace Corps opened a lot of doors. Some people did it because they wanted careers in humanitarian or nonprofit organizations; some people did it for the adventure; some people did it to add some spark to a lackluster college transcript when applying for graduate or professional school. I did it for the language training – which is definitely a skill that has led to a lot of professional opportunities or me.

      As a hiring manager I wouldn’t think “you’re weird for doing a year of service in your 30s”. Instead I’d be thinking “how awesome that you did a year of service. Tell me about the skills you applied to that job (or learned from it) that will transfer to this one.”

  15. Just Peachy*

    This sounds awful, but my supervisor has the WORST sense of style I’ve ever seen (not to mention, it’s just not appropriate for a business casual workplace.)

    Today she is sporting a striped sweatshirt with a GIANT Mickey Mouse head decal on it. She also has a sweater with rainbow watches on it that she sports frequently, and another with snowmen and presents on it that looks like something you’d wear to an ugly Christmas sweater party (she sports it from about October-March). She also wears shirts with random logos of other companies on them. It’s honestly embarrassing when customers come in to meet with her. We don’t get a ton of customers in-office, but I can’t help but think of what they’re thinking of her when they do come in.

    1. Porgy*

      Yeah, if you’re meeting with customers or clients, you probably shouldn’t wear the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. But if there are no clients and no one cares? I wouldn’t be bothered by it. I have no meetings today and am not coming in contact with any clients and I’m wearing a Star Wars t-shirt so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Just Peachy*

        Unfortunately, we work in the kind of office setting that customers just walk-in to inquire about different things (so, it’s not normally a planned meeting where she knows ahead of time to dress appropriately!)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hmm. I don’t see anything wrong with the Mickey sweatshirt, to be honest. It’s a bit quirky, maybe, but not terrible, especially if you have a relatively casual Friday culture. I do have an issue with people wearing other company’s logos when they’re client-facing, because I think that’s a professional no-no, not a style problem. The sweater with rainbow watches? I’m having a hard time picturing it. But then, I have a cardigan with little hot-air balloons and another covered in elephants and I love them, and I’m also known to wear rather unusual socks. And I know I look appropriate for my office and my past offices.

      Remember, style is in the eye of the beholder. If her clothes are neat and clean and she doesn’t look unkempt, then let it lie. I doubt the customers are thinking anything much of her at all beyond getting their needs met. Unless you work in a modeling agency or a high-end dress salon or a hedge fund.

      1. Just Peachy*

        It’s more acceptable on Fridays than other days, but she wears it frequently on other days of the week. I think it’s more that the Mickey Mouse is like, a separate piece from the sweater, sewn onto the front. It’s like a 3D head popping off the rest of the sweater.

        I do agree though that the logo-clad clothes are worse. For instance, last week she wore a green polo with the Starbucks logo in the top corner. It makes me more curious than anything where she GETS clothing like that. It looks like the kind of polo baristas would have worn in the ’70s when Starbucks first opened. Also among her logo-ed collection are Microsoft, Walmart, and Ernst & Young accounting firm.

        She also wears cargo pants every day (khaki, black, army green), with black non-slip tennis shoes that waiters and waitresses often wear, which to me is definitely not business appropriate.

        For what it’s worth, it’s not a hill worth dying on since we don’t see TOO many front facing customers. It just doesn’t look very good to me the times we do see customers. I’m more just venting!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Eh, honestly, I’d work hard to give her a real mental pass on footwear. There are a lot of reasons why people have to opt for those types of shoes.

          But I understand your criticism. I have a colleague who doesn’t look as put together as I think he should (all of his pants are about two inches too short). The only “recourse” I have is to go home and bitch about it to my partner.

          1. Freelance Accountant*

            Yes! I use to work with a fellow who was a little shorter than average, and he seemed to buy his pants off the rack and not get them tailored. The back hem of his pants would wear right down and fray because he was constantly stepping on the hem. And if it was rainy or snowy outside the hems would be just filthy. Not my place to say anything, and I know it’s a bit petty of me to pay attention to it, but I noticed (and judged, a little) constantly.

          2. Rainy*

            Same. In general I think that footwear requirements should be significantly less prescriptive than they are. Foot issues are rampant, and it’s annoying to be trash-talked for wearing footwear that isn’t going to kill your feet.

      2. Porgy*

        I just bought myself a sweater with lemons on it, and I have at least one shirt with a hot air balloon print. I own like four pairs of socks that AREN’T covered in some kind of crazy print. Today they have pizza slices on them. I’m sure some people think I’m bonkers, but my clothes are clean and when I need to dress up, I do. Life is too short to wear boring clothes.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      Our business casual code includes no graphics on your shirts, no sweatshirts, no sports apparel, etc., even on jeans Fridays. So, it sounds inappropriate and embarrassing to me, but if someone else is wearing, say, a hockey jersey, I guess it’s fine, even though it’s ugly. I think it depends on the specifics of your dress code.

      1. Just Peachy*

        On Fridays, we are allowed to wear jeans, but are supposed to still wear:

        -A semi-dressy shirt on top, or
        -A half zip, jacket, or nice looking t-shirt with our company logo

        She’s just abused the dress code for so long (on Fridays and other days) that I feel like no one is ever going to say anything.

    4. hiptobesquared*

      Since she is your superior, the only thing you could do, especially if clients seem put off, it to speak to her manager (if you have a good relationship with them) about a dress code for client meetings.

      Other than that, if the position isn’t client facing, I say let her be comfortable.

    5. LKW*

      If they’re satisfied with the work she’s doing then they’ll be thinking “She is a really weird dresser but she does good work.”

      I had a friend a long time ago who had the worst style ever. For her birthday a group of us bought her some new clothes – a crisp vintage sleeveless top navy with white beading and a very hippy dippy brown, yellow, black and white skirt.

      She wore them together…

      1. Just Peachy*

        Hah, unfortunately she has a track record for being a pretty poor employee. She behaves pretty erratically when she receives any push back, so I think her boss probably thinks it’s just not worth it to bring up.

        The thought of that outfit combo is making me cringe though! At least you tried. :)