open thread – March 23-24, 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.

{ 1,696 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    Job searching again. Ugh. My company is struggling financially, so I’m putting out feelers. I got a job notification email today about a position through Virtual Vocations. When I went to look at it, it wanted me to register, and then pay a fee. Has anyone used this? Is it a scam, or is it legit? Having to pay to see job listings seems fishy to me.

    1. JobinPolitics*

      Ann Furthermore, I’m so sorry to learn your workplace is going through financial hardship.

      Although I’m not familiar with Virtual Vocations, I believe asking a job seeker to pay is troubling and would advise you search on job boards and professional association job banks.

      Good luck with the search!

    2. Artemesia*

      I don’t know this organization but it reminds of those companies in college towns that ‘help you find an apartment’; when you walk in and say what you need, it is ‘no problem, we have lots of places like that.’ And you pay a fee and then are ushered into a room with rental notices on a bulletin board but they are all inappropriate or unavailable when you call. But they have your money. I’d not do this unless you know someone who succeeded with it.

      Have you tried ziprecruiter? Hope something comes along soon.

    3. Nanc*

      My only interaction with Virtual Vocations is when they copied and posted a job we had paid to post on LinkedIn. Nope nope nope nopeity nope. We were already paying for a posting elsewhere and we certainly weren’t charging folks to apply.

      I found out because I got an email from an applicant who had seen it on LinkedIn and then saw it on Virtual Vocations and wondered why. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and as they weren’t answering phones or responding to emails I called a lawyer friend who happens to live in the same town and she went down to the physical office and had a short talk with the person who was working–in a nice way, just saying take it down, we didn’t give them permission to post it.

      Take my story with a grain of salt–but they’re not a company I would ever use based on that one experience.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        It never really makes sense to me why the company hiring would want to restrict the posts to paid sites. I can understand from the job-seekers point of view why it would be valuable to get pre-screened WFH jobs, but why would the company be willing to limit their pool of applicants like this?

        1. Nanc*

          I have no way of knowing because I won’t pay to have a membership on their site but I suspect they simply go out and harvest jobs they find on LinkedIn, Craigslist, or wherever. There’s another company in Australia–can’t recall the name, that does this with all our job postings. It makes me so mad–I get emails and calls complaining about the application process and all I can do is direct them to our website or the LinkedIn posting, where it’s free and super-easy to apply!

          I feel bad for job seekers like Ann Furthermore who have to try to navigate whether it’s worth it to sign up for these paid sites. My gut reaction says no–you shouldn’t have to pay to find a job!

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Virtual Vocations and FlexJobs are aggregators but they vet the jobs they list to make sure they are legit WFH opportunities. That’s why you have to pay for them. I think they both offer free trials. I used both when I was job hunting a couple of years ago.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      Thanks all. You can’t be too careful. I just got a text from someone full of bad grammar and misspelled words from someone saying they worked for this weird, random-sounding company called “GN Group of Company.” I looked up the company, and there was just a bare minimum website, with a bunch of nebulous information and an incorporation address in the Cayman Islands. They wanted my email address to do an interview via chatting in Google Hangouts. I did about 30 seconds of research and found out that this is a scam (shocker).

      You’d think that anyone attempting to pull a fast one on people would make more of an effort to sound legitimate trying to con you. Sigh.

      1. Lirael*

        Actually, in some cases with people running scams, they’ll intentionally have a bunch of red flags at the beginning! They want to screen specifically for people who don’t notice those initial red flags, so they’re not spending time on people who don’t end up giving them money/info/whatever. But it does feel a little insulting when you get something so obviously sketchy, haha.

    5. DizzyFog*

      I haven’t used Virtual Vocations, but I did pay for a membership to FlexJobs two different times and it’s the same principle. It’s a search aggregator, so the job postings aren’t found ONLY on that site, but if you’re specifically looking for jobs with flex options like telecommuting, it has already pulled those out of the mix and verified that the listing is legit. Both my husband and I found jobs via FlexJobs. We both work from home now 100% and are loving it (me going on 5 years, him 2 years). Worth the fee to me, but probably only if you’re specifically looking for that type of job.

      1. Samata*

        I have thought about using Flex Jobs to find part time work from home opportunities to supplement income. Sounds like you were looking for FT, but does Flex also list part time – or do you even know?

    6. WorkingOnIt*

      Also not familiar with this firm, but there are lots of companies you pay monthly fees to see a job board, unfortunately a lot of the time this information is skimmed from other sites, or available on other free sites. Google what you can from the information they’ve given you, to see if it’s available on a free site.

    7. De Minimis*

      Right there with you, I have the luxury of knowing my layoff date nearly a year in advance, but I’m looking now.

    8. Penny*

      I’ve never heard of them but I’m going to suggest avoiding it! There are tons of jobs posted out there & they are free. And it’s very possible they are just taking those free jobs & reposting them & trying to get people in need of a job to pay for what they think is special access.

      I got a call once from an angry job seeker that they had to pay to apply to my company’s job. Well he was on one of those sites that scrapes our jobs & was trying to take advantage of people. I guess he didn’t understand it wasn’t iur site or us charging people. We would never charge someone to apply to a job nor would any legit websites or staffing agencies we work with. Don’t do it!

    9. MillersSpring*

      A good practice when you’re concerned that a company might be a scam is to google their name + scam (or complaints). Often helps!

    10. Kimberlee, no longer Esq.*

      I’m not familiar with that particular one, but I DO know of legit (and good!) job boards that you have to pay to be part of (Tom Manatos comes to mind for the DC area). They’re often scams, but not always!

  2. TGIF*

    Myself and another woman, Jane, are both administrative support for a particular team. We work closely with the team lead, Chris, for answering phones, editing documents, creating invoices and other stuff like that to keep the team on track. I’ve been here a year, Jane for three years. Chris has recently been strict about not wanting both of us out on leave at the same time. Jane said it’s the first time he’s ever done this. It’s frustrating but hasn’t been a problem since our leave has never overlapped.

    Now I think it will be a problem. Our leave is ‘use it or lose it’ on the anniversary of our hire and Jane suddenly realized she had a bunch of leave that she was about to lose at the end of March. With Chris’ reluctant permission, Jane has been taking Fridays off for the last five weeks to use up all her leave before March ends. Except I was also planning to take the last Friday off to attend an event happening that day. I mentioned the overlap to Jane, and she simply shrugged and said ‘Well, Chris granted both of our leave requests so that’s on him’.

    She and I both know he is very forgetful; he’s asked me where Jane is every Friday she’s taken off even though he agreed to her plans (he asked me about 30 min before posting this if she was coming in today). We know for a fact that he accepted both of our digital requests and won’t realize we’re both gone until the day of. I’m a little annoyed with Jane because I know she doesn’t have anything to do that Friday; she said she’s enjoyed her long weekends this last month but she doesn’t have any plans and just chills at home. She knows I’m taking the Friday for a specific reason, to attend a ticketed event happening only that day; I don’t have flexibility for my time off like she does. I was hoping she would agree to switch her last leave day to another day but she’d rather let it go. I know Jane has been annoyed with Chris stressing he wants at least one of us there all the time and I think she’s doing this as a small rebellion.

    Should I do anything? Should I mention to Chris that I think we’re going to be out the same day? Should I outright ask Jane to move her leave? Should I let it go and then defend myself when it comes back that I had a ticketed event to go to that I couldn’t miss? I don’t think we’ll get in big huge trouble for this but I know Chris will scold us and double down even more on our leave. What should I do? (And yes it is the Good Friday of Easter weekend but neither of us need to be out for religious reasons.)

    1. Maya Elena*

      This is a great case of ask forgiveness not permission. Only bring it up to Chris if you know the outcome wont be you losing that day.

    2. Workerbee*

      If your leave was granted before Jane’s sudden slew of Fridays, and you have a way to prove that (system documentation/email/etc), then perhaps just do a “Just a reminder, Chris, I’ll be out this Friday per your approval on X date.” If you feel you should, add in that you’ll be attending a planned purchased event.

      Ordinarily I wouldn’t say to remind him because of the chance he’ll try to rescind his approval, but if it would help you avoid any stress or worry about what you’ll be coming back to…?

      If you don’t have any way of “proving” to Chris’s own mind that he agreed to what he agreed to, take off anyway. Let him scold if he’s going to; it’s your leave to take, and Jane certainly has no problem forging ahead merrily with hers.

        1. Michelle*

          Seconded. You said Chris was forgetful, but it’s easy to purchase a small calendar put the days you request off, with the date you requested it.

          I actually have the same situations as TGIF, except that our boss knows that occasionally I and the other admin will be off the same day. We do try to minimize overlap, but if the office can’t function one day without both of you there then that’s something Chris needs to make a plan for (other than you can never be off the same time).

          Have you outright asked Jane if she would agree to move her day since you are going to a 1 day ticketed event? I would try that first. Good luck!

          1. Rose*

            Yeah, seriously – you can generally avoid planned vacations at the same time, but what if one of you is out of the country and the other comes down with the flu? Does he expect them to show up anyway? What if that person’s parent dies or they end up in the hospital? The office needs to have a plan in place for that happening every once in a while.

        2. Thlayli*

          Yes. Send the email reminder at 5pm on Thursday and if possible do it as a reply to his acceptance of your request.

    3. ThinkingOutloud*

      Was your request in first? I think it’s in your best interest to mention to Chris the overlap and that you have a ticketed event. Then it’s on him to make adjustments with Jane, not you. I’d rather he know this week rather than be taken by surprise and be angry at you both. Maybe he’ll ask Jane to move to a Monday, but either way, I don’t think you have the standing to ask Jane to move her leave, since Chris did approve it.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Rather than remind Chris that he approved both of you being out that day, I would only say something like “This is a reminder that I will be out on Friday to attend xyz ticketed event (you approved this back in January when I bought my tickets)”

    4. Susan K*

      It’s nice of you to care, but unless everything will completely fall apart with both you and Jane absent, I think it’s not your problem. If Chris really can’t deal with both of you being out on the same day, he should have paid more attention when he granted your requests. What would he do if you happened to get sick on the same day Jane had scheduled leave? I bet he can survive for one day with both of you out.

      1. I See Real People*

        I agree with Susan and will add that the OP is also not responsible for Chris’ forgetfulness. If he’s not responsible enough to remember that he granted one or both of them leave, perhaps he should not be in charge of them.

      2. Joielle*

        This is where I come down on it too. If Chris can’t figure out a system for tracking these overlapping requests that he’s so concerned about, that’s on him. What if you and Jane had never talked about the requests and never realized they would be on the same day? I don’t think this is on you to figure out.

      3. TGIF*

        The office definitely wouldn’t fall to pieces without both of us there; Chris just prefers to have one of us nearby. I totally agree with the possibility of one getting sick and the other out on leave; it hasn’t seemed to cross Chris’ mind.

        And he does actually have a calendar printed out weekly with the leave requests of the team for the next few months on it. Our overlapping days have been there for him to see for at least a month and a half but he hasn’t noticed it. And he has directly put it back on Jane and I manage, saying that when we make our leave requests, make sure the other is here. I check mine with Jane and she was fine; then she realized about her leave that was going to expire and put in for every Friday through March. When I pointed out my Friday leave to her, that’s when Jane shrugged it off.

        1. This is She*

          Yeeaahhhh…. you are completely in the cleear here. I mena, I thought you were before, but now, with this new calendar info — he hasn’t got a leg to stand on.
          I also agree with the courtesy heads-up email — at 5:00 Thursday.

          You’re golden, TGIF.

        2. Life is Good*

          What’s sort of annoying for me is that Jane is not being very considerate of your concerns. It is nice for her to be able to take long weekends to use up the leave, but pretty inconsiderate of her not to give up this one day (and take another day that week) for you. I know you said you think she is just annoyed at Chris for his policy, but does she realize she is putting you in an awkward position? She is being kind of selfish.

          1. Oilpress*

            Jane is the sort of person I would want to fire. Not a team player at all. Someone needs to remind her that she works for someone/thing, not the other way around.

        3. What's with today, today?*

          Are you 100% sure he hasn’t noticed? Maybe he has, he realizes it’s only one day and has no need to say anything.

    5. Adlib*

      I’m not sure of the best thing to do, but if it were me, I’d probably bring this up to Chris. Knowing that he’s forgetful of who is out when, it’s surely something that will be a problem for him the day of. Who knows what he would do then. Call both of you to see where you are? I agree with your assessment – he will likely double down on the policy, and while I don’t think it’s reasonable, it sounds like the most likely scenario. If both of you got sick at the same time, would he still demand one of you come in?

      I would bring up to him that you have an event that is planned and ticketed also. Is there also a way to get your leave days on his Outlook calendar? That’s how many teams in my firm do it to keep track. I get Jane’s inclination to let it go, but I think that’s going to have the opposite effect of what she’s hoping for. I’d be annoyed with her too. If it were me, I wouldn’t ask her to move her leave, just remind Chris you’ll both be out. I have no idea what he will do, but I think telling him is better than not.

    6. LizB*

      Oof. There are so many tricky things colliding here (your company’s annoying leave policy, Chris’s absentmindedness, Jane being kinda passive aggressive). I think if it were me, I’d talk to Jane and say, “Jane, I know that Chris approved both our leaves and therefore shouldn’t complain that we’re both out, and in principle I totally agree… but thinking pragmatically, I worry that if we just let this happen without warning him or trying to resolve it, he’s going to get even more picky and unreasonable about approving leave for us in the future. I don’t want to make this worse since it’s already an annoying situation. Can we alert him ahead of time, and maybe come to him with a potential solution ready to go in case he insists on having one of us here on Friday?” (and then transition into a conversation about moving around leave — can Jane take Monday off so she still gets her three-day weekend, just on the other end?)

      1. Arjay*

        It sounds like Monday might work this weekend (3/26), but the Monday of the following weekend would be after the “lose it” date of 3/31.

        1. LizB*

          Yeah, a lot would depend how flexible the policy is or how much leeway Chris has. I’ve seen it done sometimes where you just have to have the leave booked/entered/approved before your “lose it” date, but the actual day you book can be after the deadline… but that’s far from universal.

    7. LKW*

      Can she switch that Friday to the following Monday? She’d get the long weekend and you’d manage your coverage.

    8. Menacia*

      Oof yeah, if you were already approved, and Chris forgets, it’s on him. Just do what you were planning and don’t worry about it.

    9. Thorgar*

      You know Chris is not going to be happy. Although obviously he should have put two and two together, he’s going to feel outmaneuvered by the two of you. “Lawyering” your boss is not something that usually works well, even when you technically have him dead to rights, as you do here. You should remind him that both of you will be out the same day. It’s not worth burning trust over this.

    10. Robin Sparkles*

      I get being annoyed with Jane…I really do because I have been in a similar situation in past positions. BUT- this is not her problem either and it really isn’t your place to judge her on how she uses her approved leave time! It especially isn’t on her to be nice and switch if she treasures that Friday. She also got approval and knowing what she is doing with the approved time-off isn’t really your place. The real issue is Chris’ forgetfulness and, frankly, asinine policy that you both be there at the same-time every single time if there isn’t any business need for it. It’s just one Friday.

      1. TGIF*

        You’re right, I know you’re right, and I totally normally wouldn’t be judgy. If it was just the one day, I wouldn’t judge her. My frustration is stemming from this being a multiple-week day-off thing. To be fair, it wasn’t even her choice; Jane asked if she could do a longer run of days off (four day weekends as opposed to three so she would have used her leave faster) but Chris wouldn’t go for it.

        So though I know it totally isn’t her choice or her fault with how her time is being used, I’m still frustrated because I know I will be scolded for my one day off I’ve taken since the winter holidays while Jane has had six three day weekends in a row. I know it’s unfair to think like that; it’s just how my brain is interpreting it.

        1. nonymous*

          I think it’s helpful to re-frame this as “your Friday” and not a battle of seniority. You will never be senior to Jane – does this mean she can swoop in and steal your scheduled vacation whenever she wants? No. The policy is that when requesting leave to verify that no one else has already scheduled this off, which you did.

          I suspect you are concerned that when Chris discovers that both you and Jane are out that Friday, the new story will be that Jane coordinated with you so she could have all the Fridays. If this happens, just keep calm and point to your approval + the ticketing situation. Yes Chris’ policy is dumb. But if anyone broke the crappy rules it was Jane and Chris, not you. It is not your job to manage Jane’s use-or-lose leave. It is not your job to manage Chris’ ability to look at a printed calendar.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            Hopefully, since it is the Friday before a holiday weekend, it will be a quiet day and Chris will be out too!

          2. LeRainDrop*

            Yeah, I agree with this right here. You should be in the clear. And try not to focus on how Jane spends her time off because that’s really besides the point. Enjoy the event!

      2. Robin Sparkles*

        No I do get it- and honestly-it would be nice for her to do this one day for you. I think approaching it as a favor is better but since she already said no -you should follow the advice of notifying him the evening before and if it becomes a problem -remind Chris that you received approval and yours is a one-time ticketed event that you couldn’t reschedule. It means he will go after Jane but that’s not your issue. He can address it and she can fight him on that one!

    11. Sweet T*

      I’d be a little annoyed by Jane’s attitude too. She knows Chris wants at least one of you in the office. She apparently does not have actual plans on the Friday in question, and you do. It would be nice and reasonable if she would just take off that Monday, and you could both have three-day weekends, with Chris having someone in the office, as he expects.
      I would ask Jane again to consider taking Monday instead of Friday to avoid upsetting the apple cart.
      If Jane doesn’t agree, I would mention it to Chris and see if he will ask Jane to take Monday instead. “Chris, you actually approved for Jane and me to both be out on the 30th. I’m not sure you intended to do this because I know you expect for one of us to be in the office at all times. I have an important commitment on the 30th. Would you want to ask Jane to take off Monday instead?”

      1. Grumpy*

        No. Chris is the jerk, it’s his stupid policy and it’s his job to administer his own stupid policy. The team can answer their own damn phones and the invoices can wait for a day.

        1. Sunflower*

          Yes. Both Jane and OP did exactly what they are supposed to do. It’s not their job to manage Chris’s forgetfulness. If Chris wants to go ahead and blame OP for not having anyone in the office, I think OP might have bigger problems at work.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            Chris: TGIF I told you I wanted coverage
            TGIF: I put in for my day off in January when I purchased the tickets and didn’t give it another thought.
            Don’t mention Jane at all. Jane can have her own conversation with Chris.

        2. Jennifer*

          Much as I wish life worked like that…. it’s gonna end up on the OP and/or Jane if Chris is displeased.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      It would seem Chris could survive ONE Friday without both of you. Or maybe Jane would agree to work a 1/2 day in the AM to at least cover some of the day.
      I can understand not a whole week or something, but one day not so much.

  3. Marina*

    I’ve been in my role for 7 months. I work with “Elaine” and “Jerry” is our boss. At a recent meeting, the auditor “Jenny” was assigning times and when she got to our group, she goes, “Is that time okay, Jerry and Elaine?” Completely ignoring me.

    My boss then turned to me and said, “Marina, is that okay?”

    I don’t know why Jenny left me out- there was a time when I had to work with her and got a little emotional because it was a stressful time, but I wasn’t mean to her.

    I don’t get why I was overlooked. Is it normal to feel this way 7 months in a job? Am I just being sensitive?

    1. ZSD*

      I think you’re being too sensitive about this particular thing. If the auditor continues to ignore you, then yes, that’s an issue, but if this was a one-time thing, I’d guess that she just felt like saying, “Jerry, Elaine, and Marina,” would take too long.

    2. CTT*

      I don’t think we have enough information to judge. Did she know you would be accompanying Jerry and Elaine at the meeting? Could she have forgotten or been told you wouldn’t be there? Has she done anything like this before? If this is the first time, I think it’s best to assume it’s an innocent mistake.

    3. Artemesia*

      Be happy your boss visibly looped you in and stop thinking about it. Dwelling on stuff like this just makes you miserable.

      1. Lynca*

        Yeah. The fact he addressed it in the moment is really good. I’d put my energy there and not worry about Jenny.

    4. Jules*

      I’d let this one go, personally because she is showing bad behavior while my leader is there as witness. I’d be curious enough to ask my boss if it’s normal for her to only include 2 other people in consideration. But it could also be how it’s always done.

    5. Workerbee*

      I’m not sure–I’m equating this to emails, where sometimes you just check in with the boss of a project/situation because that boss will then disseminate / check in with his or her team. I’d err on the side of thinking the auditor was just being overly protocol-y and assuming that what’s good with the boss should therefore be good with you, versus deliberately overlooking you out of spite.

    6. LizB*

      It’s inconsiderate, for sure — but could Jenny possibly have forgotten your name, and this was her awkward way of working around it?

      1. Marina*

        This is what my husband suggested, but my name was right up there with Jerry and Elaine’s name.

    7. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      You’re way overthinking this. Let it go.

      I’m an auditor. I assume that I’ll primarily be interacting with boss and maybe the next level down. I generally don’t talk to the people at the individual contributor level unless it’s been specifically ok’ed by the boss. Since you and Elaine seem to be at the same level, but you’re new, I’d assume unless told otherwise that I’ll probably be working with Elaine. Now, if boss has set expectations and auditor isn’t following them, that’s on the auditor. However, we’re people too. If you started crying while I was talking to you, I’m going to feel really awkward. Beyond that, the auditor may have simply forgotten your name, or whatever. Auditors can deal with hundreds of people, different offices sort of blur together.

    8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I would let it go. There are so many innocuous and non-rude/marginalizing reasons for this conversation to have happened the way it did that I don’t think it makes sense to invest emotional energy in trying to figure out why Jenny didn’t include you in her original ask. I also don’t think it signals some kind of breakdown in your relationship with Jenny. Most likely, she was being thoughtless, as all of us are from time to time.

      Re: whether you’re being sensitive, have other things happened at work that make you feel excluded or overlooked? I can’t tell how upset you were by this specific experience, but I assume it’s a non-minimal amount of frustration / hurt / upset because you asked about it, here. It may not be that you’re sensitive; it could be that this exchange triggered something else that’s been building up or bothering you at your NewJob.

    9. WorkingOnIt*

      Hmm – I think you both are and aren’t being ‘too sensitive.’ It’s valid to feel somewhat slighted by someone missing you out – and its great your manager both took note and rectified it. However you can’t fixate on this one instance (unless like others are saying this is a pattern) I think unfortunately you have to brush off a lot of insensitive moments in your work place – otherwise you will appear ‘too sensitive’ even if these are real slights. I would also not fixate on your past behaviour, you can’t fix what you may or may not have done, and you can’t get inside this woman’s head to figure out how she feels about you. You’ll probably have found you’ve done small things that have upset other people, without actively thinking or trying to do so (or realising). If it becomes a pattern of behaviour then you might have a cause to raise it with your manager – and in this case you may have support from your manager to rectify seeing as they chimed in straight away. Personally I think the thing to take away from this is your manager has your back, and is inclusive, and so clearly they think you’re an important part of the team.

  4. JobinPolitics*

    Short-term contract ended, looking to get into politics

    I’ve recently ended a short-term contract and am looking to move into working with an organization for this year’s mid-term elections.

    To date, I have applied to individual campaigns (vacancies already filled), state parties (applications still being processed), nationwide agencies (job banks and website accounts), and am looking at other ways to have my resume seen.

    Please let me know of any suggestions you have. Campaigns are currently hiring higher level managers, with which I have some experience, and I am excited about the opportunity to be involved.

    Thanks for any advice you care to provide!

      1. JobinPolitics*

        I’ve applied to jobs through ListServes, job boards and candidate websites.

        We’re just as the beginning of the election cycle with the primaries scheduled for May. I’m hoping to get in early and make the most of the experience.

        1. grace*

          You might try Idealist or reaching out through networks – my friends in politics generally get their jobs by networking, either with former coworkers, alumni networks, or just friends of friends. They’re used to it, so reaching out through LinkedIn to a virtual (heh) stranger that you have some connections with is less frowned upon (though if you can get a connection to link you up, that’s way better).

          I hesitate to suggest interning, because almost none of them will pay, but it can be a way to get your foot in the door if you’ve got the savings and no other recourse.

          1. Frances*

            Yes! It’s a field where networking is so important. I think beyond field grunts, not many people get hired without knowing anyone. And if it’s a high profile race, that applies to the field grunts, too.

          2. zora*

            I second work your network. Campaigns tend to hire people they know have some experience, because it is such a short timeline, you really don’t have a lot of time to fire and rehire if someone flames out. And it really isn’t the job for everyone, so flaming out is a real danger.

            You say you have some experience, ask around anyone you know from campaign work and ask if they know anyone working on a mid-term in your area. This is a good time to do it because people aren’t so slammed yet, so they have time to do this. And yes, people in campaigns are used to this, so don’t feel awkward about it. And it’s a small world, so no matter where people are located currently, they know people running campaigns all over.

            Also, if you are on the Dem side, check out Democratic Gain. At least last time I did campaigns it was the main place people were posting Dem campaign jobs.

            And interning is unpaid, so that’s not ideal, but be explicit in your cover letter about being willing to start at a lower level, people can move up really quickly in a campaign, so if you’re willing to start lower and do a lot of the grunt work for the first couple of months, showing them your work first hand can be the best way to quickly get promoted into a higher job when they start staffing up in the summer. I know a lot of people that started as, say, Communications Staff, and were Deputy Comms Director by July.

            1. JobinPolitics*

              Zora, what a great comment and breakdown of resources! Thanks!

              I just looked at Democratic Gain earlier as well as EMILY’S LIST and I have opened accounts on each site, complete with cover letter and resume.

              Additionally, I have reached out to my former employer with whom I have a decent relationship and asked for any leads they could provide. It’s only been a few days, so I want to give people a realistic and professional amount of time to respond.

              Again, I appreciate your response. Thanks!

              1. Heather*

                I think Wellstone Action also has a job board that’s similar to Democratic Gain. And The Arena has one, although I’m not sure how frequently they update it.

          3. JobinPolitics*

            Grace, thanks for the reply and suggestion of using LinkedIn!

            I have reached out to some people via LinkedIn and have touched base with some people who work for the different political parties. Given that I’ve only just started and it’s March, I know I need to be patient and strategic.

            To help ingratiate myself, I am planning on attending some meet-and-greet and panel discussion events. I’m hoping to connect with some people there.

            1. zora*

              These are great ideas!!
              Don’t be afraid to just keep putting it out there, too!! Post on your fb, twitter, post on your Linked in that you would love to work on a campaign, if anyone has leads.

              Email/Linked in anyone you can think of that might have connections in that world. Don’t harrass people, obviously, but people get busy, so sending a reminder in 2 weeks if you haven’t heard from folks is ok. The events is a great idea. Think of it as almost running your own mini-campaign ;o) for yourself and keep putting out feelers. Something will come through, it’s just about timing at this point. Good luck!

            2. nonymous*

              Also try reaching out to your former peers. As someone else said, it’s a very narrow field and even people who were successful in one cycle may find campaign positions are not for them (for example, if they now have young children). However, they still might know someone or know of vacancies that would be a good match for you.

    1. Amy Gardner*

      I recommend:
      – Democratic GAIN (seconded Zora!)
      – Jobs That Are Left (progressive Google group)
      – Wellstone Action (progressive Google group)
      – District Daybook (mostly progressive)

      Some friends have gotten on campaigns through campaign job fairs, though I’m not sure how to seek those out. For example, one friend went to a job fair in Philly and moved to Austin the following week. Make sure you’re prepared to move somewhere random on very short notice!

      If you’re trying to get on a conservative race… I can’t help you :-p

      1. zora*

        Oh yeah, true, for higher level jobs a lot of people get hired to move/live in another state for the campaign cycle, so just be aware, if you’re not able to do that then you are competing against those people, too. It’s a special world, campaign world. ;o)

      2. JobinPolitics*

        Amy Gardner, thanks so much for this helpful list!

        I have visited some of those websites but am not familiar with District Daybook. I really appreciate the info and plan to keep your friends’ experience in mind as a I move forward with the application process.

    2. Double A*

      You are acting like it’s early, but many campaigns are in full force right now. I’ve been working on the congressional campaigns in my district (on a volunteer basis) for a year. Granted, that was recruiting, and now is the time campaigns are shifting into GOTV, but do not think you’ll be walking into an organization that is just gearing up. The good news is that campaigns are incredibly accessible. I mean, I have my Congressional candidate’s personal cell phone number because I’m someone she’s networked with.

      I’d say the easiest campaigns to get into would be ones that are local to you or that you have a geographic connection to. Also, that makes it easier to show up to a campaign event. Campaigns are a bit of an exception to the “gumption” rules, where showing up, introducing yourself to the boss (the candidate) can be a good way to get in. You can meet the candidate, introduce yourself, say you’re looking for a job, and ask who to contact in their campain (don’t hand the candidate your resume).

      Also, if you start volunteering for a campaign and show yourself reliable and energetic, you have a good chance of getting a job if you want it.

      Just make sure it’s a campaign with enough money to staff up!

  5. Naptime Enthusiast*

    So, I got a very weird phone call at work. It was apparently from a recruiter at another company, but I wasn’t familiar with the company name and frankly very annoyed that someone would call me on my work phone number about a job at another company, so I cut the recruiter off and said “Thank you but I am not interested at this time, please don’t call me on my work number about opportunities again”. Kinda rude, I know, but it was unsolicited and I’m on a deadline at work and hadn’t finished my coffee yet.

    But then I started thinking about it more, and noticed these issues:

    1. I never list my work phone number. Anywhere. I only have it on my business card, but I hand those out to our suppliers or other business contacts, and I don’t know anyone at this company. And even if I did, why wouldn’t that person reach out to me directly since I gave them my card?

    2. The phone number that came up on caller ID is similar to our company phone numbers, which is why I answered immediately. When I looked it up in our directory, it belongs to a technician of the opposite gender than the person that called me. So it looks like they spoofed their phone number, but WHY?

    3. We frequently receive training about phishing/social engineering and being aware of the different methods scammers will use to get information, and after realizing the phone number was spoofed, my spidey senses are tingling.

    4. I tried looking up the company online but couldn’t find anything, but I didn’t write it down before cutting the recruiter off so I might not have the name exactly right.

    AAM experts: Was this a social engineering/phishing attempt, or just a recruiter that caught me on a really bad day? Had I been a little more awake I would have asked where they got my name and phone number from, or even listened to what they had to say, but in the moment I was more intent on getting off the phone with a recruiter than figuring out how they came to call me.

    1. Trillion*

      I think your hunch is likely correct, especially because of the caller ID thing. I think you handled it just fine.

      1. Jesca*

        Sorry hit send too quick.

        I would also report this incident if your company has a policy regarding phishing and social engineering.

        1. Naptime Enthusiast*

          We do, I usually only use it for emails so I had to go and find the phone call policy.

          1. Natalie*

            Well, there’s no harm in reporting it. If it was benign presumably they’ll be able to figure that out from the phone records.

            1. Thlayli*

              Agreed. Report it to the relevant person at your company (or to your boss if you don’t know who that is).

    2. paul*

      The call spoofing kind of removes any reasonable doubt to me. Treat it like a scam/phising attempt.

    3. BlueWolf*

      A similar thing happened to me (recruiter called me at work), but in my case I think he called reception and then they transferred him over to me, so the number may have come up like it was reception calling me. Could it have been a similar scenario? It is also possible it was just a spoofing thing.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        We don’t have a receptionist that I know of, our local admins are more office managers and our front desk is security. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

    4. Joielle*

      Could it have been a test? Our office often does training on this kind of thing too, and then they’ll randomly send us a sketchy email or a weird call to see if we recognize it as phishing.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        It might have been? Usually we get email tests because they’re a lot easier to “grade”.

      2. Sapphire (formerly EnobyPro)*

        Ooh, OldJob did this too. We got to the point where a legit email that just looked like phishing got reported, because of course.

    5. Elizabeth H.*

      It could be some kind of phishing attempt but without knowing what kind of information they were trying to get out of you, it could just be cold sales calls (for recruiting or for whatever reason) or spam in general. I would just forget about it and not a big deal. I get spoofed number calls pretty frequently, they try to hit as similar to your number as possible.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        This is true, I’ve just never had a recruiter call me ever, so I would think they wouldn’t call me at work? Especially so early in the morning.

        1. Coalea*

          I get occasional calls from recruiters on my work line. I don’t think it’s that unusual. Even if you don’t give out your work number, there are plenty of ways to suss out that information online. The caller ID part is weird, but I don’t think you need to be overly concerns about it.

        2. RachelR*

          The sketchy ones will. When OldCompany got sold, recruiters were calling our customer service line and asking to talk to employees.

    6. The Photographer's Husband*

      Yes, I’d say at best, just a bad recruiter that might have bought a list of phone numbers somewhere and is going through them. At worst, a Russian hacker attempting to infiltrate your company’s network for nefarious purposes (though through the guise of a recruiter, I’m not sure how that’d work.)

      Either way, I think you’re pretty safe in both your response and just shrugging your shoulders and moving on, but perhaps keeping an eye out for other suspicious calls/emails. Does your company have a policy to report that? Some encourage it so that their IT department can block incoming calls/emails.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        We do have a policy, but I had to go and look it up for phone calls since it’s much less common than emails.

    7. KG*

      Could someone internally have transferred the call? On my company phone system, external numbers will appear as internal if transferred.

      This isn’t my style as a recruiter, but… If the recruiter found your name or resume somewhere but didn’t have your number, they may have called whatever number they could find at the company, then asked to be transferred to you.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        Minions like me don’t get calls forwarded, only big wigs with admins :) I know there is a way to transfer calls but so few of us actually use it that I don’t know what it would look like.

    8. SallyF*

      It sounds like you went with your immediate gut instinct and your reaction was appropriate for what it absolutely seems to be – something “phishy.”

    9. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      I think there’s three options here:
      1.) If someone transfers your call to another line, does the call display as the original call number or the number of the person transferring that call? All of my recent jobs are the latter. If that is the case, the most likely scenario is that the recruiter had the tech’s number and your name (maybe saw it on LinkedIn). Recruiter calls tech’s number and asks them to be transferred to you (they might have been honest and the tech didn’t care or they could have lied “oh I’m a friend of Naptime’s, must have dialed the wrong number – would you mind transferring me over”). Shady on the recruiter’s part, but at least not a social engineering/phishing attempt.
      2.) This is still a recruiter, but a really, really, really shady one who has invested in spoofing software and somehow had the Tech’s number (which they purposely chose to emulate). This one is pretty unlikey, but theoretically possible. No reasonable recruiter would do this, but I’ve met a couple desperate/shady ones out there…
      3.)Some sort of phishing/social engineering attemp – or a test from your own IT dept. I would definitely report it to your IT dept if you think this is the case.

      Personally – I think #1 is the most likely. You can probably test this out with a co-worker and a cell phone to confirm either way.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        I can’t remember any time I’ve transferred a call or had it done for me and really couldn’t tell you how to do it on our phones. We usually give someone the phone number of the person they’re trying to reach and they hang up and call the correct number. So if it was transferred it might show up as the technician’s phone number and not the recruiter’s, and knowing our technicians they wouldn’t be inclined to be helpful for no reason.

    10. Oxford Coma*

      It sounds like corporate phishing rather than personal phishing. So, less “what is your name and social security number” and more “what is your company’s budget for Q3 and which markets are you targeting”.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        That’s what I meant by social engineering too but it didn’t come across that way – sometimes people try and build up hierarchies and figure out who the big wigs are, or who works on what teams and products. Or at least that’s what the training videos with really bad acting seem to say.

    11. BenAdminGeek*

      Sounds fishy- can you report it internally so folks are aware? At OldJob we could do that, so I would send along stuff like this to the appropriate team and then let them handle it.

    12. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Thanks all for your comments and suggestions. It probably was just a cold-calling recruiter, but I’ve reported it internally just in case.

      If it was a recruiter, I do still feel bad that I snapped and cut them off when they’re just doing their job. I’ll probably dwell on this for the next four years and remember what a terrible person I am.

      1. KG*

        Nah, don’t. I’ve been the cold calling recruiter. The typical success rate is 1%. You get a tough skin pretty quickly.

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        Oh my gosh no you don’t need to feel bad for what you said, whether it was a “real” recruiter or not! Not only are they being rude by cold-calling you about something they have no reason to believe you are interested in, but they are putting you in a really awkward/downright bad situation at work where you are using company property to discuss job opportunities outside the company! They are the ones being rude here.

    13. designbot*

      I’ve had this happen too. I call them out for the indiscretion of it and ask how they got this number.
      Of course it helps that I’m not looking…

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    So frustrated this week by lack of communication among our internal staff. People never tell me what is going on and I’m the first point of contact so I end up looking like an idiot because I have no idea what callers are talking about.

    This is why I’m looking for a job where I am not the first point of contact.

    1. Michelle*

      PREACH It’s not that hard to cc people on emails or shoot them an email, phone call, text, etc. if something changes. Maybe you could suggest a monthly calendar with goings-on listed? We use Outlook and although I do get annoyed by somethings, it’s helpful to see what it happening each day/week/month.

      1. WorkingOnIt*

        Hmm I was asked to send out an email with an attachments to clients, if I hadn’t read the attachment (no details in the email) I would have been unaware of what the idea was – and as brand manager it was kind of essential I did especially as it was telling the clients how to contact me about this initiative – which hadn’t been explained to me. I guess this isn’t cc’ing in – but really communicating with your staff shouldn’t be that hard, especially when you want them to communicate about these ideas and act on them with others. Lol I’m not bitter about this at all.

    2. Ama*

      I hated that so much when I was in that position, too. (The worst part was my boss never remembered what she had and hadn’t told me, so she’d tell me the same thing five times but forget something else.) I now try to make sure our first point of contact knows when I am expecting a lot of inquiries about something because I remember how frustrating it was to suddenly get half a dozen calls about something the person in charge forgot to tell me.

    3. WorkingOnIt*

      My last job was like this – have no idea why higher ups think its a good idea to put out initiatives and then not fill in the person who answers the phones and speaks to the public. This is part of your communications/marketing/PR and making your team feel included and you know valued. Also inclusion of the people who actually deal with these activites day-in day-out would also lead to them being trouble-shooted beforehand, rather than the person learning about it while they’re asked about it by a customer and then not actually knowing or understanding the process of what they’re meant to do – and also the process is ridiculous because higher-ups don’t know how any of these things worked.
      Anywho… I left that job and I too hope I don’t have to work as first point of call, or at least the next job loops me in and values my opinion.

    4. oranges & lemons*

      I had a similar issue this week–I wasn’t sure if we had received a document from a client so I asked my coworkers and everyone said we were still waiting on it. Of course it turns out he sent it a month ago and I look completely disorganized.

    5. Jennifer*

      Been there.
      Though sometimes now that I’m not FPOV, I end up being unpleasantly surprised myself so it’s not like I could have informed that person either. Like the time when I contacted a guy to get back to me ASAP online, which he did not for days on end, and then without talking to me he took 2.5 hours to drive over here and of course he shows up in person needing me the one morning when I’m in a work class. FPOV was mad at me, but hell, I didn’t know he was going to do that either!

  7. Anon here yet again*

    My work place has been a real soap opera this week. It’s high stress due to demanding work loads and the people are very interesting.

    My co-worker got mad at my boss because he supposedly “gave her a look” and stopped talking and just sat there in the meeting. She then locked herself in her office until lunch.

    My boss was mad at his boss and was going to quit on the spot if his boss made him sign off on a document. (Luckily he didn’t!)

    My other co-worker just sits on Linkedin and gmail all day long. People in the WHOLE department make fun of him for it and we all think he’s job searching because he’ll randomly leave for a few hours and then come back with some bs story.

    There’s always something going on. It’s been interesting and well, stressful.

    Anyone else have an office where it’s more like a soap opera?

    1. JobinPolitics*

      Anon here yet again, your workplace sounds awful and very emotionally taxing!

      I recently left an office where extended silent treatment was tolerated, management was largely absent, and gossip was allowed to the point of almost being encouraged. My only advice is to find an exit strategy as quickly as you can.

      Seeing a colleague lock herself in an office and people fighting over supposed looks is not healthy, mature or remotely professional.

      You have my sympathies!

      1. Anon here too*

        JobinPolitics, that sounds like what I am dealing with! Silent treatment from another coworker for going on 6 months! Maybe management can’t fix it, but it doesn’t even look like they are trying. I feel like it’s bullying behavior at this point. Any advice to help me deal until I can escape?

        I’ve tried opening up communication with this person, but it went very poorly with the person reacting with hostility towards me. It’s definitely not me, it’s them!

    2. The Original Flavored K*

      Anon, your office sounds wonderfully insane. Are you getting through by pretending you’re an anthropologist studying an “undiscovered” culture?

      Have I mentioned My Highly Efficient And Well-Administrated County Hospital? Literally the day I was hired here, my hiring manager and several other highly placed, important people were let go with no notice and no plan for continuity, including the wife of a state rep. The husband, annoyed, started a fight in the local newspaper, and our CEO fought back. People who had been here ten years or more were marched out of their offices by police, and all the locks on the associated clinic doors were changed.

      I was purposefully kept out of the space where my office was supposed to be for the first month after my hiring because it was deemed a toxic environment, and then when I finally did get here, one of the receptionists called a manager a “dumb broad” in front of a patient. She was suspended for that, then brought back, then loudly discussed her meeting with HR (including several four letter words) in front of patients (AGAIN). One of the patients knew a doctor’s wife, and the doctor’s wife texted the CEO a play-by-play. Literally the only reason she wasn’t packing her desk that day was that the other receptionist was on vacation — but they had a temp in as “help” for her the very next day, and the day that the other receptionist came back, the problem child was fired.

      1. Anon here yet again*

        Oh, yes. I do the anthropologist idea and also think about SNL sketches. (My coworker and boss could totally be an SNL sketch!) It’s crazy and some of them are very b****y as heck, but they can also be caring and supportive. So it’s crazy, but at the moment, I have no other options for income. I’m sending out resumes though, so fingers crossed!

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        I was just coming here to say that exact thing. I’d be doing the same thing if I was working there!

      2. Anon here yet again*

        True, but he has actual work to do that he is not doing and that’s a problem. We all have to fill in for him and help out.

    3. hbc*

      Well, let’s see. Everyone thinks the main manager on site is sleeping with the HR person, who was hired by him despite having no HR background, and happens to share the same unusual name as his wife. The owner is randomly bringing two people from a competitor to our biggest tradeshow as our company’s guests and not giving an explanation, so the sales guys are spreading rumors that we’re going to be sold. Another team ended up firing someone by phone when he was home sick because they had interviews scheduled for his replacement before even telling him his job was at risk. I announced I’m quitting the same week someone else in our small office gave notice, and one of the kind-of-joking-but-maybe-not theories is that we’re both leaving because we’re having an affair. But no, I’m primarily leaving because I’m finding evidence that someone was sabotaging my team (probably through incompetence rather than malice) and then used it to get ahead. I had at least six people in my office crying about my leaving.

      So yeah, soap opera, but at least I get to change the channel soon!

    4. SophieChotek*

      Wow…it would be great if it was a TV show or comedy (maybe); sorry to hear you are going through it in real life, though.

      My boss resigns every other year or so (I think because she disagrees with the CEO) but then never actually leaves/keeps pushing her “last day” out; but that’s pretty tame.

    5. AFineSpringDay*

      Oh yes!

      My new boss loathes one of my colleagues and is actively taking work away from her and claiming she has an attitude about everything. My colleague is the kind of person who wants to be SO HELPFUL ALWAYS, but her helpfulness always veers into overbearing. So she has tried to be as helpful as she can but new boss is not responding well. She actually spent an hour on the phone with HR complaining about my colleague.

      Our new boss is the type of person who thinks she knows everything about everything and doesn’t need our help to learn anything about our department or company, or even need to spend time building relationships with us, her team. Not joking here, she’s out of the office in meetings with other departments 7 hours a day. And she has publicly (internally) said things that are 100% not true or she should be more circumspect about.

      My other colleagues and I are trying to stay out of the line of fire.

    6. MsChanandlerBong*

      My company is usually pretty drama-free, but we’ve had a little excitement this week. It’s our busy season, so we hired someone to work nights for the next two months so that I don’t get bogged down when I come in at 8 a.m. We have tons of freelancers, and my boss usually hires temporary and part-time workers from the pool of freelancers who have proven they do good work. He offered someone the temp job, but then that person turned it down. So, the temporary position went to another writer. Well, it turns out he’s a total jerk. He has been sending the nastiest comments to our freelance writers, telling them they can’t write, that their command of English is poor, etc. This morning, I came in to find out he’d been arguing with one of our best writers (and, coincidentally, our first choice for the temporary position). He gave the writer wrong information, and the writer knew it was wrong, so he refused to do what the temporary editor told him to do. I am glad this guy will only be around until mid-May, and I hope to heaven he’s not asked to come back next time we’re busy.

      1. WellRed*

        Aren’t you afraid the freelances will get sick of the abuse and say “see ya!” After all, they aren’t beholden to your company.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          YES. I cringe every time I read one of his messages. The guy he was arguing with is in our top three best freelancers (which is why we initially offered him the temp job), AND he does a lot of specialized work not many other people can handle. If he gets mad and quits, it’d be a real loss. The guy’s already been told to tone it down. His idea of toning it down was copy/pasting a list of a freelancer’s errors into a message and then challenging him to figure out what was wrong with them. I mean, yeah, there were errors, but that’s why we have editors. The writing wasn’t bad overall.

    7. Spooky*

      Our CEO and one of our VPs are no longer speaking to each other (they’re both men, for the record). So, you know, that’s great for morale and business direction.

    8. Viva*


      Annie and Bert had a baby. Then they broke up, and Bert dated Chrissy while continuing to sleep with Annie. Bert’s BFF Danny was also in love with Chrissy but having an on-and-off relationship with Ellen. Bert and Chrissy eventually broke up, and during one of Danny and Ellen’s off periods, Bert slept with Ellen too. Bert is now sleeping with all three women. Danny found out about Bert and Ellen and was very upset. Bert and Ellen got together officially but he was still cheating on her and now Annie is pregnant again! Ellen may also be pregnant! Chrissy is not pregnant! (Bert asked her if she would like to be and was offended when she said no.) Bert left Ellen and went back to Annie (while continuing to sleep with Ellen and Chrissy). Meanwhile, Ellen tried to hook up with Danny again but he was now dating her roommate Fiona. Bert left Annie again after about a week and begged Ellen (who is not pregnant, in the end) to take him back, which she did. He continues to sleep with both Annie and Chrissy.

      Almost all of these people live in adjacent apartments. (The neighbors downstairs are also my coworkers and have their own set of drama. Small towns are great.) Everyone but Ellen was once my coworker. At the same time. Annie, Bert, and Chrissy would call off frequently in order to either sleep together or prevent the other two from sleeping together (if Annie was scheduled to work but Bert and Chrissy were not, Annie would pretend to be sick so that she could stay home and interrupt them. Bert would also feign injury so that he could leave early and have sex with whichever girlfriend was not at work). Everyone involved received disciplinary action ranging from write up to suspension to demotion for their inability to show up and work a full shift. Annie and Chrissy eventually both found new jobs and left, which lessened the amount of drama I deal with on a daily basis.

    9. OhGee*

      Is anybody out there a former non-profit person who has successfully made the switch to for-profit? After several years in publishing, I got a master’s degree in an arts field, and have been working in non-profits for the last six years. I currently do communications, event management, and fundraising for a non-profit in a mid-sized city. The pay and benefits are solid, but the city is one of the most expensive in the country. Me and my partner bought a house about an hour away, in a much more affordable area (with a less robust economy), close to a smaller city. I’ve been interested in changing jobs for a while now, and the long commute (90-120 minutes each way, compared to 30-45 when I lived in the city where my job is located) has convinced me that now is the right time to make a shift. I’m considering going back to the corporate world, but am worried about two things: passion and skill set. In the past, when I have considered going back to a for-profit company, I’ve been repulsed by the idea. I think I’ve moved past that now, but I am worried about whether my skill set will prevent me from getting a for-profit job that isn’t totally boring. I am a project and event manager, but I am not PMP-certified. I have above-average technical knowledge, but I am definitely not a programmer. I feel like I am going to take a huge pay cut (30%) in order to either do similar work for a nonprofit that’s closer to my new home OR to do lower-level work in a for-profit, while I build a stronger technical skillset or pursue something like PMP certification. Have you made the switch? How do your passions fit in to your life away from a non-profit job? What the heck is a nonprofit program manager qualified to do in the corporate world?

    10. spegasi*

      Bro hold on to your socks cause I’m about to tell you a story. We were left without a boss for a couple of months and a new one finally came in. Except she started out her introduction by telling us no one was ever going to betray her and basically asserting herself as the best person to ever grace the planet. She also threw a small tantrum over how the budget is handled and made everyone who doesn’t speak a second language and a masters feel like shit. Over the course of the weekend most people started looking for jobs because there was no way we were going to be able to work like this, especially after she forbade us from ever looking at our phones and eating anything unless it was our lunch hour. But lo and behold on Tuesday she is fired and she tells us how much she is going to miss us when she couldn’t remember anyones name, unless she asked you to be her driver cause she needed one aparently. Later on we find out she wanted to fire all of us and bring in her friends, which is why she was fired. She even tried to negotiate getting a less important position cause she quit her previous job to come here. It was a fucking wild ride.

    11. oh so anon*

      A few jobs ago I worked at a small drama llama farm. Anakin, our head boss, opted not to wear underwear, which was painfully obvious and made one-on-one meetings awkward. He also pawned off all his work on his female underlings while he traveled around the country on his side gig. He was unrepentant about being out of the office so much, because his side gig brought in solid money. Then Ben had some fairly serious substance abuse issues and none of us knew how to help him so he had to be pretty publicly arrested before anyone stepped in. And there was Leia, who was constantly being hit on by fellow coworkers, which made her uncomfortable. She started going out with Han, who was super jealous and controlling and worked on Leia’s team, and it was nonstop drama after that. Plus, we were losing POCs left and right and no one really cared to take action on the simple and reasonable things they could do to retain us, so I took my happy black behind right on out of there and to a much better job. I feel bad for the colleagues I left behind, but it’s a pretty broken workplace and I doubt things will change.

    12. vegetablelasagna*

      My current job, yup. I have a coworker who monitors any time someone isn’t at their desk and tattles on them if they’re late to work or are in the bathroom too long (management is getting fed up with it and asked her to stop. Now she just sends her complaints to her friends and asks them to make it look like they’re the one complaining). Another coworker who is so angry all the time that we have all been advised to not talk to her unless it’s absolutely necessary. She almost slapped the coworker mentioned above because she interrupted her during a phone call. Another coworker overshares her and her entire family’s medical history. Right now she has chronic diarrhea and she wanted us to know that for god knows why. And lastly, a coworker who keeps getting in trouble for late work who spends most of the day doing crafts and coloring instead of working.

    13. laylaaaaaaaah*

      I just left a workplace where, in my interview, I was told ‘you need to be a drinker to work here’. I thought they meant they went to the pub sometimes.

      They did not go to the pub sometimes.


      -big area boss was married to one of her subordinates, and would scream and swear at him in front of literally everyone

      -big area boss cultivated an ‘elite group’ of yes-men who could do no wrong.

      -(they did so much wrong, from lying to clients, costing us hundreds if not thousands in revenue, to aggressively hitting on any attractive woman in the office, all the time)

      -big area boss would also invite other managers who were below her over to her house to get drunk with her and stay the night

      -my immediate manager was making up at least half of our P&L figures, which big area boss knew about and tacitly allowed, right up until he pissed her off

      -the office had a 100% year on year turnover rate, with the exception of big area boss and her boys

  8. Purple Puma*

    I’m hoping I can get some other perspectives on this.

    Due to the most recent Nor’easter, our office was closed on Wednesday and opened at 11 a.m. on Thursday. On Thursday, two of my coworkers came in at 11, but also took their regular lunch hour and left at their regular time. Is this normal/acceptable? I chose not to take my lunch hour because since the office opened so late, I didn’t see the point in doing so. (I did leave at my regular time though.)

    For reference, my office pays us (“us” in this case meaning “all of the non-exempt, hourly employees”) for a full day if the office is closed due to snow or if the office opens late/closes early, and it doesn’t come out of our PTO. (You know, that thing that every workplace should do, but that plenty don’t.)

    1. ZSD*

      I certainly think leaving at their normal time on Thursday was reasonable, and expected. Coming in at 11 AM but then leaving at 8 PM would kind of defeat the purpose of the late start, since you’d still end up driving over ice in the dark. So I would certainly still expect people to leave at 5 (or 5:30, whatever your office does) on a day with a late start.
      As to taking the full lunch hour, eh, I think I personally would be inclined to cut mine a bit short on a late-start day, but if they didn’t have a lot on their plates on Thursday, I think what they did is fine.

    2. ThatGirl*

      It’s kind of like a 2 hr delay at school… you still get to leave at the normal time. I don’t see a problem with it.

    3. Purple Puma*

      Sorry, to be clear, I don’t have a problem with leaving at regular time after a delayed start, but it just seems weird to take your lunch hour when you’re already working a shorter day.

      1. Whoa*

        I’m with you on this one. We get “early release” afternoons on various days throughout the year- almost always on the day before a holiday or holiday weekend. Management will release the staff at 1 PM for an extra paid afternoon off, but it’s an unspoken rule that you don’t take an official lunch. But it’s not anything official, just the way our culture handles it…. More like a “Hey, you’re getting this paid time for free without needing to use PTO or make up the hours, so do the right thing and don’t take advantage of the perk.” If it were a similar situation to yours though, we would operate the same way and either take a short lunch (20 minutes, maybe 30 max) or eat at our desks.

        1. Purple Puma*

          See, your work situation is the same as mine! We get paid for a full day despite early releases, and we also get paid for a full day if the office is closed due to snow (or if the building’s power is out, or whathaveyou). Normally on early-release days, we don’t take a lunch for the same reasons you outline. I’m just not sure why it would then be okay to take a lunch on a delayed-opening day.

          1. Dragoning*

            We have to take our lunch during early release days because we can’t act like we’re going home early until we do, in fact, get an email from the director saying to go home.

            1. Whoa*

              Yeah, we always get an advance notice for our early release. Usually 2-3 days, that way everyone can account for their workload, avoid scheduling meetings during that afternoon, etc.

            2. Lia*

              Same here, and about 1/4 the time, we don’t actually get released early, so you can bet we take lunch.

      2. Fiennes*

        People still have to eat. Unless there’s something really time-critical going on at your office that the late start endangered, I can’t see any problem with still taking a lunch break.

        1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

          I agree with a lunch break, but not the full hour. When I have a shortened day (delayed opening due to weather, early departure for an appointment, whatever), I try to reduce the time I take for a food break.

          1. AMPG*

            Really, though, if you’re not leaving work undone or coworkers in the lurch by taking a full lunch, and company policy allows you to do so, where’s the harm? This seems like a MYOB kind of situation.

      3. Naptime Enthusiast*

        I probably wouldn’t have taken it but I could see that if there isn’t a specific policy saying you can’t, people still will. Is there an issue with required breaks on a regular day that people assumed also applied to a shorter day?

      4. WellRed*

        People still gotta eat. If I ate my breakfast at 8 do you think I should wait till supper to eat again?

        1. Whoa*

          She’s not saying don’t eat, rather the issue is taking the full hour break when you’re already almost half a day off. You still have the option to either pack a lunch to eat at your desk, or take a shortened break to go get food instead of that full hour.

          1. The OG Anonsie*

            But like… Why though. There wasn’t some specific business need for them to not just take the normal lunch schedule that everyone’s used to, so why is it important for them to change it? Some people like their routine, let them have it.

            This really feels like that arbitrary “anything short of the highest possible level of effort at all times is lazy” kind of productivity accounting.

      5. Hangry is A Real Thing*

        Personally, my body runs on a specific schedule. If I don’t eat at certain times of the day, ‘hangry’ is a real issue (thanks to low blood sugar). For a day with a late start, while I might not take a full lunch break, I absolutely have to stop and eat.

        So for me, that doesn’t seem particularly strange especially if they were able to get their work done.

    4. Anonanonanon*

      Just because your office opened late doesn’t mean that no one is entitled to lunch or that they have to stay late unless that is specified. I don’t see a problem with the fact that your coworkers treated it like a normal day unless they ignored some policy or instruction that told them to do something different.

    5. Elizabeth H.*

      Does your workplace have a pretty established (whether by policy or just by culture/practice) of people taking a lunch hour at a specific time and length? We don’t here, people almost always work through lunch or sometimes go out and get something at random times of their own choosing that are typically somewhere around an hour long but maybe less or more. If you have a more established culture where people have a scheduled lunch hour and basically always take lunch, it makes more sense. I agree with you that I’d probably choose not to interrupt my work by going for lunch not very long after arriving there in the first place, but to do so seems more personally weird than weird in terms of work optics.

      1. Purple Puma*

        “Does your workplace have a pretty established (whether by policy or just by culture/practice) of people taking a lunch hour at a specific time and length?”

        Yes and no…the exempt/salaried folks often work through lunch, or when they do go out, there’s no set time/duration. The two coworkers I’m asking about are non-exempt/hourly, as am I. The hourly folks are officially expected to take a one-hour lunch, and it’s an unspoken rule that they take their lunch at the same time every day (or thereabouts), though they can decide what time that should be, to a certain extent. This is so the salaried folks, who depend on the hourly folks for a lot of stuff, know when the hourlies are going to be away from their desks.

        1. zora*

          Yeah, this seems to be the key for me. I would probably do like you and skip the lunch, but if this is normally such a regimented, scheduled thing, I would understand some people doing like a normal day and taking their lunch. And I would try to let it go and not let it bug me. I get that your saying the company is paying them extra, but also, it’s 1 hour. That’s not a lot of money in the big scheme of things, and it’s a rare occurrence.

          This seems to kind of line up with your company culture that it’s sort of expected to be regular, but sort of up to the individual, so it can be up to the individual whether to take their regular lunch or not, and both ways are ok. Making a specific point about telling people NOT to take their lunch would be kind of making a big deal about it, and if these are good employees who do their jobs well the rest of the year, this is the kind of thing a good manager would just be a little flexible on and not worry about.

          1. Luna*

            I’m not sure that the company even is paying them extra. It depends on the place, but at my company when we have a snow day or late opening the hourly employees do not get paid for that.

            I don’t think them taking lunch and leaving at the regular time is anything to be bothered by.

          2. Autumnheart*

            I suspect that if one were to rigidly examine departure times and lunches taken, the overage would be comfortably to the company’s favor and not the employee’s. One hour in the employee’s favor is not going to bankrupt the company or morallly corrupt the employee. I consider it to be pretty petty to hold it against an employee when this is a result of weather conditions in the first place, not a situation created by the employees.

            If a company wants their employees to put in a full 8 during a snowstorm, then create some solid work-from-home functionality and skip the 2-hour drive entirely.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Is it possible they took their lunch at the normal time in order to ensure appropriate coverage? Because it kind of sounds like that.

          I don’t think it’s unreasonable for folks to follow their normal, non-delayed schedule, even when their start time is delayed.

    6. Cookie Monster*

      We had the same situation last Nor’easter, but working remotely on Wednesday. Personally I always take my full lunch break during busy season unless I cannot stay late that day because of plans, because I’d much rather work later and have that time to take a break from work and regain my focus! If they didn’t have a ton on their plates after that, I think it makes sense, especially since it’s not like y’all weren’t getting paid during the late start.

    7. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I personally wouldn’t take lunch if I were already getting a late start, but I know several people that would and I think that’s fine. Some people need to eat at certain times to keep their blood sugar in check, some need to let pets out at certain times, some might have errands that due to the weather they didn’t feel safe running earlier in the day.

    8. Dragoning*

      Eh, I’m only supposed to take my lunch if I work for at least six hours. So, if I left at, say, 6:30 or later on a normal day, then yes, I would still take a half-hour for lunch, since I’d still work for six.

      Other than that, I’m not really approved for them. I expect they’d let me take one anyway if I reported it on my time sheet accurately, but if I came in at 11 I could’ve eaten at home (and I usually start at 7:30, so half my day would already be gone!)

    9. DivineMissL*

      We had the same thing at my office, late opening on Thursday, but everyone is paid from regular start time. The point of the delayed opening is to give people time to shovel the driveway and scrape ice off the car, and for the sun to melt some of the snow on the roads, so everyone can get to work safely. I spent an hour at 6:30 am digging my car out, then getting ready for work and driving in; I still worked 6 hours. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for folks to work most of the day and also be able to eat lunch; shoveling snow is a lot harder work than sitting at my desk!

    10. JR*

      My previous job had a similar policy for office closings related to weather. I would usually work though lunch if the delayed opening was at 10am or later, however some of my coworkers would take a lunch break. My boss never cared either way. I think that is the good thing about having an office with this policy, you can choose whether you want to keep the lunch break or work through it and it shouldn’t matter.

    11. Alton*

      I think it depends on the workplace. I’m non-exempt, and at my workplace it’s explicitly clear that we need to log eight hours in a day, and things like sick leave and office closings count toward those hours. If I don’t log a lunch hour on days when I come in late due to office closings, I’d be into unapproved overtime.

      1. Dragoning*

        Oh, I didn’t consider that. Yeah, if the coworkers are getting paid for the entire day, not including a lunch break would trigger some problems depending the DoL.

    12. Observer*

      Why is this even your concern, though? Did they leave you with work that they should have done? Did it impact your work, the office or your clients?

      1. LurkingAlong*

        I’m also of this opinion and not to be snarky but I really don’t understand the concern. I feel if it were the other way around and these coworkers were working through lunch and staying late nights then this wouldn’t be as much of a problem for you. Since they’re not hourly workers then it’s their work product and being available when they are needed that really matters and not following some arbitrary visibility rules. Is their work usually up to scratch and are they available the hours they’re boss requires? If so, then this should not be a problem at all.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        If there is no written policy/procedure then I would expect many people would take their regular lunch.

        Look at it this way, it was a late start because of a storm. Maybe they got up at their regular time, cleared their cars/driveways and by the time that was done it was time to go to work.

        Employers tend to believe that employees beam themselves to their work places. I remember my husband getting up at 3 am to plow/start cars etc. He was late for work by a half hour. (Work was 50 miles from home.) He boss ordered him to start earlier. So he calmly said, “I started at 3 am. What time would you like me to start?” I told him to call in the next time, take the whole friggin’ day.
        It might be helpful to think of people as doing a full day’s worth of work just to GET to work.

    13. Bea*

      Some ppl are hardwired and they take lunch at 1.30 every day so just because they started at 11 that day, they’re wired to go to lunch that time. So I wouldn’t bother caring if I were you unless it’s strictly forbidden on delayed start to do that.

      I’m the kind of person who doesn’t adhere to a strict structure well. So if I’m coming in at 11, I’m probably going to eat something at my desk or prior to starting so wouldn’t take lunch unless it were slow.

    14. sheep jump death match*

      I’m hourly and if I DIDN’T take a lunch in this situation, I would have to have a Very Serious Meeting with my supervisor about working unauthorized overtime and not adhering to meal break policy correctly. Companies are weird.

    15. Zennish*

      This is totally normal. If the office closes so that you can’t maintain your normal hours, that’s on them… (with a good company, anyway) and you just proceed with the remainder of the day as though you arrived at the regular time.

    16. MissDisplaced*

      I probably would have picked up (or brought) something and eaten at my desk… but I do that every day.
      Is it normal? Well, if you didn’t bring any lunch, I suppose they had to eat right?

  9. Cancer Crush Anon*

    I had a few interviews since last friday. The first was really old-school and felt very conservative and there’s only 1 woman in leadership. I’m really over good ole boys clubs. They liked me enough to send me a personality test to complete. Jesus. It had IQ Test like puzzles to solve and math involved. I was so irritated. If you’re hiring me based on how I do on SAT problems for a creative role, I don’t want to work for you. I just didn’t get a good vibe from the place, and it sounds like I will be working a TON if I go there based on what they told me (no downtime, 30% travel, get interrupted a lot).

    Second job was for a design agency. It was amazing. Great culture, very, very, small (6 people). I could do the work and it would grow my portfolio like no other. Owner was very nice and seems like a cool space. Unfortunately, he told me his top salary range for this role was 42k. I currently make 45k and feel stretched thin with money. With bonuses, I made 55k this year. I’m not sure if I could stretch 42 and a bit longer of a commute. They’ve been apparently working 12 hour days the last two weeks to make deadlines, too.

    I really, really, really, liked them. I sort of told him I was looking more for 50 and he told me to think about it and get back to him with what I would need. I believe him when he says that this is his top range. I’m thinking about emailing him and saying I was looking for 48-50k and see if there’s any room for negotiation there. I could probably swing 45k, since I’m doing it now, but working 12 hours a day and only making what I make now is not very appealing. I need to get out of my current job, but taking a pay cut does not seem to be a good move.

    I’ve heard that agency experience can allow you to work anywhere and makes you more attractive to employers. If I stay there a year or two and really pinch pennies, is it worth it? I’m not sure it is. It gets me out of a terrible environment, but at what cost? I’m sorta bummed because this is the first job I’ve interviewed for that I really felt excited about.

    1. Artemesia*

      But you aren’t doing it now — you are getting an additional 10 in bonuses. If you are just getting by, having to get by on less will get old very fast.

      1. Adlib*

        Agreed. If they want someone of your caliber, and it seemed like a good match for both you and them, they need to up their range. If you already told him you were looking for 50, and he told you to think about it, that’s not a good sign. They need to be willing to accept that good candidates (which it sounds like you are) will walk if the pay doesn’t match up.

        1. Cancer Crush Anon*

          Yes, but the year before that I only got 3k in bonus, so it really depends and is not guaranteed. I also threw all my bonuses at my student loans, which I just paid off this year, so I never really felt that money.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Then the year before it would have been a $6k pay cut and things are already tight for you…. if it’s that great, they should find the money. Don’t trap yourself by rationalizing away being underpaid.

            1. Cancer Crush Anon*

              Don’t trap yourself by rationalizing away being underpaid.

              Yes, you are completely right.

          2. Jules the Third*

            With the loans paid off, you should have a little more room financially, and you might be ok with a delightful job at the same pay. Ask for 50K or 48K plus extra paid vacation, to signal that you are willing to be flexible.

            For a job I loved, I’d probably be ok with 45K (no change in salary) plus some kind of schedule flexibility / extra days off.

            I’d want to check whether the 12hr days are something expected or something that will be improved by your hiring. If that’s expected, and more than your current position, you should hold firm at 50K. 9hr days are no biggie, 12 is a huge deal.

            1. Cancer Crush Anon*

              Yes, I completely agree about the 12 hour days. I got the sense it was unusual, but I will absolutely ask.

    2. ZSD*

      Gosh, that’s a tough situation. Personally, I think that since you’d have a longer commute on top of the pay cut, it’s not worth it. You’d be signing yourself up for two years of maybe stretching to make rent, giving up vacations, etc., in the hopes of it helping you with your next step…which it might not. If you next employer (foolishly) bases salary offers on salary history, then you’d really be hurting yourself.
      So unfortunately, I vote no, even though the opportunity mostly sounds like a great one.

      1. Cancer Crush Anon*

        Yes, this is where my head is. I’m just sad more than anything. I really want to make this work.

        1. MissGirl*

          Don’t let that blind you to the realities. How feasible is it there’s a yet unknown Door 3?

    3. Workerbee*

      I don’t think second job’s owner is going to stretch. When you said: “I sort of told him I was looking more for 50 and he told me to think about it and get back to him with what I would need,” I thought, you ALREADY told him what you would need! The 12 hour days + no bonuses (maybe?) + you’ve been feeling stretched thin for however long = keep looking. You can of course come back with your firm $50k and see what he says. It’s worth the interview experience and knowing what kind of environment you prefer, too.

    4. The Ginger Ginger*

      I think you’d just be trading one kind of debilitating stress for another. What’s their PTO like? Can you tap into it immediately? I can maybe see that working for a bit if they had extremely generous PTO that they would actually be okay with you using. That would be critical with your dad’s medical situation. And would 12 hour days be sustainable for any length of time while you’re trying to care for him, too? Are you wanting to be able to see him before/after work at all, or are just weekends workable?

      But don’t discount the money thing. You said you’re running tight at 45k AND BONUSES. Are you even bonus eligible at this smaller place? And if so, do they seem attainable? I wouldn’t go back with 48k. That’s not enough of a difference from 50k to elicit a different response from the hiring manager. The ball’s in his court for him to counteroffer at this point. If you’re really wanting to try to make that amount work do some serious budget forecasting and do it with the taxes and whatnot deducted so you’re working with your take home pay (and with no assumption of bonuses). Do it 12 months out and see if it’s sustainable. When you’re cutting back that much and you’re already close to the line, you have to be really clear on where all your expenses and income are by using hard numbers. Don’t wing it.

      I understand desperately wanting out of where you are now (I really want that for you too), but now is definitely a bad time to compound your stresses by adding more money stress. That will permeate your whole life – not just the work piece, and if your work/life balance is also going to be off-kilter with 12 hour days…’s going to be really rough. Don’t be so eager to leave where you currently are that you discount that or forget to do your due-diligence in all the usual ways with this employer. Be really clear eyed about what that trade off will look like for you. If you still think it’s worth it, then you can leave with your plan in place and knowing what you’re in for in the next couple years.

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        Also – 6 people is really small. Right now the benefits that come with a bigger company could really help you. It may just be that despite how great this other job seems, it’s not right for you RIGHT NOW. You’ve got a lot of balls in the air in your personal life and a small shop just may not be the right fit at the moment, as heartbreaking as that feels.

        And I just re-read about the longer commute. 12 hour days PLUS the the longer commute. Does that mean 13 hours from when you leave the house to when you get back? 14 hours? More? That’s pretty major. That alone would be enough to give me huge reservations without the other factors involved.

        1. Cancer Crush Anon*

          My dad’s care is actually minimal. It turns out he doesn’t need chemo, and he went back to work a few weeks ago because he was bored (lol) so THANKFULLY, that’s no stress for me at this point.

          I think he said 2 weeks after the first year…which I would try to negotiate to start immediately. He said 7 sick days? It’s all combined in one bank I believe. He seemed unsure and would have to consult the manual, which means he probably is lassaiz-faire about vacation.

          The bonuses I have always used towards my student loans, and this round of bonuses completely paid them off, so I never really “had” the bonus in my pocket. The commute would be 30 min vs 15 min, so it’s not terrible but it’s still more mileage on my car.

          He seemed to imply that the 12 hour days is abnormal. He said they were understaffed. I’m not sure. Lots of questions still…

          1. Serin*

            > He seemed unsure and would have to consult the manual, which means he probably is lassaiz-faire about vacation.

            Maybe I’m too cynical, but to me “boss isn’t sure exactly what compensation is in a particular area” reads as “boss wants to be free not to offer very much compensation in a particular area.”

          2. neverjaunty*

            Lots of unknowns. They need to give you details – extrapolating from what they implied or might mean, or what you might negotiate but don’t get have, is not enough information for you to make a decision.

          3. Don't Block the Door*

            If this guy isn’t doing something about the “abnormal” 12-hour days and the understaffing, you might find out that suddenly, it’s going to be the “normal.” Is this really what you want to sign on for?
            I can hear the alarm sirens blaring – heed the warnings.

          4. The Ginger Ginger*

            OH, I’m so glad to hear that about your dad!

            And the rest of that does change the calculation a bit. Still, I agree with other posters that those “abnormal” 12 hour days are pretty worrisome. Is this a new-ish company? Are we looking at a startup mentality here? Did the manager give answers to other questions that seemed like he and the company value actual work life balance – and not just in a lip service way? Is this actually a busy time of year for your industry? Is the role you’re hiring for a replacement for someone who left? Are they hiring to bring down the crazy hours for everyone, or would you be expected to join the insanity? I’ve done sustained 12 hour days, and they’re pretty awful. I burned out really hard, and I dread that for you.

            1. Cancer Crush Anon*

              They’ve been in business for 12 years, which is awhile for a design agency. He said that they have gotten a few new clients recently, which was good because they got more work, but bad because they are understaffed and could use another person. Hence why they are hiring right now. They have only been in 12 hour days for the last two weeks and that’s to finish up on clients stuff.

              12 hour days are not fun. I’ve done them before, but I would then get to leave early on friday or something. I will say that I don’t think he’s nefarious. My best friend’s mom does freelance work through him and has known him since college, so I trust that he’s a good person.

              1. Grumpy*

                The Owner is bluffing.

                I very much doubt the company finances are in such a narrow window where a 45k new hire is essential to keep up with demand but a 52k hire is a reckless extravagance.

                And if they are, how secure is the job?

                1. Cancer Crush Anon*

                  :( That’s disappointing. I felt like he was being genuine…but obviously I’m pretty trusting given what situation I’m involved in now.

    5. The Photographer's Husband*

      If I’m guessing right that you’re in the advertising industry, I can confirm your hunch that sometimes working at a smaller shop that has the ability to grow your portfolio can be very beneficial in the long-run.

      The pay disparity would be hard to overcome, certainly. But I’d also keep in mind that the advertising industry (again, in my personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt) is a little more lenient on the ‘job-hopping’ view of things, so I don’t think you’d need to stay there for too long. I know people who have gone to work for absolute sweat-shops, but 6 months later had put together an incredible portfolio and used that to move somewhere else with higher pay/better hours. I’d also note that it may not be the case that just because they’re working 12-hour days now means that they always do – it makes sense that they’d be burning the candle at both ends to make deadlines, that’s pretty common. When the pressure is off, I bet the work hours are a little more relaxed.

      In any case, I wish you the best of luck.

    6. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I wouldn’t do it. I took a job that on paper was the same pay. However, my last job was just 5 minutes from home and OT was plentiful. Here, I have a 45 minute commute and I work a straight 40/wk. The lack of extra money from OT was a real hit to my budget. I was making an extra $12k/yr in OT and just didn’t realize how much I had come to rely on it. Not to mention the added costs of the commute.

    7. Cancer Crush Anon*

      Oh! I forgot another question I had:

      There’s a job opportunity I’m qualified for where my boss’ daughter works. She has met me a few times, and she would absolutely recognize me if she saw me. I haven’t told my boss I’m looking (though I don’t think she’d be surprised). Her daughter would absolutely tell her mom/my boss that she saw me.

      Should I mention this in a cover letter that I know my boss’ daughter works there and if they could keep it confidential? Should I mention this if I get an onsite interview? Any ideas?

      1. The Photographer's Husband*

        I wouldn’t mention it in a cover letter, it would just distract from you selling yourself there.

        If you get an interview and see the daughter there, perhaps you can greet her and mention off-handedly that her mom doesn’t know you’re job-searching, and you’d appreciate it if she could not mention it.

        Even if daughter does see you and tells her mom, this all seems pretty low-risk to me, because I gather from everything that’s gone on, your boss is highly likely to be understanding of the fact that your job-searching.

        1. The Photographer's Husband*

          Wow, I don’t know what happened with the end of that sentence. My grammar.exe file must have suddenly blue-screened.
          *you’re *job searching

          1. The Ginger Ginger*

            And honestly, you’re boss sounds like she’d be supportive if she did know. I agree, just mention it casually if you see the daughter, but otherwise don’t make it a big deal. And when you do mention it, don’t make it sounds covert or anything. Just pose it as, “I’d prefer my boss hear it from me instead of the grapevine, so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t mention it to her until I have something concrete to share myself.” That’s a perfectly legitimate request, and it doesn’t make you sound like you’re being sneaky (which you’re not, of course!).

    8. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      This is such a personal matrix of priorities/risk/etc… But I think I would handle it in the following way:

      I think I’d consider making the move to small firm IF they could meet your current salary of 45k. It sounds like it would be a draw compared to your current job (longer commute + potential long days in exchange for a better environment). To me, that would be a reasonable trade off. Then the tie-breaker for me would be the potential to grow your portfolio. I’m excluding the bonuses because you mentioned that you didn’t use them “to get by” on, you only used them to pay off loans.

      Of course there’s other considerations – the main one being – how likely are you to find a reasonable job (maybe not as good culture-wise, but manageable) at the salary that you’re seeking (48-50k)? Is that a bit on the high side for your market/level of experience? If so I’d be more inclined to consider small firm. If not, then I’d be inclined to pass.

      This is definitely a tough one! I hope you are taking it as a positive that you’re being brought back for two jobs – they might not be the right fit, but it’s always nice to know that a potential interviewer wanted to continue with you. At least for me, it gives me more confidence that other potential employers will too.

      Also – solidarity on the not wanting to work somewhere with no/few women in leadership. In my most recent job search that was hard requirement for me. I work in a pretty traditionally male field (it’s changing, but it’s been slow) so that was a big consideration. I didn’t have a hard number (like must have at least 20% of leadership roles being done by women), but if I scrolled the company directory and only saw a sea of white male face, I passed. Just something that I decided to prioritize.

      1. Cancer Crush Anon*

        45k is low. 50 is even a little low. I did research on my current role and I should be around 55k. I am working with a recruiter and she thought 60k felt about right for me….so I am absolutely underpaid right now.

        And yeah, this experience has left me wanting a female friendly employer. I’m tired of being harassed everywhere I work.

        1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          Ah – that would definitely be a pretty big factor in my decision making matrix. If 45k is pretty solidly low, then I would probably pass it up.

          Which is a bummer! It sucks when you find a place that *feels* great culture-wise, but some other factor makes it a no-go. Culture can be so tough!

          I really wish you the best! You had two solid roles that wanted to proceed with you (one of which was a full offer). Other employers, who pay more in-line with market rates, will too.

    9. Bea*

      Ask him about how he pictures salary increases in the future.

      I took a 2.5k decrease to escape my hell. And 3 months in, I’m up to just a 1040 decrease with that being fixed within another 6 weeks time. Do they have any bonus structure? Unknowingly I also should bank a big enough bonus I’m ahead of where I was by the year end.

    10. Yorick*

      If you just paid off your student loans, you could take a look at your finances and see if you could make it work. It seems feasible since you said you mostly spent the bonuses on student loans.

      Don’t forget to consider whether the benefits will be better or worse than your current job. That could make the pay cut more or less severe.

      I’d consider a pay cut the job were good, especially since you’re trying to leave your current job.

    11. Hmm*

      Wait, are you the one posting every week about how horrific it is to work with the CEO after he said he has a crush on you? This is really relevant information, getting out of that job environment might be worth a paycut, depending on how hard it has been for you mentally

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Two thoughts:

      Don’t let your desperation to weigh in too heavy here. Let’s say your current job was okay, not great, just okay. Would you take this job with the small place? So remove the desperation from your story line and what do you think you would do?

      The fact that you have had to think about it so long and so deeply is a clue. You know YOU best. Do you have a habit of thinking about things until you sell yourself on them? I have done that especially with jobs. If we have to convince ourselves that New Place is a good deal, it’s probably NOT. So think of the past where you have had similar situations that you tried to weigh things out and tried to convince yourself to do something you were iffy on. How did that play out for you in the long run? If you know you can run at it with everything you have and whip it up into something for yourself, then I would say go for it. But that is not what you are saying here.

    13. I'm keeping the books*

      Put a price on your extra working time, and the extra commuting time. Work out how many extra hours you’d be doing each week, price it all up, and label it ‘BURNOUT’. That’s time that you can’t be doing other things: sleeping, relaxing, socialising, de-stressing, household errands and chores, and visiting with your Dad. At a bare minimum, if you can take time off to do it, actually do the ‘new job’ commute at rush hour one day, and see how long it really takes and how it feels for you.

      An extra 20-30 mins a day can be the difference beween feeling rested vs physically exhausted, and between being able to get home, eat, change, and go to the cinema with friends vs spending evenings alone most nights of the week. Is it worth it?

      Also, the pay cut. If he’s asked you to get back to him, he’s still negotiating. At best, he’s really hoping you’ll take the job because you’re a great hire (You made 10k in bonuses! You’re amazing!), and will turn out to be willing to take you at a wage that matches what you’re worth. Neutral, he’s bluffing, but he will actually come back with a mid-range counter offer if you give him a higher number (you say 50k, he offers 48k, for example). At worst, he’s trying to low-ball you because… actually, who cares? If he’s low-balling you when you’re already underpaid for your current job, and he’s expecting longer hours and higher level responsibilities from you in the new job, that’s really pretty disrespectful of you and your skills.

      I work in finance, and I used to do some payroll. Depending on his position and how the budgets are set up, your potential pay packet could be in direct competition with the hiring manager’s own future pay rise or performance bonus. It’s not the case in every job, but especially in small businesses, it’s frequent enough that you can’t rely on hiring managers to advocate for your best interests.

  10. CrystalMama*

    Hi Commentors, happy Friday everyone! Was it a long week or is that just me lol. I swear some people think money grows on Trees!!
    I have a problem at my workplace which I think a lot of you will be able to help with. I have one colleague (let’s call her Mabel) who I just LOVE to pieces but who always has something to chat about. She is a pleasant lady so there’s none of That going on, but I do have work I need to get done!! My problem is always that I am a Supporter so I have trouble cutting her off or breaking the flow. I am a relationship person so anything that feels like it will jepordize my connection with someone is painful!! Any advice?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Just say “Mabel, I love to chat with you but I really have to get back to this,” and do your work.

      It’s totally fine to set boundaries especially when you DO have work to do.

      1. k.k*

        I would say that, and maybe add “Can we catch up at lunch/break”. That’s only of course if you actually want to finish that conversation.

        1. JR*

          I like this! That way she knows for sure it’s not personal. You really do want to chat, just not at the moment when you are juggling multiple projects and trying to stay focused.

    2. LouiseM*

      CrystalMama, I confess I’m surprised to read that you have coworkers! Based on your username/past posts, I had assumed that you were a SAHM or WFH-type with a blog. Just goes to show that you shouldn’t stereotype based on a small amt of information!

      Usually when this happens to me I let my colleagues know that I’m putting on my headphones to focus on X project. You don’t need to listen to anything if you don’t want to. Good luck!

    3. Rookie Manager*

      I would recommend clear boundaries; I’m on a deadline, lets set up a weekly lunch or daily coffee break. As long as you are genuine in saying you can’t talk right now but… she should be ok.

    4. JR*


      The next time you run into Mabel, tell her you are working on something that is seemingly urgent. Maybe you are prepping for a meeting, working on a deadline, or expecting an important call. It’s not technically a lie; you don’t have to be clear that the meeting you are prepping for is next week, or the deadline is next month, or the call is from your mom…

    5. Thlayli*

      I’ll happily chat with anyone. And when I need to get back to work, if there’s no obvious lull in the conversation, ill interrupt their monologue to say “sorry, I really have to get back to work now” or “can I stop you for a second, I’m gonna have to get back to work real soon, can you skip to the end of the story or tell me later?” Or something.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I had a coworker who I loved dearly, I still do but I no longer work with her.
      Chatty Cathy was her name. We shared the workload, if she did not do it that meant I had to do it and visa versa.
      One day I could not take the Chatty Cathy stuff any more.
      I said, “Cath, you know I love ya. But if you do not help me, I will fall over and die. You will have to call the rescue squad.” She knew I was right, our workload was impossible.
      I would suggest a similar idea for your friend. “Cath, you are always a delight to talk with. But I have to get some work done or I will no longer be here for you to talk with at all! They will fire me because my work is not getting done!” If you wanna add something about getting lunch together or grabbing a coffee after work then add that in also.

  11. Susan K*

    I have a shift work job on a team of 12 people. We have about 100 tasks that we have to do on a regular basis (about 40 every day, 30 1-3 times per week, and 30 once per month or less), and they can be categorized as handles, spouts, lids, vessels, and other/miscellaneous. Different people have different preferences, and each person eventually gravitates towards handles, spouts, or lids (vessel work is infrequent and irregular, so no one really specializes in that). Everyone is trained on all 100 tasks, though, and needs to be able to perform any task if necessary, such as when there’s only one person working.

    What’s the best way to distribute work in a situation like this? It’s nice to let everyone do their preferred category most of the time and avoid doing what they don’t like, but then people get out of practice at the things they don’t like. Plus, the way the schedule works, there are different combinations of people each shift, and sometimes there can be, say, three people who like handles, two who like spouts, and nobody who likes lids.

    Right now, the manager usually assigns the work when she’s there, but sometimes she’s not there or she just allows us to decide amongst ourselves. The manager doesn’t seem to have any system for assignments, but usually assigns people to their preferred areas. Some people are more assertive than others about their preferences, which means that, if there’s a conflict, the more domineering people usually get their way and the more cooperative people get stuck with things they don’t like.

    The reason I’m thinking about this is because my manager is considering creating a team lead role, who would be responsible for assigning the work, and I’m going to throw my hat in the ring for it, so I want to be prepared for how to handle it if I get this role. I know I’ll never make everyone happy all of the time, but I’d like to try to make people mostly happy while also being fair and efficient.

    1. An Underemployed Millennial*

      I would let people do what they want most of the time and only schedule them for shifts they don’t like once in a while. I have been in this situation before as an employee and it feels pretty demoralizing when your boss asks and acknowledges your preferences for shifts and then schedules you for shifts you don’t want most of the time anyway. If all the people who like spouts are out a certain day then sure, schedule someone who likes handles, but otherwise let them have their handles when there isn’t a logical reason not to.

      1. Susan K*

        I wouldn’t have any control over the scheduling of the shifts, so I would just have to work with the people who are scheduled on any given day, which might mean that everyone there on a particular shift hates spouts but the spout work still has to be done.

        1. An Underemployed Millennial*

          At that point rotate out who does spouts so that the work is distributed fairly. People will be resentful if they don’t like spouts and have to do it every shift but they notice Jane never has to do them.

      2. Hannah*

        I think I might assign work equally, then allow people to trade if they want to, with the extra requirement that everyone do one of each kind every month, or whatever would make most sense for a time interval. Trades must be mutually agreed upon.

        That way you don’t have to keep track of what everyone likes best, and no one would ever be shut out of a certain kind of work, like if Spouts were universally most popular.

    2. Irene Adler*

      Don’t put too much stock in making people happy. Certainly not at the expense of the company goals.
      As my boss told me years ago, you cannot make anyone happy. It’s just not within your ability to do so.

      Fair and efficient is good.

      Just be ready for a lot of criticism of your decisions. From your reports and your boss. Early on , get boss buy-in/support on how you wish to run things.

      1. Jesca*

        Yes! And get the buy-in from your manager. And also look for ways to show how the new way improved things. Think about what KPIs exist that can show this.

      2. Susan K*

        Yeah, I definitely realize that I can’t make everyone happy. One of the things I’d like to do is distribute the workload more evenly by assigning more to the people who don’t pull their weight, and I’m sure they will be upset about having to cut back on their Facebook time (though I’m hoping it will make the high performers happy because they won’t have to pick up as much slack from the lazy ones). What I am struggling to decide is (if I get this role), should I have a system, or just play it by ear like my manager currently does? Is it worth the extra time to make a system, and can I sustain it? Every time we get a new manager, the new manager tries to plan the assignments in advance, and it never lasts very long because too many emergent things come up unexpectedly, and the manager can’t afford to spend so much time planning out the workload. The manager always ends up going back to making assignments on the spot without any planning or tracking, and I don’t want to have just another failed attempt.

        1. Irene Adler*

          Systems ae good! The more predictability the better. Just don’t let it be so rigid that it cannot accommodate spur of the moment changes.

          You sound like you have good instincts for the role.

        2. TardyTardis*

          Systems are brilliant. I created a system to manage expense reports (they were all manual before that, and it was ghastly, and this was before they all went to Concur), and my system saved my life when the other accounts payable person slid off to a better job a few cubes over, the dirty rat! (still a good friend, but boy did I miss her!). At least it made it clear that with the extra work, I couldn’t possibly do wires (which was a really ugly manual system which I fear they still have there).

          But yes, systems are your friends, because this way even Jane will be cross-trained on lids and make everyone feel you’re being fair.

    3. Jesca*

      This is sort of like a set-up the rest of the employees follow in the department I work in (I have a much different role on the team). What they do now I will say isn’t working from an outsiders prospective. You have one or two people jumping at all the “tickets” and the rest just kind of wait around to see if those people take them. So if I were to run numbers on who has done what, I would speculate that 40% of all work is being completed by one person. That person happens to be the only woman in this role as well. It doesn’t look good at all.

      The system would work much better if it was distributed more fairly. As in, first come first serve in some relative order and depending on the time it takes to complete a certain task. I know people may like to do one thing over another, but generally I think that works better if you just have them assigned to those then and only those. Otherwise, you may run into a situation where one employee is doing all the work while the rest wait, or one employee is doing the least because they *only* take task X.

    4. emm64*

      I used to work in an environment like this, although the tasks were not highly specialized. The manager dealt with this by assigning tasks to employees via a daily schedule. He usually had employees doing multiple types of tasks per day, which might not work as well when the tasks are quite specialized, but it worked well in our context. He also tried to give employees opportunities to do preferred tasks when possible, with the understanding that everyone did have to do less preferred tasks on a fairly regular basis (due to the nature of the work).

      I was a part-time employee and quite young compared to many of my coworkers (it was actually my first job), so that likely influenced my perspective, but I never had a problem with this system. It was also well-established by the time I started working there. I could see where some employees might bristle at a change from full choice to no choice, so this might not be the best solution for your case, but some modification might be helpful.

      1. Aealias*

        Oh, we used to have a system where each of the five daily shifts did different tasks, so your shift hours determined your work for the day. If your people float between shifts, that works really well.

    5. SCAnonibrarian*

      Is there any public system of documentation of who did which if the 100 types of work?

      If so, then tell everyone at the start that they’re expected to be competent and updated with all 100 tasks, and to that point, you expect to see everyone doing each different task at least once a week /2-weeks/month /quarter /whatever. Let them know that they are responsible for this, BUT you’ll be checking the logs to confirm this, and if anyone ‘forgets’ then you’ll assign them shifts with the whatevers that they missed to insure they are up to date. I have a feeling there will be grumbles and a few people will not do
      them all to see if you mean it (or will legit forget) and then you just calmly and routinely schedule them to do what you need them to do, and once they’ve completed their assignments, they can go back to picking their preferences again.

      1. hbc*

        Yes, this. I would also try to work in a flagging system where you could identify their favorite and least favorite tasks. So everyone has to do a minimum of 10 spouts and 10 handles in a month, but on any particular shift where you’ve got two spout haters and one will have to do spouts, you can assign the person who’s been luckier this month about getting the tasks they like.

        1. Susan K*

          You know, I was actually thinking about (if I get this role) sending everyone a survey to identify their favorite and least favorite tasks. Most people not only have preferences in categories, but also individual tasks (e.g., someone may generally prefer handles to spouts, but hate painting handles). But then I worry that this might be making things too complicated. On the other hand, I wonder if it might placate people if I could say, “Ok, I know you hate painting handles, but I’m assigning you to do it today because Amy also hates painting handles, and she has already had to do it twice this month and you haven’t had to do it at all.”

          1. Arjay*

            Is there any room to rotate theless-desirable tasks throughout the shift? So if you have four spout people who all dislike handles, they could do 2 hours each at the handle task (if that makes sense with how lengthy the tasks are themselves). That way they aren’t hating the whole day, the handles do get done, and they all get some practice along the way too.

            It’s like having to cover the reception desk. I might not mind having to do it for an hour at lunchtime, but I don’t want to be stuck there all day long.

          2. Irene Adler*

            Good. Fairness is good. Just don’t let “refereeing” the tasks distract from your overarching goal.

      2. Susan K*

        Yes, everything we do is logged in a database, and I happen to be the administrator of that database, so I can very easily get this information.

        1. changeling*

          Yes, and keep track of who has been doing which task. Also watch out for task switching. We have people that do that that. Not that there is anything wrong with Susie and Mary switching handles and spouts if they both agree, but if that means that Susie hasn’t worked with spouts in years because she always trades, and isn’t keeping up her skills, then it’s a problem.
          We have daily task assignments, and people do tend to gravitate towards their favorite tasks, but I think the most difficult part is keeping track of whose turn it is to do what, for the infrequent stuff, and the universally disliked stuff

    6. Gov doc lib*

      Can you have a rotation of people who get first pick of jobs, say perhaps 20 % of your employees get first choice their tasks on Monday and the rest fill the other tasks from there, a different 20% choose for Tuesday, etc. As for the undesired tasks, just tell them they must have done all choices at least once in a certain time period.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      If you are going to create a rotation for doing the Disliked Tasks, make sure you have the boss’ buy in. If you don’t your rotation won’t stick.

      I had a boss I could not count for backing. Even if she said yes, that sometimes meant no. Here’s what I did:

      1) First and foremost treat everyone with the same level of respect ALWAYS. And treat everyone in a similar manner. In general, do not do something for one person that you would not do for everyone else. This is your foundation and it is important. Don’t skip this step.

      2) Reinforce good choices when you see them. This can be as simple as being overheard saying, “Thanks, Sue, for taking over Disliked Task this week.”

      3) I used to tell the crew, “We need Tasks A, B and C done today. Do I have any volunteers?” No one would answer. I would put a little smile on my face and gently say, “Volunteer or be drafted. We have to get these things done. I know some days I just don’t feel like doing a particular thing but other days are better. If you are having one of those better days, now is a good time to take your turn at it. Then you have done your turn and you are set for a bit.” (Believe it or not this worked. People started volunteering. After I said this I did not have such an issue with getting folks to take their turn.)
      I have also taken a preemptive strike. “Okay today we need to do tasks A, B and C. Bob, Mary and Sue have done these tasks a lot lately, and I would like to see someone else volunteer to take their turn at these things. Do we have any volunteers who are not Bob, Mary and Sue?”(I used this later, because there seemed to be one or two tasks left that just did not get done. So this is how I got everyone on board with doing all the tasks.)

      4) Where time allowed, I found it really helpful if *I* was seen doing the Disliked Task also. People realized that I was taking a turn, too. This helped them to realize it’s not much different than those chores at home we don’t like. We just do them anyway.)

    8. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Are the tasks dependent on each other? Is there a set amount of each process that you have to do each day? That affects the answer, I think.

  12. PunchDrunk*

    I’ve been working for a toxic boss for several years. It’s a fact that’s well-known across the company, as we have turned over almost my entire department 5 times in the last few years. HR and management don’t seem to want to do anything. 

    I’ve been pretty good at managing her, largely thanks to the advice I’ve read on AAM, and I’m hoping you can help me figure this latest problem out.

    In August, my Mom got sick, and we learned that she has terminal stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Things have been getting pretty steadily worse since the first of the year. My boss is the only one I’ve told, and I only told her because I knew I’d need some additional flexibility as I help care for my dying parent.

    Predictably, my boss has been not-great. Every PTO request meets with an instant no, unless I justify it by telling her exactly why I need it. Even with everything that has been going on, my PTO usage has been far less than my coworkers- I checked the calendars to be sure.

    I have almost 5 weeks of PTO banked, and I’m about to hit my cap. I’m a reliable employee, who always meets or beats her deadlines, and routinely handles more than my own desk. I can’t think of a logical reason she’s so set against me, and I’m really uncomfortable with the amount of very personal information I have to tell her in order to use my time. 

    This week, she told me that I have to apply for FMLA leave, and tell all of my coworkers what’s going on. I’m bewildered, and exhausted. I have an appointment with HR next week, but I can’t see my boss’ angle here. Beneficent has never been her thing, and I’m worried she’s setting me up somehow. Can anyone tell me if I’m opening myself up for trouble by applying for FMLA? Does anyone have any other suggestions? 

    1. Miri*

      What would happen if you started looping in HR on your PTO requests? They’re part of the benefit of your job and your boss should have to justify why you can’t use them instead of you having to justify why you can.

      1. Nonprofit worker*

        Yeah, I would do this too. I had a pretty awful boss who treated me pretty poorly for two years at my company and I kept it to myself mostly. I thought that he was more valuable an employee and was worried that his boss or HR would side with him. When I finally did loop in HR they were really great and validated that the way he was treating me was not okay.

        As an outsider reading your message, it’s not appropriate for him to deny all your requests and it IS time to loop in HR or his boss for support. You can say you need advice for talking to him, maybe coaching and that way they’ll be aware of the situation without you feeling like you are tattling (even though you aren;t anyway).

      2. The OG Anonsie*

        Ehhh as someone who’s a regular FMLA-needer and has dealt with plenty of punitive bosses and crappy HR departments, I honestly wouldn’t. Unless PD’s experience with HR there is that they’re super helpful and accommodating, in most instances they’ll just say that the manager has discretion and back up the boss.

        Since she already knows that their HR department is generally useless, going straight to FMLA and not bringing up the existing dispute is going to be the safest and most effective bet IME.

    2. Anonanonanon*

      I’m so sorry you are going though this. Applying for FMLA sounds reasonable. That way if your request conflicts with someone else’s there is an official justification for why you get precedence. Telling everyone does not sound reasonable to me. You should definitely talk to HR about that and say that you do not want to give specifics to your coworkers. I can see it being helpful to know you have FMLA but there is no benefit to explaining why.

    3. Madeleine Matilda*

      FMLA may actually be a good thing for you as it is protected leave. I would talk with your HR about it. As for telling your co-workers, I don’t understand why that is up to your boss to decide. If you are going to be out for several weeks and they will need to cover for you then you might want to consider telling them that you will be out for a family emergency, but you only should share what you are comfortable sharing.

    4. Jesca*

      I would honestly push back on this very hard. I would start with sitting down with my manager and stating that you have 5 weeks of PTO that seemingly she is not allowing you to use. And then I would ask her why she feels like you cannot use it? Ask her specifics – like if she likes a certain time frame or whatever. If she pushes on you again to use FMLA (which BTW usually requires you to use up all of your PTO time), I would then tell her flat out and politely that you will discuss the FMLA request to HR and that you will of course have to explain to them why you are being asked by your manager to go that route. It is not threatening, but it also lets your manager know that her request to you to use FMLA requires you to give all the information as to why to others.

      Actually, I would go do this now. I am so sorry you are going through this. I have two very close family members dying from cancer right now (grandfather and SIL). You should not have to deal with this ridiculousness from your boss, and I would definitely loop that into the conversation you have with HR.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        FMLA doesn’t require you to use up all your PTO! It depends on the employer’s individual policy. Some employers require you to take your PTO and then unpaid FMLA leave (this is called “consecutive leave”), while others require that you run both concurrently (i.e., your PTO also runs down your FMLA clock).

        I would loop in HR on your PTO requests. Your boss cannot require you to disclose that your mother is dying and you have caretaking responsibilities right now—that is really out of line and, imo, cruel. FMLA intermittent leave may be a good thing in that it’s protected leave, so if she tries to set you up, you may have additional legal recourse. But be cautious and review your company’s FMLA policy.

      2. Observer*

        FMLA doesn’t require you to use your banked time. And technically, the boss can keep her from using her banked time, even though it’s part of her compensation package. FMLA protects her, because they HAVE to let her take it.

    5. SoCalHR*

      Applying for FMLA shouldn’t be inviting trouble, its actually a legal protection to allow you to take time off. Although I agree that if you have sufficient PTO for your requests and you’re not slacking in work, it doesn’t really matter WHY you’re taking time off (although keep in mind that managers can deny PTO requests for business needs, so that is still at her discretion). And there would be no reason to require you “share the specific reason with all your coworkers”. At most saying you have a personal issue to tend to or family demand and you’ll be taking more time off than normal should be sufficient for a team announcement. You’re on the right track with meeting with HR, try not to panic too much until you hear their perspective on it.

      The one negative I can think of with FMLA is maybe your boss is trying to get you in that system to limit the amount of time you can take off to the 12 weeks. But I’d check your handbook on this, specifically, do they make you use all of your PTO before going into unpaid time? or do they require you to use PTO and FMLA concurrently? You may want to address with HR the fact that your boss requires you to give her a reason when you request PTO, is that company policy? (Allison has prior posts on this)

      Toxic bosses suck, but its extra horrible when you’re dealing with personal issues, so I empathize with you on that. Hang in there!

    6. A Person*

      FMLA sounds like exactly what you need in this situation. You can set it up directly through HR, and you don’t have to tell colleagues anything other than you are out on family leave (because that is your status).

      If the boss tries to retailiate against you, that FMLA status gives you legal protection and an opening to go to HR and a lawyer, if needed, with the magic words “FMLA retaliation”.

      1. RobbieNYC*

        I’ve been there… if upper management likes the boss and the boss isn’t an idiot in how they give you grief for FMLA usage, they will get away with a lot. Remember that HR’s job is to protect the company.

        I’m not saying “don’t take it!”, I’m saying “document, document, and document.”

        1. Observer*

          Document your head off. But if HR is competent, then they will know that once you have explicitly asked for FMLA, there is a limit to what they can get away with.

          To the extent that if they try to keep you from applying, push back. And document that they tried to keep you from applying for FMLA. Keeping people from taking FMLA leave is illegal. Also, if you have that on record, it’s going to be much harder to get away with other things.

          1. Clem*

            So here’s my personal story with using FMLA and how my boss used it against me.

            I was in a similar situation as OP was. My dad got ill very suddenly, and I took FMLA to help take care of him. My boss and I never got along, and he told me that I couldn’t tell anyone about going on FMLA or my dad’s health problems. While I was out in FMLA, a bunch of coworkers deleted me or blocked me off Faceboo, so he was telling them something sketchy about me.

            For the first few weeks after I got back, he refused to talk to me. After a few weeks of that, he put me on a PIP set up for me to fail. The PIP didn’t have any quantifiable goals and referenced things which didn’t happen (like “many missed deadlines”. When I asked my boss what those deadlines were because I hadn’t missed anything except when I was on FMLA, he said it looked really bad that I didn’t know). I brought it all to HR under claim of FMLA retaliation, and they insisted that he was a manager in good standing and the investigation didn’t show anything.

            I could’ve brought this to the EEOC or a lawyers but the years of cost and stress it would’ve taken weren’t worth it.

            OP, I still recommend that you take FMLA to be with your mother. Just keep in mind that a reasonably smart manager can cook the books to get back at you for it, and be really proactive about documenting everything. Save old emails and performance reviews, plus any correspondence between you, your boss and HR.

    7. CatCat*

      FMLA will actually give you some protections against any retaliation by your boss so I would definitely go for it.

    8. Ali G*

      I think talking to HR about your options is the best idea here. Your boss doesn’t sound like she has your best interests in mind – she sounds like she’s trying to make this situation best for HER and that means not having to deal with your PTO requests. Typically I think you have to exhaust your PTO before you can take FML, but I could be wrong.
      I would approach your meeting with HR like this: Tell them what is going on, that you are having trouble understanding why your boss needs so much details for using the PTO you’ve earned (hopefully you are at least trying to schedule the PTO in advance/not at times it would be horribly inconvenient for boss – and if so stress that), and then tell them boss said you had to take FML and that you are confused and need guidance on next steps. Hopefully they can help you resolve this and you can stop stressing about this and instead focus on your mom.
      As for telling everyone why you are taking leave, that’s not your boss’s call. You may need to say something though, so just have something prepared, like I have a personal issue that is requiring me to be out of state for a little while and so I need to take a leave of absence.
      Good luck to you. I’ve had a horrible boss in the past and this must make everything with your mom so much harder. Take care of yourself too!

    9. Jadelyn*

      Honestly, I would’ve suggested that you take FMLA sooner than this anyway. If she’s trying to set you up by having you go on FMLA, she’s an idiot, since FMLA specifically protects you from her doing anything to you on the basis of your taking PTO for FMLA purposes. My guess would be rather that someone in HR or someone above her found out from her and told her she needed to have you apply for FMLA, and the drive to get you on FMLA is coming from beyond her, since she doesn’t seem like the type to care otherwise.

      I’m sure you know this, but I’m just going to stress that applying for FMLA doesn’t mean you have to tell anyone aside from HR, and that only because they have to have the paperwork for it. I don’t believe she can force you to disclose the nature of your leave to anyone.

    10. PunchDrunk*

      Hi Everyone,

      Thanks for all of the info and advice. Dealing with my boss tends to feel like playing chess against a really erratic opponent on the best of days. Dealing with her now is exhausting beyond words, and I’m concerned that I’m missing something.

      The other week, she told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to take any time off, including already scheduled time, until I completed a project that wasn’t scheduled to be finished until May. I’ve been working overtime like mad, and finished it this week, but needed a day to catch up on all of the things I’d neglected or rescheduled because of it. That request is what triggered this latest thing.

      I feel like I should discuss all of this with HR, but we’ve all learned not to expect much help from that department. I don’t want to open myself up to more retaliation if HR gets back to her with what I’ve said.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Does it make sense to leave? Your boss sounds like a workplace terrorist, and this whole situation sounds awful. I’m really sorry that you’re going through this, especially at such a difficult time. :(

        1. PunchDrunk*

          I was working on leaving before Mom got sick, but the job search wasn’t going well. Since then, it’s just been too much.

          I was planning to start a certification program, and will probably do that after. The doctors think Mom only has a few months left. My FOF would probably keep me for 4-5 months, I really don’t want that stress right now. I just need to hang on.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Totally understandable—I don’t know that I’d be able to job search and balance everything on your plate right now. I’m really sorry this is happening :( There are not enough warm thoughts to send your way, nor enough angry imps to send your boss’s way, over this situation.

      2. Jules the Third*

        So sorry about your mom. Hugs if you want them.

        On the Sucky Boss: Document document document… Be consistent with boundaries without challenging her directly.

        Make sure all your PTO requests are in writing, so that you can demonstrate her immediate ‘no’ response, absurd requests (a month+ early?!), and intrusive questioning.
        Check your company’s PTO policy, and learn the terminology is in the handbook. Don’t be explicit when you’re discussing it (eg, don’t say ‘company policy says this’), just use the terms from the company policy. This lays the groundwork, because she will recognize the terms, but it doesn’t challenge her directly.
        Have a 1-1 with her where you say, ‘Can you make sure you assess the business needs before you review my PTO requests? I’ve noticed a lot of denials on my PTO requests that are reversed after you check the business needs, and I’d like us to get more efficient about it.”
        If she pushes further, or asks why you are requesting, the answer is: “PTO is a part of my compensation package from the company. The company includes this because they understand that employees need breaks. I know you understand that, O Competent Manager, I just want to address an inefficiency.”
        Try not to discuss your mom, and avoid framing it as ‘PTO to care for your mom.’ Up until you use all your PTO, it is none of her business what you use the PTO for. Maybe mention that you will be signing up for FMLA after your PTO is used. PTO is a benefit of your job, you shouldn’t need to FMLA (and risk using up your FMLA days with PTO.)
        Follow up with an email thanking her for the conversation, repeating whatever resolution you got.
        When asking for specific PTO, if she continues to resist, push back gently and consistently, every time – put the ball back in her court with ‘Is there a business reason why you are denying / delaying this request?’ (assuming ‘PTO will be approved unless there’s a business reason’; substitute whatever’s in the handbook for ‘business reason’ as needed.)

        Good luck.

      3. The OG Anonsie*

        You’re protecting yourself by applying for FMLA, so do it ASAP. Like pull the paperwork and try to get moving on it as soon as you possibly can, because once you’re covered by that she won’t be allowed to pull literally any of the things she’s pulling right now. Don’t even loop her in on the fact that you’re doing it until it’s done, so there’s no way she can try to disrupt it. You’re right to be wary that HR isn’t necessarily looking out for you, for sure, but if you just quietly get in your documents and everything they will typically just handle it and not start any weird trouble.

        Two things this will get you that are important: 1) She won’t be able to play games with approving your leave, and 2) She won’t be able to require you to tell her or your colleagues personal details about why you need the leave. It also protects you from her overtly retaliating, although I’m sure you’re aware of all the ways it’s possible for her to skirt that, it at least puts up a partial barrier.

        I’m sorry about your mom and I’m sorry you have to work with a total fuckhead at the same time.

    11. Observer*

      Actually, if you apply for FMLA, you’ll be in a better place because she HAS to grant you that leave once it’s set up. And you do NOT have to tell anyone else (outside of HR, of course) what is going on. And if SHE decides to tell the world or punish you somehow, that’s retaliation with is illegal – and opens up the company to legal issues. So, if HR is in the least bit competent, this is one thing they will handle reasonably. Not because they understand management, but because “lawsuit” is something that most barely competent HR departments do get.

    12. foolofgrace*

      It seems to me that overlapping your PTO and FMLA is not a good deal for you. If you can take the PTO first (and I don’t see how your boss can prevent that, talk to HR), then take FMLA, you get a total of nearly 17 weeks off. If you overlap them, you get a max of 12. It’s just math. Talk to HR about your boss prohibiting you from taking your PTO. Sorry for your hardships and best of luck to you, keep pus posted please.

      1. Natalie*

        If you can take the PTO first (and I don’t see how your boss can prevent that, talk to HR), then take FMLA,

        They can absolutely prevent it, as your employer can require you to take your time off as FMLA leave. You don’t have any legal entitlement to protect your PTO.

    13. Bea*

      You don’t have to tell everyone else your situation except for HR. They are the only ones who need this information. Your boss is a scumbag.

      I’m so sorry you’re faced with this difficult personal time and have a nasty boss to deal with. You deserve better. When my dad was ill my mom’s boss bent over backwards and when she took FLMA to leave for 3 months, they did everything to keep her after the mandated 12 weeks were over. So srsly your boss is gross and I’m sickened by it.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      A toxic boss like this? Yeah, she is setting you up for “The Treatment”. It could look like this, “OP, left us in a lurch to take vacation time, something about her parent dying? I dunno. However,I told her I would make sure she did not get paid for her extended vacation.” (This is to scare the crap out of your coworkers and keep them in line by bending their minds even more.)
      For you, it will look more like, “I have to take you off of Desirable Task/Project because you are just not reliable. Look at what you have done to this company. It’s a mess. I don’t think you can salvage your reputation after this fiasco. You know that no one else any where is going to hire you after all the time you have taken here.”(This is to scare the crap out of you and keep you in line by bending your mind even more.)

      Been there, seen it.

      If you can afford to quit the job, then give your notice and quit. No job is worth this crap. None. This boss is out beyond toxic, when people don’t care about dying parents that is the end of the road.

      In my experience, the behavior stemmed from the idea that the boss thought the employee would get a substantial inheritance once Parent passed and leave the company because of new financial security.

      As far as your coworkers, if you must notify them realize that you can notify them and instruct them all in the same email. This could go like this, “Boss wants me to tell you guys that I will be out for a while because my father is gravely ill. I understand some of you will be absorbing my work and I want you to know I truly appreciate that. Please also understand that this is nothing I wish to discuss in detail as my time at work is my downtime, my break from my personal life. Thanks, everyone.”

  13. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Another heads-up today that comments may take longer to come out of moderation than usual but I’ll release them as soon I have a chance. (I’m on the final day of recording the audiobook version of my book, so I’m in a recording studio all day with limited breaks.)

    Don’t panic if you don’t see your comment (and please don’t repost it since then we end up with multiples of the same comment). Thanks!

    1. hermit crab*

      That’s so exciting – good luck with the audiobook recording! I can’t wait to listen to it.

  14. Pickles*

    Just wanted to post a follow-up on a question I posted last week! The original question was–

    Got a question I was hoping you guys could help me with, not an imminent problem but something I want to work out a plan for in advance when it inevitably will arise.

    There is a guy who sexually assaulted me, and later plain assaulted-assaulted me. From the look on his face, I have no doubt that he would kill me if it was advantageous for him and he knew he could get away with it. I reported these assaults to our organization at the time, which did nothing. I didn’t involve law enforcement because I didn’t think they’d do anything, and because I thought it would provoke him into assaulting me again.

    We’ve both since moved on and have reached very prestigious positions in our careers, the sort where we both now fly all over the country to give presentations. What do I do if I get invited to give a presentation in his city or at his organization, or vice versa? It would be a serious threat to my life to be in the same location as him. If I’m aware and alert and around people I would be fine, but it would only take one moment where I let my guard down when I’m somewhere alone for something really, really bad to happen.

    If he comes here, do I see if my employer will hire a bodyguard for me, or do I leave town for a few days until he clears out? What do I tell my employer? And if I get invited to give a talk where he is, do I ask the people inviting me if they’ll hire a bodyguard for me, or do I turn them down, and what do I say?
    A lot of people suggested informing building/hotel security not to let him in. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option because there *is* no building security. The nature of my work requires that anyone off the street can walk in and meet me in my office, and state law specifies that they can even do so carrying a loaded gun.

    Any other ideas?

    1. Susan K*

      This must be very frightening for you. I would really urge you to look into getting a restraining order so you can call the police at the first sign of trouble from him. If you’re not willing to go to the police, there’s not much you can do. It’s highly unlikely that your employer will pay for a bodyguard for you, especially if you haven’t taken any steps for your own protection such as going to the police or getting a restraining order. Going to the police might also help to show him that he can’t get away with hurting you because if you are harmed, he will be the prime suspect.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        This is your best bet. Depending on your state (I’m going to speak of my own experience), you’re going to have to show a preponderance of evidence to prove to the judge why you need a protective order/restraining order; a police report would be very helpful in that situation. Having that handy sheet of paper doesn’t do much other than allow you to call the police and have him removed. Like Susan said, he would also become the prime suspect should any future events occur.

      2. neverjaunty*

        It’s absolutely untrue that there’s not much anyone can do absent a restraining order – especially since she might not be able to get one given the passage of time. (And then what does that signal to him? That he got away with it.)

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I read Susan to be saying it’s difficult to receive physical protection if you’re not willing to go to the police (not that you must have a restraining order).

          But I agree that there are other things that can and should be put in place that don’t require going to the police. Both your employer and event organizers should attempt to help protect you, Pickles, because if nothing else, it’s a massive legal liability if you disclose your concerns/request and they don’t assist you.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Seconded. States will often respect a protective order from another state, and this would give you the most legal coverage. It may also persuade hotels, building security, etc., to keep him far from you to avoid having to deal with police coming over to enforce the PO if he threatens you or gets too close.

        This sounds scary—I’m so sorry.

    2. Forking Great Username*

      I don’t think asking your work to hire a bodyguard is reasonable, unfortunately. Have you considered carrying around mace or something along those lines in case it ever becomes necessary for self defense?

      I’m also an assault/sexual assault survivor, and of course you don’t owe us any details here, but have you talked to a therapist or someone about all of this? Based on your previous post and this one, it seems like this is something you’re frequently thinking about, and I wasn’t sure if there was reason to believe he would be aware of your travel and whereabouts and actually go to the trouble of tracking you down. Is that how those situations occurred in the past, or did he threaten that?

      The only other thing that comes to mind is telling your job that it’s unsafe for you to travel to X area due to personal circumstances. But if he’s in your area? With no building security, at that point you need to talk to law enforcement and get their advice. I know you don’t wish to do that, but its just very outside of most professional norms to ask work to hire a bodyguard.

      1. Forking Great Username*

        Also, I want to clarify that I’m more talking about just being in the same city as him – clearly it would be different if it was actually at one of your organizations!

    3. Lora*

      If I was invited to give a presentation where someone assaulted me, I would turn it down and be extremely clear to the conference organizers about why and what measures would need to be in place before I’d feel comfortable giving it.

      “Dear Conference Organizers:

      Thank you for the invitation to speak at MegaConference with Mr SpaceyWeinstein. Unfortunately on Date, I was sexually assaulted by Mr SpaceyWeinstein. I’m sure you will understand why I am unable to present at the same conference as him. I would be delighted to present at any other venues where Mr SpaceyWeinstein will not be present, of course, and I appreciate your consideration.


      It doesn’t actually matter if there is no building security in a hotel or whatever. That can be arranged, there are TONS AND TONS of private security available for hire for small short term things. Hotels do that stuff all the time for celebrities and whatnot.

      If his organization asks you and you have to tell them why you won’t do it…sucks to be him.

      1. Specialk9*

        Lora, would you really? Have you ever had someone you thought would kill you, literally?

        Is there someone who you’re always scanning crowds for fearfully?

        Have you planned out how you’ll step in front of, or away from, people to protect them from bullets or knives?

        I have, and I would NEVER put that target back on me, by getting him fired and shamed publicly. At this point, OP is likely only one of many people he’s done this to (because dogs don’t change their spots), and there’s a good chance she’s not high on his radar.

        Your advice is great Internet stranger advice, but I can’t imagine following it.

        1. Lora*

          Yes. Sexually assaulted twice, once as a child and once as a teen. Ex was abusive, both physically and mentally, and had lots of guns although I’m told his lawyer convinced him to get rid of them. Thanks for asking.

          I’ve never been anything less than forthcoming about why I will not associate with those people, in the event that someone asks (thankfully it’s rare but it occasionally happens).

          OP is likely one of many he’s done it to, I agree. How are you going to find strength in numbers otherwise though? Start a Google Doc ? I’m serious, if there’s not a Google doc of Crappy Men In Your Field, start one. Only the OP can judge what is safe and what will bring his wrath down on her, but I personally found that most people were helpful – they’d seen enough crap themselves to know that there are monsters in the world.

          1. fposte*

            I also think that different people take different approaches in response to this kind of threat, and I think both the strong defense and strong offense approaches are legitimate choices–you make the one that works best for you and your own circumstances, and you can change over time if you want, too.

            1. orchidsandtea*

              fposte, I consistently admire your balanced and insightful advice–here particularly.

    4. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of faith either in the police or restraining orders. I would say that if you get invited to do a presentation where he is, turn it down.

      If he comes to you, I think that kind of depends on the relationship you have with your manager. If you trust them, I would have a discussion with them. Just lay out the facts that this is a person who has previously assaulted you on more than one occasion and threatened your life and that you absolutely do not feel safe around them. You can discuss with them what options are and aren’t feasible on their end.

      I would also seek out a victim advocate, maybe even before you talk to your manager. They may have a better idea of what your options are and how to stay safe. Just search your state and victim advocate and services should come up. My husband is a victim advocate and in my obviously biased opinion they are wonderful and super helpful.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I wouldn’t turn the opportunities down without disclosing why (see Lora’s script). Giving presentations is often seen as a sign that someone is a leader in their profession, and Pickles should not have to sacrifice career-building opportunities because of him. Many organizers do this badly, but some will disinvite the assailant if another presenter raises the issue.

      2. MechanicalPencil*

        Seconding the helpful nature of victim advocates. Having mine help me through a swath of paperwork is probably one of the few things that made me actually proceed with a few items. Mine is attached to my local police department and contacted me after I filed a report, otherwise I probably never would have done it on my own or known about half of the resources I’ve now tapped into.

        1. Lora*

          Yes, thirding the recommendation for a victim advocate. I had one from the local DA’s office and she was super helpful and understanding, even though I ended up not following up on charges – she was able to get together a lot of paperwork for me because the criminal proceedings would have been nightmare fuel, but there was enough documented evidence to get a very nice $ettlement in a civil case.

          Plus, Pickles is a leader now. God knows I’ve done this as needed:
          Colleague: Hey, Famousdude is looking for someone to collaborate on–
          Me: Nope.
          Colleague: But it’s Famousdude!
          Me: You collaborate with him then. (meaningful glare) Famousdude is a gotdamn pervert.
          Colleague: He is?
          Me: Yup. He’s a boob man. And that’s all I’m saying.

          You don’t need to give details. Just stating facts: he’s done bad things and needs to stay away from you. Ideally other human beings too, but staying away from you is the bare minimum.

          I mean, what’s your other option, poison his coffee at the conference?
          (don’t poison him)
          (well maybe poison him)

      3. Jules the Third*

        +1 to a victim advocate.

        My experience has been that POs are not incredibly useful, but they do serve as documentation, and documentation that demonstrates a certain level of commitment and sincerity. I think you’d have a tougher road to hoe if you started sending letters that said, ‘X assaulted me’ without a police report and PO.

        Not that he hasn’t made the road tough already, just that documentation helps get the audience on your side.

        1. Susan K*

          Yes, exactly. I’m sure this guy will deny all the accusations and maybe even accuse Pickles of slandering him by telling event organizers he assaulted her. If this guy is equally (or more) prominent in the field, event organizers are probably going to be reluctant to treat him like a criminal based solely on Pickles’ word, especially if he comes up with a story about why Pickles has a personal vendetta against him and *he’s* the victim here. While a police report and PO are also based on the victim’s word, I suspect the documentation would give Pickles’ concerns more credibility.

          A PO itself won’t stop the guy from harming Pickles, but it would allow her to have him arrested if, say, he shows up at her workplace or an event where she’s speaking.

    5. Observer*

      Firstly, go to the police. It doens’t matter how long ago it was. Hopefully they will be helpful. But even if they aren’t, it’s something that will put you in a better position to advocate for yourself.

      Secondly, find a Victim advocate. Perhaps, even do that before you go to the police – get their help in reporting it. If the advocate is any good they will be the best person to figure out what your options are to stay safe.

    6. Specialk9*

      It sounds like you’re saying this scary man is in a different city and a different company. You are worried that you will be hired to speak in his city or company. You are worried of him coming after you if you report him to his company or to the police.

      So tell your company that you will not speak at Acme Inc, or in Anytown USA. (Don’t ask – if asked why you can say you were repeatedly attacked by an individual who lives/works there.) That’s a clear bright line that you get to make and defend with the ferocity of a Mama Bear. And in the age of MeToo, I can’t imagine that much pushback.

      That said, it sounds like you know your own workplace and its lack of protections, but on travel, I’m not sure your belief that there is no protection available is correct for other companies than your own. Lots of companies have (esp the big ones) routine protection for assault / domestic assault. At my company we do a whole host of things, and it’s basically a low key conversation with Security (you provide a photo or restraining order and ask for a reserved close parking spot, and/or guard escort to the car).

      I understand not wanting to go after someone so scary. I have two people who if I saw them in my space, I’d be convinced I was about to die. I also wouldn’t go after them legally or try to report them to their company.

    7. WorkingOnIt*

      It seems like it would be a good idea for you to seek independent legal advice, someone who would be able to walk you through what your options might be. I feel like meeting someone in real life would be more effective, where you can clearly explain what happened, your concerns, and they can support you.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Good managers know how to start to handle these things. They know what guidelines are in place and/or they know who do bring into the discussion. If you have a good boss, then loop the boss in. If not perhaps seek out an HR person who has a good rep in your company.

      Remember the only discussion is keeping YOU safe. The goal of talking these folks is not to build a legal case. This is important to hang on to what the goal is here. As you talk with other well chosen people you will see their sense of outrage build. You may need to remind them that the focus of the conversation is keeping YOU safe, and the focus is NOT about righting past wrongs. The latter would be a separate activity.

    9. Anonymous Ampersand*

      If I was in your shoes I would talk to a domestic violence team.
      Also pick up a copy of the gift of fear if you haven’t before.
      I’m sorry this is something you have to think about :(

  15. Llama Wrangler*

    I am a finalist for a position where the majority of the work is remote. What questions do you think I should ask about the setup and expectations for the work before committing? (There’s been a lot of questions and discussion about work from home; I didn’t see this question asked before but apologies if I missed it.)

    As context, I have always worked traditional office jobs before. My current position allows us to work from home occasionally, which I do particularly when I have a big project that I need to focus on but my home is not set up for regular remote work, nor do I think it could comfortably set up for it (I live in a small apartment and have nowhere to put a desk, nor any space for any kind of regular office setup). This position involves a lot of travel to sites and there’s a coworking space possibly available for our use in my city. The things I’m wondering about are: what technology they give us (laptop? hotspot? cell phone?) and whether it’s okay to use the coworking space as our office on any days we’re not traveling, but I don’t know what’s appropriate to ask about, and I also wonder whether there are important questions that I’m missing.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If using a coworking space is ok, ask them if they would pay for it (or at least part of it). They likely won’t, but you won’t know unless you put that on the table.

      1. Adlib*

        Agree with this! I’ve visited/used many coworking sites in my city, and they are wonderful – not quite a typical office but not as casual as home. It’s nice to have somewhere to go that isn’t home.

        I would ask about anything you are genuinely wanting to know. I don’t think there’s an inappropriate thing to ask when you are not familiar with the ins and outs of regular remote work. Good luck, and I hope it works out!

    2. Red Reader*

      What are their requirements for work from home? My org requires that I have a space in a separate room (but no door required), a fire extinguisher in the room, appropriate homeowner/renter insurance to cover my work-provided equipment, that I am not permitted to connect a printer to my work machine, and that I cannot be the primary caretaker for a child under 12 while on the clock. (Oh, and that I have to have high speed cable or DSL internet, no dialup.)

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Wow, yes that is much more formal than the sense I got from them, but it’s worth asking those questions.

        1. Ali G*

          Thanks for asking this! I am in a similar position, so looking for answers too. I would add asking about reimbursements for office supplies (printer ink, paper, etc. and other stuff that would normally be freely available at an office).
          Also be sure to ask yourself if you would like to work from home. I’m pretty good with it, but it does take some restraint to not do your laundry, or take a long lunch break, or get wrapped up in personal stuff because it’s all so accessible. So make sure you can handle being at home without “being at home” if that makes sense.

          1. Llama Wrangler*

            Yes, Ali, the question about whether I’m okay not “being at home” is a good one, especially because my apartment is so small I’ll have a hard time finding a physical separation of space.

        1. Red Reader*

          I work with medical records, so they specifically don’t want us printing off anything that even might have patient information on it offsite, and we’re a largely paperless system anyway. A couple of times a year I email myself a training certificate to print and file, but that’s about it. Anybody who has to print documentation for work reasons is required to do so at a printer onsite.

    3. SophieChotek*

      I would ask about:
      -work laptop/accessories (mouse, lock for laptop, bag, etc.) – will all that be reimbursed
      – high-speed internet (at home) if you think that could work (but it sounds like not) or cover cost of hotspot
      – can they set up a VPN if you need to work at a coworking space or some place similar (another option might be a library, if you have on near by. The one in my town is actually quite quiet, so I often go there when I am job searching or even when I work remotely)
      – cover cost of work cell phone
      – I assume you will be reimbursed (mileage/flight) to travel to sites; not sure if you could get reimubrsement to go to coworking space (though you could ask about co-working space being covered, but I’m not sure)
      – expectations/communication styles with remote co-workers/bosses
      – oversight/management from remote bosses (I work remotely and have to write a pages-long report every week about what I did; my mom’s husband only works remotely a few times a month but has to do the same thing too)

      1. Emmie*

        To this comment and Red Reader’s comment: What kind of net speed is required? Is it available in your area, or with your provider? Also, think about your back up net plan. Having your net go out is like having your car break down in a sense. It’s good to have a plan B – especially if live in an area where net goes down periodically. (I don’t have this issue, but some may.)

    4. Emmie*

      * Ask about the hours, and which time zone your schedule must align.
      * What percentage of the workers are remote? Lower numbers would trigger additional questions about how they manage the position, and whether this is a new remote position.
      * What is the management style with the director’s remote employees?
      * How much do you need to travel? Where to? How much notice do you receive for travel requests?
      * Who provides your office supplies? Laptop, etc…
      * Are you an employee, or an independent contractor?
      * Do not overestimate the tax write offs you’ll receive as a WFH employee. Sometimes remote work is code for the company will pay you less because you don’t have the traditional commuting and in office requests. But, you’ll have extra expenses for electricity, gas, and even bathroom tissue. You may also spend more getting social interaction too.

    5. Llama Wrangler*

      Thanks for everyone’s responses! Because the majority (but not all) of the travel will be to various sites in my city, the costs will not be that much different from what I would incur if I were going to and from an office every day. Reading through all of these answers is making me realize that I likely would just want to work out of the coworking space they are already members of on a regular basis, so I think I should ensure that is okay. In any case, there is still the question of supplies like laptop, cell phone, and hotspot for when I’m off site. And if they’re not willing to let me work at the coworking space most days, then I’d need to figure out what makes sense. (could I work in the lounge in my building? is it enough of a pay bump to cover if I want to work in coffee shops or other coworking spaces?)

      1. foolofgrace*

        I worked remotely for two different companies and all I got was a laptop and carrying case. No reimbursement for anything else, everything was on me to provide. But I didn’t care, I loved it, and yes I would throw in a load of wash now and then (but not fold or put away, just throw in the machines). I suggest that you be very attentive to being available on whatever IM system they use — it looks very bad to disappear without putting up a notice as to how long you’ll be gone. Good luck.

        1. Red Reader*

          Same, my office doesn’t provide any office supplies at all, just my laptop/docking station, monitor, and they’d have given me a keyboard and mouse but I preferred to get my own. But the only things I’ve needed to supply myself in the last three and a half years have been pens (which I have a zillion of anyway) and I think I’m on my second pad of sticky notes. Because I lost the first one when I rearranged my office.

  16. It's bananas*

    Are some people just jealous when you take a day off and they have to be at work? I’ve been at my job for almost a year, but when I’ve been sick or have taken PTO, they seem to get hostile towards me. The woman I work directly with (not my boss, but senior to me), acts like she doesn’t believe me when I’m sick or out. It’s okay for HER to take a day, but no one else. She even lied once and told everyone she had a doctor’s appointment and the next day talked about how she got her hair done and then looked like, “oops!” because it was obvious she lied.

    I don’t get it! I have the time- what’s the problem?

    1. The Original Flavored K*

      Sounds like pretty much exactly what you described. Some people just get bitter and resentful over people using the time.

    2. Lynca*

      There’s not one. That’s just how some people (weirdly) are. I still get comments about using time. I get comments about not taking enough time.

    3. An Underemployed Millennial*

      They might be jealous, they might already feel overwhelmed and resentful that they have to do extra work on days that other people are off. It’s not your problem though, you have the right to use your benefits.

    4. Natalie*

      I don’t know if it’s people so much as it’s clearly that person. She sounds like she kind of sucks! I would just try my best to ignore her.

    5. Madeleine Matilda*

      If your coworker abuses her leave, perhaps she assumes everyone else does as well. Or she could think you take too much time off for what she considers unnecessary reasons (not that it is her business why you take time off).

    6. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      You already know she lies about why she takes time off. I’d assume she thinks everyone else is lying too. I wouldn’t worry about it. PTO is there for you to use. You don’t need to justify it to anyone.

    7. EB*

      I have a coworker that works 7 days a week. It’s essentially her choice to do that, even though she doesn’t see it that way. She socializes a lot during the day so she needs to put in extra time to get her work done. She REALLY cannot handle it when I take a whole day off– constantly asking me if I’m sure I can get all my work done. It’s tempting to point out her shortcomings but I’m always polite about it. Plus she DOES get her work done on time so it’s not my place to say anything!

    8. Lumen*

      The problem is that she sucks, which isn’t your problem.

      Though to dig a little deeper: this coworker clearly lies about her reasons for taking time off, so she thinks everyone else does, too. And while she can justify HER lies so that she isn’t doing a bad thing, she is not interested in there being any justification for YOUR lies (remember: in her reality, everyone is lying).

      Things she cannot tolerate: realizing that most people aren’t lying about their time off (which means she’s doing a bad thing, and then comes the shame). Realizing that she needs to stop lying about her time time (“but I don’t waaannaaaaa”). Accepting that other people’s time off is none of her business (deep fear of losing imaginary control + her backup for ‘it’s okay when I lie because everyone else is lying’). Probably plenty of other things, too.

      But yes, same story: she sucks and it’s not your problem.

    9. Menacia*

      Just ignore the way she acts, it’s none of her business why you were out, you have the time, you took it, end of story. Some people just like being nosy PITAs, you just need to pick up the all essential “I don’t care what you think.” skill.

    10. Bridgette*

      Whenever I schedule a day off, my counterpart will immediately schedule herself to be off the day before or after. She got mad when I reached my 10 year mark and got 4 weeks of vacation.

    11. LDP*

      I haven’t been at my job long, but both times I’ve taken sick days at this job my boss has made comments that I was either taking the time off to go get drunk or that it was my own fault that I was sick because I had been “making out with too many guys”. I’ve never talked about my drinking or dating habits with her, so I have no idea where she gets it from. I’m assuming she’s projecting.

  17. The Original Flavored K*

    How do people remain professional and pleasant when they’re running on a nasty sleep debt? I haven’t slept well in weeks, and got almost none last night. I’m headachey and my go-to solution is to consider setting things on fire, but I have to deal with insurance reps without rage monstering.

    Anybody have any tips?

    1. CTT*

      Eep! I hope your sleep cycle gets better. When I’m in situations like that, I try to always take as much time as I can before responding to something (so, a second or two if face-to-face or on the phone, a minute if it’s an email). That way I’m not running the risk of unjustifiably snapping at someone.

      1. Earthwalker*

        Me too. If I felt really intense about what I was writing (particularly if I found myself editing and re-editing what should have been a quick note, aiming for a precise level of snark) I would get it perfect and then mail it to myself. Then I’d let it sit unopened for as long as possible. On rare occasions I’d forward it out of my inbox the next day, but usually I’d read, shudder, and delete. Also on really sleepless days I’d reorganize my schedule so that difficult tasks were put off and stick as much as possible to work that I couldn’t make a mess of.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m assuming you can’t take a sick day? Because that would be my first advice. But beyond that, drink a lot of water, try to avoid too much caffeine, make sure you get up and take breaks (all that water will help). Take a deep breath if you start to get rage-y. Write everything down, because in your current state, you might forget something.

      But seriously, if it’s all possible, go home. That kind of sleep deprivation is never good, and coupled with a headache, it just sounds like a recipe for a miserable disaster. If you can’t function, then your work will suffer and you’ll end up doing everything again anyway.

      1. The Original Flavored K*

        Fortunately, I’m part-time, so I’ve just gotta make it through four hours. Thanks for the tip about the water, though.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Food also helps. Nothing heavy, think nourishment over calories. A good bowl of soup or hearty salad; trail mix to snack on. Graze every few hours instead of eating a large lunch to keep energy levels stable. A huge, greasy McSandwich will only weigh you down and make you sleepier.

    3. paul*

      Caffeine and water and more carbs than normal (small doses, at intervals, not a ton all at once) is what I’ve been doing this week–allergies been keeping me up most nights.

      1. strawberries and raspberries*

        I agree- my partner snores like a demonic pig and we just got a new kitten that likes to wake up at the devil’s hour and tear-ass around until just before I have to leave for work, so I’m lucky if I get five hours anymore. Having a croissant with my coffee does amazing things for my concentration, as does drinking water all day.

    4. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I’ve been going through a bout of insomnia (which happens to me at least a few times per year). My biggest tip is to get as much quiet time as you can. I’m not sure what your role is, so it might not be feasible for you – but what I do is basically close myself off from other people (closed door, wear headphones, etc.) as much as possible throughout the day – people don’t care, they just assume I’m on a tight deadline – and then I can reserve my energy for the times when I need to deal with people. Ha.

    5. Badmin*

      omg me too. I’ve been cranky all week but when I remember today is Friday, it cheers me up. Maybe just remind yourself you’re in a mood and you don’t people to remember you/view you like that? I think I rightfully was firm with a coworker this week, but I made sure to be extra sweet next time I saw them.

    6. Lumen*

      Oof. I feel you. As others have said,: take deep, slow breaths, drink water, limit caffeine, get up for mini-walks regularly.

      I’ve found that running cool tap water over the insides of my wrists for about 10 seconds brings my core temperature down, and it can be oddly calming to just stand there feeling the water flowing over my skin and focusing on that.

      Give yourself some gentleness: being sleep deprived is not entirely unlike being ill. We tend to speed up when we’re not feeling great, which is just a compensation mechanism. Slow down as much as is reasonable and don’t beat yourself up for that: you are not well today. It is okay to go slow.

      And be safe going home! Sleep deprivation is serious business.

    7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s ok to tell people you’re a bit under the weather. That doesn’t give you free license, but it will let you off the hook a bit on the professional and pleasant parameters.

    8. General Ginger*

      Seconding the “write things down” comment. My memory is one of the first things to fail me on sleep deprivation days; I could promise you the moon and a herd of camels in the AM and forget about it by lunch.

    9. fposte*

      Deliberately speak a little slower. That’ll refocus you on the communication and give you time to rescue the tone of a sentence that starts out sharp–if you end nicer people will often forget that you started out brusque.

    10. K.*

      I’ve battled insomnia for my adult life (things are going well, knock-wood), and I agree with the light, healthy eating advice. When I’m sleep-deprived, eating healthfully really helps – I just feel better, overall, which helps combat the tiredness. Heavy food makes me feel sluggish even when I’ve slept well, and it’s that much worse when I haven’t. Don’t overdo it on caffeine – you’ll just crash.

    11. Ama*

      I have occasional insomnia, so I feel you. If you can’t take a sick day (which I recommend if you really don’t think you’ll be able to get work done, but I have been in a position where that’s not possible), I try to keep myself to tasks that are relatively simple — nothing that requires me to write long emails (unless it is a form email I’ve already drafted and I’m just copying and pasting), nothing that requires a lot of “let’s see I’ll get item A from this document and item B from that file and oh for the entries that need C I’ll have to look up this thing.”

      I also find that arranging my workflow so I’m not trying to multitask too much helps — instead of doing half of task A, taking a break to go to a meeting, doing all the follow-up from that meeting and doing task C, I’ll do task C because I know I can get it finished before the meeting, then go to the meeting, set the follow-up aside for the next day (if possible) and to get a long unbroken stretch of time on task A. It tends to minimize the amount of errors I make and helps me focus as much as possible.

    12. Bea*

      When tired and stressed my default is depression and weeping easily. I think it truly depends on core characteristics in many cases. There are also crazy folk who apparently need only to sleep for a few hours to recharge, they’re practically machines so don’t try to keep up to those standards!!

    13. OhNo*

      I have a terrible habit of never getting enough sleep, and I work in customer service, so I know lots of tricks to keep pleasant even when I’m exhausted.

      One option is to just smile all the time. I go for a small smile, like you’d use when acknowledging a stranger on the street. You don’t have to be happy, but smiling projects an air of pleasantness to everyone that can see you, and it’s noticeable in your voice if you’re working over the phone.

      If you can get away with apologizing a lot, do that too. There’s something about the words “I’m sorry” that can tone down your remarks if they’re edging into impolite territory. Plus, it’s great if you get that sleep deprivation brain fog – “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” is my most commonly used phrase when I’ve got the brain fog going.

      Definitely take lost of breaks, too. Get up and walk around a little, drink a bunch of water like others have said, and generally just get away from your normal workspace for a couple minutes. Starting “fresh” after a break is some of my only productive time when I’m sleep deprived, so I take breaks as often as possible.

    14. Moonbeam Malone*

      Agree on the comments about water and snacks. I’m also prone to eyestrain and spend a lot of time in front of a computer, so occasionally doing some eye exercises (just moving my eyes around a bit, looking away from my screen, opening them a little wider and then blinking,) can help me out. I try to pay attention to my posture, stretch if needed, not slouch too much. It doesn’t help much, but it is better than when I don’t do it.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Can you make a list of talking points in prep for the conversation?
      This may help to turn the conversation into more of a fact collecting mission and therefore pretty benign?
      It will also help you to know when you are done conversing. Seriously. It’s hard to figure out when to stop talking while running on an empty tank. If you have a fair idea of what you need to get out of the conversation BEFORE you start, then you have a little road map for yourself.

      If there are things you must do, make a to-do list as you converse. If you need to repeat it back to them, “So you need me to count the number of llamas we have right now?” When they say yes, write down “count the llamas”. And “You said to call you on Tuesday with the count?” Then write down, “Call on Tues w/ count.”
      What I am trying to show is write down things that seem obvious, don’t take it for granted that you will remember. If I don’t write it down in these situations later I tell myself that I screwed ME. Then I am mad at me. None of this is good on top of being exhausted. Write down the obvious.

  18. Opalescent Tree Shark*

    I have a question that boils down to who’s right, me or my boss. My boss was reviewing one of my presentations and loved it accept she wants me to make out a joke I make about clowns being terrifying. I believe that it is socially accepted that clowns are scary, but she does not want to potentially offend any clowns that may be in the audience. (For the record, she liked all my other jokes)

    This is an actual real thing my boss and I are having a disagreement about. Is it ok to make fun of clowns?

      1. Not So Super-visor*

        Agree with Snubble. Unless the joke 100% makes the presentation, take it out. If your entire presentation rides on this one joke, you might need to re-evaluate the presentation if your boss wants it out.

        1. Observer*

          I was going to ask the same thing.

          It’s not like she’s asking you to take out a joke about asteroids because she’s afraid that you’ll offend an asteroid in your audience.

        2. Opalescent Tree Shark*

          I don’t really care about keeping it. I was asking more tongue-in-cheek because I think it’s silly my boss is worried about offending clowns. I am not at all committed to keeping the joke in

          1. Totally Minnie*

            But there are people in the world who are professional clowns. It’s not silly to not want to hurt people’s feelings.

            1. Observer*

              And there are people who do clown stuff specifically to help people, effectively, I might add. I imagine that finishing off with “I don’t mean those clowns” wouldn’t do much for the joke.

      1. Anonanonanon*

        Yep. The question is not whether the joke is appropriate or not. It is whether you will listen to your boss or not. She doesn’t like the joke so you should remove it.

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      In general, I think it’s perfectly fine to make fun of clowns and I find her objection a bit weird. But I agree with Snubble and ZSD that it’s not worth the energy to defend the joke in this situation.

    2. Susan K*

      I think it is fine to make fun of clowns, but it is not a hill on which to die, so if your boss wants it out of the presentation, just take it out.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Unless clowns being scary is somehow relevant to the topic of the presentation (is it a circus? a children’s hospital? some other place where clowns might be?) it is definitely not worth arguing over.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I had a similar issue with someone who snuck a new acronym into a presentation as a tagline on every page. When I proofed the brief, I asked what the acronym stood for. I was gobsmacked to find out it was an obscenity. The coworker was absolutely convinced this was fine.

      No, we do not put jokes or obscenities in work products, especially when presenting to the customer who funds our program. The tagline was removed.

      Please do as your boss says. Presentations convey your company’s branding. Save the jokes for the water cooler.

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        Just to be clear, my presentation is supposed to be fun and engaging. If it was all business and no jokes it would be the completely wrong tone for our particular audience. My boss did specifically say that she wanted me to keep in the other jokes, it was just the clown one that she objected to.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          Unless this is the greatest joke in the history of jokes and you’re being scouted by SNL during your presentation, I don’t understand why this matters to you.

      2. alannaofdoom*

        This has just reminded me of my first “real” job when I wrote “WTF” as a note to myself on top of a report that had an error. A report which my boss, unbeknownst to me, was going to discuss later with *her* boss. He asked what “WTF” meant and I think she scrambled and said something like, “it means ‘What’s this for?'” and that’s how I learned to assume that my grandboss will eventually see anything I write down, even if it’s a note to self.

    5. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Clowns are totally creepy. But I agree with the other commenters, it’s not a fight worth having.

    6. SoCalHR*

      We’re at the point in society that we’re afraid of offending clowns??

      Who is this audience that could randomly be comprised of clowns?? Will they be in costume or undercover?

      What type of presentation is this that would make sense to have jokes about clowns in the first place?

      I have so many questions! lol

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        Haha, since we present to a wide array of people, I assume my boss is concern that there is a chance that someone in the audience could be a clown in their off hours. I can’t imagine there would be a costumed clown in our presentation.

        The presentation is on climate change, believe it or not, but trust me, the clown joke makes sense in context.

      2. Yorick*

        Right?! What are the odds that someone in the audience is a clown in their off hours? This is a super silly critique.

        But still I’d take it out just to make Boss happy.

        1. Yorick*

          And would a clown really be that offended to hear a joke that people think they’re scary?

          1. Observer*

            Do lawyers think lawyer jokes are funny?

            Why would you expect someone who is a clown to find jokes about how they are scary to be funny?

    7. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      To clarify, I will, of course, do as my boss asks. But, like any good advice column asker, I just want people on the internet to tell me I’m right :P

      1. The OG Anonsie*

        You are indeed correct and this is a hilariously weird note from your boss. Like, take it out, but it’s definitely weird!

      2. Sparkly Lady*

        I actually know a fair amount of clowns. The clowns are scary thing can indeed be a sore point with people who do clowning. I have no idea what the likelihood of people who clown being in the audience is, but I think your boss is right. It sounds like there’s no upside to leaving in the joke, but there is a potential downside albeit a small one.

    8. LKW*

      Agreed -not the hill to die on. Maybe she’s got a clown relative through marriage. Or grew up in an area with many clowns. Take the joke out. You can always try open mike night if you need to tell that joke in public.

    9. Wintermute*

      It’s fine to make fun of clowns – socially. But at work your boss gets to decide that. Take the joke out.

    10. Hellanon*

      “Clowns are scary” is very culturally specific as well, and I’d always want to err on the side of not telling jokes certain groups may not get.

    11. Observer*

      So, people mentioned that it’s not the hill to die on – not even worth an argument. Also, someone mentioned that this is a culturally specific joke and might go over like a lead balloon with some people.

      I also have another issue. Why is it necessary to make fun of any group of people? Replace “clowns” in your last sentence with almost any group, and you can see why this could be offensive. There are almost always other ways to make a point without needing to poke fun at a group of people. Just because “it’s a thing” doesn’t make it ok.

      And, by the way, “clowns are scary” is a thing, but it is far from a universal thing, even in the US.

      1. Yorick*

        Jokes don’t have to be offensive. A “clowns are scary” joke is probably one that people would think is all in good fun.

        1. Observer*

          WHICH people? That’s always the issue with jokes that make fun of a group.

          Lots of people think that jokes about women being emotional, or guys being macho or X-Group being Y-ish are “all good fun”, but the women, men or people in X-group don’t necessarily think so.

          1. Apari*

            I agree, it feeds in with a culture where making fun of other people is amusing. Yes, there are many more egregious examples, but if you can avoid going there at all, that’s a win.

            Also I do know people who dislike clowns so much that just hearing about them is uncomfortable, and if nothing else, you want people to be thinking about your presentation and taking it in, not distracted because you started talking about clowns.

    12. WorkingOnIt*

      Lol – the clowns in the audience part seems like it’s a joke in itself, but yeah take it out, it might be a fun joke to you, but it might be coming across as unprofessional, or just silly, her reasoning why you shouldn’t have it seems kind of silly, but perhaps valid to her. For all you know half her family are clowns. Either way she’s the boss, she doesn’t think it’s right and it doesn’t affect the message of the presentation, so not something worth haggling over.

      1. fposte*

        FWIW, I think the “clowns are scary” thing is a little played out, on the order of “Nickelback is just the worst.” I might nix it on that basis alone.

  19. NoodleMara*

    I started a new job on March 1st. I didn’t realize, and they didn’t tell me, is that my health insurance doesn’t start until April 26th. I didn’t continue my insurance with old job but from what I remember, i can get some kind of continued insurance from them within 60 days.

    Is the HR person at old job the only one to contact about this? Because I suspect he might be a royal *ss about it and not respond to my email. Or really drag his feet.

    And yeah, the company was pretty small so he handled all hr things.

    1. The Original Flavored K*

      You might be able to deal with COBRA directly, but I suspect you’ll need information from Old HR Guy. Is there anybody you can loop in to make sure he keeps his nose clean? I’d email him and CC that person.

    2. Artemesia*

      your company should have provided the COBRA paperwork when you left. The good news is that if you can get this registered ASAP you won’t have to pay for the insurance. There is a 60 days window where if you need it, you can use it and pay the insurance, but if you don’t, you just don’t pay. But you have to actually apply for it and thus get the paperwork from them.

      1. NoodleMara*

        He did it verbally over the phone, and I took notes but in the chaos of moving, have completely lost them. I emailed him yesterday afternoon, and I know he isn’t busy. Idek. This is my first job change so there’s all these little things I didn’t realize.

        1. Bea*

          You should get paperwork mailed to you. Call the insurance company directly. The dbag HR guy had to have canceled you so they weren’t paying your premiums anymore,the insurance or their broker/administrator is your best bet since he’s a dingleberry.

      2. Natalie*

        Some minor corrections:

        Most companies contract with a benefits administration company to handle COBRA so they don’t actually have paperwork to hand you on your last day. The company has a 30 day window to notify the plan administrator of a qualifying event, and then the plan administrator has 14 days to send the notice, so it could be over a month before you receive the paperwork. On the plus side, your enrollment clock does not start until that notice is sent out.

        You also have up to 60 days to enroll, and then an additional 45 days to pay, so you can stretch out that “maybe coverage?” window for 3 months. As long as you haven’t previously declined coverage, the coverage will be retroactive to the day your last insurance ended.

        1. SoCalHR*

          Exactly Natalie – COBRA paperwork comes from the COBRA administrator.

          If you actively need your insurance: you may be paying cash for a bit and then have to get reimbursed (unless you know your doctor well enough and they’ll bill the insurance later) until you get a chance to sign up for COBRA and then it kicks in.

          If you don’t actively need it: then yes, it may be worth it to ride it out and see if you need it retrospectively. If you have a major incident then you can sign up for COBRA before the enrollment period ends. If not, then simply sign up for your new insurance.

          I find it a little odd that your new coverage would start on 4/26 (i.e. not the first of a month) so you may want to double check that, you may not have new coverage until May 1st.

          1. Natalie*

            Even if you actively need it for a couple of appointments, it might still be worth paying privately and then seeing how much money you’re actually talking about. My spouse and I ended private paying for about two months because even with several appointments each, we were breaking even with the premium cost at best.

            1. Enough*

              Especially as for COBRA the employee pays 100% of the cost of the insurance plus a service fee.

            2. NoodleMara*

              Yeah, it only came up because I had to refill a prescription that my previous insurance has covered. I had an HSA before that’s got a good chunk of money in it, so I’m not super worried about things like that. Just if I got super sick or had to go to the hospital. I didn’t do any official decline paperwork, just verbally said I probably didn’t need the insurance. That’s why hr dude said I had 60 days if I so chose. Thank you all for your help!

          2. NoodleMara*

            The coverage had a 56 day waiting period which is why I was a bit blindsided. None of the onboarding paperwork mentioned the waiting period. I had to dig through the insurance plans website directly.

            1. Bea*

              56 days is a bizarre number but I’ve never seen insurance start day one, frequently there is at least a 30-90 day preliminary period. Something to keep in mind if you change jobs again!

            2. AAAA*

              A waiting period is not unusual but 56 days seems like an odd and arbitrary number. Typically you’d be eligible for insurance on the first day of the month following date of hire, or the first day of the month following 30 days employed, or 60 days, etc. Waiting periods are not unusual, 30-90 days is what is typical, though a good employer will cover their new hires ASAP (we do first of the month following date of hire on health and first of the month following 90 days employed on ancillary coverage – dental, std, ltd, life, etc.)

    3. Jerry Vandesic*

      You should be able to use COBRA to cover any medical care you need covered during those 56 days. And it won’t cost you anything if you end up not needing any medical care.

      You have 60 days from the time your employment ends to notify your former plan administrator that you would like to accept COBRA. You can do this retroactively, so on day 59 you can accept COBRA, and you would have coverage from day 1 onward. So, if you don’t need medical care before your new health insurance starts, then you simply let the deadline go by. If for some reason you do need medical care during those 56 days and you would like to be covered by COBRA, simply send the form accepting COBRA before the 60 day deadline. That way you only pay for COBRA if you need it.

      Also, if you need more time (e.g., your old health insurance ended before March 1), you can use the COBRA rules to get an extra 45 days. It turns out that you don’t need to send in your first COBRA premium payment for 45 days after you accept COBRA. If you need more time, accept COBRA on day 60, and then wait for 45 days to make the payment. Again, if you don’t need any covered medical care during those 105 days, simply don’t send the payment in and it will cost you nothing. But if you do need covered medical care, send in your payment before the end of the 105th day, and you will be retroactively covered by COBRA.

  20. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Well. The one job I applied for and moved through the phone interview and in person interview got back to me this week. They’re going in a different direction. As in a teapot coordinator to llama trainer. It’s not even CLOSE to what they put in the job description. I’m actually feeling a little bit like I dodged a bullet there.

    I have another phone interview next Tuesday. I’m looking forward to that. The company is big on philanthropy. And pays for your insurance. Fingers are crossed for that one!

    And here…..yeeshk. So much drama. FiredEmployee is back in today. Apparently there was something that was promised to him and a client before he got terminated, so they’re trying to regain his email. Which, okay. But he showed up with bronchitis. So. I’m carrying Lysol wipes with me everywhere.

  21. It's performance review season!*

    At our company, individuals identify a few people they work closely with to contribute feedback on their performance. Contributor feedback goes into an online system where it can be viewed by an employee’s manager and incorporated into the employee’s performance review. Different people/groups take this varying levels of seriously.

    I’ve been asked to contribute feedback for my manager. I have some fairly serious concerns about her that I’ve noticed and also that other people have brought to me. I haven’t raised them with anyone because the repercussions really only affect me, as her only direct report; I’m worried that the concerns will be written off as a personality conflict, I don’t want to burn capital in case I need it to advocate for my own staff, and I’m trying to leave anyway (but who knows how long that will take).

    I can:
    1. Write something bland, which avoids any potential drama but doesn’t allow for CYA on my part (i.e., if my manager puts negative things in my review related to these issues).
    2. Write something candid (and hopefully constructive), which could backfire and be more trouble than it’s worth.
    3. Ask to provide verbal feedback directly to my manager’s manager, which has similar constraints to #2 but at least would allow for a conversation and I wouldn’t have to agonize over what to put in a written record.
    4. Ignore the request and just not provide feedback, which honestly would probably be fine. (Word on the street is that my manager’s manager hasn’t provided written reviews for his direct reports in years.)

    Any thoughts? At the very least, writing this out has helped me realize how dysfunctional this situation is.

    1. Miri*

      If other people have brought it up to you, it’s clearly (as in, clear to someone outside the situation) not just a personality conflict. I would do either 2 or 3 and be clear that other people have raised it as well.

    2. SCAnonibrarian*

      First rule of keeping your job in a dysfunctional company: don’t put anything on the record that could get you in trouble, unless you HAVE to. So if this is something that could be “burning capital” or is in any way something you can ignore, then its much better to just keep your mouth shut and not get burned by any potential consequences. If you REALLY feel like you want to pass on your concerns, then I would say 3 could be your best option, but it still might not be worth the trouble. It’s not exactly the “right” thing to do, but sometimes you have to do the “safe” thing in order to protect yourself. Oxygen mask for yourself before others and all that.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      If you haven’t brought them up to your manager FIRST, then I absolutely would not put them in writing. Noone likes being blindsided by seeing something negative for the first time in some type of performance review.

      1. It's performance review season!*

        Oh, definitely. But it’s not a performance concern so much as bizarre overreactions to normal office stuff, e.g., she is accusing staff of maliciously undermining her authority based on things like forgetting to CC her on an email. I bear the brunt of it as her direct report, but I know she’s done it to others, so it’s not just me. I was going to just let it roll off me and continue job-searching (like SCAnonibrarian and Jules are suggesting) until I got the formal request for feedback.

        1. Product person*

          Oh, definitely. But it’s not a performance concern so much as bizarre overreactions to normal office stuff, e.g., she is accusing staff of maliciously undermining her authority based on things like forgetting to CC her on an email.

          Still, have you brought up your concern directly with your manager? If not, I’d think it’s not fair to mention it in a written feedback, because you haven’t given the person a chance to course-correct yet.

  22. Jake*

    Started my fourth job in 6.5 years yesterday. Need this one to last, for my resume’s and sanity’s sake.

  23. Amber Rose*

    My desk sits across from the training room, facing the wall. It’s super hard to focus on my work when it feels like the meetings in there are right on my shoulder.

    It’s only for two or three more months, but it’s just really bugging me today. And since I’m reception-esque/sales, I can’t leave my computer or phone and work elsewhere.

    I don’t have anything to do either, since we’re dead this week for industry reasons. I’m making a show of it with my spreadsheets but… ugh.

    It’s gonna be a looooong day.

  24. Underpaid*

    Just wanted to say many thanks to those who gave me advice on asking for an equity increase a few weeks ago! I had a stellar performance review and was able to raise the issue with my supervisor. He was very supportive! Now it’s just a matter of finagling the budget and working with HR to iron out the details :)

    1. Ali G*

      I wasn’t on that thread but just wanted to say that’s awesome! Good on you for advocating for yourself!

      1. Underpaid*

        Thank you! The book “Ask for It” was also immensely helpful, I can’t recommend it enough

  25. Dingo*

    My spouse got offered a wonderful job in a small town! He’d been trying to over a year to get into this company, so I’m so proud and happy! The only downside is now I must find a job out there. I’m struggling to figure out if I’m truly qualified for some of the positions I’m interested in. For example, I meet 7 out of 8 minimum requirements for one of them, but the one I’m missing is “Experience in travel planning” which I truly have zero experience in. I know every company is different, but do I have any chance for even an interview if I’m missing a requirement like that? Or am I just psyching myself out possible opportunities?

    1. Artemesia*

      Travel planning is easy to do and learn; of course you apply. If you can sit down with a travel agent or someone who plans travel at your company to get a briefing it might make you feel more comfortable. If it comes up in the interview you can indicate what you would do to come up to speed there.

    2. Snubble*

      You definitely have a chance, and you should not filter yourself out like that. It might be that it’s a hard requirement and they’re not going to hire you, but there’s a good likelihood it’s not vital if you tick enough of the other boxes. It’s not like you’re going to get the job under false pretenses. If travel experience is truly necessary, you won’t get hired. But it’s really their problem to decide how much they want that part. Don’t cut yourself out of the running – let the interviewer do that!

    3. CTT*

      I don’t think you have any way of knowing if you have a chance unless you apply, so go for it!

    4. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I’d apply. You can read about travel planning, practice planning trips, etc. before the interview (and keep doing it if you get the job). Don’t lie and say that you have actual experience in it, but that seems like something people may be willing to budge on for someone who meets all the other requirements. And congrats to your spouse!

    5. The Person from the Resume*

      I think you’re psyching yourself out. Give them your resume/application and let them decide. My answer would be different if you met none of the qualifications, but 7 out of 8 is quite good. It’s possible that travel planning is not their highest priority or something you could easily learn. It’s possible that travel planning is critical and without experience they won’t invite you to interview, but with meeting 7 of 8 requirements let them make the decision because understand the priority of their requirements.

    6. ContentWrangler*

      I think meeting 7 out of 8 of their requirements is definitely worth applying. You don’t have to perfectly match 100% of a job’s requirements to apply. I think you’d still have a good chance.

    7. selina kyle*

      So I’ve been at my job for about eight months and really enjoy a lot of aspects of it. There are some frustrations and dealing with things I don’t enjoy (but I know that’d be true anywhere!) but for the most part it’s good. The benefits are great and the pay is…fine? It’s not amazing but it’s enough for me to live on comfortably.
      The issue is a company in a field I’m interested in (archaeology) has posted a job that seems perfect for me. The requirements suit what I’ve been doing here/what I’ve done in the past. I don’t know what the pay/benefits would be like, but I’m sort of interested.
      I feel a bit bad because the busy season for my job (I work in higher ed and graduation is looming overhead) is coming up, but I have most elements of what I need for that lined up and set up, so if I left it would put them in a bit of a lurch but not totally helpless/out of luck.
      Is it awful to apply somewhere that soon (for what it’s worth I’m only a couple years out of college) after starting this job? Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

    8. Karo*

      Definitely apply! Alison actually has a post about this (linked in username) that talks about why you should apply even if you don’t hit all the marks.

    9. Emmie*

      Men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the qualifications. Women apply for jobs when we meet 100% of them. Apply! Apply for jobs where you meet 60% of the qualifications too. Not only because you should, but also because it’s a small town and its employers probably prioritize who will stay long-term at the job over those who are there temporally. A spouse working in the small town probably means you are likely to stay.

    10. Little Bean*

      Of course you can apply. Almost no one meets 100% of the qualifications for any job. And you probably do have *some* experience in travel planning – have you ever planned a trip for you or your family? Or had to travel for work before and book your own flight/hotel? In a case like this, I think it’s perfectly fine to use your personal experience, with an explanation that you understand it’s not the same as booking travel as a job but you understand the concepts of how it works.

    11. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      When I apply to a position, as long as it’s not something highly technical (like being a whiz at some software program) or that I’m way off with the years of experience they want, I’ll go for it. And as someone who lives and works in a small town, there aren’t a ton of qualified candidates for most beyond entry level jobs, so 7/8 requirements makes you an excellent match! :)

    12. foolofgrace*

      Maybe you could mention in your cover letter the steps you have taken / are taking to get up to speed on travel arranging. Well, maybe not; it might be a tossup. But if you’re really concerned, it might be a proactive move. You could talk up how you’ve been arranging family vacations for X years, etc., have interviewed a travel agent, and so on.

    13. Bea*

      My job description matched me about 80% strong, 10% kinda iffy and 10% “never have before”. I slam dunked it within a month.

      Believe in yourself. You are able to learn. And jobs you’re 100% at are boring AF in my experience.

    14. WorkingOnIt*

      Apply! Realistically you’ve arranged your own travel so you have some experience, I think there’s a rule out there that you should apply if you’ve got like 70% of the requirements, but don’t apply if you’ve got like 30%. Go for it!

    15. Purplerains*

      Apply for any positions where you meet 2/3 of the requirements. In my experience, you actually don’t end up doing all of them in your job anyways. (And travel planning is super easy to do. If you apply for and get this specific position, ask for these things from the people you are coordinating travel for: a list of any preferences for airlines, hotels and rental car companies, mileage plus numbers, rental car reward information, hotel rewards program numbers, known traveler number/TSA-pre if any, etc. Chances are all of this is already in place. If there are conferences you’re scheduling travel for, there are most likely conference hotels that will be used, or you can call the conference organizers for suggestions. Good luck!

  26. Promised Promotion*

    I’m looking for some help with how to word something or even if this is a hill to die on. About a year ago my previous manager said he was working on a raise and promotion for me but left for another position shortly after. I asked my interim manager, who is the head of our department, for a raise and promotion. He eventually secured me a portion of what I asked for and said the rest of a raise and a promotion would be in the works for 2018 (all promotions happen at the start of the year).

    I got a new manager in the fall and followed up with her about it. I was able to get the rest of my raise earlier this year but I have no idea what’s going on with the promotion. She sounded receptive at first but all 2018 promotions were announced which obviously did not include me. I’ve tried following up a few times with questions like “I was told by ‘previous managers’ this was in the works, I don’t understand what changed” but I haven’t really gotten a clear answer. I sort of feel like the answer is no but she hasn’t directly said no. I know one aspect is we have a deflated title structure. At similar organizations I would be a director. I asked for associate director which is still several steps up here from where I am. Also I work at a nonprofit and our title structure is centered around the program field while I’m in a different department, so the next step up here is a title that is literally never used in my field.

    My performance review is next week and I know my growth at the organization is going to be a major topic. Since my follows ups have not really been addressed directly, should I try and make one more attempt at advocating for my promotion? If yes, what’s a good way of saying “I was promised a promotion, wtf happened?” I know the usual advice here would be to ask what I need to do for a promotion but I’m so pissed off at not getting what I was promised that I don’t want to wait another year. My position is much more expansive than when I interviewed and I literally cannot take on any more.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      You should absolutely be job searching! In your next conversation, you’d say you were promised a promotion over a year ago and there’s been no sign of it materializing. I find that once I’m truly committed to leaving if I can’t get what I was promised, they can just sort of tell. Suddenly they’ll either move heaven or earth to make it happen or I’ll be happy when I go (and they’ll certainly feel that I gave them fair warning).

      1. Artemesia*

        This. And of course don’t even hint you would leave, but before the review already have the wheels in motion to search so when you go in you have that inner glow of someone who has a plan.

      2. Jules the Third*

        I have to disagree – PP got the raise, so the company is working with him/her on the things that make a difference right now, despite 3 managers in a year. Lotta paperwork can get missed in that churn. I would actually ask about what a promotion requires, document the heck out of the work I did that demonstrates that I deserve the promotion, and see what happens in 2019 before I hunted.

        I’d also chalk the 2018 no-promotion up to ‘Current manager was too new to be an effective advocate.’

    2. Ali G*

      I’ve been in this position before and from my experience, the new boss doesn’t want to give you a promotion. It sucks, but she isn’t required to fulfill a promise from her predecessor.
      I would approach it this way:
      Remind her that you have been promised this promotion by two former supervisors, but acknowledge it’s her decision and ask her what she needs from you to be comfortable with promoting you. Her answer will provide you the info you need to know if you have a growth path under her or not.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        It’s also, to be fair, a new supervisor probably has limited chits to cash, and they aren’t sure where to use them most strategically – prior supervisors knew the landscape and knew the limits and abilities of their power when they promised you that raise. However, this doesn’t make it your problem. If you know you’re capable of doing higher level work and earning more money, go get that job!!

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yeah. Unfortunately this is why it helps to have these agreements in writing :(

    3. mrs_helm*

      Definitely be job searching. Your situation is eerily similar to one that happened to me…promises, manager changes, and all. Then they changed my job title and had me crosstrain others for my old job. I eventually got the raise…retroactively…the day I was “laid off” because they eliminated “new job title”. Not saying that will definitely happen, but it did for me.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      So your old boss left.
      They hired a temp boss.
      Now you have your permanent boss, I assume.

      And the progression seems pretty normal, a lot of places do this.

      I would look closer here. The way these people were treated is pretty much what you can expect for yourself.

      Old Boss. Was there someone in line for his job? Does the company think about succession plans? Why did old boss leave? If old boss left because of the lack of a promotion this is a huge clue.

      Temp Boss. Where did she come from and where did she go to? Did they promise her a permanent position and then reneg? Maybe she agreed to do the job just to help out. How did the company treat her when it was time for her to leave? More clues about how this company flies, do they run from fire to fire or do they actually function?

      New Boss. Was she hired from the outside? Would it have made more sense to hire from within? Is she supported or is she left to her own devices? Stuff rolls downhill. If she is not supported well, then she will not know how to support her subordinates.

      You don’t have to answer here but what you are looking for is patterns of thoughtlessness, ball dropping and so on.

      They did give you the raise, eventually. Are you compensated reasonably for your workload? Do you have the authority you need to get your work done?

      You company, well at least your department seems chaotic. But you seem really upset in spite of your raises. So I am thinking there is almost too much History here for you to continue on with a happier or at least a more content mindset. Our mindset will do us in, meaning if you stay your work and/or attitude could reflect your discontent and that is not good.

      This is going to sound stupid, but I would start at square one. I would go into the review with two lists, one list of the things I am currently working and another list of things that are under my watch but may not be working on this week or this month.
      Next, lay out WHY you need the title. For example, let’s say your place is boarding my llama for me. I want to talk to someone about a payment plan for boarding. If your title is junior llama groomer, I am not going to be convinced I am talking to the person with authority to finalize a payment plan agreement with me. To expedite basic transactions you should have the title that matches your authority. Additionally, I could question why the junior llama groomer is handling some of the financials for the organization. This could work into the organization is discrediting itself in the eyes of the public.

      That is just one example of a talking point. The overall idea is you will need to come up with persuasive reasons why the company needs to get you the title you should have. I think that your point about what other orgs are doing is a good point and you could use that as a talking point. So you arm your boss with these reasons so she can go to her boss and use your rationale to argue effectively on your behalf.
      Sad, but there it is.

  27. Fenchurch*

    I have an interview in 2 weeks! I am so excited!

    Meanwhile work has become unbearable. We had been slow for a little while so our management team decided to more than triple our subscriber list. This has increased our workload tenfold. To help, they have decided that we need to create training material and train 2 contractors to assist with our work. But we still have to do a full audit of everything they do. This has not helped relieve our workload in the least so far. We also get conflicting directions regarding priority, whether we should focus on being as efficient as possible (which decreases client experience) or to deliver excellent client experience (which decreases efficiency.

    If I don’t get this new job, I am going to throw myself into applications elsewhere. This is stressing me out.

    1. Irene Adler*

      Wouldn’t hurt to start applying elsewhere now. What if the job interview two weeks from now yields nothing? Then you’ve lost 2 weeks of applying for other positions.

      1. Fenchurch*

        That’s fair, I guess I just have a lot on my plate between wedding planning (getting married in less than 2 months! AH!) and being a volunteer editor outside of work hours. The only reason I was able to apply to this role is that it’s an internal position, and I do really love my company.

    2. Fenchurch*

      Also this week my manager forgot I was calling in on a meeting she attended and basically told everyone in the meeting that I was only hired because of the 2 people who applied to the position the other person dropped out. She apologized after she realized I was on the call, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Do NOT say this/ “It’s okay, Boss. I am not offended. I am only working here until I can find a real job with a real boss. So no worries, alright?”/ Do not say this.

  28. confused*

    I’ve been waiting for this thread all week.

    I want to change my job title and tasks and want to know how to go about asking. I am not after a raise (though if I was offered one I’d obviously take it) but what I really want is a change in title and in my written job description that better aligns with what I am actually doing, which is drastically different to what I was hired for.

    Basically I have fallen into a task that is taking up so much of my time it should be a job in its own right. My company deals with a lot of important people from one specific country, these people often do not speak fluent English. I lived in this country when I was child and went to school there for several years as a result I am fluent in the language. After an interpreter cancelled last minute I stepped in to help out the VP in what I expected was a one time thing. But since then whenever we get someone from that country in the office I get to sit in on the meeting, I’m not always needed some of the clients speak fluent English but the VP likes me there just in case. I have also been tasked with taking clients to tourist attractions, shopping e.t.c during the work day, I still paid though.

    The problem is this is taking up increasingly more of my time, to start with it was taking about one or two work days a month. It was a bit of extra work but I enjoyed it and it kept me in the VP’s good books which I felt was a good idea. But now it is taking about ten working days (or two weeks) as well as this I am having to do my actual job that I was hired for. The VP is also suggesting I start arranging our companies business trips to their country and has recently hinted I should go on the next one which will be a week long. I want to go but I was hired as a trainee teapot painter and I am already far behind my coworker who was hired at the same time due to doing these things for the VP. As such I am not getting many good assignments from my manager as I am not much good at painting teapots, part of this is due to lack of training part of this is because I have discovered I don’t actually like the work and that I have little aptitude for it. If I wasn’t so useful to the VP I think my direct manager would have fired me by now.

    I want to propose that it becomes my job exclusively to deal with incoming international clients and outgoing business trips. I want to propose I stop being a trainee teapot painter completely and become something like “client relations liaison (working title I’m open to suggestions)”. I don’t think this is unreasonable especially because if I start doing all the new stuff the VP wants me to do I will have no time left to paint teapots, but this is my first job out of university so I am unsure how to go about this. Whether I am told I can change my job or not I definitely do not want to be a teapot painter and if I am not allowed to change internally I will definitely start looking for jobs more aligned to what I have been doing. As the VP has become used to my being around to help whenever she wants something I feel this might motivate her to let me change my job if she feels I might quit otherwise but I do not want to sounds like I am blackmailing her especially as I expect it would take me months at least to find a new job given my lack of experience I do not want to be fired or pushed out early or burn any bridges. I also think it is weird when a client asks who I am and I have to tell them I’m a trainee teapot painter even when they have seen me in meetings with the executives I don’t think this makes our company look very professional.

    I have a good relationship with the VP, I like her as a person but I am not sure she is a great manager (as evidenced by the fact the only person able to communicate with some of her most important clients is the 23 year old new hire). My manager is less friendly though I think most of that is stress as he has one less employee than he needs due to my other tasks but if I get my job changed he could then hire a new person to do my old job so I think he would be happy. But I am essentially asking for a promotion if not a raise and as I am only about 7 months into my first ever job I do not know if this is appropriate. Am I being completely out of line? If I am can someone explain why? If I’m not can someone suggest how I go about doing this without offending anyone? Do I go to the VP directly? To my direct manager first?

    1. ladydoc*

      Is your VP your boss’ supervisor? If so, I think you can lay out a compelling argument directly to the VP about changing your job description and job duties to fill the new role. Be clear about the time the work is requiring and how it impacts your productivity in your original role. Also make your passion for the client project show–don’t threaten to leave but make it clear that you enjoy this work and really want to focus on it. I probably wouldn’t ask for a raise right now though–they have to create a new job and a new salary line to backfill your position, and upping your salary as an inexperienced person filling a brand new role is not going to be a high priority.

      If they don’t bite, you MUST get an agreement to lower your teapot painting quotas in order to continue to do this work. If you don’t, you risk being a failure in your primary job function, and if your VP ever leaves, you will likely be fired. Get whatever you can in writing.

      Also, if you do get a new position, keep metrics–how many clients assisted, how many meetings arranged, funds you might have saved by negotiating, whatever it might be. Those metrics will be how you make a case to get promoted after a year or so has passed.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      Does it need to be a promotion or can it be a lateral move to a new job title that is created for you? If you are dead set on a promotion, then I’m not sure what to tell you as 7 months is not very long. But if you can frame it as a new job title where you are working directly for the VP, I would definitely go for it.

      Prepare a presentation and write everything down to be clear about what your proposal is and why you can add value to the company with this proposed job. It is not enough to just think about what you are going to say. Write it down and go over it so that you are clear and concise. You don’t necessarily have to memorize it, but if you write it down word for word, and practice it, then when you talk to the VP about it you will sound more polished and professional. Good luck!

      1. confused*

        My ideal is a job where I am a department of one directly reporting to the VP. Though if she put me under any of the managers (its a small enough company I know them all at least in passing) I wouldn’t be upset none of them are lunatics (as far as I know, even my manager just doesn’t like me because I don’t do my primary job well which is not unreasonable) and I could see why they might not want to put me in a department by myself given lack of experience but as the VP is always giving me tasks directly it seems logical to me reporting to her directly would be easier. I used the word promotion because if things happen as I want my grandboss would become my boss (does this count as a promotion? As I said I have little experience).

        I don’t know if this would count as a promotion but it might be perceived as one which is why I used the word. I am not expecting a promotion 7 months into my first job ever I am hoping for a job with targets and expectations more aligned to what I am spending most of my time on.

        I hope this made sense.

    3. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Do you want this to become your full-time role? I think that’s the first question your have to ask yourself, since you hired in to a completely different set of responsibilities that you’ve really not been able to work on the same as your colleagues.

      If you do, then I think that needs to be a conversation with the VP and not your manager, since your manager really doesn’t have a say in creating a new title. Is this something that really needs a person to be dedicated to full-time? Or is it just during this client project, and as soon as it’s finished you will no longer need to be the liaison, then what will you do? Phrasing it like this to the VP may make him realize that he’s asking you to do too much outside of the scope of your job, and yeah it’s great that he’s paying you for that but you’re not actually doing the job you were hired to do and that’s a problem. He may realize he needs to scale back on the requests and let you do your actual role under your boss.

    4. foolofgrace*

      It’s clear that the situation cannot continue as it is. I like the comment warning about what if the project is over, you’re in your new position and no longer needed, what happens? If it were just a case of being overloaded, I know that when that happens to me, I go to my manager and say “I have X, Y and Z on my plate and can’t accomplish them all in the time I have — please prioritize for me so I know what to focus on.” This puts the onus on them to fix the problem. I think a form of this would be good to take to your manager with the goal of maybe lessening your teapot painting duties but still keeping them active in case the translation project falls through.

    5. OtterB*

      Since you’ve said that you would rather not do the teapot painting anyway, I think your line of approach is that while you are interested in your organization’s teapot line, you have found that you like the client liaison role and think you are serving the company well in that way.

      Would a title like “Special Assistant to the VP” work?

      But agreed, you need to discuss whether this is a long term need of your company and, if not, what happens to you later? Also be thinking about the directions in which this will take your career. Will the skills and connections you will develop in this role be ones you would like to continue with?

    6. Samiratou*

      Personally, I think talking to the VP first might rub your boss the wrong way. He may be annoyed with you, because it’s easier to be annoyed with you than with the VP, but going above his head will probably just make him even more irritated. So, I’d talk to him first, with an eye toward how this new position might benefit him. He wants the full time teapot painter he hired. You want the new role with the VP. Talk to him about how the two of you can position the extra head count to the VP so that you can move into that role and he can hire a full time teapot painter who is actually painting teapots full time.

  29. Buffy Summers*

    I’ve got nothing specific to ask, I am just so discouraged in my job search that I want someone to commiserate with me. I’ve been looking for months now and have had exactly one interview. I’m miserable every day in my current job and I want out so badly. Yes, I get it. I’m just one big stinkin’ ray of sunshine.
    If anyone has advice or encouragement I would be deeply grateful.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I looked for 18 months when I was in retail. Had exactly 3 interviews. Almost everyone rejected me due to my lack of office experience. Luckily, the last one hired me. It was discouraging and I wanted to throw in the towel. But I kept reminding myself, “I only need the one.” Keep plugging along – it will happen!

    2. Lil Fidget*

      I don’t understand why I’m having such poor luck – I keep hearing the economy is better than ever! But I found a job in 2008 as the recession set in, and I’ve been searching now (on and off) for over a year. I don’t understand what changed but you definitely have my sympathy.

    3. Trillion*

      It is hard and SO MUCH WORK. I think everyone forgets, once they get a job, how much work properly job searching can be.

    4. paul*

      /high five in commiseration

      I’m sitting on a ton of applications and postings in Dallas, and absolutely positively sure 100% that I’ll get none of them. Maybe after we move it’ll get easier.

      Job hunting sucks. It really, really sucks.

    5. ContentWrangler*

      At least you aren’t working at Doublemeat Palace. Hope things get better for you soon! Is there anyway for you to broaden your search? Maybe there are some related fields where you could find more options?

    6. L*

      You can hang in there, remembering that just because you don’t see light at the end of the tunnel (of job hunting) doesn’t mean there IS no end. Can you find ANYTHING good about your current job (like, at least I can pay the rent and feed myself on my earnings)? Try to focus on that instead of on the misery. I get you, truly. My workplace gets more dysfunctional each passing day. But there are no equivalent jobs in my little town, I am well over the age where employers would be glad to hire me (except maybe as a Walmart greeter), and I have decided to ride this pony until it falls in the canyon and breaks its neck. Then maybe social security and grow my side gigs. But my paycheck hasn’t bounced and I am getting my financial ducks lined up so that I’m ready when the inevitable happens. You can, too!

    7. SophieChotek*

      I completely commiserate with you. I want out of my job too — been looking for over 4 years too for a new job and can’t seem to get any traction. Hang in there!

    8. k.k*

      I’m so with you. I’m at a point where I know exactly what types of jobs I want (something I’ve really struggled with in the past). They exist in my area, but just don’t get posted every day. I want out so bad that I feel like I should be sending out 100 resumes every day (or at least one), but I also know that I don’t want to take a job out of desperation only to be stuck in another bad situation.

      The only thing keeping me sane right now is taking a conscious effort to savor every second outside of work. Every second at work is “Only 4 more hours and then I get to go pet my dogs!” “Only three hours til dinner!” and at home, “Cleaning the bathroom sucks but at least I’m not at work!”. I’m not a very peppy person so all this force positivity is a stretch for me, but it keeps me from screaming at someone on a daily basis.

    9. Lumen*

      Job hunting is THE WORST. It is awful and terrible when you are unemployed, and it is surprisingly not any better when you are employed in a job you really want to leave. I don’t blame you for being depressed.

      Also, who cares if you’re not a ray of sunshine? You’re a person, not a joy battery. You are allowed to not be happy about the current state of affairs.

      One thing that worked for me was to make it a habit that I worked on every day. At first it was ‘look for other jobs at least once a day’ and later on, it was ‘apply to at least 1 job a day’. It was there right along side ‘make your bed’ and ‘drink 8 cups of water’ and ‘feed your fish’.

      For me that made it less of a loaded, emotionally charged thing where I would binge-hunt for hours at a time and just feel depressed and exhausted. Every day, even if work was terrible and I got no replies, I knew I’d at least done one thing to help me move forward.

      It took nine months, which was actually not the longest job search I’ve ever had. I got responses from companies that turned out to look super shady, so I wouldn’t interview with them – that would be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. But it did happen. Someone saw my resume, thought I would be a good fit, and I had an offer a week later.

      I really hope things get better for you. I know how hard this is, but you know what?

      At least you’re not working at the DoubleMeat Palace.

      1. General Ginger*

        It’s just the name of the process.

        But yeah, I’m in that serious binge hunting boat right now, and it is the absolute worst. I have a pact with a friend who is also looking (in another state/industry, so we’re not competing at all), where we keep each other in the loop about our searches — a little bit of commiserating, and a little bit of encouragement once a week. It really helps.

    10. LL Cool G*

      I can totally empathize with you.

      Have you tried to re-do your cover letter or resume? Currently employed but also want out. I’ve had interviews, phone screens and a few companies went ghost on me once I gave them availability for a phone screen or in-person interview. Just keep swimming. Is there a chance you can take a personal leave of absence (FMLA could cover this) for a while?

    11. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Ugh, that sounds exactly like me, down to the 1 interview. It’s so demoralizing. To me the worst is the feeling that my future is completely dependent on the whims of the person reading my resume (if it even gets past the hiring software filters!). I’ve got a side business that I’ve been doing for years and decided to push hard on it to see if it can maybe be my escape hatch. It’s really all I have control over.

    12. AnonyNewb*

      I was looking for over a year for a new job and FINALLY received an offer on the 13th of the month. It SUCKED looking for that long and it got super discouraging, but keep your head up! They seem to come up all at once – I had two companies super interested in me at the same time after months of searching. Hopefully a situation like that can come up for you and you get to hold the bargaining chips!

    13. WorkingOnIt*

      Is it worth staying at your current job, would it be possible for you to join a temp agency and then shift to doing work for them? I wish I’d thought of that, I hated my job, got sick and stressed and left it and now am only really searching for jobs months later, it’s disheartening and I wish past me had thought things through properly, but unfortunately everything got on top of me and I wasn’t thinking clearly at all. I’m about to get set up with a temp agency, and then hopefully I’ll be in a non stressful environment, and so finding the right job will be prioritized over getting out of a horrible situation/gettting any job. Getting an interview is great though – you’re making progress. Wishing you loads of luck!

    14. Oblomov*

      I can commiserate. I’ve been looking for 10 months now. I’ve actually gotten a fair amount of interviews, but it doesn’t matter – none of them have turned into a job. Having read AMA enough, I know 10 months isn’t a crazy amount of time, but I’m unemployed and our financial situation is getting dire. To top it all, my daughter is supposed to go back to daycare next month (we pulled her to save money) and if I don’t have a job by then we’ll have to keep her out and lose our spot. Daycares are so competitive in our area- I have know idea how I’ll be able to job search without knowing exactly when I’ll be able to get her enrolled somewhere. How do people manage that? I’m especially miserable right now because I had an interview that went so well two weeks ago for a role that I was extremely excited about…but once again the deadline to get back to me has passed and…nothing. I’m sitting here trying to figure out if it’s worth emailing them to follow up. I’ve been volunteering, networking, applying, and working some freelance gigs where I can, all while watching my daughter full-time. I’m exhausted and ready to give up.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This is one of the tough parts for (want to be) working parents. I have to keep explaining to various well-meaning people that even though I’m home now, we have to keep our kids in day care/after care because we can’t afford to lose their places (sign ups for the next school year happen 6-7 months in advance and the wait lists are insane here) WHEN I get a new job, which hasn’t happened in seven months of searching now. We’re fortunate to still be able to afford it but it even feels a little frivolous to me to be home all day not working and yet spending money on child care. The plus side is I can really focus on searching and applying and be ready to go within days, but it’s frustrating all the same, particularly when I don’t hear anything for weeks and rarely have an interview ever.

    15. sange*

      That is so frustrating and hard. I’m sorry – I think lots of us have been in your position and know how frustrating it can be. It took me about 2 years to find my current role, and my husband has been looking for something for almost 3 years. Have you thought about starting from scratch with your resume and cover letters? Just totally erasing and building a new document? Maybe there is a structural error or problem with your resume that you aren’t seeing, but is turning off your audience.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      It’s darkest before the dawn. Dawn will be here any minute. Just have the brass to keep going, when it does not make sense to keep going.

  30. LDP*

    Not really looking for advice, just wanting to vent a little bit. I work on a small team, and one of my coworkers just got promoted and transferred, so now it’s just my boss and I. My boss has been spinning her wheels trying to re-delegate the tasks my coworker used to do, and has basically just shut down and just sits on Instagram or chit chats all day. So, I’m an admin who’s basically running our department. She gives me menial tasks (like taking inventory of our giveaway items), which wouldn’t be a problem if I also didn’t have a website to manage, invoices to pay, social media accounts to monitor, blog posts to write, and revenue reports to generate. So frustrating.

  31. Dan Crawford*

    How long do you think it takes to feel at home in a new job? I’m about to finish my second month and now that the excitement and jitters have worn off I just feel bleh.

    People are friendly but I still feel like the new kid, and I still don’t quite feel like I know what I’m doing yet. Honestly I feel kind of useless and impotent. I know this is normal… but I guess I’m just feeling homesick for my old job where I felt super competent and loved my co-workers.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It really depends, but at two months in, what you’re experiencing is very, very normal. I’m 15 months in and I still feel like that sometimes. It always depends on the role. I was told it would take me 12-18 months to get up to speed, and while I feel so much better about things than I did a year ago, there are still areas where I question myself.

      In my last job, I was expected to be OMG AHMAHZING after three months (they told us it would take longer, but their expectations did not match the words that came out of their mouths) and I would say, out loud, that I missed my old job, where I was a rock star. Then I realized it took eight years to become that rock star. Remember that it takes time to get to the level of competence and confidence you felt at your last gig; you didn’t start out that way.

    2. Trillion*

      What you’re feeling is quite normal, in my experience (but it still sucks). I generally give it 6 months before I decide how great/meh/bad the job is.

      Hang in there :)

    3. Lil Fidget*

      So, so normal. I usually go through a rollercoaster – in the first week I’m overwrought and sometimes get upset, but at least everything is new and exciting – then reality sinks in and I feel incompetent, then around the six month mark things turn around and I start to feel valuable – then around two years I start getting bored and antsy :P

    4. LKW*

      So normal. I am a consultant. It can take me months to figure out how things operate at each client, who’s who, where they sit in the org, understand their roles & responsibilities. Sometimes by the time I finally have footing – the project is over and I start it all over again.

    5. Lumen*

      Oh, I remember this feeling. You’re right; it’s normal. Maybe text some of your old coworkers and see if they want to get coffee or drinks. I keep in touch with a few people from my last job (even though on the whole it was toxic) and just reconnected with a couple more.

      Also, bonus: the spin you give them about how it’s going (“There’s a lot to learn, like with any new job, but I think I’m starting to get it.”) can remind you that, uh… yeah. There’s a lot to learn, but you’re starting to get it. You’ll feel more like yourself in no time.

    6. Environmental Gone Public Health Gone Back Environmental*

      Same here. Been here a week, just switched from public (fake salaried, really hourly) to private (true salaried), feeling panicky that I have no idea what is going on and a hefty dose of imposter syndrome. Been worried how long these feelings are going to last. Not a fun place to be in.

      1. Dan Crawford*

        Oh man, me too, going from fake salaried to actual salaried! That in itself is so weird, also adding to the strange nebulous nature of how this new job feels.

        1. Environmental Gone Public Health Gone Back Environmental*

          Right?? It’s just *weird* to not clock in. And I can leave….whenever? Like, finished work for the day, and it’s okay to just….be done??? No one cares to what minute I show up/leave?? No one’s panties are going to be in a twist because I had to stay 45 minutes over one week (not that the job was seasonally swamped at all, you know)???

          Probably also a bit of adapting from a rather toxic workplace thrown in there too, tbh.

  32. Sloan Kittering*

    I need to work on reacting better in the moment when my boss delivers unpleasant news. For example, this week everybody else was off work for a snowstorm and he told me I still needed to show up to work an event at 7AM. Or he’s going to dump a really unpleasant task on me, like manually sorting through 7000 rows of excel data, or something. I’m not paid OT so my night and weekend work is uncompensated. I find that lately my immediate reaction is less professional than I want – I end up thinking later that I shouldn’t have sighed, huffed, or rolled my eyes. It didn’t help the specific problem *and* it probably dinged me in his eyes even though I still went above and beyond to do the work. Does anybody have a tip for that first moment when your boss gives you the “I need you to work tomorrow (Saturday)” speech?

    1. SoCalHR*

      Assuming you’re properly characterized as exempt? Otherwise there could be issues with the uncompensated extra hours.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Nah, I’m a manager above the salary threshold, and have been except since I was hired. I do understand that sometimes jobs need you to go above and beyond, and do unpleasant things.

    2. Nanny*

      This may sound a bit strange but as someone who has trouble controlling their facial reactions, I empathize. I find it helps to distract yourself with some other physical activity. Take a sip of water, reach for a pen to write down instructions. Just that extra moment of distraction can help you compose yourself enough to react appropriately

      1. Caro in the UK*

        I also have trouble controlling my expressions when I’m annoyed or upset, I’ve been told I have a very expressive face! I also do distraction techniques, writing down instructions is great, because it gives me an excuse to avoid eye contact for a few seconds while I compose myself.

    3. EB*

      I’m not sure this is entirely on you– of course, you want to be professional even when you’re getting work dumped on you. But… your boss is dumping work on you last-minute that’s causing you to work overtime– if you’re not getting appropriate recognition for that it’s natural that you’re going to bristle at being asked to put in extra effort over and over.

      As for tips in the moment– force yourself to smile slightly, perk up a little and stand up straighter. Imagine yourself as entering into some kind of professional robot mode that you can just flip on. Then as soon as your boss is gone you can flip it off and roll your eyes privately all you want. (Real life advice that I employ all the time haha)

      Depending on how much this is coming up I’d make a point of talking through these instances with your boss to see if some of these things can’t get smoothed over before they get dumped on you, too.

    4. fposte*

      Yeah, I’m with you; even if it sucks, rolling your eyes and huffing is a bad habit to get into as a response, and it’s not a good response to a manager. I’d try practicing another, less contemptuous go-to. Generally managers aren’t going to require delight at the news, so a surprised “Oh, boy” or “Oh, wow” is likely to be okay, as long as you follow it up by an “Okay, will do.” (And of course if there’s a reason other than “I don’t want to,” use your words to say why.)

      But also think about where you are in this job. Eyerolling is generally pretty significant, and most people don’t do it to their manager. Is this a sign that you’re done with it all and that’s starting to leak out? Is it time for you to start looking elsewhere?

  33. Not So Super-visor*

    Savvy or Eye Rolling?
    So we are in the process of hiring-in one of our current temps (YAY!). He’ll officially start Monday, so I sent him the last form that I need him to fill out on my end. I’m supposed to have him fill out basic info (address, phone #, SSN) and then I fill in the job specifics (Salary, shift, position) before sending it down to HR. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s duplicate work for the potential employee as it should all be information that was on the application that we make them fill out prior to the interviews even being scheduled. Anyway, I send it over to him, and he sends it back. He notes on the form that he is declining to provide his SSN as it is on his online application (which I don’t have access to once I move him into Hiring status.) I’ll admit that I am not that savvy in legalities on documents, so if HR asks me to fill out a form, I fill out a form.
    FWIW, while the guy does good individual work, he’s already gained the reputation of being a huge know-it all in the 90 days that he’s been here. I can’t decide if he’s the one being savvy about his security or if it’s an eye-roll worthy quirk. Either way, I sent the form along with his note to HR, and they can handle it.

    1. Artemesia*

      Asshole alert. This guy is going to be a total pill to work with. The worst hire I ever made was super well qualified and managed to alienate the central PTB within the first two weeks she was on board and did a lot of damage to our division.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      Eh, whatever. You did what I would have done. Usually HR can call to have it read it over the phone, which makes people feel safer. Of course it still gets typed in and is unprotected wherever it was entered, but that’s not your circus.

    3. Tardigrade*

      I would feel uncomfortable about providing my SSN on so many documents as well, but it is also a common thing to provide to your employer. I think you did the best think you could have done.

    4. Elizabeth H.*

      He may be a know-it-all jerk but I think not writing SSN on paper or emailed forms doesn’t correlate at all with jerkishness or non jerkishness. I don’t write my SSN on random forms either. I find that not only legitimate but wise. HR will call him to have him read it over the phone. I’ve done that so many times (taken someone’s SSN over the phone so that I can securely fax it to HR; instructing someone to call HR to read it over the phone etc.) It’s really normal.

      1. Jules the Third*

        +1 My husband won’t provide SSN if he can avoid it – HR and bank loans are about it. He’s good to work with.

        1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          Food for thought (and US-based disclaimer):
          SSNs are regularly used in the medical field as an extra layer of certainty to patient identity.

          My laboratory has three separate patients with the same first name, middle initial, surname, AND date of birth. We only know for certain they are separate people due to SSN.

          It can absolutely affect your healthcare if your records get attached to another patient’s. I don’t know how common this particular issue is across the board, but we’ve seen it happen with our clients. We even caught an error for one location before the diagnoses were provided. (Our lab doesn’t see the patients, just handles testing.)

    5. Seal*

      If you’re sending the forms via email, I don’t blame him for not wanting to include his SSN; too easy for hackers to get it that way (not that they can’t get it elsewhere, just that it’s particularly easy to hack email accounts). When I’ve been asked to provide mine for various legal documents, it’s always in person or over the phone, never by email. In fact, it’s always the place that needs my SSN not to send it by email rather than vice versa.

      Doesn’t mean that this guy ISN’T otherwise an asshole, though, just not necessarily for this.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly this.

        And your HR should stop asking for it on this form. This is the kind of data that should be in the minimum number of places.

    6. Mockingjay*

      SSNs are required for tax/withholding forms, as as proof for I9, nothing else – whether insurance, medical, or the company handbook signing statement. He’s being savvy about his security.

      I had issues with HR at a former company who used SSNs as IDs on every possible form and even incorporated it into our employee ID numbers. I refused to write it on any forms. I’ve been subject to identity theft twice due to national data breaches. That’s a goddamned nightmare to clean up. No one except the IRS gets my number these days.

      Your company should examine how they protect personally identifiable information. I’d suggest they update the forms they use and remove the SSNs.

      1. Natalie*

        You can’t require it for the I9 either – it’s an option, but you’re not allowed to discriminate among acceptable documents. I always use my passport because I’m lazy / efficient.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m the same. I don’t like having my SSN out in the ether, especially when so many organizations do not have proper policies for protecting confidential personal information.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          You can’t require that someone provide a Social Security Card for the I9, but they do have to provide their SSN on the form.

          1. Natalie*

            Oh of course. Derp. I guess I connected “proof” to “SS card” in my mind, but right, you would have to provide the number on a few different forms probably.

    7. clow*

      My understanding is you can’t force someone to give you a SSN until after you hire someone. I never disclose mine, there is no reason why any company I apply for needs it until after hiring you because they only need it for tax purposes. I don’t think it is fair to judge him at all. He has no way of knowing how the info will be stored, who will view it, and how it will be disposed of.

      1. foolofgrace*

        If a company does a background check on you prior to the actual hiring, which is sometimes required, wouldn’t they need the SSN to get a credit report? Or can they get one without it?

    8. Bumblebee*

      He is being savvy about his security. I don’t feel comfortable having my SSN out in the open, either. Identity theft is a real pain to sort through. If he’s an otherwise pleasant person, I wouldn’t put too much thought into this.

    9. Sal*

      I work for the government, so we have more rules, but we are absolutely not allowed to send anyone’s (including our own) social security over unencrypted email.

      1. Observer*

        Technically, we’re not that strict. But, I’ve been beating people to always encrypt emails with personal info. And when they tell me “the recipient won’t like it” – which is often true, I advise them to point out to the recipient that this is FOR THEIR PROTECTION. Staff always responds “Good point.”

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I think HR should have known better. There are enough people out there who would object to giving their SS# online that it should not be a surprise to HR.

      I have space to indicate SSNs on my work computer. We don’t need them, we don’t use them. I refuse to take anyone’s social security number. I have enough to worry about on my computer.

    11. Ktelzbeth*

      I understand not wanting to send an SSN by email (I won’t either), but it sounds to me like his is already on some online document. Was the form you needed filled out a paper form or an online form? If paper, were you sending it intra-office, by USPS, carrying it yourselves, or by llama? The more secure the method you wanted him to use, the less sense it makes for him to refuse to do it because his SSN is on an online form.

  34. So long and thanks for all the fish*

    I’m a 4th year PhD student, and my group just found out that my advisor was denied tenure. Does anyone have any advice or insight into what I should do?

    1. Artemesia*

      I doubt the advisor wants to hear commiseration from students; you have a year to find new people to supervise the dissertation. A bummer.

        1. Anonanonanon*

          Would you want to find out that your career failure was being talked about on campus? It will probably just rub it in.

          1. Miri*

            It’s surprising to me that sympathy would be seen as rubbing it in, but I’m not in academia and I know the norms are different there. If I went for a promotion and didn’t get it, and someone who reported to me said “Oh, that’s a shame, I was sorry to hear that”, I can’t think of what would be hurtful about that. Different worlds I guess!

            1. catsaway*

              Not getting tenure is more akin to getting fired than not getting a promotion, and unless the people in your lab can find another lab to join they’re also getting fired, practically speaking.

              1. catsaway*

                Also, I realize that that comment isn’t very helpful/hopeful for the OP.
                I’m a current PhD student in a STEM field whose advisor briefly considered leaving so I spent some time thinking about contingency plans. If your advisor is leaving and you need resources (lab space, reagents, money to use equipment etc) prioritize that. Talk with your advisor and your dissertation committee about what you need to graduate – in particular in terms of data that needs to be collected and resources you’ll have to use to collect it. Talk to other faculty members with similar research interests to see if they’d be willing to take you on. As a 4th year student hopefully you’re closer to the data analysis/writing phase of things, which should make taking you on a student an easier sell.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Eh, being denied tenure is kind of world-shaking (in a bad way). It’s much worse than not receiving a promotion—it’s often effectively the same as being fired… which is why OP will likely need to find another advisor. Once NonTenuredAdvisor gets over the initial shock, they should ideally be placing their students with other profs.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                I would strongly resist getting placed with another prof. It means you’re always that prof’s last priority. Do everything you can to graduate before your current prof leaves, even if it means putting in crazy hours. If you do get forced into another group, resist taking on a new project. Try to just write your thesis and be done with it. Starting a new project will add 2+ years to your timeline. Don’t assume anyone will advocate for you. Everyone has bigger issues and problems. Advocate strongly and forcefully for yourself.

                I know all this from first-hand experience. I got burn-out and depression dealing with having to change labs in the 4th year of my PhD and wound up never actually getting my PhD due to it.

    2. Simone R*

      That’s rough, I’m sorry! Your options differ by field-if you’re in a lab you’ll need more support than research that can be done in a library/archives. I’d reach out to the director of your program to ask what your options are.
      In my experience when a professor leaves an institution, the students have a couple options to continue their work. Professors can usually stay at a university for a year after their tenure application, so you have some time! You can get a co-advisor to come on board and transition over to them as time goes on. If you’re doing lab research you may be able to get space in someone else’s lab to finish up the work, and if your advisor moves to another institution they may be able to co-mentor you.
      But the program director will be able to tell you what your options are! It’s a rough situation, but it happens, things will work out.

      1. Anonanonanon*

        I’ve also seen students move with their mentor to the new institution but still get their degree from the original institution if they have already passed the candidacy exam.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          Yes, this happens all the time at the university I work with. It totally depends on the field, the type of work, the advisor and what the advisor does next.

    3. Anonanonanon*

      Do nothing unless he brings it up. Look up the policy at your school about what happens if he leaves before you finish. I’m not sure what type of program you are in.

    4. Goloab*

      Do you know for sure that tenure was denied or did yor advisor just defer the tenure process? I know a prof whose department head recommended posponing the tenure application by a year because prof was dealing with unexpected family care needs which affected other things like securing a book contract (necessary for successful tenure application in this situation). Prof got tenure a year behind schedule, but it wasn’t a big deal.

      There can be legitimate reasons tenure is denied that don’t result in your advisor getting fired/resigning. Do you know if your advisor still has a contact for another year or two? Did you hear the news from your advisor directly?

      Since you’re a 4th year, it’s reasonable to ask for meeting with your advisor in which you map out a timeline for completing your degree. If advisor can’t see you through (or isn’t sure if they’ll still be around), you both need to plan for this. It’s pretty much the same if you had a big company project requiring higher-up input and your boss was leaving for another company. In that situation, you’d need to have a planning meeting for a smooth transition.

      1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        For sure tenure was denied- I heard it from him. He’ll be allowed to stay for another year and change, and is pretty sure he’ll stay until then, but not certain.

    5. Amleta*

      What area are you in? (social sciences, humanities, engineering, etc.) That will really affect the situation. Are you funded by your advisor, or is it departmental funding (or none at all)? Are you on track to graduate at the end of next year? If so, this may not affect you at all; most institutions provide one further year for non-tenured faculty before they have to move on.

    6. AlmostAcademic*

      Definitely talk to your advisor, see what plans they have / if they have any set up. I’ve known advisors in the past who have moved institutions, and been able to negotiate keeping some grad students with them. Additionally, I would reach out to your program director to see what typically happens with students in this situation – is it up to you to find another mentor? What does the timeline and paperwork for that look like? What about your funding line, are there others available through the department that you can continue to work on?

      Best of luck, that’s a crummy situation to be in for everyone.

    7. Lisianthus*

      Ouch. This happened to me in my first year, so I empathize.

      As others have said, talk to your advisor — and committee, if you’re at that stage — ASAP. Things to work out differ by field and funding, but the big things are finding a new advisor, securing new funding if your funding is advisor-dependent, making sure your data are okay to use beyond the advisor switch, and dealing with finding committee members if not already secured. If, of course, there’s no chance of your advisor taking you along with them to a new institution or being able to work with you on remotely supervising the defense.

      Depending on your institutional structure, I would also check into seeking help from the DGS or student services area to work on time-to-degree issues. There may be a policy buried somewhere that can help you extend your time-to-degree and/or allow your advisor to remotely supervise the dissertation. If you have a competent department chair, they may also be of use in this regard. But note my caveat of “competent.” Especially if you get a sense that the chair and your advisor had/have issues.

      Frankly, my student services people were more helpful than the department chair, who didn’t lift a finger to help any students in a year where multiple faculty were denied tenure. Yet said chair was getting a course release to, y’know, be chair and deal with things like this.

      (why yes I am still bitter)

      And speaking from experience…secure your own oxygen mask first. No matter how good your relationships with the other advisees are, you should expect some turbulence among you because your lives have just been upended.

      Again, I empathize. Best of luck sorting it.

    8. Trout 'Waver*

      I replied to PCBH further down thread because I had a very similar experience that went disastrously. I just want to reiterate: Don’t assume anyone will look out for you. Advocate loudly and forcefully for yourself.

      1. Lisianthus*

        I’m sorry your experience went so disastrously, Trout ‘Waver.

        OP, while I hope things will go as well as possible for you, I wholeheartedly second Trout ‘Waver’s sentiment of not assuming anyone will look out for you and to advocate loudly and forcefully for yourself.

        If you can push yourself to finish in your advisor’s terminal year that might be the best thing to do but obviously I don’t know your field and whether that’s possible.

    9. sange*

      Talk to your advisor openly and honestly about your concerns, and ask if she has advice. She might already be planning on your behalf. I’ve seen this happen to a few colleagues in my PhD program and it sucks but doesn’t mean the end of your work!

    10. LG*

      The same thing happened to me when I was a 4th year PhD student. My advisor told our lab in January, and we all had to leave by the end of the year. I’m so sorry this happened to you.
      Trout ‘Waver made some excellent points earlier – if at all possible, push to finish before your supervisor leaves. Talk to your advisor/committee/department graduate head/chair/committee/TPTB ASAP and get from them written confirmation of how much more you need to do to be able to graduate given the circumstances. With my advisor’s support, I requested an emergency committee meeting the week after finding out, laid out all the results I had to date, proposed a set of additional experiments I felt could be reasonably accomplished before the end of the year, and with a few revisions, I got buy-in from my committee and graduate department. I worked like a maniac for the next few months, and I ended up being able to defend my thesis in October.
      If you won’t be able to finish up before your advisor leaves and you have to transfer to another lab, take into consideration who in the department your advisor has a good relationship with. They’re more likely to be sympathetic, but you’ll still need to work out an arrangement with them, e.g., mentoring, duration, funding for yourself and supplies, equipment availability. This is also more likely to be successful if you only need a few more months to finish.
      If your advisor finds another position, and you have the option of moving with them, expect lengthy delays. Getting a new lab properly set up is a lengthy and time-consuming process. My advisor secured another position within a few months, but it took him over 1 year to get the new lab up and running.
      No matter what, look into your funding situation. Is it tied to your advisor’s funding? Do you have your own and is it transferable? Does your department or institute have any bridge funding options? My external funding had strict requirements, and I ended up having to decline it. I applied for every funding option I had, was accepted for 1, and had to rely on it for my stipend for a few months. If you do have to transfer to another lab, it’ll be easier for you if you can come with some of your own funding.
      Once again, my sympathies and I hope it works out for you in the end.

  35. Jules*

    Do you have to respond to people who thanks you for helping them? I’ve always not responded since it’s typically just a ‘thanks’, but suddenly I have an paragraph of ‘thank you for doing XYZ and getting us going, blah blah blah’. Do I need to say, ‘You are welcome?’ This is a director level person, so I don’t want to think that I don’t appreciate his thanks.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yes, I’d say something short like “no problem” or “it was our pleasure” if somebody has taken the time to write a long personal paragraph. If they’re like like “thanks for your help!” I might not reply.

      1. Natalie*

        For whatever it’s worth, I would probably avoid “no problem” because some people really, really hate it and it could come across as a little flip. I use it all the time in more casual contexts, but responding to a director in particular it wouldn’t be my first choice.

        1. Arjay*

          Thank you for saying this, because I am definitely one of those people. I try to accept it as intended, but my initial first instinct is always, always, “Well if it was no problem to you, I don’t know why I bothered saying thank you at all.”

    2. KG*

      For more than a brief “thanks,” I usually respond, “Thanks, X! I appreciate the kind words.” Depending on the person and circumstances, I sometimes add, “It was a pleasure working with you on this,” or “Always happy to help!”

      If the original email was substantive enough, I forward it to my boss with a note saying, “Wanted to share this positive feedback from X with you.” Every boss I’ve ever had has liked seeing positive feedback from others.

      Then (again, if it was substantive) I save the email and refer back to it at performance review time.

    3. Specialk9*

      Yes. The response to “thank you” is some form of “you’re welcome”. I’ve been reviewing this with my two year old lately, and it’s applicable in business too.

    4. Someone else*

      Something briefly acknowledging it, if it were a big long thank you is probably a good idea. But unneeded for shorter things. Like if it’s one sentence or just “thanks” I think you’re fine not replying because you don’t want to trigger a loop of them thanking you and you thanking them for thanking you and…blah.But if they wrote a longish personalized note,acknowledging that with one sentence is worthwhile.

    5. OtterB*

      I don’t think you need to respond to short thanks. For a longer or more personalized one, especially to someone above you in the hierarchy, I’d probably send back something like “Glad it was helpful.”

      And I agree with the person who suggested forwarding it to your immediate boss.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “Most certainly, anytime!”
      Depending on the situation, you might be able to work in something like “That was an interesting question, I am glad you asked. I learned a few more things.”

      I would not say it to a higher ranking person, but sometimes my boss thanks me and indicates it was above and beyond. I will say something like, “I am here to make life easier.” Or I will indicate that it is something so different from what I usually do that I enjoyed it, if this is true.

      Stick to the truth. If you draw a blank, “Most certainly! You are welcome!” can come off very nicely.

  36. Mirth & Merry*

    Question related to filing in actual applications for a job. I feel like I have a good strategy for the salary questions but for references I’m not sure how to *not* give the info (at this time) Does anyone have a good sentence or two that basically says “you can have them when it’s worth risking my current job over?” Should I just suck it up and give them the info?

    Grateful for any suggestions/anecdotes/stories

    random info if it helps: This is my third role but only in 2 companies so I can give them info for my 1st manager but my 2nd manager and current manager both work for current company, I’m confident my current manager wouldn’t force me out for looking for a new job but his bosses might (they are the “cut of your nose to spite your face” type) the jobs aren’t in the same industry and the cities are about 2 hours away so lower chances of people knowing each other, it’s a pdf that I will just type into so no worries about “that’s not a phone number, you can’t put that here”

    1. lisalee*

      Could you provide a coworker from your current job instead, and just note that you don’t want your supervisor to know you’re searching?

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I don’t know if this is the best way to go about this, but I’ve gone one of two ways: if I need to provide a phone number into an online form and don’t have any way to include a comment, I’ll just use my own office number (and can update that contact info when/if we get to the reference stage). If I’m able to include text, I’ll say something like “contact information for current employer will be provided at a later stage in the hiring process”. I’m sure hiring managers get that candidates don’t want to jeopardize their current job, and if someone was bothered by me not providing sensitive information before I’ve even talked to them, I don’t think I’d want to work there.

  37. Help With Organization*

    What systems/tricks do you all use to keep yourself and your workspace organized? I am an administrative assistant at a medium sized nonprofit and wear a lot of hats. My organization also tends to use a lot of paper. I need to keep myself better organized- my boss has confidence in my work, but has expressed that there are others that perceive my to be disorganized and scattered due to the way my desk looks. I’d appreciate any tips that you might have!

    1. Workerbee*

      Assuming you have to keep using all that paper and can’t switch to an online system (unless you can, slowly, infiltratingly!), any way of getting the org to spring for either under-desk file cabinets or a top-of-desk shelving system? Since they’re the ones concerned about perception…

      To me, I see a lot of papers, I think hey, that person’s got a lot to do!

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Color coding!

      Have one color for each type of task and use it in your inbox, for your paper files, etc.

    3. Elizabeth H.*

      Do you have a filing cabinet? I do but my desk is still an unbelievable mess. I also really like the stacking paper trays that can sit on your desk or shelf, or a hanging file box, or the kind of file box where it has different sections and is graduated so you can see the top of the papers in each section (like a magazine rack, hope it’s clear what I am talking about).
      Also, even if you want to keep papers in a pile on your desk you could still put them in folders, which will look better even if you still have them “out.”

    4. DG*

      File folders and a label maker. For lots of paper, grab some file folders and label one for every project. You can stash all the required documents in there, see the neatly labeled file, and leave them stacked on your desk without them looking too messy.

      Life saver.

    5. OhBehave*

      I started using file folders labeled with the day of the week. I was finding that I had tasks to do on Wednesday and it was Monday. Just shuffling the papers all over my desk didn’t work! It’s been a vast improvement. I’m hyper organized so this put me at ease. I have an organizer that sits on my desk. I stand up the files in order there and it works for me. The same can be done for different projects. I also have file folders for those which I will then put into the day folder if I need to follow up.

  38. rosenstock*

    how do you know when your work is being affected enough by mental illness that you need FMLA? i think i’m reaching that point but it’s so busy here that i’m afraid to talk to my doctor or boss about it, but i’ve been struggling.

    1. Nbc*

      You figure it out with your doc/therapist. You’ll likely need ongoing documentation from them so best to be on the same page from the get-go.

    2. Tardigrade*

      I don’t know the specifics of FMLA, but I think you’re going to have to talk to your doctor to provide the required documentation.

    3. Madeleine Matilda*

      I think you have answered your own question. If you feel you are struggling, talk with your doctor. One of my staff went through this last fall. She took about a month of FMLA for mental health treatment. She said it was the best decision she could have made.

      1. rosenstock*

        thanks Madeleine. i’m struggling daily to focus on basic tasks, i’m irritable even though i’m usually friendly (and i like everyone!), i am overwhelmed by my workload and although i’m usually very much on top of everything i’ve been dropping the ball recently so maybe it’s time. i’m just worried/guilty that my workload would be passed onto my peers in my absence.

        1. Tardigrade*

          I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. Don’t feel guilty about making your health a priority; your coworkers will deal with things.

    4. Trillion*

      Please please please talk to your doctor about it.

      Personally, I find that when I least WANT to talk about my mental illness is when I NEED most to talk about it.

  39. Bereaved and Confused*

    My long-term boyfriend (together for several years) died suddenly a few weeks ago. We weren’t formal “domestic partners” (didn’t live together) so I wasn’t granted any bereavement leave. The funeral was local and on the weekend so my boss didn’t see a need to give me any regular leave, either. I asked for a couple days to get my head together and was told we were too busy to spare me (it is a major crunch time that will continue for the next couple months).

    I am extremely distraught (this person was the love of my life to date) and am struggling at work and am not sure how to handle it. My boss has relayed complaints that I am being unprofessional by crying at work (I am not breaking down and sobbing; but will tear up now and then and end up with tears running down my face; our workspace is all open plan so I can’t do this privately; I can avoid the tears in meetings but do feel the sadness coming on now and then when I’m sitting at my desk working by myself). My productivity is already not great because I’m upset, so excusing myself every time I feel a couple tears coming on is only going to make it worse. And again, I’d be more than happy to take a few days off to go home and regroup and hopefully come back more composed, but I’ve been told that’s out of the question. What should I do? I can’t make myself not-sad right now, and I’m doing my best considering I’ve been told I can’t take time off to grieve.

          1. Kelly*

            Only knife three tires. Four-insurance will cover it. Three-they do not cover. Not that I have first hand knowledge of such rules.

      1. Luna*

        Definitely take sick time if you have it, and if you think your boss will ask for a note you can probably schedule a visit with your primary care doctor and explain the situation to them & ask for a note just in case.

        I’m sorry sorry that you’re having to deal with this on top of losing your boyfriend.

    1. lisalee*

      I’m so sorry. This is not normal at all. Do you have an HR department? Perhaps you could go talk to them with the framing that you are “confused” about the bereavement policy, given what a great personal loss you just experienced.

      1. Specialk9*

        What the literal FRACK is wrong with this horrible person?! Oh please let karma be real.

    2. Trillion*

      Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I can’t believe your boss is being so horrible about it, too. Hell, I’ve seen plenty of people take PTO for a day when their PET dies.

      Any boss who understands that you’re a human being should let you take your PTO (or even a few days unpaid if you don’t have PTO) to regroup.

      This is horrible. I’m so sorry.

    3. PB*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      Your boss is being a jerk. Regardless of your legal status, you lost a partner suddenly and unexpectedly. You did everything right by asking for time off, and of course you can’t help crying sometimes. They’re not accommodating your needs. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

      As for what to do, do you have an EAP? Talking to someone might help. Is there any way you can go over your boss’s head, and would it be likely to help? I recommend this with care, since going over their head would almost definitely piss them off, but these are extraordinary circumstances.

    4. Lil Fidget*

      My suggestion would be to take sick leave. It’s rarely declined in my experience – you can imply that you’re throwing up or having bathroom explosions if you need to. I had to do this when I was crying at my desk because of a family death and couldn’t get vacation time approved.

      1. zora*

        This^^ Your boss is being absolutely awful. Letting people have a couple of days for any close and sudden death is pretty basic, let alone your close partner!!!

        I would just call him at exactly your start time and tell him you have to take a sick day. And do that for a couple of days in a row. Don’t even say why, but if he asks, lie your ass off and say you are puking everywhere. What is he going to do? He can scream and yell on the phone as much as he wants that you have to come in, but he can’t force you. Just take care of yourself right now and don’t listen to this glassbowl. There might be consequences later, but you can deal with those later when you’ve had some time to grieve.

        I’m so sorry for your loss, sending all the hugs.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I am so, so sorry. I have major issues with a lot of bereavement leave policies because of how they try to delineate relationships. This is an example of that; you didn’t live together, therefore his death doesn’t “qualify”? Screw that.

      It is also short-sighted. You are grieving. Your work product is going to suffer. If you can take sick time, please do. As Wannabe Disney Princess mentioned, if your boss would demand a doctor’s note, then get one– even from your general practitioner if you don’t have a therapist or grief counselor.

      1. Rookie Manager*

        Very much agree. While naming the relationship can sometimes give an idea of closeness ‘friend’ or ‘cousin’ or ‘boyfriend’ doesn’t actually say how much you feel for that person amd how much you will grieve.

        I quit one job over my managers reaction to my request for a couple of days to attend a granparents funeral. A couple of months earlier my partners manager showed so much compassion after the death of a close friend (it was a tough few months) that he made an awful time so much better.

        B&C, I am so sorry for your loss. Please speak to HR and if needed take sick time. Your boss is being an ass.

    6. ZSD*

      I’m so sorry for both your loss and the horrible way your boss is dealing with it. You should absolutely be given time off to grieve.
      I know this sounds extreme, but are you in a financial situation such that you could quit the job and take a month or so to grieve properly? Were you the beneficiary on your boyfriend’s life insurance?
      If this isn’t possible, I think you just need to be firmer with your boss about needing to take time off. They can’t deny you time to support your mental health just because someone died at an inconvenient time for them! Do you have HR you could get on your side?

    7. Murphy*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and that your workplace is being so unsupportive during such a difficult time. They’re being unreasonable. Do you have an HR that you can talk to?

      If I were you I’d be job searching. Once you feel up to it of course.

    8. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I am so sorry.

      Does your company offer an EAP? This is the kind of situation they are designed for – they can point you to resources that will help you through this difficult time.

      That being said – since they “can’t spare you”, could you work from home? At least then you could grieve privately.

      1. Jules the Third*


        This is great advice. EAP will keep it private, and WFH will give you some relief.

        Internet hugs to you if you want them, I am so sorry for your loss.

    9. Bereaved and Confused*

      Thank you, everyone. We are a small company and don’t have HR. We don’t have a formal bereavement policy for that matter, but as a practical matter my boss will usually go ahead and give people time off to attend a loved one’s funeral (one day if it’s local or up to a few days if travel is needed).

      My boss is actually an excellent boss as far as work mentorship and management goes (to the extent that I don’t want to leave because in most situations I absolutely LOVE my job and work), but his solution for all non-medical personal difficulties is to throw yourself into work even harder, so the idea that someone might be too upset to work is completely foreign to him.

      (Also, no one really takes sick days here unless they are in the hospital, they might just work at home if running a fever or otherwise contagious.)

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I recommend that you get the flu and work from home for a week but not a full days work because that’s unrealistic with the flu.

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          This is a good idea, and much more reasonable and practical than my ranty advice below!

      2. Sunshine Brite*

        Have you told him that his solution isn’t your solution? I’m worried you will end up much worse off putting yourself last. I dunno if I could work for someone who approached me that way about my grief.

      3. Friday*

        I’m so very sorry for your loss. Please do talk to your doctor… maybe she could give a medical recommendation for you taking time off that somehow qualifies for FML (am NOT a doctor or lawyer, just a wishful thinker that wants this to be a Thing).

        1. Natalie*

          FMLA only applies to 50+ employees, so since they are a small company it is likely not in play here. But, maybe a doctor’s note would be enough mentally for the boss?

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Unfortunately FMLA wouldn’t cover this scenario—generally speaking, it’s for caretaking or medical leave, and grief/bereavement often doesn’t fit easily into the legal definitions for a medical condition.

          But yes, boss is being a jerk. His entire way of dealing with this is cartoon-villain levels of bad.

          1. Arjay*

            Yes, my FMLA coverage to care for my mom ended on the day she died. The company pays a week of bereavement leave, and I took an extra week unpaid (our PTO runs concurrently with FMLA, so I was PTO bankrupt) without any blowback because I don’t work for monsters. And when I came back, I was still moving pretty slow mnetally and emotionally and they were very kind as I eased back into work.

      4. General Ginger*

        I am so sorry for your loss. Your boss is being a real jerk in this situation, and refusing to acknowledge that his method of dealing with grief or hardship is far from universal. I’m echoing the solution of “get the flu” for a week for the short-term, and do talk to your doctor or a counselor or mental health professional.

      5. Observer*

        Your boss is being an idiot.

        Having said that, I think work from home is your best bet. Tell him that the only way to keep your productivity up is to work from home so no one is bothered by your “unprofessionalism.”

    10. The Person from the Resume*

      I’m sorry for your loss. In my opinion, this would be a fair use of several sick days. It seems you have nothing to lose since you’re getting negative feedback for your performance at the moment. Getting your head together might improve your performance.

      Also your boss is awful and will not change, and you should probably be job searching. Obviously a terrible time for you but he’s so unsympathetic to understandable pain and distraction and it sounds like he’s judging your performance as not good at the moment. I think it’s time to start planning your escape from that.

    11. KR*

      Your boss is being a JERK. Honestly you’re not doing anything wrong here. If he brings complaints of crying to you again, honestly I would probably say something like, “Why yes, I’m rather upset my long term partner died and I haven’t had time to properly process his death.” “Well, we’re so busy at work currently I didn’t think we could spare the time for me to take a break to compose myself.” “Well I’m pretty upset and sad, so that tends to happen.”

      But, use these wisely. You know your situation. Sick time is a great idea. Also, give yourself some credit. For how little support you are getting from work you’re dealing with this wonderfully. You have every right to be sad and confused and uncertain and whatever else you may be feeling – you lost someone you spent a huge chunk of your life with. Heartbreak and this level of trauma can cause physical symptoms and physical pain. We’re here to listen if you need it, and a support group/therapy/ect may be helpful to you too.

      Much love.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Agreed. If you can pull it off, I’d say something like the above while giving him a level, flat stare.

    12. Matilda Jefferies*

      Oh, no. I’m so sorry – both about your boyfriend, and about the way your company is treating you. That’s really awful.

      Honestly, I can’t see any way out of this other than to just quit, if that’s even remotely possible for you. These are *terrible people* that you’re working for. Not only will they not give you any time off to grieve the death of your life partner, but they’re telling you that YOU are being unprofessional because you’re getting teary sometimes? Seriously, there are not enough swear words in the world to express how I feel about that. And I don’t know about you, but this isn’t something I would be able to forgive them for – six months, a year, two years from now, they’ll still be the assholes who wouldn’t let you take time off when your boyfriend died.

      I think this may be the first time I’ve ever recommended to someone on AAM that they “just quit,” because it’s such a huge thing to do. But in your case, you need to do some grieving and some self-care right now – and again, it’s not like everything is going to be great for you at this workplace after the urgency is over. If you have any kind of a financial cushion at all, this is the time to use it. Walk out the door, don’t look back, and burn that motherf***ing bridge to the ground. If anyone ever asks you why you left this job without another one lined up, you simply tell them that they refused to give you time off when your partner died. No reasonable person would have a problem with that.

      I’m so, so sorry for all of this. I wish I had more helpful advice about how to work through it all if you can’t leave right away! Please, whatever you do, take good care of yourself right now. <3

      1. Espeon*

        This. Just this. If it’s feasible for you, sort your desk/computer etc stuff out and walk. Just walk. Scrawl a resignation note on a post-it and leave this trash company behind. Their treatment of you is appalling.

        I am so, so sorry <3

    13. Sunshine Brite*

      I’m so sorry for your loss and the compounding of not being able to grieve. Has your boss always been this unsupportive? How about the company culture in general?

      I worry if this level of stress continues that your grief will only become more complicated and consuming. That’s not normal for others to not be understanding about a loss of this magnitude without at least trying to accommodate leave or being apologetic if it’s not possible.

    14. I'm Not Phyllis*

      That’s awful – I’m so sorry. Even if you aren’t “officially” allowed bereavement, any reasonable boss would understand that you need a few days off. If you had gotten sick they would have made it work right? Would it be worth having a conversation with your boss again?

    15. Travelling Circus*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and that your company is being so horrible. Would you be able to take a few sick days, if they won’t grant you leave?

    16. Elizabeth H.*

      I am so sorry for your tragic loss.

      Do you have any sick time or PTO time? Can you just tell your boss that you are sick and not coming to work? Even if you have to call in a few days.
      I wonder if you could also see a therapist or a psychiatrist and get a doctor’s note from them that excuses you from work (unspecified) which might be something that would register with your boss.
      What do your coworkers think, do they understand your situation or are they horrible people too? What kind of person could POSSIBLY complain about you being “unprofessional” at work by crying? Do they know that your boss is forcing you to stay in the office? I can’t imagine.

      You said your boss is excellent in other ways so I also wonder if you could consider just telling him (possibly in an email or letter, so he can’t argue/respond/debate, which would be further upsetting) that you’ve recognized his approach to non-physical illnesses is to throw himself into work, but that many people don’t feel this way and need time to themselves, and you are one of them, and you will be taking several days at home of bereavement leave. Is he going to fire you? If you truly think that you would be fired for doing this, I would also advise quitting as soon as possible.

    17. Artemesia*

      Your boss is a monster. I hope that when you are a more even keel you can find a new job. It is totally outrageous to now allow bereavement leave in your circumstance, and monstrous to force you to come to work and then berate you for being distraught. These people are monsters.

      Clearly you feel you can’t risk your job which is totally understandable. Please ignore this nonsense as much as possible; go inside your head and look out as if these people were Nazis and you just have to lie low to avoid their wrath and please find a way to get out of there. Consider moving to another area.

      So sorry you have suffered such a profound loss and then are being tormented by these psychopaths.

    18. Karo*

      I have no words for how awful this is. I am so, so sorry for your loss and have no advice other than to job search when you feel up to it. This is horrifying.

    19. Former Govt Contractor*

      Jerk-ass boss can’t have it both ways. Tell him if he won’t give you time off to grieve properly, or work from home, then he’s going to have to give you a pass when it comes to crying at work. He did not hire a robot.

    20. Sabrina Spellman*

      I’m so sorry! But how unreasonable are your supervisors that they’d rather hear complaints about you crying than let you have a few days to get yourself together?

    21. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Oh my God, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Your boss, and anyone else who knows what you’re going through and has the nerve to complain, are utter jerks!

    22. Bereaved and Confused*

      To all who responded, I am so incredibly grateful. I am not sure yet what to do (this experience is certainly clouding what had been a very rosy view of my boss and workplace, to put it mildly), but it is incredibly validating to hear, across the board, that my feelings/reactions at a time like this are entirely normal and the treatment I am getting is very unkind and Not Normal.

      I don’t think I want to make any drastic changes like quitting on the spot (actually, being at the office helps with my sense of normalcy, so long as I’m not being criticized for the occasional tears or slightly less productive days), but I am going to look into therapy/grief counseling and hope to be able to get recommendations (and documentation if needed) from a professional about what I need for self-care during this time.

      Thank you again!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Take care of yourself and consider hitting up the weekend thread tomorrow for additional support/self care suggestions.

      2. foolofgrace*

        I think you’re making the right choice in not just out-and-out quitting. If you can’t get time off, and it sounds like it would hurt more than help because of the hard time you’ll get from the boss, I say just let yourself cry at your desk if you need to! When people inquire, you can say “I just lost the love of my life and I can’t get any time off”. Sniff sniff, dab eyes with tissue. Screw them. What are they going to do, fire you? I’m so sorry for your loss and your work troubles.

        1. Bereaved and Confused*

          Oh! That script is a great start.

          I was thinking I could maybe be more proactive about this and go talk to each of the people who has caught me crying (I’m not sure who complained) and say something like:

          “Hey, I know I was really upset when you stopped by my desk the other day. My long-term boyfriend died unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and it’s been a really hard time. I wasn’t able to get any time off approved because of our crunch time, so I’m muddling through as best I can. I wasn’t upset about your question or any work items. Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding while I’m working through this, but please do continue to come talk to me about work matters, working actually helps me a lot.”

          1. Totally Minnie*

            That’s a really good way to phrase it. Try starting with the most gossipy of your coworkers and let them spread it around the office for you. And with any luck, it might actually shame your boss into giving you some time off if it becomes something the whole office is talking about.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yep, yep, yep. Do not cover up your boss’ behavior. Let the cookies crumble where they may.

              I belong to a group. The group had a requirement that I do X. Under ordinary times this would have been fine. But my husband had died a few days earlier. I. could. not. do. X. The group leader is a well respected and much loved person. He could not understand my refusal to do X and told me I had to do X.
              Word went around, “Loved Leader is telling NSNR to do X! Can YOU imagine!”
              One of the widows in the group approached the leader and laid it out in crystal clear language. I had no idea she would do that. It came from out of the blue. I only learned she did it after the fact.
              Loved Leader changed his mind very quickly. I no longer had to do X. I could do much, much easier A and be done with it.

              Let other people help you handle this.

              Very sorry for your loss. Cry when you need to. We have tears for a reason. Tears cause a chemical reaction in our brain that helps to keep our brains healthy. It feels like the tears won’t stop and in some ways they don’t. But eventually you won’t find yourself so soggy and the fog will lift gradually. Meanwhile, if you need to cry, then that is a perfectly normal and healthy response to a huge sadness.

              Suggestion, perhaps you can ask your boss to work half days for a week or two. This would give you something to do AND give you down time all in the same stroke.

    23. WorkingOnIt*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you and for the loss of your partner. This is immensley cruel to refuse you time off and then criticise you for crying. Are you seeing a bereavement counsellor? You should be able to get time off for doctor’s appointments, so I’m wondering if you can do the same for a counsellor, especially as you can frame it as dealing with your ‘non-professional’ (entirely natural and normal) actions? Alternatively, I don’t know how this works in the US, but could you get a doctor to sign you off work for a couple of days, and perhaps ask that you have regular time off for bereavement counselling and a certain amount of days per week working from home? Where I am they’d be able to sign you off for stress, and you could send the note in, and as a doctor’s signed you off there’s little your work can do.
      Above all I hope you can see a counsellor as your boss is making an already diffcult time that more stressful.

    24. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Your boss is a jackass. If you have sick time, check your company policy on use of sick time. You may be able to use it for mental health purposes.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    25. Totally Minnie*

      I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

      Your boss is a ginormous glassbowl. I’ll never understand supervisors who think grief is only valid if you had a legal or biological relationship with someone.

      Do you have access to any mental health care coverage as part of your benefits? If you do, maybe you can schedule an appointment with someone and get a doctor’s note saying that you need to be on medical leave.

      If it helps, know that we’re all mentally punching your boss in the face right now.

    26. Hannah*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Your reaction is totally normal, as is your expectation that you should be given a few days off to grieve.

      I don’t have any additional advice to add to what has already been said, but I hope your boss sits on a cheese grater.

    27. valentine*

      This is so, so awful. There is something particularly terrible about discounting the need for a weekend that became bereavement rather than recharging time. Think about how much time you need away from work or at least from the office and then go back to this jerkface and say you want to try x days off and/or y days working remotely, after which you can return refreshed. (If it would help you, maybe you can spend some of this time working not at home, but in a library/park/botanical garden, among yet not in the company of others). If he says no, offer a backup: shaking up your schedule, especially if the tears are predictable or you know you can work z amount of time at a stretch. Maybe shifting what days constitute your weekend, if this would give you serene space, because the lack of support is an added burden.

  40. Funny Cide*

    My coworker whose role is a half-step above mine (but isn’t my supervisor in any way) is leaving her role for a different one within our organization. I interviewed for her position when I came on board and we started a week apart. We have worked closely to support our team and manager over the almost a year we’ve been here. I would love to move into her role, and feel really confident in my abilities to do it – there were honestly a lot of times I had to pull her weight on projects, too. What’s a great way to bring this up to our manager? I think she’d be really open to the suggestion, but don’t know how to start that conversation.

    1. SCAnonibrarian*

      Hey BossPerson. I don’t know if you remember this, but back when StepUp and I joined the company, I initially applied for that position also. Now that she’s moving into another department, I’d love to be considered for StepUp’s Official Position Title again. I’ve been working with StepUp closely since we’ve been hired, and I’ve already worked on x, y, and z aspects of her job, so I feel like I would be able to move into the role quickly and competently. What do I need to do to put my hat into the ring?

      1. Funny Cide*

        This sounds great and so straightforward! We’re a pretty informal team so I think it won’t be a big deal, but I still get nervous about these things. I did hear from another coworker when we ate lunch today that when we were both hired, they all kind of raised their eyebrows at which positions we filled and that my other coworkers have felt I would be excellent at the position, so I’m feeling pretty good about my chances.

  41. Nervous Accountant*

    A few weeks ago I posted about clients who request female accountants and got some pretty good feedback and insight on that.

    So this happened a few weeks ago–last week, for the first time ever (IME any way), someone requested a male accountant. The client felt the (female) accountant was being too sexual and flirtatious with her husband. Coworker was not like that. (We don’t record phone calls but we take her word for it).

    The client had sent some nasty emails to my cw calling her unprofessional and lacking business ethics…so we reassigned the client to a male accountant and were joking around that if this one doesn’t work out (i.e., the husband doesn’t like his wife talking to a male), we’d be screwed. Cz…..taxes are so super sexy…we had a good laugh at that part, but I did/do feel super bad for the client and her spouse.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I would feel worse for the female accountant! This client lady sounds unhinged. I kind of doubt the accountant was flirting with her husband, TBH.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Let me clarify: the reason I’m side-eyeing the client is because she requested “a male accountant” rather than a different female accountant. If I really believed a service person was flirting with my spouse A) I would make it my spouse’s problem, not the accountants, but more importantly B) I might say “not Dyann” but I would never say “no women.”

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Nah she just laughed it off. We come across a few nuts here and there often. We know it’s not personal. I feel bad for the couple bc they have serious relationship issues that need to be worked on.

        Had another client wish death on a colleague bc we didn’t magically predict something. It’s unfortunate people can be so awful.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Please tell me that at least the wife works at the same place as the husband.

      Not that it makes this okay, but if she’s not also working there and she is this involved, then woah.

    3. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      There are people out there who are not normal. This would qualify as possible sign of one. Roll your eyes. and honestly, I’d be wondering if the client was worth keeping.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I wish. Only thing that gets clients fired is if they refuse to pay more for services. It’s super easy for them to stop using us but we can’t dump Them.

    4. Boredatwork*

      You’re posts are just so amusing. I can’t even begin to comment on clients requesting female accountants. It sounds like you’re doing individual income tax, so when do they even see their tax preparer? Do they just need to hear a female voice over the phone?!

      I look forward to another Friday and another reason I am so glad I’m out of public accounting!

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Lol I actually do like my job & colleagues (most of the time) despite my posts here!

        I was gobsmscked at the idea of requesting an accountant based on gender but I guess that was discussed when I initially posted about it. IME it’s been so that clients can be pushy but others gave great insight in to it.

  42. UI-Curious*

    Looking for general advice and suggestions. I’m 10 years into a nice cushy government job with no chance of change or promotion for the next 10 years or so (barring wild circumstances) and I’m already bored off my nut with my job. If I have to job search and leave my system to advance anyway, then why not just make a real change.

    I have been interested in UI in an intellectual way (I work with the general public trying to use public internet computers and free apps and … oof.) But looking at the post from the UX expert has made me realize that UI and UX and even UX Research (which sounds PERFECT as a job) tend to all get conflated in actual hiring situations, so… there’s a lot I’m going to need to learn in order to be employable.

    So here’s what I want to know: 1) are there likely to be UI/UX jobs in 2-5 years, to give me study time to learn what I need? 2) Are there many actual full time with benefits jobs, or are they mostly contract positions? Because I’m the health-care-insurance provider for my family and I can’t lose that. 3) How do I start learning what I will need – I currently know nothing about coding or visual software at all – general info articles are listing names of software or programs, but I don’t have enough money to pay for them (per government job) and I really work and learn much better with some sort of formal structure or lessons. Is it a hopeless idea?

    Thank you all!

    1. EB*

      There was a UX designer in the knowledge sharing post that Alison had yesterday– check it out! It was toward the top of all the comments. I’m a graphic designer with some interest in that field as well and thought it was helpful.

      1. UI-Curious*

        Yeah, I read all those with interest – that section of Q&A was what made me think that I might actually be able to do this as a job, but I wanted a bit more specific advice if anyone is able to weigh in. Someone else today, further down the thread, is asking about graphic design, and I’m watching that bit as well; there seems like there is a lot of overlap with those knowledge bases.

  43. April*

    I’ve been at my job for 7 months now and I just don’t know about it. It’s really clique-y and there is no team work. People don’t say “hi” unless I say hi. I could put in a little more effort, but isn’t it a 2 way street?
    I feel bad, but then hear stories about how they don’t like other people or how some of them even ran people away from the job! So maybe it’s just a toxic place?

    Any thoughts?

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I’d try to focus 100% on the job, doing my part and going home to be social with my friends and family. There are some jobs where everybody’s there for the paycheck and that’s okay. Be civil but no need to be overly friendly if it’s not being reciprocated. Toxic is if they’re like, actively attacking you.

    2. Tardigrade*

      Could this possibly be a culture clash? If the people who already work there are mostly introverts and/or need to be hyper-focused on their work, then not saying “hi” makes sense and isn’t an indication of toxicity… unless they’re treating you poorly in other ways?

    3. A Person*

      Is there really high turnover? In my toxic workplace, people were not friendly right off the bat. It wasn’t until I was in around six months that people (well the ones who stayed) started warming up. A lot of people were spending their energy just trying to survive the toxicity / looking for new jobs. They warmed up when I started visibly looking frazzled/like I was one of them.

      Or it could be low turnover and they’re not used to new people?

      1. Lil Fidget*

        That’s true, we have a rotating cast of junior level employees and it’s hard to be super enthusiastic to each of them, when most of them are gone in six months. I’m not as friendly as I used to be (although of course I’m always polite!).

        1. A Person*

          Looking back, I can see that I probably annoyed the heck out of people walking around all smiley and chipper and energetic and positive as one does when one is starting a new job and is happy and hopeful.

          I try to be kind to the new people who come in acting the same way. But man it’s hard sometimes when I’m feeling all beat down and tired and discouraged about my job search.

        2. Pollygrammer*

          You’re in a position where you don’t really have to care what they think of you, which can sometimes be fun. I would switch up “hi” for weird random noises or really dated slang myself.

      2. Luna*

        Yeah it’s hard for me to be too friendly with new employees right now, because I’m worried they will then want to chat more and ask me questions about our boss and the company and I won’t know how to respond. I don’t want to poison them by telling them about all the toxicity right away, or get a reputation myself for being too negative- but I also don’t want to lie and act like everything is fine.

        So maybe they are avoiding getting to know you, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything personal.

    4. Earthwalker*

      Has there been a layoff? I once entered a company shortly after they’d had a huge and emotional layoff and the environment was just as you describe. I’m sure part of my coworkers’ upset was because my hiring so soon after the big layoff appalled them. They were also afraid there could be another layoff and were probably hoping that the new guy – me – would end up out the door first. I wasn’t “one of us” until I survived the next layoff and a new crop of new hires came for everyone to cold-shoulder. Even then it wasn’t a friendly place. It would have been better if I had started sooner to seek a less tense and unstable workplace.

  44. lollyscrambler*

    I’m burnt out on job searching again and it wasn’t even my job search! My partner had a job interview and since relevant opportunities rarely come up in libraries he did crazy amounts of prep. He asked me to come up with questions for no fewer than 6 mock interviews which I carried out for him on top of him doing a tonne of prep reviewing their website, mission statement, talking to people for advice etc etc. On the day they only asked interview questions about the line management aspect of the job (his weakest area) and relating to a project which wasn’t mentioned in any of the documentation on the job they provided or their website so it was all for nothing. Countless people have generic line management skills and very few people have specialist library skills but they asked literally nothing about the latter. It was so obvious they hadn’t got together to compare questions and it is so frustrating that he is still stuck in his toxic job despite doing everything possible. I did go through many questions about line management but I guess it wasn’t enough.

    1. lollyscrambler*

      He did say that he feels a lot better prepared for other interviews now and doesn’t seem bitter but I can’t help but feel bad because I was rejected by 20+ jobs before finally getting out of the toxic workplace (where he still works) and have all the feels about how interviews don’t seem to put any effort into coming up with questions that make sense for the job when as a job seeker you have to kill yourself preparing.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Some places are bad at interviewing. And you didn’t waste your time, because practice always helps.

    3. grace*

      My boyfriend has been “job searching” for several months too – he finally decided to take a role in a different field, and ohhhh boy, it has caused so many issues with us. So I feel your pain! Sometimes I think it’s harder on the loved ones of the job hunter, because we can’t even do anything about the problems – just watch and offer advice if we’re asked for it.

  45. AnonAndOn*

    Unemployment thread. Feel free to post about what’s going on in your efforts to return to work.

    My updates: Still at part-time temp job. This job will have an end date so I’m still looking for work – hopefully long-term and permanent.

    I have a question: On my resume I list temp jobs as “Acme Looniversity (via Acme Temp Agency).” (I only list the ones that lasted a decent time, not the short-term one-off ones.) When I fill out applications and it asks for the supervisor, I have no idea who to use. The temp agencies see themselves as the employer and supervisor and want to be the point of contact person at all times, though they can’t speak of my work. The site supervisors are better suited to speak of my work though. Advice?

    1. KR*

      I would list your supervisor at your temp assignment and note your contact at the temp agency for employment verification, but we work for different temp agencies and they work different sometimes.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Ask your onsite supervisor if they would be willing to serve as a reference. Some are and some aren’t.

      1. K.*

        Agree. I did a yearlong contract through an agency and I’ve used my onsite supervisors as references. They happily agreed to be references when I asked, and I asked because they can speak better to my work than the agency can.

    3. Sapphire (formerly EnobyPro)*

      So I’m a finalist for a position at a university, and I’ve heard from two of my references that they’ve had conversations with the hiring manager. I’m hoping I get a call saying I got the job soon, since they’re the only ones that want to hire me as of now. I’m feeling a little discouraged, and also worried because I have to attend a re-employment session for unemployment, and I’m scared I’ve done something wrong. But fingers crossed I get hired soon!

    4. JobinPolitics*

      AnonAndOn, you have my sympathies for the frustration of a job search.

      I jumped from an unstable environment to a short-term contract with an organization that just ended. I am now seeking a job in politics where I can put my diverse skill set to good use.

      This week, I have dedicated myself fully to applying for jobs and reconnecting with people. I currently have a coffee date and an interview scheduled for early April. I’m so tired of looking at my resume and just want to have a job in a financially stable environment. Maybe politics isn’t the best realm?

    5. Sapphire (formerly EnobyPro)*

      Also, I’m guessing the temp agency wants to be the point of contact for you (like if you get sick or need to take time off), but when you’re applying for jobs, it makes more sense to list the site supervisor. You can clarify, either in your resume, or the application itself, that it’s through a temp agency.

    6. WorkingOnIt*

      I got rejected from a job that would have been pretty cool, but unlikely and I’ve got an appointment with a temp agency for next month – which would actually be a good move, its a good employer, feel like I should be running at things and trying to get more done. It’s just I’ve done this dance so many times before and trying to rush never made things better. The rejection made me think I’m aiming too high, although have found a job that I would probably be a good fit for ( I have a whole list to apply to as well, but they’re similar to the one I was rejected from). I swing wildy from being really enthusiastic about applying for something to literally having not one idea of what to say, I was looking at Alison’s old post about how long it takes to write a cover letter, she said around 20 mins, luckily commenters widely disagreed, it can take me hours just to sit in the chair and face the application I’m so convinced I’m not going to get it or that my experience isn’t good enough. Makes me extremely anxious, ridiculously so, I’ve just had so many unsuccessful job hunts, and the jobs I’ve ended up at are nowhere near what I’ve wanted to do, so trying to get back to my original interests, or even just close to them seems exceptionally hard.

    7. foolofgrace*

      I also list “Acme Widgit Factory (via HelpMates Temp Service)”, and I give the address and phone number for the temp agency so they can verify employment. I don’t list the site supervisor but I do include them as references separately (with permission, of course). I’ve never had anyone ask who my site supervisor was.

      My contract is ending at the end of the month and I’ve been job-hunting. I hate that. All good vibes appreciated.

    8. AnonAndOn*

      Thanks for the advice, all! Where I’m working now I’m sure I’ll get a good reference if I asked them because I get positive feedback regularly. I’ve just never developed any decent rapport with past site supervisors (for one temp job I never met the supposed site supervisor), but in this case I have.

  46. Rookie Manager*

    Update on Rogue Report:
    His leave finished mid week but then he phoned in sick!
    Thanks for all the advice last week (and reassurance), if/when he returns on Monday I’m ready! However, its not looking good for passing probation next month.

    1. Jules the Third*

      Just read last week’s – yeah. Not looking good. Definitely extend at the very least, but whew, he’s egregious. Good luck!

  47. SallyF*

    How do you handle it when a coworker has questionable personal habits while seated in their workspace?

    I sit diagonally from a young woman, she is just to the right of my line of vision when I’m looking at one of my monitors. She’s constantly picking at skin blemishes on her face or back and then looking at the scrapings in her fingernails and … I apologize to the squeamish – sniffs/licks her fingers!

    I can’t tell you how many times a day my gag-reflex has been triggered.

    What’s worse is, I sat in on her interview. My manager and I agreed she had the skills and disposition ideal for the position. And she has been quite an asset – a quick learner, pro-active, hates to be idle. She’s awesome.

    But she’s a picker. She’s also a voracious eater, smacking her lips loudly when she eats.

    What can one even say or do???

    Fortunately for me, our department is relocating and she’ll sit BEHIND me in our future area.

    1. Workerbee*

      I am glad for your future out-of-line-of-sight seating!

      Until then, I think you’re just going to have to try to turn off your peripherals. It’s hard, I know. If there’s any way to prop up a tall folder or attach something to your monitor to hold a piece of (totally legitimate work) paper, do that.

      For the smacking-lips extravaganza, if you can wear headphones, do that, or arrange to be away from your desk if the eating is only at lunchtime. If it’s all day, eesh. I don’t have any good scripts myself for work colleagues; it’s such a dicey area, personal habits.

    2. Tardigrade*

      As much as mouth noises drive me nuts, I don’t think that’s something you can address.

      As for the blemish thing (by the way, O_O), you could possibly frame it as a non-specific “personal grooming” discussion if you have any kind of mentorship or seniority over her, but otherwise, I think you have to try your best not to see it.

    3. Mediamaven*

      We had an employee like this once. She would even pick and squeeze in client meetings. It was gross, and frankly it made me not want her to work for me anymore. Thankfully she quit, but I was trying to figure out what to do before then. These kinds of situations are never easy but I do think you have every right to say something. I think you need to speak with your boss and try to get them to elevate it to her. Perhaps approaching it like, I’m sure you probably don’t realize it, but it seems you unconsciously tend to pick at your face during the day. It’s not the most professional look and I wanted to bring it to your attention.

      I don’t know. It’s a tough one!

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Re: the picking, sometimes this is a side effect of a mental health condition (not saying that’s the case here, just noting that she may not be doing it consciously). I think bringing up the personal grooming request broadly is ok, but it also sounds like it might be worth letting it go since she’ll soon be out of your line of sight?

    5. GD*

      So the eating part is totally gross, I get it. But if you do bring it up I’d either bring it up with her directly or go directly to her manager. And if you go to her manager, please be careful to not exaggerate how bad it is. I totally get it, but my sister recently had a mortifying experience at work over face-picking. She will do it sometimes when she’s nervous and someone reported it to their boss, who went to someone else, who went to my sister’s boss– by the time it trickled back down to my sister she was told there was concern she was “self-mutilating,” which is definitely not the case. So just a heads up on how badly that can go, ha.

      I do think it needs to be framed as “it’d be more professional-looking if you didn’t do that” because I think the sniffing/eating really does cross a line… and be prepared for the possibility that it may be some kind of tic. And maybe also be prepared for her replacing that behavior with someone else equally annoying (pen-clicking or what have you) if it’s mostly about a need to have occupied hands.

    6. Someone*

      Oof, this is uncomfortable to read – I totally pick my face (and head and neck and arms and fingers…) when I’m nervous/haven’t slept well, and though I don’t do the sniffing/licking, I have an additional gross habit, so… many people would probably consider me just as disgusting.
      And it’s semi-conscious. I’m mostly aware that other people might be grossed out, but under stress it’s an urge as much as a habit, and very hard to stop. But knowing how it looks to other people DOES help – I don’t do it half as much when I’m among people, and when I feel watched I hardly do it at all.
      So talking to her might make a difference (slowly…), and a reminder of how it looks would also be kind from a professional perspective.
      Myself I would be slightly shocked but not offended if you told me, and would simply use that as an additional motivator to stop. But the reaction to such an issue is of course very personal – how does she take feedback in general, and how self-aware does she appear to be (especially of her faults)? How easily offended is she?

      You could try to frame it as a grrooming habit that she has which makes her look nervous/is reminiscent of a teenager, and that of course it’s difficult to reign in habits when lost in thought, but that some people might have difficulty with overlooking it when evaluating her from a professional perspective.
      If the extent to which she does it varies wildly, stress or sleep might play a role, and you could possibly add that such a habit might well be a response to stress or lack of sleep, and that addressing those issues, while beneficial in general, could help her in reducing the grooming habit.

      But yes, that would certainly be a difficult conservation. Try to sound concerned most of all – you do seem to have a good opinion of her as a worker, so summon that thought while talking to her.

      If the conservation does lead to a change in habit, though, that change will almost certainly be slow. Old habits die hard.

  48. nep*

    Work-related Best and Worst.
    Worst: Bombed a phone interview yesterday.
    Best: GOT a phone interview.
    Seriously I was so happy and heartened to receive an email during the week that was something other than a ‘thanks but no thanks.’ I’d been applying for about a year with no bites whatsoever.
    Phone interview was with a senior person at the organisation. (They sent me a test that is the next step in the process; I really don’t know why.) Re interview, I know what I’ve got to work on. Valuable lessons learned. Onward and upward.
    Du courage, all job-searchers.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Worst: When I was drowning on Wednesday, I reached out to find out how many more Llama reports I could expect so I knew how to pace myself (and if I could even eat that day) all I got back was an “lol”

      Best: It was looking like I was going to be manning all the llamas next week by myself, on top of my job duties, because of scheduling. Management had just shrugged and said “it is what it is”. A coworker heard and decided it was ridiculous. So even though she has minimal llama wrangling experience, she’s diving in with me next week so the burden isn’t all on me.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Worst: My partner’s job has continued to deteriorate (abusive owners, zero HR, and both other managers have quit so he will soon be the sole coverage for the entire company) to the point where he is seriously considering leaving with nothing lined up. The only other jobs he could possibly get in the podunk town where we live would be a bartending job, which would likely result in a 30% pay cut. Our only option is to get out of this town, but first I need to find a better job elsewhere.

      Best: We decided what our next step will be, and have narrowed our search down to 5 possible states. I have a phone interview in one of our ideal locations in a week! I’ve already had 4 phone interviews for various jobs and nothing has panned out so far, but at least now I have a direction to work toward.

    3. Sabrina Spellman*

      Best: My boss put in for a promotion for me! This has made me feel so empowered and appreciated.
      Worst: Dealing with a difficult co-worker who has been badgering both myself and my boss. I also called someone the wrong name in an email.

    4. Dorothy Zbornak*

      Worst: Thought I hit mute during a conference call, had an extended convo with several coworkers in my office, then checked my email to see an annoyed coworker asking me to mute because of my background noise. I had evidently already had the phone on mute and unmuted when I hit the button. I’m usually one of those double-, triple-check-everything kind of people who hates being rude, so I felt bad about it, especially because the coworker who emailed me is someone I really like. STILL! A night of sleep and I shook it off today.

      Best: Scheduled a Skype interview next week for an amazing job – completely nervous because the people I’m interviewing with are really really important, but trying to psych myself up!

    5. Lora*

      Worst: literally every contact I have at one particular company, which I urgently need to get pricing from, no longer works there and doesn’t know who I should even contact now because their turnover is so high. Don’t know why their turnover is high, they aren’t notoriously awful to work for, I think it’s mostly that they’re perceived as a training ground and I know their health benefits are not great. It’s easy for their clients to hire their employees away after their employees finish up a project. Anyway, I know exactly ONE guy there, and he’s not on social media and I don’t have him in my phone and I cannot for the life of me remember his last name. Nick something. I only know which dance clubs he usually hangs out at on weekends, so literally in order to get ahold of this one vendor for a client (they don’t have contact info on their website!!! WTF?!? They’re not a small company either! they’re just older than dirt and don’t hold with the newfangled Intertubez full of cats or something) I have to go haunt two dance clubs. Hopefully I find him at the first one. Luckily it is a dance club that older people also frequent so I won’t look out of place. It’s still weird.

      Best: Client working on hiring me full time. I’ve had a couple of interviews with their management team so far and I’m to have four (four! this would be a real pain if I weren’t already on site) more next week, one with a woman engineer who is VERY respected in the field. There would be some wonky IP ownership issues to work out, so I’m apprehensive about whether they will be able to pay enough.

    6. Overeducated*

      Best: started new job! I’m gonna have employer provided health insurance for the first time ever in April!

      Worst: it’s been a weird first week with half the office (including my boss) teleworking due to illness and weather, a little quiet and lonely. Also, I’m a bit terrified that I’m severely inexperienced and going to make a fool of myself and then fail horribly.

    7. Funny Cide*

      Worst: donor to our organization was rightfully furious about something he had been pretty much promised that wasn’t going to work out.
      Best: he wasn’t furious with me directly, my colleagues were able to come up with a compromise that he found acceptable, and his email chewing us out was full of things that I’m sure were supposed to be illustrating how angry he was but were actually just really weird and I’ve been laughing at them all week.

  49. KR*

    This week is a better focus week but I am still having Issues getting my sh!t together.

    I put up the “Get your sh!t together” monologue from Rick and Morty on my filing cabinet to motivate me.

    I also made a mistake that will cost our project money. Manager has been really happy that these projects have been underbudget and ahead of schedule so far and while I don’t think this will cut into it too much it will be an extra cost due to a stupid mistake. I have to tell him Monday and I know I’ll feel better after. A part of me just wants to make it all go away and cover the difference on my own (I have the money and it’s not a super large sum) but I know he wouldn’t want me to do that.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      OMG! Similar situation here. I finally fully explained everything that has been going down with my work problems last week when the big boss called and asked. Up to that point no one was asking. This week has been better but certainly not a full turn around.

  50. Rookie Manager*

    Mentoring Question:
    Do you have a mentor? Are they in your organisation or external? How often do you meet? What is the best way to find a mentor? Any other thoughts on mentors?
    TIA AAMers

    1. Probably Nerdy*

      I have a mentor within my organization, that was set up for me through a somewhat-formalized mentor/mentee program here. I had to seek out and ask to be part of the mentoring program, and then they asked both of us if we were ok with the arrangement.

      We used to meet once every 3 weeks or so, but I haven’t found her to be very helpful since I’ve had so much trouble succeeding here and she hasn’t had any trouble, so she kind of has cranio-rectal inversion syndrome and is like “I don’t see why this doesn’t just happen for you. You just do X and it works.”

      1. Rookie Manager*

        I would find that so frustrating! Lived experience isn’t everything if someone is perceptive and empathetic. I’ll look out for that, thanks.

    2. grace*

      My company sets up formal mentor relationships! We sign up and can ask for someone if they meet the requirements (it’s like x number of years here, a different team, etc.) and we’ve been told we’d be a good match.

      I also consider some previous bosses at my university job and past internships mentors, but that’s much more informal. :)

      1. Rookie Manager*

        I’ve had informal mentor-types before but I like the idea of more formal ones. In my current post while my boss is great my post is such that there is no natural senior peer (if that makes sense) so we’re discussing doing it more formally but no formal programme in the company.

    3. Sabrina Spellman*

      My boss is my mentor because she said she sees a lot of herself in me and wants to help me.

    4. Funny Cide*

      My organization’s culture really encourages a family like atmosphere and they do a reasonably good job of that. HR sets you up with a “mentor” when you get hired. They usually take you out to lunch (on p-card, HR will pay for this 2 times) and you chat or whatever. They’re usually roughly the same age/experience level, but might work in a completely different department. I know some people have forged nice friendships out of this, but mine felt sort of forced and awkward because our roles have essentially no similarities. Plus, I didn’t need much mentoring in terms of the organization, which I think is kind of the idea, since I interned here before graduation so I knew a lot about the company. But it was a nice idea, especially if maybe you’re just moving to the area or something.

      1. Rookie Manager*

        Great way to help a new colleague settle in and get to know people. Shame it didn’t work for you so well.

    5. Sci Fi IT Girl*

      I have had mentors and wanted to share the bad (there is good too!). I picked the wrong mentor – we had a few meetings (maybe every 6 months) over the years for discussion on career trajectories, etc. They also eventually were part of an of the decision panel for an internal job posting to which I and another person applied. IMO, they used information from our few talks to make their decision – and I felt this was very inappropriate especially since it was out of date and done in a mentor relationship from my perspective. Sooo, learning point for me – make sure a mentor is someone you can trust with your questions (including the awkward hard topic questions) and shares honest opinions and advice. And, I also recommend a mentor not be someone who will review you or judge you in the future. Not everyone has the skill set to mentor.

      I now have a different mentor who is great. We meet or telephone call every 3- 4 months. And it is a good experience – they are honest, about the good, the bad, the get your butt moving, the don’t waste time on this, etc. and the best part – mutual trust! And now I get to mentor someone too and I have learned a lot from the good and the bad mentor experiences I have had. I enjoy paying it forward in a good way.

      1. Rookie Manager*

        Great tips thank you. That must hurt using old-you against future-job-you. My manager has suggested finding someone outside my org who us a) local and b) has fresh perspective but it hadn’t occurred that down the line they could be my interviewer.

        In the future I’d love to mentor someone else and help their career. Do you find 3-4 times pa enough?

  51. lisalee*

    Is this ridiculous or am I out of touch?

    I’m in the running for an entry-level position in an industry adjacent to the one I’m currently in. I get the impression this is one of those jobs where they hire a batch of people, often new grads, all together. So I get that there might be some more automation than is normal. When I did the application I also had to do a personality test and a timed standardized test. Then I had a phone screening, and am now scheduled to have several interviews with people from the department (about 3-4 hours of interviews total).

    I just got another email saying that they make everyone who gets this far retake the standardized test to make sure the results from the first one weren’t a fluke. Am I right in feeling a little irritated by this? This seems like a LOT for a low-level position with mediocre pay in a non-prestige industry.

    1. Trillion*

      Everything seemed normal until you mentioned the retake. Ugh, that’s ridiculous. Makes me wonder if they someone lost the results (e.g. stopped paying their contract with the testing company, someone deleted the data, etc.)

      1. lisalee*

        Yeah, I wasn’t bothered by the interviews at all (although it is more than I’ve had to do for my prior positions) but the test thing is getting to me. I don’t think those things are very useful in general though. Also relevant is that they are asking for a quick start date–so I’m feeling pressured by the number of steps relative to the time we have before I would need to begin.

    2. Undine*

      We do this. I hate it. We’re owned by a venture capital firm that standardizes stuff like this across all their companies, we wouldn’t do it otherwise. We know we’re losing good people over it. But we don’t do it until after the interview I think.

      On the other hand, they could all be thinking this is a great process.

      Without an interview, it’s hard to tell how the Real Humans (TM) think about this. If you think it’s worth it to take the test to be able to go to the interview and find out more, do it. You can even ask them about the screening process to see what they’re thinking at that point. It’s also completely valid to decide it’s not worth your time.

  52. Cats and Dogs*

    I hit a wall this week and think I’ve achieved burn out. I’m slow these days. I would say I’m tired, but that’s not an accurate description. I don’t feel tired or suffering from lack of sleep. I literally feel like I’m walking through water both mentally and physically. I’m guessing after months of juggling lots of balls, it’s finally catching up with me, now that I can give some of the balls to someone else.

    Sadly depression is not new to me. I’m hoping it’s just a momentary recalibration for my brain and body and that it’s not an early manisfestation of some rounds of mental boxing.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      Solidarity. Things are getting better for me at work, but I am shocked at how I am unable to motivate myself to get started on anything or stay focused. Sometimes I am legitimately tired and other days I’m not but my ability to provide any willpower to do anything unpleasant or slightly hard is nonexistent.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      So much sympathy. I’m currently under a mountain of stress and having a hard time figuring out if it’s the beginning of a depressive episode or just short-term overloading. It feels like someone has thrown a heavy, wet blanket over my brain (it’s that massive elephant on your shoulders feeling with the hazy mental numbness).

      Are you in a position to take PTO?

      1. Cats and Dogs*

        I’m taking a few days off next week. But, of course, now I feel guilty about it. 1) Because the past few days have not been my most productive and 2) one of my assignments, which concludes next week, has not gone as I’d like. Though to be honest, literally no one (aka – almost all the boss people) expected it to. Still… one still hopes

        I dunno. I oscillate between not caring and obsessively caring. Stupid wet blanket!

    3. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      I’m feeling similarly. Just went through some major changes at work and I put in a lot of abnormal overtime (plus some weekend work that isn’t normal for my position). I’m one of the most senior employees, so my work was extremely crucial, but it all happened during a personnel re-org at the same time. Boss gave me heaps of urgent projects while simultaneously taking away all of my existing help, and then giving me somebody to train while trying to juggle all the things.
      On the plus side, Boss says I did great handling everything and it was all invaluable to current company success, so at least I didn’t drop any balls, and my trainee is quick to learn, self-motivated, and a pleasure to work with. She’s been a great relief.

      I took a week (mostly) off just recently, but with it coming during the DST time change (hate it!!) and having to be semi-on-call (was only needed for maybe six hours max of work over the course of six days), it wasn’t truly a proper recharge.
      I feel like I’m still suffering from coming close to burnout, plus not adjusting to the time change yet. I’m exhausted all the time and having trouble being motivated.

  53. Weddings & work*

    I got asked to be “best man” in my cousin’s wedding early this September. I really want to, as I’m very close to my cousin and excited for him – but I’ll be about a week into a brand-new doctoral program, doing teaching assistant stuff and taking coursework. I feel flaky for taking the Friday before Labor Day off to be in the wedding.

    Please reassure me that I’m not being flaky to support my cousin in this way!

    1. Squeeble*

      Nah, you’re fine. You can explain you’ve had a commitment for that day for a long time and can’t get around it. I bet a lot of people will be taking that day off, too.

    2. Murphy*

      I think people will understand big events like this! That’s not flaky at all.

      You may not have a lot of opportunities to get out and have fun while you’re in grad school, so you definitely shouldn’t miss the big things like this!

    3. CTT*

      You are not being flaky!! Take the time off! You have plenty of advance notice to give the professors you’ll be TA’ing for and taking classes with. Also, that it’s so early in the school year means that there hopefully won’t be a lot on your plate yet (also, if your school is anything like mine, it might be kind of a ghost town the Friday before a 3 day holiday weekend)

    4. Simone R*

      I missed some early orientation stuff for my doctoral program because I had already committed to being in a wedding party before I committed to the program! Give people a lot of upfront notice and it should be fine.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s hard to say until you get your class and teaching schedules, but usually it’s fine. My partner is a doctoral student and has to take off for the Jewish holidays in the fall; I don’t recall it being a big problem, especially in his first year. He TA’d one class with two other students and just traded for the days he needed to take off. Plan to be at the wedding and address it with your professors/fellow students when the time comes.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is so normal. Do the wedding and just give the prof you’re TA’ing for a head’s up well in advance.

    7. fposte*

      Friday before Labor Day is going to mean some student attrition as well. Even if you have a Friday section to teach, it’s not going to be full that Friday.

      1. Reba*

        Ha, great point!

        Also, W & W, obviously you have to arrange your priorities but I urge you not to let grad school crowd out all the other things that are important in life. Good luck starting your program!

        1. Weddings & work*

          Thanks! I posted here a few weeks ago under the handle “Wrenched” – and I’ve decided to go for it. :) I’m nervous as heck but also excited to take this opportunity! I’ve wanted it for a long time.

    8. sange*

      You’re fine – people in academia randomly disappear for days – weeks for no apparent reason. Don’t be overly personal in explaining your absence (family commitment out of state is fine), and make up the work promptly.

      1. fposte*

        Wow, that is very much not my academic experience. If a doc student in coursework here disappeared for weeks without explanation, that would be a big deal.

  54. GriefBacon*

    I got a new job! It’s technically my old job (program evaluation/database administration at a non-profit), but permanent and with a promotion and a lot more money and a glorious amount of time off! And since I’ve worked there before/pretty recently, I know it’s a great culture fit and I know exactly what the challenges are, etc, etc. Hoorays all around!

    Here’s my question. My given name is, let’s say, Jennifer. I go by Jennie (NOT Jenny!) in most every non-official context. When I started at my former/future employer as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, there was another VISTA there named Jenni. I did a quick assessment of ways we’d get confused (both VISTAS, desks were next to each other, same team, both spelled it with an I, etc) and decided to go by Jennifer to keep things less confusing. I’ve never in my life gone by Jennifer, except in interviews and taxes, and had a bit of an identity crisis when I first started.

    I eventually made friends with a couple of my coworkers, at which point they realized I generally prefer Jennie and mostly call me Jennie. The other Jenni left over a year ago. The VP’s and directors and more senior people only know me as Jennifer, but I’d like to switch to Jennie when I start back next week. How do I do that without making it weird? Or am I the only one who’s going to feel weird about it?

    1. Murphy*

      Nah, I don’t think it will be weird. May take them a bit to get used to it, I’d just say “Oh, I actually prefer Jennie.”

    2. Minerva McGonagall*

      As your new boss to introduce you as Jennie and sign your emails Jennie. Most people will figure it out quickly and it won’t be a big deal. Good luck with the new job!

    3. Joielle*

      I don’t think it’s weird at all, but if you want to acknowledge the fact that they used to call you Jennifer, you could say something like “Oh, I go by Jennie now.” Might head off any potential awkwardness.

    4. Funny Cide*

      I think you’ll have feel weirder than anyone else. Introduce yourself to new people as Jennie. Sign your emails and answer your phone as Jennie, if you have a name plate or a name tag, see if you can have those say Jennie. Ask HR to make sure your name is listed as Jennie in any staff directories. I think people can figure it out just fine!

  55. Anon4This*

    I have recently taken over managing my first direct report and am finding myself incredibly frustrated. My direct report is a constant complainer. I dread our weekly one on one meetings because half the time it devolves into a venting session about various things that I as his manager have zero control over. I try explaining and re-explaining the business reasoning behind the things that are bothering him and that seems to work in the moment but the next time we sit down for a talk…there’s either MORE complaints about different things, or the same complaints re-hashed again.

    I am very close to asking him point blank why he took this job (it was an internal-lateral move for him) as he seems so unhappy with it. I did not choose him as a direct report and I know he had some performance issues previously. When we first started working together his performance needed improvement but now that we’re further along I feel like he’s doing better. Well enough that if not for the constant complaining, I would be very happy with his performance recently.

    The complaints are mostly about the following items…the work he’s assigned (these are the typical assignments for the role that he’s in, I know he wants higher level work but honestly those assignments are MY job, I am not going to defer the manager level work to him and do more administrative work myself – this is a poor use of resources, there’s just not enough “higher-level” work to go ’round for everyone who wants to do it); the amount of work his peers are assigned by their managers (he complains everyone else is allowed to slack off), the quality of work by his peers (everyone else’s work is full of typos and is a mess), his compensation package (even though he just got a 8% raise to move into his current role and is paid the market rate for his position, he complains that his role not eligible for a bonus and feels his work is more valuable than his co-workers whom he knows are eligible for bonuses), that the head of our department doesn’t include him in meetings and emails to his own direct reports at the management level…I could go on and on about how these and other pettier slights have hurt his feelings.

    At this point, what’s the best way to deal with this? I’m thinking of just saying…no more of these complaints if you’re committed to this role but I do not want to strain the relationship. I want to be successful in my first role managing someone. I don’t want to keep listening to this complaining or re-explaining why he needs to let these things go, but I feel like cutting him off from discussing his complaints with me all together will result in resentment from him and he’ll be less likely to tell me about ACTUAL problems in the future which I’d need to know about.

    1. lisalee*

      It doesn’t sound like you’ve directly told him that the complaining is a problem. I would frame it as a professional development issue. “Bob, I need you to dial back the number of complaints you bring to me. I’m happy to hear about issues I can resolve, like X and Y. But many of the things you bring to me are normal at your level, or not things I can resolve, like A and B. Can you do that?”

    2. Irene Adler*

      Sounds like you need to take more control of the weekly one-on-one meetings.
      First, what is the purpose of these meetings? Sounds to me like your report sees it as a belly-aching session.
      So end that. Establish that the weekly meetings are to focus on work place goals. Start by establishing some -long and short term. One can discuss issues keeping your report from reaching these goals. But the items you list above- if they are not things pertaining to the work- then you will not listen to them any more. Redirect as needed.
      Your report will soon get the idea that things are how they are and he can then decide if he wishes to remain in the position.

      1. TheTallestOneEver*

        Agree with this comment. I have a set agenda for my one on one meetings with my direct report, and I make sure that they’re no more than 30 minutes.

    3. Anonanonanon*

      I would address it head on and tell him the things he is complaining about are integral parts of his role that are not going to change and ask if he actually wants this job. His composition and job duties are not currently up for debate and you will not discuss them again until his next annual performance review. The only thing in that list you may want to address is if the work done by his peers is actually a mess and creating extra work for him.

    4. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Ask him point blank. I think that may shock him into either realizing how much complaining he’s doing or at least shutting up.

    5. mrs_helm*

      Assuming theres a purpose for the meeting OTHER than getting feedback FROM the employee…
      Put a short time limit on the meeting, provide a meeting agenda. When complaining starts, point out you need to stick to agenda. If you get pushback, point out that this *is* the role he was hired for. You can accept his comments about how the work is distributed One Time with “I’ll take the into consideration”, but after that he’s not giving you new information so shut it down for the complaining that it is.

    6. Totally Minnie*

      I had a coworker like this once. He would even complain about his job when there were C-Suite folks in the room. I eventually took him aside and asked if he wanted to keep working for our company. He looked baffled and said of course he did. I told him that the way he talked bout the job and the company made it sound like he didn’t want to keep his job and that talking like that in front of the wrong people could cause really unpleasant consequences. He wasn’t even aware of how out of control the complaining had become, and he put a lid on it.

      So talk to your employee. You don’t have to be super blunt about it, but let him know that the complaining has gone too far and you don’t want it to lead to unpleasantness in his future.

    7. KarenT*

      I would ask him a few follow up questions:
      -Why is this an issue for you? (ie determine the impact)
      -How do you suggest we handle this/what is your plan to resolve this?

      I would sit him down and make it clear to him if he’s going to complain he needs to keep it limited to things that are impacting his work and unless it’s a huge/weird issue, he needs to have ideas about solutions.

    8. valentine*

      Redefine, then enforce and reinforce your roles/boundaries. He’s cast you in the role of his agony aunt and is free to be relentlessly negative. To succeed, he needs to stop, get perspective, and reframe his approach so he’s figuring out on his own how he can do his best work given the obstacles, most of which originate within him. It’s okay to risk straining this relationship, which, if you’re a woman, is a sexist one. I’m really tired of all these “I deserve a ton of money and to do only what I like to do. Plan: debate female supervisor to death” dudes. It reminds me of a story in, I believe, Deborah Tannen’s “Talking from 9 to 5” about a guy who threatened to quit, but to him this was just a debate tactic. His female colleague was so upset, she was going to fold because she respected him and it seemed to mean so much to him. Either your report can reset, like the guy who wanted to “borrow” the CEO’s impeccable EA, or he can move on and out. Tell him work isn’t an appropriate venue for venting and you’re not an appropriate audience for same, that his colleagues and the processes have and bring value, and one needs to x, y, and z in order to reach a level where one can make the decisions he wants to make.

    9. Observer*

      You need to tell him flat out that he needs to cut it out.

      Be kind but clear. When I say kind, I don’t mean softening though. So, something like “I hear that you are frustrated. I’ve explained as much as I can, and it’s time to end these discussions.” After that, each time it’s “As I said, this is not up for discussion.” And move on.

      If your direct report really, really can’t handle it, it may be time to take some corrective action. But step number one is simply and directly stopping him.

  56. MassholeMarketer*

    I had a great interview on Monday morning and even got a personalized response to my thank you email from the hiring manager. They have a couple more weeks of interviews, which I understand, but the waiting game causes so much anxiety. I haven’t been on an interview in two years and I totally forgot how stressful this is!

    1. Irene Adler*