open thread – March 30-31, 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.

{ 1,733 comments… read them below }

  1. Rowan*

    Inspired by a comment on another post earlier this week – what are some examples of *good* fictional bosses?

    Fiction abounds with bad people doing things badly, including managing. But how about the opposite – fictional role models for the managerially inclined? Any nominees for Best Fictional Boss?

    Mine is Det. Supt. Sandra Pullman, played by Amanda Redman, on the British TV show New Tricks. She has the tough job of heading a new team of retired cops put together to solve cold cases. She manages to get them in line with modern police procedures (no, you can’t just pick the lock for a quick look inside someone’s home!), earn their respect, and turn them into a shockingly effective team.

    1. MuseumChick*

      Aaron Hotchner from Criminal Minds. He holds his people accountable, is straightforward and clear in his expectations, but also compassionate and understand.

      1. Abelard*

        I miss Hotch! I mean I get the character had to leave the show because the actor did something stupid and inapporpriate and as much as I like Emily showing her leadership skills–I really miss Hotch!
        (Also, I’m a season behind because I only watch once it gets to netflix.)

        1. Observer*

          I’d say that “stupid and inappropriate” understates the case pretty significantly.

          1. DArcy*

            Very much so, given that he physically assaulted a producer — and this was after already being given a second chance after a previous altercation back in 2013, and reportedly also a years-long history of being verbally abusive to pretty much everyone around him.

      2. grace*

        AAAAAALLLLL of this! He’s so great at knowing his team’s strengths and weaknesses and quietly being there in the background if they need him, but not overstepping, either.

      3. knitcrazybooknut*

        The only thing I don’t like about Hotch is when he returns from his wife’s death and is grouchy at everyone and doesn’t have to apologize for his bad behavior. It’s an awful trope that is very common in TV, but that doesn’t make it right. Everyone just “understands” around him, instead of him having to make things right. It bugs me every time I see it.

        Other than that, I really miss his character. But every time I hear his character mentioned, I do mutter, “shin-kicker” to my husband and we bust up laughing. Totally inappropriate behavior.

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          But every time I hear his character mentioned, I do mutter, “shin-kicker” to my husband and we bust up laughing. Totally inappropriate behavior.

          I like you.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I don’t know if I’d like working for Holt. Don’t get me wrong; he’s a great character! But he’s so precise, exacting, and bureaucratic. I like the ability to be agile and even experimental. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to have all the proper forms and such strict adherence to process.

        1. Anna*

          I am right there with you, but working for a bureaucracy like government, it’s all because somebody somewhere is going to ask why you don’t have that form in triplicate.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Col. Sherman T. Potter from M*A*S*H.

      Strong when he needed to be, gentle when he needed to be. Hard-line military when he needed to be. Flexible when he needed to be. He truly cared about the people in the camp. A heart of gold.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I so agree with this. He had his priorities firmly in order – saving lives mattered, the medicine mattered – the rest wasn’t important. And it took him no time at all to figure out who was best at doing that.

        M*A*S*H* is the only show I know of that survived the replacement of that many major cast members (Col. Blake, Frank Burns, Trapper John, Radar).

          1. Jersey's mom*

            In fact, ER had one of the most flamboyant scenes of how to get rid of a bad boss. Dr, Romano was a complete terror, incredibly rude and cruel to the other doctors and staff. The writers has a malfunctioning medical helicopter cut his arm off, and just as he was starting to come to terms with not being the best pera ring room surgeon in Chicago, the had another medical helicopter malfunction, fall out of the sky and crash onto him, then blow up. I think I cheered that episode.

            1. JeanB in NC*

              Oh I definitely cheered! I hated him so much. I don’t know who came up with that idea but I loved it!

          2. Mrs. Fenris*

            Less exciting than Romano, but I would have liked to work for Kerry Weaver. She was a little too fond of The Process, but I need people like that in my life. She had high standards, she really cared about the work, and she saw her staff as people.

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        He was such a great leader. He treated everyone with respect, no matter what (which couldn’t have been easy with that crew) and wasn’t afraid to be hard when he had to be. A wonderful leader.

        1. Gingerblue*

          Her son’s snake-based office classification system continues to delight me, especially the fact that Ivan has trained his own boss to use it.

      1. the muse*

        I’m in the “cool guy, terrible boss” camp on Miles. I think he could generate a stack of AAM questions all by himself:

        My Boss Is In Love With Me And Trying To Veto My Choice of Husband

        My Boss Is Still Kind Of In Love With Me And Won’t Let Me Quit His Army

        My Boss Won’t Delegate

        My Boss Has A Major Medical Issue And Is Making Me Hide It From His Boss

        My Boss Still Won’t Delegate And Literally Kneecapped The Person He Was Rescuing Because Of It

        My Boss’s Girlfriend Is The Next In Command And He Doesn’t See A Problem With This

        My Boss Is Sleeping With His Bodyguard

        My Boss Goes On Communication Blackouts For Literally Years

        My Boss Is Making Me Do Dubious Accounting To Hide That We Can’t Make Payroll

        My Boss Apparently Doesn’t Believe In Promotion Unless You Are Related To Him Or In A Relationship With Him

        My Boss Threw My Promotion At My Head During An Argument

        He’d be great in hiring, just not so great at management.

        1. Gingerblue*

          I’m with you. Love Miles, but dear god. Though I supposed he’s an even worse subordinate.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I love Leslie (and I’m almost done with my annual P&R re-watch), but I have to disagree with you– I think she’s a terrible boss! She doesn’t listen, she expects unwavering devotion from her team, she plays favorites, she’s mean to Jerry for no reason, and she is terrible at delegating. Her attempts to “support” April in the last season are cringe-worthy. Again, love her, and I wish I had someone in my life who wanted as much for me as Leslie does for her people, but she would also drive me crazy with her inability to see past her own ideas.

        Ron was also a bad boss, for what it’s worth. Chris was marginally ok. You know who would have been a good boss? Barney from the accounting firm!

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          She also has no boundaries and does a lot of forced fun and expects you to be on her level 1000% of the time.

          I’d probably quit the week I started if I had a boss like Leslie.

        2. General Ginger*

          I always felt so bad for the accountants! They just wanted Ben Wyatt to work for them so much, and he always quit, even after they published Cones of Dunshire.

        3. Antilles*

          I’ve always wondered if Ron would be a decent boss in a completely different job in private industry. He’s obviously horrifically bad as the Parks&Rec director – openly ignoring the public, intentionally hiring the least productive employees possible, stonewalling other departments, abdicating all leadership to Leslie, tolerating all sorts of ridiculousness, and so forth.
          But how much of that is just purely an outflow from the fact that he doesn’t even respect the existence of local government, much less have any desire to be part of it?

      2. Temperance*

        I think she’s such a horrible boss! She overreaches into her employees’ personal lives, and she’s kind of just a shitshow of a person.

      3. Indoor Cat*

        Dude, as a character? Absolutely love her. As a friend? Probably we’d get along well; on many “Which P&R Character Are You?” quizzes, I’m usually a Ben Wyatt and sometimes an Ann Perkins. I have some irl friends who match Leslie’s enthusiasm, optimism, and somewhat madcap creative style, and I love their company.

        But holy heck, as a boss: nope. Nope to Knope. I think if Ann Perkins actually had to work for Leslie Knope, their friendship would come to a firey end, which would be tragic on many levels.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation. She might be a bit exhausting at times, but man, is she supportive, thorough, and will do almost anything to boost morale! :D

      1. Antilles*

        Was going to say the same thing.
        She isn’t technically director of the Parks Department (though in practice, she kind of is given Ron’s attitude), but is a fairly good boss in the first few seasons of the show. She accepts most of her staff even with their odd quirks, continuously pushes her staff members to get better, takes her job seriously, seems to generally interact well with her ‘customers’ (the public), and is really competent.

        1. fposte*

          I love Leslie Knope, but in the real world she’d be a horrible boss–she has no boundaries whatsoever.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            I have a lot of friends who feel that they are Leslie or that she’s their spirit animal or whatever, but to me it always makes me cringe a little – yes, it’s great that she’s passionate and (tries to be) supportive, but to me her energy is so often misdirected and she’s all over the place – not at all a spirit animal for good leadership or professionalism IMO. (Of course I do recognize that it’s for comedic effect haha). To me a good leader should be calmer and more consistent.

            Of course, in my personal life I’m a total “liz lemon” so what do I know haha.

      2. General Ginger*

        Leslie is canonically the boss who will show up at your house in the middle of the night to rope you into working on a project. I love her as a character, but as a boss — no way.

      1. Antilles*

        I don’t know if they’ve retconned it differently since then, but a few years ago, it was actually explained that the reason is because Homer’s face and name are so generic that Mr. Burns literally cannot remember who he is. So Burns doesn’t actually realize that he’s hiring back the guy who (just quit / fired for gross incompetence / whatever).

        1. JS*

          I think this is accurate. During the “who shot Mr burns” 3 part episodes there was an entire story line around Mr Burns never remembering Homer.

    4. Lady Alys*

      John Putnam Thatcher (but maybe it’s easy to be a good boss when you have the perfect secretary, Miss Corsa…).

      1. tangerineRose*

        I love these books. And I agree. Thatcher seems like a good boss, and Miss Corsa is the perfect secretary.

        I also think it’s cool that even though this is a mystery series, Thatcher usually isn’t in any danger at all. That’s different from the regular mysteries I read, and it makes it sound less exciting, but I like the authors did something different, and it’s still interesting.

      1. MH*

        Omg yes – and I’m now almost crying thinking about his “guy in a hole” speech (great username btw!)

        1. Qmatilda*

          I used that speech for a large portion of my wedding toast at my best friend’s wedding. It still makes her cry when we talk about it.

          And yes, Leo would make a great boss.

          1. grace*

            This is the sweetest thing I’ve heard. I cry every time I see that episode because I know that speech is coming, honestly.

        2. LemonLyman*


          That scene gets me, too! I almost added to my original comment, “As long as I’ve got a job, you’ve got a job.”

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I don’t know. Josh and Toby had a couple of good boss moments, but overall I don’t think I’d want to work for them on a day to day basis. Sam or CJ or Leo, though, sign me up right now.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            Josh was all over the place but he was always okay to Donna. I might agree about Toby though.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              He was pretty condescending and sexist to Donna. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love them both, but Josh didn’t always treat her great.

      2. General Ginger*

        “He’s a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president is a geek!”

        Leo really is a great, supportive boss, though.

        1. Casuan*

          ps: the beverage in question should be Leo’s [non-alcoholic] favourite; although not water because according to President Bartlet it’s bad luck to toast with water

          1. Magenta Sky*

            As explained to me by a veteran friend, the toast is water for absent friends who won’t be coming home, and the cheapest whiskey you can find for those who will, or did. I have no idea how universal the custom is, though.

          2. Pam*

            I remember a British historical novel, set after James I abdicated, and went to France. The people trying to bring him and his son back would toast him over a bowl of H2O- for the king ‘over the water.’

    5. WoSoFan*

      In keeping with your first responder examples, I would submit Capt. Raymond Holt from Brooklyn 99, along with Chief Boden from Chicago Fire.
      Chief Boden tends to exemplify the “take care of your people” aspect of leadership and only butts heads with hire ups when it’s clear that moral reasoning > whatever bureaucratic nonsense higher headquarters is pushing.
      Capt. Holt is more of a rule stickler, but it’s clear that he wants to do the right thing for the city and his employees. The way that B99 addresses diversity through his (out of the closet and exceptionally stoic) character is a master’s class on humor that doesn’t degrade anyone.

      1. Yorick*

        I super love Boden! But I think it would be difficult to work at that firehouse if you wanted a separation between work and personal life. Mostly because of the other employees, but I don’t think Boden would really get it either.

        1. WoSoFan*

          For the real life fire dept folks–I’m curious if working in a firehouse just naturally means that there’s less separation between work an personal life.
          I served in the Navy and feel like some of the “separate work from personal” take in this blog just couldn’t apply those stuck on a warship at sea with their colleagues. No one asks for work advice here from a Navy ship, so I don’t object to that take, but I usually reflect on that for a second.

          1. Hobgoblin*

            Oh yeah, it’s almost impossible to separate work and personal life in a firehouse. Especially on 24 hours when you see each other sleeping, having just woken up, stuff that’s not normal in the professional world. Things that would weird me out in my office job don’t faze me at all at the firehouse. I’m a volunteer now and that’s easier to manage but, yeah, firehouses are a world of their own!

    6. Shishimai*

      Winter from the Shadow Campaigns books (she doesn’t start there, but she gets there!)

      Exactly as hard-nosed as the situation requires and no more, learning about leadership from the best, and able to combine a strong human factor with the determination to complete some fairly outrageous plans.

    7. Irene Adler*

      Col. Robert Gould Shaw in the movie Glory. He cared about the men. And suffered when they did.

    8. Kathleen_A*

      Captain Picard, of course. I mean, naturally.

      Kirk, not so much. A fun character to watch, but I wouldn’t have wanted him for a boss.

      1. Fiennes*

        Picard is a great boss. Supportive, understands his subordinates’ work and schedules, clear about expectations and time frames, decisive, even-tempered, but capable of being firm when needed.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          Yep, Sisko is another good one.

          I’m not so sure about Janeway. I quite like her (and at *times*, Voyager was a very good show), but she does sometimes come across as a little too Kirk-like.

        2. Tedious Cat*

          Picard is the captain we’d have in a perfect world. But Sisko’s the captain we need in the world we have.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        I would only have trouble working for Picard because I would be continually slipping in my own drool…

        1. Southern Ladybug*

          An occupational hazard I’d be willing to deal with to work on the Enterprise with him!

      3. Justme, The OG*

        I also think that Worf would be a good boss. Tough, but extremely clear on what is expected of you.

        1. Joan Callamezzo*

          Yes! He was so supportive (in a very gruff way) of Sito Jaxa in the episode “Lower Decks.”

    9. Archie Goodwin*

      Barney Miller.

      (Also, the writers on that series had a handle on bureaucracy such as few I’ve ever seen.)

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Yes – definite improvement from then on!

            Vetinari isn’t actually that bad either as long as he doesn’t kill you.

        1. periwinkle*

          Absolutely! He saw his employees as coppers, regardless of species or gender. Well, except maybe the vampire thing but I think he would have promoted Sally after he learned she was a good copper.

          I’d rather work for Moist von Lipwig, though. Lots of room for promotion once he gets things working and Vetinari moves him to the next opportunity for improvement…

      1. Lucky*

        My parents used to let me stay up late to watch Barney Miller when I was maybe 7-8. I’m sure that’s what triggered my love of comedy and true crime.

        1. Archie Goodwin*

          Your parents had excellent taste. :-) I watch it in reruns now, a half an episode before bed (wish it was on early enough that I could watch the whole thing.) It’s absolutely marvelous.

    10. Minerva McGonagall*

      Along the same lines as many above, I’d love to work for DCI Tom Barnaby from Midsomer Murders. Generally keeps good boundaries between home and work, clearly cares about his Sergeants as people, works hard to develop them, and encourages them to move on when they’re ready.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Yes! Barnaby doesn’t expect any more of his sergeants than he expects of himself. And he’s always willing to listen to them, even when he thinks/knows they’re wrong. And when Troy expresses homophobia in one episode, Barnaby lets him know it isn’t ok without ever raising his voice or implying that Troy is a bad person – he just needs to change his perspective on that issue.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        Although I have to say, I think Joyce Barnaby deserves some kind of award for “Most Understanding Spouse Ever.”

    11. KMB213*

      Elizabeth McCord from Madam Secretary – she values each member of her team, but is strict when she needs to be.

      1. Alice Ulf*

        I was coming here to say the same! Glad I kept scrolling down. She’s the perfect combination of sensible and sympathetic.

    12. Bored IT Guy*

      Agent Gibbs from NCIS, President Kirkman from Designated Survivor, and Ender Wiggin from Ender’s Game (the book, not the movie)

        1. Amber T*

          Yeah, NCIS falls into that “too familiar” category where everyone is way up in each other’s business, and while the head smack is explained as something done out of familiarity to get someone to focus… meh.

          (I haven’t watched since Ziva left and I’m flat out refusing to believe certain storylines exist anymore, so my knowledge of the show is a few years old now. That’s how it used to be at least.)

          1. AnonEMoose*

            I have to admit, in my view, Tony was deeply deserving of a smack to the back of the head once in awhile (of course, I’ve only watched through Season 4 or 5, so far, I think).

            1. tangerineRose*

              Yeah, there were times when Tony got smacked in the head when I thought yep, he had that coming.

    13. Annie Mouse*

      Gibbs from NCIS, tough but fair and really cares about his team. I’d love to work for him. (At least the first 6 or so series that I’ve seen.)

      Mac Taylor from CSI NY for similar reasons, and Juan Cabrillo from The Oregon Files.

      Those three all run their teams tough but fairly, are loyal to their staff, care about them and wouldn’t expect their team to do things they wouldn’t do themselves.

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Excellent example. Lead by example. Really cared about the people of Mayberry. Constantly forgave Barney for all of his goof-ups but only after a firm discussion.

      1. FD*

        I feel like her (the character’s) resume would be amazing.

        “Oversaw team of Super Sleuths responsible for tracking down international criminals obsessed with stealing national monuments”

        1. Megan*

          Her actual resume was pretty cool too. And did you know there’s an elementary school named after her?

    14. Junior Dev*

      Ben Sisko! I love the episodes of DS9 where he has to work out some complicated issue between crew members. I also love that he’s generally pretty soft spoken, so when he does get angry, you pay attention.

      1. StarHunter*

        This would be my other choice for Star Trek managers. Plus see my note in my other post about bald men :-)

    15. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Someone already said Leo McGarry, who would be my number one pick.
      Agent Cooper from The Blacklist is a great boss.
      Captain Renard from Grimm, when he wasn’t being evil. (I didn’t like where they went with his character.)

    16. GuitarLady*

      Lorelai Gilmore – seems like she does a good job both managing a large inn and running her own. Only issue I see with her is that she doesn’t do enough to shield the other staff from Michel.

    17. StarHunter*

      Capt Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise. Plus I have a thing for bald/mostly bald men :-)

    18. FD*

      Elend Venture, by the time he matures. He’s firm, leads by example, but always tries to consider if what he’s doing is right. He also isn’t afraid to ask for advice or admit when he doesn’t know something. Dalinar Kholin, too…Brandon Sanderson tends to write in people you’d like to work for.

    19. The Original Flavored K*

      Mitchell Ellison, from Daredevil/The Punisher. He was so reasonable with Ben Urich, and he was trying to help as much as was possible, and he’s been a great mentor to Karen Page. I would totally work for Ellison.

    20. Aardvark*

      Tony and Nat from Dreamland (Utopia) would be good if *their* bosses weren’t terrible! (I haven’t seen season 3 yet, so I could stand corrected)

      1. Parenthetically*

        Hahaha absolutely!! Tony is so competent and smart and constantly hamstrung by the imbeciles he reports to!

      1. Ri*

        I love Captain Jack, but given his history of flirting/sleeping with subordinates and frequent pattern of holding back essential information from his team, I’m not sure he’s a model boss. :-P

    21. Kate*

      Outing myself as a Freeform addict here, but I loved Jacqueline Carlyle from The Bold Type. I was expecting her to be more like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, but instead she was supportive of her staff while still being a badass. Also, she’s played by Melora Hardin (Jan from The Office), and, I dunno, I thought she was just perfect.

      1. Lola Banks*

        YES! Jacqueline from The Bold Type is the only character to ever make me stop and say, “Wow, that is SUCH a good boss.”

      2. Erin*

        I think Jacqueline is great in a lot of ways, but in the breast cancer episode I think she pushed Jane too hard to talk about her mom and she also gave her unsolicited advice on her health which would make me really uncomfortable.

    22. Paper Librarian*

      I know they are criminals, but…Captain Mal from Firefly. He takes no bull, maintains boundaries, but still breaks his own rules when necessary.

      1. LemonLyman*

        Yes! He was a good boss. Since we’re on Sorkin shows (I had suggested Leo McGarry), Isaac Jaffy from Sporys night was an amazing boss, too.

    23. 30 Years in the Biz*

      Definitely Sister Julienne on “Call the Midwife”. She is competent, firm, fair, resourceful. She’s an excellent administrator. Her staff includes a diverse group: nuns, nurses, a few party girl nurses, and a handyman. She manages them all with kindness and understanding so they can do their best work. Even when she was temporarily demoted she kept her cool and continued to contribute to her team.

    24. DesertRose*

      Lt. Anita Van Buren. She would give her detectives a little slack when needed and rein them in when they were going too far (particularly if whatever they were doing could compromise a case). Also, that character is the Queen of So Not Here For The BS!

    25. Indoor Cat*

      Reading this thread has made me realize how few books / movies I watch set in the real world. I keep thinking, like, “Well, I’d follow Gandalf to hell and back, but he’s not exactly the ‘boss’ of the Fellowship…” There are a lot of fantasy mentor types who impacted me as roles models when I was young and impressionable– Kazul from Dealing With Dragons, Ogion from Earthsea Cycle, Uncle Iroh from Avatar : TLA, Hagrid from Harry Potter (I didn’t really like Dumbledore all that much, although I might be in the minority).

      Kazul was kind of a boss; I mean, she was a king, so, she had to run a (small) country. But she was bad at delegation. Also, she was a literal dragon, and I’m not totally sure how much dragon-cultural norms can translate into contemporary human workplaces. She was a pretty solid king, though. She figured out how to use science experiments to test assumptions (about magic, agriculture, and various other kingdom-running challenges), and she knew how to maintain a human-dragon alliance after their mutual enemy was vanquished.

      But, the protagonist (Princess Cimmerone) didn’t exactly work for her, so we never got to see how she treated her ’employees,’ and the Princess Cimerone had a lot of, you know, other princesses and incompetent wizards to save.

      The only fantasy character(s) I remember deeply admiring who were more boss-like in the sense that they oversaw someone doing day-to-day tasks rather than saving the world were Tiffany Aching’s mentors– Miss Tick, in the first book; Granny Aching in her memory, and Granny Weatherwax later on. I read The Wee Free Men when I was ten, and I really felt the way Tiffany thought about her mentors and her parents–the sort of complicated feeling of respecting them while realizing that respect doesn’t necessarily mean obedience, and trying to figure out in a broad sense what it means to be a leader from the good and bad examples in her life. What is an adult when it doesn’t mean “someone who takes care of me”? It might’ve been the first book I’d ever read where a character has two mentors who are very different (Granny Aching and Miss Tick) and yet both are worthy of respect.

      I can’t think of a book I’ve read as an adult where a boss stood out as being particularly admirable. In fact, mentally going over my list, I’ve read a surprising number of books where the protagonist works for someone terrible or terrifying. The last three books were Ada Palmer’s ‘Too Like The Lightning’ series, where your choice of bosses are JEDD Mason (aka an alien god), Madame Croisette (literally just orchestrated a civilization-destroying war…for fun?) and then the leaders of various political groups. I love-love Carlysle Foster and Martin Guildbreaker, and Papadelias for that matter, but none of them are really the boss of anyone.

      1. Original Flavored K*

        In regards to Dumbledore, you’re not in much of a minority. His actions from the first book on take on a very, very different sheen when viewed through the lens of Deathly Hallows.

        What did you think about Vimes, Vetinari, or Moist as bosses? Granny Weatherwax is definitely an interesting mentor figure (I haven’t read the Tiffany Aching books so I’ll always still have some Pratchett to read).

        1. Indoor Cat*

          Ventinari would be an amazing boss, and he’d never hire me, haha.

          Vimes…I think I’d quit. Actually, I think it’d be amazing if Tiffany and Vimes ever crossed paths because they have fundamentally different worldviews. In D&D terms, Vimes is Lawful Good and Tiffany is Chaotic Good (and in Gretchin Rubin’s parlance, she’s a Questioner– she’ll only follow an order if she understands why it’s good and what happens if she breaks it, and sometimes nobody will tell her what will happen so she just goes ahead and breaks the rule anyway).

          Vimes’ loyalty to Vetinari, and his certainty that Ankh-Morpork “works,” without ever questioning what that means, would drive Tiffany up the wall. Especially the splitting hairs between a king and a dictator. She might even be tempted to fight Vetinari, not to take his power (she’s, for all intents and purposes, an anarchist in the political sense, if only because democracy isn’t really an option on Discworld) but to prove that she could. To prove that of course there are big gaping flaws in the system– “the system is fundamentally people.”

          She’d also loathe his rationalization for violence (against criminals and others in his way), to the extent that she might not be able to grok that he actually does have a moral reasoning behind it and has lines he wouldn’t cross. In the last book, The Shepherd’s Crown, it’s a huge deal for her, mentally, to commit an act of violence that ends up killing a straight-up monster. She switched from pacifism to violence as a last resort, and she has to confront that part of the reason for her previous pacifism was that she was a little girl who *couldn’t* fight her way out of problems, not someone who chose not to out of wisdom.

          But, I still think she’d have a problem with Vimes’ violence-is-a-third-resort, get-concealed-weapons-on-the-DL methods. Every witch has a magical skill that their best at, and Tiffany’s skill is speeding healing and moving pain. To inflict pain, even on a villain, is somewhat anathemic to her.

          And yet! They are so similar! They both believe deeply in the intrinsic value of all people. They both recognize that day-to-day, often thankless work is vital to take care of people and keep them safe. They’re both deeply, fundamentally angry about social injustice, poverty, and bigotry, although that deep anger plays out differently for little girls an grown men– Tiffany gets chastised for it and told off for “being emotional and dramatic,” for one thing, whereas Vimes can exude a palpable cloud of fury wherever he goes and it seems to make people respect him more. But it’s the same anger, from the same heart.

          Which is a long way of saying, Vimes is a character I respect, and he’s a good dude. But he’d drive me mad if I had to work for him.

        2. Indoor Cat*

          You know what? Thinking on it, my favorite Discworld boss is Death.

          I’d work for Death. He trusts his employees. The tasks he assigns are straightforward. He recognizes the value of a private life. He’s interested in a lot of subjects and willing to let people experiment. He’s not there to be your friend, or inspire you to change the world; nor is he going to ask you to enter the Dungeon Dimensions.

    26. kathyglo*

      I vote for Capt. Frank Furillo from Hill Street Blues, one of the first great police dramas. I remember he always seemed in command, and fair, although I may have to rewatch to get all the details! If you’ve never seen it, check it out!

  2. Robbie*

    Hey folks. I’m looking for some job hunt advice.

    I was let go from my job last week. I was there for less than two months: it was a very small startup, and I was the second full-time hire.

    I’m not in a desperate situation yet, because I have plenty of savings. But I was at my previous job for less than a year, too. So I’m worried about how to present these two short-term jobs.

    Either one is explainable on its own: the startup was a tiny, risky startup and I knew what could happen going in, and at the job before that half of the team quit soon after I started. But together I’m worried that I’ll look like a job hopper, and also what to say if future companies want to speak to the startup.

    Since I was at the startup for less than two months, I’m considering leaving it off of my resume, and giving an explanation like “I got a great offer from an early stage startup, but unfortunately the company’s fortunes changed and the offer fell through. Thankfully I’m financially stable and I’ve been looking since.” Would this be good or am I better off telling the truth?

    1. TeacherNerd*

      I would leave it off, and if you’re asked down the road, the verbiage you give in your explanation is good.

      1. Robbie*

        Yeah, my professional friends like that phrasing. My only concern is what to say if someone wants to talk to the place that (I tell them) couldn’t hire me.

        I can’t see why they would, since as far as they knew, the startup didn’t actually work with me aside interviewing me, but I’ve never been a hiring manager, only an interviewer.

        1. Natalie*

          It’s pretty unlikely anyone would want to talk to them, but what if you changed the wording to “the job fell through” if you are concerned? It’s true, the job did fall through, but it doesn’t elide the fact that you did actually start working there before that happened.

          1. Robbie*

            I like that even more! The startup is in a certain field getting a lot of media attention for being a bubble, so if I say “it was an X startup, and I joined knowing it was risky, and that if it didn’t pay off, I would be going back to a big company and not looking back. Unfortunately, it was riskier than I thought and they couldn’t keep me on, so I’m going back to a big company and not looking back.”

              1. Robbie*

                Thank you! It helps that it was my plan. Ideally, I would’ve spent a couple of years at the startup and used the title and experience gained to swing a couple of branches ahead in the corporate jungle, but I knew that might not happen going in and I’m handling it now.

            1. Mallory Archer*

              I like that, too. Positive and makes you sound like you knew what you were doing when you took the risk (as you did). Someone who is willing to take a risk but only when it’s reasonable, has his eyes open about it, and has/had a back-up plan seems like a good hire to me.

              1. Anion*

                Oops, the above was me; I changed my name for the Ray Gillette joke above and forgot to change it back.

    2. Bea*

      Do you still have any connection with the startup that let you go? I would leave it off unless you can use them for networking purposes “we loved her but given the fragile state of out start up couldn’t afford to keep her on. In two months she did XYZ for us and was great.” but if you never even got to establish any work groove which in 2 months it may or may not happen.

      What about your jobs prior to the last two? Two quick jobs when the other 3 were 2-4 years each isn’t job hobbing in my opinion.

      1. Robbie*

        I’m going to reach out to the other F/T guy and see. We got along well, but honestly I could tell from week 2 that my boss didn’t like me. That’s happened at other jobs and I’ve made it through. But when your boss is the founder/CEO, it’s obviously different.

        I stayed at all my other jobs 1-4 years. I’m in tech so a year is considered a decent tenure, and the company I left to join the startup has been getting slammed with negative press constantly for the last year or so, so I think I’ll get some sympathy there.

        1. Bea*

          If the founder sucks, flush it. I would def network with your co-worker there if possible. But given your otherwise strong tenor it’s okay to have a weird burp where you bounced a bit.

          1. Robbie*

            I’m past it already. Honestly, I hope he does well. It’s wrong to wish something bad for other people. On the other hand, I’m not at all concerned about the founder anymore, aside what he may say to other people who want to hire me. Which is why I’m here.

            My planned explanation has evolved to “I left Black Mesa for an early stage startup in a turbulent space knowing it was risky and that if it didn’t work out, I’d be going back to big companies for good. Unfortunately it turned out to be riskier than I thought and they couldn’t keep me on.”

            I’m trying to elide as many potentially identifying details as I can, but you can probably guess what the field was.

            1. Bea*

              Very good mentality. It’s important to remember that harboring bad feelings also just takes up energy you can spend being happy.

              If you’re worried he’ll say bad things, do not list it. I think your wording is perfect and a decent employer will get it.

    3. Maya Elena*

      I would modify you script a bit and not lie. Be vague, but not untruthful. If asked, say you “briefly worked at a small, risky startup that didn’t work out” – but don’t lie.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Me too. A background check could possibly bring up this past job anyway depending on how thorough it is, so I wouldn’t give the impression I didn’t actually work at this startup just in case.

    4. The Tin Man*

      I agree with Maya. No need to lie and say the offer fell through. Leave it off and if you’re asked what you did during the gap (which happens) you can say what Maya put or also add “I briefly worked for a small, risky startup that didn’t work out but it folded and I was laid off before I could have any notable accomplishments for my resume”

    5. Lil Fidget*

      To be fair, my understanding is that this may be more understandable / expected in the field of startups. When Alison says “don’t be a job hopper” she’s not talking to every specific situation – you may be an exception if you’re all about launching new products / services?

      1. Anonny*

        This isn’t true for every industry, but in the tech/start-up world, I really don’t think anyone thinks about these things as “job hopping.” I see so many resumes; short term employment at start-ups is extremely common and doesn’t even phase us. It might be an interview question but it doesn’t raise concern. The only place I ever hear about the concept of job-hopping is here, on this site, in the comments section. It just feels like a really outdated thing to worry about/get upset about, at least in my corner of the world. It’s a non-issue. (Because I’m in the AAM comments section, I will add the disclaimer that I am very aware that it IS an issue in other industries, so I’m only speaking about my own experience.)

        1. Robbie*

          Makes sense. My only caveat with it is that I’m targeting banks and other big trusted institutions in my job search. I assume that “I tried this but the way it fell through reminded me of why I prefer the big company lifestyle” is a decent angle, but I’ve never been in a hiring manager’s position before. As a hiring manager, do you think it would make a difference?

          1. Anonny*

            Hmm – with banks, I really don’t know! Banking seems like a more formal industry where longer term employment is really the norm. It’s so tough to say because something that is so insignificant in my world could be a huge red flag to a hiring manager in banking. I think the angle you’re going for makes perfect sense to me and I think it explains the situation in a way that wouldn’t cause me any additional worry about you. I can’t speak for everyone but that explanation would definitely work for me.

          2. Cristina in England*

            I think hiring managers understand that, and it is a reasonable and plausible explanation if you were at big places, tried a startup, and want to go back to big places.

            1. Robbie*

              Yep. My angle is that since I’m getting older, I wanted to give the startup game one try before I definitively say whether or not it’s for me. I did, and it’s not.

          3. Kiwi*

            How long someone plans to stay makes a huge difference to me, but that’s because I have to spend at least 6 months training people before they can work independently. And it takes 1-3 years to properly get a handle on the work.

            I wouldn’t take on someone with a history of staying less than 2 years, and even at 2 years, I’d question them about it.

            But my company’s probably exceptional.

    6. theletter*

      It depends on how long your work history is in total – if you’re just starting out or switching careers, a little job hunting is expected.

      I had a couple of short stints when I was switching careers, which added up to a year. I think I just put it on my resume as “Freelance copywriting and Teapot Consulting – clients included LLama Inc, Kittys Co., StepMom’s Art Project & Assoc.”

      Risky startups can be rough to work for, but you’ve probably learned a lot of valuable lessons in that short time. It might be worth it to spin those lessons into achievements: ‘handled PR during network outage, Lead technical project while learning llama wrangling’, etc.

      1. Robbie*

        The other companies I’ve worked for were all pretty big. I’ve been burned when working with startups in the past: aside this startup, one wanted to give an offer but hit money issues, and another revised their offered salary downward also due to money issues.

        I’m a programmer with a decent amount of experience, so my mindset toward the startup was to give it a try, knowing the risk involved, and if it fell through, go back to the megacorp world and don’t look back. I think I can sell “the startup fell through” this way: explain that I learned from this experience that I want to be at a company for 5-10 years and be able to look back at all the projects I built and people I mentored in that timespan.

        1. zora*

          People understand that startups are risky and things often don’t work out and that happens quickly. I wouldn’t worry too much about people thinking it means you are a job hopper, but definitely think about what lessons you learned from that startup and be as specific as possible. (even though it was only 2 months). But things like: “I learned I am more comfortable with having the time to test out new process and get lots of input, rather than just moving quickly and having to change it later.” stuff like that.

        2. einahpets*

          Yeah, in my field (biotech) I started out at a big / stable company and then went out into the start-up/small company world a year and a half ago and it has been a brutal awakening for me, in some ways.

          When I interviewed for current job, they warned me that their small company had been acquired / was being integrated into a bigger company as if it is a downside (and I guess there are downsides), but I definitely took it as a plus for my current situation!

    7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Oooh, I wouldn’t say that the offer fell through — that’s not true, and it could come back to bite you.

      But you could still leave it off your resume and say (in a cover letter or interview or networking conversations) “I got a great offer from an early stage startup and briefly joined the team. Unfortunately, the company’s fortunes changed soon after I was hired so I am back on the market.”

    8. BRR*

      I’m a little confused as to the reason you were let go? If it was purely financial you can say it was due to the company’s finances and that short stint wont’ make you look like a job hopper. Definitely don’t say the offer fell through and I wouldn’t mention your finances.

    9. einahpets*

      I think it depends on the industry. I was in pretty much the exact same position recently: I am in biotech in not one of the big biotech hubs (so a lot of smaller companies with the potential for growth and/or spectacular failure). I had a 10 month stint at one job (they ran out of funding to keep me fulltime) and then a layoff at the next after 6 months. No one batted an eye when I told them the reason I was looking so quickly for a new job. I, in fact, had two job offers within a month of looking.

      But it’d be helpful to try and identify a few references from each job that can speak to your situation. If nothing else, I was able to demonstrate versatility / adaptability to new environments pretty quickly with the jobs, or so my references told me.

      I am not sure if I will continue to list the 6 month/10 month stints in a few years, but I did have some accomplishments while at each that I don’t see a reason to remove right now.

      1. Robbie*

        The 2 month job isn’t going on my resume. The 10 month one will, because I can talk about my duties and give a reasonable explanation for my short tenure:

        a) I joined right before they were slammed with a bunch of negative press, which is still going on (you can guess the org)
        b) A lot of people in my department left right after I started, leading to a lot of pressure from upper management, which our department’s leadership took out on us

        In a couple of years I may drop both from my CV, especially since going back to the company I left to join the 10 month is still an option.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      For <2 months you can probably leave it off.
      But you might want to use the startup as a case to say you were either consulting or working freelance (if that makes sense in your field) while you were looking for a permanent position. In other words, play it off as though you KNEW it would be a temporary gig.
      I think when hiring managers hear 'start up company' they kind of understand.

      1. Natalie*

        Oh, I wouldn’t do that. It’s not remotely necessary to lie about getting laid off from a start up. And on a practical level, this lie invites way too many questions that you wouldn’t be able to answer – what project were you hired to do, why did you leave a permanent job for freelance work and then quit doing freelance, etc?

        1. Eric*

          Yes. Also, a bigger, more process-driven org (the type of place I want to go back to) is likely to ask for corroborating docs, which I won’t have, because it’s not true. I used to tutor on the side in college, and I had to fight with the background checking firm one of my old employers used over me not having W2s for it.

          I’d be much more comfortable with saying “it was a venture in a risky field, which is why they couldn’t keep me on.” This is glossing over that I was let go, but it’s still completely truthful.

    11. nep*

      Omission is one thing. But if you are mentioning the start-up at all, don’t lie — even a ‘little white one.’ No reason to set yourself up for trouble like that. Explain it in a way that — while giving only the level of detail you want — is completely truthful.

  3. Bobrowsky*

    Today is the day I need to put in my notice that I’m moving back to freelancing. I’m giving a LOT of notice (2 months), but my team is falling apart and there’s a chance come June our four person team could be one person and I think giving them as much warning / time to help prepare for the transition is the kindest thing to do. It can take months to hire (government work).

    Except I adore my boss and the thought of telling him ties my stomach into knots and I think I’m going to vomit ahhhhhhh.

    How do I get through the day until our meeting???

    1. Adlib*

      Just start whatever prep work for your departure that you need to do. Hopefully that will keep your mind off of it! Or, keep reading AAM posts. :) Before you know it, you’ll be at the meeting.

    2. Bea*

      You’ll get through it! He will be thankful you are giving him such notice and knows you care. This is the best kind of notice. I had to do the same when leaving my job of a decade, I’m still close to my boss :)

    3. Alli525*

      I cried so much when I told my bosses at my last job that I was leaving. Even though we all sort of knew it was on the horizon (I’d been there a long while, I’d been open about my frustrations) it was still so hard because I adored them. And then the one I liked the best decided to work from home that day, so I had to do it over the phone, which was even worse!

      Deep breaths. Focus on all the other little tasks that need to get done today. It sounds like you have a good relationship with your boss, so hopefully he’ll be happy for you, because you’re doing what’s best for you!

    4. LAM*

      “It’s not my fault the team is falling apart/we’ll be short staffed”

      At least, that’s what I keep telling myself since I’m also giving my notice today, but am only giving two weeks. My boss is going to flip, as we are already short staffed and it took them six months to fill my role before. But it is what it is.

    5. Bobrowsky*

      You guys are the best. I haven’t been here 10 years (more like 1.5) but it’s pretty clear to me the place isn’t a great fit, despite my awesome boss. I am just anxious because I don’t think he will expect this at all! One of my coworkers knows, but that’s it.

      1. Bea*

        I don’t think most ever expect it but they know it’s part of life.

        Heck the evil demon boss I dropped my 2 weeks on last year was taken off guard. Despite knowing he had started acting a mess and wrote me up two weeks prior for gross lies and embellishments.

        Employment is very fluid and any good boss gets it!

      2. LAM*

        I hope your meeting went well!

        My boss almost cried, and I could feel their boss’s disappointment through gte phone.

        But at least it’s done now and I feel a million times better! Hopefully you feel the same.

    6. Casuan*

      Know that this is just the ebb & flow of business.

      You get to make the life decisions that are right for you. You’re being ethical about your resignation & considerate of your colleagues. Your only obligation here is to be committed to make the transition as seemless as possible.

      Understandably [because you don’t want to screw over your colleagues], you’re making this more personal than you should. Just remember that they get to make their own life decisions & any one could decide to leave for any reason. Also, people can change their minds before giving notice &or the company can reorganise jobs so you really don’t know what the future holds.

      Wo. This was meant to be more inspirational than it reads. [Sorry if it doesn’t!]
      Good luck & let us know how it went!!

  4. project manager salary question*

    I currently work as a project manager in higher education publishing. I have ten years of experience with some really strong examples of projects I’ve led and initiatives I’ve started or advocated for.

    I’m looking to move out of higher ed publishing for several reasons and have a couple interviews set up for project manager jobs at consulting firms – one’s an economics firm, one’s tech, and another is management consulting.

    How do I navigate the salary talk? These areas of project management are so far outside my realm that I don’t really know what the normal salary is, and I don’t have anyone I know who works in those industries that can help me out. When I’ve looked online, there’s a range from $90K – $150K. I make a pretty low salary in comparison because higher ed publishing isn’t very high paying. I live and work in a HCOL city, and these interviews are in the same HCOL city. I don’t want to lowball myself, but I also don’t want to mention a salary that’s too high based on Glassdoor reviews, since I take those with a grain of salt.

    Can anyone give me an idea of what consulting firm project manager salaries are like? I’m really hesitant to bring up a number first, so I’d love some insight from anyone who has worked in these fields so I have a better understanding of the norm and don’t lowball myself.

    1. Oh hello!*

      When I started as a publishing project manager 14 years ago, I made $22k/year and had to live with my parents and couldn’t afford my bills. 2 years later, I moved 45 min away to a larger city and went to work for a bigger company, and felt like I’d struck gold with $38k/year (which, I still lived paycheck to paycheck and had to defer student loans). Over my 9 year span at that company, I crept my way up to $55k. I could pay all my bills and occasionally enjoy myself but didn’t have much left over for savings or vacations or anything big (high cost of living area).

      I made an industry change (tech) a few years ago – it was a fairly easy transition to make. I do a very similar job (sometimes it’s remarkable to me how many of my tasks are the same. It’s like I had to learn a new language. My old job was reading a book in Spanish and my current job is reading that same book in French. The same, but different.) I now make $103k/yr. All I had to do was prove that I could use my skills in a different industry and the rest was history, almost doubled my salary doing very similar work.

      For me, I had a hiring manager who very clearly saw the connection between the job I was leaving and the job she was hiring for, and she saw me as a valuable asset (and not someone she had to “take a chance on.”) so I was fortunate to not have to claw my way into a job and then get low-balled because of my salary history. She offered me a very fair starting salary that was way bigger than what I was making, and I didn’t even have to negotiate. When I moved up into a different, more complex role, I negotiated a better salary for myself because I had learned enough about the industry to know what I *should* be making doing the work I was doing. I was very confident about market value for my role and my qualifications and the value I brought to the job.

      It’s hard to do – I don’t have much concrete advice for you but I wanted to chime in and let you know it can be done. Getting out of publishing and into tech was the smartest thing I ever did for my career and my bank account! Good luck. :)

    2. PM*

      Depends. That range isn’t crazy but seems a little high for 10 years. $80-100 seems more reasonable. But your strategy should be not to give them a number. Read up on ways to avoid giving a salary first.

      At 10 years as a PM consultant with PMP and MBA in a high COL East Coast city, I made around $80k but should have made $90-100. At 15-20 years that $125-150 range seems reasonable.

      If you’re talking NYC or San Francisco COL, edge that whole thing up by 25% (I’m guessing)
      PMP signals your knowledge and helps you get hired. But having been on lots of proposals for consulting, the grad degree makes a difference for how much they can charge for you so you are worth more to the co (if it’s that kind of contract, some are just flat fee so they try to keep costs down).

    3. Brontosaurus*

      I’m in management consulting (10 years) and unless you have management consulting experience, they wont bring you in at the Manager level. I’m big 4, and I’d recommend you look at the Senior Consultant or Staff Senior level. I realize that might feel like a step down but management consulting is a really different beast with a heavy range of responsibilities outside of just client delivery. At that level targeting 80-100k is probably appropriate (for context I’m in a big 4 and at the experienced manager level making 135k base with my 10 years of experience in management consulting).

    4. May Not Be Helpful*

      One of the management consulting firm project manager/executive assistant positions I’m looking at applying for cites a range of $110K – $130K in a HCOL city so I think it’s really dependent on the firm and the city.

  5. peachie*

    Anyone have tips on how to deal with headache/eye strain in the office? I just started a new job ~3 weeks ago, and it’s been horrible in the last week. I’ve never had this problem before, and I can’t figure out what’s different–I’m not spending more time looking at a screen than I have in the past. I’ve changed my screen brightness settings and started getting up reguarly during the day to walk around, go outside, etc. It’s a bit better, but I’m still ending the day with a horrible headache. I think it might be something about the lighting, and I don’t know that I can do anything about that. Any ideas?

    (Btw, I’ve verified that my glasses prescription is right, and I already have separate “computer glasses.” I also just ran out my FSA money, so getting new lenses isn’t really in the budget…)

    1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Have you tried adjusting the distance from your eyes to the monitor. If not, give that a try. Everything else I was coming to say (eyes checked, separate computer glasses) you have already done.

    2. The Commoner*

      Do you have any natural light in your office setting? I’ve found that makes a huge difference for me. In years past I would work in the same little office with a door for hours on end and commonly have headaches. It was internal with no natural light. Once moved, even indirectly in a cube setting, made all the difference.

      Also, my spouse would say to consider allergies and if there is something at play contributing to the issues.

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        Yes, I had that and added a small lamp that I could move around if my eyes felt strained. Moving that little lamp even 6 inches closer/further was amazing.

    3. Nameless commentator*

      If you started a few weeks ago and have changed up routines make sure you’re hydrating!

    4. Natalie*

      If it is the lighting, your facilities people might be able to install a filter on the light fixture.

      1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

        This happened to me, we have those overhead florescent lights with the three long bulbs. I asked if they could just take out two of the bulbs right above my head and computer and it worked.

    5. Die Forelle (The Trout)*

      I have some glasses from Eye Buy Direct (dot com) with their EBD Blue coating on them. It cuts the blue light and makes a difference for me in reducing eye strain. They also have a slightly more expensive coating called Eye Zen. Eye Buy Direct glasses are cheap too! My pair was $40 all-in. You just need your Rx from your optometrist and if you have a pair of glasses that fit well, check out the 3 numbers inside the side piece (mine are 49-19-145). Those are measurements and can help you figure out which frames will fit you.

    6. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      This is somewhat related to brightness settings, but if you’re allowed to, get f.lux for your computer.
      It does more than just brightness. You can also change how yellow or blue your monitor screen lighting is. On bad migraine days for me, I make it more sepia to help my eyes. You can set it to follow the time of day, or switch it on the fly, so it’s pretty simple to use.

      Are your “computer glasses” tinted in some way? For me personally, a green or purple/blue tint helps far better than something in the traditional “sunglasses” spectrum. And you can find green/blue tinted sunglasses for pretty cheap on Amazon.

      For office lighting: Are you somewhere where you can dim or turn off the overhead lights and switch to a lamp or lamps for at least a part of the day? Reducing some of the brightness around you can help too.

      Make sure you’re looking away from the screen and into distance on a regular basis (like every 10-20mins during focus work). During this time, blink more often than usual and warm your eyes a bit (I do this by rubbing my hands together to warm them, and then rest them over my closed eyes for about 30secs).

      Sorry if all of this fits into what you’ve already tried. This all works for me, but definitely my biggest cause of eyestrain is forgetting to blink while I’m focusing. My eyes get super-dry and then tired and strained.

      1. Canadian Teapots*

        peachie -might- be able to get away with twiddling the settings on their computer monitor. Some will let you adjust the color balance to more blue or more yellow, and others will let you adjust the RGB settings, etc.

      2. MRK*

        +1 to adjusting your screen, I get migraines and adjusting screens to a more yellow hue is a lifesaver.

        Also, is it possible you are getting stress headaches (not from light but just new job stress?) It sounds silly but I frequently get stress headaches even though if you asked I wouldn’t say I’m stressed. And for me, once that’s in action things like lighting can easily exacerbate the headache.

        1. Witty Nickname*

          This can be a big issue for me too. And one of my former coworkers actually started losing hair and ended up with a small bald spot shortly after starting here even though they didn’t feel like they were under any more stress than normal.

    7. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Are you sure it’s your eyes & not something to do with how you are sitting? I was having terrible headaches at work, and I realized it was due to the height of my computer screen. Or maybe it’s something to do with your chair?

    8. 2 Cents*

      When my monitor changed from a crappy one (by comparison) to a Mac retina screen that’s, truly, enormous, I had to change my background to black (no blue waves from that), and dim my monitor as if I was using it overnight. It has an orange hue to it, but it helps immensely. You can also download the flux plugin so you can change your screen’s “temperature” easily.

    9. Phoenix Programmer*

      Maybe ask to have the lights above your cube removed and bring in a lamp.

      Also for monitors since you turned down the brightness (I keep mine at 50%) you can also look into screen protectors. They make it darker.

    10. NoName*

      Check where the lights are in relation to your eyes. I have trouble with overhead fluorescents (the flicker) but I also have issues with bright lights in my peripheral vision or just behind my peripheral vision where they reflect in my glasses.

      One way you can check if lighting brightness is a factor, particularly if you do mostly computer-screen based work, would be to wear sunglasses for a while inside. (They’d need to be the kind that wrap around a bit and don’t let a lot of light in from the sides). If it helps, then that could be it.

    11. Legal Beagle*

      Could it be the overhead lights in the office? I find fluorescents irritating, especially in the morning. If you have your own office, you could leave the lights off and bring in a lamp with a soft lightbulb to use instead. Are you sure your computer glasses are still the correct Rx? Adjusting the distance between your seat and your monitor might also help. I tend to squint at my computer if it’s not exactly the right distance away from my eyeballs, which causes strain.

    12. CheeryO*

      +1 to f.lux if you can install it. Also, if your office setup allows it, removing a lightbulb or two from the overhead lighting can make an incredible difference. One of mine went out, and I still haven’t gotten it replaced since it’s so much easier on my eyes.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      Is the lighting different at the new job?
      I’ve had terrible issues if the fluorescent lights hang down instead of being recessed into the ceiling.

    14. Jady*

      I’ve had this issue at my current job.

      Different offices use different kinds of lighting. Depending on how many they are and the kind – some will cause issues for people. I’d never had a problem before.

      If you can and haven’t already – get a routine eye exam just to rule out anything extreme. I ended up having a scratch on my eye that caused the issues to be worse.

      After that, use eye drops. Anything over the counter. That will relieve some of the discomfort.

      When all that wasn’t enough for me, I started wearing a hat to work to dim the light. Nothing big – it was small black and nice looking. Boss didn’t care at all. (We don’t do customer-facing work though as a disclaimer.) That helped a good bit. I still have it in my drawer and will put it on occasionally.

      Then, I ended up talking to the office manager and actually getting the lights directly above my cube unscrewed. That was a magic bullet. There are a ridiculous number of overhead lights in here, so nothing is dark around my desk or anything. It’s just not shining directly down on me anymore. They’ve been unscrewed for about a year now.

      I still use the eye drops too, but my doc told me I have to use them regularly.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Some kinds of florescent lights give me a headache, especially after hours under them. I wear a hat with a brim too – it really helps.

        For dry eyes, my eye doctor recommended eye drops called Blink Tears. Not sure if they’ll help in your specific case.

        I found that screens with white backgrounds were the hardest on my eyes, and black or blue backgrounds were much easier.

        And a mirror or something to stretch your eyes is good.

    15. Competent Commenter*

      I had trouble with this when I started a part-time job at an office where I had no windows and there was nothing but the white wall 3 feet in front of me. My other part-time job space included a nearby window and I was constantly looking up and out to the horizon as I worked, and I had no eye strain on the days I worked there. I was only in my twenties at the time so it wasn’t an old-eyes thing.

      Any chance you can move nearer a window (if you’re in a room with one)? What about setting up a mirror on the wall in front of you or on your desk that reflects something at a distance, even if it’s just down the hall?

    16. Minnie*

      Could it be the overhead lighting? It can mess me up and cause a world of problems for my vision…

      1. Optimistic Prime*

        Yeah, when I feel a headache coming on I switch off the overhead fluorescent lights.

    17. knitcrazybooknut*

      I brought in a small natural light desk lamp and placed it in a corner behind one of my monitors to give it some back lighting. It made my monitor NOT the brightest thing in that area, which made a huge difference for me. I also leave the fluorescent satan-lights off, though your mileage may vary. Experimentation is the key. I find that I immediately flinch when something isn’t going to work, so pay attention to your immediate responses and don’t talk yourself into making something work.

    18. Mirth & Merry*

      I don’ know exactly what it is called so this might not be the most helpful but one of my coworkers got some sort of film/overlay for his screen that was supposed to help with that, I don’t think it was just one of those privacy but maybe. Bonus he was able to get the company to pay for it.

    19. Witty Nickname*

      I was dealing with this up until a few months ago. I thought it was the lighting, but eventually realized it was the mold in the a/c vents. The lighting made it worse, but wasn’t the initial cause of my headache. It might be worth figuring out if something like that (or pollen or other allergens – yay spring!) might be causing them. I’ve since moved to a different floor (actually moved twice since then), and my headaches are mostly gone unless the pollen is really bad that day.

      (Unfortunately, the only fix for me was to manage it with zyrtec – the good stuff I have to show my ID to the pharmacist to get – flonase, and advil. I actually realized what the cause was a week before I was set to move, so thankfully I was able to look forward to that).

    20. Kathenus*

      There’s also a recommended 20-20-20 strategy, every 20 minutes focus on something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Until I got my computer glasses prescription right it did help with my blurred vision when I was at the computer a lot.

    21. Oxford Coma*

      I get horrible glare from the overhead fluorescents. I’m not allowed to use glare shields anymore (because apparently office esthetics is more important than employee health and comfort) so I started wearing a ball cap at my desk.

    22. Optimistic Prime*

      See a doctor or go to a headache clinic. I was getting migraines regularly around 2-4 times per week, and there are daily medications you can take to reduce the frequency of the headaches.

  6. Phoenix Programmer*

    Any advice for reducing tasks outside the scope of your role?

    Some background: 2 yrs ago I was promoted. I am still doing items for that old role. It is starting to transition but going slower than I like. 1 yr ago I took over .75 fte of another role in addition to my role. I also have a hodge podge of tasks I consider “stuff no one else likes to do” which I get continual pressure to take more and more of. This is all really low level stuff and it use to take 2+ people to do it all so it is really limiting my ability to focus on my role.

    I have made it a new year’s resolution to shed low value thankless tasks that fall into “other duties as assigned” territory. Tips for achieving this? Tips for keeping new ones at bay?

    I will say that I have started to be more of a squeky wheel on these. The result is interesting – my managers are now making a bunch of”please do not leave us” jokes instead of engaging me in real development conversations. I thought stepping up to the plate would net praise, awards, and more pay and flexibility but I got none of that. Also I have stopped offering to help with the items (think fixing a printer jam) that I could help with but know I would get stuck doing forever while no one else at my level would ever be expected to.

    Also in case it’s relevant- I am paid the same as director level management and I am a woman.

    1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Well, you have done the first thing, and that is to stop volunteering to help with stuff. You should talk frankly with your boss to see if there is anything you can pass off to someone. If so, do it and be firm and consistent about doing it. Alison has some great advice on here about how to do that.

    2. Bea*

      If you’re dropping hints, you’ll want to make sure it’s clear that you’re not dreaming of not being tasked with low level tasks that anyone else can do.

      You’ll want to have a conversation about “these tasks are too time consuming. I need to give them to someone else, how about Office Admin?” If you are clear they can’t make stupid jokes. The “oh no don’t leave” comments seem like they’re thinking you’re blowing off steam in a moment and not seriously saying they need to reassign the duties to allow you time to focus on your high level duties.

      1. Sarah*

        You could also frame it as not making sense to pay someone what you’re making an hour to do an unskilled task when there are others who make less than you an hour who could do it. You can then focus on higher value tasks which is why your company promoted you (and presumably increased your pay).

        1. Jules the Third*

          +1 to this.

          “Stepping up to the plate” is most effective when the tasks you’re taking on are stretches for your role and level. Cleaning up is thankless. Someone has to do it, but at your level, they probably want it to be someone else, and for you to focus on a bigger picture.

        2. Competent Commenter*

          That’s how I frame it. “Is it really a good use of our resources to pay director-level hourly rates for me to do admin work?”

      2. Phoenix Programmer*

        Yes see below. I have had this talk many times. I am very direct using Mich of the same example phrase you use.

        My boss and her boss the VP go through this phase where they freak out that I am going to leave. It’s weird. I would much rather they just move in the items I have asked for (e.g. moving x,y,z off my plate) instead of going on about how they want me to promise to stay in this role. I have never said or even hinted that I am leaving and have reassured many times that I want to stay in this role for at least 4 more years but it continues. We are a high turnover department in a high turnover industry but still.

        1. Bea*

          They have no reason to help :( They’ll never fix it because they’re dedicated to flapping their hands at the idea you’ll leave, you placate them with reassurance and then they have no motivation to make you happy. Your only power here is if you start shopping around for a new job and tell them seriously they take XYZ off your plate or you’re out.

        2. PM*

          Why on Earth are you reassuring them that you’re not going to leave them if they aren’t fixing your problems? Honestly, that has echoes of my worst relationship. They are manipulating you into giving away your agency in exchange for a guilt trip instead of making your work life one you wouldn’t want to leave. Grr.

          1. PM*

            Manipulative people tend to behave in four consistent ways:
            – They detect your weaknesses.
            – They use your weaknesses against you.
            – They convince you to give up something of yourself, in order to serve their own interests.
            – They will likely repeat the violation, until you put a stop to the exploitation.

    3. Jessi*

      Who is above you? Sit down and talk to them and say something like a year ago I took on 0.75fte of tasks and unfortunately I am wearing thin. I need to reduce the tasks I have as I am need to focus more on Important task 1, 2 and 3. Here are some of the time consuming things that I do : time consuming tasks x, y, z, k, l j. These are all lower level tasks and we could spread them around junior folks, or we could give them to person Y as stretch tasks. Either way I just don’t have the time for them

    4. Eye of Sauron*

      Here’s my advice stop dropping hints and start dropping tasks… I’ve had good success with this approach.

      1. Identify the tasks that you want to get rid of.
      2. Identify the best owner for these things.
      3. Set up meetings with the various leaders where the tasks should reside -these leaders should be on your level if you are a manager or the level above you if you are not.
      3b. During meeting let them know that you will be handing off tasks x and z to their team and ask them if there is a person they want you to directly train/hand them off to or if they will be taking care of that.
      3c. Give a timeframe for the transition. I will make myself available to train etc. until May 1, at that point I’m going to stop doing it.
      4. Rinse and repeat #3 with for all the tasks
      5. Train/hand over tasks
      6. focus on current job and future -The next time you are promoted the first thing that should be done is a transition plan. Essentially start from step 1 as soon as promotion is announced/accepted and work your way through the list as above.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        I totally agree with you – bit the issue is actually that my new boss has insisted that the old tasks stay with me because otherwise the old boss would not have assigned them to someone. My old job was supporting my current boss as well.

        1. Competent Commenter*

          In that case can you frame it as “Tasks A, B and C take X amount of time per week. The tasks in my job description/that are higher priority/required for compliance/however you frame it can’t get done if I do A, B and C. Which do you want done?” This will probably take a lot of repeating. Keep it calm and firm, with a tone of “it’s all the same to me” helps. If they don’t give you guidance, then keep mentioning this in emails, “Since you wanted me to keep doing A, B and C, I won’t be able to take on important project D. Let me know if your priorities change.”

          I think it will take time and courage on your part. People usually say patience, but I think it’s courage. It’s very difficult to have your boss say, “Buh buh but why can’t I have all the things I want? We NEED this! Just try harder!” and to consistently answer, “Well, we don’t have the resources for that. You put me on A,B and C so we can’t have D.” You have to keep your chin up, your tone calm, and your engagement minimal. It’s not up for discussion, it’s just a fact that you’re presenting.

          Maybe you feel like now that you’re in the middle of it you can’t get out of it. I’m way behind on some major projects because of all the other work that gets dumped on me. I blame myself for picking up the extra work, for the choices I made, for not saying no, for not clearly saying, “Oh, you want that brochure? Then that magazine is going to be another week postponed.” So I think sometimes we just have to start in the middle of that process and do our best.

          I used to think that all it would take would be for me to say no, and things would be better. It was SO hard to say no! It didn’t occur to me that would be just the beginning. It’s really hard.

          Also, when they bring up “please don’t quit,” maybe you just start saying, “I’m not quitting. But seriously now, can we get back to talking about problem solving?” or “Talking about me quitting is distracting us from figuring out how to get the organization what it needs. Because you’re not getting what you need in this situation and that’s what important here.” (I find it’s better to frame it as “the company isn’t getting those important reports because of this,” rather than “I need help.”) or even ignoring that part and saying “I’d like to strategize how to handle this” without ever responding to “are you going to quit.” So it’s “we need you to do it all! You’re not going to quit, are you?” and “Me doing it all isn’t going to be possible, so how shall we proceed?”

          Don’t give them any traction on the quitting conversation. Because it amounts to “I’m not going to give you what you need to be successful/sane in your job. Are you going to quit over that? No? Okay, then I’ll keep doing what I’m doing!” So don’t engage on that. Don’t keep saying you’ll stick around.

          And seriously don’t stick around if it continues. You’ll never feel good about your work or accomplishments if you’re trying to doing multiple people’s jobs. I know, cause I’m there right now.

    5. Sarah_with_a_H*

      I am in a similar position and sympathize! I have had more luck getting the low value/minutia off my plate by letting my supervisor know that I am prioritizing my tasks and that they are on the bottom. Then, they typically don’t get done.

      It’s amazing to me how often these things *need* to be done, but when they are not happening, it is not worth anyone’s time to deal with it (or they are not missed at all). Of course YMMV and that may not work in all organizations. On the larger projects, I am stating to understand that they will nevery truly be off my plate until I leave. It’s not right, but in my case, and with my managementment team, it is what it is and I have to decide what I am willing to put up with.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Guess I should also clarify that by “squeky wheel” I meant pushing back on these tasks. My current boss is really pushing all of us to be team players and take on new work due to budget cuts etc. but I have been doing that for 2 years and the result has been rewarded with more and more low level work with no recognition for taking on the tasks my boss has asked me too. Now when I am asked to “temporarily” take on more work I make a case why I should not and I have started bringing up the tasks o am transitioning monthly instead of quartely etc.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      Just to clarify I am not dropping hints. I find their please don’t leave! Responses to my statements like “this transition is going slower than I like can we spend it up?” and “As you know I took on all of persons role and am still doing old role so I don’t have capacity for this. Speaking of that where are we on delegatong out persons work?” To be an odd response indeed
      However it’s something they have done each time I have brought up a concern. It’s really weird – I am not job searching nor hinting that I am.

      1. Benray*

        What does “director level” mean? My old roommate was a yoga instructor at a resort with the title of Director, though she was the only employee in her shop. The current head of my agency has the title of Director. A competitor business at my old job gave “Director” titles to their staff who had equivalent duties as I did, as a project manager.

        I ask for clarification because depending on your level, you may be able to assign some of the tasks to subordinates and change your role to overseeing completion of those tasks. Another strategy is to let non priority tasks fall to the bottom of your list. You focus on the big items, or what you’re primarily paid to accomplish, and at some point those lower-level tasks will be reassigned or cut out completely. You may even consider doing low level tasks poorly enough that folks find someone else to do them. (In my office, that would be the slide-advancer or the meeting scheduler – both of which others have tried to foist off on me, even though I’m a senior researcher.)

        If I let colleagues manage my career for me, I’d be doing lower level tasks along with them, or for them because they were savvy enough to unload unwanted tasks on me.

      2. Sise*

        To me, I would wonder if their ‘ please don’t leave’ comments signal the fact they aren’t going to change your work load…ie, code for, ‘we hear your request to change duties, but aren’t going to change them (or change them quickly) please don’t get upset and leave’. Is the please don’t leave comment their *only* response to your requests to change duties, or do they also talk about timelines and possible solutions?

      3. Marthooh*

        I would take that to mean “If you leave, no one else will agree to do your current job at your current salary!”

        You may have to “speed up” the transition on your own, by just not doing the scut work any more.

    7. periwinkle*

      I’m part of a brand new team with a newly-hired manager. Other teams are trying to drop things onto our plate if they’re even vaguely related to our still-fluid purpose. Some of it is relevant, lots of it is administrative stuff that was being done out of habit, and some of it is important but outside our scope. That administrative stuff was mostly “but it just takes an hour or so a month”, which adds up when you’ve got a couple dozen of those “just an hour” projects. We were already struggling with how to disengage from the non-value-added work so we could focus on our core work.

      And then I got my Brain Food newsletter with a link to this:

      Trust me – read this. Digest it. Send it to your team. Stick it in your personal OneNote folder. You need velocity, but people dropped a lot of speed items on your desk.

        1. periwinkle*

          You’re welcome! I sent the link to my boss and team, which sparked a good discussion both in the broader sense (not letting low-value work get in our way, not letting other teams try to broaden our scope) and in terms of kicking aside the “I guess I’ll be nice and helpful” behavior women have been conditioned to follow. Our manager is on the younger side but two of her reports (myself and another woman) hit the point where we are OVER that kind of crap and will push back on requests that take advantage of the expectations for nice-and-helpful.

          If you’ve become a squeaky wheel, you’re over it, too. Push back rationally, push back tactfully, but push back!

          And that “please don’t leave us” garbage is pure manipulation. If they truly want to keep you, they must treat you – and your scope – with respect. Stop reassuring them, now. Just repeat what you said about scope, workload, priorities, etc.

          Them: “We neeeeeeeeeeeed you so much, you’re so good, don’t ever leave!”
          You: “Tasks A and B must be assigned to a more appropriate team. Task C doesn’t provide any real value and takes up time I need to work on my statement of work, so it should be dropped. I need to focus on Tasks X, Y, and Z as my top priorities.”
          Them: “But you’re so goooooood at doing little things like C. It won’t take hardly any time at all! Oh, we also want you to do F, G, and H because Fergus is just so darned busy and important that he can’t do them.”
          You: “I need to focus on Tasks X, Y, and Z as my top priorities. F, G, and H are out of scope. So are A and B and C. Let’s sit down this afternoon to make a plan to transition those back to appropriate teams or stop doing them.”

          Rinse and repeat as needed. And while you’re at it, have you tested the job market to see what’s out there?

  7. Probably Nerdy*

    Let’s get philosophical!

    a) Is condescension provable?

    b) If so, how? If not, why not?

    c) Why do people ask for hard evidence of it?

    1. Not So Super-visor*

      My thoughts:
      a) yes, but…
      b) only if there are witnesses or its in writing
      c) people ask for evidence because there is a difference between a manager giving you direction or feedback and being condescending. HR or higher level management need to see how things were presented in order to determine if it was condescending or if someone is just taking feedback the wrong way.

    2. Earthwalker*

      Ooh, great question! I *hate* condescension, and yet I’m never sure whether I’m a culprit myself. I know it when I see it, but I suspect I don’t know it when I do it.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah. The easiest way to prove it is between peers or subordinates. It’s almost impossible to prove that your boss is being inappropriately condescending, IME. But you can say, “Chadwick tries to give me instructions and advice despite being at my same level, in a tone that indicates he believes he has more experience or knowledge than I do,” and you might get somewhere.

        1. Competent Commenter*

          You’re probably right, but what about when you and your boss are both llama herders and she frequently lectures you and the rest of the llama herding team on the fact that llama herding involves herding llamas? “Of course llama herding involves walking with llamas and standing near them and holding your llama herder’s crook just right.” There was that great retreat where her PowerPoint presentation was about defining llama herding from the ground up.

          Us llama herders are like, “You don’t say?”

          I’d call it condescending.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            It can still BE condescending, it’s just really hard to make the case to any higher ups or do anything about it, because your manager is reasonably meant to be telling you what to do and how to do it.

    3. Probably Nerdy*

      To flesh out a) a bit – Is it a Thing that Exists or is it always in the eye of the beholder, so to speak? Both? Neither?

      1. Lissa*

        I’d say both/it depends. It’s certainly a thing that exists, however there’s also people who take instructions of any kind badly, or a situation where it’s like, I tell someone how to do a thing, they get offended, but they messed it up last time, so. Condescension is also really close to over-explaining, which isn’t quite the same intent but can often have the same effect… some people just go into excessive annoying amounts of detail but it isn’t really meant in a “you’re so dumb” way.

        I think it’s often unconscious, which is what makes it so frustrating to be on the receiving end. It feels like the other person is doing this behaviour because they truly believe in your heart of hearts that you need their explanation, and that’s why the “tone” comes out.

    4. Guy Incognito*

      a) it can be, but first step is to reflect on what was said and why. Make sure you’re not bringing your own stuff into it. START with the fact that the person was trying to help, then work backwards from there.

      Example: My boss sent me a link to excel classes literally within the hour of me sending my first spreadsheet. Could have been condescending, but we had just a meeting about how I wanted to know how to manipulate EXCEL better. It was just poor timing that it happened so close. He even said “You don’t need it.”

      b) you would need written proof, or some additional evidence.

      c) Because you’re trying to prove something difficult to prove. IF you complain that someone training you is training you, then… yay? You need to find a way to prove intent, and that’s impossible, based on tone of voice, etc.

    5. Maya Elena*

      In my personal experience, it’s really easy to take things the wrong way and feel like someone is “always” doing a thing they only did a few times – especially if what they do somehow plays into your own insecurities.

      Therefore it is essential to establish a pattern of condescension, even if it is your own records over time.

      I’m guessing in part (c) you mean why people ask for evidence of it in the context of discrimination or harassment complaints? Since the consequences for such a complaint can be significant to the accused (job loss and reputation damage), there needs to be proof before punishment can be applied.

    6. Lcsa99*

      A) not really

      B) it’s more of an attitude and tone than anything, not something tangible

      C) because they are being condescending

    7. Triple Anon*

      a) If it’s in writing or otherwise clearly documented, yes. The kind that’s not provable is where someone speaks to you in a condescending tone but their words are normal; even if there are witnesses, the speaker can claim that their tone was not intended that way.

      b) I think I covered it in A.

      c) Because perception plays a role in it, and it can be hard to document. However, it’s passive aggressive and commonly used in an unfair or discriminatory way – towards a person or group of people that you dislike or look down on.

      Great question, by the way! This is interesting.

  8. TeacherNerd*

    So, I work in education (as a teacher), and I’ve taught as an adjunct and have a background in secondary education (minored in education as an undergrad, although my undergrad and both graduate degrees are content-specific). I worked in various unrelated-to-my-current-career jobs before attending college in my late 20s, and after graduating I taught part-time at multiple different colleges in multiple states; jobs in my field were difficult to come by thanks to the economic downturn that occurred when I graduated with my undergraduate degree.

    I mention this so you’ll understand that my career path wasn’t linear or “traditional,” so any advice I hear about having a single-page resume I disregard because it’s not applicable to my situation (I’ve had others insist I need to limit my resume to a single page, which would give the impression I did nothing for more than a decade).

    The result of all of this being I have had quite a few contingent jobs, and moved around a lot (related to big life changes). I list my education, licensure info, and several years’ worth of my most recent relevant experience on page one of my CV; on the second page, I have conferences I’ve presented at, and a list of professionally-related memberships. On the bottom of the first page, I have a link to my LinkedIn profile (“my full employment history can be viewed at [LinkedIn URL].” I have that LinkedIn URL there so people will understand I’ve had other related positions. I can arrange it so all my teaching experience is on the first page, but what do you think about including that LinkedIn URL so it’s known I’ve Done Other Things – or am I overthinking this? Thanks!

    1. AES*

      Are you talking about looking for secondary teaching jobs, or adjunct positions? As someone who regularly hires the latter, I probably would neither follow a LinkedIn url nor mind that it was there; I would want to stay focused on your teaching and scholarship, which it sounds like you’re foregrounding sensibly (and academic CVs generally don’t adhere to the 1-page rule so I wouldn’t worry about that).

      1. TeacherNerd*

        I was playing around with my CV format a few days ago; I removed some years-long subbing I did, since I have “actual” teaching experience (not that subbing isn’t good experience, but if I have to choose whether to list subbing vs. “I taught at this college for these two semesters,” I’m going to choose the latter), but unless I stay at this school for the next 20+ years, my teaching experience will no longer fit on a single page. Perhaps that doesn’t matter – at this point, my non-college-teaching experience is more than a decade old, and probably not as important as the more recent – hence the “See all this other work I did, posted on LinkedIn!”

        1. AES*

          Hm–re: stuff like the long-term subbing, I’d probably keep that on. If I’m hiring an adjunct, I get at least 30 CVs for any given position, and I’m honestly not going to take the time to dig past what I’m sent in that CV–the time I’d have to invest is not worth the payoff. I’d keep any relevant (i.e. teaching-related) experience on there. The number of pages isn’t an issue, unless you’re padding out with, like, the committees you served on in grad school or unrelated volunteer experience.

    2. Britt*

      I’m curious abut the 1 page resume as well. As it becomes more the norm to stay at jobs 2-5 years….how do we condense the important part of those jobs onto one page throughout our career as time goes on? I was actually thinking about this last night. The 1 page resume has been a long tradition, but isn’t it rooted in a society where people stayed at their jobs for decades…? hmmm

      1. TeacherNerd*

        I always took the “must be one page!” resume advice with a huge grain of salt, especially because when I heard this advice, I was an older undergrad who had also presented at conferences and was member of various professional organizations that (I still think) are important to include. The guy who was insisting that my resume only be one page tried to pull the “well, I worked at an employment agency!” thing, but I was able to counter that with, “So have I. Are you advising me to leave off relevant experience that others don’t have that will give me an advantage because it won’t fit on a page?” Then again, a multi-page resume in academia isn’t unusual, and that advice I was given was given by someone who was several years younger than I, and had a different perspective.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          The advice doesn’t apply within academia – multi-page CVs are the norm there. But outside of academia, conferences presented at and professional organizations wouldn’t be on a resume anymore, so that would help reduce the length. (When I transitioned out of academia, I cut my resume down to two pages.)

      2. Frank Doyle*

        The one-page rule is only for people a few years in the workforce. It’s not a hard and fast rule for everyone anymore.

        1. TeacherNerd*

          Indeed. The bad-advice-guy’s advice would have been more appropriate had I been 22, not 31.

      3. atgo*

        I also think the 1-page resume has fallen away as applicant management has moved digitally. For the hiring manager with a stack of papers, 1 page would really make things easier. Managing and reading PDFs mean it makes less of a difference. As long as things are concise and clear, I think 2 is OK.

        On the topic (meant to put this in the resume thread but didn’t have time that day)… I got a 49 page manifesto once that included the candidate’s life story, photography, poetry, and a theory of the world told through very advanced math. No reference to the role, the company, or professional skills really. That was too much. ;)

      4. nep*

        I recently listened to a couple of speakers from an international non-profit — one of them said quite clearly: ‘A resume that’s only one page probably would not even get a look here.’
        I applied for a contract gig with them this week. I went out of my way to stretch my resume to two pages.
        Depends on the industry, but also perhaps on the very company or organisation in question.

    3. Casuan*

      You’re Overthinking This.

      This can depend on your field &or country to which you’re sending your CV. If it’s the norm then okay.
      If it isn’t the norm or if you aren’t certain, then leave the LinkedIn reference off of your CV.
      When I’m looking at CVs I want to have all of the relevant infos in hand & unless there’s something in that CV to pique my interest for more infos I’m not going to go online for your work history.

      Your CV should include relevant jobs & accomplishments. You might be able to mention that you’ve Done Other Things in your cover letter [although sparingly because you don’t want it to read like a CV].
      At your interview[s] you can wow them with the Other Things You’ve Done.

      Good luck!!
      & please let us know what you decide :-)

    4. Nesprin*

      You’re overthinking this. My resume is 1.5 pages, my academic CV is ~7. Colleges/academics get the CV, everyone else gets the resume

  9. Amber*

    I’m sure the answer is “NO,” but I’m feeling paranoid. If you send your resume to a recruiter for a job posting, and your company happens to use that same recruitment agency — is there a risk the recruitment agency will spill the beans to your current company?

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      I’ve had recruiters ask if there are any companies to avoid before, so maybe preemptively suggest that when you speak with them?

    2. Bea*

      Only if they’re dumb and can’t see you’re employed there. It’s no benefit to them to tell your current job because the way they make money is finding you a job and stealing you away.

      The only risk I see is some idiot suggesting you to them by mistake since you have the experience, you know?

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        This actually happened to my old boss but the other way around. They called her about a job, which turned out to be her own job that she was currently working at. But they didn’t give her the company name, she figured it out through the job description.

      2. Jen RO*

        I have heard of several instances when the recruiter in charge of hiring for my company contacted people who were already employed here (and their LinkedIn clearly stated that). So, Amber, maybe you should reach out to them and spell out the fact that they should NOT contact your current employer?

      3. What?*

        DEFINITELY call the recruiter and tell them not to place you at your current company.

        This happened to me in September – a recruiter contacted me for my position at OldJob. I was caught flat-footed by this – asked about it on a September AAM open thread, actually – and demanded a meeting with HR that following workday. Had my meeting with HR, then a followup with HR and my boss, who told me that they wanted to restructure the role and that I had until the end of January. Well, it ended up being extended another month to the end of February, and I started a new position for a different organization a few weeks ago at the same paygrade but higher title.

        “Trust but verify” is all I’m sayin. Or maybe, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” to quote a book title.

    3. einahpets*

      My experiences with recruiters are varied, but overall I think you are generally safe because most recruiters don’t want to tick off the people they are trying to recruiter for openings (at least in my industry/career level, that’s true). The good ones I would never doubt would be discreet (although they may file away the fact that you are looking in the instance that your company may be looking for someone again soon).

    4. Dzhymm*

      It would depend on the recruiter; if they’re a careful, professional outfit that carefully vets the resumes they send out then the answer would be “no”. If they’re the type of recruiter (all too common) that shotguns every resume they have to every company they can find in the hopes that something will stick… then possibly yes.

    5. voposama*

      Member of a recruiting agency here! Any good agency would NEVER mention this to your employer as it would damage their relationship with you, a prospective placement. And it also wouldn’t really be a benefit to the relationship with the client. What could we possibly get out of telling our client that?

      Mistakes happen, but I wouldn’t worry too much.

    6. Minerva McGonagall*

      The other thing to be aware of, depending on how big of a client your current employer is, is that sometimes recruiters won’t place employees of big clients for risk of being accused of poaching and losing the client. Which is fine if they tell you, but sometimes they don’t tell you because they also don’t want you to work with a competing recruiter who will submit you for a job they want to fill. Not ethical, but the commission pay system can motivate unethical behavior.

  10. Anon here hi*

    I started a new position and my title is Information Specialist, except that I don’t work in the “Information Center”, but I’m in the cubicles outside of it. My co-worker/trainer “Tamara” has her desk and work space inside the Information Center. I have to work with her, so I sometimes sit in the Info Center at a table to get my work done, but I feel weird about it.

    Tamara is nice, but is used to working by herself for 10 years, so I don’t know if I’m annoying her because she’ll make an excuse to leave. Other people comment how I’m in there, but where else should I be? I have work that needs to be completed in the Information Center, so I can’t take it back to my cubicle.

    I have told her to let me know if she needs alone time and try to be respectful of her space/privacy, but I was hired and also have the right to be in there. I’m usually working, so it’s not like I’m on my cell phone talking to friends.

    Is there anything that I should be changing? I’m otherwise by my desk working, but I feel really out of place right now.

    1. Bertha*

      Having worked at the only desk in an Information Center myself, I definitely felt awkward when people were working in there, but I also recognized when people had to! I of course hadn’t been there as long as Tamara. I suppose if there is a way to face away from her, that might make it less awkward. Also, it’s possible as time passes, you will figure out ways to bring your work back to your cubicle, which may also help make things less awkward. I think you’ve done all you can — you told her to let you know if you are making things awkward, etc.

      As far as the excuses to leave, it could be that she was doing that before you started, but now she feels like as your trainer she has to tell you when she’s stepping away from her desk. Again.. when I was working back myself at an Information Center and then a coworker was added to the mix, I often felt awkward myself, and didn’t always know what I should or shouldn’t be telling her! I think these things will get less awkward with time.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I would not ask about that again, I’d assume she is an adult and she will speak up.
      However, you could ask a general question, since she is your trainer. Ask her how she feels you are progressing and ask her about what is coming up next- such as what will you guys cover next or can you go back over x, y and z.

      It sounds like a shared work area. You have as much right to be there as she does. Her “making excuses” might be her way of making you feel included. “Okay, done with that. I have to go do X now.” It’s kind of rude to walk out of room without saying anything, so people can come up with random things, not realizing there is a second or third implication to what they just said. She also might be showing you how the work flow goes and what you can expect.

      Try to hold it in a good light until you find a solid reason not to. You say she is nice, hold on to that thought.

      She may have worked alone for 10 years and spent the last 5 years asking for help. She might be glad you are there.

    3. LilySparrow*

      If Tamara is annoyed by your totally legitimate and necessary presence, that is her problem that she needs to deal with. It isn’t your problem, and you don’t have to do anything about it – particularly since you don’t even know if it’s true.

      If Tamara makes a reasonable request for you to stop doing something distracting or annoying (like tapping your pen, or humming under your breath, or staring at her when you’re thinking), then of course you should do your best to stop/change it.

      “Stop existing” or “stop doing your work in the appropriate work space” aren’t reasonable requests, and she’s not making them. So let her manage her time and space however she wants.

  11. Supervisee took credit for my work in his self-evaluation*

    Context: Until this month I supervised a young man who is a MAJOR beneficary of the “glass escalator.” Senior managers here love him. He’s a good worker but not as good as he makes himself out to be. I am doing his annual review now.

    His self-evaluation made me roll my eyes in general with its grandiosity. For example he writes that he “overhauled” a program when in reality he made one suggestion that resulted in a beneficial but minor process change. But something else really bothered me. He wrote, “I developed Program X report on my own.”

    Not only is he not involved in reporting, but *I* made the report for that program. I emailed him back asking for additional info. He responded with a 1 page summary of a program he sent to Grandboss, using numbers I provided. I’m torn between…

    1) Giving him some stern coaching on teamwork and the limits of self-promotion.
    2) Giving him a “bless your heart” response that writing a 1 pager with someone else’s data isn’t “developing a report” (which in my world means coding a query).
    3) Doing nothing because he’s not my problem any more and I’m hoping to leave this place ASAP.

    To be clear, it’s not that I want credit for that document. It’s that he went out of his way to say he did it on his own (and worded it in a way that makes it seem like he’s a developer all of a sudden) that bothers me. Meanwhile literally no one seems to “remember” that I develop reports because I’m just a lil lady.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I think it would be a service to the universe if you tried to take him down a notch. You can try explaining but he’ll probably never understand – but it’d be great to leave some kind of record somewhere that he wasn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    2. Not So Super-visor*

      I don’t know about “stern coaching,” but it should definitely be addressed and coached. You can ask him to explain his processes for “developing” the program. If he goes off into self-promotion, you can reel him back in by explaining his place in the process.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you should say something very directly. I wouldn’t make it about teamwork, because he’s likely to hear that as “I’m supposed to share the credit for the sake of relationships” as opposed to “I’m doing something unethical and wrong.” Instead, make it about the cost to *him*. Frame it in terms of his own credibility, and that even one of these incidents can, if uncovered, make people doubt him more broadly because it’s so misleading.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Would the phrase “I found it interesting you took credit for work you didn’t do in your evaluation. Especially since *I* did that work” be appropriate?

        I work with someone like this guy. Totally overblown in terms of what he *says* he can do versus what he can *actually* do. (Meanwhile, what he purports to do, I actually do — and well — I just don’t promote myself every 3 days to the higher ups about it.)

        1. Lil Fidget*

          That’s a little too strong to me. I’d say something like, “I see you developed X according to your review. Can you walk me through what that looked like to you?” and then after he explains, I’d say “I think you need to be more careful claiming that you developed something if you actually only did the coding. There are other elements like X and Y that are involved in developing. This is a pretty serious issue so I want to flag it for you, because it can really damage your professional reputation to claim credit for something you didn’t see all the way through. (and maybe, “I’m going to mark you as “needs improvement” under “self assessment”” if there’s a box for that haha.)

          1. Yorick*

            She doesn’t need to dance around it. She already asked for clarification and he sent her the document. She knows he didn’t develop it on his own, so she doesn’t need to ask him any more questions about that.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          “I found it interesting” is too passive; she has authority over him and so she can use something stronger like “I’m concerned that you took credit…” or “You cannot take credit…”

        3. Agnodike*

          My $0.02 here: I think euphemisms like “interesting” come across as really passive-aggressive. I usually find it’s more effective to say what I mean politely but directly. In that situation, I might use “I’m surprised” or “I’m disappointed” or I might not talk about my feelings at all and simply say “it’s really inappropriate that you’re crediting yourself with work I did.”

      2. Supervisee took credit for my work in his self-evaluation*

        The credibility thing is very true. He took sole credit for something his REVIEWER help with (or did alone, if you take his statement at face value). That boldness definitely makes me think he’d take credit for things his coworkers have done as well. My biggest issue is that the bosses think he poops gold.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Let them think that. Make the correction in person, and in your own evaluation comments if you can, and then let his bosses deal with the fallout of his grandiosity. When you’re gone and he has no one else to piggyback off of, he’ll fall flat on his face.

    4. The Tin Man*

      I like #2. Then maybe a bit of #1 to “give a heads up” that “misunderstanding” what “developing a report” means in your world can make it sound like he is taking sole credit for a collaborative work (my understanding is that you wrote the query and he wrote the 1-pager summarizing the findings?).

      And the fact that he specifically said “on my own” drives me mad. That makes the reactive part of me want to go scorched earth on him.

      1. Supervisee took credit for my work in his self-evaluation*

        Same. Like “wrote a summary of program’s accomplishments for senior management’s review” would have been prestigious-sounding enough. He went out of his way to be deceitful.

      2. Yolo*

        This is great! In a generous reading, this is about a terminology mix-up (one-pager as report)?

    5. Barney Barnaby*

      Alison’s advice will probably be far better than mine, but this is a self-evaluation before an annual review. Presumably, you can provide written and/or verbal feedback. As part of that, have both written and verbal feedback about his role in the project, the roles other people played, and why his statements are misleading.

      Young people often don’t understand that they are given tiny parts of large projects; they just see what they are doing and think it was much bigger than it was. Maybe that’s what is going on. Maybe he just brags and overinflates himself. Either way, take this down a notch so that people aren’t hurting because of it 20 years down the road.

    6. Jadelyn*

      Definitely coach him on that, although as Alison said, not relying on “teamwork” but on accuracy and honesty.

      I’d also make a point to ask him, what would you do if someone takes this at face value, and asked you to *actually* develop this type of report on your own, without someone else writing the actual query that got the data? Just to try to drive home that overinflating his capabilities can be directly damaging to him, since he seems like the type who only cares about something being bad if it actually hurts him personally.

    7. Thlayli*

      You are supposed to be doing his annual review. In my industry that would mean its actually your job to go through it with him and explain where you are changing his answers and why.

      Personally I think self evaluation is such a load of crap anyway. I had to do a self evaluation this week and I gave myself maximum points in everything – why should I shoot myself in the foot? If my boss thinks I deserve less than max in anything he can explain why, it’s not my job to reduce the chance of getting a raise.

      why would anyone give themselves a bad review? Everyone should be trying to put a positive spin on things. It sounds like this guy just took it a little bit too far, and you absolutely should teach him how far he can take it before it’s just outright lying.

      1. Beatrice*

        I give myself honest self-evaluations with a slightly positive spin. Where I work, evaluating myself with the highest marks across the board would come off as a serious lack of self-awareness, possibly to the point of being delusional, and it would hurt me. I have honestly rated myself as “needs improvement” in an area when I was new to a job and my skills in that area objectively needed some work.

        My goal used to be to never ever rate myself higher than my boss would rate me on anything, and I considered it a good outcome when my boss evaluated me higher than I evaluated myself in one or two areas. I’m the opposite now – I err on the high side just a bit, and the result is that my boss matches me or rates me lower by a point in one area.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Yeah I used to be too modest. Then I realized our self evaluations were getting tied to our bonuses. I was talking myself out of money (and I bet there’s a gender disparity there). Now I try to be generous and let my boss talk me down if he feels differently.

          1. Specialk9*

            Exactly. Annual reviews are so often crap in my profession, and that’s a direct or indirect quote from several bosses. But they are tied to bonuses, so I talk myself up.

          2. Optimistic Prime*

            Yeah, that’s me. I’m enthusiastic and positive about myself in my annual reviews. I work in a male-dominated industry and I know all the men are probably doing the same thing. My boss has to review my evaluation anyway, so if there’s something wrong she’ll tell me!

      2. BenAdminGeek*

        Thlayli, do you feel you’re actually at the top ranking for your role? I always focus on as accurate a score as possible. I had a peer who rated himself a 5/5 on all 12 ranking factors at OldJob, and it was definitely A THING with my boss. It showed that he had a very over-inflated view of his role and job performance, and was a strike against him. But obviously if you are performing great in all aspects, you should rank that honestly.

        1. Thlayli*

          I actually do think I’m at the top in my role, but that’s irrelevant. Tying self-evaluation to financial gain is just rewarding confidence and punishing self-doubt. I told my boss I was giving myself top marks and it was up to him to argue me down because self-evaluation is a load of crap and he laughed. I doubt it’s going to hurt me.

    8. Jules*

      Oh gosh, please coach him. I had a co-worker who did this. I didn’t stay on the team long. All our hard work became his initiative. He barely has enough experience to do his job.

    9. neverjaunty*

      Make a record for the next person who has to deal with this jamoke.

      And stop sabotaging yourself! You don’t need to hasten to add that you don’t want credit. Why SHOULDN’T you want the credit for your own work?

      1. Supervisee took credit for my work in his self-evaluation*

        Tbh I think I’ve been poisoned by the culture of my workplace. I’m genuinely surprised everyone here has been on my side–I thought some might say I’m being a nitpicky b*tch, he’s young and doesn’t know better, let him have some victories, etc. Because that’s how all the senior managers act towards the two of us. When I want credit I’m being difficult, when he wants credit, boy does he get it. =\

        1. Bigglesworth*

          Noooooooooooooooo. That is a very wrong way of thinking. You should get credit for what you did; he should get credit for what he does. Letting him “have some victories” should not equal “give him credit for stuff he didn’t do.” It devalues his actual contributions and work accomplishments when he receives credit for another person’s work (as well as, you know, the unethicalness doing it…)

    10. Phoenix Programmer*

      Please coach him. Sure his ego is inflated but he may honestly believe that writing up the report = developing the report. I use to make this mistake before I knew more of the behind the scenes project work.

      I had a mentor directly and kindly walk me through how a is not the same as AAA and it was really helpful!

    11. Someone else*

      I don’t know what you should do here, but let me just tell you, PREACH IT. Few things vex me as much at work as people who take credit for “creating the X report” when what they mean is that they, as a regular job duty, run that report, and I am the one who actually created said report, as in, wrote the stored procedure behind it, and made and deployed the damn report to the report server.

      1. Supervisee took credit for my work in his self-evaluation*

        Ugh yeah. I’m an amateur SQLer/report-maker myself (I learned/am learning it out of curiosity). So complex queries are a lot of work for me and it kills me when people think I’m basically doing the equivalent of Googling the database.

    12. SpaceNovice*

      I would add “just because you didn’t do it completely on your own doesn’t mean you aren’t useful” to that assessment that everyone mentions. Humility is important. People won’t want to work with someone who lies about their accomplishments. He needs to let other people have accomplishments and give kudos. Start sharing, stop hording. If people actually think he’s done all those things, they’ll expect him to do those things that are beyond him, and then he will fail. And he will continue to fail. Or they’ll realize he’s lying and fire him (or never hire him in the first place). You need to nip this in the bud because he’s either a jerk or has gotten bad advice from someone. In the second case, it’s fairly easy to fix, but the first one is harder to fix or impossible. These people often do well enough to stay on a team, but eventually ruin it if they don’t reform.

      I would talk to someone upstream about it first before you do the review. He might be someone to complain about this sort of thing, and you need a second opinion. Frame it as you want to help him figure out how to navigate the workplace harmoniously rather than hurt his career. (You need to go ahead because if this guy IS a problem, he’s going to go complain to someone higher and get a sympathetic ear.. unless you let them know ahead of time and they can see the behavior as it is.)

  12. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    My coworker, who sits four cubes away from me, has started humming. Like, all the time. It’s very noticeable — people in cubes even farther away than me have commented on it — and (only slightly) bothersome.

    So I should say something to her, right?

    But it feels… wrong? bad? cruel? to take away her small joy.

    What would you do?

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I’d be nice but mention it. “I’m sorry, Jane, I’m finding it a little hard to concentrate with you humming. Would you mind trying to reign it in?” This is not mean, it’s factual – and she is violating a norm of open offices, however much joy it brings her. You might have to mention it more than once because with some people it’s a bit of a habit they’re unaware of.

    2. Angela B.*

      One of my coworkers at my last job always hummed when she was walking around, back and forth from the stacks (that could be eerie because you’d get down there to pull something and there’s just this disembodied humming in this very large, cavernous, echo-y space), in the bathroom… and one of my coworkers at my current job sometimes decides today is the day she wants to sing to herself at her desk in the afternoon, only we can all hear her. It’s pretty annoying but it happens infrequently enough that I just put up with it. I think how you handle your situation depends on how slightly bothersome it really is. If you can drown it out with headphones enough of the time to feel sane and it really doesn’t bother you all that much, I would just leave it. And it may even become one of those weird white noise things of your office that you tune out after a week or so (unless it’s been that long and you’re still hearing it!). If it does start to bug you, though, I think you have standing to say something, nicely. You’re all sharing the space and to a certain extent in a functioning office, everyone is doing things differently than they would at home to make it a comfortable shared space. Like, yes, I would love to blare Led Zeppelin at my desk most days, but I don’t, I use headphones out of respect for the people around me.

      1. Mickey Q*

        I just walk up to them and say “No singing.” I also do this to strangers who want to sing along with their Ipod in public.

        1. Zona the Great*

          If a stranger walked up to me and said that, I’d just respond with, “yes singing” and walk away.

    3. Not So Super-visor*

      I had this happen in my department, but instead of someone mentioning it to me (I sit too far away to have heard it), they made an anonymous ethics complaint about it!

      1. Nanc*

        Unethical humming? Exactly what tune were they humming?

        I’m so sorry you had to deal with that!

    4. Pollygrammer*

      If you haven’t said anything yet, I think the first step can be a good-humored “Coworker, you’re humming.”

      Perfectly friendly, accounting for the possibility that she doesn’t realize she’s doing it, and implying that if she did know she was doing it, she would stop, because humming around coworkers is weird.

    5. Zee Panda*

      I am a chronic hummer myself; I’ve never once been angry, insulted, or hurt by someone’s request for me to stop. It does sometimes require some serious effort on my part so I appreciate it when people are willing to be kind about my occasional slip up (and I do tell people in advance that it’s possible I will) and remind me again to stop, but I’d really rather not annoy other people. Your co-worker probably doesn’t either – a simple, direct request will probably work wonders.

    6. INeedANap*

      I feel you so strongly here.

      My office culture is VERY open door, but we have a colleague from another department who comes by a few times a day for work reasons. This colleague is super, super nice and I really like his optimism and great attitude. But…

      He whistles. Loudly. And it’s incredibly piercing and distracting. But I can’t shut my door, and I can’t ask him to stop because he and his awesome cheerfulness are universally beloved. It would be like kicking a puppy.

      So I just internally roll my eyes and deal with it.

    7. another person*

      Yeah, I’d say something. I sometimes find myself humming or singing at work when other people are around without noticing (a lot of the time I work weird hours, so it’s only me and then it’s fine, also I just in general spend a lot of time alone) so personally I would appreciate if someone just commented a quick “oh, you’re singing” so that I would notice it and stop.

    8. Anxa*

      Whoa. This was my life 2 years ago. I snapped so many pencils, went on so many extra ‘bathroom breaks’ just to my remove myself from that situation, I can’t believe I forgot about it.

      My coworker now eats apples and chips DAILY in our work area and as angry as it makes me, it only lasts for about 2 hours of the of day (so. many. chips). Humming is so much harder because it’s incessant.

      So apparently what I would do is seethe silently and just switch to internet surfing and give up on trying to be productive (my job doesn’t require being productive during downtime and doesn’t really reward ambition, so it doesn’t affect much), but I don’t recommend that.

      I think my goal this month is to say something.

    9. Courageous cat*

      My old employee did that and for me, the key is just to be very matter-of-fact/slightly humorous about it without putting extra emotion into it (like being super nice). At some point I was like “John, your humming is slowly killing me.” and then every time he did it afterward I would just say “Humming.” and he would stop.

  13. Dingo*

    So my 10 o’clock interviewee isn’t here yet, at a few minutes past. If she doesn’t show, that’s the fourth person in a row. 2 who called to cancel, and 2 who just didn’t show up. I don’t know what’s happening. I’m helping to find my own replacement, and I’ve only got a couple weeks left. I’m not sure why these interviews keep falling through! Any clues as to why?

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Do you do a phone screen first? That’s usually a bit of a “test” – have them call you at the set time. If they don’t call, no need to proceed.

      1. Dingo*

        I’ll suggest this to my boss. I know there’s some sort of screening because they go through the company recruiter first, but I’m not sure how thorough.

        1. Ri*

          Is the recruiter potentially at fault here? I’ve heard a lot of bad recruiter stories from the applicant side- eg one who ‘arranged’ an interview for my friend, only to cancel with an hour notice, three times in a row! (There was obviously no interview and he was trying to string her along). I wonder if something similar is happening here, or if some kind of recruiter incompetence is stopping the information flow between you and the candidates?

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Any chance your company has a bad reputation (justified or not)? Are people saying, “I have an interview at ABC Company” and their friends are saying, “Don’t work there, it is hell!”

      Are you thoroughly screening your applicants?

      1. Dingo*

        I don’t think our company has a large enough presence in the town for that, but there is a mix of glass door reviews, some very positive and some very negative, due to each location being run differently. The biggest note throughout the whole thing is that the hours are long, which they are, but that’s also advertised in the original posting they applied to.

        1. Irene Adler*

          Glassdoor has a new feature where the company can respond to the posted reviews. Might address the negatives – and confirm the positives that reflect an accurate view of your company.

    3. HR preggers*

      That’s the new norm. And its across ALL generations. All the HR ppl I know have said the same thing no matter the industry. When I schedule interviews I send a email reminder with a note saying if for any reason you can’t make the interview please email or call me. That has reduced our no shows a lot. It has increased the number of canceled interviews but at least then I’m not sitting around waiting for someone to show up.
      And don’t stress too much. If they don’t find anyone before your gone that’s your problem not theirs. You’re already helping them by trying to find your replacement.

      1. Luna*

        Really?! That is just so bizarre to me. I can’t imagine just not showing up to a job interview!

        1. Lil Fidget*

          It’s more common in hourly or food service jobs than in full time salaried positions, I find.

        2. Bea*

          That’s the curse of having solid work ethic. We never understand flakes, I took this so personally when I went through the hell last year. An entire day of no shows.

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        I think it has to be field specific. I work at a public middle school. We’ve had twelve interviews in the last month and everyone has showed. We will be interviewing throughout the spring (we have two vacancies and will probably have more to come) and people almost always show up. A few people have been late but we have never had a no show.

      3. nonymous*

        Not in hiring, but yes, I agree that there is an emerging? school of thought that “no response” means “not happening”, even in professional correspondence. Then there are the people who reply excessively, and the ones that “no response” means “of course”.

        Of course those differing perspectives make it difficult to plan around! It can help to have a sentence clarifying what perspective the organizer is taking, and I personally lean towards phrasing that makes the people who want the activity to occur to take action (unless political power comes into the equation). But that doesn’t address people who don’t read completely!

        1. Bea*

          Fml you’re me. Make solid procedure documents. They’ll drop someone in fine enough without you to train, been there so often. Shocked at the no shows but I have had crap recruiters send in AP clerks for a full charge position, so I trust nobody to screen for me.

    4. Eye of Sauron*

      People are self-selecting themselves into the rejected bucket.

      Last round of interviews I did in my location had the same problem, I wouldn’t read too much into it.

    5. A.Ham*

      Today IS a holiday.
      That being said, while I can MAYBE understand someone not realizing the day was a holiday when they agreed to come in for an interview, I CAN’T imagine just no call/no show for something like that… That boggles my mind.

      1. Bea*

        It’s a stretch to think anyone is closed for Good Friday unless they’re applying at a religious organization.

          1. Bea*

            I had to Google that. The US doesn’t use that terminology.

            The mail runs and banks are open, which is what we usually runs on around here.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            Nope, my office is still open. In fact, I’ve never worked in an office where Good Friday was a paid holiday.

          3. Anxa*

            I’m at a satellite comm college right now. We’re open, but the county offices in the building are closed.

        1. Aleta*

          Eh, I’ve had a bunch of people call the contracting business I work for to check to see if we were open today and Monday.

        2. nonymous*

          I think it’s more common in certain geographic regions – Boston and parts of Chicago come to mind.

          1. nonymous*

            edit: in my old midwest university city, spring break is always just before or after Easter. Perhaps less religion and more about gathering regional family for celebrations?

          2. Bea*

            This makes sense to me.

            I’ve never been outside the grand Ol Pacific region and may be blinded by manufacturing/consumer goods because we stop very rarely because people don’t like waiting.

        3. Bad Candidate*

          I work in insurance and a lot of carriers and brokers are closed today. We aren’t though. :(

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Don’t feel bad – my insurance company never closes on Good Friday either, which was surprising to me since the CEOs are very religious.

            1. Bad Candidate*

              Eh, I get the day after Thanksgiving off now and I didn’t at the last company I was at, where I did get Good Friday. So there are trade offs.

        4. A.Ham*

          I wasn’t so much thinking they assumed the office was closed, as they had something going on that day (church with family, or something like that) that they forgot about. But still cant imagine that they wouldn’t call to cancel…

    6. Bea*

      This is typical. Is your job a popular one? We had this happen with CSR roles in two companies. I agree phone screens help to pin down interest but you’ll still get cancellations.

      1. She Who Needs a Username*

        Also, I would cut yourself some slack. You sound worried that they won’t be able to hire someone in time, but that’s not your problem to worry about. It’s very unfortunate and it’s understandable for you to feel bad but I got the impression you might be taking it personally.

    7. R2D2*

      Any chance your office building is difficult to find, or easily confused with another business?

  14. JobinPolitics*

    Networking email etiquette

    As I continue to search for positions within political campaigns and advocacy groups, my contacts are sending out introductory emails or directing me to email people myself.

    I wonder if there’s a specific protocol for such emails. Because I’m not responding to a job ad, I don’t know if beyond name dropping a shared contact and summarizing my background and interest there’s much I need/should do. Is it too forward to include a resume and a phone number? Should I suggest a coffee meeting?

    Please let me know your thoughts. This is the first time I’ve attempted to secure employment without responding to job ads.

    Thanks for your time!

    1. fposte*

      I always vote for include the resume–it’s making more work for them to ask you for it and they can always ignore it if they’re not interested.

    2. Barney Barnaby*

      “Good morning John and Jane,

      John, thank you for connecting me with Jane.

      Jane, John suggested that we get in touch because I am looking for a field coordinator position in a campaign. He mentioned that you have a lot of experience in this area/supervising people in this area/etc. (Quick skills summary.) I would love to hear about your experiences. Please let me know if you have time to connect and what would be best for you.


      Barney Barnaby
      (212) 123-4567
      barney.barnaby @ email dot com”

      1. JobinPolitics*

        Barney Barnaby, thank you for the mock email. I write something similar but structure it like a cover letter with more details about my background and interest and include my contact information in both the body of the email and in my email signature.

      2. zora*

        This is right on. ALWAYS attach your resume (it just makes it easier for everyone if they already have it, they can ignore it if they don’t want it)

        And also include some specifics about what jobs you are looking for and what your geographical issues are (are you willing to relocate or not, how far are you willing to commute, etc).

        And instead of the last 2 sentences, I’d say “I would love to hear of any positions you know of, or if you have time to chat about your advice to someone starting out in the campaign field. I’d be available to meet in person or talk over the phone at your convenience.”

        You might be reaching out to people who aren’t currently in your location, campaign people tend to be nomads.

        Don’t worry about being too ‘forward’ it’s better to be really honest and specific about what you are looking for rather than making them guess or have to ask you a bunch of questions. They are used to getting these kinds of messages all the time, don’t be nervous!

        1. JobinPolitics*

          Thanks, Zora!

          I hadn’t thought too much about the geographical issues because I’ve been contacting local political people. It’s definitely something to keep in mind.

          I appreciate your comment and hope to share good news with you soon!

          1. zora*

            Well if everyone is definitely local, then don’t worry about offering a phone call. But in my experience people might be traveling for a meeting, or working a campaign in a different area, but they might still have lots of contacts in your local area. Just something to be aware of.

            1. JobinPolitics*

              Zora, I actually had to talk with someone from city council because he’s in between meetings at the moment. It was a phone call or nothing. The call was productive and led to another contact. It’s slow going, and I’m trying to be mindful of my contacts’ time and resources.

    3. grace*

      Okay, bearing in mind that I don’t have a job in pols but was pursuing it and hunted for a bit before finding my current one… This is most of the advice I’ve been given, and found worked, at least for setting up info interview: After the intro email, respond directly to the person they’re introducing you to (Person X). Be open, friendly, attach your resume after your meet up (or so was the advice I was given – make sure you bring it up in the meeting, but it’s going to be obvious you’re looking for a job, and my experience is that you don’t need to beat around the bush with it), and ask if they’d like to grab a coffee and chat about what their job is like and how they found it. The worst they can do is say they don’t have time; the best is that they’ll know who you are and have a copy of your resume, and know who to pass it along to. Or maybe they’re the person to pass it along to! :)

      What I generally wrote was something like: “Hi, X! I’m really glad ‘Amanda’ connected us; your organization/campaign/job is really interesting, and I’d love to hear more about how you got into this field and what you do. Do you have half an hour to grab coffee [next week]? I’m flexible on times and locations, so let me know what works best for you and I can find a place. I’m easily reached either through email or my cell: (XXX)XXX-XXXX. Looking forward to meeting you! Best, JobinPolitics’

      1. grace*

        I’ll also add that I had a lot of anxiety about just giving my resume out (which it sounds like you might?) so it was easier for me to meet them first and THEN email it to them – generally with a quick blurb about how great it was to meet them, i enjoyed talking to them about x specific thing, and here was my resume as we discussed, I’d love to stay in touch, have a great day.

        1. JobinPolitics*

          Grace, it’s not so much anxiety as it is feeling presumptuous. I’m in the American Midwest where manners are important, and I don’t want to risk alienating a contact my dumping all of my information on him/her/them at once.

          Typically, I write an email outlining my background and interests in the position. Then, I ask about meeting for coffee or speaking on the phone. I prefer to discuss my professional background and career goals before sharing my resume, unless I’m applying for an open position.

          Maybe I’m being too polite. Should I be more assertive with sharing information?

          1. zora*

            Be more assertive and upfront about what exactly you are looking for. And just attach your resume. Campaign people are super busy, it’s about saving them time because they have it if they want to send it to someone else, or just if they prefer scanning a resume before they answer your email.

            Keep the email short with maybe a 2 sentence summary of your background and skills. And 1 sentence about exactly what kind of job you are looking for and where.

            Campaign people will not be alienated, they are busy so cut to the chase and make everything as easy for them as possible.

            1. zora*

              And honestly, you want to model how you are going to be as a staffer on a campaign. There isn’t a lot of time to beat around the bush. They need people who will be assertive and concise and get right to the point without being rude. As staff you need to jump in and do that task right now, and early in campaigns they need people who will take initiative and get shit done quickly. Think about this as running a campaign for yourself to get a job and what would you do if you were doing this task for your candidate.

          2. Marthooh*

            Re: Midwestern politeness — You can be hepful as well as humble!

            “My resume is attached in case you want to see it.”

    4. Legal Beagle*

      You pretty much said it all! Mention the shared contact who referred you, write 2-3 sentences about your educational/professional background, tell them what you want to talk to them about (i.e., “your work on Senator Llama’s election campaign”), your goal (i.e., “I’m currently looking for a job in llama campaigns”) and say you’re hoping to set up a coffee meeting or phone call, if they’re available.

      Also, as the networker, I don’t attach a resume to the first email, but that’s just personal preference. (When I’m the person being networked, I find it a little pushy.) But I know people who do like to receive a resume straight away. The shared connection should get you enough goodwill that it won’t matter either way. Good luck!!

      1. JobinPolitics*

        Legal Beagle, I share your perspective that immediately attaching a resume for networking can be read as pushy. I do explain my work history and why I’m reaching out to them. In the introductory email, I don’t get too specific because I don’t want to risk being immediately written off. To date, I’ve had a fairly positive response.

        Thanks for your wishes of luck! I’m remain hopeful at this time.

  15. sesame plexer*

    What is the best way to handle a situation where your team member constantly complains about how busy they are but refuses to delegate? I have been at this job around nine months and he’s been there over ten years. I don’t report to him but he’s definitely in a higher role than me but we’re on the same team. I don’t know if he’s not delegating because he thinks I can’t do it or just has a hard time letting go but I’m starting to get annoyed at the 1am emails when he refuses my offers to help.

    1. Adlib*

      I don’t have a lot to offer other than saying I’ve been there before. My previous supervisor would take on everything and get frustrated with having so much to do while I basically twiddled my thumbs even after I constantly asked if I could help. I haven’t had that problem with others after her departure so I think it’s just really hard for some people to let go.

      It is weird that he’s emailing about being overwhelmed at 1 AM though. Maybe somehow bring up those emails when you offer to help? Either way, good luck! I know how frustrating that is.

    2. Eye of Sauron*

      Eh, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. Unless he’s missing deadlines that affect your work, his workload is on him.

    3. Alli525*

      Well, if you’re definitely the one he should be delegating to (i.e. you’re in a support role or your job description includes helping with projects he’s managing, as opposed to your volunteering just because you want to help him be less stressed) then I would maybe reframe your offers of help to include WHY you’d be ideal to help with something and WHAT you’d be able to do. “Oh, you’re slammed with the teapot handle redesign? [Boss] said I was really helpful with project-managing the teapot lid redesign six months ago, so what if I took a stab at sorting through the RFPs and we can see where that gets us?”

      Ultimately though, it’s really, really hard for some people to delegate, and it’s up to their manager to have those conversations with them. I’m one of those people, because often it takes just as long to check someone’s work and correct their mistakes than it is to just do it myself, but my boss keeps pushing me (gently!) to offload some of my work. You might consider bringing it up with your mutual boss: “I saw that Fergus is pretty slammed, but somewhat resistant to delegate – would it be useful to him if I helped him with the redesign project?”

      1. nonymous*

        > because often it takes just as long to check someone’s work and correct their mistakes than it is to just do it myself

        I find that it really helps to have a rubric in mind for this situation. How do you check your own work? With your own work product, obviously you wouldn’t re-do everything as verification, and likewise it’s not realistic to assume everything has been done to perfection. More likely you have internalized what checks are needed for “good enough” or are using bits of automated processes that have been validated in some way (informal validation can just be “I’ve used this for X cases without issue so I trust it”). Maybe there’s an internal checklist or flowchart you have in mind? So when delegating, is this set of tools being passed along as well?

        fwiw, it could be simply that the suite of documentation I’ve described is essentially capturing decades of experience which others in your workplace don’t have. In that case, there can be value in teasing out what each team member can do with competence and redistributing the workload accordingly. So maybe instead of Fergus being swamped by the number of teapots to paint for the big clients and Jane twiddling thumbs because her clients order less, Jane can paint the solid color orders and Fergus can do the detail custom paint jobs.

        In parallel to big picture re-framing, have you considered doing review in a side-by-side environment? Like “Jane, could you split this stack of reports with me? Let’s meet after we get the first couple done to make sure we’re tackling things in a consistent manner.” Jane might appreciate the chance to ask questions or have some insight due to fresh perspective.

        1. Alli525*

          True, although the people I supervise in my easiest, most commonly-delegated task are very inexperienced and make the most random mistakes, and my finished product isn’t one that can have lower standards because senior-level people count on it. My documentation is really thorough, it’s just a really detail-heavy task. So even though it should be easy to do well, I never know what kind of bizarre mistake will be made when I get it back, and then I have trouble trusting my team with slightly more complex tasks.

    4. StressedButOkay*

      I have been there – not in your position but in his! For the longest time, my organization didn’t have the resources to bring anyone in to help with the workload. For several years, everyone was incredibly overworked but we still managed to hit our deadlines, got those teapots made, etc.

      We’re in a different position now and are bringing on new hires nearly every month, including my department. And as thrilled as I am about it, I weirdly find myself very protective of ‘my’ work. Because while yes, it’s been the source of headaches, stress, and long, long days, it’s work I care very deeply about.

      Splitting up pieces of my work to others – to help me! – is surprisingly stressful. So I wouldn’t assume this is about you – if he’s like me, he’s probably become weirdly protective of what he’s been working on. In time, it shouldn’t be as bad.

    5. Teapot librarian*

      Ooh, I have one of those on my team. He reports to me and I’ve been trying for two years to get him to delegate tasks. My solution is that I promoted the person he should be delegating to into a completely different type of role and am hiring a new person with more experience into the delegatee role so he can’t say “but I don’t have time to train” or “but Coworker doesn’t have the experience to do this.” I realize that this is not a sustainable and transferrable solution but I’m excited about it. (Also I’m working on performance improvement for him regarding the failure to delegate. It’s on his performance management plan so I’m on solid ground.)

    6. DataQueen*

      Some people like just being Very Busy and Important and it’s an ego thing. there could be issues where he doesn’t trust others to help with his work, or whatever, but for me (i do this, i admit it!) when i talk about how busy i am, it’s probably because I’m feeling underappreciated or demeaned and want to make sure everyone knows that I am Very Busy.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Some people like just being Very Busy and Important and it’s an ego thing.

        THIS. I had a coworker like this – come to find out, he wasn’t doing any work and that’s why he was always busy. The company eventually fired him, but it was two years too late.

    7. Jady*

      I’m one of those hard-to-delegate people.

      There are a few reasons I’ve experienced. “They” just refers to whomever the person was at the time in that scenario.

      – This is really the root of most of my problems: I keep losing co-workers (either to quitting or upstairs moving them projects/positions). I don’t want to spend a month training someone who may not be here the next month. I’ve begged upstairs multiple times to give me a permanent person. The work is very deadline-intensive, and at least one coworker quit due to the stress of that, one had unrelated health problems and couldn’t keep up with the workload so they were moved, one died of cancer, 2 were given temporarily (in terms of weeks).
      – Things are heavily process-intensive with numerous variables, and that takes a long time to learn and teach.
      – They just have to learn some things before other things will be doable. There’s a lot of technical jargon, customer demands and behavior, use cases, etc. It doesn’t make sense for them to try X without certain foundations.
      – They have no sense of urgency (when it’s due). They aren’t concerned about deadlines and/or getting everything done in time, or they just work too slowly.
      – Things have a lot of moving pieces that are required to complete the work. This often involves equipment and setup, other departments, filling out forms and paperwork properly and timely, knowing who you have to push, or who to contact for problems, or how to even identify problems in the first place.

      I want to delegate more, I really do. But it isn’t always as simple as “here, take this and go do that”.

    8. Casuan*

      :::throwing my thoughts into the ring:::
      Save your sanity & ignore timestamps.

      Do what you can to offer help. Ask your colleague what you can do to help; I like Jules the Third’s cross-training suggestion, although the caveat is if your colleague probably doesn’t have time or he’d be doing already.

      Ask your supervisor for guidance “Fergus always seems so busy & when I ask what I can take from him, he can’t think of anything. Do you know of anything I could do to support him? Or is there additional training available so I can be of better assistance for our team?”
      nb: Be careful that you phrase this as a genuine desire to support your team member, as opposed to sounding like a complaint.

      Let your colleague know you’re willing to help if he ever needs it.

      Once you’ve done all you can to offer support, then it is officially Not Your Problem. Presumably management knows if any work is compromised & they would act accordingly.

      If Fergus continues to complain without cause [ie: it’s one thing to be genuinely overloaded yet another to self-induce] & you’re tired of hearing about it, then a polite “Fergus, I understand you’re always stressed & overworked. I don’t mind you telling me this every so often, although would you please scale this back? It’s disruptive to my own work.”*

      *bonus phrase, appended to the last sentence:
      “… & bringing down my own morale. It’s especially frustrating because you never ask for & accept help.”

      full disclosure: I’ve been on both sides of this debate several times over. And probably I will again.

  16. Downwardly Mobile*

    How would you go about finding/securing a job with less responsibility than you have right now? I am in my mid-fifties, have lots of experience in my field, and make a pretty good salary as an individual contributor. My new boss is nearly unbearable (I posted last week under the name “Petty Liar’s Staff Member”) and I really want to make a change. I have been thinking for a few years that when I’m about 10 years from retirement, I’d like to start ramping down my level of responsibility.

    A very large national company is hiring for three remote positions in my field – this is practically unheard of, as the type of work I do typically requires people to be onsite. These jobs are at a lower level than I am right now, but I would really like to work in this capacity, even at a lower salary. To illustrate how much I want this, I am currently a candidate for a job with the word “Director” in the title, and I’d actually prefer one of these jobs which only require 3-5 years experience.

    I have spoken in the past with a recruiter from the large national company – it was more of an informational interview – and have even been a job candidate with them for a similar role (higher level and not remote) but I had to withdraw because they were not prepared to make a decision and I had the offer which landed me in my current job. That was about 6 months ago. I am scheduled to speak with her again today; I do not think she is the recruiter for any of these open remote positions, but I believe she could highlight any application.

    How can I make it clear I am OK with a pay cut within reason? How can I prove my interest in a role similar (yet more junior) to one I had withdraw my candidacy over so recently? And if I am not successful this time, how do I go about selling myself for any kind of more junior position, remote or not?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’ve done this.

      I did it by addressing very clearly why I was interested in the particular job I was applying for in my cover letter, and in the interview speaking candidly about the change I was hoping to make.

      This may have been made easier by being in the nonprofit sector, where it’s common to spend a lot of time writing/talking about why you’re excited by the job/mission/etc.

      But I think you could do this with integrity in other fields as well. What about the low-level jobs interest you? Is it truly just that it’s easier/calmer/etc.? Or are you excited to go back to the work that first interested you in this field, or to focus on the piece of your work that you’re most skilled at, or to make the shift from being a generalist to a specialist, or so on.

      In terms of taking a pay cut “within reason,” do make sure that your expectations are in alignment with the reality of the pay scale for the lower paying jobs. They aren’t likely to pay you substantially more than they had planned just because you have more experience. I took a 37% pay cut to come to the job I’m in now. I negotiated them to the very top of their range (which was public, so I knew what I was getting into), but they wouldn’t have paid more than that.

    2. Bea*

      I dropped down from a supervisory role easy by saying it was messing my work life balance up. If you’re clear that you’re aware it’s a little less than your experience and are winding down your career perhaps, they shouldn’t worry too much. It will always depend on who is doing the hiring, some will always back away but in my experience most are happy to have a person want the job for what it is.

    3. OtterB*

      When you say “ramping down your level of responsibility,” what exactly does that mean to you? Since you said you’re an individual contributor, it’s not stepping back from management. Working on smaller projects? Getting away from long hours / constant on-call / etc.? I agree with Victoria Nonprofit that you want to be clear on what appeals to you about the low-level jobs. You want your expectations to align with the reality of the job so that you don’t sound (a) out of touch or (b) like you’re looking for an opportunity to do as little as possible until you retire.

    4. nonymous*

      In mine and husband’s orgs remote work is a privilege and is not offered to junior staff. Even when hiring for jobs that can only be done remotely (like fieldwork), those positions don’t go to applicants new to the industry because they are basically self-supervising and require a great deal of trust. As someone in a fully remote position, there is definitely an expectation that one problem-solves at a higher level than with others in earshot, so it can help if the person is a little bit overqualified when it comes to technical execution of details (even if it’s just about knowing who to call).

      I like what the others have suggested about framing this job in the context of your career, but the trust angle is one which you are uniquely qualified for, so please don’t sell yourself short.

    5. StarHunter*

      Yes, agree with the posters – let them know why you are doing what you want to do. I just finished hiring for a lower-level supervisory role at my non-profit and got resumes from executive directors with no note as to why they were interested in a much lower position. Since there was no explanation I disregarded their resumes.

    6. Downwardly Mobile*

      Thanks for all your responses. Quick update: I spoke with the general recruiter, and she passed my info on to the recruiter for this job, who has already contacted me and wants to speak with me on Monday!

      @Victoria Nonprofit, I think it’s common in the for-profit sector to have to be able to frame what excites you about a particular job. My job is both creative and numbers/data driven. I think I could make a good case for wanting to focus more on the numbers and less on the creative side, but in truth, I want this particular job because of the work-from-home aspect. The idea of having no commute, and having more time to eat well, sleep and exercise more at this stage of my life is very valuable to me. Plus less responsibility = less stress (one would think). I talked to my husband about the salary requirements and we came up with number we both could be comfortable with.

      @Bea, I am always afraid to talk about work/life balance because – even though people cite it as a job benefit when it’s good – there seems to be an unwritten rile that we don’t talk about it (except to complain to our peers) when it’s bad. I’m glad it worked for you, though. I will have to give this some more thought.

      @OtterB, I don’t manage people – I manage projects (meaning project teams look to me to lead even though none of the individuals report to me) and I manage budgets for those projects. In a new role, I would be a contributor to similar projects. Good point about not coming across as wanting to do as little as possible until I retire!

      @nonymous, you make a good point about people in remote roles needing to problem solve at a higher level. I will keep this in mind!

      @StarHunter, in my last job hunt, I applied to a few lower level jobs; you would have appreciated my well-crafted cover letters ;-). Unfortunately, I never got a response from the firms I applied to.

  17. RetailGal*

    One of our managers is out for two weeks on vacation, which is fine by me. The problem, though, is that our company doesn’t budget for coverage when someone’s out on scheduled leave. I’m trying to pick up the slack with my manager’s absence, but only with scraps of hours here and there if someone happens to call out of a shift. (My manager is the only FTE that does this particular job) I would love to have another 12 hours of just working on what’s usually my manager’s responsibility, and I would feel like I had a better grip. I’ll be lucky if I get 6. There’s been times in the past year or so where I’ve had to calm my manager off the proverbial edge because she’s been so stressed. I feel I was very near that point at the end of my shift yesterday. Yesterday gave me a big kick in the rear to get back to really looking for a job in City I Want To Move To. Got a resume and cover letter off last night to a company where I’d really like to work. I then hopped on Indeed to look for some more openings, and saw one for a position I interviewed for last summer…got all the way to the peer interview, but didn’t get the job. That seems to happen frequently to me. It’s frustrating. Then! Hearing about serious health scare/problems of a coworker from my other PT job…who isn’t much older than me. Not the most fun day yesterday.

    Plus, this gloomy and chilly weather here in the midwest can just…make itself scarce. It certainly doesn’t help my mood.

  18. Sloan Kittering*

    Sidenote to Alison: I’ve noticed how much less buggy the site is lately. The ads always used to crash my computer but now that never happens any more. Congrats to your team for taking care of it. Also, good luck with your book!

    1. Aleta*

      It’s still buggy for me on my work computer, but I’ve noticed it’s waaaaaaay better in recent weeks, too!

    2. Beatrice*

      I noticed this too! I used to leave comment threads I’m interested in open at work so I could read a couple of minutes here and there between tasks at work, and the site would inevitably crash after an hour or two (and that never happened on shopping/news sites that I browse similarly). I haven’t had any crashes in at least a week.

  19. Pup Seal*

    Is this a weird pet peeve or is it just me? My boss likes to say “I need you” a lot. Not “I need you to do xyz before deadline” or “I need you to get this done.” She also says it emotionally. It makes me feel uncomfortable and makes me feel she’s emotionally needs me. Am I just being too sensitive?

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        +1. It’s especially weird when they’re your boss and not your peer because it’s so much harder to push back on.

    1. Bea*

      No. Even as a dedicated EA I’ve never dealt with that kind of thing. I’ve gotten “I couldn’t do this without you” and grown man near-tears when I left but just saying “I need you.” is awkward at very least. She needs to stop.

      1. Artemesia*

        This seems like a bog standard locution to soften (as women do) a direct order. Not ‘do this by COB’ but ‘I need you to do this by COB’. I don’t see it as weird or odd but as a complete normal phraseology. Of course I suppose if she drenched it in pathos it would be weird and perhaps she does. But the expression itself is totally normal and designed to sound more ‘business needs’ rather than ‘I the dictator order you to.’

        1. Someone else*

          I think Pup Seal was saying the boss specifically isn’t saying “I need you to do X by COB”, but rather is just saying “I need you.” As a standalone statement. And that’s what was weird/creepyish about it.

    2. nonymous*

      Is she using it in the “stop what you’re doing and come help me over here right now” context? I’ve seen it used that way both in a brusk fashion and when people feel overwhelmed ….and also in emotionally manipulative situations (but not a work environment).

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        Yes, I’ve had bosses use it as shorthand:”I need you (over here to help me with this spreadsheet).” But just “I need you” would be quite odd in my experience.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If the workload is daunting, I can see her saying that.

      You can simply say, “I am here.”

      Or you can cheerfully say, “I will help with the work.”

      Or go with, “I think that is a compliment?”

      I would look at the workload you share and use that as a basis for thinking about this.

    4. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      I dunno if you’re being too sensitive, but that would weird me out too. Especially with the emotion behind it.
      I don’t want to be /neeeeeeeeeded/ by people.

    5. Triplestep*

      Can you give an example of how she says “I need you” that feels emotional? I can see a lot of commentors before me can conjure up an idea of what she might be saying, but other than “I need you to do this” or the like, I can’t imagine what she might be saying.

      That said, I one had a boss who apparently didn’t feel that I was emotionally invested enough in the way I provided my deliverables, and said that he wanted me to “pamper” him. *shudder*

    6. Casuan*

      Pup Seal, would you please give us more specific examples?

      If it’s “I need you to…” then I don’t think it bizarre or inappropriate as long as it’s delivered in a tone that conveys “The client needs this on deadline.”

      If it’s “I need you” in any other sense then I think this is bizarre & inappropriate unless there’s an emergency.
      It might be okay if used rarely, although if this phrase is to summon me to an office then I’m going to assume I need to abandon my current task & come post-haste to help with whatever [hopefully minor] urgency that’s arisen.

      You can ask her to stop.
      eg: “Would you please not use the phrase ‘I need you’ unless there’s an immediate reason for it? Sorry to ask, it’s just that I have some bad memories associated with those words. I haven’t asked before because I thought I could push through this & be okay… turns out I can’t.”

      Your boss doesn’t need to know that she’s the source of those memories, like when she said it yesterday.

      caveat: There’s a risk that you boss will devise a phrase that you hate even more.

      1. Courageous cat*

        I would not use that last one personally, it’s vague and yet it’s still already way too much emotion/intimate info put behind the reason. If you want to push back I would just say “I would prefer you didn’t use it” and maybe add “for personal reasons” at most.

    7. NoTurnover*

      That’s weird. I work at a 2.5 person organization that is coming out of a long state of crisis, so I have definitely THOUGHT “I need you,” but have avoided saying it. Because it is weird.

    8. Courageous cat*

      Sometimes I wonder how much of this is regional because I live in the south and I encounter this and other types of emotional displays alllll the time at various workplaces. I have found this kind of behavior is frequently normal and expected to be, because a lot of workplaces (right or wrong) treat each other as “family” and expect close-knit camaraderie. I see a lot of posts on here that talk about how things are inappropriate from bosses or coworkers, but everyone I’ve ever worked with would think the person was cold if they didn’t like this level of workplace intimacy.

      I dunno, it certainly doesn’t apply to all jobs in this area without a doubt, but it’s happened enough in my case that it makes me wonder.

  20. Andrea, not Andi*

    I’m curious how any of you would have handled this/if I could have done this differently.

    I was having my weekly checkin meeting with my boss, and I received a chat message from a coworker. Note that my messenger status was set to red/busy. The below is a rough approximate transcript of what transpired. We’ll say my name is something like Andrea that could be shortened but I don’t go by anything other than Andrea.

    Wakeen: good morning andi
    Wakeen: can I call you andi with an i?
    Wakeen: could you help me out with The Work Thing?
    [time elapses, meeting continues]
    Andrea: Andrea.
    Andrea: This is your answer on The Work Thing.
    Wakeen: Oh ok. blah blah blah

    I have a visceral response to the shortening of my name because it’s infantilizing and diminutive, particularly since I work in a very male field and my position is already not respected as being important. Could I have handled this differently and/or how could I handle this in the future?

    1. Murphy*

      I think you handled it fine. Just say directly “I prefer Andrea” and then move on. For most people, that should be enough.

      1. Mirth & Merry*

        Yes to Murphy.
        “Hi Andi” “My name is Andrea.”
        “Hey Andi can you do a thing?” “My name is Andrea”
        Your name is your name. Just keep repeating until they get it. I work in a male dominated industry as well so I totally get this. If you are feeling snarky or if someone in particular just won’t stop I ignore them and if they say something “Oh were you talking to me? I don’t know who Andi is, I’m Andrea.” After doing this a couple times with one hold out he finally got it. Good luck to you!

    2. Overeducated*

      I think you handled it fine, quick and to the point without making a big deal. What are you concerned about for next time?

      1. Andrea, not Andi*

        I think I’m just wondering if I wasn’t firm enough in getting my point across. My coworkers are sometimes willfully and happily blind to the elephant in the room, so it could turn into a thing when I really don’t have the capacity for it to be one. It’s *just* a name, but it’s my name.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t think there’s any way to know that until and unless the same coworker tries to nickname you again. I would put it out of your mind for now.

          1. Bostonian*

            Natalie makes a good point. The time to get more firm is when someone tries to use a nickname after you’ve told them you don’t like it. In the first instance, a straightforward correction is the way to go.

            I was recently the person who accidentally called someone by a nickname (think “Jon” instead of “Jonathan”), and I felt SO BAD when he pointed out that he goes by “full name.” I was appreciative that he was matter-0f-fact about it, and not mean.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          I think you were reasonably firm for an opening salvo. I would say to just continue on in the same vein if it happens again. He calls you Andi, you respond with “I prefer to be called Andrea.”

          I have a name that’s got multiple shortened versions (along the lines of Elizabeth or Katherine), and that’s my go-to response when someone uses a different variation from the one I use. I tend to only escalate my language if I get weird pushback (“but Katherine is so formal, I’d rather call you something cutesy and familiar!”) or if it goes on for a really long time. Then it turns into “I’ve told you what my name is, and I am not willing to negotiate that with you.”

    3. Aunt Vixen*

      Sounds fine to me. If you want you could say “Thanks for asking, but no, it’s Andrea” or something *slightly* softer – but whatever you do don’t apologize for preferring to use your actual name.

      And definitely unsoften the second (or further) time the same person tries it.

    4. LemonLyman*

      In the future, I’d ignore it until my meeting was over. You’re not obligated to respond right away. Then, when you were done, you could either respond to the message or send a separate email reiterating you had been in a meeting and state,“I actually go by Andrea.” It’s not rude to let Walden know what name you prefer to use.

      I realize that it feels condescending to be called a name that you don’t feel is yours, but some people like giving nicknames based on the other person’s full name. It can be done to show familiarity with someone (even if they don’t have familiarity). I would suggest trying not to view it as the person is purposefully attempting to infantilize you by it. But definitely take the moment to correct them. It’s your name and you have the say in what you’re called. Now, if they continue with the nickname even after you’ve asked them to use your name, then they are being rude.

      1. fposte*

        I’m usually okay with waiting until afterwards, and I agree that it’s not necessarily about infantilization. But if the OP straight out gets asked, she can straight out answer; this isn’t something that has to be tiptoed around.

      2. Natalie*

        I think they did wait until the meeting was over? I assumed that’s what “[time elapses, meeting continues]” was referring to.

      3. Momma Bear*

        “Some people like giving nicknames” does NOT make it okay or less condescending or infantilizing. You’re one of those people, aren’t you? You like to give nicknames and “don’t mean it that way, it’s just something you do”
        STOP IT.

    5. jennifer not jen*

      I think this is okay. People try to do this to me all the time, except they don’t say “can I call you Jen?” They just do.
      Even when I introduce myself as Jennifer.
      Even when I sign every email as Jennifer.
      Even when I write out Jennifer on action items assignments.

    6. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      You absolutely have a right to insist on being called by your correct name! I deal with this sometimes with my last name being misspelled and mispronounced and sometimes people act like I’m petty when I correct them but that is my name and not theirs so I get to decide that I want other people to use it correctly.

    7. Jess R.*

      I think you did great! I’m currently in the process of legally changing my name (for gender reasons — I’m nonbinary, but I’m not sharing that at work) and I’ve switched the name I use at work. What’s helped is being very matter of fact, like you were:
      “Can we still call you [birth name]?” “No, my name is Jess.”
      “But I liked [birth name]!” “Hm. I didn’t.”

      If it comes up again, keep reiterating: My name is Andrea. “Andi?” My name is Andrea. Etc. You have a right to be called by the name you choose!

      1. Lissa*

        ugh ugh ugh “But I liked [birth name] is the bane of my existence.” I have a long really elaborate name that honestly I’d probably love if it wasn’t mine, but I was teased about it SO much growing up that the associations are bad, so I go by a nickname (which is the first part of my name, not even very unusual.) The number of people who find out my full name and decide to start calling me that because “it’s so pretty” … arrrrgh. screams.

    8. Eye of Sauron*

      Ubboy.. I have a name that people like to shorten. Here’s my typical response either verbal or IM/Email.

      Wakeen: Sam, can I get those TPS reports
      Samantha: Samantha please… sure will send them right over
      A week later
      Wakeen: Hey Sam… Great job on the Ferguson account
      Samantha: It’s Samantha

      If the exchange happens verbally there is usually a ‘tone’ the second time I have to remind someone. (although I’ve been told that even via IM there’s a tone). If it happens a 3rd time I just don’t respond. Very few people have ever made it to the 3rd time.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I might not have answered, that would depend on other things, though.

      Definitely, if you want to be called Andrea then that is that. It’s your name.

      The problem here is that he crossed two boundaries. Your status was busy and he ignored that. Then it appears that he decides when you are busy that is a good time to figure out what your name is and he picks a nickname.

      There are times (not every time) I am in a meeting and the problem had better be a fire or don’t interrupt.

      I see a person here who may or may not have respect for other people’s time. I could be wrong, one instance does not “prove” anything. Just watch and see if you see similar lack of regard.

    10. nep*

      The way you did it is perfect in my view.
      I like just ‘Andrea’ as opposed to ‘I prefer Andrea.’ It’s firmer and you’re saying ‘I am Andrea’; the other sort of sounds like, ‘If you don’t mind, if you’re OK with it, I’d rather be called Andrea.’

  21. WorkFriend*

    I have a pretty common situation but nothing I found could directly advise me on what exactly to do. I have a coworker who I think wants to be friends with me more than I want to be friends with her. Until now, I’ve been fine managing boundaries and coming up with excuses on being busy (work full time, part time graduate school, and upcoming bridesmaid!) that I can’t spend as much time with her as she would like (although we will make plans for brunch or a museum, but seldom like 1/few months). She moved here from a new city a few months ago and frequently talks about how she doesn’t have friends and how people/our other coworkers don’t include her when they hang out with each other. This month I think I’ve been a bit more forward/curt and it’s created a somewhat awkward situation. I had a birthday celebration with my friends and didn’t invite her. When she asked what I was doing that weekend I was intentionally vague, lied and said I didn’t know and when she asked again, said my friends were planning something for my birthday, however the celebrations and Facebook aftermath were clear that I planned it. She immediately asked me how it was the next day via text and I was feeling bad so I apologized and stated I felt I mishandled it by being vague but I don’t like mixing work and friends especially when there is alcohol involved, I know I wouldn’t be able to relax and let loose. She replied nicely and then stated at times she wonders why she hasn’t been included when I’ve made plans with my friends but that she appreciated the honesty and acknowledged that she does talk a lot about not being included and it’s not my problem.

    This completely turned me off and it became turning point in how I’ve been interacting with her. There are a few situations that I just cannot stand and can’t control my reaction. She’s described her poop to me at work ( I just listened) which really crossed the line, I wish I could have thought something to say then. Most recently she came up to me to ask my Easter plans and then was very inquisitive on my family and whether or not I have grandparents still living. I gave a look and said something flustered that I didn’t realize I was going to be questioned on my grandparents and she said what? We’ve never discussed parents before (the issue was that I thought she was asking me a work question and wasn’t really expecting an interrogation). I think since the whole birthday thing I’ve just been weirded out. We work at a University and she tried to set me up with a student, and in the course of a week asked me when we are celebrating our birthdays, and having a movie night. I think I said not anytime soon and later she told me I seemed on edge, I told her it stresses me out when she asks me to do things because I look at my calendar and realize I don’t know when I am going to get all my schoolwork done, I am also a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding in April so I just don’t have the time. I think things are evolving but does anyone have any language they use to enforce boundaries, distance themselves, or when someone brings up an inappropriate topic like setting up with a student or poop? I’ve been upfront that I just don’t like mixing work with my personal life but will make the occasional plan with her because she kept asking, I really believe I have brought up that I like to keep things separate, but perhaps not enough. I liked her enough as a work friend but this is just getting to be too much. Looking for any language that would help me in the moment! Thanks all!

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I think it’s okay to pull back. Nobody’s doing anything “wrong,” here IMO, you just don’t want the closeness with her that she’s looking for. Pulling back will give her space to find people who *do* want to hang out. People who just moved into town are at max neediness, but it usually tails off. Just be polite but stick to business.

      1. LilySparrow*

        I think trying to set her up with a student was pretty wrong. Maybe not technically unethical, depending on their positions, but certainly inappropriate to be pushing unwanted dates on a co-worker.

    2. Amtelope*

      I think it woud be useful to draw some clearer lines between work socializing and personal socializing. If everyone in the office is getting lunch or drinks after work, or you are planning an outing for most of the people in the office, you should invite her. It’s not a great look when most of the office gets together to do something and doesn’t invite one person.

      But if you’re doing something with your personal friends, stop lying and apologizing for not inviting her. If she fishes for an invitation or asks why she wasn’t included, a good script is “Oh, this isn’t a work get-together, this is something I’m doing with my friends outside work.” You can also turn down all her non-work-related invitations. Let’s have brunch! “Thanks, but count me out.” When can you have a movie night? “Thanks, but I’m not up for hanging out after work most of the time, so don’t plan on me.” It does not sound like this person is good at taking hints, so stop hinting and start being more direct.

      And try to shut down inappropriate or non-work-related topics in the moment. “Wow, TMI, don’t tell me about your poop.” “Wow, dating a student would be really inappropriate, why would you think I’d do that?” “Hey, I can’t chat any more about my family right now, I’m working.” Etc.

      1. WorkFriend*

        Thanks for taking the time to answer on each component, I really appreciate it! Great phrasing and am hoping to utilize it! Most of the time she finds out people are hanging out 1:1 and then complains to me about how they didn’t ask her when they know shes new here and looking for friends. It just seems like irrational expectations or she’s looking to work for her social life.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          It seems that yes, she’s looking to work for her social life poor thing. Probably because she’s new to the area, and well, we all spend a lot of time at work. Have a little compassion, but definitely set boundaries!

      2. Natalie*

        As part of drawing those clearer lines, I would either unfriend her on Facebook or adjust your settings so she can’t see anything you post. If you’re trying to get some space from someone, having them up in your life via social media is the opposite of what you need.

        1. Jules the Third*

          +100 – tell her you have been getting less and less comfortable with mixing work and social, so you’re purging work people from FB. But be consistent – take everyone from work off FB.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Okay first of all, Stop. Friending. Coworkers. On. Facebook. If they can’t see your page, they won’t know what you’re doing.

      Second, I think you’re going to have to be straightforward with her. It’s possible to do it politely. “Jane, I’m sorry, but I would rather keep my work life and personal life separate as much as possible. I have so much going on with schoolwork and other things that it’s the only way I can get everything done. My plate is too full right now to add anything more.”

      You could also suggest some meetups she might be interested in so she can meet more people–if she’s new in town, she might not be aware of them. You don’t have to create a whole roster for her, just give her a few suggestions. “You mentioned you like X; did you know City has an X group? It should be fun and I’m sure there are loads of cool people there.” Of course you’re not obligated to do this.

      If you still like her and want to be friendly at work, maybe you can have lunch once in a while. But don’t feel too badly about cutting off the personal time.

      1. WorkFriend*

        Regarding Facebook, I knowww (facepalm)! I generally was put off but accepted anyway, and later came friend requests from my boss, other coworkers, and a Director in different dept. I’m pretty low on the totem pole so the power dynamic is there too. It seems like A Thing here, but something I had the opportunity to opt out of and didn’t. I’ve thought about defriending them all and explaining (if asked) I have a LOT of stuff on there (I got facebook in highschool!) and it’s uncomfortable to have everyone have access to my high school photos etc. However, I feel weird about that now I’m friends with my boss. Still deciding what to do about that (a blanket unfriending v. leaving as is.) I’ve looked into creating a list that excludes people from seeing certain posts and it doesn’t seem like that’s a thing anymore. I did that in college with my family and my party pictures. I will be job searching soon (graduating) and will definitely not be accepting coworkers friend requests in the future.

        I really like the my plate is too full phrasing! Much more diplomatic then basically telling her she stresses me out. Thank you!

        1. Alli525*

          You should definitely not be friends with your BOSS on Facebook! Just unfriend them – it really will be okay. I’m friends with my coworkers on Instagram, which is way less personal, so you could try doing that and saying (if anyone asks) you’re reshuffling your social media strategy.

          1. Triplestep*

            I was on a team where the boss actually initiated the FB friend requests to the rest of the team – her peers, her direct reports, everyone. Those kinds of people absolutely notice un-friending. IMO, the best thing to do in that situation is to accept, and then put them on a list that doesn’t see anything. If it comes up in conversation at work, you just say “Oh, I’m just not very active on Facebook”. But then you have not alienated anyone, and if they talk about something they saw on FB, you can go check it out if you want to.

            I think the story arc from “Friends” where Rachel takes up smoking so she can hang out with her boss and the boss’s closest allies on smoke breaks is a good analogy here. Things that are not related to work should not impact our work relationships, but they do.

        2. Natalie*

          No, you can definitely restrict the audience for your posts! I filter nearly everything from my inlaws. The exact instructions have changed (it’s not a list anymore) but if you google around you should be able to find it

          1. Natalie*

            But seriously, just unfriend them. It’s unlikely they’ll even notice, but if they do it will be weird for about 5 minutes.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              Yep – if it won’t cause drama, unfriend, but if you’re worried that it might cause badness in office, (not all bosses are reasonable!) then set up a “work-free” filter and put everything on it.

        3. atgo*

          If you think unfriending will create too much of a headache at work, you could also severely restrict any of their visibility into your content. Add them all to a “list” and then make it so that they either can’t see much or exclude that list from any future content you post.

          If you get asked about it, you could either be honest or tell them that you’ve backed off/removed content because of the data privacy issues that are all over the news right now. The controversy may be well timed to support you in this.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          You’re welcome! And it’s fine to unfriend–if anyone says anything, just tell them you feel more comfortable keeping personal and work stuff separate, especially after the Facebook Cambridge Analytica mess (and maybe even that you’re not using it as much now).

          Zuckerberg makes a convenient fall guy. ;)

      2. Alli525*

        ALL of this. I had a disastrous incident at my first job after FB-friending a coworker who I later found out hated me (and tried to use my innocuous posts to get me fired). After that I never friended anyone until we were outside-of-work friends for at least a couple months.

        Even in higher ed, it’s perfectly fine to be clear about keeping work and personal lives separate. Your wording is great here.

          1. Windchime*

            This is how I do it now, too. I got way too enmeshed in my previous job and it turned out badly. So now I am Facebook friends with exactly zero of my coworkers at my new job. They are lovely people and I consider a few of them to be friends, but I am not mixing it up on Facebook with them.

            1. Alli525*

              Same. I met one of my best friends at work (and we friended each other almost immediately), but we were 24 when we met, so it made sense. Now my relationships with my coworkers are pretty different, because we’re in our 30s, aka the “not really making friends anymore” stage of our lives (sigh).

    4. epi*

      I would pull way back and see how she reacts. It sounds like you have been really nice to this person and need to listen to that turned off feeling. End these weird conversations by saying you need to get back to work. Someone who is really your friend won’t mess with your job. Don’t make it sound like you’re only declining invitations because you have plans, don’t give this person details about your social life since they aren’t part of it, and don’t act guilty or lie. When you do that, you send the message that she was right to expect an invitation and you did something wrong. I would not accept any invitations for a while, until you feel like you actually want to again. If you think about it, it’s actually not that kind to let someone spend time on you and confide in you if you are resenting them the whole time. So don’t get stuck thinking you have to have relationships you don’t enjoy just to be “nice”.

      I don’t want to scare you, but I had a work friend like this and eventually had to get HR involved to get him to leave me alone. He was pushing hard for outside of work friend stuff, I kept saying no, and one day I realized I no longer looked forward to our work friend interactions either. So I started canceling them. At the time I just planned on taking a break and trying to scale back until I found the level at which I enjoyed his company. But he freaked out! He started coming by my desk *more*, pushing me to reschedule our outings, leaving me notes saying he just wanted to be friends, and not leaving when I said I had work to do. He totally ruined what could have been a nice work acquaintanceship and came off as a huge creep. It can be really hard to tell if you’re dealing with someone nice who is just clueless/lonely or someone you really want to get away from. Pulling back gave me two important pieces of information in that regard: yes, he could tell I wanted to spend less time together; no, he did not plan to respect my boundaries.

    5. valentine*

      Unless her acknowledgement of the situation was Eeyore-like, I don’t understand why you were turned off. It was a great opportunity for a resetting. It’s never too late to draw and keep boundaries, though. A few phrases should work, if you stick to them. If you’re an empath/enmeshed/used to taking on others’ feelings, this may feel like death, but the more you stick, the freer you’ll feel and, even if she keeps pushing, she’ll eventually race you to saying the phrases. For nonwork socializing: “Let’s not cross the streams.” No one expects the Spanish Inquisition: “Let’s stick to work topics.” TMI/student setup: “That’s inappropriate.” Mix and match. This broken-recording bottom-lining works and you can do this and block her on social media even if you’re friends with other colleagues, as long as she’s not the only one you’re not including.

      1. Workfriend*

        I think the fact that she stated she has wondered why she hasn’t been included when I have plans with my friends made my antenna go up and just made me think wow. Also that she was so quick to text about how the celebrations were. She’s also never met any of my friends, I don’t talk about them other then the fact I’m seeing them, or was with them. I also don’t get to see my friends as much as I would like due to all my commitments and I’m certainly not about to have her tag along the times I do get to see them.

        A lot of the examples I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. When she was using the airport in a nearby state where my parents live she asked if she could come home with me to stay the weekend to be closer to the airport (I wasn’t going to my parents that weekend) I said no. She also asked if she can come to my graduation (I said if you want…) and if she’ll get to meet my family. She just digs and digs and it’s just gotten to be too much/overbearing. I also sit in an open area so it’s fairly easy for her to just come up and interrupt me. I appreciate the phrasings and confirmation that it’s OK to scale back and even push back and stick to No.

        I also realized I misspoke earlier, she didn’t start a few months a go, it’s been over a year. I was just thinking of the month she started and didn’t count the year in addition. So she isn’t really that new to town anymore.

        1. Lance*

          Yeah… that’s too much. That’s way too much. It’s one thing to want to be included, but trying to insert herself into all of these things means she wouldn’t be anyone I’d want any sort of personal relationship with.

    6. Bea*

      I have an old boss on my facebook, I only hide posts about politics because she doesn’t know I’m a liberal:X otherwise it’s created no problems for us.

      You really just need to be blunt now that she’s pushing so hard and not taking hints.

      I only talk about bowel movements with my close friend who does the same. I can’t believe she’s that over the top. I don’t care that she’s new, I moved to town knowing my partner and a casual friend thankfully…and haven’t been pushing anyone for engagement. It’s a university you have to have clubs or meetups there. The fact she tried to hook you up with a student shows she’s not a bright bulb who knows boundaries.

    7. LilySparrow*

      Honestly, I think you’re over-explaining and acting guilty for no reason. If you keep hedging and soft-no’ing her, she’s going to keep thinking you really do want to be her BFF, you just don’t have the time. She’s not getting it.

      That doesn’t make her a bad person. It just makes her a literal-minded person.

      She also sounds pretty pushy and nosy. And the setup thing? Wow, no. That is both inappropriate and a very bad judgment call.

      There’s nothing rude or mean about not wanting to be personal friends with someone, even if you’re fine being friendly around the office. The key to fending off this type of overbearing friendliness is “No” plus a subject change. You need to be more assertive in the conversation, so you don’t always feel like you need to make excuses.

      What are you doing for Easter: “Family stuff. How about you?” Then when she tells you, say, “Sounds nice, enjoy it!” (Or whatever is appropriate to her answer) and walk away.

      When are we having movie night: “Oh, no thanks.” A friendlier subject change would be to recommend she check out a particular local theater “when you go.” A chillier subject change would be to a strictly work topic.

      Then there are things you’re better off just shutting down.

      Poop talk: “Eww, TMI. I don’t want to hear that. I’ll catch you later.”

      Setups: “That was inappropriate and I don’t appreciate it. Please don’t do that again.”

      She is going to have some awkward and not-fun feelings, and be aware that you don’t want to be her friend. But if she’s a reasonable person, these type of remaks should not undermine your ability to work together pleasantly.

      After all, right now she is making things awkward and unpleasant for you. There is no course of action that will really make her happy except agreeing to be her BFF.

      So, as Captain Awkward says, you might as well return her package of awkwardness to sender and let her be the one to deal with it.

    8. London Calling*

      *She’s described her poop to me at work*

      Er right. OK. Sorry, I don’t have any help for you on this but WHAT?

  22. Lil Fidget*

    Jealousy of friends’ careers in this weeks’ letter: additional thoughts on this?

    Here’s mine: I have a hard time with my friends who work from home, because I desperately want that perk myself and have not been able to get it. My job is very 8-5, butts in seats, no exceptions. But I have many friends who work from home full-time, or any day they desire, or are considering offers in which that’s a perk. I’m so jealous! The worst is my friend who is from-home full time, who makes a TON more money than I do (which I realize is my own hangup). It’s hard for me to bite my tongue when she complains that other people don’t think she “really” works – because I see how much more freedom she has than me. In the same breath that my friend complains that people don’t think she really works, she will note that she got a few loads of laundry done and made dinner, or ran a quick grocery run, or is waiting for the repairman – all things that completely wreck my day, which are easily handled from home.

    On the other hand, I know she’s often bored at her job and I wouldn’t really want to do the kind of technical work she does, even if I had the skills and expereince to do it. So I just keep biting my tongue sigh.

    Anyone else got a strategy?

    1. Badmin*

      I have a friend who worked from home and I think she found it quite lonely. She doesn’t anymore and this was a few years ago but I remember her saying that she wishes she could go into an office and be around people and it would help with the actual structure/separation of working/homelife. I am also someone who needs structure/separation, I don’t think I would do particularly well with working at home, unless it was occasional. I think accountability is also a thing (it would definitely be for me!)

      1. Jen RO*

        I worked from home for a couple of years and I wouldn’t do it again. My schedule was a mess and, even as an introvert, I was SO lonely. I love being in an office – though I do have quite a lot of flexibility in terms of schedule. I am sure that “butt in seat 8-5” would be worse.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I’m an introvert too and I have the same problem. I can go weeks without face to face speaking with anyone except my boyfriend and some baristas if I’m not careful. Turns out being forced to leave the house 5 days a week and talk to some humans I don’t live with or buy coffee from was actually good for me.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I hate butt-in-seat but I also hate being stuck at home alone. If I got a remote job, I’d hope it paid enough to afford co-working space (yes we do have that even here in the middle of fooking nowhere! :D) so I could at least get out of the house.

      2. LDP*

        My aunt works from home, and while she’s never said anything about lack of structure, from the outside looking in it looks like a total mess to me. She likes that she can technically do her work from literally anywhere, so she can travel. But, I know there are nights when it’ll be 10 p.m. and she hasn’t gotten up from her desk. Also, when she’s having to meet with clients she has to frantically search for coffee shops that aren’t too far away and aren’t too loud, since she doesn’t really want people coming into her guest bedroom to talk business.
        I know this may just be her particular company, but I also know that often she’s had to drop everything to fly to where her boss lives for in person meetings, because no one in the entire company lives in the same area. That sounds like an absolute nightmare to me!

      3. Wendy Darling*

        I work from home sort of by choice — I could work from the office but the commute is 60+ minutes each way by bus, I get motion sick, and the rest of my team is remote so I wouldn’t be with my team even if I was in the office.

        It’s definitely got downsides though. It’s hard to keep things from disrupting my work day. If my partner takes a day off my day is pretty much wrecked because my workspace is our living room (we don’t have anywhere to put my stuff). It can get super lonely and sometimes it’s hard for me to transition to not-working. My parents had a hard time figuring out I was working and tended to try to barge in for a really long time and then got upset when I told them they couldn’t do that. We have houseguests several weeks a year and I’m not looking forward to seeing how THAT’S going to work (it’s probably going to work via me sucking up the bad commute and going to the office).

        The flexibility of my schedule is AMAZING though, which is especially helpful because this month has been a horrorshow health-wise. The downside to the schedule flexibility? I have at least one meeting a week outside normal work hours so we can meet with overseas clients. 9pm meetings are rubbish. Almost as rubbish as 6am meetings.

        I guess my point is everything has advantages and disadvantages.

    2. Canadian Teapots*

      Following on from Badmin, I know for myself, when I do find a full-time job, I’d definitely prefer going to a physically separate workplace, as that reinforces the structured mentality of this-is-a-job-and-I-am-doing-one.

    3. Emmie*

      Accept that this is your reality, or find a job that offers this flexibility. I do not mean this to be harsh. I WFH full-time. I love my job and appreciate the perk. Yet, there are serious downfalls. I do not have schedule flexibility. My butt is in my seat for the traditional work schedule. I keep working later because it is hard to turn work off. I respond nearly immediately to work calls, emails, or instant messages because I want people to know I am approachable, working, and helpful. I feel horrible calling off sick. It is very lonely. A WFH has to be more proactive building non-work friends, and having a social life. People get upset with me when I cannot pick their kids up from school. My salon asks me to come in early for appointments and I cannot. People often brag about the good parts of their life, and do not talk about the negative. Tell your friends that you cannot hear about this. Walk out of work tonight. Close the door. Relax on your commute home. Savor that feeling. WFH people do not get that.

      1. Overeducated*

        I agree that people mostly talk about the good parts and don’t stress the down sides. So my strategy is to do that myself – think about how I would talk about my job if I were a person who bragged on Facebook or just wanted to present the bright side, and try to convince myself that’s true. For instance, in my current job I don’t get to do exciting field work in exotic places any more, and I get jealous of people who do. But I try to remember that my job description *sounds* really important (ha! I’m being honest here….), I get to see my kid every night, and I get to keep a pulse on stuff going on nationally, so it’s still kinda cool.

      2. Woah*

        Who on Earth thinks you should be picking their kids up from school for them when you’re working?

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I’m pretty sure that if I had been working on my PhD in my hometown my sister would have asked me to do this, because I wasn’t “really” working and I could take time out whenever I wanted to, in theory.

        2. Emmie*

          Thanks, Woah! Family. They get delayed at work. Their jobs are one in which they must respond to emergencies, but the emergencies happen once every three months.

          1. Artemesia*

            Really important to establish boundaries with family who assume you are available for emergencies and loosely define them. People with on call jobs should have plans for coping when they are on call. If you are their plan you need to make it clear you aren’t. (I suppose we are all ‘on call’ if a relative is rushed to the hospital — but a relative having a work demand is something else and something they and their spouse need to have a plan B for).

    4. Kate*

      It really is just a grass is always greener situation I think. I work from home pretty much full time, but when I took my current role, I worked at contract sites 2 days a week, so I ended up moving away from all my friends to be closer to this contract site (I live in a high traffic area, so an hour on the weekend can turn into 2 or 3 during the week). Like Badmin mentioned, it’s actually really lonely. Even when I do have to go into a contract site, since we all mostly work from home, I never know if my colleagues will be there. Days when I’m struggling with a task, I don’t really have anyone that I can just bounce an idea off of real quick or just the casual interactions that you get working in an office. And on days I’m feeling particularly unfocused, I end up working till 11 o’clock at night trying to make up for time I felt I was unproductive. So, it actually irks me when people say, “Oh, it must be so great working from home!” Because it’s not.

      But, to your point, I also think about working in an office full-time again and having to get there by 8 or 9 looking all polished and ready to go or having people pop into to talk about work issues when you just want to finish your coffee first, and I don’t want that either. So I agreed with Alison’s suggestion of just thinking about the pros and the cons and is that really what you would rather want? Maybe it is. I think my colleagues love working from home full-time, but it’s not for everyone.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I have a friend with a very unusual career and she is living my dream in several ways. Some things she gets to do through her work:

      –Actually do creative work she loves and make a living at it
      –Live somewhere awesome (where she met a charming guy and got married, arrrgghh)
      –Go to premieres (because of her professional affiliations)
      –Meet film stars I would murder puppies* to be in the presence of**
      –Get tons of perks

      Meanwhile, I’m trapped here without even a crap job and no one cares that I exist. But here’s the thing–jealousy is about ME, not her. I hate it. It sucks, it’s painful, and it isn’t productive in any way. The best I can do is look at the things she has that I want and construct a plan to get them. I can see her not as a source of pain and envy but as an inspiration. After all, we both came from the same exact place, and even though she has had advantages I have not, if she can succeed, so can I. It’s not too late, either–James Ivory was recently the oldest person to win an Oscar ever, at 89 (best adapted screenplay, Call Me by Your Name).***

      She also has to deal with things I don’t have to (yet), like online haters, the weirdness of being a public figure, and massive deadlines. Because she’s a lovely person, I know I could go to her and ask “Hey how do you handle X,” and she would gladly advise me. I love her and I’m happy for her, and that’s the part I try to concentrate on.

      As Alison has said many times, there is no such thing as a dream job. I could get everything I want right now and I would still have to do stuff I dislike and probably take on some new stressors. So when your friend complains, think of it like “This is informative; I thought working from home all the time would be great but there are things I didn’t consider.” If you still want that despite the not-so-great parts (as I do), then make a plan to get there. What you’re learning from her will help you make a more informed choice. :)

      *no not really!!!!
      **okay but she met Benedict Cumberbatch omg
      ***well I’d rather not wait that long but you get my drift

      1. valentine*

        Elizabeth, can she help you get CA housesitting gigs or a string of guestrooms while you look for a full-time job?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Err no, because she’s actually in London.

          I did get to see her this summer–her and her hubs came to visit her family and they had a barbecue and she invited me. :)

    6. Jules the Third*

      All the websites push ‘gratitude’ as a huge transformative thing, maybe try some gratitude exercises?
      – Write down at least three things that you really like about your job, that make you happy about it (it’s stable, or you can leave it at work, or the pay lets you do x, y, z)
      – Think about one of those things each day on your way to work, for just a minute or two.
      – Think about one of those things when someone talks about their WFH.

      If I understand it right, the small serotonin rush from the gratitude is effective and self-reinforcing, and more effective than the ‘sour grapes’ option of trying to convince yourself that WFH isn’t great.

      Though it’s true, WFH means it’s harder to turn it off.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Well, I mean it’s hard to compare jobs when people have very different careers! I know a lot of coder/programmer types and I would hate that kind of work even though they have a lot of freedom and make good salary.
      I think here you have to make this about YOU and not your friends. If you’re jealous of the money, you have to evaluate what kind of job you can get that pays better. Same with the work at home perks. And then begin looking for a BETTER job that might secure one or the other (or both). They do exist. I currently have a job with very liberal work-at-home policies, but I still go into the office most days. The flexibility is nice to have.

    8. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      My friend has worked from home for almost 20 years even before it was a Thing (she’s an editor/writer). Once a week she goes into the office. She loves it but had to draw a hard line in the sand in terms of work/play life. People dropping by during the day, comments on how she didn’t have a “real” job etc. It is lonely but because the job requires long periods of quiet concentration, working from home was ideal.

    9. nonymous*

      In addition to the loneliness/isolation aspect, please also understand that the flexibility of WFH is a double edged sword. I have a job with that lovely flexibility of taking time off mid-day to let the contractor in or run my Mom to an appointment or deal with the doggos.

      But that means I’m responsible for those tasks, because obviously my spouse can’t do personal stuff while he’s commuting or on the phone with a client, so I have less time to decompress. When I used to be in a cube farm, when I finished a meeting I could take a walk around the building and get some fresh air. At home when I finish a meeting I’m more likely to run a load of laundry or take trash out to the curb – neither of which refresh me for the rest of my work day. Sometimes it’s nice to leave the clutter of personal life and be able to focus on work in a place that someone else keeps clean!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I have an annoying answer, please remember this is what I tell MYSELF!

      Jealousy is a nasty little reminder that we are not exactly where we want to be in life. If it’s not a friend’s job, then it’s a friend’s inground swimming pool, or a trip to Europe. There’s usually something that gives us a little pang now and again.

      Let it sharpen you. Breathe and say to yourself, “What I am willing to do to get myself in a better spot?” Feel free to copy other people’s stepping stones, if you are looking for a how-to guide and incrementally move yourself over to a different spot.

      Let those pangs remind you to go get what YOU want in life. The odd thing is once we sit down and really think, “What do I want?” we can find something totally different than the thing that made us jealous. And that is okay. The main point is to keep growing ourselves, not to stagnate. So whatever you come up with will probably be just the right thing for YOU.

  23. Librarian Interview*

    I have an on-campus interview for a Librarian position on Monday. I graduate with my MLIS 6 years ago, but haven’t worked a library since then. I’m so nervous but excited! I’ve already done a lot of prep but I would still be grateful if any Librarians in the comments could chime in with interview tips or common questions. It’s in the medical library field.

    1. Farther and Happier*

      Congrats on your interview and good luck! Ask questions about their most frequently used databases. Ask if they do workshops or trainings with them.

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      Congratulations on your interview! My biggest advice:

      1. All day interviews can be exhausting, and your brain may get fried. Come prepared with lots of questions to ask not just in meetings, but at meals/coffee etc. Your ability to make small talk is part of ‘fit.’

      2. You’ll probably be asked why you want this job/why you are qualified. The best responses I’ve heard include “I want this job because of X, in this library because of Y.” Unlike most workplaces, I’ve found libraries like when you have a personal connection and desire to a region, so it’s okay to also mention this in the why- but it should be a corollary to explaining your desire for THIS job at THIS institution.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          If they’re decent humans they’ll water and feed you but you can’t count on it. I go to long interviews with a bottle of water and a bag of almonds in my handbag just in case. One company scheduled me for a 6-hour interview over lunch with no break and I was shaking by the end even WITH my almonds.

    3. Dorothy Zbornak*

      Remember to stay hydrated! I’m always so nervous the day of an interview that I can’t even think about food, and I end up not drinking enough water either, so interview pressure + dehydration = banging headache by the end of the day.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I always end up drinking so much to keep my mouth from getting dry that I have to take a ton of bathroom breaks. Opposite problem. :( (I still get the headache though.)

    4. SCAnonibrarian*

      I’m in public libraries and a manager, so I have no reality-based advice, just sending good librarian vibes!

      Maybe ask if there are any specialties or areas of practice that this particular medical library focuses on?

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      This will be tiring and day long interviews suck. They suck for you and for the people interviewing. Drink lots of water. Eat a decent breakfast and wear shoes you can walk around in. You will get a tour.

      Also bring questions to ask. Nearly every meeting people will say, “Do you have any questions?” and you want to have some. The best question I’ve heard and one I use is: What are the goals for this position in the first year and how will success at those goals be measured?

      1. Librarian Interview*

        Thank you! I switched my shoes from heels to flats after your comment. I have about four different 1:1 interviews and a group interview.

    6. chickadee*

      Do you have to give a presentation/job talk? If so, make sure you practice, because nerves will likely get the better of you on that day unless you’re a public speaking whiz. Get someone to listen to it and ask questions. We just hired someone and the final choice basically came down to who could present and ask questions the best.

      1. Librarian Interview*

        This is what I’m worried about the most because I have a fear of public speaking. I am practicing tonight in front of friends and then again on Saturday/Sunday before the interview. Thank you!

  24. BusyBee*

    Curious how others would deal with a situation I had earlier this week. I work on a team of three with two other women, Jane and Sarah. We have a brand new boss, Dan. Both Jane and Sarah are skilled at their jobs and we enjoy working together. Jane, however, can be a little mean sometimes, making rude comments and belittling other people. Generally, Sarah and I ignore it when she’s in a mood and Jane eventually gets over it.

    This week, a small project Sarah was working on came under fire for some minor errors. They were things she would usually catch, but not glaring mistakes and not a high visibility project. Somehow Jane got looped in by Dan but Sarah did not. Jane was messaging Dan about the errors, some of which were kind of humorous, and the two of them were laughing and poking fun. Jane was also sending screenshots of the convo with Dan to Sarah and I, saying how funny it was.

    Jane marked up the errors within a document, but included mocking language in her feedback. Sarah, being a contentious employee, was really upset by the entire incident, but was not approached by Dan to find out what happened or asked to fix the work.

    Though I was on the periphery of all of this, it made me uncomfortable that Dan would egg Jane on like that. It hurts the unity of our team. I also felt uncomfortable that nobody had Sarah’s back- I have found her to be a strong performer, and the mistakes were very out of character for her, so it was odd to me that nobody approached her directly to get the whole story. Should I say something to Dan? The entire incident has made me lose faith and trust in him as a manager.

    1. Luna*

      That is 100% inappropriate of Dan. It is never okay for a boss to be talking about one of his employees to the other employees in the group.

      I don’t have good advice on what to say to Dan now; maybe start by talking with Sarah to let her know that you do have her back and she was right to be upset? I think Sarah should be the one to talk to Dan. But if Dan and Jane do this again you should say something in the moment to cut it off.

    2. Marthooh*

      It sounds like maybe Dan was trying to be chummy with Jane about this? He may not realize that poking fun at minor mistakes is not so humorous when the boss is doing it.

      But Sarah should be the one to bring it up.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Since Jane sent the screenshots to you, I think that you can mention to Dan that whole scene was a little awkward. “I know that Sarah takes her job seriously. I did not want her to see me laughing at her expense. If we could avoid doing this again, it would probably be good.”

      OTH, you can say, “I saw the screenshots between you and Jane. I just wanted to let you know that if I make a mistake, I would prefer being told directly and in person.”

  25. MM*

    Looking for a recommendation for a career counselor – I’m in the New York metro area but could also work with someone virtually, and I’m hoping for someone who understand the nonprofit world as that’s where all my experience has been.

    I’m specifically looking for someone who can take me by the hand and help me figure out what to do with my career – not someone who just wants to show me how to rewrite my resume and cover letter (I’ve already paid someone for that) or who’s going to give me an aptitude test or who has their own crackpot theories about how to get a job. I really need help in figuring out how to move forward based on my previous experience and background.

    Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

    1. DBGNY*


      Can you give a little more information about what you’re doing in NPOs? I’m also in the NPOs in NYC and would love to help if you can.

  26. D.W.*

    Another person has resigned this week. That’s 12 since February.

    I really want to leave as well.

    1. JobinPolitics*

      D.W., my sympathies for the quick succession of resignations. Please take care of yourself this weekend and follow Alison’s wonderful advice to find another job. Good luck!

    2. Bea*

      Do you work for my evil former boss? Well even he didn’t scare us off that fast but wow. I hope you get out soon. My friend is still stuck at the hellhole and it hurts my heart.

  27. Mananana*

    Alison’s question earlier this week about the weirdest things we’d seen on a resume reminded me of a conversation I had with my husband. He asked what I thought about putting MENSA membership on a resume. I wasn’t a fan, but am curious what others think. Would a hiring manager think “Wow… she’s smart!” or “Wow…. she’s braggy!” Or something else altogether?

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      The only people I know who have mentioned Mensa have also been a bit pretentious, so I feel like I would have to fight a biased opinion on it. It’s one of those things that I would maybe keep in my back pocket for an interview (that’s a stretch even) or like “Tell us something interesting”, not as resume fodder.

      1. KG*

        Same. I’ve seen it a couple times on resumes, but only from people who seemed to put too much importance on it. And were often not a great fit, skills- and experience-wise, for the job in general.

      1. Mananana*

        Thank you, fposte! I didn’t even think to search the archives; should’ve known that someone has asked this before.

    2. Abelard*

      I’d be more on the “Wow…she’s braggy” side of the response if I saw that. Unless for some reason the job lists MENSA membership as a requirement (I can’t imagine this happening) I’d leave it off.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Definitely don’t. It would be like putting IQ on your resume. Employers care about what you’ve actually achieved, not about what a test says your potential to achieve might be. And it’ll look really odd and out of touch.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I didn’t get round to reading all of the post about strange things on resumes (internet connection keeps going on strike) however I have encountered people who have received honours and include them in their CV, or worse still, sign all their emails with them.

        For example Jane Smith MBE or Fred Bloggs OBE

        Apart from the specifics of MBEs and OBEs being UK honours, it always seems a bit show-offy.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          While *so* not a fan of the honours system… if it’s in the signature part of the email, I wouldn’t look askance at it. It’s like “Fred Bloggs, MSCi(Hon)” type of thing – in the right context, it’s fine.

          Mind you, something like


          Would you look at X for me?

          Fred Bloggs OBE

          would be weird as hell, but if it’s an auto-generated like this, meh…


          Would you look at X for me?


          Fred Bloggs OBE
          Teapots Inc
          Tel: 12312323

      2. Mananana*

        I just read through the comments in the article fposte linked to — holy hornet’s nest, Batman!! I had NO idea the topic was so rage-inducing to some. There was such vitriol in some of the comments; guess the notion of NOT putting Mensa (not MENSA, as I originally used) was quite upsetting.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The comments used to be … quite different, back in the earlier days of the site. Also, with that post, there was an influx of MENSA defenders a few days after it published.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Yikes! I was rather taken aback by the comments there myself. Hate to say it but the first few that I got through really demonstrated Alison’s point…

      3. As Close As Breakfast*

        I once received a cover letter where the person included their IQ. I still laugh about it sometimes because it really was so odd and out of touch.

    4. Canadian Teapots*

      Isaac Asimov was known to complain he found Mensa members to be pretentious. I’d leave it off.

    5. Thlayli*

      I have a Mensa-level IQ, though I am not a member. I find that when I tell people I have a high IQ the most common response is “well IQ is just one way of measuring intelligence. It doesn’t mean you’re good at anything else”. Which while technically true is pretty rude and defensive.

      So I don’t think it would be a good idea to put it on because it seems to piss people off more than anything else. I don’t usually tell people unless we are having a conversation about IQ.

    6. Book Lover*

      I just don’t see how it is relevant to anything? I would assume that my son has a very high IQ based on everything I have been told but I wouldn’t hire him to take out the garbage, since he’d probably abandon it half way when he got distracted by a shiny object/tv screen.
      Anyway, point being – I think your resume should reflect your background and accomplishments. Presumably that indicates your intelligence and capability.

    7. Undine*

      Mensa does not impress me. To me it signals “smart enough to pass some test, but not smart enough to realize that’s not a big deal.” How smart you are doesn’t matter. It’s what you do with it that’s important.

      1. NoTurnover*

        This. It’s unfair of me, but if someone told me they were a member of Mensa as an “accomplishment,” I would assume they might have an IQ, but aren’t very smart.

    8. Totally Minnie*

      One of the major purposes of the resume-application-interview process is to show a prospective employer what kind of employee you’re likely to be. Intelligence tests are not a great indicator of that. I grew up in gifted programs in school, and I’ve seen first hand that there is a wide array of behaviors associated with high IQ. For every Hermione Granger who uses their high intelligence to work hard and achieve great things, you’ve also got a Zach Morris who uses their intelligence to get away with doing the bare minimum, or worse, a Dr. House who uses their intelligence as an excuse to not treat people well. There’s just no way of knowing what that high IQ score will indicate for this particular person, so including it in a resume doesn’t make sense to me.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      In 20 years of work and grad school, I only know of one coworker, a new senior manager, who was in Mensa. I know because he made it our business to know during several of his interminable team meetings. I’m not sure if he understood that he was bragging to a room full of people, probably 90% of whom were qualified to be members, or that was the reasoning behind it (look guys, I’m just as smart as you!).

    10. neverjaunty*

      “Wow, this is someone so out of touch that they think IQ and Mensa tests are fully merit-based measures of intelligence and competence, and have missed decades of criticism about the biases in these tests and how they are badly misused, especially in some very ugly ways, cf The Bell Curve.”

      TL;DR, leave it off.

    11. Sam Foster*

      My initial reaction: Ewww, gross.

      The only MENSA member’s I’ve ever met have been all hat but no cattle.

    12. Artemesia*

      If I saw it, when I have seen it, it has been a source of merriment on the hiring committee. Mensa is not about being smart; every mensa member I have personally known has been dense and pretentious, the kind of person who at 35, would tell you their SAT score. If I saw it, I would question their judgment and their genuine smarts.

  28. Cute Li'l UFO*

    I started connecting with a handful of friends whose workplaces are hiring for desirable, relevant roles. There was some resistance and stubbornness on my part for sure as I’ve always been a bullheaded “I’m gonna do it!” type of person. With the help of my last boss (startup/digital agency; we’ve known each other since 2014) I found ways to ask for references that didn’t make me feel scummy. I feel more confident now.

    Today I’m taking a friend for coffee and pretty sure I’m meeting with the guy whose job I’m considering applying for. All informal but I am always prepared. I just keep moving on and evaluating what and how I’m doing!

    The weather is great and I finally spent my Christmas Uniqlo gift card on some of the new Marimekko collection. I hope things will move smoother now!

  29. Britt*

    How do you feel about digital interviews? (ie, HireVue – 1 way interviews, not Skype) This is a totally new concept to me, and the more I researched about it, the more uncomfortable I feel. I’ve done a few now, and I kind of hate them. I’m curious what other people think? Also, if anyone is in HR that uses video interviewing for hiring, can you shed some light on the process or what you’re looking for from a candidate?

    1. Abelard*

      My company uses HireVue–I did one 5 years ago for the job I currently have. I’m kind of neutral on it? Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.

    2. CatCat*

      I wasn’t sure what this was so I googled it. Looks like they give you written questions and expect you to record your responses on video? You don’t get to ask questions (since there’s no person there)?

      Looks like potentially a big time suck to me. Unless I were desperate for a job, I’d probably bow out if this thing would take more than 10-15 mins. And even then, I’d be irritated by it. Are they going to let me send them a bunch of questions about the company that they’ll answer on video as well?

      1. Britt*

        Yep! No person present. They choose the questions, you get 30 sec to prepare and 2-3 min to record your response. Some employers give an option to re-record, some don’t. I’ve done 3 with one employer. The first role seemed promising but budget was cut and the position was removed. 2 more roles opened that I was interested in, and the HM wanted to do the video interview process. I wasn’t selected to move forward for both positions, which I was qualified for both (so I’m left wondering….was I not friendly-seeming enough? Did I smile enough? Did I answer that question right (bc of no feedback on other end) )

        Keep in mind, HireVue uses AI to asses candidates, it’s not just a video. It’s micro analyzing your face, voice, etc. And will spit out a percentage you may be a match…..that’s what really freaks me out a bit!

        1. Irene Adler*

          Really? I never realized this . But it make sense. Why go to the trouble unless there’s additional analyzing -beyond the recorded responses- going on. Think I’ll try a paper cutout for my next HireVue interview. Can’t garner any worse results than what I’ve had with these interviews.

    3. School Psych*

      I have done a few of these video interviews as screening interviews for school districts. I strongly disliked it because I’d already invested a lot of time applying on-line to the district.(Long on-line application with short essay questions, uploading transcripts and recommendations ect.). I felt like it was annoying and unfair to expect me to invest more time in the application process without getting to ask my own questions and see if the role was the right fit on my side. It also seemed like an invasion of privacy. I had to do my video interview from my own home and then the video was going to be shared with multiple people on the hiring committee, but there was no way for me to even see how my video had turned out before submitting it. There was also no indication of how long the videos were kept for, who would see them and how they would be deleted when no longer needed. I didn’t feel like I did as well as I would have in a phone screen and I haven’t moved forward in the process from any video screen I’ve done. Since the video-interview took around 10-15 minutes to complete, I didn’t really see the advantage of doing a screening in this format over doing a short phone-screen. I would greatly prefer a phone-screen as an applicant, so I get the chance to interact with the organization and avoid some of the privacy concerns with video interviews.

      1. Britt*

        Agreed!!! Phone screen feels soo much better! And I also don’t know how long they can keep the videos for??!

        The companies say that using their software eliminates bias in hiring. I so disagree if this is the path interviewing is going to take. What about those who don’t have a great “pretty” spot to record? Signaling their wealth or status? Or those who have a hard time getting a moment to themselves? People who may struggle with the format (not intuitive at all) or who are on the spectrum, but can perform the job well? (goes along with what I mentioned above, using Artificial Intelligence to find a company match) I’m just not on board with so much of it right now unless I find otherwise!

        1. AcademiaNut*

          That only works if you have an unbiased training set, which can be surprisingly hard to manage. Generally, for machine learning you train the system on a hand-assembled set of data, before running it in the wild. If, for example, your training set of great employees is biased towards young white men, your machine learning hiring will be too. Or, in the case of google image search, you end up mixing up black people and gorillas (seriously).

          Machine learning can be a really useful tool, but it can also produce total garbage or even harmful results, if you aren’t really careful with what you’re doing, and sometimes even if you are.

          1. Britt*

            This is what I was thinking! Because HireVue ads are saying what I wrote above — it’s great to learn that it’s not all that easy!

        2. Nieve*

          When I did mine it suggested making my face the focal point, with a plain background, so really not a good method to judge people on their wealth or status. The job I did the video interview for also required high familiarity with technology, so if one couldn’t figure out the format or was not intuitive with technology or new apps they would not have been a good fit for the role. My application involving this was coupled with a phone screen as well, so it seems that obviously there are different benefits to be gained through the video format? For example phone wouldn’t allow the interviewers to see how you present yourself physically (professional appearance was important for this role). Also I don’t think any companies would use this as their sole interview tool (they’d use this as screening, rather than to replace a face-face interview) so I don’t understand why some people are worried that it doesn’t let you ask questions? I got to ask everything I could think of at the final stage once I passed the screenings :)

    4. Jillociraptor*

      My former company did this during any kind of mass hiring. I can see the appeal of it in that circumstance. One of our hiring managers downloaded the responses and listened to them on double time during her commute. It was a pretty good way to give more candidates the opportunity to share more about themselves, at a time when attention was very limited.

      I don’t think that what hiring managers are looking for is any different for an interview like this than for a Skype or phone interview (and in my experience those can at times be about as interactive as if the interviewer weren’t there!). Do you have relevant experience and can you articulate its connection to the job; are you basically normal and able to communicate professionally. Typical stuff.

      One additional thing we were screening for, though it was more of a side benefit than part of an intentional choice to use the software, was how well the candidate could roll with the punches and figure out something new. Our organization had totally antiquated systems and ridiculous bureaucracy, so if you were the kind of person that got flustered by something that didn’t necessarily make a ton of sense on its face, you’d be miserable in the job.

      Personally, I don’t think this is the best way to hire, and I think unless I really wanted the job, I’d probably bow out of a process that included this kind of thing. It was reasonably helpful, but it’s a much more ideal situation to have 1:1 conversations, and space out your hiring so that you can focus on making a good hire for each role.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I’m very happy that I’ve never done one (the recorded kind, as I have done one Skype interview) and I hope I never have to. Initial phone screens with recruiter and/or hiring manager work just fine to see if the candidate is articulate and conversationally skilled, without the visual biases that go into looking at a person staring into a video camera in potentially unfortunate lighting or the weird stilted monologuing in response to canned questions. And gee, if you want clarification on any questions I guess you are out of luck.

      1. Britt*

        EXACTLY! agreed! For the last one I had, I was asked “tell us about your background and key achievements” then the next question was “tell us about yourself and your interests” Sooo… about the role… or my personal life… because I just told you my background..? So I answered in a combination of my interest in the role, and what I enjoy outside of work…not knowing what exactly they wanted because I couldn’t ask!

    6. CopperPenny*

      I have one tonight. I’ve never done one before so any advice or comments would be helpful! The AI bit makes me really nervous.
      I also posted below before I saw this thread.

      1. Britt*

        Finding out about the AI threw me off too, before doing my 3rd one with the same company – all for different roles! I’m naturally a conversationalist and smile a lot. I’ve been told I interview well by my 2 last employers… but this format throws me so off that it’s like all my words drain from my brain. Adding that I didn’t get selected to in-person interview after these last 2 video interviews just really annoyed me!

        So for the company I was interviewing with, they offered the option to re-record. And so on the 2nd time I was asked to do the video interview, I figured out that if I wanted to record a second time, I could actually kind of “pause” and give myself way more time to prepare before the second recording.

        My husband said he thinks the one disadvantage I could have had, is if the company knew it took me double the time to answer (…but not my prob if there’s a loophole..? ha) or, that my answers sounded too rehearsed…

        I feel like the only advice I would give anyone is to “be yourself” :( I’ve read some articles suggesting to exaggerate your facial expressions so AI picks it up, but that just seems silly to me. I really think knowing your resume inside and out is very helpful. Here’s some questions I have been asked!

        – Tell us about your background and experiences
        – Tell us about yourself and your interests
        – Tell us about how you stay organized
        – Tell us about a time that a project required you to work and be available around the clock, how did it go (?????)
        – Tell us why you would be a good fit for this role

        Also, you do get practice questions before you start. But try to level your camera so it’s just slightly looking down. Still dress professional. Sit in an area with good light, or place a lamp a few feet away from your face

        I hope you can get out some jitters before! You really may not find it to be too bad – if you search “under armour” on Glassdoor – there’s a ton of interview reviews you can check out…a lot recently were for their internship program, but it’s a bit helpful! Good luck!

    7. LL Cool G*

      I don’t like them for the reason that the questions I was asked could have been handled by a simple 10-15 minute phone screen. I had a certain amount of time to complete the “digital interview” after receiving a letter from the company. I think at the end, the tape on my camera that i peeled back started showing and I didn’t realize it until after, oops. I had a combination of written and speaking components on it.

    8. Faintlymacabre*

      I had one once. I found it harder than an in person or phone interview, because it was just me talking to an empty room. I am rather shy, so I thought the video interview would be easier, but as it turns out, I prefer being able to establish a rapport with a human being.

    9. Nieve*

      I’ve done this for a government job (not in US) where they got over 800 applications. I honestly dont think ANYONE likes these, but I understand why it is used and why it could be a good method for employers/recruiting company if they have a lot of applicants to go through. The video part was the first stage, if you passed you got to the phone screening stage. Then those who passed the phone screening would be invited to a full-day assessment centre in one city (all travel costs and accommodation for the night before paid for). So I guess the video method is a good way to decide who bothers enough to look professional for the video, how they answer questions on the spot, appearance when speaking (this was a public-facing role) etc… Probably is useful in saving costs for paying for applicants’ travel to be able to see how the applicant presents themselves before inviting them to the last stage. I got the job in the end so it was all worth it, so I dont hate it but more like neutral. If I was to be told again to do it in the future it’d annoy me but I definitely wouldn’t reject the whole process just because of it.

  30. Belly*

    I’m really struggling with feeling resentment and anger about a number of things at work lately. I’m afraid these feelings have come out in my behavior, and I need to put a stop to it.

    Now, I think that I have some very legitimate grievances, most especially the fact that every excuse in the book is thrown at me when I ask for raises/promotions, but others whose work is equal to or worse than my own somehow get around those obstacles. There are a number of other things going on, too.

    But this doesn’t excuse how I’ve behaved, and it just somehow comes out of me before I can even stop it. For example, I will interrupt people in meetings when they are talking, or I complained to a coworker that I felt that he and I should have been given the same treatment, when he received preferential treatment. It wasn’t very professional, and I regret it.

    I also realize that my tone may be bitter/condescending when I help my coworkers with tasks. I REALLY try to keep it neutral, but when someone who has been recently promoted instead of me asks me for the fifth time how to do a basic task, my bitterness and resentment just pour out.

    I know that if I keep behaving this way, it won’t help my cause. I also realize that I may be getting myopic vision on this–everything feels like a slight, even when some of those things may be fair. It’s getting hard to tell because when you know you’ve been treated unfairly, (especially if it is something you found out about later, which is the case here), it’s like you are suspicious of every little thing.

    I know that my behavior is not the REASON for my lack of progress at work, because it is something that has recently become a problem. I was never like this before, and I don’t like how it looks on me.

    I tried going through my company’s EAP program, but didn’t really receive any insight except a lot of “Wow, that sounds terrible!” from the therapist, who also had no suggestions on how to move forward with this.

    What do I do? How do I get past how awful I feel so that I can behave like a normal person again? I don’t want to ruin my professional reputation here. Right now I do think I still have at least two good references from this workplace, but I know that might go down the toilet if I keep this up.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      That sounds like a no-win environment for you. It may be that you’ve become ‘typecast’ in a way where management just isn’t going to consider you for a promotion, ever. (Happened to me at my previous job) I’d put energy into looking at internal transfers if you want to stay with the larger company, or just leaving for another company and get a fresh start. Maybe looking at your options will improve your mood and ability to handle the annoyances of the current job?

      1. Luna*

        Second this. I was in a very similar situation at a previous job. It sounds like the only thing to do is accept that this is not the place for you to be and start looking for a new job.

        In the meantime, something I heard recently that I think would have helped me earlier, and might help you keep your behavior in check while you search for a new job, is the idea of pretending you’re in Whoville. In the movie about the Grinch who stole Christmas, the grinch was waiting eagerly for all the little Whos to wake up and be upset that their things were gone. Instead they got up and were perfectly happy, still singing and celebrating.

        I know it sounds silly, but it’s a quick way to remind myself that no matter what someone else has done to you, the best response is to pretend to be happy anyway. It’s okay if you don’t really feel that way, you just have to be able to act that way at work.

    2. Badmin*

      Can you take a sick day? Sometimes when I’m feeling really ugly inside and know I won’t be a joy to be around, I take a sick/mental health day. That seems like a short term solution but I have found it to be effective when I have spurts of crankiness.

      Another idea- could you ask for feedback on what specifically you could work on to be a stronger candidate? I know you say they’ve thrown every excuse at you, but what about concrete things you can work on and showing you’re willing to work on those things. It may offer some hope and show your bosses you seriously are interested in moving up.

      I think writing it out also is therapeutic.

      But I echo what everyone says in that it may be time to move on.

      1. Belly*

        Unfortunately, they keep saying it is not about my work, but about office politics/availability of opportunities. I actually am really excelling at my work, especially this year, and that is why them doubling down on no promotion/compensation/recognition really burns me up. And my colleagues, who have not excelled, are getting rewarded instead.

        I am trying to move on…have been looking for another job for years, but it is a bit niche and there haven’t been a lot of opportunities around. Right now I put my job search on hold for some personal reasons.

        Thanks for everyone’s responses. They are very kind, especially when I’m feeling like such a bad person.

        1. Badmin*

          I’m sorry to hear that. I hope things get better. Honestly, taking a sick day, sleeping in, getting housework done, watching Real Housewives, and eating pizza usually helps me reset but I realize yours is very long in the making. I don’t think you’re being a bad person at all. We all get like that at times, and I’ve seen a lot of posts in today’s thread that people in similar situations have posted.

        2. As Close As Breakfast*

          I’ve been in a very similar place as you. I was dealing with issues at work (and personally) that were making me miserable and bitter at work. And it was showing. I was also in a niche job in a market with almost no opportunities, so while I always looked there just weren’t opportunities for a new job. Well, I’m still at that same job and things (me!) are much better. Here’s what helped me:

          1. I broke my behavior down into a couple of line items that were of the most concern to me, like ‘do not let your voice become sarcastic in normal conversation’ and ‘do not roll your eyes, ever.’ I made them as specific as I could, and mentally added them to my job responsibilities. I basically told myself that being a pleasant person was my #1 job priority/responsibility and then listed the actual, physical whats I needed to achieve that.

          2. I listed the reasons I was staying at my job. It’s a somewhat basic thing, but it really helped me. I thought about how anyone, including me, can leave their job at any time really. But there’s a whole bunch of reasons why we don’t. For me this included everything from ‘I haven’t found another job in the area and I really want to (or need to) stay here because of x, y, z’ to ‘my boss was actually really understanding/great when I lost a parent last year.’ When I was annoyed/irritated/at the end of my rope, I’d stop and think about if this THING happening was my hill to die on, and as it never was I would do a mental run down of the reasons I was staying and putting up with this THING for.

          3. I let go of stuff. I struggled with where the line was, between caring less and not caring at all. I didn’t want to become someone that just didn’t give a flying f**k about anything. I just wanted to return to a happier and productive version of myself. So, I focus heavily on what is and isn’t within my control. A lot of the terrible things that I hate about my job are totally not within my control to change. So, I do my best to focus on things that are. And I’ve actually had success with things that I never thought I would. Of course, there are a lot of days where the best I can do is repeat some version of ‘the only real option I have is to find a new job, and I’m looking, so I’m doing everything that’s in my control to do.’ Deep breath.

          I kind of had to train myself to stop with the attitude both externally and internally. It’s probably been 6 months or so though, and I’m in a much better place. Sure, I probably shrug and say ‘eh’ a lot more, but I’m happier and 100% sure that I’m more pleasant to work with. Good luck!!!

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah… this isn’t a good scenario. I’ve been there myself after having a REALLY bad year with a new manager and overload of work combined with under-appreciation and non-understanding of my job. It made me bitter and snarky at work. At some point you have to accept IT IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE and you just have to find a new job and get out.
      Sorry, I wish it wasn’t so. I like my new job a lot, but I’m still bitter I had to leave my last job that way, because I loved my work and the job up until the new manager. Unfortunately, it just is that way at some places.

    4. The Commoner*

      I have been in a similar place before and can tell you no matter what I did, just didn’t get better. For whatever reason, the barrier was in place and I couldn’t get past it. Sadly, I stayed too long at that job. In my current job, things are much better. I don’t know what else to say but, good luck.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Self care. A body that is not rested, not properly nourished and hydrated is probably going to have all kinds of words falling out of the mouth.
      It’s easier to hold our tongues if we have other basics in place.

      I had a cohort that ran five miles every night after work. TG he did because even with that 5 miles under his belt he was still challenging to speak with. Probably you do not need 5 miles. But you might get benefit from a brisk walk around your block once a day. It might help to dissipate that negative energy or knock it back so you can keep your words in check.

      My last suggestion is to LIVE your resume. Each day try to think of things that would look great on a resume or sound great in an interview. Do those things. When you apply for jobs you want to be Wonderful OP. Picture that Wonderful Person and live it today.

    6. Nieve*

      Sorry to hear, this sounds extremely frustrating to not know what the issue is.
      Theres some people at my work who are frustrated about not being able to advance/get internal transfer. The reason behind it for most of those people (I hear) are due to their attitude at work. I frequently see those people making offhand comments about various things at work whether it be management issues or others, some of those comments are pretty trivial stuff but so much those people say appear extremely pessimistic. I think most negative comments are not necessary at workplaces unless they are constructive feedback. And I’d think that these people don’t know that something like that is the reason they don’t seem to be advancing in rank, its not something that can be fixed easily as its a personality/intrinsic quality. It seems like a bit of a vicious cycle really, as not advancing would make them feel more negative about the workplace which would make them sound continuously more and more negative as time goes on…
      That was just an example, I wonder if there is something that you do that is ‘hidden’ to yourself but other people pick up on that might be holding you back? Whatever it is, I hope you find out and get an opportunity to improve!

  31. Nanny*

    I made my first significant mistake at my new job. Not like anything crazy or fireable, but definitely something I had to pull in other people for (using their time) and pushed something back a day or two at least.
    Everyone was actually very understanding and someone actually apologized for the gap in my training (I still think it was all on me because I should’ve made sure I was clear on this process) but I can’t help but feel guilty and embarrassed.
    I’ve apologized for the confusion and taking up people’s time, thanked everyone profusely for their help, and made clear what I will do in the future to avoid this.
    Anyone have good advice for moving mentally on from an embarrassing mistake? I’m unreasonably rattled by this. Last (toxic) job was very punitive and hostile about mistakes and I think that’s part of my struggle.

    1. Xarcady*

      After 25+ years of working, I’ve come to realize that just about everyone makes a really big mistake at least once while learning a new job. The mistake usually comes after your initial training, but before you have really internalized the entire job.

      You sound like you are at that point. You’ve done the basic training and can do the basics of your job, but there are gaps. And you don’t have enough experience to know when something isn’t right.

      I think you’ve handled the situation well. Own up to the mistake, ask for help getting it fixed, thank everyone, come up with a plan to prevent future similar mistakes.

      Just keep in mind that most of your co-workers have done pretty much the same thing, so they understand. It feels like a major mistake now, because you are still relatively new and trying to create a good impression. But handling a mistake well also creates a good impression.

      You are not the person at a former job of mine who made the same mistake daily for 6 months, realized the mistake and continued making it because he didn’t want to own up to it. As a result, a client wasn’t billed for any work for over nine months. (And he still wasn’t fired!)

      1. Lora*

        “As a result, a client wasn’t billed for any work for over nine months”

        I bet his resume says: Highest ranking in customer satisfaction

      2. WoSoFan*

        +1 on everyone’s done it and especially “handling a mistake well also creates a good impression”

        This is definitely a “time will heal” situation (at least it was for me).

        When you find yourself ruminating over it, I suggest reminding yourself to be as kind to yourself as you would to a coworker/friend in this situation. Also, be sure to pat yourself on the back for how you responded to the mistake and how that showed your character. You clearly didn’t ignore it and let someone else find/fix your problem after more damage happened. Try to remember that whenever you feel a pit in your stomach about the issue!

      3. Marthooh*

        “I made a mistake and did everything I could to fix it. I now know how to handle that process, and I also know I can count on getting help when I need it.”

        And remember that it takes time to recover from a toxic workplace.

    2. BadWolf*

      If you have reasonable coworkers — you’ve probably just done something good, really. You’ve demonstrating that if you make a mistake (and we all do), you are willing to admit to it, resolve it and thank others. You didn’t blame people, make excuses, hide it, etc. This makes you a good coworker.

    3. Zennish*

      For me, I’ve simply had to learn to accept that I can’t change the past, not even one second ago. There is literally nothing you can do other than learn from it, then live in the present moment. If you’re doing that, you’re already doing everything you can, so there is nothing to be gained by carrying it around. In fact, I’ve found that if I do carry it around, and continue being rattled by it, it affects my thinking and behavior so negatively that I just end up making further mistakes.

      1. Windchime*

        I know you weren’t talking to me, but this is something I really needed to hear today. Thank you.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The only thing that has ever helped me let go of a Big Mistake is building a plan so I do not make that particular mistake again. Here, you have given the added info that it was a gap in your training. So additionally, you can be vigilant for other training gaps. And there may be times where you can ask some one to glance over a section of your work to make sure you are on the right track.

      It sounds like you work with a nice group of people. Tell yourself that old toxic place is so OVER. This helps us to remember that time marches on and things change. We can forget that things change and we sit around waiting for blow ups that never happen.

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      Make sure you’ve got notes so this one won’t happen again. Then put it behind you. It’s seriously OK to make a mistake. Or more sometimes!

      Mistakes happen. To everyone.

      What matters is how you handle it. You immediately told people, reducing potential harm. You took ownership of it and didn’t try to pass the buck.

      That all tells me you are reliable and conscientious, and when you make another mistake – which you will! – they can have confidence it will be handled appropriately.

  32. MidwestTrainer*

    I work for a very small government agency and the chance to get promoted is very rare, usually when someone retires. Without sounding like I’m blowing my own horn, I’m the most likely candidate to move up but I keep getting passed over. The management can never really tell me why, but the word from the back channels is that I’m so good at what I do and there’s none that can do my job if they let me move up. I’ve decided its time to look elsewhere but I haven’t interviewed in 17 years. I think I need some help with my interviewing skills. I’ve read all the post on AAM but I think I need more specific feedback on my answers. How do I go about finding someone to coach me? There’s really no one at work to help me because we are all pretty much in the same boat and I don’t rewlly have any connections in the local business community. Help!

    1. BRR*

      Do you know anybody who works in the field you want to move into who does hiring? I think anybody who does some hiring in even a semi-related field might have some good insight.

      1. MidwestTrainer*

        No, we are the only agency in the state that does what we do. I’m just hoping to get better at the behavioral questions and get some tips on what I might be doing that could be improved upon.

        1. Irene Adler*

          There are some good articles at The Interview Guys:

          I found a great article there re: how to handle those awful behavioral questions (the bane of my existence!).
          There are other articles on interviewing. You’ll need to poke around the site a bit to find everything.

    2. nonymous*

      Try recording your responses to common interview questions. This won’t replace a coach, but it can help you address body language and verbal tics.

      My state has a program called “WorkSource” which offers workshops and resume prep stuff. iirc the quality was meh (it’s not optimized for the higher-end crowd), but they are really good at giving people who have been out of the hiring market a survey of the different sites you can use, and there is a job board which can be helpful in kicking off the search process. They have mock interviews and workshops for target groups which can be useful for practice and self-esteem purposes.

      Maybe your state has something like this? Also, consider your alma mater – my career center has services for alumni beyond recent grads. And if you’re at a state or federal agency perhaps look for employment at the same, because your benefits might roll over. (Like if you work for the state now and switch to working at the stateU, sick leave balances and vacation accrual rates may transfer)

    3. Bea*

      I had to leap into interviewing after 10+ years and know the stress and worry.

      Understand that you may need a couple chances to dust off the cobwebs. The fact you’re stuck and being passed over due to you’re too good, that’s easy to explain to anyone you’re speaking with.

      You can’t always prepare and don’t let the dust on your interview skills stop you from trying. I found each one I had the better I got. So much more than all the coaching and trying to squeeze out perfect answers.

    4. it_guy*

      If it helps, try to get an interview for something you probably don’t have a realistic chance and use it as a practice interview. Doing an interview where you are not totally sure you want the job will totally lower your stress on interviewing. And you never know you may get a totally awesome job anyway.

      I actually interviewed with a company where I thought “These folks are never going to hire me because I don’t have teapot spout experience”, so of course I totally nailed it and in the process showed me some really upsides to the job and they made an offer and I accepted!

    5. Windchime*

      I hadn’t interviewed in almost two decades before I started looking for a job a couple of years ago. I decided that I was just going to be myself (well, with out the swearing!). I tried to give thoughtful and honest answers to the behavioral questions. I was interviewing for an IT job at a police department and they asked, “What draws you to public service?” Cripes! I hadn’t thought of it that way; I was just thinking “IT job”. So I thought for a second and said, “Well, we are all in this world together and I feel it’s our responsibility to take care of each other and help when we can.” Not rehearsed, not canned, not a perfect answer at all. But it was my answer and I think it came off as honest. Must have been OK because I got an in-person interview.

      I guess my point is that interviewers aren’t looking for canned, rehearsed answers. They really want to know what YOU think, what your viewpoint is, what your experiences are. So be honest. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t prepare, but think about what your honest viewpoint really is and then go with that.

  33. Jessen*

    So I have a work pants question. I’m working on building a nice little professional capsule wardrobe. But I have a devil of a time with pants (and I’d rather not wear skirts). The problem is I am:

    – petite (5′ nothing)
    – extra curvy (to the point where most “curvy fit” pants are too big in the waist and too small in the hips)
    – not in the plus size category (this is mostly annoying for google searches)
    – tend to have 5-10 pound weight changes regularly

    I tend to favor either leggings or very loose pants because of that, but neither of those are really professional options. I really just want some pants I can buy and when they wear out, go back and buy more without a 6 week hunt for the one pair that fits, but won’t fit in 5 pounds.

    Any other ladies got some good styling recommendations or things to look for?

    1. Hurricane Wakeen*

      Have you tried ponte pants? They can be pretty form-fitting, so they’re not appropriate for all offices, but they might have enough stretch to accommodate you. White House Black Market has ponte material in a variety of cuts, and I recently got a pair of Liverpool pants from Stitchfix that I love.

      1. Sm-access!*

        For really reasonable–think replace every season–slacks, I have had good luck at NY&Co. They have a wide variety, stock average, petite and talls and many different cuts. Their pull on pants are forgiving and help with the weight changes, Sometimes their quality isn’t super top drawer, but they are nice enough for me (I work in a business-casual higher ed office).

      1. Jessen*

        That falls into the “I don’t particularly want to wear skirts” category. I don’t like having bare legs a lot, and I feel like most of the shoes I find comfortable really only look good with pants (I basically only find oxford or mary jane shoes comfortable in women’s dress shoes).

        1. CTT*

          What about dresses or skirts with leggings? That way you can wear leggings while formal-ing it up a bit. And I think the shoes you’ve described would go well with that.

          1. CTT*

            (Although if you are just not comfortable with something that’s not pants, then I totally get that. Since I live in the dress+leggings combo in the winter I felt compelled to share it.)

            1. Jessen*

              I guess I feel like around here it’s considered a less formal option? The only options that really look professional are pants, or knee-length skirts with pantyhose. It’s distinctly possible I’m overthinking it though.

              I’ve also managed to have the same fit issues with leggings – I call it the “sliding down my backside or bunched up at my ankles” dilemma. They tend to not be build to accommodate ladies with more of a rear.

            2. Jessen*

              But yeah, I’m just not sure how much I want to deal with something that’s not pants. Plus I’m really going for the capsule wardrobe thing where I can swap tops out and wear the same pants more than one day in a row, which doesn’t work so well with dresses. Dresses are much more the sort of thing where you need to have a different dress for a different day, whereas you can pretty much wear the same black pants and same top in a different color the next day.

              1. CTT*

                For me, I have a similar issue to you with fit on clothes, except I have broad shoulders which makes finding structured work-appropriate tops really difficult. For whatever reason, I have less fit issues with dresses or just wear a sleeveless dress with a cardigan. So while I am in love with the idea of doing a capsule wardrobe like you want, it ain’t happening. (Although when I was working I rotated through the same 7 or so dresses and if anyone noticed they didn’t say anything.) I’d love to hear a capsule wardrobe update from you when you get it all together!

                1. Jessen*

                  Fair enough! There’s probably also some queer/gender identity issues playing in. I’m very much the sort of person who would be much more comfortable and happy in a neuter or androgynous wardrobe. But those looks really don’t have options for the curvy woman, and they tend to not be considered really professional enough.

    2. Ashley*

      Have you tried Ann Taylor? Theirs tend to fit with some stretch. Also a good belt and longer shirts / sweaters to help with the gap.

      1. Jessen*

        I was thinking of the longer shirt, maybe even a tunic option. A tunic might also help with pants when my weight’s a little higher, just by disguising my rear a bit. I’ve also been trying to find pants that CAN be worn with a belt – around her most women’s work pants do not have belt loops.

        1. Anonymous for this one*

          I know you said you weren’t plus size, but Torrid has some pants that are good for work that have belt loops. They’re classified as like a jegging but they’re black and not jegging material. Actually ok for work. I’d look through their pants on their website. IDK what size you are but they start at 10 so they might work for you. I recently lost a lot of weight and was still wearing some of my pants with a belt. Good luck!

    3. rosiebyanyothername*

      Uniqlo has great tailored pants–they’re called “Smart Style Ankle Pants” according to the website. They look like regular tailored pants but have a secret elastic waistband! I am also petite and curvy but not plus size, and Uniqlo is honestly where I get like 90% of my work clothes.

      1. Becky*

        Oh I might have to check that out. I’m petite and curvy and in a weird place with my size right now–I’ve lost 75 pounds since last May and hope to lose about 40 more so I don’t want to invest too heavily in my wardrobe until I am more settled in my weight–but even at a lower weight I will still be curvy (the women in my family all have prominent hips and buttocks even at a healthy weight).

      2. epi*

        I am also petite and curvy and I was going to recommend these too.

        I don’t personally find the elastic back that subtle, but mine are a couple of years old and one pair is light with a pattern. It’s less obvious with my plain navy blue pair. They do look good with half-tucked shirts if you are like me and like everything about them but the elastic.

        I just wore mine yesterday with a half tucked-in Portofino shirt from Express, because I had a meeting during the day and a date at night. Worked great!

        1. Jessen*

          Thankfully most of the tops I’m looking at would be naturally worn untucked and as longer styles. So I can do more with the waistband and no one will ever see it.

    4. fposte*

      I think you may have to be fatalistic on the “when they wear out, go back and buy more” thing. Global manufacturing makes it unlikely that pants will be that consistent over years even if they’re the same named “model”–they’ll be sourced differently, made in different factories, etc.

      I’d also definitely put a tailor into the mix. It’s worth at least pricing out the cost of getting waist and legs taken in on something larger, and you *definitely* don’t want to pass up otherwise fine pants because they’re too long.

      That being said, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic are the two I know that have some curvier fits and include some stretch in their fabric. It also wouldn’t hurt to hit up a Nordstrom and ask for a personal shopper’s advice–there are lots of brands that she’ll know that you probably won’t (and neither will I!).

      1. Xarcady*

        I agree on the tailoring. It may be the only way to get pants that really fit. My waist is so much smaller than my hips that I have to get all my pants tailored, or risk having them fall down.

        The result is that I don’t own many pairs of work pants. But the ones that I have, fit.

      2. Jessen*

        The main question on tailoring would be how to ensure I get something that accommodates weight changes without too much trouble. I can hem pants with good result, but other stuff might be trickier.

        1. fposte*

          Absent an elastic gore, I don’t think you can really tailor that in to pants if it’s not there already; flexibility is mostly going to be about material and style (and of course you can make sure that they tailor for a forgiving fit).

          While YMMV, I’ve also found that my pants are very forgiving of 5-10 lb. fluctuations in general. It may be worth factoring in where you carry your weight gain–if it’s mostly belly, cut yourself more waistband slack, and if it’s more hips and thighs, look for room there.

          1. Jessen*

            That reminds me of my other frustration. I carry weight almost exclusively in my hips/rear. And only there as far as pants – my thighs do not add weight, despite curvy pants generally being cut large in the thigh as well. But that’s easier to fix than a waistband.

            1. nonymous*

              Try having your tailor add an adjustable elastic waistband. The way I’ve seen it work is that the pants are sized for the larger fit, and then elastic is run through the waistband area, but instead of being sewn in, there are buttons which let you set how tight it is.

              Tutorial link in name elasticizes the whole waistline, but I’ve seen this approach used on just the sides as well.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                My husband has some trousers like this. There is a sort of overlapping piece in the waistband that slides out when the elastic bits are extended, so you don’t have the bunched up, gathered elastic look like you get on some stretch waistbands. I have also seen a few trousers lately that have a section on either side of the waist that is just a big panel of elastic while the rest of the garment is more typical trouser fabric, though with a bit of stretch. I haven’t tried any myself but that might work for you?

            2. SarahKay*

              I would say find a pair that fit well on the hips and and then get some tailoring to bring in the waist, and perhaps the legs also if needed.
              While taller than you, I have same issue – big hips/rear, small waist. Some years back I had a pair of pants that were perfect (wish I’d bought half a dozen pairs) that were generous in the hips and curved well in at the waist. They coped with about 10lb of weight change – at my largest I filled them; at my lightest, because the waist curved in well, although they would sit lower they still didn’t sit *too* low on me.
              The other possible option might be an elastic waistband, and then a fitted shirt that you would wear over the pants, rather than tucked in. Or you could wear it tucked in, of course, but in my head elastic waistbands on my pants screams ‘old lady’ (my hang-up on me – not sure I even notice it on other people!) which is why I want it invisible.

        2. LilySparrow*

          1) Do you sew at home, and 2) How much do you care about preserving the looks of the waistband? If you don’t wear tucked-in tops, or you wear a belt, you could DIY some waistband elastic the way I do for my daughter’s jeans.

          I just get a length of 3/4 to 1 inch wide elastic and tack the end to the inside of the waistband, at a point about halfway between the side seam and the center back. Then I put the machine on the widest zigzag and pull the elastic taut as I sew until I reach the same point on the opposite side. If there’s a belt loop I stop and skip over it.

          It does look “Becky Home-Ecky” when it’s bunched up, but if you match the thread to the cloth it’s not noticeable when stretched out or under a belt. It’s quick, cheap, and comfortable.

      3. Reba*

        Yes, I would say accept that a tailor is going to be in your life. It adds $30-50 to the cost of your pants but it’s actually a great experience to have clothes that fit! Manufacturers’ fit models just don’t match everyone.

        Get pants that fit reasonably in the butt, have the waists taken in. Talk to the tailor about your issues, and they should be able to advise you about what to look for in pants so that they can be tailored to suit you. Someone who knows their stuff and is trustworthy is really invaluable. I’ve had a tailor tell me to return something that wasn’t going to work (I was sad but it was good advice–a pocket issue). Like you, Jessen, I can do hems and basic slimming but leave waistbands to the pros.

    5. OldJules*

      Dressbarn, Kohls, JCP has a good petite short collection of pants for women.

      I am 5 nothing and swing in between M – 1X depending on work (yes, I stress eat). I love how DressBarn has size for all shapes. You need to go to the store though to get the perfect fit. They actually think in size AND shape. So a size 12 for me and you could differ based on which collection you try on.

    6. NaoNao*

      I work for Eileen Fisher, so I can testify to their amazing quality. The fabric, sourcing, finishes, and details are all superb. The pants styles come in cropped and full length, and most are stretch or “flowing” (ie, silk, silk georgette) so can grow or shrink with the bod.
      Best news: sizes in XXS-XL *and petites*. XXS is about a 0-2, XS is about a 4-6, and so on up to an XL being about a 16-18. Petites are smaller in the rise, shorter in the leg, cut more narrowly, and overall less fabric, than “missy” sizes. (Yes, retail still calls it missy!)

    7. Pollygrammer*

      I have a similar body type, I think, and I just usually go for wider leg trousers, where fit at the hip is less tricky, and they’re plenty professional when ironed with a crease. And belts.

    8. anna green*

      New York & Co make elastic waist dress pants that look professional but accommodate weight fluctuations. Not sure if they’d work with your body type, but worth a try :)

    9. Overeducated*

      Good news is that cropped/ankle work pants seem to be coming (back?) in style. They’re not formal enough if you have to wear suit type stuff, but with oxfords and a blouse they work. Not the most flattering in terms of “extending the leg” as traditional fashion advice for short people, but they can just make it so much easier to find options! I’m 5’1″ and have two pairs of stretchy pull on ankle pants from JC Penney (not leggings, with seams and waists, but not THAT far off). My coworker who is very curvy wears cropped ones with a more relaxed fit and wider leg and they look cute.

    10. Cookie Monster*

      I usually am also super anti-pants but Old Navy has some incredibly comfortable and work appropriate pants in a variety of colors this season. They’re called “pixie pants” and they have an ankle cut-off option and normal lengths, so they may work for you. I definitely also have thicker thighs but am not plus size, and they fit me well. I don’t know how formal your office is, but I find these look professional and cute.

    11. Book Lover*

      I really wish I had brilliant ideas. I’m right around your height, also, extra curvy but not plus size. I honestly haven’t found anything that doesn’t look awful. The best advice I received was to buy to fit the hips and then tailor a whole bunch, but the cost is significant and I still don’t like the way I look. So I do skirt suits and dresses and buy comfortable heels – Clarks mostly.

    12. StressedButOkay*

      Have you tried eshakti? They’re an online store where you can either buy ‘off the rack’ or give them exact measurements and tailor things how you like them. I believe the tailoring is an extra $20 on top of the price of the clothes. (They do pants and blouses, along with dresses and skirts.)

      1. Book Badger*

        Seconding eShakti. They’re expensive (particularly their dresses) but everything comes tailored so it’s worth the extra money. And dresses (not sure about pants) come cut to your height for free.

    13. Emily*

      I’ve heard that some women have luck with Betabrand stretchy dress pants, but I haven’t tried them personally to know how professional they look.

      1. Uhmealeah*

        I was going to comment about Betabrand pants. I love them. I’m 5’3″ and go with the Petite and would recommend it. I could stand it being an inch longer to wear with heels, but the regular length is WAY too long. If you are comfortable wearing stretchy pants, I’d recommend them. They have a great return and exchange policy, too.

      2. Joielle*

        I have a pair of these and I love them! I feel like I have to dress up a little more in the rest of the outfit (usually wear heels and a blazer with them) but they look professional if you do it right. They’re basically just ponte pants.

    14. DM*

      I’m similar to you (except almost a plus size). Curvy, 5′ and I prefer pants. I actually shop a lot at ThredUp recently. I end up sending a LOT back and take the store credit, but it lets me find a couple of pants for cheap. If I don’t like them, they go back. Their inseam sizes are really off, though, so it’s hit and miss.

      There are also online custom suit places that I’m considering, but like you, my weight tends to fluctuate. I’ve hesitated going that route, but if you’re consistent within 10 pounds, then maybe just measure yourself at the mid-weight mark (five pounds up, but five pounds less than your max). An extra five pounds is unlikely to really matter too much in the fit of your pants unless they are one of those no-give polyester or silks…and even then I think it would still be doable (at least in my own experience as I go up and down. I usually have to go up 10 pounds to really notice in the fit of my clothes).

    15. SF chic*

      I have similar issues. I am pear shaped. I fluctuate 5-10 pounds regularly because all of my weight/water goes to my butt/upper thighs. You have two solutions.

      You have a few pairs of modestly priced pants in two sizes. And you go back and forth between them. I recommend the curvy fit ankle pants at Loft. Some people like the curvy sizes at Banana Republic. They are often on sale, and are quite affordable and are thick/substantial and have a bit of stretch as well. And you wear a belt as needed, and if your figure is too extreme for these pants, you pay for them to be tailored at the waist. That is what you have to do.

      Leggings and ultra baggy pants so big you can fluctuate a size or two are not work appropriate. Don’t go this route. Your instincts are good.

      And then yes – you have a few dresses or simple skirts. A line or shift. These can easily accommodate your weight changes. If you are self conscious about your legs, then you wear them with tights as your fall/winter wardrobe, and move back to pants when tights are no longer weather appropriate. Also, in summer you can use self-tanner on your legs or wear hose, if they make you feel more comfortable. Or wear shorts (skimmies) under your skirt to make it more comfortable.

      You can’t have everything. As you know, clothing doesn’t fit most of us straight off the rack, and manufacturers change their sizing and cuts all the time. Pants are incredibly difficult to size well, so you are asking for the impossible. You have to compromise, pay for things that must be done (tailoring/belts) and buy skirts/dresses to side step this issue and work on your comfort factor.


      1. Jessen*

        I guess for me that just makes it sound like it would be worthwhile spending the rest of my life making $10 an hour at Walmart so I could avoid this.

        I’d hard to explain how much I hate dealing with women’s dress clothes. I have literally gone home and cried after shopping. And it’s not a self-esteem thing, I don’t hate my body or feel uncomfortable in it, I just find the shopping experience itself to be that stressful. You’re pulling uncomfortable pants on and off your body in bright lights and constant headache-inducing music that you can’t get away from and for some reason they keep putting allergy-inducing air fresheners in every dressing room. Every single item that doesn’t feel like a costume is either unprofessional or doesn’t fit, and then dealing with pesky sales people who won’t stop asking if you need help and making suggestions and just go away so you can hear yourself think. You’ll try on 20 pairs of pants and none of them will fit, and people suggest just shopping online but how are you supposed to order pants if you’ve tried that many and none fit? If you want to wear skirts you must also buy painful shoes to go with them because it isn’t possible to get a shoe that is both professional with a skirt and doesn’t painfully squish your foot. Trying to explain this to sales people just gets confused looks (“what do you mean the length and width are ok but it’s too low? You said you wanted flats!”). Skirts mean you freeze in anything air conditioned too and have to constantly put up with shaving – armpits are bad enough. And you’re expected to spend money on that and then go back and do it all again every year or two.

        It’s just a reminder of how much I really really hate being female. Not in a “I hate my body” sort of way – I like my body just fine. More in a “I feel like I am expected to put in a lot of time, money, and energy into acting the Acceptable Cis Female because of the body I have.” It’s probably some combination of easy sensory overload and a confusing mess of gender identity that doesn’t like being reduced to “the pretty girl.” (I’ve also gotten far too many unsolicited Man Part Opinions while looking for this stuff other places, which just…ugh, seriously?)

        And I’m ranting now. I need sleep.

        1. Book Badger*

          I also hate shopping, for many of the reasons you describe. I’ve gotten severe headaches before from trying (and failing!) to buy a pair of jeans. Shoes are especially the worst. I’m the person who refuses to shoe shop unless my shoes are literally falling apart (and even then I still have superglue, shoe polish, and sometimes even nail polish if the paint is wearing off): I have narrow heels, which turns all shoes without straps or laces into flip-flops, and my left foot is a half size larger than my right.

          As someone who wears skirts on the regular, though, I think it’s fine to wear Mary Janes or loafers with them. I genuinely cannot wear pumps (narrow heels!) and never learned how to walk in stilettos, so I wear shoes with thick heels and straps, even with skirts, and I’ve never been told my shoes don’t match. If you find a shoe that looks like a classic pump but has a strap, all the better.

          I have been told by people who know more about fashion than I do that heels that slope inward towards the front of the foot, rather than straight down, are more comfortable because they support your foot more, if that helps. And there are shoes that are made to be more comfortable by design (I happen to like Söfft). But take my stuff with a grain of salt.

          1. Ktelzbeth*

            I wear Mary Janes with my skirts. I wear leggings with my skirts. I’m freezing all the time and I need comfy shoes. The rest of this is totally off topic if dresses are not your thing (and as another person with a complicated gender identity, I can see that), but you can make a capsule wardrobe out of the right black dress. Wear a shirt underneath so that can be the piece you wash and change up the blazer/sweater/scarf.

          2. Jessen*

            My shoe problem is that shoe sizing is done in two dimensions (length and width) and feet have a third dimension. Said third dimension on me is apparently not the same in ratio to the other two as shoe manufacturers think. so most women’s dress shoes fit the length and width and still painfully crush my toes because there isn’t enough room. I pretty much have to wear styles that aren’t flat on top of the toebox, which eliminates 95% of women’s dress shoes.

            1. Book Badger*

              Oh, so you need a high/deep toebox? Or is it something else? Because I think they make shoes specifically for that, usually for people who are on their feet all day, like food service workers and cashiers.

              1. Jessen*

                I do, but they make it very hard to find. When I’ve tried to search I get either a lot of sort of plasticy stuff that isn’t really dressy, or a bunch of wide shoes because google’s trying to be helpful.

        2. fposte*

          I feel you on so much of this, and I have to say shopping at home has made a huge difference for me. It’ll depend on your willingness to deal with the postage premium and your access to easy dropoff or pickup, but 1) I don’t have to have the “treading water until I’m out of here” feeling or talk to anybody and 2) the choice range is *so much wider*. So stuff I’m likelier to like, without 30-foot ceilings, the odor of aging sweet pretzels, and badly amplified pop–it’s a win all around.

        3. Hrovitnir*

          I feel you very much on your last paragraph. Internet gesture of support! I’m actually eternally grateful for having worked in medicine followed by science for the last decade and a bit (despite the low pay in my positions) for this reason – I can live in jeans. Nice jeans, but jeans.

          I definitely think that either buying something that’s close to what you want and having it altered or even getting your pants made entirely by a tailor would be ideal if you could afford it. I know tailors and while it’s not cheap, it’s not as expensive as you’d think for having clothes that actually fit your body and last far better than off the shelf. (I can’t give you estimates as I wouldn’t trust my memory and I’m not in the same country.)

          Outside of that I think it’s just a horrible continuous process of buying pants that aren’t quite right. :/ (Most of my weight sits in my butt and thighs so I have similar problems – anything that fits my legs tends to gape at the waist and I haaaate it. I’ve found some jeans that work for me though, so I just wear the same jeans constantly. If I had to organise a formal wardrobe I *know* I’d cry.)

        4. Totally Minnie*

          I feel you on the shopping frustration. I really wish online shopping sites had a function where I could put in my measurements and the website would tell me what to buy.

        5. LilySparrow*

          I love being female, but I’m not particularly interested in fashion, and I hate clothes shopping for all the reasons you just mentioned. Sensory overload is a big one, as are aggressively “helpful” salespeople. If the chemical smells are really bad, I just have to walk out.

          I’m tall but oddly proportioned (bizarrely long arms, high waist, very long rise, 2 sizes different top & bottom, flat chest and butt but nearly plus-sized). Finding clothes that fit me off the rack is tough. Honestly, I’ve discovered over the years that the better made, more expensive clothes are more likely to fit and look good. But they’re really out of my budget. So I shop thrift, consignment, and clearance. (By happy convergence, these are also the stores and sections where salespeople are least likely to bother you.)

          Learning to sew made a big difference for me, because it gave me a different perspective on clothes as objects with a job. They are supposed to feel good and make me look good to my own eyes. If they fail, then they are Not Doing Their Job. Bad pants. Bad.

          I have a pretty good eyeball sense by now of what types of colors, cuts, and fabrics will most likely work on me (wide leg, mid to high rise, fabrics with some thickness or lined, contour waist, and so forth). So when I have to shop, I can get in and out pretty quickly with no agonizing. It’s okay to tell salespeople “thanks, I’ll come get you when I need help.”

          Even if you can’t find multiple versions of the same pants, you can look at the ones you have that work for you, and see what the common features are. Then just don’t bother with anything that isn’t on the list of characteristics.

          I guess what it comes down to is, “other people’s expectations aren’t reality.” They arent’ even real expectations – they are a marketing pitch. The entire fashion industry, and most rules of what is or isn’t “done,” are marketing pitches. I’ve worn flats with skirts in very conservative professional settings (and seen plenty of high-end executives doing the same). I’ve worn the same pair of slacks 3 times a week. Nobody really cares as long as you’re clean and not wrinkled.

          The majority of stuff out there about clothes, expectations, gender roles, and bodies is just nonsense. If a sentence has the words “supposed to” in it, it’s probably bunk.

    16. awb*

      Some tips from a fellow short, 5lb either way means I size out of existing clothes woman:
      1. Elastic back pants from uniqlo are amazing. They look like regular suiting pants, but the waistband in the back is elastic. You can tuck the front in, and leave your shirt loose in the back to hide it. It’s near invisible on black pants.
      2. Fit for your hips, and learn how to do basic sewing to take in the waist, or get them tailored. it is 100% worth it if there’s a big discrepancy between your hips and waist and gives you a lot more options.
      3. Buy pants with a high amount of stretch – look for up to 10 or 15% elastic and while it might be a bit tighter on your higher weight days, it won’t be unwearable or inappropriate for work. Also, it’s just safer to have a few pants for both sides of the spectrum to cover your basis if you do yoyo a bit.

    17. MissDisplaced*

      I am 5’1″ and a sort-of plus petite (size 16-18 or 16W). This means work pants are as elusive as a purple unicorn.
      My all time favorites come from JCPenney. I call them my magic pants as they can withstand a few pounds of weight gain and loss. They wash well and travel well and are reasonably priced.
      1. Worthington Slim Fit, Slim Leg ankle pant

      Runner up used to be Liz Claiborne Emma Ankle Pant, (also at JCP) but they’ve changed the cut and fabric so I don’t buy them as much anymore. However, I am still a big fan of the Liz Claiborne suiting separates line, so if you can fit into the petite versions you might like them a lot.

      Warning: Do not buy online! JCP website is horrible and you can’t see the fabric. Plus, the descriptions are not the same as the tags on the pants and you can’t match the SKU. I made that mistake and ordered the wrong thing.

    18. Bostonian*


      What “curvy fit” pants have you tried that haven’t worked? I’ve found that “curvy fit” Worthington slacks work for me, and they come in petite, too.

      And I definitely agree with the comment about learning to sew to take in the waist. That bunched up extra waist fabric is the BANE of my existence!

    19. AFreeLabRat*

      I strongly advocate finding a good tailor and factoring that in as an expense when looking for pants, then when you find a pair you like just buy two sizes and have the waist taken in to two different sizes. I have this same issue (on the top half) and I buy everything in a size too big then have the waist taken in. Its annoying to pay extra for literally everything, but I am a strong proponent for having less items that fit well than wasting money on things that you likely will never wear because you hate. I do not think that legging are ever an acceptable alternative, they will always look young, unprofessional, and casual, no matter what.

    20. Totally Minnie*

      I sometimes cheat at work pants by buying well cut black jeans. As long as they’re not the kind with sparkles all over the back pockets, you can get a pair that looks pretty similar to dress pants and feels just as comfortable as your off-duty clothes.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Of course, this works mostly because I’m in a business-casual office. I don’t know if it would work as well in a full business dress office.

    21. Marthooh*

      What I do: get pants that fit at the hips and take in the waist myself. This isn’t really tailoring, though, it’s very simple if you’ve ever done any sewing. Thread embroidery floss (or similarly thick thread) on a biggish needle and make a long stitch on the inside layer only of the waistband. Pull it tight and tie it off with a square knot. Start with about three such stitches evenly spaced around the waistband and try on to see if it helps. This is basically a way to make belted slacks look good with the belt pulled in. This very forgiving since you can add stitches to take the waist in or snip some to let it out.

      I hope this descrition is clear enough to be helpful!

      1. Jessen*

        Sounds like a simpler version of adding an internal drawstring, which is also something I’ve seen done.

    22. KG*

      Ooh, me me me!

      The answer is Talbot’s. Good petite section, very good quality. They also tend to have good, experienced saleswomen who really know the clothes and can tell you how things will wear over time.

      If you are that dramatically curvy (same), you still may need to buy a size up and get the waist taken in an inch. The Talbot’s near me doesn’t do alterations, but keeps a list of local recommended tailors. As a fellow weigh fluctuator (new word), I’ve regained sanity by buying the same style in two sizes, and going back and forth as needed.

      Yeah, it’s an investment to buy quality pants, get the waist taken in, and buy two sizes, but I’ve worn the same three pairs of work pants regularly for 2+ years. Which means I haven’t gone pants-shopping in two years. Worth it.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I’ve been given a couple of recommendations for Talbot’s lately, and I have a question. Do Talbot’s dress pants have normal sized pockets? The fake pockets on women’s pants are the bane of my existence.

    23. AnotherLibrarian*

      You may just have to go to a tailor. Buy pants that fit your biggest measurement. For me, that is also my hips. Than take them to a tailor and have the waists brought in and the hems taken up.

    24. epi*

      Also, you would never think it from their marketing but Express is a great place to put together a work capsule wardrobe. I own two pairs of their Editor pant and they are much more forgiving of weight change than my elastic waist Uniqlo pants, because the cut isn’t as slim. They have a short size but I think in the past I’ve just gotten them hemmed. They are washable and can hold up for years of regular use.

      A few years ago I went back to grad school and got rid of all my old office clothes that I didn’t really like but had to keep since I had to be in an office every day. I replaced all that stuff with a couple pairs of Editor pants and a couple Portofino shirts that all went together, just for conferences and meetings. I think it was a year before I felt the need for anything else, despite my weight going both up and down in that time.

    25. tab*

      I’m a big fan of Eddie Bauer curvy fit pants. In addition to fitting my larger hips and thighs, they are made of stretch fabric. They’re the only pants or jeans I buy. You can get petite trousers in multiple colors. They’re running a 50% off sale this weekend.

    26. Oxford Coma*

      I struggle with similar issues, and I have to wear pants (skirts or dresses are prohibited) so I need a lot of them. I would also kill for pockets!

      My best tip is to stick with straight leg cuts, so you can hem as needed without screwing up the silhouette of the pants.

    27. Hannah*

      I’m also very curvy and have had luck with Talbot’s “curvy” line (online only), although they can be a bit pricey. I also buy a lot in Ann Taylor’s curvy fit, but NOT Loft (not curvy enough for me). I have good luck sometimes in the outlets getting a good price on those.

      Also, it’s fine to buy pants that aren’t perfect and get them tailored. They can bring in the waist for you for pants you need to size up for your curvy butt.

      Also, a more trouser-like style is going to be more forgiving with fluctuations in weight while also looking professional. Look for completely straight, wide legs–they will not look out of place if you lose a few pounds and the legs are a bit wider.

    28. Artemesia*

      Realize you will have to have them tailored and buy for fit in the butt and have the waists tailored. I wish I had discovered tailoring and how cost effective it actually is in my younger working days when my pants never ever really fit.

  34. Questionable Sales Practices*

    Every year our teapot supplier offers customer rebates for fancy tea pot sets. The marketing agreement clearly states it is illegal to charge the customer our portion of the rebate. However I am being told to include it in the system pricing which because of other factors I can’t do without all sales people knowing we are adding it. Any thoughts on how to convince the boss (owner) not to do this? They tend to be free and loose with rules.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think this is one of those situations where your best bet would be to push back as a group.

  35. Hurricane Wakeen*

    Embarrassing work moment: it turns out that last year, when I was struggling with some severe postpartum anxiety/depression, I got a 7.5% raise and FORGOT ABOUT IT. I changed jobs recently to what I thought was a small pay bump, but it turns out to be a pay cut.

    I’m super embarrassed and just feel bad about it all around. I don’t miss my coworkers at the old job at all, but I know my boss valued me and I wish I’d done a better job talking to him about the reasons I ended up job hunting. I also wish I’d done something to document the raise for myself, because he never sent me an email or otherwise gave me documentation of the raise. Poorly done on both our parts, but I’m pretty sure the blame mostly lies with me.

    Please tell me someone else has done something similarly dumb?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m not sure I understand. Did you get a raise and forget to include that when you were working out salary with your new job? Or are you now feeling guilty because you realize your company valued you and you jumped ship anyway? I don’t see any “blame” anywhere, but I think it’s because I’m having a hard time grasping where anyone went really wrong. Can you clarify a bit?

      1. Hurricane Wakeen*

        Yep, I completely forgot about the raise when I was evaluating other openings. So where I am now is paying me roughly $2k more than I’d been making up until summer of last year, but about $3k less than I was making post-raise. I didn’t negotiate the salary NewJob offered me because I thought it was perfectly fair based on my experience and what I was currently making.

        I’m frustrated I didn’t have written documentation of the raise, whether that was an email from my boss (which was his norm every other time), or my own record-keeping. I could have looked at my pay stubs and calculated it out, I suppose, but a letter with an annual dollar sum would have been nice.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          In that case… well, it sucks, but unfortunately I would chalk that up to one of those things and resolve to make a different decision next time. I mean, I get it– I once accepted a job and realized a few weeks later that I had given up a huge chunk of vacation time without even asking about it– but at this point, it’s done. For what it’s worth, at the company where I stayed the longest, I was promoted/given a raise three times and only got an email about one of them.

        2. Bea*

          You hopefully are somewhere who does salary increases regularly. I took a 3000 paycut when I left on purpose, i needed out and they have better benefits. 90 days in I was up to just a 1000 less. We also get bonuses here so I’ll be above at year end.

          I’m in accounting so I’m shocked that someone wouldn’t know exactly their salary or wages but given the somewhat small issue here, it shakes out to 1.50 less an hour, i hope you’ll find you enjoy the job and they have perks to help you get past this.

    2. Irene Adler*

      I had a co-worker once who freaked out when she opened her first paycheck.
      Seems she had no idea re: withholding and very quickly realized she could not live on the pay she received.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That reminds me of an acquaintance of mine who didn’t seem to realize that “freelance” meant he was responsible for his own taxes. When February rolled around, he had a big shock. I used to work for the same company and they are very clear about freelance/permanent, so I was a little surprised when he got so upset about it.

  36. Murphy*

    My primary job duties are managing llama wrangling and cat herding. I am the only person who does this. I used to provide support to committees doing somewhat related work, but that work was reassigned to someone else, not because of my performance. I didn’t want this work taken away, but I had no choice. This work was not replaced with anything else, and my workload is quite light some days. My boss has acted like he has no idea why this work was reassigned, but the manager of the person it was reassigned to told me it was because my boss didn’t want to manage that work, so it was taken away from me to get it off of his plate.

    There is a major llama wrangling project that involves one of those groups. When other manager and I discussed the handoff of these duties, we said that I was definitely going to keep this project. My boss asked me the other day if I was eventually going to handoff that project as well. I said no, and I think he was somewhat surprised. Literally my job is llama wrangling and cat herding. Why would I hand off one of our large llama wrangling projects? I’m scared he’s going to get someone to take this work from me too, and that eventually, it won’t end and I won’t have a job any more. It also may have been a one-off comment. Is this a thing I should discuss with him, or should I let it go?

    1. Jules the Third*

      You should have a conversation with him about a few things, because these are normal mgr / employee topics:
      1) Where does he see this position in a few years?
      2) Are there any duties that he would like you to pick up?
      3) Are there things you do that he would like to have *less* visibility to?

      1 & 2 are about finding and adding value to your job. 3 is about giving him less incentive to hand off tasks. If you’re doing them well, does he really need to ‘manage that work’?

      Aside from 1 monthly report / meeting, my boss only knows what I’m doing if I’ve got a failure. I tell him status in that 1x/month thing, but I take care of everything else in my area for him.

      1. Murphy*

        Thanks. We have evaluations coming up in the next month or two, so that might be a good time. I will say, I don’t think he’s particularly interested in being a manager, which might be part of the issue here.

        I’ve definitely done #2. And he’s just said “we should get you more involved in x” and then I never hear about it again. #3 is harder. He kept telling me that the work was being reassigned, and he didn’t know why. He was barely involved with it though, so I was surprised to hear (from someone else) that he didn’t want to deal with it. I don’t see how it caused any more work for him.

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          I’d be wary about what you heard from someone else. You don’t know how reliable that information is. It might not even be true or it might be construed from someone without all the information.

          If there are projects you enjoy working on and don’t want to lose, it is okay to tell him that. It’s also okay to decide if I lose X and Y, than I start looking for something where I can do X and Y.

  37. Holy Anon, Batman!*

    People who deal with parents as a part of their job: how do you do it? I provide services for one child as my job. I am paid by the state for providing said service, but the parents are my “boss” in that we informally figure out the schedule together, the parent decides what services are provided in each session, etc. And this parent is driving me up a wall! They micromanage me (to the point of nit-picking my wording when I’m chatting with the child, saying that I’m not “positive” enough), contact me at all hours expecting a response as soon as possible, not respecting my time by changing our already-set schedule 15 minutes before my shift is supposed to start, and generally treating me like a servant rather than a person who is providing a service that they cannot.

    I can’t quit until this fall, but this job isn’t one that is in line with my career goals so I can burn bridges once I can quit. Most of our conversations happen over text message. The parent has cried when I’ve pushed back on some of the demands and expectations. Can anyone give me tips, a pep-talk, or commiseration from folks who have to deal with parents as part of their jobs?

    1. Afiendishthingy*

      I was a clinician for home-based services for kids with special needs for 4 years. It was intense. Are you working through any agency where there’s a supervisor or clinical consultant above you? I’m guessing you are definitely not paid enough to deal with this shit.

      1. Holy Anon, Batman!*

        4 years?! Daaaamn. There’s no one supervising me or above me at all; it’s a weird set-up but there’s no supervision outside of the parents. I’m not paid enough to deal with it, you are 100% correct.

    2. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      I used to be a special education teacher in a very wealthy district, and I had a parent who clearly viewed me as one of her hired help. She would call every Monday morning with her list of things that she needed me to do every week. At that point I was young and inexperienced, so the best thing I came up with was to just let her leave her list on voicemail, and then get to whatever was actually a real concern.

      That said, do not let the tears dissuade you. Be very clear what you can and can not do with the parent. Stick to your rules – if you have them scheduled for a time, don’t change it. If they’re texting you at all hours, silence notifications from them. They are probably used to getting what they want if they are a big enough pain, so the key to getting them to back off is to not give in. Pleasantly but firmly reiterate what you’re able to do/not do for them. Just stay strong!

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        Yes, definitely limit your availability, too. My life really changed with the advent of email and even more with smart phones. I let parents know at the beginning of the year when my off periods are when I will be checking email and that I don’t check email after 6 pm ever. There are no academic emergencies in 8th grade.

      2. Artemesia*

        This. I would make the hours absolutely firm. You can start an hour later today, but you finish as usual at 5 or whatever it is. ‘I am sorry but my work hours are firm — I am available from 8 to 5 as per our contract.’ Then work on contact off hours. Ignore messages one weekend or a couple of days until you are on duty and then text back ” I don’t check work email or messages after X pm; please make a list of things you want to talk about so we can go over them when I arrive.” If they want you to do things that are not part of the job e.g. servant work, just indicate “I’m sorry but it isn’t possible for me to do housework (or whatever it is)”. Listen to feedback about the kid but do what you think it professionally important. Don’t get so wound up in their awfulness that you miss useful feedback. It is easy to slide into this blurring of boundaries in this type situation because of course you are fine with making him a sandwich today — and then suddenly cooking his meals becomes your job. Or you could be flexible tomorrow on timing and suddenly there is no respect for your time. when someone abuses flexibility, it is time to calmly resist. don’t argue — ‘That won’t be possible.’

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      Start drinking.

      No seriously: all parents, even the ones that make you crazy, even the ones that are clearly wrong, even the ones with addiction issues, abusive homes, far more money than sense and malignant neglect…are doing the best they can in the moment. You are helping them to care for and manage the most precious thing they have (even if they don’t know it.) I’ve spent over twenty years teaching gifted and special education students at both very wealthy, high-performing schools and very low-performing, low-income schools. I’ve dealt with a wide variety of demanding parents.

      – Clear boundaries. If she asks you to do something outside your purview and she cries, hand her a tissue. But don’t budge. You’re the professional.
      – Be clear in your expectations. You are allowed to have expectations! It’s not a one way street. Let her know what you expect of her and how you can work together to help her child. (If she doesn’t do it, that is on her and not on you.)
      – Accept that you cannot change the parent.
      – Remember it’s not forever. Because it’s not. It’s a season and you will able to take a lot of skills with you. Learn what you can, earn your paycheck, and move on when it’s time. Don’t believe the cultural trope that people who work with kids are some special angel-people who only do it because we love the children and we aren’t allowed to ask for money, a decent work environment, or have requests and expectations of our own. It’s okay to leave and be happy about it.
      – Get enough sleep, healthy food, and exercise. Critical to managing the stress.

      Good luck! I hope you find something new very soon!

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      No one is going to keep your boundaries for you except you. So… When they contact you at all hours, that doesn’t mean you should respond at all hours – decide on your “on the clock” time and keep it. When they attempt to change your schedule at the last minute (I assume they’re saying “don’t come this morning, come this afternoon instead” instead of “can you be here in 15 minutes”), tell them “I understand if you need to cancel today’s appointment, but I cannot schedule another on such short notice.” When they cry, keep in mind that it’s not your problem, and pretend it’s not happening (pretend they’d be embarrassed about crying and that you’re doing them a favor by “not noticing”).

    5. nonymous*

      I find that state/county subsidized payment to third party – be it child care, housing, etc – creates a strange triangle of finger pointing. What I have been told time and again is that the terms (details) of the arrangement are up to you and the client, as long as you don’t break any rules.

      Also in my state the subsidized rate is ridiculously low. Like $2.50/hr for a babysitter to come over, per kid. Even in the licensed centers it’s only max $5/hr. If you’re accepting below-market rates (unlicensed after-school care in my area runs ~$10/hr, and that’s where the carer has her own kids in the mix), consider that you may have more negotiation power than you think – they may not be able to find another carer of the same quality at whatever rate you’re getting.

      At the very least, stop discussing the details of the care services by text. It’s one thing to coordinate the start/stop times, but any details can be covered at the start of your shift. Can you plan on starting 10-15min earlier than the parents need to leave so there can be a handoff? Also try using a notebook to communicate the day. So you can record stuff like:
      “8 – 8:30 breakfast. 2oz of cereal with 2oz of milk. Ate everything.
      8:30 – 9:30 played with lincoln logs. Pictures sent to Parent1 & Parent2.
      9:30A BM in toilet. We worked on remembering to wash hands afterwards. Stool was well-formed.”

      And they should be writing notes to you re: care. Like “Timmy had a bad nightmare about puppies! He thinks the neighbor’s fluffybutt will attack him during tomorrow’s walk”

      While this won’t help with scheduling or outrageous demands, it can reduce the emotion and inappropriate texting. With the notebook in place, just redirect them to write in that for non-scheduling needs. It also gives you a nice trail to push back going forward “Timmy wasn’t able to paint after lunch yesterday because he didn’t wake up from nap until 3P [point at notebook]. Do you want me to wake him up after 1hr of napping in the future? [write parent’s response in notebook]”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This is where it is really handy to know the exact description of the services you are supposed to provide.

      “Mom, I am supposed to provide a supportive assistance. My agency does not offer the level of word choice you desire as a service. That is not what we do here. In my role here, I do A, B and C, which is supportive to the child.”

      If you can, “Mom, I would prefer you did not correct my word choice in front of your child. It sends a confusing signal to the child.”

      Changes in schedule: “Out of necessity, I must start to follow a standard where all changes in schedule must be made 24 hours (or whatever time makes sense) in advance. Unfortunately, I am not able to accommodate repeated schedule changes unless there is a very unusual emergency.”

      Hours of contact. “Dad, here are my hours of availability for contacting me regarding your child.”

      Remember that if they are treating you like a servant it is probably because their lives are a mess without you. Typically, we tend to think “oh that person is bossing me around and being a pompous jerk” but reality is that there could be a whole bunch of fear going on there. They could be afraid that they will lose you.
      What this means for you is do not be afraid to set your boundaries, they will probably follow along.

    7. Double A*

      Dealing with parents is why I moved from teaching at a private school to a juvenile detention facility. (I kid, it’s mostly that I love working with tough populations, but I am not joking that having way less involved parents is actually a perk of my current job. It’s also probably the reason my current job exists, but still). So there’s me commiserating about parents.

      Some people have made some really great suggestions about boundaries! I would suggest that you stop texting with the parent and move to email, which will make it easier to enforce those boundaries. Text messaging tends to imply a quick response; email you can set up a respond-within-X-hours expectations. Or, if you can’t do that with this parent, do it moving forward with future clients. I assume you are not getting paid for time outside of your sessions, so you could frame it as a compensation issue, or an agency-rules issue about when you are allowed to respond to correspondence or scheduling requests, if you agency does have any rules like that.

    8. Alianora*

      I recently started a job in operations for a very prestigious institute that provides academic summer programs. We’re in the thick of admissions now, so I’ve been handling a lot of phone calls and emails from parents. I don’t have an ongoing relationship with one student or one parent, but I’ve found these things useful:

      – A very clear concept of what we can and can’t do.
      – Not taking rude remarks personally. People can get intense when it comes to their children.
      – Ability to blacklist a student for awful behavior.
      – Keeping email answers short. Polite, yes, but very matter-of-fact and strictly informative. I like using the phrasing, “Unfortunately, I am not able to ___.” I can point to policy if needed, but over-explaining invites argument.

      Some things I would want to try in your position:

      – Being upfront about the hours you’ll be able to reply to their texts, and sticking to it.
      – Setting expectation about last-minute schedule changes — maybe requiring 24-hour notice.
      – Being polite but emotionally uninvolved. Let them cry, don’t be mean, but also don’t compromise your boundaries because they’re crying.

  38. Afiendishthingy*

    Any advice for maintaining your sanity on a short term contract job? I recently left a job where I was totally burnt out and I’m now covering a maternity leave (March to mid-August). I’m a licensed professional working at a private school and it’s crazy dysfunctional, turf wars and weird rivalries everywhere, my overbearing peer won’t stop trying to manage and undermine me. On the one hand, I’m a temp, ignore the drama and do my job, take notes for a novel I’ll never write. On the other hand, I’m pretty sensitive and have a hard time not being affected by other people’s negative energy. Thoughts, commiseration?

    1. zora*

      Two things that worked for me
      – Since you know it’s short term, focus on the end date. Even if you don’t have a lot of extra money, schedule a treat for yourself for the week after your end date. When I was on political campaigns, it was a trick lots of people used to buy a plane ticket to somewhere awesome for mid-November. Then when you are having an awful moment and don’t think you can take this for one more second, think about your awesome trip and that first day of lying on the beach (or whatever) and somehow it’s a little easier to get back to it.

      – Visualizations. I also am affected by energy around me, I developed this visualization with a therapist where I imagine myself as a strong tree, and then my thick layer of bark, and then imagine all of the crap around me bouncing off that bark. You can search online for other ones. Then when things are crazy, find 2 minutes during your day where you can close a door/go to your car, etc, and do your visualization. Look for meditations and visualizations.

      Also, if you are able or can afford it, try to schedule a couple of sessions with a therapist? They are great at helping develop tools for things like this.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Like I said above, I’m seeing more and more reports about the effectiveness of gratitude.

      Think of 3 things you like about the job.
      When you run across drama / teachers being bad – think of one of those three things. Like ‘I’ll be gone in x months, and you will still be stuck here’

    3. Traveling Teacher*

      For your notes, pretend that your coworkers are all an alien species and study them as such. :) It might even help you to notice a few patterns of behavior that could make your job easier?

      Seriously, though, I’m sorry that you’re going through this!

  39. MissGirl*

    When has a wrong assumption you made in the workplace hurt you or held you back? For instance not applying because you don’t think you’re qualified. Not asking a manager for a specific project because you don’t think it’s allowed.

    For instance I’m not actively job hunting but there’s a few companies I check out now and then. A few weeks ago I found two postings I was really interested in. One had been up for a month, the other almost four months. I figured it was too late to apply for either but hurriedly sent a resume to the latest one and didn’t bother with the four month. Never expected to hear back.

    A week later, I get a call asking me to interview and the recruiter asked if I’d be interested in interviewing for the second one as well.

    I then call a friend who’s actively searching to see if she’d applied at that company because it’s growing so fast. She said no because she’d heard it was really hard to get an interview unless you knew someone.

    Both of us walked away from what could be good opportunities based on false assumptions.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Seen it in others; not advocating for themselves with internal promotions. When a position opened up above me, I had to go to my boss and ask to be considered – then I presented a resume and made my case. So scary but I got that promotion. Most of my coworkers are resentful at not being chosen to be promoted but they never actually asked for it – they didn’t know that’s a thing.

      1. MissGirl*

        Good for you. I know a lot of us start the work world think promotions are given not sought.

    2. Not So Super-visor*

      Ugh… I remember at my first job out of college. I kept trying to advance but there was really no room. I was doing well and well thought of by higher-ups though. They announced an “Emerging Leaders” program, and I was really excited about it. I went to talk to my manager who was new to her manager role. She told me that I wasn’t eligible for the program because I wasn’t currently in a leadership role. That sound off and contrary to how the program was announced to the group, but I didn’t pursue it further even though i had a good rapport with the program’s leader. After they announced who was chosen for the group, the program leader came to talk to me. She said that she was surprised that I hadn’t applied as they had designed the program with me in mind. FACE PALM!!

      1. Nieve*

        Hope you told them why that happened and hope they had a word with your manager! What a frustrating situation

    3. Malibu Stacey*

      1) That just because something isn’t strictly forbidden doesn’t mean it’s okay. I had worked cashier/retail jobs where everything you could not do was spelled out. When I started my first office job, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with things like having long personal phone conversations with my friends, drinking too much at company events, or aligning myself with coworkers who were really fun but didn’t have great professional reputations.

    4. Anxa*

      Oh my goodness.

      There was soooo many jobs out of college I didn’t apply for because “1+ years expereience in ()* was a listed REQUIREMENT and I had internalized so much defensiveness about being an entitled millennial who doesn’t want to pay their dues and is too conceited or too brazen or too whatever.

      This meant I could go weeks without seeing an opening I was qualified for.

  40. Audiophile*

    Anyone else get an email from Random House yesterday?

    I did, actually it looks like I got 2 emails, but that may be an email issue.

    1. fposte*

      I think you’re referring to something specific but I don’t know what it is. Care to share? (I get email from Random House all the time but it’s probably not the email you’re talking about.)

          1. Lore*

            As a member of Team Random House, I can say we are all delighted to hear that (and it’s been a pleasure for me as well).

      1. Audiophile*

        Hah, yes there was supposed to be more text in that post, but I hit submit too soon. Oops!

        Yes, I was referring to Alison’s book.

    2. IrishSurprise*

      About the ARC giveaway? Yep, I got one last night. I never win anything, so I thought it must be spam at first.

  41. MCL*

    Just a little eyeroll to get this out of my system. I was given the silent treatment by a normally friendly staff member this morning, which I noticed because it’s a little unlike her to not say hi to me. It turns out I offended her yesterday because she was looking to deliver an envelope to Jane Smith who does not work in this building, but has taught for our department in the past. She was loudly saying, “Who’s Jane Smith? I’ve never heard of Jane Smith!” while my other colleague and I were saying “Jane Smith has taught for us!” Somehow we just weren’t being heard (she just kept asking who Jane Smith was as we said who she was multiple times), and we just kept raising the volume of our voices because she literally somehow just wasn’t grokking that we were talking to her even though we were specifically answering her direct question. So now she thinks we were yelling at her. And her reaction is to stew about it. I had not even remembered it from yesterday. I’m just so annoyed that instead of saying something like, “Hey, I wish that you hadn’t said that so loud!” (Even though my normal reaction to someone not initially seeming to hear me is to speak louder), she is now just making comments about how I yelled at her and is currently giving me the silent treatment. I’m normally a super polite and easy going person, so I’m bothered. But I’m also exasperated because I was not yelling at this woman and she is handling this childishly.

    On the other hand, the silent treatment is somewhat a blessing because this particular person, while very friendly, is extremely gossipy and will occasionally set up camp and chat for upwards of 30 minutes, so I try to engage with her very seldomly.

    1. JobinPolitics*

      MCL, ouch, I’m sorry to learn your colleague is choosing to be immature and thin skinned about a minor miscommunication. I would attempt to smooth things over before it balloons into something larger but maybe with a few days out of the office it will blow over on its own.

      It’s truly unfortunate when adults resort to behaving like children rather than communicate their hurt feelings. May the situation resolve itself quickly and the silent treatment come to an end without management getting involved.

      Happy Friday!

      1. MCL*

        Thanks! It’s a bummer because I’m a people pleaser and I really hate the idea of someone being offended by something I did. On the other hand, I don’t think I did anything wrong and I don’t feel that I have to apologize. I think I’ll just keep on being my friendly self and hope we’re back to normal next week.

        This particular person does have a bit of a reputation for overblown reactions to minor things, so at least the rest of my colleagues here are sort of eye-rolling in sympathy.

    2. Double A*

      Oh man, I would just take the gift of a chatterer giving me the silent treatment. I love when people think they’re punishing you but really they’re making your life better.

      It’s possible that she thought you were being condescending to her– maybe she didn’t remember Jane Smith, so this issue wasn’t hearing you, it was that she didn’t know who you were talking about, so saying it louder just came off as rude. She’s clearly reacting immaturely to a miscommunication, but it does sound like you might have had a role in it, so it’s always gracious to apologize for your role in a problem.

      If it’s hasn’t blown over on Monday, maybe have a brief chat with her, but otherwise just enjoy your quiet Friday.

      1. MCL*

        Her: “Who is Jane Smith?!? I’ve never heard of her! Who the heck is Jane Smith?”
        Me: “Jane Smith taught for us!”
        Rinse, repeat, with volume increasing. I was literally standing 6 feet away from her, so I genuinely thought she just didn’t hear me while I was directly and clearly answering her actual question. I think the problem was she wasn’t pausing between her questions to actually listen and catch on that I was answering her question. It was kind of baffling, and once I finally got her attention I explained that the letter was misdelivered and went about my day. I actually tend to over-apologize even when I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m really trying to break that habit, so I’m trying to just remain pleasant to her and conscientiously not apologize at all.

  42. Farther and Happier*

    Interviewing for a job that is out of the city I live. The biggest concern for me is this. How do I tell if the people interviewing me have a problem with LGBT people. I ask b’c I am gay and the city I currently work in has protections for me while the state I live in does not. If I leave my current job (which also has LGBT protections in their bylaws) and work outside the city- state law would be fine with me being fired with no recourse.

    How does one ask an interviewer if they are anti LGBT without sounding like a jerk about it? Basically I don’t want to lose the protections I do have now. My state isn’t planning on changing the law anytime soon. And I know I need to be pro-active about protecting myself.

    1. Farther and Happier*

      And just to be clear, I would not be moving. I would just be reverse commuting. I would be driving out of the city for this job. I wouldn’t be relocating for this job.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      I think you can slip in something like “my wife and I are looking to move to Lansing” or whatever and see the reaction. Or if they’re bigoted they probably just won’t hire you. Since you are in the position where you don’t want the job if they’re bigoted (as opposed to desperately needing a job and just hoping this doesn’t keep you from being hired) you might as well put it out there first.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Yeah, but I think a significant other could be invented for this purpose. Perhaps a less “permanent” term like girlfriend, even though it is problematic, could be used.

    3. Dinosaur*

      I wonder if you can crouch it by asking about workplace diversity. This is clunky but maybe you could frame it by asking something like “It’s important to me that I work for an organization that values and promotes diversity around race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and educational background. Does Company XYZ have policies in place to support a diverse workplace?”

      1. selina kyle*

        Oh I think this is good! It doesn’t force anybody to out themselves but it poses the question.

    4. Minerva McGonagall*

      Last time it was an issue for me, I waited until I had an offer, and then asked point blank about domestic partner benefits. If they (Manager and / or HR) had looked particularly uncomfortable, that would have been my answer.

    5. selina kyle*

      Hmmm this is tough. I think that you could google around about the company if it’s very big? I’d love someone to have a more firm answer.

    6. MissGirl*

      Go through LinkedIn and look for contacts who work there or know someone they can introduce you to. Most people are willing to answer questions when they realize you’re not using them as in to the company. It can be hard from the outside to really understand a company culture. I would do this even without the LGBT question.

      Side note, I work at a company that appears very conservative from the outside and is in a very conservative area, yet two of my bosses are LGBT. They are comfortable speaking about their partners. We also have a higher ratio of women and minorities than average.

      I also know people who work at tech companies who pride themselves on diversity, yet it’s a huge bro culture.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      Well, this is actually more complicated than most people realize. If you’re married, you can often get protections under the non-discrimination gender laws i.e they can’t fire you if you are a woman, because you are married to a woman, because that’s gender discrimination.

      However, if you aren’t married, than this becomes a bigger issue as there is no legal protection for sexual orientation on the federal level. I would get the vibe of the place as best as you can and after you get an offer, see if they have a handbook or something you can have a copy of. Does it cover discrimination and harassment and how does it do so?

      I keep trying to think of a way to ask this in an interview and I am drawing a blank. One option might be to flat out just ask, “Can you tell me about your diversity philosophy?” And see what comes out.

  43. MechanicalPencil*

    I have a weird situation. Or… I’m not sure. I’m perplexed.

    My job title per my job description is something like Teapot Designer. On our HR site, my job title is along the lines of Teapot Design Analyst. In actuality, my job is more like something else entirely, but that’s a whole other story. Is this normal? I don’t exactly have a frame of reference for this.

    1. NaoNao*

      Yep, totally normal.
      My “real” job is Instructional Designer, a very common title. My HR job title is a) part of HR (!! the umbrella org Training is under) and b) “Senior Manager, Training Design”.
      I’m not actually managing anyone, but it’s a designation that our company uses for non-union “enterprise/executive” employees.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Totally normal.

      My official job title is ‘Business Analyst’. I’ve been procurement for a decade.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Some companies are like that. I’m currently listed as a “Program Manager,” but I don’t manage any programs.
      The real-world job is Communications Manager. I’ve always equated ‘program manager’ with nonprofits, and that’s definitely not what I do.

  44. Anon for Possible Wage Discrimination*

    I posted last week but didn’t get many responses (although I’ve taken the one I did to heart: thanks, Millenial Lawyer! I’m chatting with a friend who is an employment lawyer to get her thoughts).

    Here’s a (slightly edited, to clear up some confusion) repost from last week’s open thread:

    I’m wondering whether I should say or do anything about some discrepancies I’ve observed in title and salary between men and women at my organization.

    tl;dr: Men are classified one or two levels above women with the same or very similar jobs, which results in a ~20% pay discrepancy. But it’s a super small sample, so I’m not sure it’s actually a pattern.

    Context: My organization recently reviewed and revised the standards for determining what level someone would be (size of budgets, number of programs managed, number of reports, years of experience, etc.), but there isn’t any consistency between those standards and titles people have. The two male program managers in my area have “Senior Director” titles and the four female program managers (including me) have “Manager,” “Director,” or other titles, even though some of the women outpace the men who are categorized as Senior Directors in terms of the metrics (budget, number of reports, etc.).

    I manage a