open thread – April 27-28, 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.

{ 1,824 comments… read them below }

  1. DCG*

    So, I got fired from my last position of one year and am finding it difficult to fill in that section on my resume with accomplishments. The firing was fair, they treated me well, and it really just wasn’t the right fit. Would using the verbiage “directed research into X, Y, and Z” imply that one supervised others, or independently pursued a project that the higher-ups later agreed was good to do? Because neither of those things are quite accurate in my case. I “conducted research” with lots of independence, but it wasn’t as though my bosses weren’t involved in its direction. But “conducted research” sounds like a description of job duty rather than an accomplishment.

    1. ZSD*

      How about using “Research” as a verb?
      “Researched history of teapot design, accessing x, y, and z databases and reviewing 50+ journal articles.”
      “Summarized findings in a variety of formats for different audiences: wrote in-depth 30-page report for experts; highlighted important findings in one-page executive summary for decision-makers; designed graphic poster for use with clients in teapot clinics.”

    2. fposte*

      Sorry about the firing. What’s the field, and what do you mean by “research”? Could “initiated” get you there?

      1. DCG*

        Thanks fposte. “Initiated” would be inaccurate, I think, because my position was “researcher,” doing specifically economic research. I am not looking for another economic research position, but a research- and writing-based position in a nonprofit.

        1. fposte*

          I think it could still be useful if you’re differentiating areas you were tasked with researching from areas you yourself initiated (see what I did there :-)?) research into. You could also go with “originate” or “develop.”

    3. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      Directed does sound like leading.

      For the research bit what was the outcome? If you researched lama shears for example you could say “collaborated with staff and management to research new shearing techniques which lead to 30% increased in efficiency and 20% fewer nicks. “

    4. DQ*

      Try using “research” as the verb? “Researched solutions for X which resulted in project proposal Y that turned into project Z.”

        1. LibbyG*

          Economics researcher? Maybe something like “produced rigorous quantitative analyses to support decision-making in X, Y, X.” Or conducted X-type of analyses to inform [something]? Something that highlights your skill in communicating research findings to a varied audience?

    5. lulu*

      Just put “researched”. “Directed research” is not more accomplishment focused, it would just be inaccurate in your case. You shouldn’t expect to have stellar accomplishments for a job you were fired from, so I think it’s ok to be more descriptive. Of course if there were some good results that came from your research, do include it.

    6. Jemima Bond*

      You could make it sound like more of an achievement by saying “completed research into” or even “completed research project(s) relating to/analysing costings of outsourcing llama cuddling” etc.

    7. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

      I may be coming at this too much via the grad school angle, since that’s my experience, but I’d say something like “Conceived, designed, and carried out research projects on X with methodology Y.” That makes it clear that the research questions were mine, rather than coming down from on high.

    8. Ben There*

      Sorry you lost your job. It sounds like ‘directed’ is flat out inaccurate. I like ‘researched’ X,Y and Z, but you need to add the achievement part. To me that would be reflected in either the scope of the research project (economic impact of XYandZ over 15 years across 24 states) or the outcome of the research. Since you were only on the project for a year, there may not be a lot of measurable outcomes of the research yet, but could it be “as part of a 5 year study of ABC for the XYZ industry”? If as part of your work you established methodology, or documented anything (protocol/results/etc), or maintained a database those would be part of what you achieved. How you conducted the research could also be relevant: did you conduct in-person interviews? Were you accessing multiple historical records or databases? Collecting historical economic indicators? Lastly, did you write about/publish/present or otherwise document your work? Best of luck to you on your search!

  2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    So I had my second interview Monday afternoon. Met with the hiring manager….and FOUR other people. It was super intimidating to walk into a room and have five people sitting across from you asking you questions. (Honestly, you should warn a person.)

    Luckily, I’m good on my feet so it didn’t rattle me. I remember having ‘Holy shii-” pass through my head before immediately cutting myself off and settling down. Sitting on the chair, and setting my purse on the ground is my cue for my brain to switch into interview mode.

    I think I did alright. I answered their questions as well as I was able. At one point they were more interested in what my company does (to the point they apologized and acknowledged they were fascinated). There was some smiling and laughing, so if nothing else our personalities meshed. The hiring manager told me I’d hear back from HR really quickly…..so I either totally whiffed it or did really well.

    Onto the Hurry-Up-And-Wait Game!

      1. geographic*

        Good luck! I had a four-person committee interview a few weeks ago. The person who scheduled it did not give me a heads up that I was going to be meeting with a committee. It was fine and it sounds like you probably did fine, too. Glad you felt able to handle your surprise committee interview.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          We always end up doing these big ol’ group interviews here. Personally, I don’t think it’s a great idea, but I’m not in charge of the process. I do think people are told ahead of time that there will be approximately X people there (it’s usually 4-5, but we’ve had as many as 8, for cryin’ out loud!), but I still think it’s needlessly intimidating and truly not necessary.

    1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      That happened to me at one of my previous jobs. I was nervous enough because it was my first time interviewing out of state. The hiring manager met me at the airport and drove me to the office, then led me to a conference room. We chatted the whole way and he never indicated that I’d be doing a panel interview. When he opened the door to the conference room their were 11 people (!!!) sitting at a huge table and I nearly wet myself. I must have pulled it off as they offered me the job a few days later, but holy crap do I wish I’d had a heads up.

      Good for you for doing so well under pressure, and I hope you get good news soon!

      1. dillydally*

        Ha. If I walk into a conference to find 11 people waiting for me, there’d better be a cake !

    2. Curious Cat*

      I love hearing these updates from you each week! Good luck on it all, I’m sure you killed it.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Awwww – thank you! I’m actually NOT talking about my job search with my friends and family much. Takes the pressure off and I interview much better without that mental weight hanging around. So this is where I get it all out.

    3. Emily S.*

      Go you! Must be a relief. Sending good vibes.

      Good luck – I’m sure you know this, but staying occupied with other things can help keep the anxiety/worries at bay. Exercise, practice your hobbies, and try to stay positive, no matter what may happen.

      (I realize that’s so much easier said than done, but still, this is the advice I’d tell myself to help stay calm and cool about it.)

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Oh, I know. Anxiety and I are close, personal buddies.

        I did schedule an eyelash lift and tint for myself tomorrow. Figured if I did well, it’s a celebration. If I screwed up, it was something to look forward to! It’s also a way to redirect my anxiousness to something positive.

    4. Liz*

      When I was about 25, I interviewed for a part time receptionist position at a doctor’s office. We were living in England at the time. When the hiring manger opened the door to the interview room, it was the main conference room and all 10 doctors were seated around the table – all men, all in their fancy white doctor coats. They pretty quickly started grilling me on the US and medical practice in the US. I think they were just really, really curious about how we did things in the US. I felt like a study subject. I did not get the job. They tried to dissuade me with the low pay but I was relentlessly perky about it (I just wanted to get out of the house) and in the end they had to tell me I was too upper class for the position and all the “girls” would have to defer to me but I would be the lowest position and I should defer to them but it would cause chaos in the office.

  3. ZSD*

    Are there job boards or list serves it’s particularly good to visit/subscribe to for mid-level advocacy jobs? (I’m looking in the DC area, if it matters.) I’m on the Jobs that are Left listserv, but that seems to be mostly entry-level. Thanks!

    1. Amy Gardner*

      Wellstone Action, District Daybook, Democratic Gain. Emily’s List and Feminist Majority Foundation both have regularly emailed job banks. Senate employment bulletin and House emailed employment bulletin.

      1. Fishsticks*

        This one does cost money though! It’s about 5 bucks a month I think, but has so many jobs posted in the DC area it was worth it.

        1. Denise*

          It costs a bit but if you’re looking in DC, it’s the best resource. That, and Tom Manatose jobs.

    2. rldk*

      If you’re a woman, the Women’s Information Network (WIN) has both great networking and a great jobs roundup, but it does have a membership fee

      1. Grayson*

        I just joined the Women In International Security group, which I hope will be helpful but also has a fee. *sigh*

        1. ArtsNerd*

          CNAS has a job opening for a Program Director and Senior Fellow for its Defense program, FYI. Link in my username. (A friend just shared it on FB. I have no insider knowledge.)

      2. Legal Beagle*

        Yes, WIN is awesome! I would add that it’s specifically for pro-choice Dem women, and the jobs posted are in line with that.

    3. TheAssistant*

      In addition to everything mentioned above, I like DC Public Affairs + Communications Jobs blog. It casts a much wider net than its name implies, and often does thematic roundups (like Advocacy Day, or whatever). I found two of three of my DC-based jobs there.

      Link in a reply.

    4. Legal Beagle*

      I’m not sure if they have a job board, but Women in Government Relations is a good org to get involved with for networking and professional development. (Fair warning: it’s expensive. Targeted to for-profit lobbyists.)

      1. Legal Beagle*

        If you’re a woman, obviously. I realized I was assuming because someone else mentioned WIN!

    5. CG*

      Others already covered most of what I would say, but I would add that if there’s a specific topic that you focus on, there’s probably a professional group or two in DC that has good networking, events, and maybe a jobs list. My field is two fields smashed together (llama designed teapots), and DC has a DC llama designers group, a young professionals in llama design group, a whole bunch of DC teapots groups, a Women in llama design group, an informal lunch group on teapots, a Women in teapots happy hour group, and a teapots network. They all have events, Facebook pages, listservs, and job postings. (I’m lucky!)

      1. ArtsNerd*

        I’m part of so many professional FB groups and they are so helpful. I’m not going to happy hours but I AM mindlessly scrolling through FB so I might as well get some professional development out of it.

    6. Joanne*

      Indeed and Monster might be good places to look. Although they do more entry level positions, you might be able to find some mid-level positions as well.
      Also, Washington Post Jobs and LinkedIn are good places to start looking as well.

  4. remote job hopeful*

    For remote positions, does the employer usually provide equipment (computer, printer, etc) or cover the cost, or is it the employee’s responsibility? I’m in the running for a 100% remote position but do not have an adequate home computer set-up. The job seems like a great fit and I’m very excited about it, but with my budget there is no way I would be able to purchase a new computer myself at this time. The job listing did not say that having a computer was a requirement, but I know that doesn’t confirm anything. I plan to ask about this in the offer stage when discussing salary and such, would that be the appropriate time? And if they do expect me to have my own, is this something I could push back on?

    1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      The employer supplied my phone because it had to work with their phone system.
      I supplied my computer but I also suddenly got a $2,000 “bonus”.
      I supplied my internet connection (which I already had).

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      My company hires people for fully remote positions and does provide computers. I’m not sure that a printer comes with the job, just because by and large our work does not really require any actual paperwork, but laptops, any peripherals, docks, that stuff, yes.

    3. NewWorkingMama*

      It might be company dependent but for my current company (and others I’ve worked for) the company would pay for office items you needed regardless of if you were in the office or not. This is for a full time and remote position (as opposed to part-time). It’s usually spelled out in the expense section or the employee handbook, but I know they will basically supply whatever they’d give you in the office and sometimes will cover part of the utilities for internet.

    4. Soz*

      I would wait till the offer – it’s sort of a benefit (even if it’s a one which in office employees get automatically)

    5. SpaceNovice*

      I could see it depending on the type of company. Companies that are at all worried about security or expect you to be able to access company resources will give you a computer. They don’t want random computers VPNing into their network, and a lot of resources are restricted to only working on VPN (timecards, benefits, intranet sites). It basically depends on if they have a good basic IT security policy or not. (Also money, sometimes.)

    6. DataQueen*

      I got a laptop, printer, blank CDs, and filing cabinet (lol – never used the last 2) sent to me for my remote job. They never even asked what i needed – just “where should we send your stuff.” Most (i think) professional companies would prefer to give you a company issued laptop, or at least, wouldn’t expect BYO. My organization hates BYO because it’s so much easier to manage corporate devices.

      Cellphones are tricky – I had a corporate issued cell phone separate from my personal one, and some companies subsidize your existing bill. But my current company says “hey, you’d have that phone anyway, everyone has unlimited minutes now, and if you insist on not using your cell, you can use skype for business for everything,” which i think is very reasonable and totally fine. They do have a 18% verizon discount they offer us, and i have that applied to my bill.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the details at the offer phase – just say “what will be provided for the home-office set-up?” and then don’t push back then – if you have to buy a computer, use it to squeeze an extra grand out of your salary negotiations, or a little bit more for relocation, sign-on bonus etc.

      1. DataQueen*

        And to clarify – i think using it as a negotiation factor is much better than them saying “you’ll need your own computer” and you saying “I’ll need a stipend for that.” It’s like if they said “the office is business attire” and you say “I’ll need an Ann Taylor gift card then, as i don’t have business clothes”. I’m probably overthinking it though, and it might be totally reasonable, but i think you’d actually get more if you fold it into overall negotiations.

      2. DD*

        OMG, if I got sent a filing cabinet, I’d be in major trouble! I have absolutely no place to put one in my tiny apartment, lol.

    7. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      The company should specify what they provide and what you’re expected to provide. If they don’t proactively, definitely ask about it at the offer stage. If they have multiple interviews, you can ask about it in one of the interviews too.

      I’m 100% remote and they provide computer (laptop and will send you an extra monitor if you want a 2-screen set-up), mouse, desk phone, and headset (I do a lot of phone work).
      I provide my own internet connection.
      They do not provide a printer, but I’m also not required to keep paper records of anything, and I rarely print anything, so it’s not a big deal.

      Hope that helps!

    8. Q*

      It depends on the company I think. When OldJob wanted me to be set up to work remotely, it was expected that I would download their connection requirements onto my personal computer or laptop. But at my sister’s job the company provided everything they would need to work remotely.

    9. The Person from the Resume*

      You need to ask because each company may have different policies. You can choose to wait until you get the offer if you wish.

      My organization provides a laptop, docking station, and keyboard. That’s it. It allows them to completely control the software, configuration and security. I need to provide everything else including internet, phone line, phone, and monitor (in addition to the laptop screen).

      My friend has company provided internet but she can only use it for work so she also has to pay for a separate personal internet.

    10. KR*

      I work in a remote office but as far as my company goes I’m a remote worker. They supplied me with my laptop, dock, peripherals, printer, monitors, and a tablet. I also have an option for a company cell phone or a reimbursement for using my phone.

    11. Nita*

      Not in my office, but IT does provide tech support for the laptop you have. They do reimburse for cell phone use, whether for remote positions or for people who just need to be out of the office at meetings/field visits a lot.

    12. nep*

      I’ve seen ads that lay that out — what the employer will furnish and what the employee must provide. In my view, asking during the offer stage would be good; that’s the time you’re finding out whether the conditions suit you and meet your needs.

    13. It’s All Good*

      I’ve worked about 5-6 remote positions, both W-2 and 1099 and they have provided everything you would use if you were in house, including the laptop. One W-2 sent me a desk! (That I had to put together!) I hope it works out for you.

    14. De Minimis*

      My employer provides everything, and covers at least a portion of home internet/cell phone expenses each month.

    15. rubyrose*

      At my company, they provide the laptop, sometimes a docking station, and upon request one external monitor.

      A company with any type of security will insist on the computer having their own software installed the meets their standards and locks down any functions they don’t want you doing (aka the computer image). They are only going to install that on their machine.

      The printer is on me, but it is not really needed for what I do.

    16. Red Reader*

      We are provided a computer, two monitors, keyboard, mouse and headset. We are actually not permitted to connect a printer to our computers if not onsite (paperless office plus patient data equals don’t print stuff at home).

    17. Scott*

      It’s weird to me to not receive something company issued, mostly because the cost of hardware is so little in comparison with other costs, but I could see some start up or smaller companies doing that. Consider that if they don’t cover it, they should at least at least pay for the software licenses, such as MS Office Suite, and any special software required. Also, there’s certain rules, and it’s state/province/country dependant, but you can usually claim a tax credit for it as office supplies.

      1. Foxy Hedgehog*

        Security, too. The company is going to want their own firewall / security / monitoring software installed on the laptop, plus as you mention any specific software that they use. If they don’t provide a laptop to full-time remote employees, I would worry about many other things about the company.

        All (4) of my remote jobs provided computer and printer/scanner/fax (back when faxing was a thing). Some were generous and provided a phone and a budget for setting up the office, others provided none of those things.

    18. nonymous*

      Husband and I both work for large orgs which expect remote work and they basic computer supplies (monitors/dock/laptop/keyboards, etc). If I want anything more than basic, I have to supply it but husband’s company lets them order additional peripherals, within reason, with reimbursement. In my peer group the only people who bring their own laptops to do work are those paid on contract.

    19. Ed*

      My company will provide your laptop, a monitor screen and everything else is your responsibility.

    20. Gatomon*

      It depends on the company and probably the nature of the work. I know of companies that provide a VOIP desk phone, enterprise-grade router (to manage the VPN back to the home office), laptop, etc. I’ve even run across companies that ordered separate home internet service in their own name for the address so the employee never had a bill. Some just expect you to use your own gear and meet certain security requirements.

      My personal feeling is that if you’re a W-2 employee and your company cares about security, they should provide and manage the equipment for you. But that isn’t always the case, for many reasons.

      I think offer stage would be the perfect time to discuss what they will provide and what you’ll need to provide. If they reimburse you for expenses find out how much they actually pay and what documentation, if any, you need.

    21. Searching*

      My company provided everything and also paid for the internet connection. I could have had a completely empty room, and they would have supplied everything except the decorations. I only bought my own desk because the ones they supplied were so ugly. After I was laid off, I had to send back the computer, phones, printer, etc. (at their expense), but was allowed to keep the ginormous filing cabinets because it would have cost them more to send some very strong people to haul them away than it did to let me keep them.

    22. Hamburke*

      It will depend on your employer and type of employment (employee or subcontractor) that is set up. I would not expect it for a 1099 subcontracted job as providing equipment might invalidate that setup (there are rules that guide what is and what isn’t 1099 reguardless of what the employer says) but I would expect it for a full employee (W2) but check with them.

    23. Wintermute*

      In my experience employer provides a laptop, because they want a computer that is only a work computer, they want remote admin rights, they want to install web monitoring and their antivirus, they want it under the auspices of their I.T. department, they want it to be running their standard ghost image with no unauthorized software installs, etc.

      I’m sure some places will try to cheap out and have employees use their own computers but for a great number of reasons that’s a terrible, terrible idea and I would strongly question the professionalism of any company that does it, on both sides: Either they feel they have the right to demand you turn over personal property to their full control and monitoring, or they are allowing untrusted and unsecured computers onto their network.

    24. Sam Foster*

      The company you work for should have a clearly documented policy that covers equipment, data protection, and other expectations. If they don’t, be very careful about what you’ll end up holding the bag on.

  5. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

    Anyone else find themselves as “unofficial leaders”?

    I do and I’m tired of it. I’d like to know why it keeps happening so any tips are much appreciated! If you have been in this role yourself or groomed a direct report for leadership I would like to know more about what led to that decision and/or how you handled it.

    Examples of being an “Unofficial leader” I am involved in hiring, budgeting, layoff, and compensation decisions. I am punished if I become to friendly with any of my coworkers. Expected to be a change champion. Expected to monitor staffs responses to new initiatives. But I get no benefits of management (e.g. pay, benefits, flexibility, etc.). I thought I was being “groomed” for leadership but many roles have come and gone in my current department that were given to others with 0 leadership experience because they have 1 hard skill I don’t have and never will (think banking having a teller background and I’m someone who came in as a senior analyst).

    1. fposte*

      I think that unofficial team lead isn’t an uncommon thing, but you also don’t have to do it–you can suggest other people who’d be better, or note that you won’t be able to get to the thing in time with your other tasks. Overall, though, it sounds like you might have hit a ceiling in that workplace, and it might be time to look elsewhere if you want to move up.

      1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

        Ugh so this is common? It’s happened to me at every org I have ever worked at. I have tried backing out of it but usually I get “but you are so good!” blah blah blah.

        1. Bea W*

          Oh gawd! Same! I tried backing down a bit once after a couple of broken promises over a promotion I was supposed to get after taking on all these extra responsibilities, and my boss just used that against me. I seem damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

          1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

            Aww. You are one of the commenters I always look to for sage advice. Sorry to hear you are struggling too.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I would say “Well, we haven’t talked about any title or salary changes to go along with the increased responsibility. Can we meet now to talk about that?” Put it on them to come out and say that they want you to do all this extra, managerial work, but for no additional pay or authority. Then it’ll seem perfectly reasonable to turn it down!

        3. paul*

          I think I’ve seen it literally every place I’ve worked. I’ve *been* it here, although I wasn’t particularly good at it (in fact, I kind of sucked).

          Have you pointed out that you’re essentially acting as a manager-in-training and asking directly for a change in title or duties or anything? Hell even getting an official change in duties–even without compensation (though $$ would be ideal) could give you something for a resume’ if you’re interested in moving to management elsewhere. And if you keep getting pushed into that role and not given any of the pros of it, I’d be looking.

    2. Soz*

      I get you – the thing is to either a) OOutright push for a promotion – don’t wait for the next one to come along, make it clear to your manager leadership is your goal.

      Or b) they are using you and may never promote you. Use all that experiance to make your CV really shine! I’m sure someone else will snap you up!

      The big thing is that it’s I. Your power – i’ve Been passed over a few times. That is when I know it’s time to move on

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I would set an internal goal, like don’t be team lead for more than six months (one year?) without associated raise and promotion. You could also make this explicit to them in a nice way. If you don’t see it materialize within that time frame, plan to leverage your new leadership potential at a different org

    3. SpaceNovice*

      See Alison’s latest podcast and see if you just naturally do that sort of conflict resolution and problem solving. If you get results because others don’t, I can see you getting stuff piled on. The process stuff I ended up taking control of was because I simply… worked with people while others complained.

      If that’s why it’s happening, then it means you have a skill that needs to be fostered in others.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      Been there, done that. I only reason I got the manager title was because I went behind my boss’s back to his boss to point out that I was a manager by the legal definition. I got the title, but no raise or more power. It really didn’t change a single thing, other than formally clicking the “approve PTO use” button rather than telling my boss to click the button.

      The legal definition of a manager is independent of title. From your description of what you do, it sounds like you might be a manager already. If you point that out, you might get the title.

      1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

        Apart from exempt vs non exempt I didn’t think legality really mattered. Like you said legal “managerial duties” which is one of the tests for exempt is legally defined but as far as me getting the benefits of management at my job (e.g. more PTO, greater flexibility, higher pay, etc.) I don’t see making this argument helping much.

        1. Antilles*

          Agreed. Remember that while there’s a legal definition required for ‘manager’ title, there’s nothing whatsoever that says they need to give you the pay/perks/status/etc that normally accompanies such a role. And frankly, pulling out the Department of Labor Code to get a title change has a really good chance of seriously ticking someone off.
          Besides, long-term…well, I won’t speak for anybody else, but it would certainly worry me if the company only gave titles exclusively to the extent required by federal law.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            I wouldn’t say it has a chance of seriously ticking someone off unless that person is already completely unreasonable. Alison has excellent advice and scripts throughout her blog here on how to have such conversations.

        2. fposte*

          Yes, there’s no legal definition of “manager” in in the U.S. It’s duties, not titles, that count in the law.

        3. Trout 'Waver*

          Well, the benefits aren’t necessarily tied to the “officialness” of your leadership. Unless the benefits are hard-wired to the title by your company, there is nothing magical about being an official leader that gets you better benefits. Oftentimes individual contributors are paid more than leaders or managers.

          If you don’t care about title, but want the benefits, go ask for them. If they say no, apply for jobs elsewhere and get paid for your valuable skills.

          1. Specialk9*

            In my company, your level/grade determines bonus percent and amount of PTO. Other than that, there are wide pay bands.

    5. designbot*

      I was hired specifically to lead a small team/topic area, but when the offer came it said ‘designer’ instead of ‘director.’ I pushed back but ultimately the answer was that the guy before me had more experience and they didn’t think I was at director level, though they were still happy to pile on the duties. I gave it a year and advocated for the title by showing that clients and partners were confused about my role. I still found myself stuck in limbo for other reasons, but I’d absolutely say to push for it directly, outlining the duties of your title as compared to the duties you actually do.

    6. Bea W*

      All the time. It’s because I know my stuff and naturally tend toward leading. My experience is the same as your though. I do the work. I make the decisions. I come up with the ideas. Someone else gets the official title, promotion, and credit. I get a lot of broken promises and even the occasional knife in the back. It’s been all about dysfunctional office politics in my cases. I think a few unscrupulous people take advantage because I’m always happy to help out. I don’t necessarily want to be promoted, but I do want to be fairly recognized and acknowledged.

      When it’s clear I’m doing the work while someone else gets all the glory and there’s no intention to allow me to get visible credit for my role in leadership, I pick up my toys and leave. That sounds childish, but getting actively used and snubbed does no favors for my career path. I have zero incentive or desire to advance the careers of others to my own detriment, especially when they can’t be bothered to acknowledge my work even just a little. Nope. Not happening.

      I don’t have tips on this problem really. I feel your pain and hope other people know how to deal with it that is better than just avoiding people who are obviously using you. That’s not practical or totally helpful as career advice.

    7. Kris*

      I’m unofficially in charge of interns in my office. I really wish I could divest myself of this responsibility but I’m not hopeful.

    8. Chaordic One*

      Been there, done that. It usually happens when one of our forward-thinking leaders is out of the office (which happens an awful lot). I certainly don’t think it is something I do particularly well, but no one else seems to want to and I’m better at it than just about everyone else left in the office. Also, I’m fairly well organized and if I don’t the answer to something, I usually know where to get it.

      But, yeah, it is a real PITA.

    9. Eye of Sauron*

      I don’t know if this helps, but sometimes the ‘unofficial leaders’ do get promoted. I started managing a group that had one of these. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t at least a team lead (seriously she had like 10 years without a promotion, it was ridiculous) . So within 2 years her reporting to me, she was promoted to TL, last year Supervisor, and next year I’m going to push for Manager.

      1. HS Teacher*

        Something similar happened to me. I have never say no disease, so my principal has really come to lean on me. I’m on the leadership committee, hiring committee, community outreach committee, so on and so forth. When they asked me to work with the district curriculum director to tailor the curriculum to our school, they offered to pay me a really nice hourly raise because I have to work outside contract hours. It’s become my part-time job, which is really helpful since I struggle to make it on just my salary. If I’d never said yes those other times, I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity.

        (This advice may not work in a private company for a salaried person.) I never made extra for doing extra work when I worked in the private sector, although I did do well in raises.

    10. Nita*

      So my husband was in this role for almost ten years. His boss said several times that he’ll officially take her place when she retires, but that didn’t happen. Three years before her retirement, new management came in and started stuffing their buddies in all the top positions.

      My husband has been in public service for years, which can be pretty different from the private sector, but what he’s observed is that to get ahead, you have to spend a ton of time chitchatting and reinforcing your standing in office politics. Doing actual work seriously gets in the way of that. I’m in a private company and it’s also true but to a lesser extent – you do get judged on your merits, but if you don’t network, you can only get so far because if you don’t know how to build a team and delegate, you can’t be any kind of leader, official or unofficial.

  6. Rhymetime*

    I will soon start a new position that I’m excited about. I’m an educator by training and experience and later moved into other work in the nonprofit sector. I’ve been a mentor in multiple jobs and I have also volunteered with a professional association to mentor others early in their careers. I consistently hear from both my mentees and my managers that I’m capable and helpful, and I enjoy doing it. In the past, I passed up opportunities for promotions to be a formal manager, because I didn’t want that responsibility after finding being a manager of a large team to be a stressful experience in a previous career.

    In my new job, I’m going to be an actual manager at a good-sized nonprofit. I will have a single report. I’m realizing that I was holding on to old fears about being a manager from an experience when I was much younger, and now I’m looking forward to working with this individual. She is almost as new to the organization as I am, was part of my interview panel and we hit it off well, and she sent me a thoughtful note welcoming me to the team. Through my network in the community, I’ve heard great things about her work, and I see my role as helping her succeed.

    I have worked with some outstanding managers over the years and will model their best practice, and some of my mentoring skills and training will come in handy. My own manager seems amazing and knows my situation, and I’m confident that he’ll provide good support and guidance for me. I recognize that mentoring isn’t identical to managing and I understand some basics–I’ll trust her to be capable, be accessible, seek her input, balance positive and critical feedback, avoid micromanaging, won’t shut down her ideas, etc.–and I know that I have a lot to learn as well.

    That’s all background for my actual question. How should I set up my first meeting with her? What format should I have? What should be on the agenda? Beyond, “Hi Lily, I’m glad we’re going to be able to work together” I’m realizing that I don’t know what comes next. While I’m sure I’ll be back here for resources on being an effective manager later on, this what-do-I-do first question is the one that’s urgent since I’m starting my job in a couple weeks. I of course am brand new to the organization so there will be a lot I don’t know yet and I’ll be open about that, but I want to set a good tone of mutual trust and confidence in this first meeting.

    Nuts and bolts advice for our first meeting needed, please!

    1. Washi*

      My favorite manager used our first meeting to learn more about me and what I do, and talk about working styles, both hers and mine. It was really helpful and low key!

    2. SpaceNovice*

      Well, you mentioned “best practices”, so that’s a good start to being a good manager. You’re seeking to improve–and those that generally seek to improve will. That’s just how it works. You’ll do great!

      There’s no need to have an overly formal first meeting–just focus on learning about your employee and the workplace. One of the most impressive managers I ever saw sat back for a few weeks and just observed, talked to everyone 1-on-1, and learned about the department. You don’t know what comes next because you literally don’t know what’s coming next yet! You gotta know what you’re working with before you start working with it.

      Talk to your employee about what she does, what her goals are, what things are important to her, etc. Let herknow you’re going to learn the ropes and that she is your subject matter expert. You value her opinion. Tell her that you want a constructive two way street about feedback. Admit when you’re wrong. Basically, be open about what you know and what you don’t know, and make sure your employee knows she can speak up! Constructive problem solving is important. Managers are supposed to make it easier for their employees to get their work done.

    3. Lindsay J*

      I’ll be following this thread as well, as my 30 day plan in my new position includes meeting with all my new direct reports, and, I really have no clue what to do other than ask them what need from me to be successful in their position.

    4. Huh*

      Usually Alison is very diligent about calling out sock puppetting/people posting with multiple accounts. I’m surprised she hasn’t done it here. I wonder why the rules are not always applied fairly here.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Sock puppetry is when someone posts under multiple user names in an attempt to make it look like their viewpoint has multiple defenders. It’s not sock puppetry to simply change user names, which is what I think you’re referring to here (presumably because this commenter has the same photo as she’s used in the past with a different name?). What she’s done is fine with me.

        To your broader point, it’s true that the rules aren’t enforced consistently here! I’m a one-person site, and I’m not online 24/7 and don’t see every comment. But I actually don’t think moderation absolutely must be 100% consistent. There are lots of ways of running a comment section that work fine, from very heavy moderation to almost none at all. I comment and moderate when I can, which I hope helps set an overall tone, but I’m okay with being only a sporadic presence.

        1. Rhymetime*

          To clarify, I could have chosen to say Anonymous For This Post as some people do. I used this handle because I don’t want my other persona to show up on Google searches, since I try to keep my work life and my public life separate. That’s all. There’s no nefarious intention here.

        2. Little Twelvetoes*

          Alison, I think you do a very good job moderating. But I worry that you never have a real vacation.

    5. Caroline_Herschel*

      Your mileage may vary, but I’ve had a lot of luck setting up first meetings with a short, informal agenda that includes some questions about work styles, what they’re looking for in a manager, what sort of professional development they’re interested in, etc. It’s been helpful to structure it so that it can be a conversation rather than a barrage of questions, and I’ve also used it as an opportunity to share about my working style, open door policy and any expectations for communication.

      I’ve probably done this with about seven people I’ve either hired or taken over management for, and so far everyone’s reacted really positively to it. I think provides a way to “set the tone” as you mentioned.

    6. Rhymetime*

      Thanks for the great suggestions, everyone–very helpful. And thank you Alison for offering this great, helpful forum for questions on Fridays.

    7. OOF*

      When I’m the new manager on a team, in the first conversation with direct reports I cover:

      1. My work style (open door, direct)
      2. Expectations (you don’t have to request time off for a dr appt, just put it on your calendar that I can see; meeting schedule; what I need to approve versus what can be decided independently)
      3. What they like most about their job, what they need from this position to excel, how they feel about their role
      4. How they measure success

      Good luck!!

  7. TV Researcher*

    So, the last time I wrote in on a Friday open thread was about eight months ago. A work colleague/friend had recently passed away from cancer at the way too early age of 35 and I myself was going through cancer treatment (after recovering from surgery that kept me out of work for five weeks). Y’all gave me a lot of great advice, some of which I took, and some of which I didn’t (though in hindsight, I absolutely should have).

    I’m not quite sure why I’m writing except to vent. The recovery process is taking longer than I thought it would. I’m now 6 months, 2 weeks out from my last chemo treatment and I still get tired so easily. My doctor told me it would take between 6 months and a year for me to feel like myself, and I’m just not that patient. I still am achy a lot, and I don’t seem to have the energy to get out and do stuff that would allow me to clear my head from work stuff. I think I tried to do too much too soon and I’m paying for it now. And I should mention that my last scan (3 months ago) was clean. And the expectation is that my next scan will be clean, and yet…

    I am finding it incredibly difficult to concentrate, which in a field that deals with numbers all day is a bit of a problem. Part of the concentration issue stems from the fact that my quarterly scans are coming up (next week… ahhhhh!), so I’m incredibly anxious and emotional. I warned my boss and her boss that this was happening, but I think that had the end result of effectively sidelining me during my department’s busiest time of year. I know I won’t be in this situation forever, but I feel like I’m not showing my best self these days. It’s not that I don’t want to; it just seems like I can’t.

    I went through a period a few months ago, where I made a lot of mistakes at work and I think that’s top of people’s minds. I’ve since cut down on that, but it’s been a while to earn back my boss’ trust. I’m also a mini-department of one, so I don’t have folks to bounce ideas off of, cover for me or even check my work (though that’s getting better now). I think what I really need is a new job, but I can’t put forth the mental energy to find one right now and due to stupidly expensive doctor’s visits, I absolutely can’t be without health insurance.

    I’m not sure what I was hoping for with this spiel, but I think I just needed a good vent. So, thank you for allowing me this space and please pardon any typos.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      *crosses fingers* for another clean scan!

      I think if you’re communicating with your supervisors, that will help a lot. And if you have an EAP, maybe take advantage of the counseling offered? Even just a phone consult might help you with some strategies to manage your anxiety.

    2. KR*

      My sister has a few chronic illnesses, so not cancer, but it causes severe brain fog similar to “chemo brain”. Just know that you are dealing with a legitimate medical symptom here and you might not be able to speed up your recovery more. You’re doing the best you can. Have you been to see a therapist or been screened for depression? Depression can show up as fatigue and lack of energy and inability to focus, which may be exacerbating the chemo brain.
      I’m glad your scans are coming up clean and I hope they continue to. Internet hugs if you want them.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        +1

        I can’t conceive of how hard this must be, but seriously chemo does a real number on you; you can’t just be magically 100% any more than you can “just” get better from a more common illness when you want to. I hope your work can be supportive and work with you through this.

    3. Work Wardrobe*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      My SO had chemo/radiation treatment, and it took about a year for him to feel mostly normal. I say mostly because, to be honest, he feels like he’ll never be quite as energetic and strong as before. However, NO CANCER so that’s the tradeoff.

      My best to you.

    4. Clorinda*

      Break down your work into the smallest possible chunks.
      Your recovery, too. You won’t be all the way back to your old self tomorrow. But maybe today you can take yourself for a ten minute walk (or whatever your current limit is), and that’s enough.
      Really, that IS enough! It sounds like you’re doing as much as you reasonably can.

    5. Lora*

      Been there and all I can tell you is that it’s really a waiting game. It sucks, I’m sorry. But congrats on the clean scan! That’s great!

      I found it most useful to organize my work in time frames when I typically had energy to focus. Mornings are good, I can bang out work, but by 11:30 I started flagging. It took a couple of years before I felt normal-ish again and had even moderately good afternoons. I scheduled the wrench-turning boring work for afternoons, as much as I could. I could still be…mmmm I could still do social things, like having 1:1 meetings and the kind of meetings where you’re trying to get other people to talk, so I tried to schedule those for afternoons over coffee/tea.

      Hopefully you will have many more clean scans!

    6. Not a Former Reality Game Show Host*

      Best wishes for your full recovery!

      Maybe a cancer-survivor support group (especially online ones, so it’s not another fatigue-inducing meeting to attend) could be helpful, so you could talk more about your symptoms with other people who had the same experience? Maybe the doctors say “6 months to a year” to try not to frustrate patients, when more people experience it as “10 to 18 months.” I hope your department starts giving you the support that you deserve at work.

    7. Silicon Valley Girl*

      I’m 5 years out from cancer w/chemo & radiation, & yeah, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster to get back to feeling “normal.” Concentration at work can be difficult, & it’s great that you’ve been open with your boss & coworkers (I couldn’t for a variety of reasons). Make lots of notes, lists, documentation, & take breaks. Try to figure out if you have more energy early or later in the day & schedule important tasks/mtgs for those times. And be kind to yourself! Your body has been through A LOT. Your job is important (I sure do hear you on needing insurance!), but just take it one day at a time, & you’ll get through the now, which should be the worst of it. Good luck!

    8. lulu*

      Please give yourself a break. I don’t think mistakes a few months ago, when you had just finished chemo, are at the top of people’s mind. Focus on your recovery for at least 6 more months, during which allow yourself to be okay at your job, not a rock star, and hopefully that will take some of the pressure off. In 6 month you can assess how you feel, and decide if it’s time to move on or improve your performance at your current job. good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Maybe you are “sidelined”, but I tend to think that the company is just determined to make sure you keep having a paycheck through all this. Only time will prove this theory right or wrong.
        Fight one battle at a time. Get your health back. Give yourself at least a year. Then decide about the job. It’s too much to get one’s health sorted out AND look for a new job.
        My setting was no where near your setting, but I went through some rocky times at one job. I was so glad that at least I knew the job well enough to do it in my sleep, because it felt like I was sleeping at work. (I wasn’t, I had to be on my feet all day. However, some things were more like automatic responses rather than actual thinking. I’d catch myself automatically doing Y after completing X and think, “Boy, if I were not familiar with the job I don’t know if I would have remembered to do Y.”
        So even though the job was not great, the familiarity was very helpful, while I dealt with health stuff. Sorting the health stuff was a big brain drain and the familiarity with job allowed me brain space to sort the health stuff.

    9. EB*

      Hi! I’m a young adult cancer survivor and I just want to echo what everyone said. I’m a little over two years out from treatment and I’m finally starting to hit a stride where I feel physically and mentally similar to where I was at before. If you’re open to trying it– meditation and yoga helped me slowly gain physical strength and helped my concentration and anxiety. Prior to cancer, I would never consider myself a “yoga person” but it’s really helped! Therapy also helped a lot, though it was emotionally draining at times so I don’t blame survivors for taking their time with starting therapy.

    10. Batshua*

      I don’t want to be That Person saying “Have You Tried”, but a quick google suggests to me that chemo can trash your mitochondria, the thing in your cells that literally carries energy.

      Fibromyalgia comes with lower mitochondrial efficiency, and CoQ10 has helped me some (I saw actual studies about this before I tried it).

      I don’t know if it will help you, and it did not make me Young Again! or A Whole New Person! like the advertising hype says, but it gives me more endurance-type stamina.

      I wish you luck on your continuing recovery, and many spoons.

    11. JSPA*

      1. It won’t magically fix chemo fog, but doing all the sleep disturbance mitigation stuff (even if you’re not sleeping terribly) will boost your baseline level of function.

      Sunlight in the morning if possible. Light exercise, ditto. Hard shut down on artifical light exposure as soon as reasonably possible (work is for the work day, TV shows will be available next year). A touch of melatonin and (if you’re not already on any sort of painkiller for more serious pains) a regular strength tylenol or half of an aspirin, so that the assorted muscle aches don’t pull you into semi-consciousness as you roll over. Regular massage and stretching. If you’re having digestive issues that rouse you at night (chemo can work your gut flora over badly), a good broad spectrum enzyme capsule with meals. If you’re waking up to pee, pound down all kinds of herb teas at work in the morning, then taper off in the evening.

      2. Conscious alignment of your physical realities with the jobs to be done. Chances are there’s a time of day when you are sharpest. If possible, get blessings from work to use that time either to a) do the original data entry or b) check over the previous day’s (not to be sitting in a meeting or answering emails). If possible, get blessings from work to split essential tasks over two days, so that you can be your own “fresh pair of eyes.” (It’s a dubious benefit, but if you’re befogged, it’s interesting how unfamiliar your own work will look, just one day later.) As a corollary, it may help if you can make fairly substantive notes in real time about your thinking and your process, without disrupting your workflow. If that’s too much cognitive overload–that’s useful information in its own right.

      3. Learning to feel good about doing a tolerable job, for a tolerable part of the day–and devoting a chunk of each day to existing and healing. You wouldn’t expect to shake off a concussion or heal a broken bone by pounding on it. You similarly don’t get much say on how fast you can insist on recovering from chemo brain. You do get to (gratefully!) “take a bye” when work offers you one, or volunteer to take on smaller tasks that can be successfully completed in smaller windows of clarity, with the goal of healing better. (Not necessarily faster, but in ways that don’t set up all sorts of secondary damage.)

      4. It’s easier for other people to work with you and be your backup brain for facts and figures if they don’t get stuck with the awkward job of being your backup brain for self-awareness tasks. You don’t want to become known for lack of self knowledge, over-promising or brittleness. People will forgive considerable ability deficits for months, provided they don’t have to spend mental energy second-guessing your assessment of your ability, or wondering if you’re really going to deliver that thing that you’re insisting you’ll deliver. (After all, people who never had half your drive, attention span and ability manage to get and hold down jobs.)

      5. There’s a lot of natural, normal ego stuff (in the sense of pride, and also in the sense of self-identity) that gets invested in functioning at a certain level of competence. But tying self worth or identity to that sort of pride can be terribly undermining. You don’t want to set yourself into a death spiral of confusion, exhaustion, overcompensation, and diminished time for relaxation and healing. You were very much yourself at age 5, before all the learned skills and commitment to reliability. It sounds sort of touchy-feely, but reassuring yourself that the “essential you” has not been lost can take down a lot of the free floating anxiety.

      6. If you ever wondered if you might be ADD, or depressed, or have an anxiety disorder, the additional overload of chemo brain can really bring those issues to the fore. You don’t necessarily have to medicate (might help, might not) but the strategies for dealing with each of those issues may give you what you need right now, to navigate more smoothly.

      Good Luck!

  8. Snarkus Aurelius*

    What do you guys do when a coworker or coworkers so something that’s clearly in your purview but don’t tell you about it after they’ve made all these decisions without you?

    I do media outreach, which I was specifically hired to do, and once again another coworker has taken it upon herself to make a decision to do something without asking for my input. She literally did my job for me.

    I’ve tried to fight it in the past by saying I’d love the opportunity to give feedback, but I’ve gotten nowhere. So now I sit back and let the emails fly with no response. Only one time did someone ask me why I was silent, and all I said was, “No one initially asked for my participation so I assumed my input wasn’t needed.”

    Any other suggestions?

    1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      I know the feeling. Been there, done that. You have been shutdown before when you offered your input. If that seems to be the culture in your office just grin and bear it. I know it is tough but when the fit hits the shan, just smirk and giggle a bit.

      1. Specialk9*

        I hope you just got here, because that’s not the professional thing to do. Like at all. Except maybe in the most toxic of workplaces, which is decidedly not what Snarkus A was describing.

        1. HS Teacher*

          Why criticize the post without offering a response to the OP? It seems like you’re being hostile to Cajun2core. What difference does it make if someone is new here or a long-time commenter?

          1. JSPA*

            It’s hard to read here for very long and still subscribe to the passive-aggresive model for work interaction–except in cases where the workplace is so completely FUBAR that there’s nothing to be done except mark time while looking for a new job.

            Some actual advice:

            if what you do is specialize in a skill that many people also possess and use in everyday life (reading, writing, editing, researching, graphics) accept that it’s not always more effective for them to pass every instance of those things over to you. (Flyer for the monthly birthday party? No need to engage the graphics person.) For media outreach, more specifically– if people have friends or long-time contacts in various media companies, it’s a big ask, to suggest that they never again contact the people whom they know.

            Make your turnaround time and availability explicitly clear, as you would if you were independent. e.g. Glossy insert to accompany promotional email and print mailer, using existing company logo and backgrounds, plus supplied data: turnaround time x number of hours, with x days advance notice; turnaround time y number of hours, with no advance notice.

            Find out why it’s easy for them to do it themselves. Do they already have an email list of all the relevant contacts, so that sending an email to media directly is actually exactly as easy, for them–and faster, because there’s one less step–than if they first sent it to you, for you to send?

            Find out what they’re getting out of doing it themselves. Do they not like some of the media on your standard list? If so, why? Do they want their item to go first to selected outlets, then to other outlets? If so, why? Do your contacts (at the station, newspaper, etc) differ from theirs, and if so, why does that matter? Do they feel that too many items sent from the same email get sent to a spam box or “circular filed” (this IS a thing that happens) so they therefore prefer to mix it up a bit?

            Find out what you could do that would add utility in their eyes (not yours). If you can’t make the case that going through you adds significant value, relative to the extra time and loss of control that handing things off to you requires, then you can’t reasonably expect things to change.

          2. Specialk9*

            I had actually provided advice to the original question, scroll down. You may be right that it wasn’t said kindly enough to Cajun2core, for which Cajun I apologise. But ‘stay silent, let them fail and smirk’ is not really what this whole site is about. There are lots of places on the internet where it is! This site is about effective, healthy ways of dealing with challenges.

    2. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      I remember a post about addressing this with coworkers – apparently it’s a common issue in art and communication fields. Make it about the work quality aspect. I’ll try to find the link.

      1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

        I found the link it was the one about the graphic designer whose non designer colleagues kept doing her work. I’ve posted the link but it’s in moderation.

    3. Nea*

      and all I said was, “No one initially asked for my participation so I assumed my input wasn’t needed.”

      Noooooooo! Don’t give them a pass on literally taking over your job! And don’t just say you’d like input – this is obviously far too subtle for the person trying to push you out.

      1) Talk to the co-worker and ask why they are doing this. Don’t hint around, point out that they are making decisions on your behalf. Make them justify it! Point directly to problems that it may have caused with clients/mixed messages being given by the company, etc. Tell them to Stop. That. Right. Now. in no uncertain terms — and document that talk.

      2) Document all the times it has happened and the outcomes (even in the past) and take the documentation to your boss and ask them directly what is up.

      I realize it’s uncomfortable, but so is being pushed out of your job by degrees by someone who’s decided to take your position even if you’re still filling it.

      1. Parenthetically*

        This. You can’t assume your input wasn’t needed on something that’s your job. You (and everyone else) need to assume your input IS needed, and you need to clarify that in plain language with your colleagues.

        1. Legal Beagle*

          Agree. I understand feeling annoyed, but your response sounded like pouting. You have to be direct and clear. I’d also go to the person’s boss if they kept bypassing me after I clearly explained why that wasn’t ok.

      2. Lady By The Lake*

        Totally agree — don’t be passive aggressive, instead, use your words. If this goes sideways you are going to be on the hook because you are now aware of it but are doing nothing. I don’t think “they didn’t ask for my input” when it is clearly your job is going to fly. No need to be mean about it, but just go to the person and ask why they are doing this.

      3. Gatomon*

        Yes, if you don’t address this, you’re proving that your input isn’t needed. If the results aren’t a complete disaster, then eventually someone higher up might wonder what you’re doing at the company.

        Better to get buy-in from the higher UPS to crack down on this before it goes any further. Your boss may also be expecting you to address this to some extent yourself.

      4. TootsNYC*

        Yep, and also say, “that’s my job. I need you to stop doing it.”

        It’s not helpful, and you don’t need help anyway.

        Doing your job is how you stay “in shape” and how you demonstrate your value to the company. So that’s one way this person is hurting you.

        Then there’s the idea that suddenly two sets of hands are dealing with this, and there’s confusion.

        Then there’s the crummy job that’s getting done. AND the higher-ups will blame you for it no matter who is working on it.

        I will say this–don’t leave a vacuum. Act quickly; also build relationships with everyone who might send work your way, especially if they’re sending it to her. Also directly ask those people to send things to you, and NOT to your coworker.

    4. Washi*

      I think you really need your manager to have your back if this is a regular thing. For example, at my past org, all our managers told us that if we wanted to make a flyer, invitation, etc, we HAD to run it by marketing. Some people were grumpy about it, but it was made clear that this was not optional and was done to ensure consistent messaging/branding. Some people were grumpy that they couldn’t use pink Comic Sans all over the place or whatever, but because the managers stood by our marketing person, there weren’t too many who went rogue.

    5. MuseumChick*

      I think you need to use more direct language (tone here is key) “Hey Jane, going forward any time X comes up loop me in. I need to know about this kind of thing for (insert reasons). Thanks!”

      Then if it keeps happening, “Hey Jane, I think we discussed this before. If X comes up I need to know about before anything moves forward.”

      1. Leave it to Beaver*

        Exactly so. There’s one person in my organization that simply doesn’t get it. I’ve had this exact conversation with him both over the phone and in writing at least 5 times this year. (Even with his boss and boss’s boss involved). I’m not sure if he’s naive, arrogant, or ignorant.

    6. Washi*

      Ugh, just typed a comment that maybe disappeared?

      Anyway, I’ve seen this play out a lot in marketing/communications, and the only thing that works is to have consistent messaging from the top that X and Y always need to be checked by Z. This is how it works at my org and some people are pretty grumpy about it, but because it comes from the top down, we don’t end up with a ton of people going rogue with the Comic Sans bold pink highlights or whatever in their materials.

      1. Alice*

        From the other side — I’d love to be able to delegate more to my department’s marketing committee, but their timeline is slow and uncertain. I honestly don’t know how much time they need to get a project out the door, but it’s more than a month. (And in this case, “project” means a blogpost to an existing blog, email to a pre-existing list, and 8.5×11 poster built on a template.)

    7. lulu*

      This is part of your job, you need to have a strategy to manage it beyond getting annoyed and ignoring it, because it’s going to keep happening. So you need a formal consistent way to push back on it when it happens, as well as periodic reminders, hopefully sent out by someone high up the food chain, that all media outreach (with examples of what that means) have to go through you.

    8. SpaceNovice*

      You need to go to your boss to lock this down somewhat at some point. There needs to be a process or hierarchy for decisions to be put in place to stop this from happening.

      I have no idea why they’re avoiding you when everything is supposed to go through you. Clearly things haven’t been communicated or something like that. You’ll have to gather more information about what’s going on there; use the “tone” that Alison mentioned in her latest podcast. People could simply be used to doing it themselves that they do it without thinking, or they’re afraid to not be in the optics of the boss as much if they relinquish control to someone else.

      You could look up marketing compliance and start enforcing it that way, too. Google “marketing compliance” and learn of it. If it’s not marketing, find some compliance issues that you DO have to worry about, then go to your boss and explain that you can end up in hot water if stuff isn’t done correctly. Still definitely allow your coworkers to come up with ideas and make sure they get credit if they help with stuff, but everything does have to go through you. Acknowledge that’s a pain in the butt to deal with, but it’s just how it is. If someone missteps when you could have helped them avoid it, the company might have no other choice than to fire them due to liability. Basically, make the consequences of a screw-up that you’re trying to avoid real in the minds of your coworkers and boss while acknowledging that it’s an annoying necessity.

      Additionally: you want uniformity in the branding across all platforms. You can’t do that if people aren’t talking to you and doing things on their own. Maybe people can still have a part in helping with outreach, but everyone needs to be on the same page. People are used to doing stuff all on their own, so definitely make sure to use the whole “tone” that Alison suggested. Make sure to listen to them. Explain to them what you’re doing and why, treating them as colleagues and not children.

      (Also, the idea of random coworkers doing marketing outreach is seriously terrifying. Oh my god.)

      1. Alice*

        And make sure that your templates actually work for the content that your coworkers are going to put in them — not using crazy unusual fonts that won’t display on their machines, etc.
        (Not a big picture suggestion at all — the other responses in this thread handle that very well! Just a comment from someone on the other side of the communications gap)

        1. SpaceNovice*

          Yes–that too! And encourage feedback on improving your information capture tools after people get a chance to use them. They’ll figure out ways to make them better.

    9. Evil HR Person*

      The heck?! Does your company NOT have a Social Media Policy? Ours does, so that any social media posts for the company have to be posted by someone who’s vetted, someone like yourself who would have been hired to do this job specifically. Everyone else would be going against policy and getting a stern talking-to, if not disciplined outright. Get with your supervisor ASAP! Don’t let others do your job for you without raising a stink. The company’s reputation is a stake!

      1. SpaceNovice*

        Oh yes, policy! Policy, policy, policy!

        (Also depending on what stuff there is–you could get in trouble for noncompliance with outreach. And that’s the last thing you want!)

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I will be the different answer here.
      If you are seeing the emails in real time, then they are probably assuming that you will jump in where you can/want.
      It’s when I don’t see the emails that I worry the most.
      If you are waiting for them to literally ask, “Will you help with this?” they may not ask. Because that question is implied simply because you are on the email list. To say that directly could be read as redundant therefore insulting.
      You know your setting the best, of course. But my advice would be do something on the first email. “Okay folks, i see this and I will take it from here. This one comes under my job description.”

      If none of this makes sense for your setting, then it might be time for a boss to step in and redirect the conversation toward you.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh that’s a really good point! If someone is on an email, it’s because I think they’re relevant and want them both to be clued in, and able to speak up if we need to do something or change direction. I wonder if your coworkers are wondering why you’re not speaking up more, even after getting a polite nudge.

    11. Specialk9*

      You didn’t actually use your words. You’re not opening your space, and nobody else will own it for you.

      What you were thinking was:
      ‘Hey that’s my job stop doing it!’

      But your words were:
      ‘I’d love to give feedback.’

      (which she may have read in confusion, bc the project was already wrapped up, why would she need feedback?)

      and

      ‘Nobody asked me so I assume I’m not wanted’

      (which was not terribly mature)

      So go brush up on Alison scripts, and find a way to bring up your concern with your manager. Practice over and over till you stop having emotions come through so clearly, and it’s just a suboptimal business process that you’re confused by, and concerned about.

      You can do this. Using your words, properly, is so bloody hard! But so very necessary. Good luck!

    12. Leave it to Beaver*

      I also do media outreach and I work for a large organization with many folks who don’t know what that entails. As a communication professional, it’s important that you communicate why it’s important for them to discuss press situations with you. A passive response, such as “I’d love the opportunity to give feedback” doesn’t actually convey that they need to include you in these decisions. They may not think they need feedback… any feedback, regardless of who it belongs to. Instead you want to outline how notifying you in advance can help support their work and create better outcomes and in some cases reduce the potential for negative outcomes. Ignoring people who do include you on emails about media outreach, only weakens your position and encourages people to not include you.

  9. HALP!*

    AAM hive!! I posted two weeks ago about a situational/behavior interview, and asked about wearing jeans to the interview. Wanted to report back:

    The position is a project manager role, so there was a lot of drilling down into my specific role in getting projects accomplished in my current role. I had prepped a lot of answers for the standard behavioral questions, so I was slightly unprepared for drilling down that far, but it made sense to do so. So: if you are preparing for a project manager interview, be prepared to lay out very specifically for the interviewers who did what, and who managed what.

    As for the jeans vs standard clothes question: I ended up wearing a business casual dress with a blazer, but honestly, it would have been fine to have worn jeans. The most important part is that the clothes fit me well, and I wasn’t uncomfortable (I wore heels, but they didn’t pinch or hurt). They kept me for an extra 2 hours past when they had me scheduled, so comfort was key.

    All that said: I got the offer!!! I’m truly excited about the role, and now I’m just anxiously awaiting a cleared background check. I don’t anticipate any issues, but I’ve been a bundle of nerves this week. Thanks for all the feedback and good thoughts two weeks ago!

    1. go sharks go!*

      Congrats! I remember reading about your previous question, glad to hear that it all worked out for you in the end.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Congratulations! I do remember your previous post, and I’m really glad it’s working out for you!

  10. Anon in Libraryland*

    My background is in Library Science, but I’m looking at jobs in IT and I see this description, “A+ certification and network+ certification”. Is this something that you get with a Computer Science degree? I’m also looking at technical writing. Any advice/input would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you automatically get those when you get a computer science degree. I believe those certifications are things you have to separately test for and keep up with. That said, I’m in IT (with a background in English and no computer-related degrees) and have zero certifications and have been able to get jobs that supposedly “require” X, Y, and Z certifications. Job requirements are usually more like wishlists. Most places will hire whomever they think is the best candidate. Unless they’re extremely bureaucratic, I can’t imagine a hiring committee saying “Well, we like Anon in Libraryland, who is clearly the best candidate, but this other candidate who’s mediocre has these certifications, so…”

      That said, all other things being equal, if you didn’t have certifications and another candidate did, maybe that would tip the scales in the other candidate’s favor.

    2. Climber*

      They are specific tests you take to get certified in that area. You can buy a book to study and take the test or take a class (which can be VERY expensive). Think of it kinda like prepping for the GRE, you’re gonna need some help.

      My partner is in IT and has taken these tests before. He opts to get a book to study and then take it.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Lynda.com (now a part of LinkedIn) has a ton of online instructional videos which might also be helpful — it’s not the same as an in-person class, but it is a lot less expensive. If you’re lucky, your local library might even subscribe to it.

    3. raisedeyebrow*

      Anyone can get an A+ or Network+ certification through CompTIA. They’re IT certifications–you can buy study guides and other materials, then you pay to take the test.

        1. Coqui*

          Subnetting is SO FUN. But OP, be kind to yourself if you don’t immediately pick it up on the first couple of tries. At my college we learned subnetting almost halfway through the semester and would go from 25 students to 10 because the students would panic and drop the class if they didn’t immediately understand the concepts.

        2. A Non E. Mouse*

          Just a warning for your network + – brush up on your subnetting, Op!

          OMG the ANDing!

          I’m so glad those tests are well in my past.

          1. Wired Wolf*

            I’m a decade out from my Network+ (sadly had to let it expire because I was way underemployed at the time and didn’t have the $$ for the annual renewal fees) and still can’t quite wrap my brain around subnetting at least without cheatsheets.

          2. Canadian Teapots*

            There are apparently good ways and bad ways to teach/learn how, and that reminds me of how two’s complement was taught in a compsci class I took. The professor said something akin to adding and subtracting one and I honestly tried to get my head around that and gave up. I went with what a book told me almost 10 years before, which was to exclusive-OR with all 1 bits and then add one. That’s a total doddle and I can do it mentally.

    4. Honor Harrington*

      A+ and network+ are specific certifications. I know many people who have gotten them without a CompuSci degree. They are considered entry-level certs. They likely want to know if you know the concepts and jargon for the position. They may want to know if you can execute basic skills, which you can also demonstrate with your experience in your resume.

      For tech writing, your portfolio will be pretty critical. An online portfolio is useful, though some hiring managers will accept emailed samples. You will have an advantage if you can detail what tech writing tools you know. You want to differentiate yourself, so if you have a MS Word cert, for example, that is a great thing to call out.

      You will need to decide what type of tech writer you want to be – medical and IT are the most common ones, but business knowledge can make a difference. With Library Science you are a natural fit for a company like OCLS, but you want to think about which vertical you want, and add knowledge in that area.

      1. Jules the Third*

        I know high schools that teach A+ certification prep, iirc it’s two semesters, the new equivalent of shop class. Networking+ is available at the local community college, 1 semester.

    5. SpaceNovice*

      Those are CompTIA brand certifications. You don’t need to have a computer science degree to get those, either! But you do have to know your stuff. They’re using certifications to make sure people know at least some minimal amount of work (or that’s the theory… people can pass tests without knowing the material extremely well in some cases).

    6. Gatomon*

      Those are certifications from CompTIA. A+ is entry level tech support, touches on a lot of areas but primarily PC building and troubleshooting. Network+ focuses more on networking, but is broader and vendor neutral (vs the CCENT or CCNA certs Cisco provides). I recommend CCNA (even CCENT) over Network+. Network+ isn’t worth the money or time if you want to get into network administration. CCNA will get you into a network engineer job whereas Network+ might help you land on a help desk.

      I have both the A+ cert and the Network+ and am working on renewing my CCNA. If you want a basic IT job, get the A+. If you want to focus on networking, skip CompTIA and do Cisco’s credential path (CCENT to CCNA). All you really need for these is a good textbook and some sort of hands-on practice. However they can be a significant investment, usually several hundred dollars for the test and materials.

      If you want to get into IT, you don’t need another degree per se, certs will do. However if you’re younger, you may want to get one to future proof; as more and more IT workers end up having one it might become a true requirement in the field to move up. It’s easier to go back at 30 vs 50!

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        The A+/Net+ combo was really helpful to have on my resume when I was working on helpdesks. They weren’t required, but I could get offered a higher hourly rate by having them. I got both certs when I had half a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and was trying to break into IT. (At that point, the helpdesk seemed like a good place to start if I wanted to be a systems administrator one day.)

        I highly recommend taking practice tests, as many as you can find, as many times as is necessary. They were probably the most helpful thing when I was studying for the tests.

        (These days, I’m working as a software developer and usually leave the A+/Net+ certs off my resume entirely. I haven’t kept them up, and they’re not directly relevant to what I’m currently doing.)

        1. Gatomon*

          Yeah, usually you have to start on the helpdesk for IT, but I’ve seen the help desk become a quagmire where good techs get stuck there. If you walk in with a CCNA or obtain it while there, you can apply for the next level after you’ve done your time and made an impression with other groups. But it’s gotta happen within a few years of starting there. Too long and you just become the really good help desk tech and get too valuable to move up.

          1. Sam Foster*

            My experience, 20+ years in IT, is that the Help Desk is now a dead end job with no connection to the rest of the organization’s IT. Each of the last major five major corporations were outsourcing help desk. I see the same thing happen with data center and network engineers as the industry shifts to Software-Defined Data Centers, Software-Defined WAN, etc.

        2. Wired Wolf*

          I passed the A+ back before they started expiring certs (IIRC now they are valid for 3 years), so mine is good for life although CompTIA sure wants me to think it isn’t. The little wallet card I have bears an expiration date…but on my site profile it says Good For Life (and I have verified this with them….so why lead everyone else to believe it is expired? That’s not helping my freelance work when clueless people demand to see my ‘credentials’ and home in on the “Good Thru”…).

          I have A+ on my resume along with the exact date acquired (if someone knows how to check, that can verify that it’s permanently valid); I leave off the Net+ as it’s long-expired, but I do say something like “Knowledge of computer networking”.

    7. Annie Moose*

      For what it’s worth, from the opposite direction, tons of people have computer science degrees but don’t have those certifications. (I’ve got a CS degree, but no certifications whatsoever! I’m a programmer and certifications for us generally don’t matter a lot unless you’re working in a very specific area, e.g. AWS certification.)

      So you aren’t automatically playing catch-up to people with CS degrees or anything.

    8. Hamburke*

      My daughter has the option to get those certifications in high school. Both are entry-level certifications. Most CS degrees would expect you to have a basic knowledge of the material covered in those certifications but would not necessarily provide you with the certification process. It would depend on what kind of job you’re looking for in IT as to whether they’d be helpful.

    9. Sam Foster*

      Hey Anon in Libraryland:

      To directly answer your question, I am not familiar with any degree program that includes an A+ or Network+ certificate. Community and Junior colleges often have certification classes to get them.

      I’ve been in IT work a long time, 20+ years, and the jobs that require A+ or Network+ are becoming niche. Technical Support/Help Desk/Support Desks are being outsourced (last five major companies I’ve worked for did this) and data centers are next in line with the Software Defined Data Center. Yes, there are still jobs, but, they’re being isolated from mainline corporations and will not have a way out except for up the ranks within that organization. In my opinion, most of the advice one sees about IT is 5-10 years old.

      My advice is figure out which part of IT you want to be in (support, programming, database, big data (it’s different, VERY different), service delivery, enterprise architect, solutions architect, strategist, business analyst, system administrator, cloud, security (network, cyber, data), audit, compliance, etc. etc. etc.) and figure out if your skills line up.

      If you are looking for an immediate jump three roles/areas come to mind for a librarian-type: Knowledge Management (huge space with lots of options), configuration analyst (keeps a pile of data in a system straight and updated), and entry-level analysis, maybe, business, data, risk or compliance.

  11. Lola F*

    Happy Friday!

    I am currently working as a temp in a small real estate office. Management is in the process of interviewing for a Receptionist, but I am not involved in the interview process for the role. Yesterday morning, our current receptionist said someone was here to see me. Turns out it the applicant for this role was someone I knew at a previous job. Haven’t seen her in close to a year. She was told by my agency that I worked there.

    The kicker? This girl is a disaster. A drama llama with a bad temper, poor stress management skills, and poor work ethic. The end of our working relationship was strained because of her attitude towards me and pen throwing (!!) tantrums. I do not want to be professionally or personally associated with this girl. I do not know why the agency shared that I work at this office, but I’m annoyed that I was unknowingly put in an awkward situation.

    Would it be out of line to call my agency and ask for separation? Or should I just let it go?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Do you have a solid relationship with your onsite supervisor? Or specifically the hiring manager for the position that she was there to interview for? If so, I think sharing your experience with her would be your best bet.

    2. Ainomiaka*

      Just the fact that you are at the same company isn’t much of an association. Would she be interacting with you much at all? This seems extreme unless your position will be close.
      That said, if you can stick to verifiable facts, you can say what your experience with her was to people you are reasonably professionally close to.

    3. MuseumChick*

      I would speak to whoever is handling hiring at your current job, let them know that you worked with this girl previously and that based on that experience you felt compelled to speak up. Sticking with pure facts share what your experience working with her was like (pen throwing???? OMG).

    4. Jessi*

      is there any reason you can’t go to the hiring manager / your boss/ supervisor and say “Hey, I’m not sure if you want to hear this but I previously worked with drama lama at X workplace. She doesn’t do well under stress and when she left x workplace she was having tantrums and throwing pens. I’m not trying to get her in trouble but I would feel guilty if we were to hire her and you didn’t know this”

    5. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Quitting just because they told her you worked there seems like a bit much in your situation – but I’m only saying this because you sound more like you’re annoyed with her and not like you’re generally afraid for your safety being around her.

      However, I do think you have some standing to address this with whoever is hiring at your job – you worked with her, and to use your own words – she threw objects when she was angry. That’s unacceptable pretty much anywhere, including most preschools. (For the preschoolers.) That’s a major concern – what if she gets mad with a customer and starts throwing pens at them?

    6. Bea*

      Wtfffff, I would alert the person you’re working for right now. I would also remind the agency about your history with her. It’s not bizarre they told her you were there because it’s “we placed Op there too!” while giving her info on the opening. The weirdness is she’s asking to say hi to you like you don’t remember she’s unhinged.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I would let things go with the temp agency, but I would say something to the management of the small real estate office. They (probably) deserve to have someone a little more stable and mature in the position.

    8. TootsNYC*

      I don’t know what “asking for separation” means.

      Does it mean you’d quit the temp agency, or that you’d ask to be reassigned to a different company?

      The girl doesn’t even have the job yet, so I don’t think you need to leave this company to avoid her. And absolutely, especially if you have any goodwill toward this company, I’d tell someone sensible there.

      If your main problem is with the agency, and their telling her about you working there, I don’t know that I’d say to sever the relationship with them, but I -would- think you could say to them, “I didn’t like that you told her I was there, and to have her look me up. I don’t want to be associated with her in other people’s minds, not even by having the receptionist page me for her. And I’d prefer in general that you not tell other people where I’m working. If they don’t already know me well enough to know that, they don’t need to know it now. Please keep that in mind.”
      Note that this tells the temp agency that you have a poor opinion of her.

    9. Hamburke*

      I would call the agency and fill them in on the pen throwing tantrums. Then ask them not to tell this person where you work or place them in the same location.

  12. Anon for this*

    I’m a woman working in a male-dominated industry. I have voluntarily taken on two responsibilities above and beyond my normal job description. In both cases, I was initially the backup person, but both of the primary people — who were both women — have left the department, so I’m now the primary person for both.

    My manager wants me to train a backup person for one of these responsibilities. I immediately thought of a specific guy, who is a high performer and who has previously taken initiative to provide useful input on the subject, but he practically ran away screaming when I asked if he was interested in becoming my backup. A female coworker overheard and later approached me to say that she would like to do it.

    Is it terrible that I am concerned about having this responsibility done by three consecutive women, when men outnumber women in the department 2:1? Both of my extra responsibilities are serious technical things — not “office housework” tasks that so often get foisted on women like party planning and taking notes at meetings — but I worry that if women are the only ones to take on these responsibilities, the responsibilities will start to be viewed as office housework. I recently attended an industry conference related to this responsibility, where the male:female ratio was about 3:1, so this is not typical in the industry, but I am afraid that I will lose respect at my company for the work I’m doing if it starts to be considered a woman’s job.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      So long as it’s technical and not Office Birthday Tracker, I really don’t think you need to worry. Your colleague probably ran screaming because he either has a lot on his plate, or he just really loathes spout attachment and doesn’t want to risk becoming default spout attacher.

      Look at it this way: A lot of offices could spin their last 3 spout attachers being women as a sign of their many technical openings for women and willingness to promote them, when 3 out of 4 spout attachers in the industry are still men.

      1. Anon for this*

        I don’t think they could realistically spin it like that. It’s not a promotion — there is no title change or pay raise — just extra work. Plus, 9 out of the last 10 management positions in the department have been filled by men, so if anything, the situation is the opposite of a willingness to promote women.

        1. cdmbna*

          Based on this info, I think I see where your concern is stemming from. To oversimplify: they promote men in the office, but ask the women to do extra work without a promotion or extra compensation. I agree that this is a tricky situation to navigate, especially since a woman approached you about wanting to do the extra work. But perhaps you could talk to your boss about adding compensation for this task, while mentioning that you don’t want your fellow coworkers to get the impression that these technical tasks are not valued by the company.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Why isn’t there extra compensation?

          I’m guessing the male colleague ran away screaming because he can. Your office figures the women will suck it up and do the work without complaining OR asking for more. Push back on that.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you should be worried about the responsibilities being taken on by three consecutive women… unless you aren’t fairly compensated for it. Why did the guy run away screaming? Is the work undesirable or less prestigious in some way? Or is it just coincidental that he doesn’t like that particular work?

    3. AnotherAlison*

      On the other hand, women don’t always get thought of for growth opportunities, since we don’t historically have the same internal networks in male-dominated businesses that are male peers do. It sounds pretty clear that this is a technical responsibility, but I would make sure it’s a growth opportunity, too. For example, we constantly have to update and add new technical standards in the engineering consulting company I’m at. You can be assigned to be a champion of “X” standard. It’s technical, and someone might tell you it’s a good opportunity to grow your technical expertise in “X”, but project performance counts more for promotions at my company. I may advise a woman to say they were too busy, turn it down, and try to get bigger roles on the billable projects that lead to promotions.

      I think the key here is to figure out why the men are running away and the women are asking to do it. You want to make sure the important-but-not-key-to-promotion stuff is spread fairly.

      1. Jules the Third*

        +1

        I think your concern is realistic, and AnotherAlison gives a framework for analyzing how it fits.

      2. JSPA*

        No, you really can’t cut a woman out of a position of greater responsibility for reasons of gender, regardless of hypothetical indirect optics. (Said that way, it should be pretty clear, yeah?)

        This is a big part of what people mean by institutional “-isms.” And it’s why having some more people of [insert under-represented, societally less empowered group of your choice here] in positions of intermediate power does not automatically cancel out [insert corresponding flavor of “-ism” here]. You’re projecting that the majority might devalue the job because of their “-isms,” so you’re considering….beating them to the punch, with overt discrimination. That’s never a justifiable counter move. Because there’s literally no job (arguably up to and including CEO) that’s not open to this reasoning.

        You CAN speak up if there’s a pattern of greater responsibility leading only to greater time-suckage, not a better paycheck!

    4. SpaceNovice*

      Sounds like you could go to your manager and ask for another responsibility to have a backup person. If you can do that, you can train both of them! Way better optics and both get experience.

    5. Millennial Lawyer*

      I understand your concern, but if a woman has voiced that she would really like to take on that responsibility, and you insist of giving it to a man because you don’t want it to become a woman’s job… that ends up kind of backfiring on the feminist goals. So I think you have to just accept that this particular individual is speaking up. But maybe share your concern with your supervisor if you believe people aren’t taking that responsibility seriously.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I’ve seen scenarios like this. Yes, I would be a bit concerned about the appearance of things. On the surface of things it sounds like the guy you asked was kind of sexist, but I suppose it could be other things. I hate to suggest this because it seems like pandering to sexism, but maybe if you had your supervisor ask him (or tell him) he’d be more open to the idea, (because your supervisor has more authority in the matter).

    7. Samata*

      I wouldn’t worry if the duties are not the traditional housewife duties that fall to women in the office by default, not choice.

      I mean, our last 3 Medical Directors happen to have been women but I don’t think anyone sees the position’s duties as “office housework”.

    8. Specialk9*

      I’m also a woman in a male dominated job, and a small part of my brain is always analyzing to make sure I’m not shooting myself in the foot by being too girly or not girly enough. (eye roll)

      I’d be concerned too. As soon as women get associated with a job, it goes down in prestige and salary. (Secretaries, teachers, doctors, social workers, etc)

      But I’d also balance that with women giving other women opportunities. Which this could be.

      What’s your relationship like with your manager? Could you carefully say something like “I have noticed that you like to help people grow in their careers. I wanted to ask for your help. I’d like to become a manager, but I’m worried that I may be spending my extra energy on projects that don’t lead to promotions, or without realizing it signaling I’m not ready. Would you be willing to go over my projects, and suggest other projects that can help me take my career where I want it to go?” (Whether to add that 90% are men is something to weigh based on how closely your manager makes those decisions.)

  13. ThatGirl*

    We’re really stretched thin at work right now, for various reasons (people leaving, corporate sale and maternity leave has made us very short staffed) and people on my team are having to help out with other teams, which – even though I have only been here 9 months and am not the team lead – has basically made me second banana while my manager deals with higher level stuff.

    It’s kind of cool but also a lot of random problems I don’t want to deal with. And I have to kinda crack down on my coworkers screwing around, too. So. Yay responsibility?!

    (I’m also off for three days next week and it will be very telling how things go without me here to keep problems from flaring up.)

  14. Not So Super-visor*

    Email Signature Drama Round 2:
    The company finally came up with a standardized email signature this fall. Getting people to confirm that they had updated their signature was like pulling teeth. Now, we’ve updated with our new slogan, and it seems like a battle all over again. The company literally sends out a generic version of the signature and all people have to do is plug in their name, title, office, phone, and fax. All I ask for is a confirmation email showing the update. I would love to assume that people are adult enough to not ask for confirmation but considering that half of the replies have come back with font type and color changes or people trying to leave off their direct lines in lieu of the toll free number, I can’t. Having to babysit this type of minutiae makes me feel like a psycho, micro-manager, but I’m also the one who will hear from a VP or Marketing if it’s not done (and trust me, they’ll eventually complain about someone).

    1. MamaGanoush*

      OMG, I hate it when people do this! Here’s my latest version of that: University bookstore emails some of our instructors to get their book order in for fall and they complain to me. We have one textbook for all instructors, ordered by me. So, I send around request to let me know if you did or did not get the bookstore message so I can have all the info when resolving w the bookstore manager. One email to everyone, a follow-up in our staff meeting agenda please-read, a follow-up email to the people who didn’t respond the first time, another reminder in the next staff meeting agenda please-read. Today I am walking around the office to ask in person. How hard is it to to just email YES or NO???

    2. Totally Minnie*

      My employer set a standard email protocol a few years ago, but instead of making every employee change their individual signatures, they programmed the email server to pull the relevant data from our profiles and automatically populate the signature. They also disabled the “stationary” feature and reset everyone’s standard font. A lot of people were mad, but I was so happy to stop receiving emails in Comic Sans italics on a purple background with 97 inspirational quotes in the signature. :)

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Yeah, this I’d what my company did when we had our new branding rollout. No one gets to adapt it at all. It also flagged people who didn’t have the correct fonts loaded on their computers.

        1. Nashira*

          It may not be technically possible depending on how your email is done. Some email hosting services restrict what you can edit or disable certain functions outright. (Looking at you, Intermedia.)

      2. Lindsay J*

        This is amazing, and I wish my company would do it.

        We’re all supposed to have the same signature, but each person has to set it up individually.

    3. SpaceNovice*

      Bribe them. “To celebrate our new slogan, we’re doing a raffle! Everyone send a email with their updated signature to this address by this date and we’ll enter you in the raffle!” (You can do things like raffle extra days off. Everyone always wants those.)

      Also, make sure to send out the notification at a time that you know people will be able to look at it and make the change, if possible. Have an All-Hands about the new slogan/branding and then send people to go make the changes. Explain the changes so that people understand why you’re doing it, but make sure not to talk down to them.

      People might have better suggestions, but these are what I can think up off the top of my head without looking to Google. But it works way better when you make it a part of teamwork and not something that people will get constantly nagged about.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’m a big fan of bribery as a motivational tool.

        And if you can’t do days off , even a $10 gift card to Starbucks or something would probably get people to do it.

        1. SpaceNovice*

          Can +1 Starbucks or a gift card to someplace local that’s popular among the staff.

    4. Iris Eyes*

      There might be some reasonable reason for the push back on the direct line thing at least.

      If you company cares about this so much surely there is a way to accomplish this with technology. If companies care so much then they should just take away customized signature abilities altogether.

    5. agmat*

      AFAIK, we don’t have an email signature policy but it drives me bonkers when coworkers don’t have a signature *at all* and we work for a government agency. Now I have to save all direct numbers instead of just referring to an email signature. It also just looks unprofessional to me if they’re communicating with the public.

    6. bumbletea*

      I swear, some people act like you’re trying to pull up their prized gardenias when you ask them to update their email signature. That was one of the biggest pains in my last role. I got an email from the CEO every time someone’s signature was off. Sometimes a drop-in. And every time, the person pitched a fit about having to change it even when I would do the work for them if they wanted. It’s a company email signature, not your myspace page circa 2005! Let go of your weird fonts, people!

      1. pleaset*

        If the CEO cares this much, draft a note from him to send to every direct report of his (or perhaps all staff0 saying this is a job requirement, that the standards are detailed in the memo below/attached to his note, and that he welcomes full compliance. Make it easy for him, but also make it clear to the organization that this is a directive.

        1. bumbletea*

          He’d send out an email occasionally reminding people, but the general vibe was “you’re responsible for this, so find a way to deal with it without me having to deal with it.” It was usually resolved by me showing up at that person’s desk if they ignored me for too long, until the next time that person decided to mess with it again. It didn’t help that we had a very particular signature that had to be created a very particular way (though it was a pretty easy way for being particular, and there was significant documentation to help). In general, most work signatures are not that involved.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh. Exjob had policies around email signatures — the number one rule was no quotes. But people put them on anyway, and a lot of them were religious because this is the Bible Belt. I don’t know how they managed not to get in trouble; protected class or not, they were violating the rules.

    8. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Like…can’t they program it in? I remember your initial comment, but not in what thread it was in – it just seems like it’d be a lot easier to have them put in their contact info and then autofill instead of forcing everyone to manually put in their sigs. (I’m not sure how big your organization is, though.)

      Maybe it’s just me, but if it’s really that important to Marketing that everything is done exactly the way they want, try to ensure that the people responsible can’t mess it up. And this isn’t on you, Not So Super-visor – you’re just the messenger. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from reading AAM, it’s that it’s really, really hard to get people to do exactly what you need them to do.

    9. only acting normal*

      My job tries to standardise all sorts of things, including email signature. But they’re hopeless on the enforcement, so no-one takes it seriously. I’ve seen plenty of comic sans here. 8-{
      Personally, I usually just roll with the program, but I *did* quietly refuse to use the 20+ line email signature block they came up with (20+ lines, I ask you!?). I edited it down so it only took up 3 lines, but kept the corporate look+feel.

      1. micromanager*

        I actually was able to fire someone as I documented their refusal to put their direct line on their email signature. Of course their were many, many, many other issues but this was physical evidence of repeated direction ignored. The proverbial straw.

    10. Specialk9*

      My company has had, oh gosh, 12 major ad campaigns that ranged from stupid to baffling (though every one of you would think of the slogan of 20 years ago). Every time they want us to
      Get!!
      Excited!!!!

      and put some giant ridiculous thing in our email (with pictures! that clutter up my phone because there are thousands of these going back and forth), so by now…

      No.

      Just no. I will use something simple and dignified, that gives my role and contact info.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        They want you to use sigs on your internal emails? With company slogans?! What kind of hellhole do you work for, so I know never to apply there?

        (I mean, I die a little inside when some of my coworkers use signatures on all their emails! I’ll only use mine – which is a little clunky; it has my name, position, project (since I have a specific project I’m in charge of), office address, direct line, and a small version of our logo – on initial emails to customers about non-routine matters. My signature’s standard for our organization.)

  15. Laura H*

    Thank y’all for the suggestions re the tax refund two open threads ago I think. Wound up buying a really nice notebook computer.

    Have a great Friday.

  16. Emma*

    Considering a pretty big career switch from nonprofit work to stage combat/fight choreography. I’m still in the research/info gathering phase, but I’m trying to get a networking meeting set up and I’m really excitrd!

    1. OperaArt*

      No advice. Just want to say that your plan sounds really exciting.
      I’ve done a small amount of stage fighting—the choreographer is so important.

      1. Emma*

        I can’t wait to learn more. I have a background in ballet/dance & theatre but not much (but also not zero!) martial arts or actual stage combat experience, so it’ll be interesting to find out how well-suited my background actually is to fight directing.

    2. A.Ham*

      That sounds awesome!
      Intimacy choreography has existed for a long time in the theater world, but a lot of theaters are getting more and more cognizant of the need for it in light of #metoo.
      Start taking classes! you can get certified in all sorts of stage combat work as a performer, then to move on to teaching. hand to hand, dagger, sword (rapier, broad sword etc. etc. etc.)
      tip: look into learning about intimacy choreography too. It’s a quite different thing but still very important to be precisely choreographed. The couple of fight directors I know have trained and started to do that kind of work as well and it has really broadened their work possibilities.

      1. Emma*

        Intimacy choreography sounds fascinating! And super important for everyone’s safety, especially in light of the nonsense in chicago a couple years ago. I’m also definitely keeping my eye out for a local stage combat class I can take!

    3. pugsnbourbon*

      You’ve probably already checked out USITT already – they have some good resources. Their annual conference was in March but I think there are other events/classes.

    4. Llellayena*

      If you’re looking for connections, a lot of areas have Renaissance Faires which use a ton of stage combat. Check out a sword-making company called Starfire (the company name changed to something else recently, but you can still find it with that). They make weapons specifically for stage combat and many of the employees have stage combat experience and connections.

  17. Read Receipts Riled*

    When is it appropriate to use ‘read receipts’?

    My team has a new big boss and he’s been fairly adversarial the few months he’s been here. One thing he does is email read receipts for just about all team emails he sends out. (Think: send me your resumes for my files; answer these questions; or ‘we’re going to have a meeting’.)

    We’re not irresponsible, we’re not slackers, we have an excellent reputation with our client, and we’re all experienced professionals. He’s brand new to both consulting and civilian life (straight out of the military) and unfortunately, he’s in charge (PM) of a bunch of experienced professionals without ever having been a civilian contractor.

    To me, an email read receipt is what you use when you don’t trust the recipient to acknowledge or respond to the email, or when a disciplinary record is being established (i.e. ‘Per our meeting, I expect X in Y’).

    Are read receipts commonly used for simple directives/requests? I’ve been a government contractor for a decade and I’ve never seen them used in this manner.
    We have many former military employees; I don’t think we can blame big boss’ overall actions and behavior on a history of order-giving from Service. Insubordination/defiance is not an issue among this team, we’ll follow whims and requests willingly and previous bosses had no trouble getting what they needed.

    1. fposte*

      On the one hand, I don’t think read receipts are ever worth doing; the risk of putting people’s backs up is much greater than the benefits, which are severely impaired by the fact that some people look at email via preview and some people have them turned off.

      On the other hand, I also wouldn’t take this personally. It’s his SOP for communication, like some people put a gooey quote in.

      1. Myrin*

        Aha, this seems like a perfect opportunity to ask about something regarding read receipts that I’ve been wondering basically since I started reading this site and saw people talk about them! (And I hope I’ll not be derailing your thread, RRR, since my curiosity has nothing to do with your situation in particular!)

        I totally didn’t get, language-wise, what a read receipt is for the longest time, so first of all, am I correct in piercing together that: It’s the pop-up thingy that, well, pops up at the top of your email which says something like “[Sender] has asked you to confirm that you got this email” and then you click “confirm”? (This sounds very awkward; I only encountered this once or twice and can only vaguely remember what it said in my native language so apologies if that doesn’t mesh at all, but I’m talking about the concept.)

        Because if so, my question: Why do people talk about them with such disdain? I mean, I get that theoretically it can feel passive-aggressive or controlling or like you’re not being trusted but outside of specific circumstances where you’re already feeling controlled and distrusted in general, I just can’t imagine reacting with more than a shrug. In fact, when I got one in the past, I didn’t think anything in particular about it other than that I was excited because I’d apparently just encountered the infamous “read receipt” people talk about on AAM! It’s one click and then I can go on with my day so I feel like I must be missing some context.

        1. Alice*

          It grinds my gears. The only person I deal with (out of hundreds of regular contacts) who uses them is neither high on our hierarchy, nor writing about important things. She also uses the “high importance” flag in Outlook for every email that she’s ever sent me, including “thank you.”

          1. disconnect*

            Ooh, I have a solution to this one. Create a new rule in Outlook, condition “marked as high importance” and from “Prima Donna”, action “mark as normal importance”. Done and done, everyone who knows how to responsibly use the importance flag can still do so, and you don’t have to look at the myriad red exclamation marks. Because nobody’s got time for that bullspit.

        2. bumbletea*

          I had a coworker once who would send a read-receipt for EVERYTHING, and then she would send follow-up replies to the receipts asking why you didn’t respond to your email when you’d read it, even though you may have received it while in the middle of something else, glanced at it, and made a note to respond later. It can feel like other people are policing your time when you may not be able to give an immediate response.

        3. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          For a lot of people, it is considered a sign you don’t trust the recipient to acknowledge the e-mail if it’s used for routine matters. It’s like sending something in the post by certified mail – you usually only do that for official correspondence, not for birthday cards and flowers. Plus, it can make people feel a bit watched. Finally, in Outlook and Gmail at least, you have to turn them on – they’re off by default on most servers, I believe.

          So Read Receipts Riled is…err…riled by read receipts because they know that their boss is actively turning read receipts on and they’re making the assumption that their boss doesn’t trust them – which is validated by the background info. Which, based off of the other information they provide, isn’t a wholly unfounded assumption.

          Also, since I forgot to mention this in my first post: whoever hasn’t listened to it yet (but especially RRR) should REALLY look up the Why’d You Push That Button podcast, first episode – since it goes into read receipts (although it’s a social media perspective, I think the conclusions are somewhat similar to work e-mail).

      2. Kathleen_A*

        Some people just routinely use them. I have no idea why since, as fposte pointed out, they often don’t actually do what they are supposed to do. But it really does sound to me that as annoying as they are, they are not intended as an insult. This is just how this guy rolls.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Yup, used to work with a guy who just had them turned on for all of his emails. It was weird but you just sorta got used to it. Sometimes for fun I’d check the box to not send him a notification, but he never commented on it.

          I have no clue why he did it, but he did it to everybody indiscriminately of what the email content was. So I just got used to it.

          On the other hand, if a boss sends read receipts only for specific emails, so you know he’s doing it manually… well, that’s a little different.

    2. Anna*

      I’m in academia, so YMMV, but I’ve only gotten read receipts for meeting requests – e.g., we’re trying to schedule a meeting between 5 professors who have no time, and it’s somewhat time-sensitive, so whoever or scheduling will use read receipts so that we respond immediately.

    3. Q*

      I only use them when something is really important and I want to make sure the recipients received the message. A lot of my team was famous for the “I didn’t get that email” verbal response so this helps cut down on that.

    4. All Anon*

      I don’t think it’s normal to use them as an SOP. When I see somebody using a read receipt I take it as a signal that the person dropped the ball previously or this is super extra important.Maybe it’s because I was chastised for it years ago by a higher up.

    5. Discordia Angel Jones*

      I only use read receipts when I’ve been chasing someone for a while for stuff.

      Or when I want to be adversarial (which I do quite a bit: I’m a lawyer XD ).

    6. MamaGanoush*

      I wouldn’t do it when I was new to a department, but if I had frequent problems with people not following up (see my mini-rant above!) and it was impeding my ability to get important work done, I might go that route. I once had a colleague who automatically deleted every email I sent, unread. Yeah. I started using read-receipt when someone anonymously tipped me off. It was helpful to be able to document that when I got called in by the director for keeping vital info from said colleague. Long gone colleague, I should add :)

      1. Specialk9*

        Wat. Seriously?! He would delete all your emails, then complain that you didn’t send them? Did he not know that he wasn’t deleting them forever everywhere?

    7. SoCalHR*

      I hate read receipts.

      They seem a bit too ‘up in my business’ (luckily my boss doesn’t use them) and aren’t that effective. As fposte said, you could see the email in preview mode so it wouldn’t generate a read receipt or you can simply click “no” when it prompts you to send one (which I do most of the time). I also wouldn’t rely on them to ‘prove’ someone got the message (for your example of disciplinary issues), I’d want an actual reply confirming receipt.

    8. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Some of the representatives of the customer I work with (I contact a few of them) use read receipts for all communication with us. I find it a little annoying, but…

      1) confirming the read receipt takes two seconds, and it’s a couple per day if that, and
      2) on their side, we have had issues with them asking for things repeatedly after they’ve been done (like, we’ll send a photo of one of their llamas when they ask, and then they’ll ask for the same exact llama a day later – they just need verification of the llama, so the original photo should be valid).

      It’s an annoyance, but ultimately I think the best course is to acknowledge it’s one of their quirks.

      But I think this is a BEC (or maybe a BERR – boss e-mailing read receipts) because you say you think he’s hostile to the team! (Or really close – you described his relationship as adversarial.) Depending on how much you work with this man, is it worth it to stay? This sounds drastic, but there are a couple of warning signs in your letter that make it sound like there are bigger issues.

      1. Read Receipts Riled*

        Actually not that drastic anymore. Six months ago I would have rolled my eyes, but then again, six months ago I didn’t have this person/problem! I don’t work too closely with him, but he’s made my work environment worse. I’m waiting to hear if my company wins this other contract, because I’m pledged to it and it starts in June, so I really can’t leave at this point.
        (We’re contract employees, so it’s not my company that Mr. RR belongs to. If he were, his butt would be gone by now, we don’t tolerate people treating our people like that.)

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          So, the main problem isn’t really the read receipts. It’s a symptom of the fact that Fergus sucks and possibly isn’t going to change. But it also sounds like Fergus might not be your problem anymore in a month or two, so…hopefully, you can tolerate it for that long? And hopefully Fergus learns that he doesn’t need to micromanage going forward, although I hold out less hope for that.

          1. Read Receipts Riled*

            There’s about 20% of a chance the June Job would happen, but it might be delayed even if it happens…basically I can’t jump ship from Job A because Job B ‘might’ happen, plus Job A’s current contract ends in August…it’s a hot contract-y mess.

            1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

              Okay, so three or four months. It’s…still not a long time, thankfully.

              Specialk9 is far more knowledgeable about your probable situation than I am, though, so take their advice! But again, it might actually be easier to just deal with your jerk boss because you’re going to be rid of him by August at the latest (hopefully, unless the contract renews and then you might have issues).

        2. Specialk9*

          Oh so Bad Boss is a Fed? (If so is he the Contracting Officer it COTR?) Or he is a contractor, who manages the contract you subcontract to?

          I had a Fed boss once who was being a raging a-hole. Because he wasn’t the COTR, I was able to give the COTR an unofficial heads up, and the behavior stopped. That was an unusually decent set of Feds though.

          If he’s a contractor, you totally can make waves! Far more than if he’s a Fed. Go as a group to your PM or senior managers at your company and lay out what he’s doing. You guys have reputations as solid even keeled workers, and this guy is new – they’re going to buy that he’s the problem. Senior managers can go back to the other company’s senior managers and make a stink.

    9. SpaceNovice*

      Read receipts for standard messages are jerk moves. Since he’s new, he may not know this. Is there a good manager who can sit his butt down and tell him to dial it back? This isn’t the military, and he’s obviously not been given good advice on how things work. You’re a team. A unit. Professional adults and not young recruits that you gotta pull teeth to get to do things, perhaps. He’s trying to prove himself obviously, but he’s definitely going about it the wrong way. Dude needs to relax and learn to work together instead of giving orders all the time.

    10. Iris Eyes*

      All messaging platforms these days seem to have auto read receipts, you can see that someone has opened them. I wouldn’t find the presence of the read receipt annoying, more so that its even necessary in the first place.

    11. Eye Rolling Bookkeeper*

      I use them regularly for payment notices and requests. When people call asking where their payment is, I reconfirm their address and ask if they received my email. I already know they did and I ask them to look it up. It usually cures them by the second phone call.

      But, I am in a very different situation from Ex military. Although, admittedly I don’t trust people to read their email.

      1. Read Receipts Riled*

        I could totally see using them for payment related stuff. That’s fine, it’s the routine team requests that kill me. I feel like a read receipt request says, “I don’t trust you to read and act on this email and I want a record that proves you received my email (so in the future I can make a case against you).

        1. Eye Rolling Bookkeeper*

          Well, that is exactly why I use it and in your circumstances I would be riled up too.

          It could honestly be that he doesn’t know appropriate uses for read receipts, but if he is so high up the food chain you many never find out anyway.

          I think I checked the box that all read receipts automatically send, so the message doesn’t come up again.

    12. Susan K*

      I hate read receipts and I rarely see them. There was one guy in my department who used to use them for just about every e-mail, but he stopped several months ago (I wonder if his manager told him to stop). It’s hard not to get offended even if you know it’s not personal, like my coworker who sent them for everything, and your new boss, but you probably just have to accept that this is how he operates and try not to let it bother you too much. He probably has it set up as an automatic setting for all e-mails, and depending on how tech-savvy he is, he might not even realize recipients can see the read receipts.

    13. Aurion*

      Law uses them (ideally the client actually would respond when you write “please confirm receipt of this email”, but a read receipt is a failsafe). Outside of law I haven’t seen them used very often.

      1. Natalie*

        I’m not sure it actually is a fail safe? Outlook always gives me the option to not send one, I would assume other email clients have a similar option.

        1. Aurion*

          It’s not the only thing I’d rely on, it’s just an extra bonus. If I have an upcoming deadline and must wait for instructions, I’d still follow up before deadline if I haven’t received those instructions whether or not I requested or received a read receipt. A receipt is just a bit of extra cover-my-butt if anyone goes “why didn’t you tell me?!?” and I can reply “I called you about this twice, sent emails on dates X, Y, and Z, and had read receipts confirming you saw the message”. Multiple reminders alone should cover my butt, but having receipts is a bit of extra.

          I imagine law isn’t the only place you see this kind of behaviour (project managers probably do it too).

      2. Triple Anon*

        Yes! Law, media – fields that are fast paced and require a lot of documentation. It can be an industry-specific thing.

    14. Marzipan*

      Our email system lets you decline to send the receipt even though the person has set the request for one. I invariably do this (and then email them a reply immediately instead), just because it pisses me off so much that they’ve requested one. (It’s rare, in my workplace, for anyone to request one and it definitely reads as mistrusting us when we do get one.)

      1. Workerbee*

        I’ve done that in OldCompany–and I always did wonder if the person who had sent the RR and received a reply from me with no RR was ever puzzled. :)

    15. lulu*

      there are people who use them as a default. I find it annoying, but I don’t take it personally.

    16. Evil HR Person*

      Honestly? I think he set up his email that way without meaning to, and now every email he sends requires a read-receipt. If your office uses Outlook, it’s a bona fide default that you can check/uncheck. I wouldn’t read much into it. He’s probably all kinds of perplexed why he’s getting all these read receipts that he now has to constantly erase.

      1. Triple Anon*

        Right. Ideally someone should say something to him about it. Not in a critical way. Just ask about his reasons for using them. Then if it’s not intentional, he can ask how to turn that feature off.

    17. Kittymommy*

      I’ve done read receipts before and it had nothing to do with the recipient, it was all about showing my boss that they received it. Incredibly stupid and a complete waste of time and clutter, but it was easier than following every email up with a phone call.

    18. Bea*

      I never hit the button that sends them, since it requires my effort to do so. What happens when he doesn’t receive them? Maybe he’s just using the feature but not sure why it exists.

    19. disconnect*

      In Outlook at least, you can automatically deny sending a read receipt (File -> Options -> Mail -> Tracking -> For any message received that includes a read receipt request…).

    20. Jadelyn*

      Some people just do that – they have it default to requesting read receipts. Annoying, but if it’s a blanket thing it’s probably just How He Is.

    21. antwione*

      I don’t think they’re ever useful. Since the other person has to actively click “yes” or whatever, they could simply read the e-mail and choose not to send you a receipt. I actually do that fairly often.
      We made the switch from an old e-mail system to Outlook a few years ago, and the old system had built-in read receipts in the sense that you could go into a sent message’s properties and see whether the recipient had opened it or not. People slowly realized that Outlook didn’t have the capability, and IT advised anyone who asked/complained that they could set it up so that they automatically send a read receipt request with every message. So a lot of people have that set up. It doesn’t bother me, but I sort of laugh about it. I usually click “no” on the pop-up that asks whether I want to send a read receipt, since I’d rather have them thinking I’m super behind on my messages than monitoring how long it takes me to respond.

    22. JSPA*

      Gmail went nonfunctional for an hour or so on April 11th (as in, I was talking to people on the phone while trying to send or receive on multiple devices, from them, without success). I missed several important (though not work related) emails that could have added up to some very bad news. (Tax-related being only one of several problems). My old institutional email and my spouses’s current one both tend to send messages from and to the IT department, to the spam box–after a couple of days in limbo, no less.

      I can see someone who’s been burned by outages becoming super-proactive about making sure messages have gotten through. (And if he’s military, a lost message could literally end up meaning fire and destruction.)

      You could bring it up as a point of guidance. Ask if he’s worried about computer glitches, and whether he’d like all of you to also use receipt confirmation in your emails to him, to each other, etc. That should clarity whether it’s a power play or an excess of caution, without raising too many hackles.

      1. Nothing in the middle of the road but dead armadillos*

        Eh, if it’s that important that the email go through, email isn’t the right communications medium.

  18. Robert*

    Hi, I posted this last week but I didn’t get too many responses so I’m trying again. I apologize if this is disruptive.

    I’ve been thinking about what some commenters on AAM have said about “good reference checkers.” Specifically, when reference checkers contact people outside of the candidate’s reference list they provided.

    I’m worried about that because I have a past boss who actively dislikes me. I made a discrimination complaint to HR, and later on I caught him lying about me to a company I was interviewing with. The company where I worked under him has a formal “no references” policy in their handbook and is in a very conservative industry, so HR formally reprimanded him.

    My concern is that a “good reference checker” could dig his name up and contact him in a back channel manner, without knowing about our history. I’m worried that if he thinks he can get away with it, he’ll lie about me again to screw me out of a job. I’d be worried in this scenario that the company that passed on me wouldn’t tell me there they talked to him.

    Is this possible or am I worrying too much? Should I warn companies at the reference check stage that I had to report my boss at Job X for unethical conduct and he was disciplined (technically true, but leaving out the fact that it was for violating the company handbook’s rules), or would that sound suspicious?

    1. Washi*

      How many jobs ago was this position and how long were you there? I would only go looking for an additional reference if I noticed a candidate had, say, been in a position for 5 years only two jobs ago, but didn’t have a reference from them and had a weird explanation of why.

      1. Robert*

        Unfortunately, this was my longest stint and was fairly recent (4 years, 3 years ago). Also, I have a reasonable suspicion that the boss who got busted for lying went on to smear me with the rest of the department. I reached out to the person I reported to before the liar boss, and he sent a very terse email saying he’s no longer comfortable with being a reference for me. Plus a few of the other people in the department unfriended me or removed me off of LinkedIn.

        1. Washi*

          Ugh, that’s tough. I think 1) a lot of jobs don’t even check references, let alone look for additional ones and 2) if they do end up in contact with him, it could end up coming down to how strong your other references are and how good a liar your ex boss is. If you have a bunch of great references and then your old boss giving vague criticisms, it probably won’t matter that much. If your references are meh and then your old boss has specific, substantive criticism, that could hurt you.

          I actually think it’s more likely that you’ll get questions about why you don’t have a reference for that job than reference checkers who suddenly decide to dig up your old boss’s contact info, so I would focus on preparing for that. Good luck!

          1. Robert*

            Yeah. For what it’s worth, a lot of what we talk about on AAM as best practices doesn’t happen most of the time in the real world, unfortunately (or fortunately, in a case like this). But if it pans out this way, my future livelihood is on the line, so I think my worrying isn’t complete disaster thinking.

            If they asked I’d probably say “I can give you HR, but that’s it. I left Previous Company because my boss was engaged in some unethical practices, and they didn’t close that investigation until after I joined Current Company.”

            1. Rhymetime*

              I actually think this is an appropriate answer. I was once asked in an interview why I left a job that I’d been in for many years. I explained that toward the end, there was a manager who was so difficult that it involved litigation. I think it raised their respect for me, and I think that could be the case in your situation as well. If you say you can’t give a reference there because they were unethical, they’re inclined to see you as an ethical person and that’s a plus.

              1. Rhymetime*

                Meaning the company had to get legal counsel to rid themselves of the problem manager.

        2. Nita*

          I have thankfully never dealt with this, but a family member had the misfortune of having a back-biting boss. We’ll never know if this boss got contacted for references, but the job search was much harder than it should have been with their qualifications, so we suspect that the boss sank at least a few potential jobs. I think I’d warn possible employers, but maybe not in these exact terms. Somehow “I reported my boss” sounds scarier than “This boss has a habit of taking a personal dislike to people and giving them undeserved negative references, and has been in trouble with HR over it. If you contact him I expect a very poor reference, but I hope you will be able to weigh that against my other references.”

          1. Robert*

            I get where you’re coming from, but I worry that saying that my boss at the company I was at the longest just dislikes me would make potential employers concerned.

            Maybe “I was interviewed as part of an investigation into my boss at Old Job. He’s likely to give me a negative reference because of that.” It’s completely true, even though I’m dancing around saying what the investigation was for.

            1. Lindsay J*

              I like this wording. It gives a sense of why he would give a bad reference, but it seems less dramatic somehow than bringing the unethical behavior into it up-front.

            2. rldk*

              That sounds like a good explanation – you could even add something him going against the company no refs policy, to make it clear that you’re not trying to cover up, but that his actions are unprofessional.
              Especially if there’s a interview question about dealing with difficult situations, you might be able to segue into how you value integrity/honesty even in situations like that one, and despite knowing that he has shown himself willing to criticize you unfairly, you still know your actions were correct.

            3. General Ginger*

              I think this is reasonable wording. It’s very simple, factual, and doesn’t bring up any specific drama.

    2. Future Analyst*

      I’ve worried about this too in the past, and my general feeling is that someone who is a good reference checker will weigh his input against all the others (so if he’s the only one saying you’re terrible, they’ll note that), AND, if they truly are good reference checkers, they will note what he has to say, then ask you about anything that they found concerning (thus giving you a chance to explain). So, all-in-all, I don’t think it would be a huge issue. [That said, I know how hard it is to let go of that worry!]

      1. TootsNYC*

        There’s also the hope that if the bad former boss is too vehement, he won’t sound credible.

    3. MK*

      Definitely don’t want them; it’s an overreaction to something that might never happen, gives an overly dramatic tone to the interview and might even prompt what you are hoping to avoid, them contacting him. I realize this isn’t particularly reassuring, but there isn’t much you can do about this.

      For what it’s worth, good reference checkers don’t blindly believe references, especially one bad reference among many positive ones. Also, how far in the past is this? It’s unlikely that anyone will call a manager from four jobs in the past.

      1. Robert*

        So the problem is that this is a well known company that I spent a good amount of time at in my industry (2012-2015). It’s my longest stint.

        I wouldn’t bring it up in the interview. The worst case scenario I’m envisioning is a little like this:

        1. I pass all of the company’s interviews, so the hiring manager or HR tells me they’d like to make an offer contingent on requests.
        2. I don’t have a reference outside of HR for this company, so I have to give them. This is the point where I’m considering explaining that I had to be a whistleblower on my boss.
        3. HR/hiring manager looks up managers from my department, finds him, and contacts him.
        4. He lies about me.
        5. I get rejected without explanation, because potential new company doesn’t want to get entangled in legal drama.

        1. MamaGanoush*

          I wonder if you can add in with #2 that this company has strict policy of no-references?

        2. Happy Lurker*

          I would be inclined to go with a version of #2. I am not sure how I would say it.

          I would also strongly encourage you to find additional managers and reach out to ask if they would be a reference. Either at the company in question or a previous one to replace it.

          Somehow the boss has turned others against you, so does it become whistle blower on your department instead of your boss? Maybe that is how to present it to interviewers.

          1. Robert*

            “Somehow the boss has turned others against you, so does it become whistle blower on your department instead of your boss?”

            This isn’t a mystery to me. I can see him saying something like “after he left I found out Robert made some huge mistakes with his work and we need to redo some big project,” or claiming I said nasty things about my former coworkers in my exit interview. This wouldn’t be hard to do to a departed employee and it’s not clear cut retaliation like lying to a reference checker about someone who made a discrimination complaint.

            Another alternative is to contact my boss’s boss. When my boss was reprimanded for lying about me, it was by my boss’s boss along with HR. The worst he could say is no, right?

            1. JessicaC*

              This sounds like a really good option! If your former boss’s boss is on your side, you could list him as your reference and then he could explain the whole situation.

              1. Robert*

                I don’t know that he’s really on my side, so to speak. I know that after I reported my boss’s lying about me to HR, my boss’s boss and the vice president of HR formally disciplined him. Obviously I don’t know any more details.

                Keep in mind that this was a few years ago, and that my boss’s boss and my boss (the liar) were friendly before that. My boss’s boss was openly skeptical of my discrimination complaint. On the other hand, my old boss hasn’t been promoted since that incident, and before that he was a rising star in the company. Just a guess, but his lying could’ve been seen as not serious enough to fire him given his previous good standing, but questionable enough to cut his ascension through the ranks. They might not want to put him in charge of 10-15 people after this happened when he was a junior manager of 3 people.

                I think the worst that could happen is that my boss’s boss says no or doesn’t respond when I contact him. He’s a lifer at the company, so that limits who he’ll possibly talk to about me a bit, and possibly means he’s not friends with my boss, since my boss opened the company up to a retaliation claim.

                1. Eye Rolling Bookkeeper*

                  Boss’s Boss sounds like the best bet. At least he doesn’t have an ax to grind. Even if he cannot speak to the detail of your work, at least he can be a boss that confirms you were there.

                  I do have to admit, that I have received less and less reference checks over the years and when I have done them, people seem genuinely surprised to receive them.

                  I wish you the best of luck with your situation and I hope you find something great soon.

            2. Jesca*

              How long ago did you leave this job? Also, I am pretty sure AAM actually covered this type of situation before. I cannot find the link, because I am terrible at finding those. Maybe someone else can find it?! This can be a unfortunate drawback to whistle-blowing when the employer decides not to fire the person! I mean you know of two occasions yourself where he behaved extremely unethical. I am sorry you have to deal with it from one past whistle-blower to another.

              I will still try to find that link for you, because I thought it was excellent advice!

              1. Robert*

                Thanks for that! The potential case where someone tracks him down and he says something atrocious about me, so they decide to pass worries me. I don’t think it’s as likely, because he’s already been caught doing it once. A second time would probably get him fired with no reference (i.e. “ineligible for rehire” in his personnel file), burning every bridge left at that company.

                On the other hand, I got a couple of notifications on LinkedIn that he and one of the people who removed me on Facebook have viewed my profile. So he could be feeling vengeful. I’m also looking right now, so it’s worrying to consider that I might be back on his radar.

                Part of me wants to directly contact him and ask if we can somehow bury the hatchet, but I really doubt that’ll be of any use. And honestly, he put himself in that situation.

        3. Specialk9*

          The answer you’re getting is that your ex boss has way less power over your future than you fear. And with every job you work, he’ll have even less power.

          When we deal with someone like this, who’s rotten and shakes our beliefs in people, and who tries to retaliate, it’s easy to build them to be bigger than they are. Let him be a life lesson far in your rearview mirror.

          1. Robert*

            Wow, you said that very elegantly.

            The issue I face is that when he comes up in some form, I return to the mindset I had when I worked for him. I was very worried about keeping under the radar so he wouldn’t antagonize me.

            The method to fix that is to be mindful of exactly what you said. Thank you.

    4. Irene Adler*

      One thing a good ref checker does is contact more than one reference. This is especially true with the outside references.

      Yes, they know that someone you did not include on your reference list could be someone who will trash you (for whatever reason). So if they come across such a reference, they make a point to contact additional references to either justify the ugly or supply positive reviews of your/your performance. And bad boss becomes the outlier. Certainly before the company loses interest in you, they might ask why the one reference gave such a negative response. Hence, you get an opportunity to explain things.

      The company has an interest in you. They’ve invested time/resources vetting you out. They like what they’ve seen. So before they drop you, they are going to go to the trouble of finding out why one guy gave a negative reference.

      So be ready with your explanation of things. Just be sure to be the “bigger” person here and keep it as professional as you can.

      1. Just Griping*

        This makes sense to me. I think I’m excessively worried about a hiring manager dropping me like a sack of potatoes because when my old boss comes up, I start thinking like he was my boss again and worry about him antagonizing me and having power over my career. What you’re saying about reference checkers reaching out for some sort of confirmation because the company’s already invested in me rings true.

        I think the “I was interviewed as part of an investigation into OldBoss at OldJob. Since then he has had a grudge against me” line is more professional. This is dropping the reason (discrimination claim from me), but I think giving a whole story (true or not) about my boss doing something wrong would seem less professional. I don’t like him, but I want to move on with my life.

    5. Lindsay J*

      Well, a good reference checker would take into account that his review was wildly out of line with what all the other references said, and hopefully discount him because of that.

      If I talk to 5 people, and they all mention someone has a problem with organization, they probably have a huge problem with organization.

      If everyone I talk to says that a person is the nicest, most conscientious person on the face of the earth, but one person says that they were rude, insubordinate, and out of line, either A. that reference is lying. B. There was something else at play that hasn’t come up in any other situation – maybe a personality conflict, maybe some sort of medical or personal problem that has since resolved, etc. Either way, I’m not putting much stock in it and most definitely not tanking the candidate’s chances because of it.

      At most, I would call the candidate, say that I talked to that person, and ask the candidate what they thought that person might say about them and why.

      I honestly wouldn’t worry about it. I also wouldn’t preemptively bring up the info at any point. The vast majority of people don’t call people outside of the listed people, and many companies actually don’t call any at all. Preemptively bringing it up when you haven’t listed him as a reference to begin with is just drawing attention to something that the potential employer most likely wouldn’t notice anyway. If they don’t call off-list references they might think it’s weird you’re mentioning it at all. And it puts the idea of drama in their heads which you don’t want there.

      1. smoke tree*

        I’m also inclined to think that any reference checker who’s conscientious enough to dig into references apart from what the candidate provided is probably also going to approach a bogus reference with some skepticism. I’d think that if that boss makes claims that are totally out of line with what your other references are saying, the employer would likely check in with you to see if you could shed any light on it. In terms of giving them a heads up, I would probably only mention it if the employer asks why you didn’t include a reference for that job, and you’d want to be careful to phrase it in the most neutral, matter-of-fact way you can.

        1. Robert*

          I ran into my boss from the job before that a few days ago. He gave me a big hug and said “the door is open for you to come back anytime,” so I think that covers it.

          Right now, due to him telling everyone still at the department negative things about me (I suspect, posted upthread about a few people unfriending me after I left and told HR about the lying to a hiring manager) I’d have to put HR. If someone asks why, I’ll explain it like this: “I was interviewed by a lawyer as part of an investigation into my boss at Old Job, so I’m concerned he has a grudge against me and wouldn’t tell you the truth. HR can confirm my title, dates of employment, and last title.”

          1. Binky*

            I wouldn’t use the word grudge. Maybe just say “I was interviewed as part of an investigation into my boss at Old Job, and as a result I don’t believe he’d be able to give an objective reference. HR can confirm…”

          2. JSPA*

            Um, look. If you’re talking about how unethical your boss was, and how he hates you, and how you had to turn him in, and how his badmouthing was enough to turn everyone else against you, and how he was EVIL for giving you a bad reference instead of no reference…you’re going to shaft yourself worse than a bad reference old boss ever could. Boss’s motivation is open to conjecture; your own words are your own, and you own them.

            Please have the sense to put down your jousting lance and play it cool. Because, as you present it–passionately and as if it were yesterday, not four years ago–your explanation brings up the specter of a whole bunch of problem traits.

            It says, “I’m still upset about something from 4 years ago. And I’m spending mental bandwidth looking for evidence of internet stalking. Maybe I’m not very good at letting go of things when it’s time to let go.”

            It says, “either I’m wrong about everyone there now hating me, which means don’t trust myself and others…or else I’m right and they do all hate me, which means that the word of someone who was disciplined for unethical behavior is stronger and more persuasive than people’s own experience of having worked with me, and the body of work I left behind.”

            It says, “I could be a drama lama or have a chip on my shoulder.”

            It says, “If I believe, for Reasons, that someone’s going to stab me in the back, I’ll consider it fair game to stab them in their back, first.” (That’s a huge red flag, right? You see that?)

            It also kind of says, “I’m a bit high strung, a bit shell-shocked by life experience, or both. As a result, I’m a worst case scenario sort of person. Furthermore, under building tension, I’m susceptible to shooting myself in the foot (if nobody else does it first).” Depending on the job, that may or may not be a big issue, but it’s not going to be a positive.

            It says, “please wonder if I perhaps see the world and the people in it, in harsh shades of RIGHT or WRONG. Consider whether I see myself as a helpless-thus-blameless warrior for RIGHT, forced to take action by Circumstances.” (There are jobs that are built for people who see only 100% right or 100% wrong. But honestly, that you’d feel glad about someone losing their job for giving you a bad reference twice–a reference that they may very well be making in good faith, because they’re not required to see you, the way that you see you?–that registers as vindictive. Nobody really wants to hire someone whose favorite dish is revenge, served cold. )

            The situation literally says, “someone did something so unethical I HAD to blow the whistle, but they didn’t fire the guy, so you should wonder how unethical the guy was, in the first place.” (Note: you cannot forestall this by going into detail about the ethical lapse.)

            It literally does not matter that not one of these questions necessarily means that you ARE problematic as an employee. They are emotionally loud, anxiety-creating questions that you do not want floating around in an interviewer’s mind.

            For that matter, you probably don’t want these things chewing away in your mind. You don’t have the right to control how everyone you’ve worked with, sees you. Focus on the future, when you’ll make a priority of being thoughtful, compassionate, proportionate in your responses, and less anxiety-ridden version of you. If you don’t see a clear path to that point–regardless of what bad boss may say–find a way to do a few sessions of CBT-type therapy, and get some tricks to pull your mind out of the “bad boss” mindset.

            1. Robert*

              This is a really strange and dramatic response. Telling someone they need mental health services because they asked for help to prevent a repeat of a previous bad workplace experience is almost offensive – not to mention that armchair diagnosing other people is explicitly against the rules on this site.

              I’ve had other encounters with this person since I left the company we worked together at, which is why I’m asking for help. I didn’t give the full story because a) it’s not relevant and b) it’s too much for people to care to read. The guy in question has been repeatedly checking out my LinkedIn profile and I’m looking for a job, so it’s on my mind. I’m not kept up at night by thoughts of him coming to my office’s lobby to hand out pamphlets on how much I suck. I hope that he has a long and happy life, and that it doesn’t involve me at all.

              I won’t be responding further due to how strange and aggressive your message was, but in the future you’ll likely get better responses by not hypothesizing that other people on this site are horribly plagued by negative thoughts and incapable of relaxing, just waiting for you to save them.

    6. Cowgirlinhiding*

      You should go to your former companies HR department and let them know he is giving out bad references that are preventing you from receiving job offers. Tell them if it doesn’t stop you are going to file a lawsuit.

    7. Momofpeanut*

      Why don’t you ask a friend to call the former boss seeking a reference and see what he says? It is very possible you are worrying unnecessarily.

      1. I See Real People*

        I’ve done this once. Works beautifully, and eases the mind to know what would be said about you in reference.

  19. Avengers Assemble*

    After a year and a half of desperate job searching to get out of a truly miserable job, I got New!Job, and have now been here over a year. It’s not a dream job, I don’t see myself staying here for a decade like most of my coworkers have, but I am enjoying it for the time being, if nothing else than it’s not Old!Job. But I still find myself browsing through job applications.

    I haven’t applied to anything, haven’t even updated my resume with New!Job yet, but I’ll still find myself looking through job apps nearly every other month. I can’t figure out if it’s just a hold-over from my desperate search, when every spare moment of my life was for finding the next application to apply to; or if I’m actually really wanting to leave New!Job already, which I don’t feel like I do right at this very moment. I do want to think about my next step from here, especially because I have several paths I could take next in terms of jobs, but my thinking is not geared towards ‘If I want that job, I need to look up this certification or volunteer at this place for a foot in the door’. That thinking would make sense.

    Instead I’m just browsing around the open position lists. Has anyone else been stuck in a loop like this? Any ideas for breaking free or putting it to good use at least?

    1. Future Analyst*

      Take up a new hobby! It’s hard to get out of that habit, but I think that if you’re idly looking for jobs all the time, you’ll feel burned out on the process if/when you really do want to get a new job. Save that mental energy for something else, and get back to looking for a job when you truly want to get a new one.

    2. Q*

      I’m in a similar position. I was unemployed for about 9 months and finally got an offer for an acceptable position. Its not my dream job and it doesn’t pay nearly what I would like it to but its a job and gives me healthcare so here I sit. I’ve only been here 2 months but I still have all my job searches open and active and I can’t stop myself from continuing to look. I guess in my case I keep hoping something better will come along.

    3. epi*

      I don’t think there is really anything wrong with this, unless it’s bothering you or taking your time away from other things.

      It can be really beneficial to keep an eye on what’s out there even if you aren’t actively looking. Having needed to job search in a hurry once before, I wasted a lot of my time developing a sense of what places doing the most hiring in my field, what similar jobs I would be a good fit for, what accomplishments other employers were going to care about, and what kind of money I should expect. I think my first 2-3 weeks of applications were just for practice, looking back at them they embarrassed me.

      Over time, I bet you will find yourself looking at ads less and less, or getting through them more quickly. If it helps you, maybe start a list of useful stuff you *are* learning from these ads, like skills you want or employers that hire a lot, and see if knowing you already have the information lessens the need to constantly look for more.

      1. Bostonian*

        I agree with this! It’s totally normal to look at what’s out there, especially since this is happening every other month and not every day/every week.

        I also kept looking at open positions even after I landed my current job (which I love). I think I was also stuck in “search” mode. The frequency definitely died down over time.

    4. Specialk9*

      I set an alert on LinkedIn, and then check weekly. This has been true most of my career, irrespective of the job or job satisfaction. The average time with a company these days is 3 years. People end up on both sides of that range, but generally speaking you increase salary with changing positions, especially early in your career.

    5. TootsNYC*

      After I get new glasses, I always run around looking at other people’s specs. And once I splurged on a nice suit and then spent the next year crossing the street to look at suits in the windows of clothing shops.

  20. Lymon Zerga*

    Does anyone have any good recommendations for privacy screens/blinds/other devices for office door windows?

    I’ve been back at work for a little over a month now since having my baby, and I’ve been pumping in a little-used conference room. However, little-used doesn’t mean NEVER used, and I find that I am occasionally interrupted, have to boot people out of their meetings, etc., and I’ve decided I’d really be more comfortable pumping in my office. However, my door has (non-standard sized) windows that look out into the hallway, so obviously I’d need to do something about that. I’m wondering if there’s a privacy window cling-type option out there that I’m not aware of? I’ve found a couple possibilities through a rudimentary Google, but I’m hopeful that someone has had first-hand experience with a solution to this.

    1. fposte*

      There are blinds you can stick up with suction cups, which seem like they’d be perfect. (Or you could just festively wrap posterboard and tape that up.)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        While this does sound like a great suggestion, my own personal experience with suction cups has me shaking my head and going, “Don’t doooooooooo iiiiiiiitttttt!” Extra tape on those cups for good measure.

      2. Admin of Sys*

        I like the posterboard idea!

        There are frosted window films at most big home repair shops (lowes, home depot, etc). You can also get blinds or curtains or whatever and hang them up by using the big hooks you can attach to the wall and then peel off later, instead of installing actual curtain rod hooks.

        And if you want to get a bit crafty, you could get decorative paper, tape the top and bottom over a dowel, and then hang those up with the hooks – you end up with a paper-screen type affect. (this is how I blocked off the giant sidelights in my home)

      3. Specialk9*

        I just use frosted window film on all my lower windows. It started when nursing but continues now because I run from the shower to the laundry room or such. Home Depot or Lowe’s or Amazon.

        I’ve also heard of using liquid starch and fabric, or even contact paper.

        1. Getting Lit*

          Clear contact paper 100% works. It still lets light in but obscured any details. It’s easy to install and remove and it’s also very cheap.

    2. TCO*

      If you want the privacy cover to be removable when you’re not pumping, I’d suggest a couple of Command hooks and some kind of curtain you can hang up between the hooks. This could be as simple as cutting a couple of holes in an old towel, pillowcase, etc. for the hooks to go through. It won’t be fancy, but it will be easy and removable.

      If your door is designed in the right way, a tension curtain rod and a curtain could also do the trick, but that would require being able to fit a curtain rod inside the window frame–not sure how your door is designed.

      1. TCO*

        If you have a real curtain that would fit your door, the other option would be to hang the curtain on a little dowel rod between two Command hooks for a slightly nicer look that’s still easy to put up and down.

      2. epi*

        Command actually makes removable hooks specifically for hanging curtains. They’re called Curtain Call and there are probably other brands as well. They look nice! I have been meaning to put some up in my home since I rent.

        A reasonably nice looking rod and curtain are pretty cheap from e.g. Target. That is probably the way I would go.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      A co-worker at my last job simply taped up some paper. The actual name for it eludes me, but it’s white, comes on a roll, and people sometimes wrap packages with it. (Wow, I am sooo out of it today.) That way, light could get in but no one would see, and she just locked the door while she pumped.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        You can usually find rolls of white paper in craft stores, and sometimes office supply stores. You can look either in the wedding isle (for wrapping paper) or in the art supplies section – craft paper rolls for kids, they’re usually for table-top art sessions.

    4. Sandra Dee*

      Not office door related – but similar solution. I had windows along side my front door at my house, long, narrow skinny ones, and my dogs would go ape crazy over kids walking to the bus stop, people walking down the street, mail man, garbage man, invisible man, etc, and curtains were not a good solution. I bought some of the window cling things at Lowes, and cut to fit the windows. It let in light, but you could not see clearly through it. I have also seen them in a stained glass pattern too, in all kinds of sizes. Search for “window film privacy” on amazon. You will see all kinds of options, and most can be cut to fit.

      1. epi*

        This is a great product. There are a lot of options that will look like different patterns of frosted or etched glass and let light in without letting anyone see anything.

    5. IvyGirl*

      Congratulations – and love your username.

      They sell privacy window clings – think like opaque plastic contact paper, but static cling, not sticky. You can get it at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target. And – also at Staples.

      Depending on the size of your company, they might have to actually provide this for you. Check with your HR to see if it can be ordered – and so that they are Federally compliant if in the US.

    6. HisGirlFriday*

      FWIW, I just taped printer paper over my non-standard window in my office door, then closed the door when I needed to pump. I never had a problem. Obviously, if your windows are huge, that’s not going to work.

    7. Indie*

      At my school we’ve got little Velcro tabs around the frames and in my drawer is a folded up black sheet which velcros over the glass which we would use in case of a shooter on campus.

      Or you could use my travel tip: dental floss, tacks, and a sarong usually gives you window coverage on the fly. When I was backpacking the bathroom had a full length glass panel into the shared corridor!

    8. Stephern*

      Paper blinds would also work. They come in a large size and you cut them down to the size of the window; tape comes already attached to the top. They also come with clips so you can roll the blinds up and clips the ends if you want to see out of your window again.

    9. SoCalHR*

      what about command strip hooks on the door and then just throw up a little curtain (not sure how crafty you are, buy just go buy a panel of thick-ish fabric from a fabric store) when you need it covered and take it down when you’re done. Sounds like that would be pretty easy??

    10. Lymon Zerga*

      Wow–I never thought about taping up paper in the windows! (That’s me, always looking for a high-tech solution to a low-tech problem…) This is really clever. Also, I’m now envisioning going wrapping paper shopping and turning it into Privacy with a side dish of Decoration! You guys are so clever.

    11. Purplerains*

      If you want it to be “permanent” until you’re done pumping, search “window clings for privacy” on Amazon. Lots of options to choose from. You can even just do half or 3/4 of the window so you’re not blocking out all of the light if you want to.

      1. Annie Moose*

        It sounds like she has one (a conference room) but feels bad about kicking people out of it and so is seeking an alternate solution.

    12. NewBoss2016*

      At one point I had a small magnetic curtain rod that was made to stick to doors, and a small blackout curtain to go on the rod. It could be pulled off any time, but was nice enough to leave it on there full-time. I got them both at Walmart.

    13. aNon*

      I’ve used gift wrap and just do a double layer. Single layer still let people be able to see light and movement and I was having private employee performance discussions where I didn’t want anyone to see anything that might hint at who was in the office. And also I wanted to hide out occasionally and that’s hard when they can tell someone is in there if I move.

    14. JSPA*

      If it’s a ferrous metal door, you can stick anything up with magnets. (OK, that’s obvious, but I’m mentioning anyway.)

      If a film can be up the whole time (not on/off), the “artscape” line (available at HomeDepot) go on with water, stay up for as many months or years as you wish, and come off with water. Pick a design that doesn’t have a few “semi clear” inserts.

      If it has to be on/off and you’re not allowed to put hooks in the door, fabric with a dowel pocket at each end can be draped over the door. Make it double length, so that it balances. Place or toss it over the top of the door, close the door to pin it. This only works if the only windows are in the door itself, but it can work for even the largest windows.

      If the window in inset fairly deeply in the door, try foam board or rigid honeycomb plastic posterboard cut to fit tight, with strapping tape pull-tabs to remove.

      A bit wasteful, but if you need something that will work RIGHT NOW, and the window’s pretty tiny, blue painter’s tape should work. (Not the super-release stuff; the regular blue tape. It comes in wide. Leave a doubled over tab for ease of removal.)

  21. Weird But True!*

    Can I ask a coworker to not leave a bowl of gum out on her desk?

    I know this is going to be a weird question but it has been driving me mad. One of my coworkers has recently been leaving a bowl of gum out on her desk, like some people do a candy bowl. The thing is that I hate gum chewing. I don’t just mean as an annoying pet peeve, I mean I basically have misophonia, A fear of chewing sounds. I can tolerate it when people are actually eating but gum chewing, chewing an object for no nourishment purpose, drives me nuts. And don’t even get me started on people who snap or crack their gum. But it truly is not just a small annoyance; my skin crawls and I have flee the area of gum chewers.

    The main problem is that my direct boss/supervisor is a frequent taker from the bowl of gum. And he is the worst at chewing; open mouthed, snapping, all of it. He makes the worst kinds of noise that set me off. I wear headphones but they’re not noise canceling because I need to hear when he calls out to me. So the headphones mute some of it but most of his gum chewing still gets through. I have to leave my desk because it drives me away. I’ll take a long lunch, or hide in an empty conference room to get away (I sit at a cubicle in front of my boss so there’s no door I can shut him out).

    My boss never brings gum with him, he only takes from my coworker. So would it be totally weird to ask my coworker to not do a communal bowl of gum anymore? I know it’s a strange question, but it really has been affecting my work. He has taken a piece of gum every day this week because she refilled her bowl and it is severely affecting me. I can’t ask him not to chew gum, I’d much rather ask her to simply not have it out. I don’t care if she shares with other coworkers who ask, I just know that he grabs it when he walks past her desk and sees it. If it was out of sight, he wouldn’t take it and I wouldn’t have to hide or pray he has a long meeting every day, as I have done this week.

    1. fposte*

      I so hate gum, but no, I don’t think you can ask the co-worker not to leave gum out to keep your boss from chewing gum.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah I agree. Maaaaybe if you are close to your coworker, you could get away with saying something with a lot of deprecation “I know this is super weird to bring up, but I actually have this totally over the top reaction to listening to people chewing gum. I can’t explain it, but I find it super distracting. Is there any way you could stop putting out gum so often?”

    2. INeedANap*

      I think this depends on your relationship with your co-worker.

      I could totally see myself saying to certain people: “Hey, listen, Boss drives me up the wall chewing gum. Would you mind hiding your gum dish? Or, can I buy you some candy to put in it instead?”

      But these are people I already have an established, friendly, and work-casual relationship with.

      If it’s someone you’re not close with, I can’t really think of any way this wouldn’t come off as seeming a little controlling over others’ environment, though. Maybe others have suggestions?

    3. Parenthetically*

      I dunno, I think you can say, “Hey, Jane, I’m one of those folks who’s weirdly bothered by mouth sounds — would you mind swapping out gum for candy?” Make it about a personal quirk rather than something she’s done. Maybe offer to bring in a big bag of mixed candy or whatever.

      Sorry, this sounds so frustrating.

      1. nep*

        This sounds like a good approach. I really hope you get some relief here — This would drive me absolutely nuts. Fellow gum-popping-intolerant person here.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah, so long as you offer to buy the candy. And get good stuff if you can afford it. Cheaper than Bose!

      2. fposte*

        I think you absolutely could do it if the co-worker were the gum-chewer; what makes it tricky here is that you’re asking the co-worker to change her relationship with the boss because of your sensitivity. I think I’d probably reserve that for a situation where I’d also feel comfortable raising it with the boss, because otherwise the co-worker is going to have to have a conversation with the boss because of *my* sensitivities, and that’s not fair.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I see your point! I don’t think it definitely needs a conversation with the boss, though, unless he specifically asks why the coworker has candy instead of gum — I know I’d probably hardly notice — though I can see how that could get awkward. Maybe you’re envisioning something different than I am, though. Seems to me like Boss is an opportunistic gum-grabber, which probably isn’t about the gum at all, but about grabbing something that looks tasty on his way past the desk. I reckon it’s worth an ask given how much this is driving Weird but True! crazy.

          1. soon 2 be former fed*

            Boss could want to freshen his breath before a meeting. Give him a bag of starlight mints.

    4. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Unless you have a REALLY good relationship with that coworker, I’m afraid it’s going to come off really weird to ask that. Maybe you could bring some candy in to “donate” to the candy dish, and get rid of the gum that way?

    5. Zen Cohen*

      Yes, I think you can ask. Gum chewing is universally recognized as a grating hanit that bothers a lot of people when done in excess (see: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).

      I think it comes down to tone and your relationship with the co-worker. I wouldn’t make a Big Deal out of it, but I would put being sensitive to the sound of chewing gum on the same level as a sensitivity to strong fragrances or scents. It’s a pretty easy request to accommodate and would be a kindness that would improve your work environment.

      1. Bostonian*

        You make a good point- it’s maybe not that extreme of a request since people generally recognize gum chewing to be annoying. My mother hates the sound of chewing gum (though doesn’t have misophonia), so it’s definitely on my radar as A Thing That Bothers People.

    6. rocklobstah*

      If you have good rapport with your coworker, you can ask. The answer might be “no” but your coworker might not realize that this is making you miserable and may be willing to disappear the bowl for you.

    7. Z*

      If you’re comfortable enough with your coworker to come out to them about the misophonia, one approach would be to do that and ask if they would be comfortable switching to a candy bowl and offer to bring in some candy. Basically, approach your coworker as an ally in this.

    8. Choupet*

      If you do decide to address this with your coworker, I recommend listening to Alison’s podcast from this week where she brilliantly gives an example of the correct tone to use in a situation just like this. Other commenters suggestions for wording are great, coupled with the correct tone, should get you a positive outcome. I 100% feel your pain, gum chewing makes me feel ill too. Good luck!

    9. WellRed*

      My boss is exactly the same with gum and I suspect I also have misophonia. She knows it bugs me, I don’t understand why she just wont. stop. chewing. What is the point of gum (aside from maybe quitting smoking or dieting). Urgh.
      Also, I think its just weird to have a bowl of gum. Is the coworker trying to suck up to gum-chewing boss?

      1. Alice*

        I hate gum-chewing with a passion, but I don’t think it’s weird — it’s like a candy dish for people who don’t want to find themselves eating a lot of candy.

        1. fposte*

          Right, and it doesn’t have to be a suck-up thing to provide something you know somebody likes.

        2. WellRed*

          I guess I just find it odd that so many adults chew gum. It seems such a kid thing to me for the most part.

          1. HS Teacher*

            When I quit smoking I became a sugarless gum chewer. Now I find out people don’t like gum-chewing either.

            It seems I just can’t please anyone!

          2. Hrovitnir*

            I always find it interesting when people say X “seems like a kid thing” to them, because most of the time I really don’t have that association (I think in the past it was something like ponytails?)

            Anyway, I chew gum because (a) I like the taste, (b) it lasts longer than non-chewing mints, which I will go through a lot of if I were to swap them out, and (c) my dentist recommended I chew sugar-free gum because I tend to have a dry mouth and it is the easiest way to stimulate more saliva production.

            The downside is I also have some TMJ pain, so it’s not great for that. I’m aware it bothers people, and I can actually have a pretty strong reaction to chewing sounds myself, but I’m not going to not chew gum in my own time because of that. I don’t eat gum at work but if it’s not an otherwise dead-silent office and it’s not very loud chewing I wouldn’t see it as that reasonable to expect someone to stop – though you can certainly ask, and I would stop if someone around me was bothered.

      2. Rat in the Sugar*

        I dunno what others enjoy about gum, but I’m a fidgeter and also grind/clench my teeth constantly (adult ADHD/possible ASD), so having gum gave my jaw something to do and satisfied the urge to clench my teeth or chew on my lips.

        Unfortunately I haven’t been able to have it since reaching adulthood; it aggravates my reflux badly and makes me nauseous.

        Also, for Weird but True, I think you might be able to ask your boss about this. I could be totally wrong since no one else is suggesting it, but I think that a casual mention like “Hey Boss, do you really like gum in particular or would you mind switching to a different candy? I’m one of those people who get a bit bothered by the noise,” would be alright, especially if you bring a different candy and offer it, or maybe offer to stock a bowl with something boss prefers over gum. Depends on your relationship, I guess, but this is something I would feel comfortable mentioning to my own boss.

        1. fposte*

          I like this better than going to the co-worker, because it doesn’t put the co-worker in an awkward position with the boss. It’s the boss’ behavior that you really want to change, so talk to the boss.

    10. N Twello*

      If you have never ever let on how you feel about this to anyone, then the easiest thing to do is take the bowl and gum and throw them out. You must do this when nobody can suspect you. If the bowl reappears, throw it out again. That ought to do it.

      I once had to do something like this. We had one small fridge for a large office and it was stuffed to the gills every day. One day a coworker got in early and put a huge lunch cooler in the fridge; it was so big that it took up an entire shelf. I saw it when I was alone in the kitchen, and I took it out and put it on the floor. Later that day the cooler was back in the fridge and the kitchen was plastered with notices demanding to know who had done it. I waited till I was alone again and again removed the cooler.

      A big discussion of the issue followed. A new policy was determined that employees could not put large lunch packs in the fridge. In addition, a second fridge was purchased.

      I can’t defend what I did, but it solved the problem quickly and I wasn’t implicated.

      In addition, you might want to think about how you get along in a group environment. We all have to cope with being in close proximity to other people, and you can’t get all worked up about things like this on an ongoing basis.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        I don’t think you should throw away items from someone else’s desk that they have paid for.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, that’s not cool, especially if it’s being done instead of just talking to somebody about a problem.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        No. I would not do this. This is extremely passive-aggressive. There are other ways– more mature ways– to deal with an annoying situation. Let’s say I brought in flowers one day and put them on my desk, in my office. A co-worker is sensitive (note: not allergic) to one of the flowers in the arrangement. Instead of saying, “Hey, ALB, the smell of those stargazer lilies makes my eyes water, would you mind taking the flowers home or moving them”, she sneaks into my office after hours and dumps the whole arrangement in the trash? No. Give people some credit and the chance to act like adults.

          1. o.b.*

            Sorry, I missed the nesting and thought this was a reply to the original question. I’m a little more OK with your response because I think throwing out someone’s stuff without talking to them about it is a terrible way to attempt to resolve a conflict … but I still think you could’ve been a little less sharp

      3. HS Teacher*

        That’s not even remotely okay. I think I’d hate to work with you. If someone has something going on that bothers you, it requires a polite conversation, not a passive aggressive action like you took!

    11. Cowgirlinhiding*

      Bring something else to fill her bowl. If it is full of Hershey Kisses, no room for gum. Plus she is not going to complain if you start filling it. Problem solved.

      1. HS Teacher*

        Another passive-aggressive suggestion.
        Don’t do any of this, OP! It’s her dish, and if she wants to keep gum in it, it’s her prerogative. You can politely let her know, but your problem with the gum is YOUR issue, not hers. No one can chew gum because you can’t handle the sound of it? That’s ridiculous.

    12. anonagain*

      Mimicking helps my sound sensitivity a bit. It’s still terribly annoying, but I don’t cry or leave the room. I try to mimic as quietly as I can and still get relief, so as not to annoy other people. Sometimes I’ve been able to manage by making other sounds, e.g. using my pen to make scratching noises on paper in rhythm with someone’s chewing. (I also rub my hand over my ear if people can’t see me, which sounds loud to me, but not to other people. Matching the rhythm of the annoying noise is important.)

      Anyway, if this chewing gum nightmare doesn’t resolve, maybe that’s something you can try. I definitely used to angry-chew gum in sync with people around me.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope everyone in your office gets super into a quiet snack.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Interesting. I have some form of misphonia, and have never tried this. I might have to – it sounds much better than sitting around seething with irrational rage.

  22. Snubble*

    My office is moving to a new location, and it seems that nobody is happy with it. It’s not so much the move itself as the new shift schedule stirring up a lot of angst and festering resentments and there’s a lot of whispering in corners going on. HR are involved trying to produce a schedule that works for everyone. I’m not personally worried about the schedule – either of the options I’m facing will work for me – but the general upset and the circular discussions are getting to me. How do I keep an even temper for the next few weeks of this?

    1. sunshyne84*

      Find something positive about the move and change the subject to that. Ex. If there’s a popular restaurant nearby talk about that as a new lunch option.

    2. All Anon*

      Be a role model and shut it down if it is directed towards you or it comes your way. Hey folks, HR is doing their best to make this work so I’m going to go with the flow and think happy thoughts today.

    3. VioletDaffodil*

      I think it could help to just keep reminding yourself that very often people are made uncomfortable by change, and this leads to a lot of vocal worrying and catastrophizing of things. If you can train yourself to see the mood as a typical response to being uncomfortable and anxious, it might help in preventing it from getting to you.

      We had a change in leadership here at work several years ago that made my coworkers very anxious about the future. Whenever they would come to me about it, I would try to say I was just taking it one step at a time and not letting myself worry about the future; I had to repeat this at times, but it helped me to not get stuck into a cycle of worrying about scenarios that were probably worse than reality.

  23. heckofabecca*

    Hi all! I hope everyone’s Friday is going well! I’m looking for recommendations of software or websites that will help me keep track of action items for the people whom I’ve been asked to provide reminders to. Preferably something that will take a due date AND let me set a reminder for X days ahead. Free products are hugely preferred. Thanks so much! (For context, I’m the secretary for a tiny nonprofit that runs a summer program.)

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Do you use Outlook as your mail system? I believe you can use the “tasks” features and email flags to do this.

    2. Grad Student*

      This may not be what you’re looking for, but Google Calendar allows you to put in events and set a notification reminder X minutes/days/weeks ahead of time. Slack also has a reminder bot that I’ve been using a ton for mostly my personal life–you type “/remind me to do X next Wednesday at 10 am” and then it does! (If other people are in a Slack channel with you, you can make the bot remind them of things.)

      1. heckofabecca*

        Thank you and thank everyone!! Given that I use gmail, I’m going to start here. Now I’m furiously switching my personal stuff to it as well… We’ll see if end up using 2 apps, one for personal and one for work, or just the one :)

        Thanks again!! Have a great weekend all!

    3. Parenthetically*

      I’ve used Asana. They have a free version or one that’s $9.99/mo. It’s project-based so I don’t know if that will work for your needs, but it was pretty intuitive and simple to use when I used it.

      1. As Close As Breakfast*

        I use Asana as well. It works great for assigning tasks (with due dates) to people.

    4. Curious Cat*

      Not totally sure this is what you’re looking for, but I use Momentum in my web browser (it’s a free add-on). Every time I open a new tab in my browser, it opens to Momentum and I can see my current to-do list & you can set daily goals for yourself.

    5. Fishsticks*

      I love Todoist. It has a free option as well as a premium one. You can put daily or other repeating reminders based on date and sort them into specific projects.

    6. Llama Wrangler*

      This might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but I use boomerang, which works for Gmail based email to do this. I’ll set something to boomerang back to me if it has not been replied to on the deadline, and something to boomerang whether it’s been replied to or not a few days ahead of the deadline if I need to set a reminder.

    7. Modernhypatia*

      I use Todoist – if you use Gmail (or can install the addon for Outlook), you can link emails into it with the premium option (which is something like $20 a year).

      I stick a link in when I answer something, and if I’m going to need a reminder, I duplicate that, set the date for whatever I need. Then when it pops up in the list, I can click the link to the email and immediately remember what it was I needed to do.

    8. Little Bean*

      I used to use Trello and liked it, but I think it’s really meant for more complicated projects than I have. Often, I just need to remember “check website for updates” on XXX day or something very simple. So now I just use the tasks feature on my Google calendar. It’s super easy to post short reminders, you can edit it to include a longer description if you need to and it’s also really easy to drag them around your calendar if you need to reschedule something.

  24. AnotherAlison*

    Trivial business travel question of the day: I’ve been using a lot of the off-airport parking services, like The Parking Spot. Some people don’t tip, other people seem to tip a dollar. I am not traveling with anything other than my personal bag and do not have a roller bag that I need help with. Should I tip or not? The logical part of me says just be generous–it’s a dollar to a bus driver. The tightwad in me has tip fatigue (so many services with square pay and automatic tip requests now). Thoughts?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I only tip when the driver helps me with my suitcase or does something special for me (like drop me off at a spot that’s not designated). I consider myself to be a pretty generous tipper, too.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My dad used to drive one of those shuttles and they aren’t paid as low as servers, but their hourly rate is on the lower side because it is assumed they will get tips.

    3. periwinkle*

      If I’m traveling light with just a backpack, no tip. That almost never happens, though! I’ll tip a dollar or two.

      I may be unorganized in many parts of life, but when it comes to tipping I am prepared. I’m off to the credit union today to get some $20 bills converted to $1 and $5 bills. I will use paper clips to portion out travel cash: nightly housekeeping tips; bellhops/shuttle drivers/curbside check-in tips; carryout or barista tips; and cash for small purchases like gum. The cash not needed immediately goes into an envelope tucked into my laptop; if the work laptop is lost or stolen, I’ve got bigger problems than $15 in cash to worry about…

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Dang. This is a level of organization I can only strive for right now. I park two cars in two different airports on each end, and feel like I’m doing good if I can keep track of which service I used, where I parked (depends on the airline if off-airport or garage is better), not lock any keys in a car, and remember my wallet.

    4. Seal*

      I always tip a buck or 2, both because I always have at least one suitcase and because they cheerfully take me straight from my car to the airport and back. That’s worth a buck or 2 in my book.

    5. Iris Eyes*

      The less people who tip the more fair and equitable wages will be. I’d save it for situations that warrant it where they are clearly exceeding the expectations.

      1. soon 2 be former fed*

        Nope. The people who depend on tips will just have less to live on. Wishful thinking.

    6. Jemima Bond*

      Can you think of any ancestral reason why you might in fact be British? Then you could not tip (except in restaurants, for good service, and even then only ten per cent unless it was so good you want to marry the waiter/waitress) with a clear conscience because you are following cultural norms!
      (Not criticising the British – I am one!)

  25. Parenthetically*

    TL;DR: Who here has left their job after a season of being a work-outside-the-home parent? Pros and cons?

    I’m strongly considering not returning to teaching in the fall this year. It’s been really chaotic, and although I have always been really passionate about teaching, I feel like some of the spark has gone out just with all the craziness. I have a few options for next year, but none of them is really ramping me up at the moment. My husband is very happy to follow my lead on this, and we could make it on his income alone (mine is only part time as it is). I’d love to hear your stories of going back to work after having a child and then deciding to take some time away from work. How did you decide? What makes it worth it? What’s frustrating? Do you have plans for going back? What does that look like for you?

    TIA! :)

    1. go sharks go!*

      I have always been a working mom (my kid is almost 6 yrs old), but, I want to say that if you feel you need a bit of a break from teaching and can afford to spend more time with your child then by all means do it! Your child is only a baby for a short amount of time, the days are long but the years are short. IMO, look at it as a leave of absence :) I had about 5 months of mat. leave due to FMLA plus my state’s family leave act but also ended up using vacation time for the remainder of the year since I had accrued so much. This helped me ease back into a long commute, plus being a working mom.

    2. Bethy L*

      I am literally doing this same thing today! This is my last FT day before going PT remote just a few hours a week. I’ve got 4 kids and worked continually. I was surprised to find that I felt I was more stretched for time as the kids got older. I am going to do some contract work, but my primary focus will be family. I have money fears, but mostly what I realized is that I am so stressed and pulled in so many directions, that by the time I got home, I had literally nothing left for my family. I am really, really excited to learn how to sit still. I hope to keep my hand in professionally, and if I want to go back to FT I’d like to think I’ve built up enough of solid reputation over 20 years that I would be able to find something. But my long-term goal is to pull together contracts and bring in enough work, but also allow that flexibility to be there for the kids. Good luck!

    3. Candygrammar*

      I went back to work with my first, but I left the workforce after my second was born.

      Having a second really tipped the balance in terms of time poverty, daycare costs, and stress. I’ve really loved being there for my kids, and I am a lot more relaxed about time, and just them in general. I don’t have the sense that I have to make every moment special, and we have a more or less peaceful, low maintenance daily routine that I really treasure.

      As for downsides, I feel like I’ve had to specialize a lot more in kid/domestic stuff. My husband and I used to be about 50/50 in taking kids to appointments and being in charge of the day to day kid stuff, and now it’s more like 90/10.

      My youngest is almost a year old, and I’m starting to look for part time work because I miss being out around other adults and using those parts of my brain.

      Good luck!

    4. Stanley Nickels*

      I worked for 10 months after my first child was born (including 10 weeks of maternity leave) and have been at home with them (and our new infant!) for over a year now.

      My decision to leave was fairly easy – my husband had to move for a new job and various old issues/new changes happening at my job made me not want to stay on. He also was able to support us financially, and with the cost of childcare, it didn’t make much sense for me to continue working in my old position anyway.

      What makes it worth it: You get to see your child grow every day and you make so many memories getting to know them. You can set your schedule and focus on the things you want to do and/or they enjoy. You don’t have the drama or stress of work hanging over you. If you have another child, you have more time to recover from birth and focus on how you want to raise the baby, as opposed to making decisions based on returning to work. As I mentioned above, you avoid major daycare costs!

      What is fustrating: You have to MAKE time for yourself. You won’t get the adult alone time or social interactions you need unless you make an effort. You won’t feel as intellectually stimulated during the day. I struggle with feeling like I’m not contributing financially because I was very independent previously.

      Other things to consider: Check into your spouse’s insurance for the cost of adding you, if applicable. That can be one of the largest expenses of stepping away from working (in the US at least). Check into your retirement savings – what will that look like if you aren’t working? Have frank discussions with your husband about money spending/saving on only one income. Also, try to be on the same page about your new role – even though you’re home all day, the house won’t always be spotless with all the errands done! Kids tend to make the unexpected “plans detour” happen daily.

      The are ups and downs, like with anything, but I feel so fortunate to spend this time with my kids. It is too true that time with them flies and you won’t get it back, and I don’t think I will ever regret this time with them. If you can manage it financially and feel prepared for some of the frustrations, I would recommend it!

      I don’t have any concrete plans to return to working, but I would ideally like to return when the kids are older and gone at school most of the day. I’ll probably start researching job ideas when they are in preschool and honing in on what field I’d like to get back into.

      Good luck with whatever you decide!

    5. CurrentlyLooking*

      I spent 14 years as a stay at home mom before returning to work part-time.

      It does take a long time to adjust and the first year or two were a little lonely. Once the kids were old enough to attend preschool and take classes, we found many friends and had a lot of fun.

      Financially it was a bit tight for the first few years. I learned to shop well, cook a lot, and budget to be able to stay home. As the years went by, my husbands salary grew which made it easier. (I did find after returning to work that I spent much more in general due to having less time to shop, cook, etc.)

      Good luck w whichever you choose!

    6. Piano Girl*

      Hi was a stay-at-home mom while my children were small, and eventually went back to school part-time to finish up my degree. Worked for awhile and then left, due to stress-related illness (the non-profit I was working for was having major problems). I eventually went back to work and was employed for almost ten years. Last year I was laid off and decided at that time that I needed a break to deal with some new health problems. I have really enjoyed not working full-time this year, as it has given me opportunities to spend time with out-of-town family. We anticipate moving in the next few months, and then I plan to probably find at least a part-time job.
      I have enjoyed working, but also enjoy not being completely stressed out. Good luck in what you decide to do!

    7. Traveling Teacher*

      I took a little over a year off after my first was born, then completely switched careers. I didn’t want to be working at school and at home planning and correcting papers without being fairly paid for my time in both places (most of the time, I worked under contract at various locations, not FT salaried, so a bit different to your situation. That 35 euros/hour soon became about 5 euros/hour when you include planning plus correcting! It’s not realistic to correct 30 essays and prepare for the next lesson in a half-hour of paid prep…)

      So, now I work from home. The biggest switch for me was that I was no longer the person “in charge.” I’m no longer the one making the long-term plan, and I’m really enjoying that!

      I had thought I would enjoy being a full-time mom a lot more than I actually did. YMMV, and being able to be at home FT is a privileged position indeed, but I found that I was much, much happier once I started working again, while still taking care of my child FT at home during the day.

  26. DoctorateStrange*

    I applied to a job the other day and I made sure to reduce my two-page resume to one page by leaving only leadership positions I’ve had in school activities and just leaving only other things related to the field of the position I want.

    Now this was an online application and it has the option of adding any other documents besides my resume. I’m thinking of adding a document of all the stuff I left out in my resume. How do you think that will go?

    I’m pursuing my Master’s in this field and I’m thinking of mentioning the coursework I’ve taken already to show them that I am planning on growing/developing in the field.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I don’t know that I’d add a whole document of other activities if they aren’t related to the current position and field. If there’s experience and skills you learned from them that would be useful, I’d mention that in the cover letter.

    2. Z*

      That “other documents” option is usually intended for cover letters, and built/phrased that way so it can accommodate jobs that may need something else specific (e.g. writing samples for a p.r. job). It’s not really meant for stuff that could have been included on a resume.

      Hope this is helpful.

  27. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

    So a coworker who is constantly rude to me and many other staff members just got nominated for one of the highest honors our organization offers. I’m flummoxed. My boss (who is also his boss) constantly tells me that he has a “gruff attitude” and “you need to understand he is new and learning” yet she nominates him for an award!? Are you kidding me?

    Meanwhile I put in 10 months of crazy work on a project where I was the PM and also the only resource. This is a project for an item our department has tried and failed to get for the past 4 years and all I got was a text that said “thank you”. Yeah my moral is running on fumes right now.

    1. DoctorateStrange*

      I was about to ask if this award may have had to do with his seniority, but now I’ve reread what you posted and seeing that’s “he’s new,” I’m really thrown.

      I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

    2. Seal*

      As nice as it is to be recognized for your work with a special award, I take the entire process with a grain of salt. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been recognized by my institution and other organizations with awards, but have also been passed over for even a nomination, only to see someone I consider to be undeserving or just plain awful get recognized. It absolutely can be a moral-buster, especially when a jerk gets an award.

    3. VioletDaffodil*

      I’m really sorry that this is happening to you. Sometimes I have found that people have a management (or parenting…) style where they think the person who is misbehaving just doesn’t have enough incentive to behave yet, and once they find the right incentive level it will be smooth sailing. In my experience, this rarely works, but it makes me wonder if this is what your boss is doing. It’s a terrible system because it rewards bad behavior and makes those who are trying hard feel unseen, and unappreciated.

      It sounds like you are a competent, high-performing person so in her mind she doesn’t need to pay any attention because you are already doing what she wants. Even if you stopped, she likely wouldn’t suddenly become more encouraging; instead she would be angry that she now has to devote energy to you too.

      Since you have just had a big success at work, it might be time to think about finding a new position where you are more appreciated.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Yeah, I’ve seen them. Its like they think that by being extra nice the other person will feel duty bound to deserve the treatment. Sometimes it works with praise but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it work with things.

      2. King Friday XIII*

        Yes to this. I was in a similar position where I knew I wasn’t going to get recognized because they didn’t feel like they needed to work to “keep” me. It got under my skin, and at the same time made me feel petty and horrible for caring. Eventually I realized that if I felt appreciated in other ways it wouldn’t bother me so much. Go find someplace that’ll appreciate you.

    4. Irene Adler*

      So go out and get a job promotion for yourself.
      IF they won’t recognize your value, find a place that does.

    5. N Twello*

      Kudos, awards, recognition in general… these programs often have a negative net effect on morale.

      I’ll give you an example. I once worked at a company that had a policy that weekly meetings had to start with the manager recognizing accomplishments of the team in the previous week. Over a two year period, my manager never once recognized my accomplishments, even though I had many. I got bonuses and great performance evaluations (but they were recommended by my team lead). There were other people in our department who felt similarly left out by the “kudos” policy, and we were all disgruntled.

      Why did our manager leave us out? We never knew. Guesses included: she only recognized her favorites; she didn’t like us personally; she was threatened by us; she was simply sloppy and didn’t keep track of who she was recognizing.

      Work is not fair. It should be a meritocracy but it usually isn’t. You have to be clear about why you’re working there (you love the work; you can’t get the same salary elsewhere; you want to put in X years for your resume; opportunities) and try to ignore the indignities. In my case, I quit that job and took a new job… which turned out to be much worse. But hey, it might have been better.

      1. Gatomon*

        +1

        I’ll add to your example. I worked in a place where morale was tanking for various, management-related reasons. So management decided to boost morale with staff recognition. They came up with something fairly simple that sounds good at first: employee-driven recognition. For instance, I see Nina going above and beyond, so I nominate her to be recognized in a staff meeting. Management could not make any nominations.

        Well it turned out that there was a group of employees who were very motivated to participate. And the group of motivated employees consistently nominated other people in the motivated group. They also set the bar for what they felt worthy of nomination very low, so the volume they submitted was high. The same people would receive nominations each week. So there was a pool of 5 or 6 employees who were constantly nominating each other for fairly basic stuff drowning out the recognition time for everyone else. The rest of us got even more demoralized and stopped participating, which made it worse. It felt like a recognition program for the popular kids.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “you need to understand he is new and learning”

      Me: “So you are saying, Boss, that this award is for newbies who haven’t really learned the job yet? Oh, phew. That does not describe me so I don’t qualify.”

      Actually said this. To my boss.

      The award went away, when the newbie winner committed Jailable Offense. I’d like to think it was because of my great response, but that probably had nothing to do with it.

    7. Fiennes*

      I think it’s fair to start looking for an exit. Hard work and collegial behavior aren’t rewarded where you are now.

    8. Gatomon*

      I think it’s time to look around. There may be better places out there. Every time something like this has happened to me, I took my angry feelings, turned them into a resume and landed a better job. It’s the universe hinting to you that it’s time to put your big project on your resume and move on.

    9. Close Bracket*

      As an aside, I’m going to grumble about how men get away with being gruff, and women get called “difficult.”

  28. Folklorist*

    Hi everyone! It’s your I’m-too-tired-to-come-up-with-something-clever-to-say ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!!
    Go do something you’ve been putting off and come back and brag about it!

    I’ve, well, procrastinated a whole bunch and am now under the gun to finish an article. (Ahem) and am now posting on AAM to distract me. Sigh. Back to the salt mines! I’ll comment here when I’ve shoved it out the door!

    1. Grad Student*

      I have pretty much done nothing but procrastinate all morning (sigh) and now I’m about to go off for a lunchtime climbing break–but when I come back I will DEFINITELY fix the data processing step that I’ve been putting off and will come back here to say so!

    2. Parenthetically*

      Check! Loaded the stupid dishwasher and washed the stupid dishes, took out the stupid trash, and made myself lunch (due to schedule craziness on Tuesdays and Fridays I often forget to eat before I head in to work).

    3. MamaGanoush*

      Followed up in person re bookstore order emails, got all the needed info, and BONUS got a great idea for streamlining a process. Yay!

    4. Jemima Bond*

      It’s Friday evening here in Limey Land and I’ve just got home from work. So tbh I am on the settee drinking gin. Although I did message three links to bridesmaids dresses to my friend who is getting married (and has kindly asked me to be a bridesmaid) so that’s helpful I guess.
      I promise I’ll do the washing up and hoovering first thing tomorrow!

    5. Folklorist*

      I’M DONE!!! Hoooooo, this has been a trying week with these stupid articles. And my stupid second job scheduling me for stupid twice-as-many-hours-as-I-requested. For once in my life, I actually have some money and I’m using some of it this weekend to get someone to clean my apartment so I can enjoy my limited time off! (Echoing user Parenthetically).

    6. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      I had over 200 unread email in my inbox. They are now down to zero, thank goodness.

    7. HS Teacher*

      I finished writing my master’s thesis, which is due…. in 2 hours. I procrastinated for weeks, but once I sat down and forced myself to focus, it wasn’t that bad. I graduate on May 10, and I couldn’t be more proud.

      I was the first in my family to graduate from college, so my family is super proud and supportive. It’s a great feeling.

  29. Alex*

    Does anyone here work in or know much about the healthcare IT/IM field? It seems like healthcare is one of the few growing industries and for someone who is quite squeamish, this is perhaps the best option for getting in on it. I have seen programs offered at the community college and university levels and was wondering how they are viewed? If you don’t have either a healthcare or IT background, are they adequate preparation for getting a job/are there actually jobs available? Thanks for input.

    1. MissGirl*

      I work in information systems in healthcare and I wouldn’t say we’re growing necessarily. My company just outsourced 3000 employees to other companies, including some of our IT. Much of IT, even in other sectors, is being outsourced.

      Healthcare is seeing rising costs and many companies are struggling. Don’t get into it because you think it’s a safe bet. Pay and perks can also be lower. Figure out what kind of job you want to do before you necessarily choose an industry.

    2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      I work in healthcare, but not directly in IT.
      From what I usually see, healthcare facilities hire IT companies as a contractor/vendor. If you want to be a stand-out, make sure you’re up to date on HIPAA and all the security measures to ensure HIPAA-compliance, and then maybe join an IT company with a reputation for working with healthcare.
      If you want to be an IT person directly hired by a healthcare facility, I personally don’t see much of that, but obviously it can be different everywhere. You’d have to see what the norm is in your area.

      But for healthcare, being an expert in HIPAA is a huge plus.

    3. rubyrose*

      Healthcare IT here, specifically the software side. Are you thinking the hardware or software side?

      Tongue Cluckin’ Grammarian is correct about health care systems bringing in vendors for their software. That is because the software needed in healthcare is so complicated, due to government regulations and privacy concerns, that home-grown software systems for it are crazy expensive to create and maintain. So if you are thinking software, yes, look for companies that support healthcare.

      Hardware side – healthcare knowledge is useful, but less required. Besides the HIPAA/PHI requirements, understanding that if you are supporting patient care networks, you have to be really aware of disaster recovery, redundancy, and the fact that you are really running 24/7, 365 days a year.

      Those community college/university programs (I graduated from one) are really useful for understanding the business side of healthcare, but typically will not give you the technical background you need for the IT side.

    4. TerraTenshi*

      IT adjacent in the healthcare field here. It varies a lot depending on location, company, job, etc. One of the best suggestions I have if you’re going for entry level is to try looking at non-treatment healthcare like a blood bank rather than a doctors office or hospital. The work is similar but somewhat less complicate and easier to break into. If you’re willing to start on the help desk you may be better off looking at A+ certification or similar rather than a degree.

    5. Windchime*

      My experience happened almost 20 years ago, so YMMV.

      I was working in the business office of an outpatient clinic, processing claims and payments. I took some classes at the local community college to learn programming; it was a smattering of C++, Java, and a little bit of theory as well. That allowed me to get my foot in the door when a programming job opened up; because I had organizational knowledge and had built a good reputation, they took a chance on me in the programming job. I’m still in IT for Healthcare some 18 years later, and still love it. My previous job wasn’t very secure (the company kept getting sold), but now I work for Giant University so it feels much more secure.

  30. Ainomiaka*

    Well, pressure dude didn’t get job we were both applying for. Sadly I didn’t either. And they called at the WORST possible time. If you saw my life post last week, right when I was finding out. I’m just proud that I didn’t cry on the phone. I guess I just need to find ways to make my current job interesting long term-it’s not terrible. Just repetitive. And I struggle with focusing on the same details time after time. But what I really need is for it to pay better. *sigh* no advice questions. Keep on keeping on, I guess.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      I know these are (duck-billed) platitudes but still: Hang in there! Onwards and upwards! Tomorrow is a new day!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I like to have chicken or salmon for dinner when I need help focusing at work. Getting set amounts of sleep each night helps and so does hydration. Good luck on your search, I hope you find something soon.

  31. SpaceNovice*

    A potential opportunity cropped up; a recruiter from a company that I liked got in contact with me again. I passed the screening interview and it sounds like a good cultural fit; it’s also super close to my house! That means a technical phone interview is next and if that works out, a face to face with a bit of coding.

    Anyone got any tips for the phone technical interview? It should be focused on Java/software engineering. I’m going to be getting prepped this weekend since I’ve never done one of these before.

    1. Cassie*

      My advice is to think about logistics. I had enough flexibility that I was able to work from home on the few times where I had something where I needed a computer and more than a lunch break if I had to drive all the way home. But you might want to think about a headset or speaker phone so you can type while talking.

      You probably want to do a quick review of breadth first and depth first search and hash tables, if you can manage.

      And then remember during the interview that the more you say out loud about your thought process, the better! If you get stuck, make sure you’ve explained your general thought process and see if there’s a way to come back to it later.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I agree with the think out loud suggestion. When I’m doing technical interviews (granted, all face to face), I’m as interested in the person’s thought processes as I am in the final answer – sometimes more.

        I’d also brush up on basic OOP principals – inheritance, interfaces, method overloading and overriding (I like to ask the difference between these, since it’s pretty fundamental). If you have examples of where you’ve used these before that you can describe, even better. If you know anything about any sort of design patterns and can describe how you’ve used them (or would use them, if it’s a hypothetical), bonus!

        1. SpaceNovice*

          Oh yes, definitely. I have to think out loud during interviews or talking with people for sure because my ADHD means that I think differently and especially need to explain my thought processes. (My brain makes webbed connections rather than more linear ones, if that makes any sense.)

          Those are all excellent suggestions; I’m putting them on my review list, although I’m pretty sure I can give immediate answers. They just need more polishing. (I don’t know what patterns I generally use since no place has really emphasized patterns in my previous jobs. I suspect I use some and just don’t know their names. Definitely going to skim that as well.)

          Thank you very much! I really appreciate it.

      2. SpaceNovice*

        Oops, thanks for reminding me! I let my boss know I’ll be WFH on Monday. I might have to look into a headset; my phone has a decent speakerphone capability and I can do Wifi calling so I won’t lose connection.

        Oh, good suggestions. I haven’t had to think about those in a while.

        Thankfully, I usually think about stuff out loud naturally during interviews, but I’ll make sure that I definitely do it! Thank you for the help!

  32. Melody*

    Situation: For various reasons, I’m really struggling at my current job, and my performance is low in some areas. I’m worried about being fired, and I am keeping an eye out for other opportunities.
    Q1 – Time
    – to even perform halfway decent takes more than 40 hours at this job. Improving my performance – via things like as taking classes, which I’ve done on and off – takes even more time. How am I supposed to fit in a strategic job hunt when I’m working so much? I had friends advise me to just let my performance slip even more and focus on the job hunt but I’m afraid I’d get fired even quicker and then won’t be able to find a job! But if I only focus on improving and it doesn’t work, then I won’t have any job leads. How do I balance this???
    Q2 – References.
    If I do find another job they won’t check for references with my current employer, but some time in the future I will need more than one professional reference and I wouldn’t get a good one here. How do I address a “reference gap”?
    Thanks for any help!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      A while ago a person here mentioned that they search for a job to apply to in the morning. After work, they write that cover letter, tailor the resume and ship it out. I was very impressed with how this person broke the task into two parts.

      I am not sure if you still want/need classes. With a 40 hour work week, I think one class at a time is PLENTY.

      As you go through your work day look for ways to streamline your work or build shortcuts or helpers into your work day. The job I have now came with NOTHING. I had to build my contacts list as I went along. I had to figure out what order to do things in so that I was not backtracking or missing things. At first it seemed like 9 million balls in the air. So I decided to set an order for daily tasks. I do these tasks in the same order each day. What used to take me hours now takes me 30 minutes at most. I have eliminated the forgetting, the backtracking, the redoing etc on the repetitive tasks. My wise friend said get a handle on the repetitive stuff first, worry about the one-of-a-kind in a little bit.
      Build yourself lists, cheat sheets and I even have an example file. If I need to do X and I have not done an X in months, I can go to my example file and find Example of X to copy directly or to use as a guideline in a slightly different situation. I have a folder of calendars because everyone and their cat sends me a calendar. I use sheet protectors and tabs that I made. I can quickly ditch an old calendar and put the new one in. My theory is that we have a tendency to say, “Oh, I will remember this or that!” And then we don’t remember because it’s not realistic to remember. Nail down the easy stuff and nail down the stuff that is a recurring headache.

  33. Another Lauren*

    Tell me about historically underemployed communities! I have an opportunity to hire a large number of entry level staff for a position with decent growth potential, and I want to make sure I’m attracting a wide range of candidates. So far I plan to reach out to: returning citizens who’ve been incarcerated, youth aging out of foster care, people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (physical disabilities, too, but I’ve been able to easily recruit there in the past), the refugee community, and…? What am I missing? What barriers can I remove from the hiring process as a whole to make it easier? Thanks, AAMers!

    1. Emi.*

      Mothers returning to the workforce after a stint at home! Okay, and fathers, but mostly mothers.

    2. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Former addicts, although that correlates a lot of times with people who’ve been incarcerated. We have a “drug court” here, and I’ve connected with the PO who runs it to get a pipeline of candidates. I’ve also talked to some local social service agencies to get the word out there, too.

    3. Famous Blue Raincoat*

      Veterans should definitely be considered–I know a surprising number of them (of varying ages/generations, including some who were very recently deployed in Afghanistan/Iraq) who struggle to find work on their return from active duty.

    4. TCO*

      It’s awesome that you’re thinking about this! Have you reached out to any workforce-type programs that support underemployed communities like those you mentioned? I bet many of them would be happy to circulate your job posting or even partner with you in a deeper way. They might be able to provide some support to you and the folks you hire if challenges arise as well as providing that proactive advice about making your hiring process and workplace welcoming.

    5. Chameleon*

      I don’t have anything particular to add to your list (other than Native Americans and women of color) but I just want to say this is really awesome of you!

    6. Washi*

      When I did hiring for an entry level position that was basically constantly open (seasonal, lots of turnover between years) we put together a short guide on what to expect from the interview, how to prepare, and what would impress us. We also gave candidates a couple of the tougher behavioral questions ahead of time so they would have a chance to prepare a good answer.

      I think the main benefit was feeling like we could hold everyone to a similar standard, and we could see who was able to take advantages of resources offered to improve their performance.

      1. Another Lauren*

        This is awesome! I had thought about the way I write the job description (removing jargon, using neutral language, describing a typical day on the job) but I love the idea of putting together an interview guide! I’m also planning to use a rubric to evaluate all candidates in order to reduce unconscious bias.

        1. Washi*

          Ooh, we did this too. We didn’t share the rubric ahead of time, but we did tell them the categories they would be scored on. We also tried to have two people in the interview to avoid one person unconsciously just hiring people like themselves, and then have them do the rubric separately before comparing to avoid group-think.

    7. Temperance*

      So, I grew up lower-income, and honestly, kids whose parents didn’t attend college and who grew up in poverty need opportunities, too.

      1. Another Lauren*

        Thanks, Temperance! Any suggestions of places to post the job that would attract candidates like you describe?

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            LOL I figured I’d upgrade my username at the end of the season (in case I need to change anything other than the title)

        1. FrontRangeOy*

          If your library system posts local job opportunities, that’s a great way to reach many of the demographics you’re looking at.

          Someone else mentioned WorkForce, that’s especially good because you can talk with the councilors there about the interview skills you’d like to see and they can fine tune their interview coaching sessions.

    8. Parenthetically*

      This is so rad. My husbands workplace does a great job reaching out to historically underemployed groups due to one manager’s passion for the extremely poor neighborhood where he grew up and still works.

      As far as barriers, my mind immediately went to transportation issues, especially if you live in an area with sub-par public transport. It’s sometimes hard to get out of poverty because you physically can’t just get out of your poor neighborhood! I’m not sure of a solution for when they’re hired beyond a carpool/vanpool setup, but for recruiting, why not set up open interviews or job fair type things at community centers in disadvantaged areas?

      1. Another Lauren*

        Yep! We have decent public transport, and we’re going to pay up front for unlimited monthly passes as a perk. I’m also planning to advertise that in the JD so people don’t inadvertently self-select out.

    9. Nick*

      Spouses of active-duty military often find it difficult to find jobs as they may have to move frequently

    10. SpaceNovice*

      Talk to local organizations. Some of them run job programs that can help or know of those that do! There is also the local WorkForce [StateName] location (a federal program run by states individually).

    11. Q*

      Transgender individuals. For outreach — look for local support organizations (LGBTQ as well as trans-specific). In terms of barriers — I don’t think it serves anyone if you remove barriers from the hiring process but not from the rest of the organization, so start with a good look at how trans-friendly the company is, and work from there. As someone who is not trans but sees trans-inclusivity as a helpful indicator of how progressive a company is overall, I tend to notice language and bathrooms first, and if you’ve got an all-gender single-stall handicapped restroom visible and accessible from where I’m waiting for my interview, that’s a huge plus.

      1. Another Lauren*

        Yes, indeed! We’re actually building a brand-new building, so we’ve built in all-gender, single-user, accessible restrooms. It makes such a huge difference! We’re also in a pretty progressive major city, and every company I’ve worked for in the past has been very trans-friendly, so I think this one will be as well.

        1. AMT*

          You might want to post a link to the job on your city’s local queer exchange/queer-friendly employment group on Facebook. Most cities have at least one of those, if not both. I see a lot of trans people on these groups looking for jobs.

    12. Iris Eyes*

      It sounds like you have a pretty good list going. I don’t know how accessible your location is to a variety of transportation options but if it is close to bus lines, you encourage biking (have a secure location for storage) or other things like that that would make it easy on people who don’t or can’t drive to work, make sure to mention that in your ads.

      Also make sure your application process doesn’t require a lot of time with a computer (bonus if you can make it mobile friendly).

      There was an organization in my local town that helped women get ready for a career, I’m pretty sure it was run by a church in conjunction with a food bank.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Get in touch with libraries. You can even get in touch with churches. Many pastors know who is struggling. While the pastor may not name names, they might deliver a flyer if you have flyers to give out. (Or have someone in their church do it.)
        Definitely have something to hand out, because some of your contacts might have confidentiality concerns. They can forward info but they can’t give it to you.

    13. Flinty*

      You have an awesome list here! One other thing to consider is how you and your coworkers will support these employees once they are hired, which is what I’ve always found to be the tricky part. People from disadvantaged/underemployed backgrounds face a double whammy of A) not necessarily coming in with the same understanding of white collar work norms and B) facing prejudice from their fellow coworkers because of their race/orientation/disability/whatever. And the combination ends up reducing their opportunities for growth compared to more traditional hires.

      I’ve gone through some staff training that’s been helpful, but I would love to see what other commenters have found works well too!

      1. Another Lauren*

        Agreed! Luckily it’s a brand-new company, so everyone will be learning company norms together, including me. I’m currently battling HR on not using loaded phrasing like “well-spoken” on the job description. I think everyone we’re going to work with on a day-to-day basis will be fine, but this particular HR team (part of a larger org) has a tendency to get out their clutching pearls anytime we want to do things differently.

      2. sunshyne84*

        That’s my concern. But great that you’re actively looking to help underserved communities.

    14. Thursday Next*

      This thread has lifted me up today. Another Lauren, I admire the thought you’re putting into every aspect of hiring, from candidate outreach, to the non-jargony job description and the evaluation rubric. Keep us posted on how the process goes!

      1. Another Lauren*

        Oh, I’m so glad to hear that! We’re still several months out from starting the hiring process, but I’ll absolutely keep everyone updated. And thank you all for the amazing suggestions!

      2. Be the Change*

        Yes indeed! Thank you, AL, this bit of positivity has helped on a not great day. Very best wishes getting great candidates who need you, too.

      3. Grad Student*

        Agreed! I’m honestly getting emotional from all the inclusivity and positivity in this thread (and it’s not even personal to me at all). You’re doing a great thing here :)

    15. Megan*

      You’re awesome for giving these opportunities! Depending on the work, possibly people living in domestic violence shelters? And please coordinate with your local office of social services to connect with people living in poverty–SNAP or TANF recipients in particular.

      1. Another Lauren*

        Yes! Also trying to figure out how to provide consistent lunch/snacks for anyone who might be food insecure.

    16. On Fire*

      You might consider posting the job with domestic violence shelters as well as homeless, as Marzipan mentioned above. Or sharing it with area DV orgs so they can provide info in whatever ways best help their clients.

      1. Jules the Third*

        +1

        Also, home makers who have recently gone through a divorce. Outreach – maybe churches? Churches may also be a good method of outreach for PoC. I’ll bet there are pastor coalitions you can work with instead of having to go to separate churches.

        Good luck bringing together your diverse workforce.

    17. Chaordic One*

      Other people have already said this but, members of the LGBT community. Back at “Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd.” they would make a point of hiring a diverse group of people for entry-level jobs, but so many of them were never promoted and would never make it out of the entry-level job they were originally hired for, and I really think that they would have been fine in a higher level position. They were like tokens.

      I do know that when we had LGBT people in customer facing positions we had a lot of baseless complaints about them. (Especially the somewhat effeminate men, and to a lesser degree, the more masculine-looking women with short hair and who didn’t wear makeup.)

    18. Hobgoblin*

      This is awesome! I suggest reaching out to the Deaf community. They’re underemployed, by and large, and employers seem to think it’s super complicated to hire a Deaf person. Reach to your local RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf) chapter for tips- I’m in sign language interpreter school still so definitely not an expert. I think if you note on your advertisement that you provide an interpreter at interviews, that would be huge. It’s such a tricky thing to have to ask for an interpreter and employers tend to get weirded out by the request and “better qualified” candidates are suddenly found. Good luck!

      1. Another Lauren*

        Yes, and I’ve read that it’s best to try and hire multiple people who sign, as it can feel isolating to be the only one who communicates that way. Ideally, I want all staff to learn some basic ASL, especially since we’re going to deal with the public. Right now I’m limited to saying hi, asking someone’s name, and telling them it’s nice to meet them.

    19. Slipjack*

      I’m super late, but this is so awesome. DACAmented people and (if your company can do this) hiring undocumented folks as contractors.

  34. Retail Gal*

    Well, guess who works at the department store that’s closing across the East/Midwest?

    I’ve been job hunting for over a year, but this kicks my butt into fifth gear. The thought across the store, which is on the smaller side, is that we’ll last hopefully through the second week of June. I have so many questions, but I’m going to try to keep it to two questions…at least for this post.

    1) With the entire business closing, it seems weird to me to mention that in a cover letter. Previously, it’s been about looking for full-time hours/wanting to move to the area/wanting a bigger challenge. If HR or a hiring manager would look at my resume or application, I’m assuming they would understand that the company is closing/closed. (You know what they say about assuming though) It’s not like a mom & pop shop is closing up in my area that they may have never heard of. Do I bring it up? How does one do that eloquently?

    2) Right now, my plan of attack is trying to directly apply to job openings in the area we want to move to. If that doesn’t pan out by the time our store closes…that’s where my brain locks up. Do I go through a temp agency in Desired Area for a direct-to-hire, or even just a string of contract temp jobs? (This is how I started at $OldJob, a job I loved) Do I do contract temp jobs in the area I live now? I don’t want to look for a permanent position in Current Area because we’re looking to move within the next year.

    I think the anxiety is starting to slowly set in. A rejection email/no contact from anyone was disappointing, but Okay. Now, a rejection email is slowly turning into Not So Okay.

    1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      I think you could mention the closing at the end of your cover letter. Something along the lines of, “I have really appreciated the experiences/knowledge/whatever I’ve gained at X, but with their closing, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to (something related to the job you’re applying for).

    2. SpaceNovice*

      You can mention that you’re looking for a new opportunity because your current one is closing but ALSO make sure to mention that you’re looking for a good company and using this as an opportunity to move. Research companies in the areas you want to move to. You can bring it up as a matter of fact that your workplace is closing. But make sure to say why you’re interested in a particular company (and don’t lie!). Make sure it’s obvious you’re not settling but using this as a chance to further your career.

      Look at companies that show up on local best places to work lists or have good employee treatment. Temping might be a good way to start, truthfully, as a lot of places might not hire you until you’re in the area. It really depends on what sort of position you’re aiming for.

      What type of position are you looking for? That might help us target advice a bit better.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, I don’t think you need to address the closing business in the letter at all. It should be more about your fit for the specific potential job, not about why you’re leaving your old position or looking for A Job, period.

        Good luck!

        1. Legal Beagle*

          I agree. The reason you’re looking to leave your current job is usually something that comes up in an interview. It doesn’t need to be addressed in the cover letter.

          1. SpaceNovice*

            This is true. I take back my advice about the cover letter. They’ll ask in the interview and you can say then.

          2. soon 2 be former fed*

            Unless it is a change of industry or involves relocation or some other extenuating circumstances.

  35. Oh-So-Meh*

    So I’ve been looking for a new role and having some luck. Despite liking my coworkers well enough, the work has become stale and I’ve grown sour after a year of single-handedly supporting the department’s technical needs with no promotion out of the Jr role. I get verbal thanks, but after stating my desires multiple times, it still comes down to the basic work that just needs to get done, without significant improvement in interesting work to come IMO.

    How do I deal with feeling unmotivated? I can get myself back on track by telling myself that this is still my job that pays my paycheck, but it just feels empty when I get a “thanks for your hard work” these days. (I think my manager knows I’m not going to stay; she isn’t stupid.)

    1. Iris Eyes*

      Have you made a petition for a review of your job title? Now that your responsibilities don’t really match your job description (if that is the case) you can frame it as as much a housekeeping issue as one where you are looking for a promotion into a different roll, more that you want your title to reflect your actual roll there. That might or might not come with a raise but it would probably be a plus for your resume and your job search.

      1. Oh-So-Meh*

        I have. Multiple times. Starting in October of last year…

        It’s apparently a politics issue where my manager is non-technical and doesn’t want to promote me to the next level when there has been no input on my actual technical skill. (What if I promote you and you aren’t actually qualified in that title? Someone else needs to say that you are technically qualified.) She put forth a system to get feedback from a different technical manager, but I don’t think it’s working.

        I like her, but I really hate how this was handled. I feel like I’m stuck in no man’s land, and I’m not finding any good fits internally either (all looking for more experience than I have). I get the feeling that she knows I’m not going to stay, and is putting her political capital into getting a second me hired before I leave, rather than getting me the title I deserve.

        1. sunshyne84*

          You should discuss this more with the technical manager and keep track of the things you that you’ve been working on/accomplishments. And also looking outside…..keep your options open.

        2. Iris Eyes*

          Hmm, you say that you think she knows you have one eye out the door. IF that’s true then it doesn’t seem like she is motivated to do much about it. Now there have been stories around here where persistence pays off and occasionally gumption is just what you need. Can you find a new way to push this? Maybe following up with the other manager and asking what you can do to make signing off on this easier?

          1. Oh-So-Meh*

            It took a little bit, but I realized some weeks ago that even though there is an opening posted for my position, but up a couple levels, within the department; I’m just not interested anymore. If I’m not interested in staying in the department, then I need to be looking to leave because staying means doing the same exact work for years to come.

            I realized that what I wanted 6 months ago was a promotion, and what I want now is to leave.

            1. Iris Eyes*

              Sounds like you have clarity and that is a valuable thing. Best of luck in your search for new pastures.

    2. NB*

      My favorite salad to make at home is some kind of lettuce, goat cheese, sliced apples (pears work, too), pecans (sometimes candied!), and occasionally dried cranberries. I drizzle it with a super easy homemade honey-balsamic vinaigrette. You can dip the apples in lemon juice to keep them from turning brown in your lunch box.

      1. sunshyne84*

        lol That reminds me of a project we did in 6th grade. We had all kinds of materials to keep our apples from turning brown(dish soap, foil, plastic bags) and one group did use the lemon juice.

  36. Stephern*

    I’ve been attempting to eat a bit better for lunch and one thing I would like to explore is salads. I like them well enough (pre-prepared), but I have never actually made them from scratch on my own and I’m drawing a blank.

    For those of you that eat them regularly, how do you go about building a satisfying salad and how do you inject variety?

    1. Teapot librarian*

      I don’t eat salad regularly (I should!) but my technique for salads is: greens, a protein (eggs, tuna, beans, cheese, sometimes baked tofu), something crunchy (nuts, sesame sticks), something sweet (can be in the dressing), and at least one other vegetable.

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        I think the mixture of textures is what makes a good salad, and I always include a protein or two to make it more filling.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yes! I have a similar salad formula to ensure maximum texture variation — I like to add savory/tangy/creamy as well if I can, things like olives, feta/goat cheese, pickled things, avocado. I also like temperature variation, though that can be harder to pull off in an office setting if you’re trying to go for minimal containers.

    2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Basically, I have a salad bar in my kitchen.

      I keep a thing of mixed greens in my fridge. I have a variety of salad toppings on hand (crispy wonton strips, almonds, dried fruit, etc.). I’ll also keep several different kind of prepped veggies on hand and mix them in as I see fit. Sooo…edamame, sweet peppers (chopped), carrots (shredded), bite sized green beans, etc. And a few different dressings I like. If I want to make a meal out of it, I’ll add a handful of chicken.

      1. Emi.*

        I am constantly letting produce go bad in my fridge. Do you have a strategy for avoiding that? Do you buy them in really small quantities, or have a big family, or eat a ton of salad, or what?

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          I buy A LOT of frozen veggies and either cook or defrost what I need as I need it.

          If it’s fresh, I buy in smaller quantities. I also *try* to eat a salad a day (be it a small one or one for dinner).

        2. Driving School Dropout*

          My favorite strategy for greens is Rubbermaid Freshworks containers. It’s specially vented and there’s a little grate raised up off the bottom to keep greens from getting slimy. It can also go on a regular refrigerator shelf so the greens aren’t taking up all the space in the veggie drawer. I find that it makes bagged salad last at least a week and a half, sometimes two weeks. Hardier greens like kale last two weeks with no slime! Generally the fruit and veggie drawers in my fridge work pretty well, so things like carrots and peppers and cucumbers will last a week or two, long enough for me to use them up.

        3. Alice*

          A lot of greens are great fresh and cooked. So, if you have a big bag of spinach or watercress or even arugula, you can eat some fresh and then cook the rest before it goes bad. You can eat the cooked greens right away — it’s amazing how a giant heap of leafy greens turns into a tiny pile of sauted/blanched/wilted greens; the giant bag of Healthy Vegetables that I couldn’t bring myself to face turns into a single portion. Or you could probably freeze it — the texture is already changed by the cooking so who cares.
          Exception: don’t freeze cooked carrots or potatoes (although I suppose a frozen-then-defrosted puree would be fine).
          Good preparations:
          – garlic and olive oil and salt, maybe red pepper too
          – blanch the greens, squeeze them dry, dress with soy sauce and sesame oil

        4. Specialk9*

          Buy frozen (it’s usually ripe when picked, instead of picked green and gas-ripened after transport) for cooking. (Eg I cook beans and rice from a mix, add frozen onions, cooked ground beef, an extra can of beans, shred a whole zucchini while cooking, then throw in generous amounts of frozen bell pepper strips and corn. One pot meal!)

          Bring all the makings of a salad and just buy lettuce from your salad bar (if you have one) – super light weight so cheap, and lettuce goes bad fast.

          1. Traveling Teacher*

            +1000 to buying frozen! Just check and make sure you’re only buying frozen peas, for example, not frozen peas plus second ingredient “salt.”

    3. Emi.*

      My strategy is to start with bagged salads of different types (“Asian salad,” “Southwest salad,” etc) and add things I think they’re lacking (chicken, mostly). After that, you can move on to recreating and/or altering your favorites, but you don’t have to build one from the ground up right away.

    4. CollegeAdmin*

      For me, the keys of a satisfying homemade salad are:

      1. Protein: I switch it up between hard boiled eggs and rotisserie chicken.
      2. Color: I hate a salad that’s 90% green lettuce. Bring in colorful veggies like carrots and bell peppers.
      3. Crunch: Salads are often a little soft. I throw in croutons, nuts, or seeds to add some more bite.
      4. Salad dressing: This is what constitutes “variety” for me. I have ranch, Italian, and two different kinds of caesar dressings on hand so I can pick whatever appeals to me that day. (But don’t add dressing until you are eating it! Otherwise it gets soggy.)

      1. Emily S.*

        These are excellent tips.

        My favorite salads have a mix of textures and flavors:
        -Some crunchy bits (like toasted panko breadcrumbs, or toasted nuts or seeds)
        -Creamy/smooth cheese (like either grated/shaved parmesan, or chunks of feta, etc.)
        -Sometimes, chewy bits like golden raisins (which I briefly plump up in vinegar first, in a pan)

        -Protein is often either a boiled egg (quartered), or cheese, or some bacon.

        -About dressings, I’ve recently gotten good at making my own (it’s pretty easy!), but for years I happily used bottled ones from the store. I like my salad to be very lightly dressed, but the dressing has to be flavorful, and work well with my other components.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I make my own with baby spinach, shredded cheese, a cut up hard boiled egg, grape tomatoes, and sometimes precooked fajita chicken pieces, walnuts, or berries. I use a variety of store bought dressings. My main complaint with a big salad is time to eat. I invest 30 minutes of my lunch assembling and eating my salad. I don’t premix it because I don’t always get to eat it as planned on the day I bring it, so that takes time, and then so. much. chewing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I hear ya. My teeth are misaligned so that makes chewing real FUN. Not. I have often thought that employers don’t actually want healthy employees, if they did they would be well aware that you cannot eat a healthy meal, use the restroom and so on inside of a half hour.

        1. Specialk9*

          I recently bought a really good blender (Ninja N600 pro – rated like Vitamix but under $100, got it less than half with dented box). It really blends stuff!

          I wonder if you could try more soups and smoothies, the kind with real veggies and greens blended up together? That could be quicker and still solid nutritionally.

          My basic smoothie: 1 c water, spinach, something sweet, half banana, 1/2 c fruit. Blend until smooth. Add water, probiotics, 1/2 c milk, and either Bob’s Red Mill protein powder or Greek yogurt – blend briefly to prevent froth.

          I’ve read that high end blenders heat soup after a couple minutes.

    6. Alex*

      Vegetarian here. I actually love using fruit in salads more than vegetables. Orange segments, strawberries (or any kind of berries) are great. I love slivered almonds. Peas are great for protein. You can also add some grains like farro or bulgar. I usually just drizzle a little olive oil on, but there is a pre-made ginger dressing I sometimes get that is also really flavorful and not highly caloric.

      1. Espeon*

        I recently had an amazing salad which included rocket, beetroot, orange segments and grilled halloumi *drool* So, seconding a little fruit involvement.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I find that adding some grains to my salad makes it feel more like a complete meal to me, especially if there’s also some protein – and it encourages me to eat lots of veggies along the way :)

        1. DD*

          Huge YES to adding grains to salads to make it more satisfying! I’m partial to freekeh for the nutty, green, chewy texture, but I like a lot of others–brown rice, quinoa, purple rice, wild rice or even couscous though that’s not a grain.

    7. ContentWrangler*

      My favorite salad is really simple and easy to make: Greens (I just buy the spring mix in a big tub) plus feta and pumpkin seeds (found in the bulk foods section of grocery stores near the nuts usually). I find a lot of premade dressings too sweet, so I just use a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

    8. Temperance*

      I do salad-in-a-jar that I prepare for the week on Sundays. I try and get a good variety of vegetables so it’s not boring.

      1. SoCalHR*

        I second this – go look up “salad in a jar” on pinterest. It saves on prep time and keeps things fresh. Also, the Vlassic brand specialty pickles (I think they are called Garden something or other with a smaller brown paper label) are GREAT jars to use for salad in a jar, its a win-win that I like pickles.

      2. Judy (since 2010)*

        I like the recipes on organizeyourselfskinny dot com, I use them for my mason jar salads.

        If you go that way, and need to buy jars, buy them from Rural King or Tractor Supply. They’re much cheaper there.

    9. BadWolf*

      I like a lot of variety in salads and have been discovering new things that you can just plop on salads. Like, sliced up mushrooms (for a long time, I foolishly thought mushrooms had to be cooked), sliced up zucchini (same, thought it had to be cooked). While I like vegies, I don’t like to gnaw on a big hunk of broccoli, so I like to cut everything up fairly small.

      My favorite grocery store stocks interesting things – so they have these cheese faux croutons that are tasty. I think Dole puts up something called broccoli slaw which is a couple assorted shredded vegies that’s great on a salad.

      I concur with other posters that I like to hit protein, other vegies, crunchy bits and at least some dressing.

    10. All Anon*

      Google mason jar salads. it’s a thing. you layer them into the jar at night and shake it out to dress it when you are ready to eat.

    11. Totally Minnie*

      I use a lot of prepackaged salads and cole slaws, and then I add in other items for variety. Usually I’ll add a protein (a hard boiled egg or some meat left over from dinner) and some sort of crunchy item (tortilla strips, sunflower seeds, or even goldfish crackers if I’m feeling a little lazy).

    12. SpaceNovice*

      Two types of greens–two types of lettuce at least if not field greens. Full heads of lettuce keep longer and you can pull off the leaves you need as you do it. Red lettuce and butter lettuce are pretty good. The hydroponic stuff with roots is a little more expensive but it keeps the entire week, generally.

      What you switch out the most is the toppings and dressing. Sliced almonds, shredded cheese, apple slices, various types of nuts, various types of proteins, dried fruit pieces, other vegetables, tomato types, croutons/bread options and others.

      1. SpaceNovice*

        Also, if you do boiled eggs for your protein–get an egg cooker! Those things are life changing. One of the few specialized kitchen gadgets that’s worth getting. You can have soft/medium/hard boiled eggs in under 20 minutes (and then you gotta throw them in ice, obviously).

        </