open thread – May 4-5, 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.

{ 1,607 comments… read them below }

  1. going anon today*

    So we had a department meeting a week ago and there was a big shakeup and reorg, with people moving into new roles. We have a new reorg ever year, and it never works out. Our teams have a lot of dead weight and people who push their projects off on others, throw people under the bus, or who disappear for hours on end and are always late and sloppy with their work. Management does nothing, and no matter how much a concern or complaint is voiced, nothing changes.

    Culture has gotten really toxic in the department over the past year, and in the meeting I asked if this new reorg meant people were going to be held to the same standards and be held accountable for their own work. Apparently this caused some drama and some people complained that I was too abrasive and it made them scared of me and that they didn’t want to work with me or be around me. Other people, however, thanked me for asking the question they were too scared to ask.

    My manager pulled me into a conference room the other day to tell me all of this and to tell me not to voice any opinions in group meetings from now on, and to my embarrassment, I started crying (I’m not sure if hearing that I was abrasive and aggressive and scary upset me or if they were tears of frustration and anger). We’re also an open office so everyone could see him talk to me, see me crying, and see me try to keep it together afterwards. My manager’s manager came over to me hours later and did the same thing, and it was another round of emotions and everyone seeing. I’m mortified. Both managers were men and I’m now horrified I ugly cried, but that they’ll think I’m a hysterical, emotional woman who can’t keep it together when she gets criticism.

    This is not the first time I’ve been at a job where I’ve been told that I shouldn’t voice any opinions or that if I have a complaint or concern, I shouldn’t speak about it in a group setting. It’s also not the first time I’ve been told I’m too opinionated or abrasive and it’s been insinuated that I should change my personality to be more mellow or quiet. I’m always told I’m a great worker and having opinions doesn’t make management think any less of me, but that I should keep my head down.

    The worst part is that I’m always around men who make the same suggestions or have similar personality types and they’re always applauded for being strong leaders and advocating for new opportunities or individual accountability, but as a woman, I’m always told I’m being too angry or intimidating. I’m honestly so tired and burnt out of being in jobs where I’m constantly being told to settle down and be seen and not heard. Where I’m constantly told I’m one of the best employees, but when asked for my feelings, they just want me to agree with everything they say. And I’m tired of being in a workplace where they care more about hurt feelings of people not doing their work than the frustration of people working two jobs to make up for dead weight on the team.

    I’ve been looking for a new job for awhile and have been interviewing lately, but this was the last straw and I’m honestly ready to walk in to the office on Monday morning and quit. Part of me worries they’ll think it’s a tantrum if I quit so soon after I was reprimanded, but the other part of me can’t mentally or physically walk into that office on Monday and go back to my normal self and pretend everything is ok.

    1. going anon today*

      I didn’t realize my comment would be so long. Sorry. The short version is: I asked a question in a meeting, was told my question was abrasive and meant people were now scared of me, management reprimanded me twice in one day in front of everyone, I cried, and I’m a mental, physical, and emotional wreck whenever I have to go into the office.

      1. Luna*

        Ugh, them claiming to be “scared” of you is so childish and ridiculous.

        It’s also really not okay for managers to tell you to not voice opinions ever. Giving feedback about the tone or timing of feedback is fair game, but to tell an employee to just keep their mouth shut at all times is not okay.

        That being said it is probably in your best interest to just not engage with them. Your work environment sounds highly toxic and that will not change. It’s good that you’ve been looking for other jobs; take the weekend to decompress and put this behind you. Best to wait until you have another job before quitting.

      2. Jesca*

        I just went through this!!!! The same thing! And I called it out so hard that even in this sexist place that backpedaled and backpedaled hard!

        BUT the first time it was “brought to my attention” that grown ass men in management stated they wanted to “run out of the room” because I was so “intimidating” with my calm but firm disagreement over something that only affects my job, I did get emotional myself. And then I hit back hard. Very hard. I pointed out how it certainly looks and how I am not the only woman who feels this way. And how there are only a handful of females in any position of power here.

        But the truth is, I hit back because I am just so EXHAUSTED with the status quo of this crap. This is 2018 and male managers SHOULD be and NEED to be trained in appropriate ways to interact with women in the work place.

        If you hit back, good. If not, I don’t blame you either because no one wants to go from “abrasive” to “bitch” when you have no choice but to be reliant on the chauvinists for money.

        1. Chaordic One*

          When you tell them things nicely you are ignored or dismissed, and when you tell them things more forcefully, you’re an abrasive bitch. It’s a no win situation.

        2. Mike C.*

          I really, really get sick and tired of fair but direct disagreement being characterized as “attacking” or “intimidation”.

          It’s not. Grow a spine and grow the f*ck up.

      3. Consulting Gal*

        I have had to deal with that critique before from managers but when I tone check with mentors who are in the same meeting their feedback is that I sounded professional. Are you by any chance WOC? We are sometimes perceived as more aggressive even though if someone else said it would show leadership qualities. or some other BS. Just thought I would ask mainly because you used the word ‘Scared’.

        1. Jesca*

          Haha the word “scared” is like the #1 indicator that sexism or racism is occuring when someone is just voicing an opinion or “passionately” making an argument. Scary is throwing pens or threatening people. Women standing up and asking questions isn’t scary. If it is a tone issue, it can seem off putting or unprofessional or not knowing time and place. But that word “scary”? HUGE indicator of what is happening.

          1. Lindsay J*

            This. Exactly.

            Unless you are being physically forceful, it’s not scary and people saying that they are scared is pretty indicative of “I don’t like this because I feel like [women/POC/other marginalized group] should not be voicing their opinions about this and someone not behaving the way I expect them to makes me uncomfortable.”

        2. going anon today*

          I’m not a WOC, but I am a queer woman who is the daughter of immigrants with a very ethnic last name (Slavic) in a sea of Very English names, and I’ve gotten pushback on “being aggressive” when I do things like asking people to stop commenting on how much easier it’d be if I changed my last name to something easy to pronounce.

          It’s not the same thing at all in terms of workplace issues, I know, but I thought the same thing when I heard “scary” and in fact, one of my WOC coworkers mentioned after the drama went down that she’d been called “scary” when she asked how long a system would be down for repairs.

            1. going anon today*

              Yeah, it kind of sucks and “renaming” people to Anglicized names has such an awful history for so many different types of people.

              Of the 40 people in my department, it’s me with my Slavic name and another coworker who has a long Indian last name. She and I both get comments about our names fairly frequently. Everyone else has a short, Western European last name that is relatively common.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            Geez, Anon, I’m sorry. Your workplace sounds ridiculously toxic in both racist and sexist ways, and I totally get why you want to quit. I hope you find your way out soon.

          2. Consulting Gal*

            UGH! Change your last name??? one of my personal pet peeves is when people ask can they give me a nickname. My name is only 2 syllables? but you can pronounce and discuss Tchaikovsky ? *end Rant* lol

          3. BP*

            I had an employee who was Polish and nobody could pronounce his name if they saw it on a letterhead (sounded like “Kolmanachinskavik” but with Y’s, CK’s, etc). His wife was American and said it took her a year before she could spell it properly on checks.

            You will just have to learn to laugh about this stuff. If you don’t then eventually you will have a manager or coworker who is really terrible, far more terrible than just joking about your name and it will eat you up.

            1. critter*

              I disagree. My last name is short but difficult, so I’m 100% understanding when someone mispronounces or misspells it. Heck, my boyfriend of eight years has trouble pronouncing it unless he just heard it said aloud, and I don’t mind at all. It’s pretty funny, in fact. But if someone asked me to change my name to make it easier for them? Heck no.

              (Never mind the fact that I’m pretty sure the last name was already Anglicized several generations ago when my family immigrated to the US from Poland.)

        3. Chaordic One*

          Yeah, “scared.”

          Unless you have a gun in your purse, there really isn’t a reason for anyone to be scared, is there?

          1. Lindsay J*

            I mean you can be scary in the workplace without having a gun, or without physically harming people. Yelling at or berating people, shows of force like throwing things or pushing or hitting inanimate objects, etc, can all be scary and legitimate reasons to be scared of someone in a workplace. Especially when considering a lot of people have experienced prior abuse, etc, in their work or home lives.

            However, it doesn’t sound like the OP was doing any of those things. So scared is kind of a ridiculous word for people to use about them in that case. And pretty indicative of some other issue being really at hand.

            1. only acting normal*

              Oddly there’s someone where I work who *has* taken (righteous) anger and frustration out on inanimate office furniture – and he’s not in the least bit scary. (Seriously, I’d trust him well before a lot of other people here).
              *I* however (5”2’, 130lb woman) am utterly terrifying when I stop asking nicely and *tell* someone to do their bloody job.

        4. Bea W*

          I am a white woman, and people still get “scared”. I’m not even physically imposing, very slightly built, and could probably be easily carried out of the room like a sack of potatoes. Scared? Really? Of what exactly? Being exposed as incompetent or even just less skilled and knowledgeable than a woman?

          I’ve even been told to pull back on my performance because it might make other people look bad. If my doing things that are basic to my job makes other people look bad, the problem isn’t me.

      4. C*

        Ugh. I’m sorry. And sorry to say that you’re not alone. I had a similar experience, only I didn’t find out that I had been “aggressive and defensive and unfriendly” (in literally ONE meeting), until after they announced that I was being demoted, and one of my (white, older, male) subordinates being promoted over me. (And they took similar actions toward at least two other women in the company in the same 6-month period.)

        For me, I did quit within a couple of weeks. I did take a little time to make sure I acted out of reason, rather than my initial reaction. And I had other financial options at the time. I tried to make it clear why was leaving with a resignation letter, which I submitted to not just my boss, but relevant VP-level staff; although, I didn’t call out the sexism explicitly. (Sidebar: Having a sympathetic, but more objective, outside person read it first was essential. My version 1 was treading toward manifesto. He helped me be succinct, but pointed.) I’d say, give it a little more time time to reflect and see if you can numb them out; continue to take their money until you have another job lined up. But if, after some reflection, it is THAT toxic and if you can financially swing it, don’t be afraid of leaving simply because of what they might think. I promise that they will make up their own distorted narrative about you, regardless of what you choose to do for you. So, put yourself first and control what you can.

        I love the comment of Jesca who actually took them to task on the sexism of it all. I was worried about working in a small industry and getting labeled as litigious; but I wish I’d had the wherewithal at the time to do what she did.

        1. Shop Girl*

          You should also file a report with your state’s DOL. Maybe it would not help you but you can’t show a pattern if no one ever reports

      5. Technical_Kitty*

        Poor muffins are scared of you. Little darlings need their teddies and nap.

        Call out this BS. And get a different job, you work with morons.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This sounds like an absolutely terrible situation, but you should try to stick it out until you have another offer in hand.

      As someone who isn’t afraid to speak up and say what I think, I can absolutely relate to your frustrations over being told not to do so, especially when you see male colleagues doing the same thing. The best thing you can do is keep your head down and focus on getting out of there.

      1. Argh!*

        “but you should try to stick it out until you have another offer in hand.”

        …. or until having enough money saved up for a break of a few months. It will take time to heal from such an abusive workplace.

    3. A Teacher*

      I would maintain professionalism but seriously push back against this if possible. i.e. I wouldn’t be told to sit down and shut up–unless its a complete deal breaker where you can lose your job. It is why there is still a glass ceiling for women.

      1. going anon today*

        They refused to fire someone who used slurs against another colleague and only fired a sexual harasser when someone outside the department complained about it. Then again, they “let go” of one of the women in the department who complained about sexual harassment because she was “a complainer” and “aggressive”.

        I brought up how I didn’t think I’d be called scary or abrasive or aggressive if I wasn’t a woman and they just kept saying it wasn’t about my gender and the people who complained didn’t have anything to say about my gender. I don’t think these two managers understand that someone or something can still be gendered and sexist even if the actual words gender or woman/female aren’t said.

        1. Snark*

          What you said about holding people accountable was abrasive, though. Not saying it was wrong, but it was really harsh, and really, really not your business.

          1. Jesca*

            Her point isn’t what she said. What is considered “not your business” depends mostly on the culture of the company. If a man would have said it and there would have been a different outcome, then it is sexist. Our company does this crap restructuring all the time and no firing. Moral has tanked and people are leaving. They are now actually having these open discussion meetings with VPs here to express this sort of thing. If a woman brought this up in a meeting now, it wouldn’t be considered abrasive. If a man, at any time, brought up anything it would have never ever been considered abrasive no matter their role, the context, or the type of meeting.

            When you sit back and watch males get away with things you are then told makes you “scary”, you cannot even imagine how demoralizing and patronizing that is.

            1. Snark*

              I don’t disagree, at all. It’s gendered as hell and Going Anon Today is 100% justified in wanting to walk, because they’re handling it badly and hamfistedly as well as sexistly (not a word, roll with me) and in service of maintaining a crappy status quo.

              But. She’s probably getting called out on it in a way that a man would not be, AND it was also something that should rightfully be called out of anybody said it, because it was not an appropriate, constructive, or kind thing to say even if it was true.

              The ideal outcome here is not “it’s not considered abrasive no matter who says it,” it’s “everybody gets taken to task for being abrasive regardless of gender.”

                1. Triplestep*

                  I agree, too. It was an unanswerable question and it should not have been asked in a meeting. (Seriously, how could this have been answered in any kind of real way? They were put on the spot.) But they handled it poorly afterwards, and a man would not have been taken to task over it.

              1. Jesca*

                Meh. Like I said. It depends on context of the meeting itself.

                But, I also don’t always agree with Alison on these types of things when racism or gender are at play because it is so systemic. All of it needs to be pointed out at the moment. This company obviously has a culture where this is ok, so she definitely has the right to stand up and say what is good for the goose in these situations.

                1. Snark*

                  Eh. I think that if you’re asking questions with that kind of tone, something fundamental is broken as far as morale and the office culture of professionalism and respect goes. You’re basically calling both management and your coworkers incompetent in one fell swoop.

                2. Jadelyn*

                  @Snark But tbh it sounds like that’s very much the case already – the fundamental culture of this company is broken as hell, and at that point, someone needs to be calling it out, even if that’s by saying something that, in a normal and sane office dynamic, would be abrasive as hell.

                3. Luna*

                  I agree with Jadelyn- this idea that it is nobody’s business but the managers is what leads to a lot of these toxic workplaces. It impacts everyone so it is their business, even if it is not in their best interest to speak up and point that out. But good managers will recognize how these types of policies & decisions do impact all employees.

              2. AMPG*

                I agree that it’s a fairly antagonistic thing to say, but it sounds like the company is being badly mismanaged at the expense of the few competent workers. I don’t think it’s inappropriate or not constructive to point out that the reorg places an unfair burden on those who are already pulling their weight and then some. Now, it might have professional consequences, but so can anything.

              3. Mike C.*

                I honestly don’t see these sorts of tough questions as abrasive or unprofessional so long as the thing being questioned is actually important or the problem is well known or posses a massive risk. I’ve asked (and been asked) questions in these sorts of tones multiple times and it’s really nothing more than a direct way addressing significant issues. Otherwise it’s really easy to let incredibly important issues fester and linger.

                I’d much rather people risk being seen as abrasive than serious problems go unresolved.

                1. going anon today*

                  That’s how I looked at it. It’s a serious problem. People have left over it. I have other coworkers who routinely cry because they’re so stressed and bringing up concerns in private to managers does nothing and we’re just told “we don’t have insight into what goes on behind closed doors” or “it’s being handled”, but that line has been said each year with no end result. Nothing changes.

                  I’m not the first person to bring this up in a department meeting. It’s been brought up for years.

                  My frustration is for my own situation, but also because I feel bad that so many of my coworkers are miserable and the people making them miserable (all at the same level) or the issues causing the problems are never addressed. We just get a yearly reorg that makes everything worse.

          2. going anon today*

            Sure, it was probably abrasive. But a male colleague asked the same thing later in the meeting and he hasn’t been talked to about it.

            1. Beth C.*

              If you have any leg to stand on it’s that one.

              I mean, this sucks, and I think you really do need to just leave, but the best way to point this out is to say, “So will you be telling Steve to not bring this up again as well?”
              It will probably follow with “Well, no one mentioned feeling uncomfortable about what Steve said.” “Well he said the exact same thing I did…” Many excuses and comments will follow, but just keep coming back to that. Eventually it gets to “This is starting to seem like it isn’t about the comments at all…” and document every discussion you have about it.

              Like a few others said, you may want to drop a line to your Dept of Labor either before or after you leave. It probably won’t help you, but as others have said you can’t establish a pattern if no one drops the first data point.

          3. LKW*

            I disagree -if your performance is based on being able to complete a task and is dependent on someone else finishing their tasks – then they should be held accountable for finishing their tasks as much as you are held accountable for finishing yours.

            When person B in this story isn’t held accountable -then what’s the point of holding anyone accountable?

            I think it’s a perfectly valid question.

            1. Snark*

              You, and Luna above, are not wrong. But it’s a Pyrrhic victory if it just makes a point and shames a few whiners and then gets a finger shaken in your face. But even – maybe especially – when dealing with toxic, bad management, how the message is delivered is going to determine what it accomplishes. If all you want to do is get in a dig and screw the torpedoes, rock on. But if you’re hoping for action to be taken that actually results in some accountability, then how that question is asked matters.

              And it may be past that point! In which case, fck it!

          4. Triple Anon*

            But their reaction to it was more out of line. That’s the issue. They called her names and asked her to stop voicing opinions in meetings. And she didn’t say anything unique; male co-workers had expressed similar views and received praise for it. That’s the other issue.

          5. Sunday Anon*

            I don’t agree. I think it’s a fair, but tough, question to ask in a group meeting. Management doesn’t like to hear this kind of question (and I am management and work closely with layer of management above me) and some managers/directors/execs would be ticked off/embarrassed to have it come up in a group meeting.

            But just because someone in management doesn’t want to hear about a problem doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Just because someone asks a question a manager doesn’t like or is asked in a way that seems counterproductive or a question that feels like a personal attack on a company’s management style, doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

            Sometimes this question would lead to a discussion about, yes, there will be individual meetings about performance, or here’s how we will run things on a daily basis after this reorg. But for me, if I felt blindsided, yes, I’d be ticked, but I’d realize there’s probably more than one person that feels this way, and I’d probably go talk them about the substance of the concern.

            1. Beth C.*

              I think it is also a perfectly legitimate question, albeit one ost folks wouldn’t have the guts to ask.

              It is also a question that ruffles feathers, so while it is fair to possibly expect the stink eye in the kitchen for a few days from folks who feel they were called out. It does not, though, justify being told to pipe down and not have opinions as long as your phrasing didn’t include yelling or swearing or anything like that.

        2. Lora*

          1) You work in a horrible place and I’m sorry you’re going through this.
          2) Don’t quit without something else lined up. Keep your head down and do your job even if that means answering only direct questions and speaking only when spoken to. Clearly these people aren’t going to hear anything you say anyway.

        3. RVA Cat*

          This place is a toxic cesspool that you can’t fix.
          Do you have any PTO you can use soon? Don’t quit yet, but see about taking a vacation even if it’s just to job search.

          1. JustAGirlTryingToMakeIt*

            I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’ve been through something very similar and it is awful. The best advice I can give you (and what I’m taking myself) is try your best to get out of there. Someone with your talent doesn’t deserve to be in a situation where you can’t speak your opinion. You did nothing wrong here.

            Best of luck my friend.

        4. General Ginger*

          I’m sorry you work in a toxic disgusting slime pit, anon. Everything you’ve shared about the situation makes it pretty damn clear that it’s about gender, and it looks like it’s just too entrenched into company culture. I wouldn’t quit without something lined up, but I hope you can get out of the ASAP, anon.

    4. Jules the Third*

      Deep breath, and internet hugs if you want them.

      If you want advice: disengage and hunker down – do your job, stop covering for other people, let the chips fall where they will. You’re already taking action to leave, plan that beautiful resignation letter where you Name Names (eg, Groot in accounting just plays on his computer while Gamora fixes the ship). Prep your transition plan and personal stuff, so that you have it all on a thumb drive / ready for a box / already home when you turn in the letter.

      Document Document Document

    5. Mananana*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this, it sounds like a really stressful place to work.

      Your question “if this new reorg meant people were going to be held to the same standards and be held accountable for their own work” really wasn’t a question, though. It sounds like you were making an indictment against management. And if I were a part of that meeting, I’d probably find it abrasive as well. And your management probably took it as a dig (a deserved dig, but they may not see it like that). But toxic workplaces are notorious for bringing out the worst in people; sounds like it’s time to get out of there while you can.

      I wish you nothing but the best.

      1. Zoro*

        “abrasive” is a bullshit.

        Either LW comments were true, so don’t shoot the messenger, or false, in which case sack them for being malignant.

    6. Kalamet*

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. The whole situation sounds very similar to my last job, where low performers were allowed to slack off and high performers were taken advantage of. I (a woman in a male-dominated field) also cried at several points during that role, because I was so stressed out.

      Unfortunately, there is no solution for a toxic company culture where management isn’t willing to change. I’d suggest you scale back your emotional efforts toward this role and start focusing on the _next_ one, as much as you can. Spend your time outside of work taking care of yourself, starting this weekend. Try to do something fun to take your mind off of it (it’s hard, I know!), and treat yourself to something delicious. I started therapy while I was job hunting and stuck at the toxic place, which helped some.

      You’re the only one who can tell whether quitting is the best option (in terms of money, mental health, etc.), but keeping your job usually makes finding a new one easier. Best of luck!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes. Normally I would think you should stick it out until you have the next job lined up, but the comments about your mental health and how taxing it is to be there, sounds like it’s doing more harm than good to stay. I think that’s a valid reason to offer in interviews if/when asked why you left (I know there’s some good wording on this site about referring to toxic workplaces without directly calling them out, like “no room to progress” or “continuous reorganizations leave my job in question or change my job duties.” If you can afford to do it, get out.

        If management sees it as rage-quitting after their comments, they’re the ones with their heads in the sand. The last straw for you isn’t that they ‘called you out’ for asking questions in a meeting. It’s that it has finally become unavoidably clear that things will not improve. Leave them to deal with the slackers and one fewer hard worker.

        1. Windchime*

          I have to agree with TNW. If you can afford to be out of work for awhile, leave. I should have done so with my last job. I had to take a 10 week FMLA leave to deal with extreme anxiety over that job (I was unable to do anything but cry and I feared that I would hurt myself). I cried on the day I had to go back, but I went back. I tried to keep my head down and just work, but when I found a new job 3 weeks later and gave my notice, they booted me out the door that day. Because THEY wanted to be in control of when I left, not me. It was demoralizing and upsetting. I am so, so, so glad to be out of there.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          Yup. I quit a job that was demolishing my mental health. I was fortunate enough that I could afford to and I was out of work for almost a year so my savings is kind of a hot mess. But it was still worth it. The job was AWFUL and it was destroying me. No regrets.

    7. Lupin Lady*

      That is a horrible situation and I’m so sorry you’re going through this!
      I have no real advice other than to have faith that you can push through. It seems like you’ve been there long enough to know that this how it is at the company, so if possible just go to work, go through the motions while pressing hard in your job search. Take the weekend to try to decompress.
      And for what it’s worth, I’ve ugly cried in front of male bosses and it’s turned out okay. It’s embarrassing, but not the end of the world.

    8. Snark*

      This is a tough one. It sounds like a toxic and dysfunctional workplace where underachievers are given lots of rope, and that’s a tough place to be if you’re a results-oriented, ambitious person. And I totally, totally get that. I’m the same way, and it’s really hard for me to put up with people who don’t whip on it.

      That said, you’ve apparently gotten a lot of feedback about the frequency, tone, and content of your public comments, in multiple positions. And frankly, “I asked if this new reorg meant people were going to be held to the same standards and be held accountable for their own work,” is….well, it’s a real abrasive comment, verging on offensive and combative. If that captures a tone you use regularly or frequently in your public comments, it is not surprising that it caused drama and strife, and it’s not surprising that you were asked to tone comments like that down. It was a pretty offensive thing to say, and how people are evaluated is basically not your business, because you’re not a manager and asking that was out of line. Even if true.

      In other discussions about this topic, I’ve asked OPs if the tone and content of their questions is a) constructive and b) relevant for a public forum like a meeting.

      Under the a) column, depending on your tone, a question (even a good, constructive question!) can come off either like “hey, this isn’t clear to me, can you add context?” or it can read as “I think you’re an idiot who covers for slackers, so let me yank a few blocks out of the Jenga tower of your decision.” That kind of questioning pisses off even the most fair-minded boss and burns capital at an amazing rate. Second-guessing the boss is something to do very judiciously, when it’s very important and you’re certain it will be constructive and important. I generally take the approach, myself, of taking serious concerns or questions to email after the fact. Even if it’s a good question about an aspect they truly didn’t think through, I don’t want to put my boss on the spot by grilling them in person, with an audience of their subordinates. And it lets me articulate my question in a more thoughtful and considered manner than tossing things off verbally. It generally ends up feeling more productive and less like a pretentious know it all demanding that the boss justify and defend their decisions.

      Regarding b), forum, there’s a lot of questions that are not necessarily relevant to an entire group, which could alienate some members of the entire group, or are just really far off in the weeds of particulars and details. If your question falls into this category, take it offline – a private meeting or an email or an IM chat or whatever. Some stuff is good and relevant but isn’t really fodder for a big meeting. I’d ask myself, is this something that everybody at the meeting will benefit from knowing the answer to, or am I satisfying my own curiosity or desire to make a point? Because if this is just my personal need, that can wait, if it needs to be satisfied at all.

      Boiled down? As I said in the thread I will link shortly: Pick your battles, pick your forum, and spend your capital wisely, lest you irritate the crap out of your bosses and colleagues.

      1. BRR*

        I agree that if this comment is an example of the OP’s tone, that it’s not surprising they were asked to tone it down. This is all great advice that I need to adopt myself. I understand how frustrating a workplace like this is. I’m in one myself and the stress and unprofessionalism has really taken a toll on my filter, but a department meeting isn’t the place to address your coworkers’ poor performance and the phrasing isn’t constructive (I would recommend Alison’s new book which covers this situation and provides gentler but still direct wording).

      2. Jesca*

        Except when you are a woman and men are allowed to behave the same way … I get what you are trying to say, but the LW has actually provided enough *other* evidence to prove she works in a sexist place. Also, when you work in a sexist industry that is heavily incestuous with “trading employees” the cultures in all those places are actually quite the same. It is why places like Google have policies they do now, because this crap is so embedded in some industries that it is literally not even a glass ceiling. It is usually a pretty clear brick wall men smack with you every day so you can “know your place”. I think that maybe this is one of those things people outside of the women working in this industries don’t actually quite get.

        1. Snark*

          Absolutely. She does work in a sexist place and she’s being dealt with in a gendered, crappy way that serves only to maintain the egos and pride of management and slackers. I can understand why she’s frustrated and annoyed at them.

          But saying stuff like that should get one a talking to, whatever their gender, in a well-managed workplace, and the issues I’m raising about judging tone, appropriate forum, and capital when raising substantive questions in meetings tend to apply in any workplace.

          1. Snark*

            And, I should add, those issues will be relevant and worth meditating on even in her next, hopefully much better-managed and less misogynist workplace..

            1. General Ginger*

              I’d hope that in a better managed and less misogynist workplace she won’t have to deal with the same issues, but I agree with your overall message.

          2. Double A*

            I think in a well managed place she probably wouldn’t need to say something like that because people would be held accountable, reorgs would be purposeful and productive, and there wouldn’t be a ton of dead weight bringing down morale.

            I also bet she said something like this in a public meeting because she knew saying something like this private would fall on less than deaf ears. It’s not the best approach, but it makes sense why a toxic workplace would make it more likely for someone to take that approach out of frustration.

            But this organization sounds unsalvageable. I agree with comments that the OP should keep her head down, stop picking up slack for others, and job hunt like crazy. Try to emotionally detatch from the job. If your employer offers an EAP, use it to help you cope with this period.

      3. going anon today*

        This is the only time I’ve ever said something of this nature in a department meeting. The only other questions I’ve ever asked in such meetings have been things like timelines for new clients or if we know how they’re realigning sales teams to projects teams, etc.

        Whenever I get talked to about “being abrasive” it’s been for things like writing “Could you get this document to me by EOD Monday” instead of “Hey, Alex, when you have a second, could you please get this document to me when it’s convenient?” (actual example) or for being in a meeting and asking, “Can we work with the Teapot Department to expedite this?” or “So we know if Steve is on track to finish by the deadline” (also examples)

        I know it was probably abrasive, but I’m honestly so tired of a department that basically tells me to do other people’s work and not complain about it and basically not say anything until called upon. Also, a male coworker asked something similar and was not talked to, so I’m really thinking it comes down to gender and the fact that I’m pretty sure the coworkers who complained (at least one woman and one man that I’m aware of) are friends with my male coworker.

        1. Snark*

          I should have made it more explicit – please take from that what feels actionable and disregard the rest! That’s just some of my accumulated thoughts on the general topic and I should have emphasized that. With the knowledge that that was your first actually abrasive comment in a meeting, a lot of that will clearly not apply.

          The comments about other comments that were “abrasive” were some bullshit. There is no friggin’ way “Could you get this document to me by EOD Monday” is even unprofessional, much less abrasive. I do understand asking you to reel in in for the one comment about accountability, but stating your needs clearly is not something you need to apologize for or silence.

          So yeah, get out. These people suck.

        2. Mom of two daughters*

          Read this book – Feminist Fight Club – by Jessica Bennett. It will validate what you are experiencing and give you some action plans. It’s a fairly easy read, although the content sometimes gets my heart racing and my head pounding. I’ve been in the work world for 35 years and can’t believe we (women) are still dealing with this. I have two daughters (23 and 19) and they will be getting this book for Christmas. They are entering fields that are slowly moving away from being heavily male-centered (medical related) but I want them to be prepared when they encounter this type of behavior. You have my sincere sympathy and warm internet hugs that things will get better. Make sure to take care of yourself.

          1. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

            You and I are contemporaries. I am in senior management. I can’t believe I still have to deal with this $%#@ We just went through a year long site redesign where most people involved were men and what the ever living hell is this #$%@. I am no shrinking violet but I had to give myself pep talks before meetings to affirm that I would not allow my opinions or directives to be dismissed or talked over. What is the year again? I hope the next gen clears this up because our gen sure tried to. But I am tired! :)

            1. soon 2 be former fed*

              Forty years in the wild for me. I am gobsmacked that so little cultural progress has been made in the workplace, and that assertive women like myself are still catching flack for it, moreso for WOC like me (it is so blatant in my office). Maybe by the time my DD’s career plays out, things will have evolved.

        3. Lindsay J*

          I just have to say I feel you here.

          I would up switching fields completely and feel much more at home in the area I am now (aviation, working with mostly blue collar workers) because it just does not come naturally and takes so much effort for me to pretty up my language and requests to be nice and indirect.

          So, it’s definitely not just you. And there are places where direct requests are acceptable (and in fact, preferred. If there’s a plane grounded due to a missing part, people don’t want others spending the time reading or writing a huge missive. They just want, “Send P/N XYZABC to KIAD on next available flight. TO to follow shortly.”)

          I hope you find a place where you fit in better, because your current job does sound terrible and toxic.

        4. Maude Lebowski*

          I _know_ I’ve come off too abrasive in the past… lots of examples in my head about which I cringe re working self 15-20 yrs ago. Going anon today, these are most def NOT the kind of comments that fit a cringeworthy category. However, in that Alex example it seems you are being asked to use what’s assumed to be / taken as more feminized language e.g. using “just” and “wondering”, which hedges the question as if you need to be careful and delicate that you’re … I don’t know… imposing by asking if you can get a doc you need to do your work? [Was looking for e.g.s from mainstream media, but something like this So you were direct and that example re Alex is a pile of crap. I am sorry you are going through this – it sucks when some people get away with doing nothing and others do everything.

        5. General Ginger*

          That example is 100% gendered bullshit. You shouldn’t have to couch a simple work request in “when you have a second/when it’s convenient/pretty please” when there’s a looming deadline (or even when there isn’t).

        6. mark132*

          If you are being called out for adding a requested deadline to a deliverable. That’s BS. That’s not abrasive, that’s what I’ve always thought of as professional.

      4. Observer*

        In other contexts, I would agree with you. Timing and delivery ARE important.

        But, the reaction tells me that it really isn’t likely the the OP’s tone is really the problem. Having both the manager AND the manager’s manager come down on her, is by itself a bit eyebrow raising. Furthermore, it’s just totally not credible that she actually made people AFRAID of her. Even if she was truly rude and abrasive, that’s just pretty ridiculous.

        And that’s all before the OP’s further clarification.

      5. Anon Accountant*

        Agreed! When Going Anon has been given feedback in multiple positions saying the same thing it’s worth considering if the jobs were a bad fit or if there was good constructive criticism there. Yes the current job is toxic but I agree there’s some validity in it was too abrasive for the meeting.

    9. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Oh my God, I’m so sorry.

      I’m going to say what you’re probably thinking and what everyone else is probably going to say, but your company is full of evil bees. Hopefully you do get a great offer and a great job, because it sounds like your current company is absolutely terrible (although…honestly, it doesn’t surprise me much anymore). Hopefully you have a wonderful weekend and you can face everything on Monday.

    10. thelettermegan*

      I’m so sorry you have to work with these losers. Good for you for looking for a better job. I hope you find one soon.

      If I were you, I’d take some ‘me’ time this weekend, and then starting Monday, just keep repeating internally “I’m only here for the paycheck”. If someone does something you don’t like, put your head down and keep doing your work. Funnel your energy into finding the next job, instead of wondering why your work environment is the way it is. It is the way it is because those people are losers and you have better things to do than fly around with those turkeys.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Oh my. In some ways you remind me of ME. I needed to learn how to pick better work places and I needed to learn to get out quicker when I found I had misjudged.

      I think you know that you have had bosses who are predisposed to saying those types of things to you. The one bit of light I see here is that they probably tell every woman this. It’s got very little to do with you and everything to do with being a woman. Honestly, I would put that part about being abrasive, etc to one side for a minute here. You can deal with that in a bit. When we work with polite and fair minded people it is easier to be a polite and fair minded person ourselves. We tend to go toward what we see.

      Your biggest problem here is that there are slackers and the bosses have no intention of fixing this ever. Check back with this company in five years, if they are not out of business, they will still be reorganizing every year in the hopes that the slackers won’t slack anymore. So five years from now the slackers will still be slacking and the company will still be doing it’s annual reorg. Each person in this story has their plan, their ONLY plan, and they are going to stick to it.

      Here’s a tip my wise friend gave me: In some work places (and in life)we can stand up for something because we think it’s the right thing to do. However, that standing up/speaking out comes at a price. Before we speak we need to be sure we are willing to pay the price. Don’t know what the price is? oooo- that is A PROBLEM. So the rule of thumb here is to brace ourselves for strong blowback. In short, make sure it’s a hill we want to die on.

      I’d argue that you picked a good hill to die on. I think the blowback surprised you. I bet it won’t in the future. You’ll pick your hills and you will have a plan for what to do it it goes poorly.

      So now you have proof beyond reasonable doubt that these people are acting like idiots. Good bosses do not reduce employees to tears and they do not tag team each other taking turns reducing the employee to tears.

      Your last paragraph: you have this set up so that YOU can’t win. Which is very similar to what your bosses do to you. Decide to stop worrying about what some INCOMPETENT managers think. You know, if this turns and they suddenly like you again, what you will have is that Incompetent Managers like you. I am not too sure if that is an accomplishment. I’d be concerned if a Good Boss did not like me, but a Loser Boss, why worry about it.

      Let’s think about options here.
      I have been in a similar sinking boat and what I landed on was giving my two weeks notice. I thought it was a good combination message, “I am not scared to work two more weeks with you, but I am not going to have your bs in my life, either.” I kept my chin up as they kept asking me to stay and I kept saying NO loud and clear.
      This is not your only option. You could call up and quit over the phone, if you want. You have to live with you, so I think your decision should be based on this question, “What do I do now, that in ten years I will still think it was a good choice?”

      Take care of you first and foremost, because these people will just take care of themselves without regard to your concerns.

      1. going anon today*

        This was such a great, nice comment. I’m going to save it for future reference. Thanks so much!

        1. Triple Anon*

          Exactly. I was in a similar place once. It was so bad, it was taking a toll on my health. I quit without anything lined up. I was in a position to do that because I had savings and no dependent children or animals. It’s obviously different for everyone. But I’m really glad I made that choice. Things have been a little rocky. But I’m so much better off than when I worked there. Take care of yourself. Don’t put up with abuse. Your career will sort itself out.

    12. a*

      Just here to offer commiseration – I was removed from a board that determines our policy because I am “too argumentative.” Never mind that they claimed to have wanted people with strong opinions and differing perspectives when they set up the committee. Because it has no real effect on my actual job, and because I’ve been her for 23 years, I can just laugh about it now. Plus, I recap the story and reference it at every opportunity.

      When I was a lot younger, I was told to be more diplomatic and change my tone (which was code for “don’t call out people for doing their jobs poorly because their feelings will get hurt.”) The woman who advised me was a) telling me something she sincerely believed would be helpful and b) a women who had moved up pretty well in a male-dominated field. But I don’t take instruction on that sort of thing well (and I never wanted to be a manager), so it fell on deaf ears. 20 years down the line, I have learned to soften my delivery a little…but not much. If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask for opinions. :)

      Don’t let anyone make you feel like honesty is a character fault and truthfulness is an undesirable characteristic. Sure, check your delivery – self-awareness will help you to refrain from getting upset when someone takes issue with it.

      Finally, remember…the projects are not yours; they’re your employers. If your employer wants to tolerate dead weight, that’s their problem. You don’t have to kill yourself trying to make up for other people’s lacks.

      And I wouldn’t quit…but I would ramp up my search efforts. But that’s because I’m a chicken who’s addicted to a regular paycheck.

      1. Lindsay J*

        The director tried to fire me at a previous job because, at the end of a yearly training they asked for anonymous feedback on the training.

        And I was honest about the training, and how I thought it was essentially a huge waste of time, and how the presenter had seemed unprepared which made it even more of a waste. (I did word it more nicely than that, and the question I was responding to was something like, “how useful did you find the training?”.)

        I said nothing rude, crude, or untrue.

        The feedback went right to corporate. Corporate asked the HR director about it. HR went to my director, and told him to find and fire the person who made the feedback. My director asked my boss who it was, and told her to figure it out by comparing handwriting.

        She, thankfully, refused, and told the director that he could fire the entire department including her if he wanted, or he could drop the witch hunt, but that she was not going to be a part of this. He dropped it.

        They changed their feedback method the next year from open ended to “circle a number 1-5”.

        Don’t ask for opinions if you don’t actually want opinions.

    13. Jady*

      I’ve worked at places like this. This is more common than you may think. I know you’re looking for a new job, but this kind of situation could occur again.

      In the end, the worker bees are not in charge. Sometimes decisions come from the heavens and that’s the end of the story. Until you either get a large enough group to support, or you climb up the ladder far enough, or until upper management is replaced, eventually you really do have to give up.

      Not just for your own sanity, but in some companies for the safety of your job too.

      You said yourself: “Management does nothing, and no matter how much a concern or complaint is voiced, nothing changes.”

      So you already knew there was no point. You raised the issue again, after repeatedly raising the issue before. I understand the desire to do that – I did it too. But eventually, you have to accept that things aren’t going to change.

      Otherwise – you’re the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. That grease started happening.

      You talk about comparing yourself to the men. But are you on the same management level as these men? Do they longevity or position that gives them the authority to do the kinds of things you can’t do?

      If you’re on the same level of them, then the next question you have to ask is how does your presentation differ? Your description of the situation sounded extremely passive-aggressive. (Again – I understand! I did this too.) That isn’t going to be taken well, and it’s taken as a problem of both the issue and of yourself. Applauded people have solutions.

      In the future, in a situation like this, and in an appropriate place and time (a reorg announcement isn’t a good time), you’d want to do things like suggest performance metrics, yearly/quarterly review improvements, promotion criteria, implementing PIPs, and so on.

      But you have to take into account your standing. And you have to realize that the company has shown a lack of interest in that specific problem repeatedly. So your suggestions may still fall on deaf ears. You have to be okay with that, and remember it’s a problem from the top which can’t be solved from the bottom.

      I know that all sounds depressing and negative. On the bright side, there are companies that do care. They’re just harder to find.

      1. Observer*

        Wow. It really sounds like you’ve been well and truly indoctrinated.

        Here is the thing. It’s possible that Going’s questions were not politically smart. But that doesn’t come close to an acceptable explanation of what happened.

        Had they stuck to “abrasive” and the like it MIGHT have been possible that what was going on was not sexism, but “plain” over-all toxicity. But, when they are claiming that it caused people to be afraid of her, I call baloney! It doesn’t matter how out of line she could have been and how poorly times the questions were, etc. It simply is totally not credible that she actually intimidated the guys sitting there. So, let’s not sidetrack the discussion, please.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I got the whole “people are afraid of you”, too. A male manager would get red in the face, yell (literally YELLING at the top of his voice) at people in our huddle, but he didn’t get talked to about it. But boy, I sure heard about it when I sighed in frustration over something. It made me super scary, according to Toxic Workplace.

    14. Bea W*

      I could have written this post on several occasions. I’ve had that same talking to. I’m also a woman. What is even worse, is after being talked to I’ve had managers openly soliciting opinions and potentially difficult feedback in group meetings. It’s infuriating. If you don’t want opinions, don’t ask for them! Don’t even get me started on dealing with the performance issues of other people. I was in this exact same spot. It ultimately led me to quitting without anything lined up, because I just could not continue without serious damage to my mental and physical health. I could not get my work done or work on my own performance goals.

      When I’m feeling like you do – and I know this well – I have to refocus on the fact that I am searching and on the parts of my job I like and reminding myself I have one foot out the door. Even though I’m not saying anything at work I’m not pretending things are okay, because I am actively trying to do something about it, which is look for another job. Sometimes I would have to take a “mental health day” away from the office or bury myself in independent work without interacting with people, usually blasting angry music on my headset. It helps me channel all that frustration into something other than standing up and announcing it is F-this O’clock and walking out.

      1. rose6677*

        Thanks Bea.

        I’m in this situation right now and your description sounds like a good strategy to implement.

    15. Nita*

      I’m really sorry. My husband has gone through this a couple of times in his career, and it’s such a toxic thing to deal with. At one point he was an assistant manager. In order to deny him a promotion to manager his new boss started calling his direct reports in for one-on-one meetings, fishing for information (i.e., asking lots of leading questions) about how he was “abrasive,” made them “scared” of him, and “intimidated” them. That was fun. A few of them gave my husband a heads-up about the meetings, but there wasn’t much he could do because the new boss was a family friend of an even higher new boss, who was a family friend of the top boss. Obviously it wasn’t a male-female dynamic going on, but those exact words were used to undermine and send the message of “you’re not welcome here.”

      Good luck, I really hope you can get out and find a new job.

    16. AFPM*

      I am so sorry for doing this. The only advice I can give is that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU, and GOOD FOR YOU for doing what you did. And get the hell out of there. They are gaslighting you and it’s not okay.

      1. AFPM*

        Response to my own comment above – Sorry that should have said “I’m so sorry you’re going through this!” LOL.

    17. Observer*

      If you have the energy, call them on this nonsense. You’re ready to quit anyway, so it’s not like they can fire you for it. (And if they do, then you get unemployment.)

      Point out that if any grown man is REALLY “scared to work” with you because of your abrasiveness, then something it quite wrong with that person. Which means that either someone is lying, or these guys are a bunch of spoiled children in adult bodes – and either way, their complaints are just not credible.

      I mean, if you were 6′ 2″, ripped and wearing chains and studs when you got up and banged the table before asking your question, that would be one thing. But that’s just fantasyland. The reality is that even if your tone WERE abrasive, the idea that someone is now “scared of you” is so silly that it’s clear that this is not serious or appropriate feedback.

      1. going anon today*

        I suspect one of the people who complained is also a woman, but she’s one who is known to push her work off on others and never do anything. A known issue management always says they’re “dealing with”.

        For the men – it’s funny you write the second paragraph because one of the ones who complained is known to pound on desks when someone tells him something he doesn’t like or he’s frustrated. A female coworker complained about that being scary, but nothing happened.

    18. Argh!*

      Very sexist! Horrible! It’s very repressive, and counterproductive. If the engaged staff members are told to shut up, and the people who disappear for hours aren’t disciplined, there’s a very very big problem there. Are you able to talk to an ombudsperson or upper management?

      If it happens while you’re still stuck there, can you muster up the oomph to tell them that they’re being sexist and all the stuff you said to us? They may not respond well to it, but they already don’t respond well to you. The difference would be that you wouldn’t feel so helpless. I know because I’ve done it. People who are sexist and oblivious to their own faults are usually not teachable, but it’s worth trying in order not to feel like a victim.

      After you find another job (which I hope you will do soon!) I hope they offer you an exit interview.

    19. Leave it to Beaver*

      Hi Going Anon! I’m not sure if you’re up for another opinion/thought/comment/post – but if so… It does sound like your work environment is toxic and is happy to live in the delusion that as long as no one says anything overtly sexist/racist/bigoted/prejudiced than they can avoid the impression that said workplace is sexist/racist/bigoted/prejudiced. The truth is, your manager handled the feedback badly. First, conducting it in an open space was poor judgment. Secondly telling you to keep your opinions to yourself is poor management. And while your reaction wasn’t ideal (I have also ugly cried, so I feel your pain), it sounds to me that it was likely due to a) your already existing opinion that your work environment sucks and b) that you’re also not managed well.

      Regardless of whether your opinion was valid or not, your manager should have held this conversation in a private space, should have addressed the concerns you expressed and ALSO should have discussed with you how best to address such concerns in the future. If they don’t want you speaking up in meetings, they need to tell you what avenues are available to you. (And if there aren’t any – get out). People thinking your abrasive or aggressive is subjective. (And scary is only an adjective that should only be used in the workplace when it refers to someone who is physically or verbally threatening, which this was not).

      I say all these things, because I think they might help to provide the armor you need to get through this period of time until you can find someplace better. Creating a productive work environment isn’t a mandate for employees to gather around a table and sing kumbaya. It’s appreciating each other’s differences and understanding how we can all work together, utilizing each other’s strengths for the best outcome. Your managers are integral to setting that framework and they’re failing. Don’t look at this as a personal failing. Consider this a challenging situation that you are only the better for overcoming.

    20. A (former) Cad Monkey*

      As someone who has left a toxic job without a new one lined up, look at your finances first. Verify you have enough in the bank/savings/liquid funds to last at a minimum 1 year. Toxic work places plain suck. I had to stick it out for several years to secure my financial stability. All I can give you is make sure you have a vent/outlet for the frustration you feel from toxic job. Good luck in your job search.

    21. N Twello*

      If I were you, I would probably make a formal complaint about your boss and grand-boss’s talks with you. Best to make it to HR and someone very senior (the CEO if possible). The complaint needs to be emotionless and include what they said to you (with exact quotes, especially about the no-talking-in-meetings), a description of how you reacted, a statement that you can’t work if you’re not allowed to speak in meetings, and a description of some events that show the toxic work environment. (Provable examples are better than an overall analysis.) I would include the assertions that this treatment is in your opinion sexist and is harassment, and that the environment is toxic, as those are legally loaded terms. After writing the email, I would go over it and weed out any parts that are too complicated to grasp easily or that are open to other interpretations.

      This might result in the company offering you a package. It might result in things getting better at work. It might result in more trouble. The main thing for me would be that I stuck up for myself after being treated with gross unfairness.

    22. Anonymatic YoYo*

      I cannot believe that the first comment this week is so similar to my current situation (which I was coming to post!). I pretty much figured my manager was an incompetent sexist a-hole, but this discussion about “scary” is very interesting, because I have recently been getting comments/actions on “him being scared to ask me a question” for finally getting fed up enough after 7 months of his crap to call him out, clearly and calmly, on his sh*t.

      Very conveniently I have also noticed he has only ever had foreign women working for him, from countries that typically lean towards more male dominance (I am also an expat, but not from one of those countries). Thankfully this is only for a few more weeks as I am on loan from another department, but it has been brutal – we are down three or four dishes and I have had heaving, screaming angry crying sessions at home out of frustration and lack of fairness, my long term relationship almost broke up, and I haven’t had a day off since October. And for what? So this tiny man can feel “powerful” in some way? I’m done giving him that power – he’s just as much a screwup as the people you are dealing with.

      He denied my request for vacation today too, which was pretty cool, in a place where vacation is almost never denied, the first vacation I have requested since this started. So he no longer gets more than what I am contractually obligated to provide. The project process I was going to write up for the next person? Yeah, naaaahh. Or cleaning up the files? Eh. He doesn’t get any more of my time/energy/sanity – he doesn’t deserve it, he hasn’t earned it, and I have no respect for him OR his boss at this point.

    23. working abroad*

      I know there’s tons of responses to your question already but I just want to offer some solidarity as a fellow crier. I consider myself such a strong person who can tolerate a lot of BS, but as soon as any direct confrontation comes my way the waterworks start. Most of the time it is out of frustration. I’ve actually considered therapy or hypnosis to train myself to stop. Sometimes it is just little things–like yesterday I was talking to my boss about using a company car and he was explaining why he didn’t want me to and I felt my eyes welling up. It sucks, and I empathize.

      1. Annoyed*

        Some people are criers. I read somehing a few years ago (couldn’t even begin to remember where) that laid out some pretty solid science behind it. Usually it’s frustration or stress.

        Unfortunately it’s also heavily skewed to being more common with women ergo the pervasive, and wrong belief that women are weak, emotional, over sensitive, and (gah!) hysterical.

        I’m a crier but I double dog dare anyone to define me as “weak.” It’s like a stress hornone thing or something. I really can’t remember *details* but after reading it I pretty much immediately stopped feeling bad for not being able to *not* cry.

    24. mreasy*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. It is so incredibly demoralizing.

      Last year, I left a workplace where I was in a senior exec role, incredibly successful in measurable ways, and had been told that my “attitude” was an issue, that I was too “harsh” and that, in fact, people “were afraid” of me due to having to overhear intense phone calls. (I was having these phone calls primarily with someone so toxic and abrasive that nobody else at my company would talk to him, but I was able to negotiate with this person.)

      People I worked with on a regular basis, who had been at the company for a decade, who were MALE and below me in rank, would say things to me like “that’s a f**king stupid idea” about a well-thought-out plan my team had created, and much, much worse. One senior male member of staff was known as a source of unnecessary, emotionally charged conflict, and would occasionally come to work so hungover that he fell asleep on conference calls. These people did not face anything beyond the mildest talking-to about their issues.

      I was hired as a change agent, and instructed to shake things up and hold people accountable (which was sorely needed), but the moment I started doing this (kindly! I am such a kind person! I was known as the friendliest and easiest to work with person in my role at the company!), my bosses started complaining that people found me “intolerable” to work with. I didn’t get a raise in my 4 years there, and was told specifically that it was about my “attitude issues.” Yet somehow they were surprised when I left?

      tl;dr: if you can stick it out until you have another offer, do. Maybe try a search for a month and if you’re not getting anywhere, consider quitting without anything lined up. However, you will be surprised to find how much other employers appreciate a can-do attitude and lack of wishy-washiness. My current employer loves it!

    1. fposte*

      I’ve been watching that one! It’s so bizarre. It made me think of Richard Berendzen, the American University president who was making obscene phone calls (and lost his job as a result). (And wow, does his Wikipedia page read like he wrote it.)

      1. Baby Fishmouth*

        I just looked up that wiki page – I’m now like 80% convinced he wrote it himself.

      2. The Vulture*

        Holy crap (NPI) it does! You piqued my interest and it’s not JUST the overblown praise about “drastically raised the prestige through relentless work” and carefully mentioning but not centering the “resigning in disgrace” aspects, it’s also all very personal and casual references to how he felt or what he wanted or specific questions he asked in second grade. It’s just not “wikipedia style guide esque”, if I may.

        Also, let’s not forget Bob’s Burger’s the Mad Pooper.

        1. Qmatilda*

          Hello there fellow Eagle. I went there in the 90s and even had astronomy taught by Dr. B. There’s a copy of his book somewhere in the house as well.

    2. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      This might be slightly off topic, but when my husband was in college, he worked at a clothing store at our local outlet mall. One day, his manager called a staff meeting because a sock had been found in the trash can that had human feces in it. A few days after that, another poop filled sock had been found in the back room. There ended up being a big who-dunnit ordeal, and it was eventually discovered that one of the temporary holiday employees had been doing it. My husband found it less than amusing–as he was the one working with a person who pooped in socks and left them laying about–but it gave me a good laugh.

    3. LKW*

      Someone sent this to me yesterday because this is where we grew up. Oh New Jersey…

    4. essEss*

      Hahahahahahahaha….. “”He was a nice guy,” said one neighbor. “Except for pooping on the field.””

  2. Jesse Pink*

    Cover letter questions, thanks in advance – How many job experiences to discuss when the average length is one year, and how many is too many? Is it a must to include my current job, which has no relevance whatsoever to the jobs I’m applying for in a different field? And like the resume, does the cover letter need to be in reverse chronological order, or should the more relevant (but from 6 years ago) stuff go first? I currently discuss 4 different jobs in my cover letter.

      1. Jesse Pink*

        Thanks! I went through it, but couldn’t seem to find these specific issues answered. In the example cover letters Alison posted, the writers include 1-2 jobs, so I worry that I have too many!

    1. Snubble*

      I use the cover letter to discuss how my skills meet the criteria set out in the job description / person specification and why I’m interested in the job on offer. The resume is for my job history, the cover letter is for the personality and emphasis on specific aspects such as “I am experienced with minuting high-level meetings led by execs” or “As shown by my ability to manage three seperate strands of work in my current role, I am comfortable with multi-taskign and organising my own time”. It’s not the narrative version of the resume and doesn’t have to go through each job in turn. It’s about pulling out details and ticking off the requirements in the advert.

      1. many bells down*

        Yeah when my cover letters mention previous jobs, it’s only in the sense of “I did A for 5 years, and here’s how I feel that’s prepared me to do X at your company.”

    2. ZSD*

      I think you may not be optimally organizing your cover letter. Your cover letter, in my opinion, shouldn’t discuss each job in turn. Instead, your cover letter should be organized around skills you’ll use in the new job. So you might have one paragraph about event planning, another paragraph about budget and audit responsibilities, and a final paragraph about social media. (I’m just making up a hypothetical job description, obviously.) In each paragraph, you demonstrate how you have experience in that area. Thus, whether you describe one job or four depends on where you got the experience relevant to this new position. And no, you definitely don’t need to go in reverse chronological order!

      1. TheAssistant*

        Agree with this. I usually pick out two (sometimes three) main tasks/traits of the job and throw in examples from other jobs as they’re relevant. Think of the cover letter as thematic vs chronological – you’re weaving together a story of why you’d excel in the role, outside of the rather-dry accomplishment bullets of your resume.

        For instance, if the job has a lot of responsibilities that scream Attention to Detail, I’ll talk about my eagle eyes and how I was the go-to copyeditor in a department of 25. That was my first job (of four on my resume), but usually I’ll talk about it in the first substantive paragraph if it makes sense to do so. I might pair that instance with a task in my current or last role. Then the next bit will be about Embracing a Challenge, and we’ll throw in an example for job #2. Etc.

        1. Chaordic One*

          The other thing that I do is I try to mention the main tasks listed in the job description or advertisement to which I am responding and then, like you suggest, tell mow my previous experience would help me accomplish these tasks.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Your cover letter doesn’t need to be a catch-all for every experience you’ve ever had. Look at the job description and pick out the top 2-3 things they are looking for in their candidate and highlight how you and your experience are a good fit for what they’re looking for. Hiring managers don’t need an exhaustive history of your work experience in the cover letter – they just want a taste of why you’re applying and why they should interview you. Keep it short – I appreciate reading cover letters that are 2/3 or 3/4 of a page and no longer than that.

    4. Moonbeam Malone*

      Think of your cover letter as your elevator pitch – you’re trying to quickly hook a prospective employer. It’s a way to be more conversational and relay relevant info that might not be on your resume, or to go into more detail on something relevant on your resume that particularly speaks to the value you can bring to the table. Keep it relevant, keep it brief, and if possible make it interesting. Highlight your experience and skills here and only mention specific jobs as they relate to whatever skill you’re drawing attention to.

      My cover letter is usually something like, “Dear So-And-So, I was so excited to see the opening for a (Job Title) at (Company Name.) I’ve been freelancing in (field) for x years and I’m ready to make the transition to full time. The work you’ve been doing lately on (specific project I am interested in) has been very inspiring to me. I strive to bring that same kind of energy into my projects. Through the work I’ve done on (relevant projects) I’ve been honing (specific relevant/desirable skills) and you’ll see from my portfolio that I’ve demonstrated a strong focus in (thing I’m super awesome at.) I look forward to discussing this position with you. You can contact me at (contact info.) Thank you, Moonbeam Malone”

      (I don’t have my actual cover letter at the ready, and mine are never even the best, I realize, but hopefully that gives you some idea.)

    5. Kat Em*

      I have two sections on mine. One is [Industry] Experience, which comes first. The second is Other Work Experience, which includes recent but less-pertinent jobs, and includes less detail. Hope that helps!

      1. Kat Em*

        I should specify that this is my resume. I don’t really reference non-pertinent work in cover letters at all, except in passing like “While I’ve enjoyed my time as a llama wrangler, I’m ready to get back to my first love: teapot construction.” or something like that.

        1. Jesse Pink*

          This is good. Thanks! I was wondering how to reference the current job without spending space on it because it is not relevant.

    6. Lindsay J*

      I don’t go through my jobs one by one in a cover letter, and it’s definitely not in chronological or reverse chronological order. I mostly just relate how specific aspects of my experience relate to specific parts of the job posting (especially parts that might not be immediately obvious on my resume, or that might be missed in a quick glance of it).

      There was a sample cover letter Allison posted several years ago now (that I think was for an office manager position or something?) and mine is similar to that in structure and tone.

    7. N Twello*

      You could think of the cover letter as a way to make the reader want to look at your resume. The cover letter doesn’t need to include any details of where or when. It doesn’t need to reference your current job at all. For example, you could say “I have over ten years experience designing tea pots” and then your resume will show five non-consecutive jobs of two years each where you designed tea pots. Don’t repeat your resume in your cover letter. Keep it focused and fairly brief.

    8. nep*

      Best to pick two or three items in the skills and experience the employer requires and highlight what you’ve done along those lines. The cover letter shouldn’t be a rehash of the resume — really use it as an opportunity to spotlight your strongest points and how they relate to the job in question; make the hiring manager want to read on and want to contact you for more.

  3. Cancer Crush Anon*

    Well, I have hopeful news today. It looks like on Monday, 100 days after the CEO Crush incident, I will be able to consider putting my two weeks in! For those who haven’t been following this saga: the CEO told me he had a crush on me, I reported it, he called me like 7 times and claimed I misunderstood. On the same day of the incident I found out my dad’s cancer had returned. Luckily, he’s 100% fine.

    I got a call on Wednesday saying that a big corporate headquarters wants to hire me. I got the verbal offer yesterday (I did not dare negotiate…it was a 33% raise and 21 days of PTO vs 12). HR recommended I wait for the background check to clear, which could take a week.

    I literally have no reason to worry on my background check, so I am leaning towards putting my 2 weeks in on Monday and then having a week off to myself to recharge/MOVE/get my house ready to rent it out before the start date after Memorial Day. It’s probably unadviseable to do before the background check comes in, but honestly…I need this so badly. Boyfriend has already started his new job in New City, and I will be joining him soon with MY new job in New City. It’s a reset. A new start.

    I had a pretty awful performance review two weeks ago, and my boss (who had been supportive) really dismissed me when I told her that it has been very HARD to work there every day. She told me she “factored everything in”, yet I received the worst review I have ever received from her. Tie that with a reduced bonus and a reduced raise (we have a target they are supposed to meet). It was extremely demoralizing and frankly, I cannot wait to see her face when I put my 2 weeks in.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I am so happy to hear that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for you.

    2. ContentWrangler*

      Woohoo! You deserve this positive outcome. Move on to a great new job and a fun new life in a new city and leave behind this dysfunctional company and creeptastic CEO.

    3. Frustrated Optimist*

      I am so happy to hear of your new opportunity – to say you deserve it is an understatement.

      But you’ll wait until you get an offer in writing before you turn in your notice, right?

      1. Cancer Crush Anon*

        Yes, definitely. Waiting on pins and needles right now! Just send the darn email HR!!

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Yes, WAIT WAIT WAIT! Every extra minute right now feels like an eternity, but once you’re out of there it won’t take long before it all seems like a bad dream. Better to have everything 100% locked down in writing first!

    4. Viktoria*

      I’m so sorry that all happened! How awful. I didn’t see your original post.

      In your shoes, instead of giving notice before the background check clears, I might consider waiting and then giving only 1 week’s notice. I know some people might not agree with me– but being sexually harassed by the CEO seems like extraordinary circumstances to me. Combined with the possibility of retaliation/being asked to leave immediately (do you think your bad review has a retaliatory aspect? Maybe not if your boss has been supportive, but the timing seems… fishy). Just throwing that out as another option to consider!

      Either way, congrats, and enjoy giving notice and enjoy your new start!!

      1. CatCat*

        Yeah… I’d just give notice the same day I got to clear on the background check. If it’s less than 2 weeks? Well, that’s what happens when the CEO is allowed to harass an employee and stick around, and then the employee sees their performance review trashed. Natural consequence for the company.

        Honestly, I’d be tempted to leave the very day I got the cleared background check. Start wrapping up what you can now, write a memo on where things stand, and if you want, be prepared to walk out that day having done the best you could . The 2 weeks notice is not more important than your health and well-being. You’ve been through the ringer.

        Others may disagree. But would you ever trust your boss to give a positive reference anyway in light of what’s gone down here? I would not.

        1. Cancer Crush Anon*

          I’ve thought about all of this and I’ve been going back and forth with all of these thoughts. I’m concerned that giving less than 2 weeks would be unprofessional, and that people who see me as professional and DON’T know the situation would judge me negatively for it. I do have a lot of people here I’d like to keep in contact with and I don’t want them to think I am unprofessional.

          I also think it’s strange that my bonus/performance suffered after making a harassment complaint. I’m not under any NDA right now, but that may change, according to people in my life giving me advice. So therefore, I will not elaborate further on this aspect. If I do follow advice, I may be asked to leave immediately, anyways.

          With the substantial raise and my unused vacation being paid out, I don’t think I have to worry about the week or two I have without pay.

          1. Fiennes*

            Document EVERYTHING. And frankly, in the exit interview, say exactly what you said here about being penalized after a sexual harassment claim.

            1. mark132*

              That’s probably better said to a lawyer, rather than HR. Should she consider a lawsuit for retaliation etc.

          2. Windchime*

            It’s not strange at all that your bonus/performance review suffered after making a harassment claim. It looks like a clear case of retaliation to me.

            Best of luck and congratulations on your awesome new job. I’ve been reading your updates with interest and I’m so glad you’re finally getting out. (Glad your dad is OK, too!)

          3. Lucky*

            Can you wait for the official offer and ask to start in 3 weeks? That way you give the very professional 2 weeks notice but still have a week to relax, move, regroup, etc.

            PS I am so happy for this update and can’t wait to hear the official news next week.

            1. WellRed*

              Yes, no rule that you must start in exactly two weeks, especially since it sounds like the new company sought you out! And frankly, I think the bad review is retaliation.

            2. Cancer Crush Anon*

              Well what’s strange is HR already asked me for my start date. She asked if I needed to give 2 weeks, and I said yes, and she said May 21st. I then asked if we could do May 29th due to life and she said that was fine.

              But then she said that I should wait for the background check to clear and it may take a week….thus making it confusing because clearly I’d be giving less than 2 weeks if that were the case with the original date she thought!

    5. thelettermegan*

      Background checks clear pretty quickly. Just hang tight and slowly clean your desk.

      1. Cancer Crush Anon*

        HR told me it takes about a week and they go all the way back to High School :/ Maybe that’s why it would take longer?

        1. Jadelyn*

          It depends on what all they’re checking. It also depends on how many places you’ve lived, because that increases the number of county records agencies that the bg check has to get responses from before they can call it a day, and how unique your name is – if they have to sift through dozens of Jane Smiths to make sure they’re looking at the records for the right one, it can take longer.

          I’ve had bg checks come back approved the same day, and I’ve had them take 3+ weeks in extreme cases (rarely, but it happens) – I usually tell candidates to expect it to take about a week since that seems to be where the average lies.

        2. Autumnheart*

          When I was hired by a large bank, I had to have an extensive background check. I’m super square and it took about a week, and apparently that was really fast. But that was in 2003 and things are much more electronicized now. Probably be faster.

    6. The Ginger Ginger*

      Oh, I’m so relieved for you! I’ve thought of you the last couple open threads, and I’m beyond thrilled that you’ve not only found a way out but have improved your pay and PTO. Congratulations!

    7. King Friday XIII*

      So happy to see a hopeful update from you! When it’s hard, remember we’re all rooting for you.

    8. Jadelyn*

      I’d discourage you from resigning before the bg check clears tbh – we do background checks at my employer and at least once we’ve had someone who resigned before their bg check cleared despite being advised not to do so, and whose background check then came back and we couldn’t hire them. So this person was obviously confident that their background check would clear…but they were wrong.

      Since you don’t know which specific aspects of the background check they’re looking at – it may vary depending on the industry the company works in, the nature of the position you’re being hired for – it’s hard to say for sure you’ll pass the bg check unless you have literally never had any credit problems, financial difficulties, repos/foreclosures, in addition to having a perfectly clean criminal history.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I’d advise the same, but for a different reason. I recently made an internal transfer that required an updated background check, and it took for-friggin’-ever. I think it was several weeks, in the end, and I have no idea why – I have no problematic history and nothing had changed since my background check when I started at this organization. But they contracted with an outside firm for checks and somehow it took a while to come back. If you can afford to be out of work for several weeks if the background check process ends up taking longer than expected, that’s one thing, but if you don’t actually want more than a week off I’d wait.

        My large employer also only has new employees start every other Monday because they have everyone new to the company go through orientation first, sign up for benefits in a group session, etc. So if your new employer does something similar and you hit the wrong point in that cycle it could add another week or two.

        Wait until you have a start date if at all possible. And congrats!

        1. Cancer Crush Anon*

          I do have a start date…which is 3 weeks from this Monday. SO I am a little surprised that she wanted to put a start date down but told me to wait a week. Originally she asked me if I could start on the 21st!

          1. Windchime*

            That kind of makes sense to me. My workplace only does New Employee Orientation every couple of weeks, and people have to start on a NEO day. So they probably just signed you up for the next orientation day.

        2. Logan*

          I am making an internal transfer, to a job which was posted to the public, so most aspects (pay, leave, etc) are internal, except for my background check. They are unusually backlogged, and it looks like I might start in June, when I was originally talking to them about mid-March. I don’t really care because bosses on both sides are understanding and supportive, but the fact that there is no obvious end in sight is a bit of a surprise to all of us!

      2. Lindsay J*


        I think my job is too obsessive with background checks, honestly. I’ve had a 3 people who were currently working for a different company in my field, doing the same thing they would be doing for me, fail their background checks.

        But it’s not something I have standing to do anything about.

        So I just make it very clear to people when I interview them, that if they are selected that there will be a background check, that it will take about a month (both of those are standard in my field), AND that I have had several people fail the background check, and that even if they think that they know that they will be fine, just don’t give notice until they get word that it has cleared.

        Additionally, another reason to wait is that you don’t know whether they will give you a start date immediately after your background check clears.

        I have a new person starting soon. His background check cleared Wednesday. However, I know he needs to give two weeks notice at his current job. However, I will be out of town on business most of the month, and I can’t really start him when I’m out of town because I need to train him. So he has a start date of the 26th. If he gave notice two weeks ago to time his start with when his background check was estimated to clear, he would have 3 weeks without a paycheck that he may not have been planning for.

      3. Oxford Coma*

        Does identity theft count as a background check problem, if it has since been handled? Just curious, as a member of the IRS hack.

        1. mark132*

          I somewhat dread any credit checks etc. I have an extremely common name, and I’ve gotten false positives.

        2. Jadelyn*

          I honestly don’t know for sure – I’m not that deeply involved in our process to know precisely what disqualifies someone. I enter background checks and coordinate with the various people involved, but the actual determination on what leads to a “No, we can’t hire them” decision gets made at a higher level than I get to see.

          I can tell you that my org makes a real effort to work with candidates – if there’s something concerning on the background check, but not automatically disqualifying, we will reach out to the candidate and ask for further explanation and potentially documentation. So for my company, I think identity theft would be a yellow flag – we’d call you, ask what happened, ask for documentation regarding the identity theft and how it was handled, and then assuming it can be verified that it and any credit problems it caused has been handled, is in the past now, and was not your fault, then we would probably go ahead and move forward on hiring you.

          My best suggestion would be, if you’re applying for a job and they tell you they need to do a background check, be upfront about it. Tell them you were part of this data breach which resulted in your identity being stolen, you’ve handled it since then but it may show up on your background check. That way it doesn’t come out looking like something you were trying to hide, and they can tell you right away if that’s going to be a deal-breaker for them rather than having to run the check and get the results before determining that.

    9. Nita*

      So happy for you. Both that your dad is fine, and about the new job. Still thinking of you and hoping the transition goes very smoothly!!!

    10. A Person*

      Congrats! I put in my notice before my background check came back (after a written offer), but I just had the same background check done a year ago for toxic job and haven’t lived a life of crime in the past year. I am also intentionally taking a short break between jobs this time to recover mentally.

      Do what you need to do for yourself and I hope everything goes smoothly!

    11. Double A*

      This is very hopeful! I agree with the comments to wait til the background check clears, but also with the comment not to bother with 2 weeks. 2 weeks is a courtesy. Does this company deserve your courtesy?

    12. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      I’m very happy for you. Hope everything goes well with your move and new job, good luck!

    13. gbca*

      Congratulations! Tempting as it may be to resign before the background check clears, I would wait just to be safe. Then I would either give less than two weeks as someone else suggested, and/or negotiate with the new company for an additional week or two to move. Most companies understand that people need more than two weeks to start a new job when there’s a move involved, as giving two weeks’ notice is standard and moving cities in a weekend is generally unrealistic.

    14. Wendy Darling*

      A warning re: background checks — I almost didn’t pass mine even though there are legitimately no issues because… a past employer refused to pick up their phone, so they couldn’t verify one of my previous jobs. I had to dig up W2s to prove I’d worked there.

      If you can’t afford to not have a job you really should totally wait. If you can afford it… well, put in notice with great prejudice and then turn on really loud victory music.

    15. Bea*

      THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY! You have suffered and struggled so much and now you’ll be able to get out of that toxic tank of misconduct and despair. You deserve happiness and being treated well.

      Background checks rarely take the week we quote. That’s to factor in time to plug in the request and hiccups, also if you get a strange pop, we can have time to check another database, etc.

      But do give 2 weeks. When I left Hell On Earth, I struggled and was thinking about walking out. I didn’t need a damn thing from them and know never to list Voldemort as a reference. But it feels better to struggle through a notice. I’m praying for them to escort you out immediately though, I stayed 80% of my notice before they said I wasn’t needed any longer. I danced out the door.

      They may not be truly maliciously retaliating with the raise and review but they took the mental bait and I’m hoping you look into your options to take these fools down if it’s possible. But if you want a clean break, please know that’s a good choice too.

    16. Hmmm*

      Hey, is there any reason you couldn’t ask to start in 3 weeks instead of two? That’s really normal! You could give some reason, but otherwise just say, “Would it be possible to have the start date be a week later?”

      1. Cancer Crush Anon*

        I did! She initially wanted me to start May 21st. Now it’s May 29th…

        1. Halmsh*

          If the background check takes more than the time you’re anticipating, then just say you have to push the start date. You can be firm and friendly and say ‘I need to give two weeks notice to wrap things up at my current position, and I need a week to move before starting, I’m sure you understand!’ It’s really really okay and normal to have to push a little on a start date. HR folks expect some of this, will push back a little, and you just have to stay firm.

        2. Product person*

          You should say, “I’d like to start 3 weeks after my background check clears”. This is good advice for anyone, not to offer a firm date, but rather date offer is confirmed + X weeks so you have time to give notice and take soe time off.

          My husband has a spotless background and his last background check ended up taking 2 weeks, nobody knows why.

    17. Quinoa*

      Congratulations! I’ve been following your story and am so happy to hear that things are finally looking up for you! All the best in your new job and city!

  4. WellRed*

    I work in media as an editor and someone gave me a job listing for a non MLS library assistant position, in the city I live in, which is something I’ve never considered. I have the non-library requirements but don’t know, for example, the library software system. Also, even if there’s a chance in hell I got the interview, let alone the job, I’d probably be stuck at that level forever because I can’t see myself going for the degree to move up. On the other, might be nice to be a cog in the wheel?

    1. Anonymous for this*

      No library experience here, but if you’ve learned CCI/Newsgate, you can probably handle any software they throw at you. ;)

    2. Thing1*

      My MIL works in a public library in a small city. She does not have an MLS, which has prevented her from getting some opportunities. But she has still had some advancement; she was promoted to head of circulation a year or two ago, despite not having the degree, because of her experience and how good she is at it. But she was working there for something like 10 years, at a relatively low wage, before that happened, so it definitely wasn’t rapid promotion or anything.

    3. Decima Dewey*

      I wouldn’t worry about the library software system. There should be training. In the time I’ve been with my library system, we’ve had three very different software systems.

      The other thing to remember is that library software systems stink. The only questions are how it will, how much, and how much it will cost to stink.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Ditto. There are several common systems, and while it’s awesome if someone has previous experience it’s generally not at all required unless you’re being hired for a higher-level technical position (and even then it’s probably not going to be a make-or-break thing).

      2. An Anon Librarian*

        I agree. Every library I have been at has had a different backend system. None have been that hard to learn.

    4. HR Recruiter*

      I used to do HR for a library. Not knowing the system is not a concern at all. My biggest concern in interviewing you would be why do you want to go to libraries and how long are you willing to stay.
      And some things for your to consider are library jobs are hard to get (at least in my area). Your are competing with ppl with lots of library experience and MLS degrees because there are so few librarian jobs. Not to deter you though. I hired more ppl without experience over those with experience because they had the motivation and drive the others didn’t. Also think about your financial needs. Libraries pay very little and there’s some but few advancement opportunities without a MLS degree.

      1. WellRed*

        All of this is exactly what i worry about. It’s a public library with 6 or 7 smaller branches. It supposedly pays about $22 per hour (this could be off by a few dollars). It’s certainly gotta offer better health insurance than what I’ve got.
        I need a change, my company is making some decisions that make me worry for the long term health of it, and I am good at customer service and books.

        1. Rather be Reading*

          The customer service part is key. Play that up as best you can in your application documents and in the interview. I’ve hired plenty of people from non-library backgrounds who had other relevent experience and were excited about the ide of using those skills to help library customers. You’ve got as good a shot as anybody, so I say go for it.

        2. Ellery*

          If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with the library website and what kinds of services your library offers. It’s nice to be good with books, but libraries are largely multimedia these days and you might find you have an affinity for something that could put you in an appealing light.

        3. Library Land*

          For starters, it’s good to know that most libraries do have levels of library assistants (LA’s). You will reach a point where you cannot move up without the MLIS but it may take you awhile. $22 for a non-MLIS position is pretty good, especially for public. But HR Recruiter above is spot on, these jobs are a tough nut with lots of applicants. Not impossible – just know that there’s a lot of competition.

          Talk up your customer service. I wouldn’t say too much about being good with books (whatever that means to you) unless it’s a Reader’s Advisory heavy position. I semi-doubt that will be the case as that’s often a part of the MLIS jobs in the larger libraries.

          Also, not all LA positions are the same. Circulation is incredibly heavy on the customer service. Programming/RA/collections will be some customer service but a lot of teaching/leading. Anything within tech or tech services will not need customer service but has to have those specific skills. And like all have said, the library software isn’t really needed (unless you’ll be working on fixing that software, etc.).

    5. Library Director*

      Definitely apply. As long as you have the other requirements, like customer service and technology experience, learning the ILS (library software) is fine. Libraries have different ILSs anyway, so even if you were coming from the field, I’d expect that I’d need to teach you.

    6. LibraryRaptor*

      1) Lots of libraries use different software, you’d be learning like any new person. No worries there!
      2) It really depends on the library. I’ve worked in public and academic. Some counties (for public libraries) have strict requirements that you have an MLS. Some, especially smaller or more rural ones, do not. My last position in a public library required an MLS, or an MLS in progress, or “equivalent experience.” When I left that job I strongly recommended one of my staff who had years of experience but no MLS to take on the role. She got it! So that’s a long way to say, it depends.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I went from publishing to librarianship. I did not have a degree but had a retail and literature background. Good luck!

    7. Argh!*

      If a specific software program is a job requirement in the position description, then they may hold it against you. If it’s just a preferred qualification, it will only hold you back if someone with that exact credential who is equal to you in every other way is in the pool.

      It’s not unusual for people to work at one job for fewer than five years, so don’t think in terms of a lifetime commitment. After a few years, if you get bored, you will have some new skills to broaden your job prospects and hopefully some happy memories. A hiring official won’t ding you for leaving a dead-end job that no longer gives you opportunities to learn.

      If you want to do the work, go for it! Your reservations are not really big issues, and since you currently have a job, what have you got to lose?

    8. Denise*

      Plus, if you like the field and they offer educational assistance, who says you won’t get the MLS someday? It’s not the most painful degree program ever by any means.

    9. JS*

      I work at an academic library and I do not have a MLS. I do marketing / communications / media development work, which definitely doesn’t require a library degree. If you’re applying for a position at an academic library, there are some folks who’ll be hierarchical and a bit snobby about what you can do and what you can’t, but there’s plenty you can do (especially as an editor) to support library services. Depending on the exact position, I think you would want to do is frame your experience as “I know how to approach things from a patron perspective” because librarians sometimes have trouble seeing outside their own knowledge (like most experts!). An outsider perspective is really valuable in that situation to help cut through the library-ese. Good luck!

    10. OldLibrarian*

      I’ve been in libraries a long time and have never seen a non-librarian position that required the master’s degree. It might actually be an impediment to getting a non-librarian position in that they would assume you might want to leave the minute you had a chance at a librarian job. On the other hand, if you would like to “move up” eventually, you’ll want to ask about those kinds of opportunities. Public libraries tend to be small and flat organizationally… that is there might be dozens of circulation workers but only one circ manager (maybe an assistant manager) and you’ll never get that job unless someone leaves or dies. (I should add: in my experience, and I’ve never worked at a big county or major city system.)

  5. Snark*

    Still waiting on that official offer. BLAAAARGH. The longer this goes on, the more likely it is I’ll have a gap between paychecks, and I’d really like to avoid that.

  6. Bad Candidate*

    Are there any reputable resume services out there? My husband’s job has taken a turn and he’s looking. Problem is, he’s in IT and I know nothing about it or how to help his resume. His school’s career center isn’t an option as we’re not local and they don’t do long distance help. Thanks :)

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Reading posts here is probably a lot better – and avoids risk of getting bad “make an impression!!!!” advice.

    2. SpaceNovice*

      I wouldn’t go to a school career center anyway unless you know they are high quality; some still do things the “old” way.

      He should have a section that somehow lays out his skills separate from his list of jobs. It really helps people see what you’re good at in a glance. Perhaps specify levels of expertise if necessary. Bullet points under jobs should include what he did, HOW he did it, and what the result was–it helps employers visualize what someone can do. Also, a brief job description under each heading, especially if there’s differences like short term vs long term projects/support/assignments.

    3. Thegs*

      I’m in IT, and the only big difference I’ve noticed in resumes is that current certifications should have a prominent place. I list mine right below my contact information. Aside from that, standard resume formatting applies.

    4. zora*

      I agree with the above, but also, does he have any other contacts in the industry that would be willing to look at his draft resume and give their thoughts? And/or other people from his school that he is still in contact with? I am always happy to help a friend with resumes/cover letters, so he shouldn’t be afraid to ask around!

    5. Happy IT customer*

      Not a resume service, but if you husband needs help with his resume in the US and is in IT, the people I’m linking from my signature helped me after I was referred by a friend, and I can’t recommend them enough.

      I needed help with my resume after moving from India to the US and the results were outstanding. While before I was getting zero responses, after making the changes suggested I started to get replies on the same day I applied to jobs, and quickly found the perfect job. Since then I have paid it forward referring them to a couple of friends (also in IT) who have reported the same great results.

      Worth trying to see if they could help your husband too, and good luck for him!

  7. Purple Cornflake*

    Anyone have recs for job banks related to urban planning and transportation policy, entry- and mid-level? Thanks!

    1. Purple Cornflake*

      Posted too soon! In addition to Planetizen, APA job bank, NACTO, and idealist.

    2. grace*

      Hmmmm IDK where you work, but DC public affairs + communications jobs may be a start, if you’re interested in the district — I’ve used some of the company names before to see what alternative positions they had open.

    3. Overeducated*

      PreserveNet (through Cornell) sometimes posts planner positions on their job board.

    4. 414*

      Brad Traverse–if you are looking in the DC area, posts a lot of public policy jobs, some of which might be what you’re looking for!

    5. Jess*

      Streetsblog has a job board, although it’s relatively sparse. I see things for the West coast there way more often than the East, though.

    6. Lalaroo*

      I’d recommend looking at your local DOT if you’re willing to do state or local government work. I know our DOT has a TON of urban planning and transportation jobs, in addition to the standard hardhat type jobs everyone thinks of at first.

    7. Sabine the Very Mean*

      This is my field. I use as I choose to work in the public sector.

    8. Applesauced*

      Seconding the look at local/city/state municipalities; AIA (American Institute of Architects), Archinect might have planning jobs.
      If you’re on Reddit, r/UrbanPlanning might have some ideas

    9. Not my usual name*

      I’m in transportation policy/planning, and I’ve never found a reliable job bank in my field. I ended up making a spreadsheet of organizations that I was interested in with URLs for their career pages and checking in regularly, plus following those orgs on social media. A lot of government agencies won’t post their jobs anywhere except their own site, though sometimes individual hiring managers or other interested parties will post the job to relevant lists and boards. Local advocacy organizations often won’t bother posting local jobs on national boards, either. If you’re looking at consulting firms try to network your way into talking to someone there – some are kind of in an always-hiring mode if they find good candidates, even if they don’t have specific jobs posted.

      Check out the local Young Professionals in Transportation chapter, if your city has one. DC has a listserv called YIPPS that posts a lot of jobs – your area may have something similar. Several cities have Transportation Camps that are also good networking opportunities. I found it helpful to just start going to events that planning advocacy orgs in my city were having, and sometimes volunteering at those events. It gave me a sense of what different organizations were active in my area and let me ask people already in the field about local job-hunting, among other things.

    10. Mark Brendanaquits*

      Also, my state chapter of the APA posts a lot of transportation planning jobs both on their website and on their Facebook page. I also find that my state’s City/County Management Association website often posts planning jobs as well. Good luck!

    11. Purple Cornflake*

      Learned of several great new resources thanks to y’all. Thank you everyone!

  8. Pet sitter*

    Dog daycare carpool update: I have started working at the dog daycare part-time! It is adorable! AMA.

    1. Amelia*

      That’s so exciting! How many dogs do you get to see a day? Do you get time to play with them at all?

      1. Pet sitter*

        About a dozen. They have a LOT of playtime in the morning and they’re sleepy when I get there in the afternoon. :)

    2. fposte*

      I missed the intervening info–is this one of those that drives around and picks the dogs up?

      1. Pet sitter*

        Sadly, no, they don’t have a doggy school bus. I met the owner by giving one of the dogs a car ride to daycare every morning. Daycare opens at the same time as the local schools and has a little carpool circle. It’s like taking a kid to school. But now I work at the school too, and the kid is happy to see me and not going “ugh, mooom.”

    3. ContentWrangler*

      I have no questions. Only requests for pictures, though I don’t know if pics can be posted in this comment section.

    4. Snubble*

      Do you get to play with puppies? Are you getting paid to play with puppies? Can I shadow you at your job where you get to play with puppies?

      1. Pet sitter*

        1. Yes.
        2. Yes, but I spend more time cleaning than doing anything else. Scooping poop, filling in holes dogs dig in the ground (lol), cleaning the floors, cleaning the crates, etc.
        3. Yes.

    5. MechanicalPencil*

      What about the dogs that don’t play? I have one who came from a horrible situation and just never learned how…except when she sporadically decides that NOW IS THE TIME — in the middle of a rainstorm. She’s gone to daycare before as part of boarding, and I’ve always just wondered what she did.

      1. Pet sitter*

        When they go to the yard to play, some of them walk around sniffing things or quietly hang around together. They just want to relax. Sorry to hear that your dog has that background, though, and gets the crazies at weird times! At daycare, she probably fits right in with some mellow or reserved dogs.

        1. MechanicalPencil*

          Oh she’s definitely mellow. That makes me feel slightly better about leaving her. She’ll go months without a play bow and then all of the sudden it just pops up, so I feel like I have to encourage my dog to dog.

    6. Lindsay J*

      Do they supply a vehicle or do you have to drive them around in your own car?

      What happens if a doggo gets car-sick or something?

      1. Pet sitter*

        I only drive one dog in my car, who so far (fingers crossed) hasn’t gotten carsick.

        She’s a pretty good passenger. She chews my seat belt buckles sometimes, but whatever. She likes daycare and her face lights up when we pull into the driveway.

  9. Hopelessly Lost?*

    I’ve received some conflicting advice recently about what constitutes job hopping as a millennial in a professional field (particularly fields where internal promotions aren’t that common) and while I think I’m ready to move on, my resume might hold me back down the road. Any advice on whether moving now may hurt me? My job history is as such:

    1 year Company A – assistant
    2 years Company B (left to relocate for husband’s job) – analyst
    2 years Company C (current role) – senior analyst.

    I’d like to make a leap into a manager role (starts around 4-5 years of experience in my field) sometime after bonuses come out in August but I’ve been told that I’m getting into job hopper territory – especially since my husband and I are likely leaving this city when his professional training program ends mid-2021 so if I switch jobs, that one would only last ~2.5 years, too.

    Do I just need to suck it up and stay here with all of these factors working against me?

    1. ContentWrangler*

      Would the manager role be at a different company or a promotion within your current company? I think job hopping doesn’t apply if you’ve been at the same company but moved around to different positions. That would mean you would be at this company for 5ish years before moving. Doesn’t look job-hoppy to me.

      1. Hopelessly Lost?*

        Well that’s the problem… there’s no room for growth here at all. We were supposed to hire a new analyst junior to me last fall but instead moved a director from another department over to ours and made her a manager to avoid demoting her to entry level, even though she has no experience. There’s are only 4 people in the department, and 3 of them can’t be managers.

        There’s a chance I can also jump over to one of our subsidiaries. However, all of our subsidiaries are fairly well-known names on their own and in my experience, no one knows our parent company owns them, so that doesn’t really help me on the appearances front.

        1. DDJ*

          You’re advancing your career. You can clearly show that you left for growth opportunities. There are no growth opportunities at your current employer. At another company, if you move into management, the expectation would definitely be to stay in that role for a longer period of time, I think.

          Now, if you end up going to a subsidiary, you could possibly put both positions under the same company heading, or on your resume, you could indicate “Company D – Subsidiary of Company C.” I work at a company that used to have a LOT of subsidiaries, and moving between them wouldn’t really be considered job-hopping, just due to the nature of what we were doing. I think if you could explain that, you’d be fine.

          Moving into a wholly different company and then leaving AGAIN in 2.5 years is going to start to look job-hoppy. Some places won’t really care that much, others will. If you’re looking to get into management, you need to show that you’re not going to jump over to the next thing too fast. If you’re fairly certain that you’ve only got 2.5 years before you move onto the next thing, I’d say best-case scenario is a more senior role within the subsidiary. If there’s the possibility of SKILLS growth in your current role, even if you’re not going to get a new title, that could also be a benefit. It would show that you’re stable, that you’re willing to stick with something, that you can take on new tasks. If you could learn a few more things, get a few more tasks on your plate that would look nice on a resume, maybe that’s a decent Plan B.

        2. Happy Lurker*

          Eh, the subsidiary hop seems pretty good. Drop the well known name Ketchup for Heinz when you move to Mustard division. The subsidiary move can be explained in a cover letter if you wish to drop the well known names.
          I don’t think a couple years in each role is job hoppy, especially with relocation.

          Is it lunch time yet?

    2. Jules the Third*

      Forbes says millenials stay in jobs about 2.5 years, and that the average overall is 4.4. I think you’re fine, especially if you can demonstrate growth with each change. And as ContentWrangler says, changing roles within a company is very different than changing companies.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        That seems…skewed. Millennials naturally have the least time in the workforce to draw from, which isn’t really fair against older professionals. I’m sure that when they’ve put 20, 30, 40 years into the workforce, they’ll have an average of 4.4 years at a job too.

    3. AnnaChronism*

      What industry are you in? That can make a big difference in optics and readers may be able to assist.
      You can also address it in your cover letter, since you left job A to relocate.

      1. Hopelessly Lost?*

        I don’t want to be too specific since I may have some coworkers who read AAM but it’s a corporate back office function.

        1. Buu*

          Seems like your circumstances changed when they moved the other senior member of staff to your dept, so you could have a reason to look. The main problem you’d face if you get the dreaded ” Where do you see yourself in five years?”…you’d then have to talk around it or lie.

          If you can move to a subsidiary then I think it’s fine, you can find a way to mention it on your resume or future cover letters. Especially since things changed and there’s no room to progress where you are.

    4. HR Recruiter*

      Your not a job hopper. You are advancing your career! Red flags for me are people that leave jobs to go to an equal or lower level job. Or they never stay more than a year. When your young and moving up this is a good thing that you are moving on not a bad thing!
      Of course there is a chance that the hiring manager is old stuck in the mud who says, “I hate millennial because they never stick around. I want someone to stay in an assistant role 15 years like I did!” But do you want to work for that person?

    5. Denise*

      I think that if you leave Company C without any external circumstances warranting it (like with your family or the company), then yes, you are getting into job hopper territory. You don’t sound like you have any strong reasons for leaving your company other than that you’re interested in management. Presumably, if you’re a strong performer, such a promotion would come. If you really believe there won’t be any opportunities internally, maybe you’ll be able to explain that to a potential employer. But still, you’ll be making it more difficult on yourself than necessary, especially if you are generally content with your responsibilities and pay, and the company has a good reputation.

      If you ride out the next 2.5 years, you will have built up a decent tenure at one employer and will have left due to external circumstance with your family, and so when you move you’ll be in that much stronger a position with the potential employers you reach out to.

      1. Hopelessly Lost?*

        You make good points. I’d be happy waiting another year or so to move on, but that wouldn’t give me enough time on the other end. Wish I could see my husband on staying here!

        I do love my job and my company, but I’m grossly underpaid and that’s a big part of the reason I’m itching to jump. I work a second job ~20 hours a week and I’d really like to quit that because I’m exhausted.

        1. SpaceNovice*

          Always go for health over everything; you’re underpaid and stressed out, which means you need to get out ASAP before it affects you more. I agree that you should look for another position. Lengths of stay of that size are not uncommon.

        2. DDJ*

          Ok after seeing this comment please disregard my other comment. You’re looking for growth opportunities, you should be pursuing them now. Don’t feel like you have to wait an arbitrary amount of time. Health first.

          Maybe your first move could be to negotiate salary? I’m not sure if that’s possible, depending on the job. If they’re paying way below the market, though, you might want to do some research and see if you can at least get to a point where you can make enough to quit that second job.

        3. Denise*

          Oh, if you’re so underpaid that you have to work a second job, then definitely find a better position if you can. That’s a compelling reason to leave.

          1. Hopelessly Lost?*

            For the sake of full disclosure, I’m not *that* underpaid. My salary is low for my field but considered above average in general. My husband just has a very low salary and an astronomical amount student loans. We’re trying to get ahead on those so without a second job, we wouldn’t have much left for anything but food.

            1. Autumnheart*

              Doesn’t matter. Leaving for more money that you genuinely need is a perfectly good reason.

      2. Luna*

        I agree. Unless there is something wrong with the current position or job I think leaving right now doesn’t make sense. You know you’ll be moving soon so why not just wait and build up that tenure? There is a big different between working someplace for 2 years vs. 4-5 years. Unless employers in the field tend to side-eye anyone who hasn’t moved into management within X time frame, I really don’t see the need to rush.

        1. Hopelessly Lost?*

          It’s partially opportunity cost. Since I’m so underpaid, moving up could mean a pay raise of $30-40K, and thats substantial.

          I wouldn’t say there’d be side-eyeing, but most people are well into management by 8-9 years in, so if an opportunity to move up doesn’t open up in the next 2.5 years here, future employers may wonder why I’m still a senior analyst after 8 years.

          1. Natalie*

            Since it’s that big of a pay difference, what if you committed to saving a substantial chunk of that increase just in case you have some trouble finding the next job? Having lots of job hopping on your resume doesn’t make you unemployable, but it could (maybe) make it a little harder to find your next position, meaning it might take longer. A healthy nest egg would cushion the blow and if it turns out you don’t need it you can use it for something else.

    6. k.k*

      If there’s no room for promotion at your current job, is there a way for you to push for more responsibilities? That could bolster your resume and keep you interested if you choose to wait out the 2.5 years. Whether or not it looks job hoppy really depends on your industry. For the most part, I tend to think of job hoppers as ones that are frequently making lateral moves, not moving to advanced titles like you.

    7. Jady*

      I’m a millennial for what it’s worth. Yeah – I think you’re approaching job-hopping, especially if you will be moving in another 2.5 years. If you’re otherwise okay at your job (environment isn’t toxic etc), I would personally stay in that position.

      5 companies in a row of two or less years each is a pretty clear pattern.

      You have the added hurdle of it being your first management position too. You’re inexperienced for the new position. That combined with the job history could make things difficult.

      1. Hopelessly Lost?*

        That’s a really good point. I’d like to think I’m ready for that, but maybe I’m not? And if I’m not, that could really hurt me.

        The path of least resistance is definitely staying where I am, enjoying the benefits this company does offer, sucking it up with low pay, and hoping someone eventually moves on above me. It could happen?

    8. Millennialjobhopper*

      Millennial here: I also love to change jobs. I’ll give you my path, which is kinda similar to yours and a co-worker that started the same time as me. I’ll be A, She’ll be B.

      A – Started in first professional job after college. Stayed 2 years, leaving immediately following promotion. Job was toxic. Started new job, stayed 2 years, left because dream company offered me new job, and I’m not an idiot. my titles Associate>senior associate (promo) > Senior analyst (new job) > Senior Associate (dream job). 6 years and 3 jobs.

      B –
      Associate (started with me) > analyst (new job) > senior analyst (new job) > Senior (new job) > Switched fields completely “recruiter” > senior (new job back to original field). 6 jobs in 6 years. Lovely person, terrible at her job. She’s a job hopper because she’s not very good at what she does.

      As long as you have a reason, it’s totally okay! moving for a spouse is totally normal.

    9. Aly_b*

      I think you’re totally fine right now. You’re moving up fast early in your career, which is not a bad look at all, and you’ve got a city move in there that I think people understand usually requires a new job. I would be wary of leaving again in 2.5 years after this next move though; managerial stays start to need to be longer. I would say that’s the absolute minimum and if you do that, you’d need to be really sure of the next one afterwards and stick around there for quite a while.

      1. Denise*

        You bring up a good point. If she leaves now, she will need to be that much more confident of the next one. The problem is that there’s always a set of unknowns, and it is definitely possible to take a risk believing the next one will be better only to find out that it isn’t. (Been there.) So hopping from companies you really don’t need to leave can end up forcing you to stay in a bad fit later on.

    10. Thlayli*

      I think it might be field dependent, but in my field (engineering) it is very common to have a few short contracts before getting a permanent position, so that would be totally normal.

    11. stej*

      I wouldn’t think it’s job-hoppy, but this is coming from a millennial and relative work-newbie as well (4 years experience so far).

      One strategy could be to look for a role where you could be completely remote, either now or in the future. Then if you wanted to stay beyond your relocation, there wouldn’t be an issue.

    12. Someone else*

      This doesn’t look like job hopping to me. For the first two roles, if they’re considered entry-level or entry-levelish, it seems normal to me you’d outgrow them in a year or two and move on. The third…well maybe could’ve been longer but still doesn’t strike me as “hopping” if what’s really happening is “moving up quickly”. If it were three analyst positions all 2 years long at each company, it’d look hoppy.

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

    I tried to watch Aggrestsuko, but I couldn’t. It hits too close to home.
    Anyone else felt the same?

    1. epi*

      I love it, but it hits close to home for a job I no longer hold which might be why it is funny to me.

      1. AnaEatsEverything*

        That’s where I land too – I find it to be hilarious, but I’m not at that place anymore. But my husband is still a corporate cog, and he enjoys it.

    2. perpetuallytired*

      YES! My FB group chat of lady friends were just reminiscing about it and venting about jobs (or lack thereof) last night. It has a surprising evolutionary arc within such a short series.

    3. Fiddlesticks*

      I had to bail midway through the episode where her friend asks if she wants to join her business because it gave me heaving flashbacks of my own immediate record scratch of “wait, but I can’t abandon the stability of my terrible job!” when offered an out with a high degree of uncertainty. Like way to nail it, Sanrio.

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

      The part when her boss complains how “busy” he is it’s so similar to my current project it hurts. Although here is karaoke and dance instead of golf.

    5. Nessun*

      As an EA to a C-suite, I had to watch long enough to see her meet the Secretary Bird (can’t recall names now) – that…that is who I want to be when I grow up.

    6. strawberries and raspberries*

      Aw man, I LOVED Aggretsuko! There have actually been times that I have locked myself in the bathroom at work and head-banged for 10 minutes. Also I loved the storyline about the shitty boring boyfriend- I feel like I dated that guy SO MANY TIMES when I was younger.

    7. Dorothy Zbornak*

      Loved it. Have binged it 3 times now. Yes it hits close to home for me, which makes the rage metal so much more cathartic to me.

  11. Happy Friday!*

    What do you like about your job?

    I’m curious about what great job aspects are out there. Here are a few things I like about mine:
    – LOTS of autonomy
    – Flexible work schedule — I choose to work 7:30-4ish
    – Awesome health benefits with $0 copay
    – Paid 1 month sabbatical every five years with vacation paid for

    1. grace*

      Every day is different! I feel like some places I’ve worked in the past I really knew what I was going to be doing that day, and here it’s like, well, I have a plan for the day, and things might totally go awry. I love that I can never totally predict the day.

      I also love how supportive and investing (? not quite the right word…) my company is in all of its employees – and my coworkers are great for advice or bouncing things off of. The environment is a huge reason why I’ve settled into the city and planned to stay here for like, three times as long as before.

    2. kristin*

      Work life balance! They are very keen here on people working to live. The parking lot is usually near empty when I leave at 5:10ish (company closes at 5). Makes it totally worth the slightly lower salary.

    3. AliceW*

      I like that my company matches my 15% contribution to my 401K, pays large bonuses and gives me flexibility on hours and work at home days.

    4. EddieSherbert*

      Sounds a lot like a large medical software company in my area that i have friends at :) So jealous of the sabbatical (which is not common in the US)!

      At my work, the pay is kind low for the industry, but I love the benefits at my job:
      – great health benefits and an onsite health clinic/doctor with weekly visits from a chiropractor, massage therapist, psychologist, etc. (discounted prices/insurance coverage)
      – a fitness center with daily classes, a rock wall, and personal trainers (all for free)
      – a large cafe where a sous chef designs the menu from only local grown/produced ingredients
      – a (cheap) CSA program that delivers to the office
      – unlimited sick leave
      – flexible work schedule
      – work from home part time
      – awesome 401K matching and employee ESOP

      1. Happy Friday!*

        I do believe we are thinking of the same large medical software company ;)

        1. Windchime*

          I have visited that company and still work intimately with that software on a daily basis :)

    5. Overeducated*

      -I get to learn about really interesting stuff.
      -My coworkers are really smart and we have complementary skills and experiences.
      -It has growth potential

    6. Emmie*

      My work is really challenging, it’s for a good cause, I am trusted, I have a lot of responsibility, and I work with people I really like. Thank you for making me think about this. I had thought about it, but didn’t realize how purpose driven I am.

    7. Amber Rose*

      Freedom. I do what I want when I want. I assign me work. I get work from others but mostly I’m on my own.

      Audits. I audit every year, sometimes other companies, it’s neat to see how other places do things.

      Training. It’s fun to be the first point of contact for new employees. My coworkers are mostly all pretty awesome too.

      The Hello Kitty duct tape in my desk. Where did it it come from, and why? Nobody knows. Best mystery ever.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Pretend that it came from Jamie…I haven’t seen her in a while, but I come and go and could have missed her.

    8. Anonygrouse*

      -Working with smart, grounded, kind people who have a sense of humor.
      -An organization where senior leadership and other staff actually Get what my field is and why our team is important to the work we do. (I work in informatics — one of my biggest delights recently was that the finance head in our parent division calling us IT *as a joke*.)
      -Great work-life balance — no taking work home if you don’t want to, flexible schedules, good PTO.
      -The best bakery in the city is in the lobby of our office building.

    9. Crystal Smith*

      – 4 weeks paid vacation time
      – 2 weeks paid sick time
      – plus holidays and a week around Christmas/New Years when we close
      – cheap health insurance (I pay <$30/month)
      – my employer contributes 10% of my salary to my retirement account, even if I don't contribute a dime.

      My department also has a very casual dress code and it's minor, but I love being able to wear jeans all the time.

      The work itself changes a lot depending on the time of year, but I really enjoy having crunch time and then downtime, and having a lot of discretion on how things get done and when.

    10. CatCat*

      – 4.5 weeks PTO/year.
      – Great health plan options with reasonable premiums
      – Transit pass reimbursement
      – Learn all kinds of interesting things
      – Work with interesting people
      – Work on a lot of hot topics
      – Long-term disability plan with low premiums
      – Office with a window
      – Nice area to walk around outside the building

    11. Jadelyn*

      – Short commute – I live in the same city I work in for the first time in my life
      – Flexibility – even though I’m hourly, they give me a ridiculous amount of leeway in my hours and I can shuffle things around pretty much whenever I need to as long as I give them some warning first
      – Learning environment – I started here with 0 experience in this kind of role, and my team was amazing about helping to teach and train me, encouraged me to go back to school to get my degree, helped me when I had questions about projects for school, all that kind of stuff
      – Variety/self-direction – there is *always* something new coming down the pipeline. I rarely ever get bored with my work since there’s lots of opportunities to change it up, and (for the most part) I have control over my own work to do things in my own time and way as long as it all gets done.

    12. [insert witty username here]*

      Ok, a lot of y’all are making me reconsider how happy I am at my job….

      Basically, what I like about my job:
      Paycheck – I wish I was making a little more, but overall, pretty happy
      I get to work from home (read: in my PJs with my dog) 3 days/week
      Flexible hours
      A decent amount of autonomy
      Manageable work load
      Decent benefits – they could be better, but they could be worse

      Definitely some of y’all with great benefits make me jealous, but what really makes me jealous are those of you who actually enjoy the work you do and your coworkers! Both of those areas are far from awful for me…. but notice they’re not on my list, either.

      So overall, things could be worse. TBH, I’m too lazy to want to move to another job. So… I try to focus on what does make me happy :)

    13. the_scientist*

      – I get a lot of autonomy in how I do my work (less so the actual work itself as it’s tied into larger projects/initiatives or government requirements)
      – challenging, interesting work related to what I went to grad school for
      – opportunities for advancement within the company, and lots of training/professional development opportunities available
      – flexible schedule and work from home options
      – great vacation and sick leave- I get something like 15 sick days a year and started as an entry-ish level employee with four weeks vacation
      – really great benefits
      – a robust defined benefit pension plan with 120% employer matching, which is essentially the holy grail of employment.

    14. Bibliovore*

      The work that I do interesting, challenging, and never boring.
      The work is autonomous and schedule flexible.
      My colleagues are smart and of great humor.
      The pay is above average for this kind of position.
      Health benefits are very good.
      Accessibility services and adjustments and modifications as needed.

    15. Fiennes*

      I’m able to schedule the vast majority of my working days however I’d like—which can mean 10-6 with an hour for lunch, or 10-10 one day and only 2 hours the next, or two hours on, two off, throughout the day, etc.

      It’s the creative field I always dreamed of being in, and it turns out I love doing it.

      Almost all of my work is at home, or anywhere I have a laptop.

      My work that isn’t at home is all travel—and while that’s sometimes a grind, I’ve been so lucky to visit parts of the country and the world I might otherwise never have seen. (Work has taken me to five continents so far; Antarctica seems like a long shot, but my fingers are always crossed for Africa.)

      When people respond warmly to my work, it’s something I deeply, genuinely cherish.

      While the pay levels vary greatly year to year (quarterly taxes are always a mystery!) my worst year freelance has still been more lucrative than my best year in an office.

      Can usually wear pajamas.

    16. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      A relaxed environment is what I like the most about my job:
      Informal dress code (I can wear jeans every day, and I work directly with customers)
      No restrictions on hair colors/styles, tattoos, piercings, etc. (One of my coworkers has 2 full sleeves that she does not keep covered and a nose ring–for reference)
      We are all comfortable enough with one another to joke around and have fun
      We drink beer at 5:30 on Fridays
      My manager is caring and is flexible/helpful

      1. Jadelyn*

        Ooh, I forgot to mention that re dress code – that’s a huge perk for me. Jeans everyday, I have blue streaks in my hair and a tongue ring and a few tattoos, and nobody cares – and I’m in HR.

    17. I recognize those benefits :)*

      Used to work for that company–man, those were good benefits. I don’t miss the place, really, but those were good, good benefits indeed.

      Now I have a verrry flexible workweek (8-4) with long lunches, and I really love that.

    18. Windchime*

      – The people on my team are all smart, reasonable, and kind
      – Flexible work time (I work 6 AM to 2 PM-ish so I can avoid the worst of the traffic)
      – The work is low-stress and decently paid
      – Amazing benefits
      – I work in a high-rise in Seattle, which was a long-time dream of mine. We have floor-to-ceiling windows!

    19. EA in CA*

      Work/life balance! I FINALLY have a boss who totally understands that sometimes I need to run out the door at 5:00 pm to make it to the daycare on time so I don’t incur late charges. She has repeatedly told me that she does not expect any responses to her texts or emails after 5:00 pm, even though I have a work laptop and cellphone. I had to insist that I be on call while she traveled out of the country for work. She isn’t very travel savvy and has been known to show up to the wrong place, get lost, etc. So being on call to help her is totally my call, but makes her life so much easier.

      – professional development workshops are scheduled in house and be used to earn a certificate from the local collage that teaches the classes
      – 100% employer paid health/dental; no copay
      – Group RRSP (like a 401k? I think) with employer matching 100% of contributions
      – 3 weeks paid holidays
      – 2 weeks paid sick time
      – personal wellness/PTO days

      I get to support program initiatives that help drive the economic growth of my city, so it feels awesome working for a place that focuses outward instead of on their bottom line all the time.

    20. Jessilein*

      A lot of people are saying autonomy, and that’s huge–my boss is a bit of a dope, but at least he’s not a micro-manager, and I get to take care of my work in my own way and my own time.

      I get a bus pass and never have to drive to work.

      My office is big on work/life balance and is always super supportive if you have to be out for an emergency, a vacation, whatever. I get 4.5 weeks of vacation and 3 weeks of sick time a year and I’m never guilted for using it. I have 8 weeks of sick time saved up because I’ve been here 15 years!

      I work for a university and we get a tuition waiver, so I got my Master’s without having to take out loans.

      I have my own office. With big windows and views of the mountains. Priceless!

    21. General Ginger*

      – No dress code to speak of (aside from safety requirements), so shorts, wild hair colors, tattoos, piercings are all welcome
      – Short commute with a great, easy route, all either highway or parkway
      – Some flexibility to start and end times
      – Lots of autonomy
      – Varied workload; outside of core tasks, no two days are identical

    22. alana*

      —A job description that encourages me to be creative and innovate
      —My boss and grandboss (who was my boss a few years back before role changes for both of us). Grandboss is great at making you want to do great work on her team and boss is great at managing the day to day that gets everyone there, and they’re both incredibly kind, fun, supportive people.
      —Good benefits including LGBTQ-friendly health care
      —A collegial attitude in the workplace. Bullies and office politics players really stick out because most people just don’t act that way here. Obviously there are clashes but for the most part I can assume everyone is well-intentioned, which goes a long way.
      —Some of my starting cohort from a few years ago are now my best friends
      —Flexibility when things are quiet in a field with a lot of urgency

    23. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      I left this job but sometimes regret it. What I miss about it is:
      – Lots of PTO. 2nd year in that role I got 6 weeks of PTO. I won’t get that here until I reach senior management.
      – 4-12% annual bonus depending on performance.
      – 6% employee matching in 401K if you paid 4%
      – discount stock in the company
      – at the time I thought it was low but 3% average raise (new place is 1.1% average).
      – employee appreciation week was a blast!
      – annual parties to celebrate award winners that were a ton of fun for everyone.
      – super LGBT inclusive culture. A lot of work on diversity and inclusion in general.
      – work from home options.

    24. Libby*

      I started my current job almost a year ago, and I’m very happy. Here are my favorite things:

      -I get to be a problem solver and fix issues that have been on their “to-do” list for years. I love solving problems. Sometimes it opens a can of worms, but I enjoy that challenge.
      -I don’t answer the phones! After being either the primary or backup phone person at my previous two jobs (5 years each), I don’t answer the main line anymore. I LOVE IT.
      -I don’t deal directly with customers. Similar change from above.
      -I have yet to deal with a crisis that even comes close to some of the fire drills at my previous two jobs, especially my last one. I usually just shrug my shoulders and go, “yeah this is nothing compared to what I was used to.” Which makes my boss laugh.
      -What we do is super specialty so I can’t give it away here, but when people ask me where I work their response is usually, “Oh wow that’s so cool!” And it really is.

    25. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve been in my new job a bit over three months, and I feel quite lucky.

      The work uses my training and skills. I am mutant-level good at spotting patterns in complex data…the job posting mentioned needing someone who could do that, and the job actually does require it. So I’m good at my job, which always helps.

      My boss is great. He treats his people like adults, who know things and are sometimes right about stuff. This alone makes an enormous difference. My previous boss treated his people like unruly toddlers, so I’m still adjusting.

      My coworkers are…adults, who know things and are sometimes right about stuff. Zero drama.

      The salary and benefits are good, probably better than market. The same week I interviewed for this job, I had another interview. On that other interview, it became clear that the person they needed was me fifteen years from now, not current me. So when they asked my salary expectations, I basically said so. Market is $X for someone at my level, but the role is enough of a stretch for me that I’d do it for $10K less. They looked at me like I’d asked for three firstborn children and a llama. (Didn’t have the heart to tell them how much the person they actually needed would cost.) At the interview for my current job, HR asked, I said $X. Then my current boss asked, I said $X again. Boss sighed, asked if I’d already told HR that, then told me not to worry, he would fix it. Their offer was $23K more…

      I come from a startup background, and never thought I’d end up at a ginormungous corporate place, but I could get used to this. There’s bureaucracy and acronyms, but it’s manageable.

    26. Still really needs a new username*

      I’m loving my short term contract job so much that I’m thinking about taking up the offer for full time.

      – genuine support from the support departments (IT, HR, enrolments, marketing, recruitment.)
      – above award wages
      – flexible 76/hr fortnight
      – clear KPI’s
      – clear expectations from my boss
      – positive staff team who have taken on change well (apart from two from my post last week)
      – a client/customer feedback system which works

    27. Lasslisa*

      There’s always something new to figure out and learn. It’s a really dynamic role solving interesting problems.

      Almost everyone I work with is smart and reasonable and interested in solving problems more than assigning blame. And getting blame-y beyond a frustrated aside in the coffee room is a sign of pretty serious burnout, not the norm.

      I also like that my management clearly sees a lot of potential in me and is helping me grow into leadership positions. We are what feels like a rare bird, the company that actually promotes from within.

    28. Mimmy*

      I’m a little jealous of some of you! I don’t *love* my job, but there are a couple of things I like. These aren’t the usual tangible things like professional development or benefits – they’re more like “appreciations”

      -The variety of students I’ve had the opportunity to work with

      -The autonomy to adapt my instruction where appropriate: this is especially true when a student has other challenges that may impact learning the traditional methods. I’ll admit that I’m not very creative, but trying something just a little bit different every now and then makes this otherwise dull and tedious instructional area (touch-typing) more tolerable for me.

      -Because I am surrounded by many people who are blind and visually impaired–students and staff alike–I have come to learn that blindness exists on a spectrum and affects people in all different ways and can be accommodated for in as many ways. There is much more that I want to learn though.

    29. Quinoa*

      My manager frequently gives me helpful feedback, both the positive and the uncomfortable.
      My health care premiums are 100% paid.
      I’m respected and appreciated for what I do.
      I am surrounded by extraordinarily smart and kind people.
      I absolutely love what I do.

  12. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Trying not to worry. Haven’t heard a peep from the place I’ve been interviewing. They’ve NEVER taken this long to get back to me. In reality, I know not hearing back in over a week isn’t a long time …it’s just odd when they’ve been so swift. I mean, my first interview was on a Tuesday and I heard back that Friday.

    So, instead, I’m trying to distract myself. Which isn’t difficult as my birthday is on Monday!!!

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Thanks! I’m enjoying my couple of days off and trying to get some stuff done around my apartment.

    1. bumbletea*

      Good luck, and I hope you get it! Having been on the other side, our final decision-making always took longer than the time in between interview steps. We had a well-defined timeline for moving people forward from resume to phone to in-person, but not for the final offer, even when there weren’t other interviews lined up to finish off before deciding. Getting certain hiring managers to commit is like herding cats sometimes!

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Thank you! I do appreciate the insight. I’ve read enough here to know that this (probably) means nothing.

        Sane, Logical, Rational Wannabe Disney Princess realizes this.

        Not-so-sane, Illogical Wannabe Disney Princess is convinced it’s over and is mentally throwing herself on a chaise lounge and weeping. (My irrational side has a thing for dramatics.)

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I’ll join you on that chaise lounge! I had an interview on Monday, they TOLD me they had another interview scheduled for Friday (today) so I definitely definitely won’t hear back until at least next week if not the week after, but I already know I’ll be a hysterical mess if they don’t call me tonight, or at worst, Monday :P I’m trying to do what Alison recommends and already pretend I didn’t get it, but I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do if that happens.

    2. Future Analyst*

      I know how hard that wait is!! Hang in there. Last time this happened to me, it was b/c the HR contact was out on PTO for the week (which was excruciating to wait through, not knowing that she was out)… so hopefully it’s just a case of someone being out, and the offer is forthcoming!

    3. The Original K.*

      Mine is Sunday! Go Taureans!

      I’m in a similar situation – I’ve actually written off a place I’ve been interviewing because it’s taking them longer than usual to get back to me. If they follow up, great! If not, I’ve checked out. I have another set of second-round interviews next week so I’m giving that all my attention. I was also just contacted by someone else this morning, though for supplemental materials, not an interview. (The materials were not requested as part of the original application.)

  13. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    This email went out to my department today, and it’s equal parts hilarious and frighteningly clear evidence of a serious cultural problem. Sometimes the problems show up in quirky ways. Thought I’d share so you can at least laugh. Background: One well liked staff member is leaving for another job, his last day is today. Another person on his team wrote and sent this out as a joke. It’s hilarious, but also serves as a warning to management if they choose to heed it since to me at least it’s pretty clear evidence that there’s a problem. All names changed of course. (Note, “Sam” is well known as being devoutly Catholic, a fact which has come up in some dysfunctional ways at times.)
    Dear Friends,

    We gather here today not to mourn the transition of our friend Sam, but to celebrate his life here in . Sam was a quiet, simple man. Some might say a gentle giant. His gentility only outsized by his love of Doughnuts. Sam was always a source of inspiration to his fellow officemates, regularly taking time out of his day to make us all better people by reminding us of the wisdom of life’s little lessons with his heartfelt pearls of wisdom like, “This is not a conference room…” or one particularly dear to me, “It’s five o’clock…I’m leaving.”

    Let us take Sam’s wise words to heart as a call to action for us to celebrate our own lives, our own accomplishments, and our own doughnuts. It is what Sam would want for us all. I know that Sam will always look down and smile on us, and his spirit will bless our audit reports from afar and his steady, unyielding hand will guide our work true.

    Sam leaves behind his Manager, Team Lead, his long-term cubicle partner, A, fellow members B, C, and D, and a Tom Selleck bobble head.

    9:00 A.M. – 10:00 A.M.
    Doughnut Processional

    10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.


    11:00 – 12:00 P.M.


    12:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.
    Visitation – St. Cardozo’s Holy Sepulcher Cathedral and Dive Bar

    “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known…”


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

      It’s so weird I love it. But then, I also like stuff like The Blue Danube arranged for violin and rubber chicken, and Duet for French Horn and chair.

      1. Shishimai*

        Duet for French Horn and Chair makes me /howl/ with laughter. I’m not going to pull that up in the office, but just thinking about it makes me smile.

        …have you seen the sheet music for it?

    2. Alternative Person*

      This is amazing.

      I want to work in a place where I could get that kind of send off.

      (Although one time I tried to convince a co-worker to riff on Rimmer’s ‘People I have met’ speech from Red Dwarf.)

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        Believe me, you do not want to work here. This is coming out of some serious problems. I’ve been here since December and am job searching now.

        1. Alternative Person*

          I change my response to …work with people where…

          Best of luck with your job hunt.

        2. General Ginger*

          On the one hand, the letter is funny, on the other hand, the funeral-esque theme kind of feels like either Sam’s gone to a better (work)place, or the remaining coworkers are feeling kind of funereal about staying. And given that Sam’s only been there 2 years, which isn’t in and of itself a bad tenure, but in combination with the rest…. ehhhh.

          1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

            2 years is an old timer in this department.
            Everyone is going with the humor side. But it’s both – better workplace and everyone’s sad about coming.

        3. The OG Anonsie*

          To be totally honest I can’t tell from the email exactly what the serious problems are.

    3. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Agh, internet formatting got me. Here’s the same thing with different formatting so it’ll work.

      Dear Friends,

      We gather here today not to mourn the transition of our friend Sam, but to celebrate his life here in *dept*. Sam was a quiet, simple man. Some might say a gentle giant. His gentility only outsized by his love of *team* Doughnuts. Sam was always a source of inspiration to his fellow officemates, regularly taking time out of his day to make us all better people by reminding us of the wisdom of life’s little lessons with his heartfelt pearls of wisdom like, “This is not a conference room…” or one particularly dear to me, “It’s five o’clock…I’m leaving.”

      Let us take Sam’s wise words to heart as a call to action for us to celebrate our own lives, our own accomplishments, and our own doughnuts. It is what Sam would want for us all. I know that Sam will always look down and smile on us, and his spirit will bless our reports from afar and his steady, unyielding hand will guide our work true.

      Sam leaves behind his Manager, Team Lead, his long-term cubicle partner, A, fellow *team* members B, C, and D, and a Tom Selleck bobble head.

      9:00 A.M. – 10:00 A.M.
      Doughnut Processional

      10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.


      11:00 – 12:00 P.M.

      Only God Can Judge Me – TUPAC SHAKUR AS PERFORMED BY *senior manager”

      12:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.
      Visitation – St. Cardozo’s Holy Sepulcher Cathedral and Dive Bar

      “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known…”


    4. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      OMG, that is amazing in both its hilarity and savagery. I want to high-five whoever wrote it.

    5. HR Recruiter*

      The HR in me is cringing. Hopefully Sam has a good sense of humor and there really is doughnuts. Becasue if there is no doughnut processional than this is cruel to all of the staff. LOL

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        There really are donuts, every Friday. Good ones too, the guy who sent it out brings them in. Sam thinks it’s awesome, but he’s on his way out of a dysfunctional environment and he knows it. All the staff think the email is hilarious from what I can tell. Managers are quieter about it.

        Cringing is the right response though. Staff turnover hit a high of 70% year over year in the worst of the toxic, and is still well above a healthy department’s stats.

        1. Anon..*

          A manager at my old toxic workplace sent out emails like this, too!

          Only the emails all riffed on the company’s name (think: AirPony Co., and the emails for someone leaving were all pony-themed). They were funny, but out of the necessity to have something positive about the workplace – it was that toxic!

    6. CatCat*

      This is phenomenal! The stuff of office legend. I would print it out and treasure it forever.

    7. Delphine*

      This is hilarious, but I’m not seeing the evidence of cultural problems–what does it say to you?

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        Think of how people typically talk about death – the deceased went to a better place. That’s the undercurrent here. Anon..’s post above here about their former manager sending out funny emails because people needed the levity is applicable as well.

      2. Anon..*

        Exactly. This type of thing reads “Fun! Hysterical!” on the outside, but imagine the context surrounding it: if a workplace is lenient/casual/”fun” enough for this sort of email to fly, then there are very likely deeper issues with boundaries, work/life balance, disorganization, just general unprofessional(/not kosher) practices, etc.

        1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

          I’d describe it as more repressed and the guy who sent the email really does not care.

          I will say this: the pay, PTO, and benefits are excellent.

      3. Close Bracket*

        The riff on Catholic mass is reaaaally thin ice. I find it hysterical, personally, but I would not send anything like this out at work. It borders too closely to mockery, and that someone thought sending it out at work indicates that to the workplace need some serious recalibration regarding appropriate behavior

        1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

          On the surface, behavior is appropriate. However, there are instances of WTF situations that are kept fairly quiet. The two halves of a former couple who are legally prevented from having contact with each other but work in the same department, for example. (I have no idea why either of them are still here.) Yeah, there’s issues.

        2. Triple Anon*

          “Gentle giant” could be an issue depending on his actual physique. Also, didn’t “Only God Can Judge Me” come out after Tupac’s legal problems? I could be wrong. I’ll have to look it up.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            “gentle giant” is accurate to both physique and temperament.

    8. Nita*

      Wait, what? Where is Sam going? I cannot work it out from that email. Kind of sounds like he’s retiring or getting a new job, but with this format, I expect a few panicked phone calls asking if he’s passed on…

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        He got a new job in a different industry but 100% in line with his training. Everyone knows as well, there was an email last week about today being his last day. So rather than panic, the response was hilarity.

    9. Kittymommy*

      Omg. I need this to happen if I leave my job!! This might be my favorite thing this week.

    10. N Twello*

      Wow. That is disturbing. This seems like a really mean rant by a Catholic hater against someone the writer loathes. It is very well written and funny, but it seems to be filled with hate and resentment. You say that Sam is well-liked; did the letter-writer hate him? Is the letter-writer anti-Catholic?

      I have known people who use humor to hurt and belittle others, and it is an especially cruel way to treat someone. Sending this out in wide distribution is just awful. Sam is lucky to be out of there but is likely leaving with some deep scars.

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        It doesn’t seem to be playing that way, or have had that intention at all. From what I can tell, Sam and the guy who wrote the email get along great and there’s no issues with religion. It’s really just a reflection of a messed up culture overall, with perhaps some jealously that Sam is getting out of it thrown in. That said, everyone here has work-related PTSD, so no arguing on the scars.

      2. Lasslisa*

        To me it reads like something my Catholic family would write, and laugh and laugh about. I don’t really get anything mean from it, just riffing off a familiar form.

  14. OJ Mojo*

    So it’s always been recommended to reach out to the hiring manager if you know them already, but what would you say? Especially if you’ve already applied through the proper channels.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      “I saw that you’re hiring for a Llama Groomer and wanted to let you know that I submitted my application. I really enjoyed working with you at Llama’s Inc and look forward to possibly doing so again.”

      1. HR Recruiter*

        Yup this. Just shoot them an email so they can make sure they see your application and it doesn’t get rejected before it gets to them.

        1. OJ Mojo*

          That’s actually what happened. An hour after the email was sent to the hiring manager, there was a rejection email waiting, I’m assuming from HR. Hiring manager replied and asked to see resume so I guess it’s still a possibility. It was acknowledged that a rejection email was received though when attaching the resume but no response after that.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            So, funny story. The job I am starting next week? HR never forwarded my application to the hiring manager for unknown reasons. The only reason I got an interview/the job is because someone put my name in front of the hiring manager and she asked for my application.

            Last week, I got an auto rejection for the position that I am starting from the HR system (two months later). The especially weird part is that I applied for a very similar position in a different department in the organization (same title, nearly the same duties) and HR did pass my application along for that one.

  15. Sapphire*

    Weekly unemployment thread! Feel free to talk about how your job searches are going.

    I just started my temp job this week, and I’m already feeling better about this place than my old job. I haven’t been able to put many applications in this week but I plan to do a few over the weekend. My boss was even willing to go over job postings at this company with me if I’m interested in working here full time (this is a ten-week assignment).

    1. BenAdminGeek*

      So great to hear! Best of luck, and that’s a great sign that the boss is willing to assist. Fingers crossed.

      1. Sapphire*

        Thank you! She even invited me to a meeting of the company’s multicultural society yesterday (which seems to be their diversity group) and it was a nice way to meet more people.

    2. Bird*

      My fiancee is still job searching. She’s been rejected by another 2 positions this week, with many more simply not ever getting back to her about her application. She has been applying for jobs since October 2017, and has only gotten two interviews. Her contract is up at her current job at the end of June.

    3. beanie beans*

      I had an interview Monday that went pretty well, but I’m worried that between a much faster paced industry and a terrible commute, it’ll burn me out fast.

      It’s in a really terrible area for commuting and the people I interviewed with said “yes, but we have a lot of flexibility around schedules, so people can come in early or late to work around the traffic.” I appreciate the flexibility, but the thought of having to drastically change my schedule to accommodate traffic suuuuucks. I don’t want to have to come in by 7 or wait til 10. My current one-way commute is about 45 min total by bus and this would easily be 45-60 min by car, which isn’t the worst, but would really change my daily mindset.

      I hate to pass up a decent job because of a commute but argh. Makes me really want to find a job working from home!

  16. DogMama*

    Hi all! I was the one who wrote in about creating an Instagram for my dog a few weeks ago.
    I ended up creating one and actually used it in an email to a prospective employer (I’d be able to bring my dog to work!). I now have a Skype interview with them this afternoon!
    I’ve never done a Skype interview before… I’ve been looking up a lot about it. I feel pretty confident but I’m still nervous. Any random tips you can think of besides making sure the light is right and wearing a full interview outfit from head to toe? I already put a bunch of mini sticky notes all over my laptop screen with little notes.

    1. Amelia*

      Call a friend before the interview. Make sure your microphone and everything else is set right. Test your internet etc. Ask your friend to take a screenshot. Carefully examine your background. Make sure you’re framed well in the screen (camera not looking up your nose etc). Also check your lighting, a lamp on near you works well.

      Also make some simple plans for troubleshooting, do you have their number handy if your internet glitches out and you need to call to let them know and reschedule. What if your neighbors start making noise? Do you have an alternate room to move into or have you at least made sure fans, windows shut. That sort of thing.

      Good luck!

    2. Buffy*

      I stack my laptop on a few books so the camera is more aligned with my eye level. Hope that helps!

    3. kristin*

      Practice a call with someone you know to make sure you have the tech ironed out!

    4. ContentWrangler*

      Make sure you have a comfortable seat and a good height for your computer so you don’t shift around a lot. Check what will be behind you in the camera shot, a nice clean background is best. And if you live with anyone, put lots of signs up to warn that a Skype interview is going on and to keep it quiet.

    5. SoSo*

      Check your connection and do a test call before hand (or maybe even a few) with someone, that way you can find any kinks with the audio, video quality, or your internet. Good luck with your interview, though! Sending lots of positive thoughts.

    6. anonykins*

      In addition to Amelia’s great advice, if you wear glasses, make sure they don’t glare with the screen’s reflection. I’ve taken mine off for Skype interviews in the past.

      Skype interviews can be great because of the ability to use notes! Just make sure you’re not obviously reading off them.

    7. Free Meerkats*

      Look at the camera and not your screen.

      Don’t rustle papers on our desk.

      Put the animals somewhere else.

      If it’s difficult to find an uncluttered background, find some way to hang a neutral colored sheet behind where you’ll be.

    8. it_guy*

      Just make sure your furry four footed friend is not in the room with you!

      My sister did a Skype interview and forgot her cat was in the room with her, and she kept walking back and forth on her desk. She later found out that they were amused by the cat tail (that’s all they could see) going back and forth on their video screen.

    9. thelettermegan*

      sit in front of a bookshelf so you look smart!

      Make sure all the books are safe for work first.

    10. MJ*

      Definitely do a dry-run test first. Even something pretty basic — I usually pop open Photo Booth or something to make sure that the window by my desk isn’t too bright, and that my background is at least basically neutral. (I have an American Girl doll who’s usually displayed on a radiator behind me. She gets moved for interviews.) I swap out my glasses for contacts, too, otherwise half my face is just bright reflections.

      Don’t worry too much! My cat has made a few surprise visits to video interviews; I usually pre-warn by apologizing that I have a studio apartment and a cat, and no one has ever been upset. (One of my interviewers actually picked up his camera and walked across the room to show me *his* cat, which was a sweet moment!) You can see also see part of my kitchen (which is literally in a closet) from most angles. People understand that you are a human in a human dwelling, and it’s okay, honestly!

  17. Alternative Person*

    I live in Japan and this week has three national holidays.

    I had to work all of them. I don’t particularly mind working a bank holiday, a day at work is a day at work and I need to hang on to my paid holidays (I would like a day in lieu or some sort of holiday pay but that’s another discussion). But the least management could have done was confirm-call to see if regularly scheduled clients were coming in. There was nothing planned for the staff to fill the time. This would have been perfect for staff training but no, sitting around looking busy is the best they can come up with.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Boo, that stinks. I can’t stand sitting in the office with nothing to do (let alone on a holiday AND a Friday!). Hopefully it goes quick!

    2. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      My understanding is that Japan is very much a work first culture.

    3. Ursula*

      I went to university in Japan we always had classes during golden week, but my friend who went to a nearby university got the week off. I feel your pain.

  18. Opalescent Tree Shark*

    We are hiring right now for an entry level position. I was on the panel for our interviews yesterday. Two candidates were awesome and we are probably going to hire them (we have multiple open positions). The other two were not great. More than other interviews I have conducted, I feel bad for the not great ones. One was fresh out of college (literally graduating in two weeks) and was very nervous and all over the place. I totally understand, but she didn’t demonstrate the skills that we need for the position. I think I am going to email her after we let her know our decision to direct her to this site.
    The other one I also want to give feedback to, but I don’t think it would go over well. She spent a lot of time in the interview talking about how she was a llama midwife, but applied for this job as a llama trainer because jobs were hard to get in llama midwifery. She mentioned that she had applied to 8 (yes 8!) positions at our company and really would rather have a llama midwife position. She started many questions with “As a llama midwife…” She came off as kind of obnoxious. I feel bad though because she didn’t seem to have any sort of self-awareness around this.
    Also, in the email we sent out inviting our candidates to an interview, we say that if you have any questions before the interview to email back. The fore-mentioned obnoxious candidate emailed back 6 questions, bullet pointed. Some were questions about benefits and some were strange, like “which llama is hardest to work with?”

    1. Sapphire*

      Please don’t give unsolicited feedback to a candidate. I’ll only speak for myself, but I wouldn’t want to get a rejection and also an email saying “Here’s all the things you did wrong in your interview”. If the candidate asks, that’s a different story, but that would make the rejection sting even worse for me.

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        That’s fair. I was thinking of giving feedback because I know how hard job searching can be and I want them to have the tools to succeed, but I didn’t full think about it from their perspective.

      2. Mirth & Merry*

        Agreed! Maybe an offer for feedback so the candidate can decide? For a company/job I was very interested in I would love this, but for a meh job I wouldn’t care.
        PS do it over email, I got an offer for feedback once and while I really wanted the feedback they wanted to do it over the phone! I wanted that job so bad I couldn’t imagine *hearing* it and not trying to explain/rebuke the concerns. Reading is so much better

    2. Temperance*

      I honestly wouldn’t give either of those candidates feedback, FWIW. I also probably wouldn’t direct the first candidate to this site.

    3. Irene Adler*

      Could I trouble you to explain why the two “awesome” candidates were awesome please?
      That would really help me out I’m stuck at the interview level and cannot get beyond this in the job search process.
      I know not to be obnoxious, and to match my skills to the skills asked for in the job description, but that, apparently, is not enough. What’s the secret?
      Thank you.
      And yes, it would be difficult to be both rejected and to be directed to a web site for pointers on how to do better. I have asked for feedback. This has been mixed. Some was helpful; some pointed out that the other candidate was simply a better candidate. No explanation as to what “better” means.

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        For us, the things that made the two awesome candidates awesome really has a lot to do with the specific job we are hiring for. It involves a lot of teamwork under stress. Handling pressure with a positive attitude and being a good personality fit with the rest of the team are important to us. One awesome candidate stood out because she was unfailingly calm and warm throughout the interview even though she was in front of a panel of 4 people and she had to do a presentation. The other awesome candidate was a little nervous during her presentation, but one of her answers to one of our questions really made me want to hire her. The question was “What makes you uniquely qualified for this position?” Everyone else answered with qualities or experiences that make them qualified, but expected. The awesome candidate brought up an expected experience, but she talked about something unique she learned from it and how that could benefit our institution. It showed that she had really good instincts for what the needs of our audience are.

      2. Lindsay J*

        For me, a lot of it is about body language and presentation.

        Does the person seem interested in the position? Are they slouched back in their chair or are they sitting up-right or leaning forward a bit?

        Do they expound on their points, or give dry one word answers and need to be prodded for more info?

        Are they dressed appropriately and is their appearance in general neat?

        Do they seem prepared for the interview? Do they have a basic understanding about what the position they are applying for is? Have they researched the company at all? Are they able to come up with answers to common interview questions are are they stymied when asked to tell me a little about themself?

        At the end of the interview, do they ask any questions, and are the questions they ask relevant to the position? I don’t mind if they ask about benefits, etc, but I would hope that those are not the only questions that they ask. If I’ve really covered everything, I appreciate a, “Well, I normally ask what an average day in the position would be like, but you covered that pretty well before I think.”

        And sometimes, a candidate is just better because they have way more experience, or way more specific experience in the field than another candidate and there’s not really much the other candidate could do to overcome that.

        We might give interviews to both because it could become clear in the interview that the front-runner candidate lied about or exaggerated their experience, or maybe they wind up being late and don’t apologize, or are rude to the interviewer or something like that. Or because we think that maybe the non-front runner candidate might have similar experience that they didn’t display well on their resume, or similar. But in some cases just experience or achievement wise another candidate is clearly the closest what they were looking for and either they would have to severely blow it or the other candidate would have to blow us out of the water for us to go with the non-front-runner.

    4. AnotherJill*

      It is hard to see candidates fail when they may just need some pointers on how to present themselves in an interview. But I wouldn’t provide feedback unless asked and even then only if feedback is approved by your HR.

    5. CheeryO*

      Eep, I have to admit that I would have found it condescending even as a new grad to be pointed to this site after getting a rejection. I’m sure she knows that she needs practice.

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        Ok, that’s fair. I can definitely see how that would be condescending. My desire to point her here is almost definitely more about my feelings than her feelings. I just could see that she was trying hard, but still completely missing the mark and I just want to fix it for her. But, I do know that I can’t fix everyone’s problems for them. She will learn on her own.

        1. Marvel*

          I think you could definitely say something in the rejection email offering feedback without actually giving it unasked for–maybe just a quick, “I’m available if you’d like any feedback on your performance.”

    6. Unsolicited feedback is a risky thing...*

      I interviewed college student candidates for a tiger grooming internship recently, and I did send some feedback to one I thought would receive it well. However, only positive feedback of the, you did this well, do more of it variety.

      After the regrets part was out of the way, I said I got the impression he’d appreciate a little feedback about his interview. I told him that while I could tell he was nervous, his nerves didn’t hurt him as he answered our questions well and was able to build a rapport with us. And I told him how much more relaxed and confident he appeared when talking about llama grooming, and that that confidence would make him stand out when interviewing for llama grooming jobs.

      There were several small errors I could have mentioned, but all par for the course when interviewing interns. I figured trying to encourage him about the good parts would be much more helpful in the long run. And he did write back and thank me for the encouragement. He really would have been a great intern, if only he’d had the slightest interest in tigers.

  19. Remote/work from home question*

    People who work from home – what does your home office set up look like?

    I’m soon to start a remote position which I have never done before. For the time being, I have a tv tray and a couch, but obviously need a better set up. I have very limited space so am hoping to find a desk solution that can be folded up or stored away. Anyone come up with creative solutions for working form home with limited space?

    1. AliceW*

      I bought a cheap folding-table desk on Amazon. No assembly required. Works great and can also function as a small kitchen table.

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        Yes! I did this for the first year I worked from home, and it was awesome. Lots of space to spread out, I could move things easily. It was $38 and allowed me to really learn how to design my desk space.

    2. Jesse Pink*

      In grad school I used my ironing board, but I don’t really recommend that option. Dining table stands in for a desk. Super space saver!

    3. Tardigrade*

      I didn’t do remote work, but I used to have a Murphy/fold-out desk (almost identical to the one linked in my user name) for my laptop and loved it for the space saving concept. Just make sure you use an actual, comfortable chair, unlike I did.

      1. Moonbeam Malone*

        Thank you for linking that desk – I’m going to save that for later! And omg, yes to the comfy chair. I actually had to get a coccyx pillow at one point because I bruised my tailbone while working on a freelance project (I think just from sitting too much?) and it was really terrible. I still use the pillow because I’m not going through that again.

    4. awb*

      There are coffee tables where the table top raises – the idea is that you can raise it so you can eat dinner from your sofa comfortably. Maybe look into one of these as I assume that’s probably also the right height to work from?

      Alternatively, create one of these hinged tables, where it’s secured to the wall and folds away when you are not using it! Add a shelf above, and you have storage too.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        +1 for the hinged tables. I had one for a while that worked great (for a TINY kitchen – so I mostly ate it at, but occasionally ate/worked on laptop).

    5. Fiennes*

      Have you checked out Murphy desks? They mount on the wall and unfold only when you need them; compartments in the wall unit serve the function of drawers. My partner has one in his studio, which he takes down or folds up as needed. Great for small spaces, assuming you’re in a position to mount something on the wall. (A savvy landlord might see it as an improvement to the apartment—and you could pitch it that way.)

    6. Windchime*

      I’m lucky enough to have an extra bedroom that serves as my office. I used to have a giant, heavy desk in there but I got rid of it in favor of a desk with a smaller footprint. Right now, my “office” also serves as a staging area for unused lamps and boxes of things to be donated, so it’s not the most serene environment. I’m off today; I should go tidy that room up.

    7. Thlayli*

      I have a desk but tbh I used to do most of my work snuggled up in bed with the laptop when I worked from home.

    8. Bored IT Guy*

      For the time being (translate: until I have multiple kids of an age that would need their own bedroom (and I don’t even have any kids at the moment)), I have a dedicated home office. Desk, desk chair, docking station for the laptop, 2 monitors, comfortable mouse, and a good USB headset. I have a TV and a couch in the room, but I rarely use them when I’m working. (Bored IT Gal, on the other hand, almost always has the TV on when she’s working remotely)

    9. Someone else*

      The number 1 thing I can share with you is this:
      Get a good chair.

      I have worked from super cheap tiny Ikea desks. I have worked from giant hulking solid wooden desks. I have worked at kitchen tables and plastic folding tables. The desk barely matters if most of your work is on a laptop. I have done all sorts of horrible things to my neck and back from trying to work in crappy chairs, or chairs not quite the right height for whatever desk I was working from, and lots in between. The best thing I ever did for my comfort while working was getting a good chair. I know if you’re tight on space getting a really good chair for your collapsible office might seem silly, but if you can find a nice one that would fit in with the rest of your furniture anyway and maybe pull double-duty, get a good chair. You will not regret it.

    10. Hamburke*

      I don’t work from my home anymore (I work from someone else’s home office and if I didn’t walk thru the her kitchen and living room, you’d never know). When I did, I converted my “living room” to my office. I had our old kitchen table, got a comfy oversized rolling chair and added a printer stand with drawers – ooh and wifi over power lines so I could plug in my voip phone. I already had an ikea 16 cube bookcase in there but changed out a few of the cubes to be more functional.

      My husband still works from home. He needs more quiet than I did and so is tucked away in our oversized extra walk-in closet (we have one that we use and this one had our camping stuff stored in there). He built a corner style desk that fits the space and has a printer stand with drawers and a small bookshelf.

      We have space so that want a problem. In our old house, we had a Murphy desk in our kitchen- I would do it again in a heartbeat!

  20. Cass in Canada*

    I finally found my dream team to work! I just left a really toxic work environment and am loving my new job. I want to build a solid foundation to work from to do awesome work for my new company.

    Does anyone have any strategies, ideas or suggestions or career moves that you made starting a new job that set you for success, especially as a junior team member?

    Some details that may be relevant; I’m juniorish (5 years out of college), work in a technical scientific field in consulting, and just left a terrible work environment so I’m terrified of messing this up. I know I can do good work and have been told that I am awesome to work with when I am performing at my best.

    1. Jules the Third*

      Ask questions about how to find the information you need, and always spend at least five minutes checking the sources.
      When you do ask questions, you can say, ‘I checked A and B, didn’t see the exact answer’
      Write down the answers.
      Take feedback positively not defensively.

      My new employee is driving me crazy by asking the same questions over again, despite the answers being written in the documentation that we used for training, and for the first two times she asked the question.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      When you think you have everything figured out, you’re probably wrong. When you finally master your role, that is the time to listen more and understand how other roles interact with your role.

      Also, when you’re junior in a STEM environment, save up your questions until you have several and schedule a time to talk to your boss or senior scientist or whomever has answers. Don’t randomly interrupt the senior problem solvers constantly.

      Also, when you’re on a good team in a good environment, you typically have a lot of latitude. As long as you’re following procedures and working safely, just do stuff. Don’t rely on other people to remake buffers, or change light bulbs, or troubleshoot equipment for you. In a good environment, mistakes are corrected and not punished.

      1. Evergreen*

        Agree, avoid interrupting constantly, but if you’ve gotten stuck, looked for evidence, tried a couple of ideas, asked another junior, and it’s been more than 30 mins – ASK!

        I’m a senior engineer (9ish years in consulting) and I can promise you after about half an hour the budget spent on spinning wheels is well worth the interruption!!

    3. Holly Flax*

      Document processes yourself if they are are not given to you in writing, even for seemingly simple things. Keep your email inbox and calendar well organized. It is very easy to lose track of things the first couple of weeks because you get bombarded with meeting invites and documents.
      I also left a very terrible work environment before starting my current job, and one thing I focused on was not dwelling on my old job too much in conversations with my new coworkers. It really helped to hit the reset button, do away with the negativity and get off on the right foot with my new team.

    4. alana*

      Do whatever it takes to get yourself in the headspace of this no longer being Toxic OldJob. A lot of times when people move into healthier environments, they carry assumptions about expectations, their coworkers’ behavior or reactions, etc., that end up hurting them. (For example, overexplaining because their previous boss was a micromanager, or constantly apologizing/putting themselves down because the last environment involved a lot of yelling and it was easier to yell at yourself first.) Tell yourself as much as you need to that these coworkers are good and competent people AND that they hired you because you are a good and competent person, and that just because Oldboss X threw fingernail clippings at anyone who was 2 minutes late to a deadline doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell Oldboss Y you’re running late and ask what she’d prefer you do.

    5. Lasslisa*

      I would just warn you that there will very likely come a time, perhaps in six months or so, when you realize that you are not learning as fast as you thought you would and the job is more complicated and more difficult than you thought it would be, and this is completely normal. Any new thing that you start doing, you will reach a point where you start to notice you are not an expert yet, and most people become disheartened by this. But you keep learning, and you get better, and you have a better understanding after that point of what the job really entails.

      I was talking with some colleagues and friends recently about training courses and leadership trainings we had taken, and we all ended up sharing stories about how all these different development programs shared the same observation in various ways.

      For me I made the opposite mistake from what’s described in above comments, and I would spend much too long trying to figure something out for myself before going and asking the expert. My corporate culture does not document heavily, we rely a lot on having each engineer with areas of expertise, and I could spend hours or days digging through outdated documentation trying to reverse engineer how something worked when I really needed to spend 15 or 20 minutes getting an explanation from the expert.

  21. Foreign Octopus*

    Oh my god, what a week.

    There was an electric storm on Sunday and it cut my internet out for 24 hours, which meant that I wasn’t able to work on Monday – the busiest day of my week with ten hours of lessons. I had to race down to town (thank you, neighbour for giving me a lift) to let my students know I wasn’t going to be able to make it. The internet then when down on Wednesday and cut out again; I nearly cried.

    I feel exhausted trying to play catch up.

    Also, congratulations to Alison for her book!

  22. LSP*

    My husband and I have been trying for our second kid for well over a year, and had even started the initial testing with a fertility doctor when we found out we had suddenly been able to conceive entirely on our own! YAY!

    I’m only 7 weeks along, but since this is my second kid, I am already starting to pop a little. I’m sure it’s not so much other people notice, but it makes me think I may start showing in earnest well before the 12-week mark. Since I am now in my late 30’s, I am very aware that I am in more danger of things going badly, so I really don’t want to let the cat out of the bag early. Any advice from other working mom’s who started showing before they were ready to tell?

    Also, I have a friend at work who I like very much, but who tends towards TMI and is very touchy and makes inappropriate comments about bodily functions. When I am out of the pregnancy closet, so to speak, I would love some advice on how to keep her from commenting on things like regular bathroom trips, and all the other super fun stuff that comes along with pregnancy. I’m worried she is going to talk about it non-stop and forget that I also have a job to do. She is a lovely person, and very sensitive (I have witnessed her weeping at work at least a half-dozen times since I started here 3.5 years ago), and I don’t want her to feel like I don’t want to talk to her about this at all, just not all the time, and not in the office about the more personal aspects of what’s happening to my body.

    I’m considering getting one of the those shirts Angela from The Office got for Christmas the year she was pregnant “Ask First, Then Touch.”

    1. rldk*

      I think you’re okay waiting to announce – people tend to understand sensitivity to making it public!
      If you get people directly asking, you can always do turning it back on them – “Hey LSP, are you pregnant?” “Why do you ask?” until you’re comfortable saying yes.

      With oversharer, Alison’s recommended light and friendly tone will probably do wonders for preventing a feeling of being attacked or scolded. After her first TMI comment, you can lightly say something like “I don’t want to bore you all with the ins and outs of pregnant lady life!” or “Oh, I’d rather not go into that kind of detail (in the workplace)”

    2. grace*


      I don’t have any advice on the first, but on the second — I’m pretty direct, and it sounds like you’re close friends, so why not just say something like, “I’d love to talk with you about so much of this, but I’d prefer not to talk about anything bathroom/body movement/etc. related, and not much at work — while I’m here, can we focus more on work?” and modify as needed for your specific concerns.

      1. Nita*

        Yep. Be direct. People like that don’t get hints, and may well appreciate directness (even to the point of TMI) from others.

    3. Natalie*

      Re: your work friend, since you mention she’s sensitive it kind of sounds like you want a way to keep her from commenting which won’t upset her. Which… I don’t think that’s really possible. I would focus on releasing yourself from any feeling of responsibility for her response to polite boundary setting.

      1. Jules the Third*

        +1 – if she’s that sensitive, you’re facing a challenge.

        But it might be possible to enlist her: since you know she’s got a pattern, and you are friendly, sit down with her and address it directly. Scripts might include ‘I really don’t want this to be discussed around the office much, or to be a focus for co-workers. You know how challenging it is to be seen as professional when you’re a woman; a pregnant woman’s even more challenging. Please help me keep a professional front by not commenting if you notice I’m doing something different or unusual.’ Some comments about how you don’t want other people to see you as ‘LSP, who’s pregnant *again*’ but as ‘LSP who’s doing that project’ might make it see that it’s more about Other People than about her.

        Not ‘pretend I’m not pregnant’ but ‘pretend that pregnancy is no big deal.’

        1. E*

          This is good advice. Enlist the coworker and ask that she help keep work talk focused on your work projects. Doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally show off an ultrasound picture, but that you’d prefer to focus on work most of the time, not your bathroom visits.

    4. anna green*

      Big flowy shirts are in style right now, so maybe pick up some to disguise your growing bump. Also, layers! Cardigans with open fronts and the drapey, scarf, extra front material look (I am so good with fashion terms!!). Summer scarves. That sort of thing, could help people from noticing.

      Ugh. I don’t know what it is about pregnancy that makes people think they get to comment on your life! I used to just laugh it off and change the subject. Or just say “ugh pregnancy sucks, I dont really want to talk about” or something where make it seem you are deflecting because you are sick of it and not because you dont want to talk to her.

      1. k*

        An open wrap cardigans, draped tops, open front jackets, loose flowy shift dresses… I always notice on tv shows when they’re trying to hide an actor’s pregnancy that their wardrobe suddenly adds those items. If you live somewhere where it’s about to be summer, you can blame overbearing AC for your increased use of layering.

    5. Holly Flax*

      Congratulations!! When I was in the showing but not ready for telling phase, I asked my husband every morning if he could tell I was pregnant by what I was wearing and he was very candid and honest which helped. I did find it a bit difficult because as the day goes on I was showing a bit more due to bloating. Cardigans over looser fitting tank top/t shirt shells were my go-t0 outfit choice, and I made sure to wear pants with a looser band so the bloating wasn’t so bad by the end of the day.

      Coworkers can be such a pain! I have had so many preface comments to me by saying “I know you’re probably being bombarded with advice already, but…” I have been pretty successful cutting off uncomfortable conversations by saying “I feel like this is the only thing I talk about right now both at and away from work. Could we talk about anything else??” (funny thing is I did the same thing when people kept asking about my wedding!) Tone is obviously really important with that statement.

    6. soupmonger*

      Your shirt should read “do not touch. At all.”
      I just do not get the pregnancy-touching thing. I mean – FFS, it’s not your body; leave it alone!

    7. Thursday Next*

      Congratulations! Don’t announce until you are comfortable doing so—I think it’s your coworkers’ responsibility to wait for your announcement before saying anything, and so you’d be safe deflecting/outright ignoring (pleasantly and cheerfully) any comments before then. Maybe practice this with your husband?
      Husband (pretending to be coworker): LSP, are you pregnant?
      You: Here’s that TPS report you didn’t ask for!
      Husband: because it looks like you’re showing.
      You: let me know if you have any questions! [smile; walk away]

      Really, people need to get used to not commenting on pregnancy unless explicitly invited to do so!

      1. Thursday Next*

        P.S. I once had the department chair walk into the restroom just as I was throwing up from morning sickness—when we were washing hands, she ignored what she must have heard and just asked how my grading was going, I really, really appreciated that.

    8. Thlayli*

      Baggy clothes is my advice. I was 5 months and showing a lot before anyone noticed with all the baggy and flows clothes I wore

    9. Stanley Nickels*

      Agree on the flowy shirts. Tunics are a good option for summer. Go through your closet first to see what you already have so that it’s not obvious you bought a new wardrobe! You can also keep wearing your normal pants for awhile if you use the hair tie/rubber band trick (loop it around the button, then through the button hole, then back around the button). Hopefully wearing your normal clothes will make it less obvious.

      I hope you have a happy & healthy pregnancy!

  23. Butch Cassidy*

    Fellow goths around? How do you successfully blend your style with the demands of your workplace’s dress code?

    1. rldk*

      There’s a blog for this! Link in my username :)
      Focused more on women/feminine-presenting, but the concepts can probably translate to more masculine-presenting clothing too.

    2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Not a goth. But I’ve known some at work. From what I can tell (after having seen a couple in both work and nonwork situations), they just dial it way back. Instead of wearing 10 accessories, they’ll do 2 small ones. Less/no makeup. The more conservative hairstyle option with whatever cut they have. black clothing, but nothing that a non-goth person wouldn’t wear.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yup. I’ve kept a few, small, tasteful pieces of body jewelry. (I wouldn’t classify myself as “goth”, just… kind of a metalhead.) Finding a good pair of boots that’s simultaneously “nice/stylish” but also “edgy” helps. (example:

    3. General Ginger*

      When I was female-presenting, I wore a lot of black, occasionally mixed up with some jewel tones. When the McQueen skull scarves were on trend, I wore a lot of scarves with prints like that — Cthulhu-esque squid, mermaids, skulls, though I don’t know if that would fly everywhere. I wore dresses a fair amount, because it was possible to find dresses that were office-appropriate while still having some interesting, off-beat element– interesting old-fashioned-looking buttons, a lace overlay on the collar, exposed zippers, asymmetrical drape.

      My current office has no dress code to speak of, and I mostly dress for comfort these days, especially as I’m transitioning. But a male friend of mine retains a bit of goth to his corporate look –black button downs under his jacket, interesting tie bars or tie pins, ties with the occasional off-beat print which he gets on Etsy.

    4. An Anon Librarian*

      Black. A good rule for conservative offices is one piece that’s unusual. So, like some tasteful memento mori jewelry with a black dress and dark tights, rather than a scull covered dress. I would lighted up the make up and check with your office about hair color. I think one great option is to assume you have to go more conservative at first and see where other people fall.

      I shouldn’t have to say this, but since I have seen some odd things supervising students-no corsets. Yeah, I really did have to explain to a student once that a corset wasn’t appropriate office wear. It was an odd conversation.

  24. Aaaaaaanon.*

    My team is having an issue with a colleague who does some worrisome things in group discussions and we don’t know if it’s a matter of her being socially inept or Tracy Flick.

    She’s been at our organization for over a decade; she used to be in a supervisory role of some sort, had some issues in that role, and then stepped down to become a senior teapot wonk like myself. I worked with her on a much larger team before and while her behaviours were still an issue there, our then-manager had her working mostly individually so that her interaction with the rest of the team was limited.

    We’re now on a team of four with a brand-new manager, and those behaviours are a lot more problematic. Exactly what is she doing?

    -She monologues in meetings, often being very physically demonstrative and speaking loudly and excitedly
    -In her monologues she segues to a new point, closing off natural opportunities to build off something she or someone else said previously
    -She’ll often repeat or paraphrase what the last person said without any verbal/non-verbal indication that she agrees with them or is building off their point
    -She comes across as though she’s stating her opinions as facts, particularly when drawing from her previous and now outdated/irrelevant experience as a supervisor from a time when our organization was much different
    -She always, always tries to get the last word
    -Her responses to what colleagues at her level say come across as dismissive or suggesting that they’re overstepping boundaries (e.g. “Well, that’s for someone more senior to decide”)
    -Her non-verbal language in team meetings gives the vibe that she’s only talking to our manager, rather than engaging with the group
    -She does a lot of nodding and “mmhmm”-ing in meetings that takes up a lot of space in the room

    All together, these behaviours create an unnatural spotlight on what she knows, which makes some people in the room assume that she’s the go-to and no one else has expertise on that topic. It’s particularly tricky for newer people to navigate, because we don’t want to interrupt or look like we’re the ones who aren’t engaging properly. I feel like I can’t use my abilities as a peer of hers because she keeps dismissing or contradicting me in meeting, even though in one-on-one conversations she praises my work.

    It’s not clear that she’s aware that she does these things or that they crowd out other people’s contributions. However, it’s a bit difficult to give her the benefit of the doubt because she’s often highly critical of other people’s work, even work outside of her area of expertise. She also makes comments about other people having egos or being self-promoters if they’re not deferential to her. So, this is weird. Any ideas on what to do?

    1. BuffaLove*

      No advice, but tons of sympathy – my office has a couple of those types, and no one has ever attempted to shut them down as far as I know. I’m interested in what other people have to say.

    2. AnotherJill*

      Who is leading the meeting? They should be setting time limits for discussion and cutting her off if necessary. Letting someone be rude in the name of not being rude to them is generally non-productive.

      1. Aaaaaaanon.*

        Our new manager is leading meetings. I’ve talked with him, in very general terms, about not always feeling like I have an opportunity to contribute, and he’s made a point to give me opportunities to speak up. However, it hasn’t changed her behaviour and he doesn’t actively moderate her or push back against what she’s saying or how she’s saying it. I get that he wants everyone to feel like they can get their point across and that he doesn’t want to seem dismissive towards any team member, but it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

        I feel like even though I talk more, I still have the same trouble with getting my points to “stick” because she still follows up my contributions with the same style of comment. The effect is the same whether she speaks first or last.

        1. AnotherJill*

          Yeah, without your manager leading the meetings effectively, it really makes it tough. Maybe once your manager is not so new it will be easier to be more direct about the situation.

          1. Aaaaaaanon.*

            I’ve talked to him a bit more about the challenges I’ve faced in trying to get her buy-in for my work, particularly in situations where it probably shouldn’t matter. I really hate asking my new boss to do this kind of emotional labour….hopefully it doesn’t tank my career here.

    3. mrs_helm*

      Sounds like she thinks she should be manager: Runs meetings, has all the answers, won’t let you speak in meetings but wants to give you feedback about how good a worker bee you are.

      Since she’s already been taken down a notch in the org, and it didn’t make her humble, probably nothing will. But if your new manager is open to it, suggest that manager tell her to give other people a chance to talk. Maybe they can frame it as a ‘good leadership’ move – which it actually is.

    4. Argh!*

      Go ahead and interrupt! Get the floor by saying “That’s a great point, and also…” and end your point by saying “What do you think, Cassandra?” Don’t give Not-Cassandra a chance to butt in. If she tries, say “I’m not finished making my point…” or “We heard you out, now it’s my turn.” (Even better — conspire with a coworker or two to tag-team to keep the floor)

      Alternatively, you could go to her or your manager one-on-one, but it sounds like everyone is behaving sheepishly, which gives her tacit permission to do this. Since she’s been demoted and most likely talked to already, I can’t imagine subtlety will have any effect.

    5. Gatomon*

      I had a very similar coworker on a team I used to be on. In the short term, I was promoted out, but long-term the behavior will continue until it is curbed. I really think your manager really has to be the one to dial this person back. Since these types of people feel/act like they have more authority than they do, it takes someone with higher authority to end it. As a peer, you probably won’t be successful if you don’t have visible management backing. If your manager doesn’t have the spine or awareness to stop this person, it may be something you have to accept, or not accept (i.e. move on).

      What happened with my coworker was a new manager with more experience in managing and in that type of department was hired on. The previous manager was new to everything and didn’t have the experience to stop this guy from usurping their authority. New manager saw it right away and started reigning it in immediately, but the final kicker was this guy vocally signaling he was Not On Board on a high-stakes project that the board/VPs were following closely. Management closed ranks and threatened to pull him off the project if he didn’t cut it out — they didn’t want his negativity floating up to the VPs/board. I think this finally got through to him.

    6. Thlayli*

      It sounds like she’s an external processor – she thinks aloud. It sounds like a pretty extreme version. No advice but maybe google how to deal with external processors.

      1. Aaaaaaanon.*

        This is an interesting perspective – being an external processor might help to explain why she isn’t framing her points in an effective way.

        1. Thlayli*

          That’s what makes me think she’s thinking aloud – I do this naturally. Think through things by talking it over. I had to learn that it’s not a good idea to do this in a meeting, but it sounds like she has not learned this.

  25. AK*

    I’m in an interesting situation that I feel silly even spending time thinking about.

    I recently transferred offices, and for some reason I’m having a hard time balancing my desire to be a part of the group with the one not to rock the boat and insert myself too forcefully into existing routines. I’m friendly with the entire team and had previously spent a lot of time here, so I’m not exactly the new kid. As such, there’s no extra attention paid to making sure I’m included in things like going out to lunch or joining a happy hour like there might be with a new hire. But I sit *just* far enough away from most of the team that I also don’t usually overhear plans being made until everyone’s getting up to leave. I don’t want to be annoying and I’ve already tried a few “hey what’s the plan for today?” IMs and walk bys with a little success, but I have to admit that I’m a little more hurt than I should be when I look up from an email at 12:30 and see the entire team has already left.

    I’m sure this is all just a weird transition and within a few weeks we’ll have all figured things out, it’s just one of those weird things that I’m not entirely comfortable having a conversation about with many people but needed to get out. AAM is my safe space :)

    Happy Friday!

    1. Luna*

      That is frustrating! It’s such a hard balance to strike. I would keep up what you’re doing re: asking them what the plans are, hopefully after more time it will work itself out. The only other suggestion I have is to initiate a group lunch or happy hour yourself if you’re comfortable doing that.

    2. Green Goose*

      It’ll take some time, and I know how you feel. I’ve been at my current company for over three years but the first year and a half I was on the Teapot Regional team and we were so, so close. We all ate together everyday and never talked about work in our free time. I viewed them more as friends than coworkers. I really liked everyone on that team (minus my direct supervisor) and I was a bit heartbroken when the org said our team would be reorged with some of us staying at Teapot Regional and some of us going to Teapot HQ.

      I went to Teapot HQ. I had always been friendly with people at Teapot HQ but when I started working there fulltime it was strange and lonely. I really missed my old team (because of the reorg, the two women I was closest with quit) and the people I was hoping would be my new friends at HQ were nice but already had their own thing going on. I had transferred about a month before my birthday, and on my actual birthday the Teapot HQ people that I liked all went out for lunch without inviting me and I just sat at my desk trying hard but unsuccessfully to not feel hurt.

      However, that was about a year and a half ago, and things have changed a lot. I think my “meh” phase was about three months and then I just felt normal being at HQ. I realized I would have new relationships, different from my Regional team, and got to know more people in the office. I really like all the people that I work with. Also, since there can be a lot of turnover, I feel less devastated when people leave now, so having less close relationships while liking everyone has been good for me.

      Good luck, and hopefully the weird phase goes by quickly for you!

    3. I See Real People*

      When I started this job, I spent some time doing my own lunch thing. The in-crowd invited me after a few months to lunches out with the “team”. This went on pleasantly for a few months and then one day they started planning around me and not inviting me anymore. I have no idea why, but I’ve learned not to worry about it. It’s just a job with people I probably won’t keep in touch with when I move on from here. I focus on working from 8-5 and then enjoying the lovely life I have at home.

    4. Mirth & Merry*

      Is there one person who you are a little closer to in the office? Maybe bring it up to them and enlist their help. And seconding Luna suggestion! Initiate something and see what happens. I moved offices and it took a few months and a couple included/not included iterations before things settled.

  26. A Slow Burn*

    How do you balance being a professional with not wanting to be an enabler when leaving a dysfunctional job?
    Background: I was part of a team of 5 reporting to one director. Between February and April, 4 of the 5 left, and the remaining employee is a new mom who considers the dysfunction the price to pay for good benefits and other flexibility. But all of the departures were specifically due to the director and her lack of management and even knowledge of what her reports did. This type mass exodus happened once before, two years ago, because of the same director.
    Now, a temp (the second one since I left!) is desperately trying to cover the 4 empty positions and keeps emailing me with questions that the director should be able to answer when my extensive documentation can’t. I’ve tried waiting to answer and re-directing him back to the docs or the director, but it persists. I’m at about 15 emails in three weeks.
    I feel bad for him because so many of his questions are about functions that the director consistently didn’t value or acknowledge until they weren’t done, but I also really want the organization to realize that the director is the problem. How do I balance my professional obligation with my resentment of the director’s lack of knowledge & incompetence?

    1. You don't know me*

      Are you still with the same company? if not then I fell like your professional obligation has been met and you are off the hook. You left extensive documentation and have thus far been responsive to inquires. I’d stop responding or let the temp know this is the last week you can help out and then they are on their own.

      If you are still with the same company its a little trickier and you may have to put up with it a little longer. Maybe instead of answering the questions directly you could reply with “that information should be in the teapot design section of the manual I left.”

      I feel bad for the temp that has to deal with this but maybe s/he will leave too and the director will finally have to step up.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I don’t think you have any professional obligation here. In fact, I might consider you obligated to do the opposite and stop creating the conditions that allow the director’s choices to avoid consequences.

      1. A Slow Burn*

        This is exactly what I needed to hear. It’s the typical nonprofit situation – I really care about the mission and it pains me to do anything that will actively detract from its ability to do its great work, but the Director is such a problem that the org as a whole will always be limping until they replace her.

        1. AMPG*

          Honestly, this is the type of thing I would consider bringing to the Board’s attention, if you’re no longer with this non-profit. Not saying it will definitely make a difference, because situations like this generally happen due to a lack of oversight in the first place, but you could always try.

        2. Jillociraptor*

          Good luck! As a nonprofiteer myself I definitely relate to how hard that is!

    3. Observer*

      Unless you are still with the company in another role, your only obligation here is to not be rude. Period.

      Here is the thing, though. Normally I would say that if you tell the person that you cannot answer any more questions and then STOP ANSWERING QUESTIONS, the company will figure out what’s happening pretty soon. However, the fact that this is the SECOND mass exodus in two years should have been enough to signal to the company that this director is the problem. Which means that there is really not much you can do to bring the company to its senses. Something will have to blow up for them to figure it out, if they have not figured it out yet.\

  27. Tattoos?*

    Tattoos in the workplace: Are they professional?

    I’m thinking about getting my first tattoo; it’d be very small and just above my ankle bone. I could easily cover it with slacks. But from time to time, I like to wear knee-length skirts, and then it would obviously show. Cool or uncool? I’d love to hear your experiences with navigating tattoos in the workplace.

    FWIW, I’m currently in higher ed. I’ve taught at a small community college for seven years, am going back for a PhD starting this fall, and hope to wind up in higher ed again when I’m done (though of course, nothing’s certain in higher ed these days, and I may wind up somewhere else).

    1. Buffy*

      I work in higher ed and I have a smallish tattoo on my wrist. I usually cover it up with a watch, but I know it’s been seen before. No one seems to have batted an eye! I’m sure it depends on the overall culture of your workplace, but I’d think a small tattoo on your ankle wouldn’t be an issue.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think as a society in general we are becoming more accepting of tattoos, but this will largely depend on your industry and geographical location.

      1. Red Reader*

        And on your individual workplace even. My previous hospital’s tattoo rule was “visible tattoos must be non-offensive.” My current hospital’s rule was “no visible tattoos, full stop,” but they just switched to “visible tattoos must be non-offensive” effective April 1. Both are large academic hospital groups.

    3. Ignatius Reilly*

      I was in higher ed for a while as an instructor, and tattoos were totally fine. Some people had full sleeves. For context, though, I was in the English Department of a large state university, so obviously this might vary depending on the department, whether the school is affiliated with a certain religion, etc.

      I work in a law firm now, which is arguably more traditional than higher ed when it comes to dress code, and at least where I work I have two wrist tattoos and they’ve never been a problem.

    4. Getting Lit*

      I’m working on my Literature PhD right now. I have several visible tattoos and it’s never been a problem to get jobs adjuncting or as a Visiting Instructor. I’ve also had several tenured professors who had reasonably visible tattoos. I think content matters, too? My most visible is just a cluster of roses on my forearm. If it was something violent, controversial, etc., it might be a different story. Or if it was a neck or hand tattoo. Granted I am in the humanities where we might be more neutral to this stuff than the STEM fields, but that’s a blind assumption I’m making with absolutely no evidence to back it up and I will happily accept my wrongness if others disagree.

    5. anonny*

      I know there are definitely industries where tattoos aren’t yet accepted (or may never be) but higher ed doesn’t seem to be one of them. You have to think about what your trajectory could be after higher ed, based on your education. If you moved out of higher ed, would you end up working at a really conservative firm, banking or law or something, or a conservative small business? If not, it may just always be a non-issue for you, especially due to the size and placement you’re talking about. I work in tech/marketing and have visible tattoos on my wrists, back of neck, and chest/shoulders (plus others that aren’t visible in regular clothes) and it’s just normal life. I’ve had people say to me, what if you changed jobs, and my answer is, at this point in my career, I have a choice about what industries I work in, and any one that isn’t ok with a flower on my forearm or a bird poking out of a crew neck shirt isn’t one I’d likely find myself trying to move into. I’ve also had my nose pierced for 21 years. I don’t dress crazy – I’m always in jeans or leggings or fitted dress pants, boots or flats, and usually wear a fitted tee with cardigan or casual button down shirt (I’m basically Gap & Talbots personified, plus tattoos/nose ring). And I’m not looked at like I’m wild or different, I just have tattoos. Like I’m not wearing black lipstick and a leather jacket and smoking cigarettes leaning against my motorcycle or anything. ;)

      In my world, everyone is indifferent to tattoos (unless someone is telling you they like them). There’s no negative consequences and no negative attitude. I get that some people have really different careers/workplaces, but in a lot of places, having tattoos vs not having tattoos is really like having brown hair vs having blonde hair. No big deal.

    6. bumbletea*

      Depends on the company! I work in tech, but my last company wouldn’t let tattoos show (I have one on my back that shows with anything sleeve-less or with really short sleeves that are loose). Definitely not the industry norm for tech! But it sounds like your tattoo would be in a place where most people won’t notice. I had a coworker who had an ankle tattoo, and it took me a year to realize it. I don’t think the CEO ever did.

    7. LibraryRaptor*

      I’m going to echo everyone saying “it depends on your institution.” When I was at a Catholic university? Heck no. Every other university setting I’ve been in? They’ve been a non-issue.

    8. Moonbeam Malone*

      fwiw what you’re describing sounds like it would be pretty easy to cover with makeup if needed (and assuming you aren’t allergic.)

    9. EddieSherbert*

      I agree it depends on your company :) and suggest you observe for a couple weeks – does anyone else seem to have visible tattoos? If you have a good relationship with your manager (or someone else higher up), maybe ask their opinion.

      I also think it depends on WHAT the tattoo is – not just the obvious “is it offensive” but is it religious, connected to a hot-button issue, if someone is not familiar with [thing tattooed on you] could they misunderstand it as something offensive?

      And, ultimately, I think you have to be okay with covering it up. Policies can change, you might get another job, etc… and it might end up having to be covered (even if it can be visible now).

    10. Tmarie*

      I have a 3″ rose on the inside of my left ankle, and a 4″ array of flowers all the way around my right ankle, and I wear capris from May-September. 75% of the people I work with, in a Finance department have tattoos. Oh I also have a friend tattoo on my inner right wrist.

      I’m an accountant, but my office definitely veers to casual.

    11. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      I think they are becoming more acceptable, and I love that. I plan on getting full sleeves at some point. Especially for most higher ed – I see lots of tattooed people from various schools at conferences I attend, and I have a large floral on my left arm that is visible, and no one bats an eye. Of course I’d always want to be sure I could cover it if necessary, like if it’s a business formal meeting or something, but what you describe sounds pretty harmless and easily covered.

      Now this is MOST higher ed – the previous school I worked at was a smaller private school that was obsessed with appearances and very toxic. Absolutely no visible tattoos, and I bet they would have banned invisible ones as well if they could, because they didn’t consider them “proper”. That place was run like a dictatorship and had a lot of unhealthy attitudes. So you’d hopefully be able to screen for those places before you take a job, but I think you are okay for most places.

    12. periwinkle*

      Corporate HR for a major employer in the greater Seattle area… I have one tiny tattoo that is always visible (ring finger), two forearm tattoos (each about 1.5″ square) visible if I’m not wearing long sleeves, and one only visible if I’m wearing short sleeves (which I don’t do at work).

      No one seems to care. My grand boss certainly doesn’t, since he went and got his own large forearm tattoo last year. I love the Pacific Northwest.

      1. Kj*

        Same. Seattle here and visible tattoos are perfectly acceptable, on everyone from receptionist to CEO of most businesses.

    13. Marvel*

      My experience in higher ed says that’s probably totally fine, though it may depend on school and field! My school tilts slightly more conservative overall, but I’m in the theatre department, so…

    14. Former Retail Manager*

      I really think that you will be fine with what you’re planning to get, but like all the others said, I suppose it ultimately depends on your work culture. Higher ed seems pretty accommodating where I live (the very conservative South) and I’ve had a few professors over the years that had tattoos. No full sleeves or anything, but some noticeable stuff on the wrists, ankles, neck and upper back. And if all else fails, you can always buy some Dermacol on Amazon and cover it up. That stuff is amazing!

    15. Kathy*

      I have a pretty big (around 5″ square) tattoo of a direwolf on my forearm and the only comments I’ve gotten on it are about how much people like it. I actually was talking about it with the VP of the company recently and we immediately got into an animated discussion about Game of Thrones. So yeah, I think that we as a society are becoming more accepting of tattoos but I also think that it depends on the institution.

    16. anycat*

      i’m in a corporate office and i have a tattoo above my ankle. there’s a few others who have tattoos that show, and i also have my nose pierced. every place i’ve worked my tattoos and piercings haven’t been an issue – but i’m also located in the bay area so we are a bit liberal.

      one thing to think about – you will need to let it properly heal so don’t cover it up too tightly after you get it done. it will need to breathe. :)

  28. not really a lurker anymore*

    My job has been reclassified! 7% retention raise. I’m now salary but since my OT worked out to about 15-20 a year, I can deal with this. And they are buying out my comptime bank of almost 60 hours. Sadly, that’s at the old rate and not the new rate.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Hey, that’s nice! I hit my annual pay step increase at the same time as a union-negotiated raise took effect. (It’s calculated retroactively, too, so that’ll mean a bonus check.) I think the raise is going into savings, which is boring but still satisfying. Have plans for yours?

  29. DecorativeCacti*

    Does anyone have any recommendations on where to find interview worthy clothes on a budget? And plus sized?

    I have a nice interview outfit, but I’m in the process of losing weight and am down a dress size. My nice pants still look decent but my jacket makes me look like I’m a child wearing Grown Up clothes. I want to have something on hand but don’t want to spend a ton of money because I fully intend to go down a few more sizes.

    1. Manders*

      Is tailoring an option? That might be cheaper than buying a series of new suits.

      1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

        I second Manders on tailoring. Also, a site that occasionally has some business-y gems is called Full Beauty. They have lots of uber-matronly clothes, but they do carry some nicer work-type pieces if you have some time to dig around on the site. I’ve purchased my basic work pants and some trendier work cardigans from them, and the prices are decent. I have seen some nice blazers and suits on the site as well, but I have not purchased these type of items, so I can’t vouch, but the piece I have are good quality and fit me well.

        1. General Ginger*

          Thirding this. Also maybe consider doing a sheath dress with a blazer rather than trousers/blouse, as IMHO, dresses tend to be more forgiving of size fluctuations.

      1. mrs_helm*

        Shop around until you find one that has a good stock of professional and Plus size. Not all of them do, and you might need to try surrounding areas. But once you find one! :)

      2. many bells down*

        Especially if you’ve got a high-rent neighborhood near you, go to the nearest thrift store to that. The stuff people drop off in my old neighborhood is amazing. I got a lambswool/cashmere overcoat there last winter for $15.

    2. LiterallyPapyrus*

      I buy & sell clothes on Poshmark regularly. Torrid was my go-to for all clothes, professional and otherwise. You can search for brands you like or by category and I’ve never had a bad experience there. (and if for some reason you do have a bad experience Poshmark pretty well protects the buyer in those situations).

      I feel you on losing weight–I lost 110+ pounds over the last year and i’ve had to re-buy my entire wardrobe several times. It’s great, but also SUPER ANNOYING to keep buying the same pair of dress pants in 4 different sizes.

    3. Combinatorialist*

      Have you considered Gwynnie Bee? It’s plus sized clothes rental which is great for when you are changing size. My mom used it for a long while — renting dresses for special occasions and mostly work clothes. If you are on a super tight budget, its probably not affordable, but it is certainly cheaper than buying lots of clothes you aren’t going to wear for long.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I got almost all of my business wear from ThredUp when we had moved across 3 states and didn’t have a ton of money for me to go buy a whole new wardrobe. I’ve also never had something arrive in less than like-new condition. Highly recommend ThredUp!

        (My workplace now is pretty casual, quite a few people like to wear t-shirts/jeans, but I like to wear polos. I can usually get a handful of nice, athletic-fabric polo shirts for like $5-10 a pop.)

      2. Former Retail Manager*

        Seconding both of these suggestions and I shop both regularly. However, Eloquii really isn’t affordable, in my opinion, even with the frequent 40% sales. Also, if you have nice trousers, you don’t necessarily have to wear a suit jacket. You could do a nice blouse or shell with a heavier weight cardigan and some simple, classy accessories to jazz it up. I am currently plus, but was straight size for a very long time. Now that I’m plus size, I find that it’s very hard to find any suit jacket that really fits me right, so I have opted for the aforementioned option. I find that this is especially true for women whose weight isn’t evenly distributed or they have a particular trouble spot (large arms, large bust, etc.) Try searching Pinterest for plus size professional outfits and see if you can get some inspiration there that doesn’t involve a straight jacket…I mean suit jacket. :)

    4. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      ThredUP has plus sized clothing, and I’ve gotten so many amazing items from them. I’m currently rocking a pair of Vince Camuto heels that I scored for $27.

    5. OP#4*

      Lands’ End has professional suiting basics, including in plus sizes, and has an amazing return policy. They also have good coupon codes very often if you sign up for emails. You could buy a basic suit in your current size and if you don’t wear it before you drop a size, return it/exchange it for the next size down. I have returned things there (unworn) at least a year later. They also have similar things in straight/plus sizes so if you find yourself needing a smaller (straight) sized jacket and plus sized pants for a suit, you can do that and still have it be a cohesive suit.

    6. the_scientist*

      If you live in a place where clothing rental/subscription services are an option, that might be a more affordable choice than buying transitionally-sized items. There are definitely services that offer professionally-appropriate dresses, blazers, etc. (I follow the blog of a lawyer who uses them pretty regularly, but I unfortunately don’t remember the name of it). If you have a couple of dresses that are appropriate, you can tailor a blazer or two or scour thrift stores to tide you over!

      I have to go to four weddings this year (plus I’m also getting married) and I am going to be using a rental service so I don’t have to buy many new outfits!

    7. Xarcady*

      Jessica London has some suiting separates. Also try Land’s End–either the sale section or sometimes they have 30 to 40% off coupons on the site.

      And Macy’s. It’s a mixed bag, but they have a 30% off coupon right now. Add that to something that’s on sale, and you can sometimes get good buys. Just checked and they have several jackets in the $50-$60 range, with the sale and coupon.

    8. k.k*

      Have you tired They do custom sizing to your measurements. In addition to size, you can pick custom options like changing the skirt length, adding or changing sleeves, pockets to dresses, etc. Some optionf are free and others are add on costs. How affordable it is depends on your definition of budget friendly. For example, if I remember right a simple sheath or A line dress would be around $55, pencil skirt around $40, etc. For me that’s a little pricey, but it’s like having a tailor built in. And if you stick with basics, they’ll be versatile so hopefully you can get good use out of it while it still fits.

    9. ABK*

      I don’t know about plus sizes, but I”ve had really good luck with buying suit parts separately, like matching a nice pair of slack with a generic blouse and generic blazer that all may have come from different stores/brands. Then dress it up with a necklace or scarf or nice shoes, conservative colors, etc.

    10. Piano Girl*

      I have alot of work clothes from DressBarn, Talbots, and even something from J. Jill.

    11. Kuododi*

      I use a website called Woman Within. The prices are excellent and they have a wide selection of styles and sizes. One caveat…. I have not shopped for “serious suits” in a while for various reasons. I don’t know if WW would have the exact stuff you are looking for, but the prices are so good that IMO it would be worth the time to see about finding good separates you could put together for the look you need. Best wishes!!!

  30. Afiendishthingy*

    Share your funny/frustrating stories of your bossy, control-obsessed coworkers.

    My coworker: (talk talk talk talk talk)
    Me: “Yeah, I think that — ”
    My coworker : “SHHH SHH SHH sorry i really need to focus right now”

    1. Bea W*

      I really want to write about the recent hyphen scandal at my office, but my brain just can’t process. The wound is too fresh!

    2. LDP*

      I got into a fight with an old coworker about efficiency. We had ordered several hundred mini disco balls for an event and were trying to organize the huge boxes they all came in until we needed them. She got upset with me for starting another row when we could have put more on top, and argued with me that it was “more efficient that way”. I had to remind her that I (and our boss) are a good 5 inches shorter than her and couldn’t reach the boxes on top if they were stacked that high, and it would be less efficient if we had to go find a ladder and/or someone taller to reach them for us. No idea why, but I decided that was the hill to die on with that coworker. (She’s the type who thinks the way she does *everything* is the best and most efficient.) It all ended well, and we were able to brainstorm and collaborate really well after that. But man, were there some growing pains with us at first!

    3. Green Goose*

      I had forgotten about this but found an old email I had written a friend about my former boss.
      B/G: Former boss was a control freak. Our organization has vital information in random places, and not always intuitive places… I might need to check my email, Box, Excel, Google Sheets, old slideshows to find something at times.
      Incident: I had looked in all the above mentioned places trying to find a figure from our previous year, and as a last resort I asked my boss where I could find it. He knew where it was but here was his response:

      It is unacceptable that you don’t know where this information is and I want to report from you by the end of the day telling me where this information is and what steps you took to find it.

      1. Close Bracket*

        In light of a recent letter and the responses to it regarding asking people how to do something versus googling it or whatever, I find this absolutely hysterical. Clearly your boss is firmly on the side of “If you ask, you are a bad person, and you should feel bad about yourself.”

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I’m rewatching Parks and Rec and I just automatically heard that line in Ron Swanson’s voice. :-)

    4. bookends*

      We moved into a new office two years ago, in a building with a bunch of other non-profits. Part of our office is in one large suite with cubicle areas and a conference room, and then we have some individual offices in a hallway where other orgs also have some offices (think we have #400a, 400b, and others have 400c, 400d, etc).

      When we first moved we all changed our email signatures to the address of the large suite because it’s where the majority of staff is and where our mail slot is located. She insisted on using the general number of the other offices (just 400, no a/b/etc.) for “security reasons.” I didn’t fight it because she’s the kind of person you pick your battles with.

      Ever since then, we’re constantly confusing the post office and getting everyone else’s mail. A few weeks ago, she scolded me for walking the other orgs’ mail down to them, and said it’s the post office’s fault for “assigning us this address when we moved in.”

    5. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      Potstirrer: This new task is an outrage we can’t achieve our business goals. DT set up a meeting.
      Naieve DT: Sure! Sets up meeting.
      Potstirrer: OK so we all agree item X has to go and it’s not achieving desired effects blah blah blah. DT please craft an email for the group and CC us all and send to manager.
      Naieve DT: OK!
      Naieve DT: Emails management our discussion.
      Potstirrer: I completely disagree with DT and am appalled that she would claim to speak for me. I find the new task to be important because of A, B, C and I for one am not afraid of some hard work to get this done.
      Other coworkers: too scarred to speak up? I dunno they said nothing while management dropped the lance on me with the power of thor. Only time I ever tried going to management “as a group”

    6. whistle*

      We print a lot at my company (for legitimate reasons), and one of the printers is across the hall from my office. One of my coworkers (you know, *that* one) will regularly walk by and mutter disapprovingly “that’s a lot of toner”.
      I have stopped just short of asking her if toner costs are taken out of her paycheck.

  31. Manders*

    People who work with freelancers, how do you strike a healthy balance between being a good client and putting the needs of your own company first? I offered a small writing gig to someone I’m on friendly terms with outside of work, and I tried my best to make sure she knew it would probably not be a long-term deal, but from the way she’s been talking it sounds like she’s planning to quit her day job and rely on me for the bulk of her income.

    I’ve already told her that things change fast here, that the work might end at any time, and that she should make sure she has other sources of income besides the work I’m sending her. I’ve encouraged her to apply to other freelance gigs. Have I done my due diligence here? I’d feel really guilty if I cut off her primary source of income with no warning, but we’re a really small startup and we’re moving fast, so we honestly don’t have the resources to give busy work to people and I don’t always know month to month whether we’ll decide to change the work we’re doing.

    1. Danielle*

      I would be more candid with her, saying something like: “I don’t want you to put all your eggs in one basket because this isn’t a long term opportunity. There’s a lot of work now but I wouldn’t want you to jeopardize your livelihood in the event we go another direction or the work just stops coming in due to business needs.” And then leave it at that.

      1. AMPG*

        Yes, if you’ve said the above or its equivalent to her, then you’ve fulfilled any obligation you had. Her decision after that point are hers to own.

      2. Manders*

        Hah, yes, I already used the “eggs in one basket” line almost exactly, and I also told her that it wasn’t a good idea to make this her sole source of income. I also talked to her a little about how fast our work changes and how I can’t always predict what’s going to happen a few months out, and that the program might not last forever. I guess I’ve done what I can, I’m just feeling nervous because the way she’s talking about this gig in our writer’s group seems like she’s really depending on it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Since she’s a friend, I think the next time she says something you need to be direct about it. “Suzanne, this is a finite project and it will probably end after X period because we’re moving so fast. I’m concerned that you seem to be dependent on this for your income.” Put the ball in her court–“What will you do when this project is over?” Seriously, if she’s going to freelance, she needs to be aware that gigs can and do end abruptly and she needs to have more than one iron in the fire.

      1. Manders*

        The issue is that it doesn’t have a firm end date–maybe it’ll keep going for a year, maybe we’ll phase it out in a month. It’s really not supposed to be someone’s full-time job, but a small gig for a freelancer with their fingers in many pies.

        I’ve tried to let her know that things change fast and I can’t guarantee the work will continue, but I think she’s way too starry-eyed about this. It’s a very small line item in our company’s budget but it’s more than she was making at her (admittedly low-paying, crappy) day job she’s quitting.

    3. Becky*

      I feel like you’ve done your due diligence in communicating with her. You have warned her, if she isn’t listening that’s on her. If she pushes back when you don’t have work then simply reply with something along the lines of “We were pleased with the work you did for us and will definitely keep you in mind for future projects. We’d be happy to provide you with a reference or recommend you for work with others in the industry.” (If that’s what it is called in freelance world). This is of course, only if her work quality merits it.

      Also make sure the contract or paperwork or whatever is super clear about the duration/parameters of the project and the pay for that.

      1. Manders*

        The problem is that we really don’t know the duration of the project. It’s maybe 3-6 hours of work per week, it’s not supposed to be someone’s full-time gig.

        I did try to transfer her to a project run by my colleague that has steadier work, but to be honest, she didn’t do a very good job on her trial assignment and he didn’t want to keep working with her.

    4. LilySparrow*

      As a freelancer, it seems like you’ve been very clear. I was going to say that you could make sure the workload and deadlines are reasonable enough that she has the opportunity to manage her business – I mean, if you were demanding 80 solid hours’ worth of work product delivered every week, she would have to put all her eggs in one basket just to keep up.

      But I see in one of your updates that it’s only 3-6 hours of work per week, so that’s certainly not the issue.

      I have a long-term relationship with a client who has sporadic projects, and one thing that is helpful for my planning is their purchase-order system. My client contact will approximate how much work she’ll need in the near-term (say, the next three months) and then corporate will approve a P.O. up to that amount. The actual assignments vary widely in scope and aren’t assigned on a specific schedule, but I have a general framework to plan around with other gigs. And if the P.O. doesn’t all get used up in that timeframe, it just stays open. So maybe you could ask for better communication within your organization about what projects are really slated/approved in the near term, and pass that on to her? It might not be feasible in your situation, but it’s just something I find useful.

      Other than that, unless you’re going to volunteer to be her mentor and teach her how to manage a small business responsibly, I’m not sure what else you could do here.

      1. Manders*

        Ah, that’s a really cool system! I don’t think it’s something I could do right now (it’s seriously a tiny company, only 3 full time employees managing a whole bunch of freelancers who get weekly assignments), but it’s something I’ll keep in mind as the business grows.

        To be honest, I think she saw our (honestly pretty standard) rate per word and got a little overwhelmed because many of the writers in the group where we met will work for peanuts. A lot of them are working for pretty awful clients and I want to do my best to be a model of how a good client should behave.

        1. LilySparrow*

          She’s new at freelancing, isn’t she? The “I’m set for life” pipe dream is quite common. It’s just wishful thinking, because pitching and finding clients sucks.

          I think we’ve all done it at some point. The difference is, the client usually can’t hear us do it. Let her talk it out and pretend it’s about some other company.

          1. Manders*

            Yep, you nailed it, this is her first time freelancing. I think you’re right–I’ve said my piece, and I’ll cheer her on if she mentions looking for other clients.

  32. hermit crab*

    I have a phone screen scheduled for next Tuesday! I am 32 and have been working at the same company for just shy of 10 years, so the last time I did one of these, I was a recent grad in the midst of the recession who was willing to take anything (luckily it worked out pretty well and I’ve been here ever since).

    This time around, I am not 100% sure that I want this particular job (or any new job at all) – what are your recommendations for approaching this with an open-minded, confident attitude? What questions are useful for mid-level candidates to ask at the phone screen stage?

    1. AnotherJill*

      I tend to think of phone screenings as low value to the candidate, as its tough to get a feel for an entire workplace when you are on the phone with one or two individuals.

      What are the things that are most important for you in a workplace? I would do as much research about the company as possible and try to figure out what my deal breakers would be and try to ask things in that direction.

    2. SpaceNovice*

      What kind of phone screening is it? You can look up common questions at that stage of the phone interview. Look at what they value in the job listing and see what stories about previous jobs you can tie to them. Definitely make sure you review what you did and some of the 101 knowledge. If this is an HR phone screen, it’s to make sure you’re not crazy/awful. If it’s a more technical screen, it’s to make sure you’re not a complete idiot. You might want to review some behavioral questions and also come up with the reason why you’re applying. And ask questions! Also, know the answer to what you’re looking for and why you might want to leave your current place.

    3. lopsided*

      Be open-minded! You are trying to find out more to see if it would be a good fit. Figure out the reasons you’re leaving and the things you’ll need to know before you invest more time. For instance, I am leaving because I don’t want to be the only technical person in the department anymore. In my phone screens, I asked about organizational structure and how the technical team works and collaborates. One place I wasn’t sure about didn’t have a team of peers, and I was very honest with them that that was a dealbreaker for me, and graciously bowed out.

    4. Windchime*

      In my (somewhat limited) experience, phone screens are really just to see whether or not you can communicate and have a decent personality. When I have been on the employer side of the screen, I’m usually just trying to get a feel for whether or not the person has the general experience we need, has a clear communication style, and seems like they would be someone I would like to work with.

      When I’ve been on the employee side, I treat much the same way. Do I want to work for these people on the other side of the phone? Do they seem like reasonable people with reasonable questions? I try to tailor my questions to the conversation, but if there are any items that would be absolute deal-breakers for you, then I would bring them up in the phone screen to see whether or not it even makes sense to move forward to the next step.

  33. Anonanonanon*

    How do you know when you’re not a good culture fit? And when does that mean you should leave a job?

    I’m really introverted, I concentrate on analysis & reporting in my career, and I don’t have much interest in creating deep bonds between my colleagues (I have enough close friends in my private life). I work in social services, which makes me the odd man out all the time; I’m surrounded by counselors, social workers and other “people” people who loudly proclaim their fear of math and research. Which is ok! That’s why I’m here!

    The problem is, even though I really value what our non-profit company does, I’m not sure my values fit the values of my colleagues. Our hiring strategy lately has been pretty outwardly anti-introverts (higher ups have talked disdainfully about highly skilled tech professionals who just want to play be on computers all day), and I know that my coworkers side-eye me for trying to limit my customer interaction as much as possible. (For example, I’m sometimes asked to be backup on phones when we’re short-staffed, and I’m really bad at it in their view: I take a message and move on, and don’t try to dig deeper or build a relationship.) I don’t mind working with people, particularly internal customers, but I’m not cut out for too much group work or managing people.

    I feel like I’m tolerated, but only because I have skills/knowledge that they don’t, and they’re unwilling or unable to learn. I’m pushed to do things I don’t want to do (from taking on committee leadership to being more emotionally vulnerable with my colleagues), and the social workers around me think they’re pushing me to grow, when really I think they’re pushing me to be something I’m not.

    Do techies just not belong in social services?

    1. foot in mouth*

      Huh, I’m in reporting and analysis myself and often feel the odd one out because I’m the only one in my office doing this – but I’m in a finance office so we’re all pretty introverty. I’d really like to move on and in my next career I’d really like to not be the only one on my team doing what I do, I feel it’s limiting my growth, having no immediate colleagues to learn from (though there are certainly others in my org who do what I do, we don’t have any business reason to interact).

      All that’s background to say, I think it’s totally inappropriate for them to push you to do phones etc. that’s ridiculous and not a good use of your skills.

      1. Anonanonanon*

        Totally agree! I’m usually the only person in my role, and it makes it really hard to grow. It actually makes it more difficult here, because I’m trying to work on my own skills, and they want to push me into this really exhausting place all the time instead.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      Social worker here. Introverted and would be out of there due to boundary pushing coworkers. It sounds like there’s a weird culture at that nonprofit and doesn’t honor the various roles that make up a multidisciplinary team.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Was coming here to say something similar. Close family member is a social worker. It is a difficult field for an extrovert, far worse for an introvert.

        Just keep doing your thing, keep your eyes and ears open and maybe your dream job will come on by.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      As gently as possible, it sounds like they think you only tolerate them, also. In other words, they are mirroring back what they think you are doing.

      The thing is that these stalemates happen. In order to get out of the stalemate someone has to move. Unfortunately, it boils down to the person who states “I think there is a problem here” and that person gets the advice “change what you are doing and see if they change also”.
      People react to what they perceive is happening. Of course, many times people have the wrong perception.

      My husband was a super geeky guy. To the point where he intimidated people, he was just smart. We talked about this. He landed on a solution of telling rather non-personal stories that had some human interest to them. Yeah, he talked about the cute thing the dog or cat did today. Or he mentioned how nice the trees looked this spring. He also decided to learn at least one thing about each person around him. Joe has a new grand baby. Carol bought a house. Sam just got an English Sheep dog. Then he would inquire after the grand baby/house/dog a few times. People liked it that he remembered. It seemed to be enough to ease comments/concerns.

      1. Anonanonanon*

        Thank you for this insight! There definitely may be a bit of that going on. I’m super geeky myself, and sometimes I need to censor myself from talking about the types of things that make my colleagues’ eyes glaze over.

        Don’t get me wrong; I’m politely social (will tell people highlights of my week, what kinds of hobbies I’m working on, and will ask after their families or their hobbies). I just want to spend more time working along than in meetings or talking, and get emotionally exhausted when we have team builders around being vulnerable, or I have to spend my whole day in meetings because the company as a whole thinks that face-to-face interactions are more valuable than email or slack.

        But on the other hand, I’m sure I let that show to some degree. I’ve tried gently pushing back (“I’m not really comfortable with phones/customers” or “I think we could probably take care of this over email”) and have had responses ranging from patronizing (“How can I help you be comfortable?”) to shutting me down (“Email’s not really how we do things here.”). I think this may be a bit above and beyond a normal workplace….and I think I’m talking myself into polishing my resume as I type.

    4. Pollygrammer*

      What you like and what you’re capable of doing are two different things.

      Lots of people think of warm customer service as a work skill, and might look at you as someone who is simply unwilling to try to build a (necessary?) skill, just like they don’t want to learn a particular technology.

      Taking on committee leadership is very different from being emotionally communicative with colleagues. The second thing is something they want–the first may be something they think you need to do.

      I’m introverted as all hell, but I’ve never had a job where phone skills weren’t occasionally necessary. I don’t like making a couple minutes of meaningless chitchat with strangers, but it’s something I’ve trained myself to do because I want to be good at all aspects of my job, not just the ones I like.

    5. Argh!*

      Techies belong everywhere! I can’t imagine hiring an extrovert for a techie job, unless training or conference tabling were part of it.

      You’d think in the age of diversity training & everyone talking about how we should respect differences, that this kind of thing wouldn’t happen. Grrrrr!

      I’m in an extroverted type job though I’m not a total extrovert (e.g., I post to askamanger while eating lunch at my desk rather than going out with friends). I report to an extremely introverted boss who is also conflict-averse. I find her impossible to work with because she just can’t handle situations where two people could be wrong or two people could be right, or even handle the conflict between two competing ideas.

      Introverts can be very difficult to work with if they are also hesitant to speak up. I want to know what someone is thinking, and to have casual conversations even if they’re superficial. And I can’t engage with someone who runs to a safe place in their head whenever I talk to them. It takes all kinds but the introverts have to know when to come forward, and extroverts need to know when to back off. And all of us should figure out constructive ways to express distress at work.

      Accommodation and respect have to be two-way.

    6. Close Bracket*

      I don’t think this is about tech versus social services, I think this is about being functional versus building relationships. I am an engineer and I am extremely functional socially (I am also on the spectrum, however, being a functional social person is not limited to people on the spectrum). Unfortunately, and engineering, people expect you to be a relationship builder. My functional style has been alienating over the course of my career. I am afraid that your course of action should be to learn how to act like you want to build a relationship. Just try to remember to ask people how they are doing and what not before you have whatever interaction you need to have with them. You don’t have to become close friends, just expressed interest in their life every now and then even though you don’t have any.

    7. Anon Mental Health Professional*

      I work in social-services(with children) and am also an introvert. I constantly got feedback in graduate school from professors about how I needed to participate more and be more outgoing and got bad annual reviews from my professors because I was introverted. However, me being introverted caused pretty much zero problems in any of my clinical placements in graduate school or jobs I’ve had afterwards. I’ve always gotten good reviews from my work sites. Clients have different personalities and some people are more comfortable working with someone less outgoing. I contribute to my teams and collaborate with people and am able to make small talk when needed, although I do it more because I know it’s expected than because it comes spontaneously/naturally to me. I think you should do you and if your introversion is not impeding you from collaborating and being part of a team when needed, people should not pressure you to be different. In my case the constant pressure from my professors to change my personality into something it wasn’t was a sign that school was a bad culture fit. It was the only setting I was getting negative feedback about my performance in and it was more about those professors not valuing styles different from their own, rather than a statement of my actual skills. I was a much happier person and more relaxed in professional settings once I graduated and no longer had people telling me my personality wasn’t good enough. I hadn’t even realized how much I was overthinking my behaviors in and out of class because I was anxious about the next negative comment I’d receive from my professors.

  34. LDP*

    I (finally!) have an update! No one’s getting laid off! :) I can’t say much more than that until all the official announcements are made, but I wanted to thank everyone who gave me such good advice. And on the bright side, my resume and LinkedIn profile are both completely up to date, so I’m prepared for when it’s time to leave this job on my own. :)

  35. Susan / NA*

    Its Friday morning, my manager is out (sadface) and so is my boss. Today’s my last day before going away for 2 weeks so I”m spending it doing this stuff (managing ppls calendars for those who call out sick, “manager calls” for clients who want to vent, and managing ppls workload) and not the stuff I actually WANT to do (tax returns).

    For the first time, I’m actually not looking fwd to being away. I’m going back to the home country to take care of matters after my dad’s death. It’s going to be 9800000 degrees out there. I just got yelled at by 1 client who said someone’s medical emergency was made up bs, dismissed my “family emergency” and I think he was literally about to ask me to turn back time. Also got yelled at by another client yesterday who straight up said she wanted to cancel her services. so when I agreed and said we’ll start the process, that pissed her off. I feel like a glorified customer service more than an accountant, but that’s always been the case here so I’m not complaining or asking for advice…just amused.

    Any way, not much going on. Lots of little things but no big things. Got Alison’s book and I actually got one copy for my manager as well lol, will be reading it on my trip!

    1. Misa*

      Good luck on your trip. I’ve made that trip before myself, it can be challenging. Take good care of yourself.

  36. Kathy*

    Is there a trick to socializing/remaining pleasant around people who don’t like you? I’ve been at my job for 8 months now and “Sharon” and “Sally” don’t like me. The second week of working at my job I ate lunch with them plus some others, and Sally literally got up from the table and just left. I checked and they do this with others as well, but it’s still difficult to not take it personally.

    They also go out to lunch with my boss and others and I’m not invited. Despite all of this, they still try and make small talk with me. I’m sure they’re just being polite or professional, but I feel like I’m being ostracized. (I’d prefer if they just talked to me about work stuff, if need be. Otherwise it’s just awkward, fake, and insincere.)

    Maybe I’m being stubborn and should try harder, but you can’t make someone like you. Plus, they’re both twice my age and have been with the company for a long time, so there’s a certain status. I just don’t want to be a pushover either.

    Is there any solution to dealing with this until I can find a new job and get out?

    1. ExcelJedi*

      No advice here, but I didn’t know they let kindergartners enter the workforce these days. Maybe you should check with HR about them being allowed on payroll?

    2. BuffaLove*

      Are you the only one, or one of the only ones, being left out of lunch with the boss? If so, that’s worth pushing back on. If not, just do your best to be polite and professional. They sound rude and immature and not even remotely worth your emotional energy. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to just think of your interactions with them as one more annoying thing that you get paid to deal with.

    3. Laura*

      This might depend on your personality, but can you treat the whole thing like some sort of sociology experiment/observation? Your goal can be “wry detachment”. These kind of people are going to be mean no matter what, so minimizing the impact on you is really the only goal.

      Good luck. They sound terrible.

      1. whistle*

        I second this and add that it can also help to feel pity for them. Do happy well-adjusted people get up from a lunch table just because someone new sat down there to eat? No, they do not. These are unhappy people who will be unhappy with or without your consent.

    4. Jules the Third*

      From this post:
      Sharon and Sally (SnS) don’t eat lunch with everyone. They don’t eat with you, but you’re not the only one.
      SnS make small talk with you. They are being ‘polite or professional’.
      You don’t discuss any professional impacts this has, like losing out on work assignments or training.
      You don’t discuss any feedback you’ve gotten on why, like they dislike your race, or smell, or fave color.

      Blunt talk: Two people who are not actively working to include you in their social group is not ‘ostracized’, *especially* not when the rest of the team knows their pattern.

      The solution is for you to let it go. You can bend the small talk around to work, if social talk is uncomfortable for you. You can focus on being happy in your work and your relationships or hobbies outside of work, and see if that helps your discomfort.

      If you do get feedback about them not liking you because of some protected class issue or that it’s affecting your professional opportunities, then document and discuss as appropriate, but if it’s just ‘I’m new and not everyone likes me, and they treat me like they treat some other people but I can’t see an obvious reason why and I don’t understand’, let it go.

      It’s 100% about them, not about you. So leave it with them.

      1. Thlayli*

        This. In the words of sex and the city “they’re just not that into you”.

        They don’t want to be friends with you, or go to lunch with you. That doesn’t have to be something you fix.

        Her getting up and walking away is really really rude, but I doubt you’ll get an apology for that after this amount of time has passed. Just chalk it up to she’s a rude person. Why would you even want to be friends with such a rude person anyway?

        As Jules says, if it’s not affecting you professionally, just forget about it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes I can’t connect on a personal level with a cohort. My next go-to is to try to connect on a professional level. This means find something about their way of working that I like. Perhaps they are good with troubleshooting. Or maybe they are great at meeting absurd deadlines. Keep this simple, make a goal of finding ONE good thing about them as professionals.
      This will give you something to hang on to when other things are not going well for the moment. “Okay, Sally blew me off AGAIN. Well, at least she is really good at finding those annoying needle-in-a-haystack errors that no one else can find. I need to focus on the important parts and let this incident slide.”

    6. Bumblebee*

      I would just act like it doesn’t bother me, because they may get pleasure from being mean girls and not acting bothered by it takes away their power. I would be polite and professional.

      Then, I would text a friend/loved one during my lunch breaks, or maybe call someone who does like me on my way home. Just because a couple of randoms at work don’t like you doesn’t mean you are less of a person or unlikable.

    7. Pollygrammer*

      You’re at the “they don’t like me” stage.

      The next step is “I don’t like them.”

      It’s very freeing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OTH, you could decide to like them, OP, just because it makes things simpler in some ways. It can be very freeing to decide to like a person without taking into account whether or not they like us. There are times where this is an excellent tool for rising above the situation.

        1. LilySparrow*

          I think the point is to get past whether they like you, and look at who they are as people, separately from “do they like me or not?”

          If they are basically nice people you just don’t mesh with, you might like them. If they are mean people who are deliberately snubbing OP, there’s nothing much to like about that.

          But you can’t tell which is true until you get past the insecurity.

    8. Argh!*

      Figure out who else they snub then buddy up to them, and you as a group can invite the boss out too.

    9. N Twello*

      When people at work don’t like me I make a big effort to get them to like me: compliment a piece of clothing, find a shared interest, smile and make a joke they’ll find funny, say something nice about them in a meeting. Take them on one by one with a charm offensive.

      When people at work don’t like you, you’re vulnerable. They might misinterpret your actions, make a complaint about you, be less willing to help you in a crunch, etc etc etc. You don’t have to go out to lunch with them or even chat much; just get on their good side and then carry on with your job.

      Plus, examine your own prejudices. You mention their age. Are you perhaps acting negatively towards them because of ageism?

  37. Ms. Meow*

    My company is finally hiring in several different groups. (YAY!) I have been asked to sit in on candidate presentations and conduct a few short one-on-one interviews. I’m not an expert in the technical areas that these candidates are interviewing for, so my role is to assess communication and interpersonal behavior. The interview guide I have been given is… lacking. What are some questions that you like to ask in these types of interviews?

    1. Jules the Third*

      What is a team achievement that you’re particularly proud of? What was your role? Can you describe how team coordination was handled? Was that effective? Did you have any other ways you’d have liked to use?

      How would you communicate with your manager in situation x, y, z? With your team mates if you were a team lead in situation x, y, z? (situations might be: Working with client to develop requirements; actively teching; critiquing someone else’s teching)

  38. Amber Rose*

    Trying to schedule training is like herding cats! I’m so fed up. I get it, everyone’s busy and nobody wants to take 2 hours to listen to a tiresome video on TDG, or a whole day of first aid, but that kind of thing is also part of having a job. I’m getting stomach aches from feeling like I suck at my job for not getting everyone’s courses in before the expiry dates.

    I held a safety committee election and got some shit from one of the salesmen. “You don’t have to join if you’re too super busy” I said and he snapped “everyone’s busy.”

    So am I jerkwad but if we lose our safety certification then we’ll stop being busy very quickly and then we’ll all be unemployed, so deal with it. I’m asking for an hour a month, and I’m not even asking you. :[

    I’m so nervous about the move next month, because I’m on vacation that week so I won’t even know where I’ll be sitting or where my stuff will end up.

    I’m basically a ball of anxious tension. D:

    1. You don't know me*

      Sounds like maybe you need some backup from someone higher up. You can make a schedule and tell people over and over that they have to go but you can’t make them actually show up or do the online training. Until they realize there are consequences, and that they must do as you tell them, you are going to continue to be ignored.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Yeah, if people haven’t done Important Required Training at my job, the ed team starts passing the list of ‘not done yet’ to management a month before the due date, and management pushes it, along with a serious lecture on context. ‘TDG Training is required for continued employment’ gets people going pretty damn fast. As does ‘we’re going to clear all non-critical meetings on Thu afternoon, so that people can take that time for TDG training.’

      1. Amber Rose*

        Would be nice if management here cared that much, but they don’t.

        They will if it all starts going horribly wrong but then they have me to blame. /sigh

  39. Chai*

    Not looking for legal opinions here, just seeing if anyone has been in a similar situation and has advice.

    I’ve been in my current job for 10 months and have been miserable so am on the job hunt. My offer letter for my current job specified that the company would pay for me to take some job-related training courses, which I finished 6 months ago. Normally when the company pays for these things, the employee is on the hook to reimburse the company the full cost if they voluntarily leave less than a year after the company pays the invoice. Does having the clause in my offer letter get me off the hook for having to repay my company?

    1. ExcelJedi*

      IANAL, but I haven’t ever heard of that for training courses, just college/grad school tuition (and I’ve left jobs within a year of training on two occasions, though one was 3 years into total employment there). That’s just the cost of doing business some places.

      I would look in your employee handbook for that kind of clause, and maybe talk to a lawyer, but unless that clause was in the offer letter, I’m not sure they have a leg to stand on when asking you for reimbursement. (That may also depend on the state….again, ask a lawyer.)

    2. Argh!*

      Not a lawyer, but if you have that clause, you should count on having to repay. I can’t imagine them putting it in the letter if they don’t really mean it. And anyway, even though you don’t like the place, you’ll want a good reference from them after you leave. When you put in your notice would be the time to ask, I think. If you don’t think you can save it up, you might ask if they could take it out of your final paycheck or PTO balance.

    3. periwinkle*

      Also not a lawyer, but I side with the “you’re still on the hook” side. A previous employer had the same clause and it applied to anything paid by the company as a tuition benefit. It would not have applied if my manager had paid for a course through her departmental budget for employee development.

      Just going by your description, it sounds like the offer letter was to verify that they would pay for you to attend certain courses, which is a handy guarantee that you’d get helpful training very early in your tenure. That’s not the same as “we promise that you can take these courses shortly after you start working and we are exempting you from the tuition payback policy.” Unless the offer letter specifically and explicitly states that policy will not be enforced, the company is within its rights to enforce it.

      Sorry, it sucks to feel trapped. Try to think of it as a few more months to get experience using what you learned in the courses, as well as to figure out how to avoid miserable companies during your next job search.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      Also NAL, I think the clause reads like a promise of a loan (due to the reimbursement rule), not a gift. As in, the company is just reiterating that they will in fact pay for these classes if you take them, but the reimbursement rule would still apply. The ‘loan’ of company paid classes is only considered waived if you stay for a full year.

      Since you’re already at 10 months, you might be at the year mark before you have a finalized offer somewhere else, so hopefully it will be moot. But if you left next week, I’m guessing they would expect reimbursement.