open thread – October 26-27, 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.

{ 1,560 comments… read them below }

  1. Labradoodle Daddy*

    Advice desperately needed. I have a problem at my job, more specifically two problem trainees. They’re both women over 55, and have both recently been hired to join the receptionist team I’m on at a hedge fund in NYC. Both women are still in the trainee phase, and both are struggling. They don’t have some of the basic foundation skills to do the job: not familiar with basic functions of Outlook, slow to type and research, etc. They’re also having difficulty remembering their training, even really basic things like “we’re only doing work for/answering requests for the 30th floor today, because you are sitting on 30 and will only be on 30 this whole week, please only focus on 30.” I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve had to remind one of the trainees of that at least *twenty* times. The other has an MBA from Capella and doesn’t know how to color categorize an email in Outlook. My company (a cruddy staffing firm that provides reception for the hedge fund and is lobbying to have their contract renewed after generally sucking at business) barely screened them during interview processes, didn’t check references, and only interviewed both twice.

    I have a staff meeting today with my manager and the other anchors, and I’m not even really sure how to bring all of this up. Cruddy staffing company needs to up their screening game for candidates, and be aware that places like Capella University and other certificate based programs are usually scams that prey on people who don’t know any better (my manager is Hungarian and not familiar with this aspect of American education, understandably so). They need to make sure people actually have the skills to do this job and not be so desperate to put butts in seats. When we don’t screen employees we get lousy trainees that slow the flow of work, which leaves hedge fund employees annoyed that things are being messed up and longer serving staff members bitter that incompetence is being foisted on them and being made into their problem.

    That being said…. I want both of these women to succeed, because I know people aren’t champing at the bit to hire WOC over 55 (which is BS). But… I also don’t want to be stuck with an employee who is not capable of doing the work, because it’s unfair to both the long standing employees and the new employees. I feel like the staffing firm is ultimately to blame here because they don’t scan their applicants properly and then put them in working situations they can’t manage. I also realize that saying “don’t hire people from diploma mills without making sure they have the skills to do the job” is gonna come across as seriously condescending and potentially classist when said by a university educated white woman to a room that is predominantly WOC with associates degrees (not saying I’m inherently better or smarter, I’m not at all, I just realize that there’s a high potential for me to look like/be an asshole by saying this).

    So… what on earth do I do? I was thinking about suggesting that these women be transferred to other locations staffed by our firm that aren’t so fast paced and demanding.

    1. Psyche*

      It might be better to leave the “diploma mills” out of it and focus on screening for actual skills instead of degrees. A lot of degrees do not actually teach how to use outlook, how to follow instructions and how to work quickly. Maybe have a part of the interview be a quick skill test to see if they are able to handle the works and follow instructions. Are you able to tell the staffing agency that you want to do the final interview yourself? That might make it easier to avoid this in the future.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I’m stressed because I’ve been suggesting this to management since February and have laid out basically this exact scenario as to why it really needs to happen, but they just don’t listen to us because they need to get butts in seats.

        1. Beatrice*

          Is it possible that people with the skills you’re looking for are not job hunting, and maybe it might help to refocus on what a less-ideal but usable candidate looks like, and have a plan to develop the skills they need? What’s your pool of clients look like – do you have some less-demanding clients who could be a training ground for less-ideal candidates, and can you rotate those candidates up to the more demanding clients when they’ve got the hang of it a little better?

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            The people with the skills we’re looking for are getting better offers, we’re only getting people who are young/desperate/have been lied to. So that’s another part of the problem.

            1. Construction Safety*

              And prolly not willing to go thru more than 1 interview for a “receptionist team” job.

              1. Labradoodle Daddy*

                Welllll sometimes recruiting firms lie about the title, which is how qualified people get through.

                1. Labradoodle Daddy*

                  To be fair, “receptionist” only covers a small part of what our job duties are (we’ve been fighting for a title change but they’ve been resistant, mainly bc they’d have to pay us).

            2. IndoorCat*

              ^^^I actually think this is the crux of the problem, not part of it.

              If your company can’t attract / land qualified candidates, then raising the hiring standards, without raising compensation or benefits, is going to result in vacancies. That’s why management isn’t taking your (sensible) advice.

              I’m not sure if you’re in a position to make the job itself more appealing to the kinds of candidates you want to attract. If you aren’t, your best bet may be to switch gears and focus on implementing a longer, more intensive training process.

              So, for example, if people are having trouble remembering that today they are only doing requests for the 30th floor, maybe that can be addressed in training? Like, “Here’s a whiteboard that says what floor you’re working with today. If someone from a different floor makes a request, here’s how to politely decline the request and point them to a different resource.” ‘Here’s how’ might need to be a literal, two-sentence script in a notebook they have in front of them, or on the whiteboard, that they can read every time.

              People often don’t realize how much a person’s memory improved by simply practicing methods of remembering a lot of different kinds of information and learning in what contexts its relevant. That’s one reason you see a huge difference in performance among people who attended different school systems: k-12 schools with higher standards involve more subjects and more / different kinds of memorization, which leads to almost twice the memory capacity in an adult between the high-standard and low-standard schools– because in a person’s developing years, they get twice the memory practice.

              Which is to say, if you’re unable to attract enough candidates who went to four-year universities, you’re also likely to be unable to attract enough candidates who have the built-up learning skills (memory, problem-solving, reading comprehension) you see in four-year university students or those from similar backgrounds.

              The key isn’t to lower your own standards, though, but instead acknowledge where your employees are, and figure out the tools and training they need to succeed. While ideally they would already have the training, and not need tools like specific scripts and whiteboards as memory aids, you can’t get to that ideal from here. So, what’s the Plan B look like?

              For example, Outlook. Are there step-by-step guides you can make for common Outlook tasks? Can you set aside a few days for Outlook training, and make sure they get to practice the specific pattern of tasks enough times that they can do it confidently and quickly (or at least a bit faster?) Is there a way you could encourage them to practice at home– or even provide Chromebooks or similar so they can practice outside of work?

              Or, maybe Plan B looks like recommending these candidates are transferred, and then figuring out how to make it work with the staff you have who are currently succeeding. Maybe understaffed is slightly better than “fully staffed, but two employees are not getting enough work done.”

              I’m not sure which is going to work better in your situation. It’s definitely a tough one :(

              1. ten-four*

                This is excellent advice. OP can’t fix hiring, but they might be able to fix training/ongoing support. With two current people who need it it’s a perfect time to implement a few of these extremely practical ideas; I particularly love the advice to provide scripts for declining/redirecting requests from people outside of their scope.

              2. AnnaBananna*

                In a perfect world, yes, uptraining the new hires would be the thing to do. But I doubt ‘Daddy has that kind of time/budget to devote just to extended training, without letting her own work waylaid. I think the only other option is extended job shadowing, which is a comprimise between both extreme circumstances. Either that or build a budget for a Lynda account (and the like) so the ladies can teach themselves. Some MOOCs are really quite effective!

          2. Nacho*

            It sounds like all she needs is somebody reasonably technologically competent. Somebody with a recent LA degree should either know how to use Outlook and do basic research, or be able to learn it quickly.

      2. Lehigh*

        Agreed, where she got her degree is a red herring. She doesn’t need an MBA of any kind for this job, let alone one from a certain caliber of institution–she just needs certain skills which your agency should be able to run tests during interviews (which, obviously, they’re not doing currently.)

        1. Labradoodle Daddy*

          Yeah, my issue isn’t whether or not someone has a degree, it’s whether or not they have the proper skills (and right now my company is using the degree as an indicator of skills rather than actually testing to make sure they have those skills).

            1. Labradoodle Daddy*

              I know, it’s more my own disbelief that someone with that much education doesn’t know a suuuuuuper basic function of readily available computer software. To my mind that’s like an English major not knowing who Hemingway is.

              1. curly sue*

                I know Outlook is very common, but I’m not surprised that people don’t know how to use it.

                I am over-educated and reasonably computer literate – been using a PC since 1984 and email software of varying stripes since 1992 – and the only reason I know anything about Outlook is because I was forced to use it once at a co-op job I had while in grad school. I know the ins and outs of Pegasus Mail, Thunderbird, Gmail and even remember some of how to use Lotus Notes, but other than that one year-long gig, Outlook was simply never something I had to know anything about.

                (Granted I know enough to know the likely places to look in an email program to find tools like colour-coding and flagging, but that’s also not necessarily a common skill.)

                1. AliceBD*

                  You don’t need to know how to do it. You need to know how to google how to do it and then remember it. That is how I’ve gotten a reputation of being good at computers in multiple offices — not any actual knowledge of computing. Especially for Microsoft products because every question you have for Office is easily findable online.

                2. Labradoodle Daddy*

                  Alice- yeah, that’s the other side of my issue: no initiative to research it, or intuition to figure it out.

              2. Cheryl Blossom*

                Not really– there’s no degree that will teach you how to use Outlook. That’s something you pick up by being in offices.

              3. Clisby Williams*

                Nah, I have a computer science degree and was a programmer for 27 years, and have no idea how to color-categorize emails in Outlook. There was never a need for me to know that.

                I do, on the other hand, know how to google “how to color categorize emails in Outlook” and follow the directions, in case circumstances ever arose where it would be useful for me to know how.

              4. WellRed*

                Is Outlook an email program? At any rate, never used it. I do however, know who Hemingway is
                ; )

              5. RobotWithHumanHair*

                Honestly, that would bother me too. I’ve essentially been exposed to computers since I was 5 (back in 1984 with my good ol’ Commodore 64) and I’d actually never used Outlook until I started my current job about a year and a half ago. Picked it right up and didn’t have any issues with functionality. Any questions I did have (like where I set the ‘out of office’ message, etc.), I just Googled it. When I do that to solve problems, it astounds some of my colleagues.

                I don’t know if it’s a tech savvy thing or a generational thing, but there’s definitely a technology gap.

                1. Ann O.*

                  I have been so successful in high-level technical editing work that involves coding because I’m willing to Google for information. I’m constantly astounded by how few people seem willing to do that. I’m not even great at Googling.

                  That said, while I do know how to color code Outlook emails, I’ve never found it a useful way to organize them.

                2. Susan Ryan*

                  Not generational. I’m 70 and know how to Google anything. If it is a process I also know how to Youtube to snake drains.

              6. Seeking Second Childhood*

                If they’ve never had reason to categorize emails, it’s not obvious.
                Along with the scripts printout suggested by someone else, how about a larger reference sheet for basic tasks. It would include defining the categories and when to apply, and whatever else is being confused. Maybe one can be set up for each desk you cover, with a way for staff to add notes on new situations that come up at that station. (“If the Fire Marshall visits, give her the wifi password to use while she waits, and call BigBoss. If BigBoss isn’t available immediately, call AdminWhoKnowsAll.”)

              7. pcake*

                I work on my computer for a living, and I’ve done so since 1996. I use Open Office, notepad, Photoshop, Notepad ++ and lots of other programs; I make my own spreadsheets, PDFs, sound files, videos, some graphics, do some minor programming, and can work with a variety of CMSes including WordPress, creating pages using html. That being said, I’ve never used or had to use Outlook.

      3. MsChanandlerBong*

        I agree with you wholeheartedly. We have people with grad degrees from Harvard who can’t follow simple instructions, and we have people with high-school diplomas who are smart and come up with innovative solutions to problems. Now that I do a lot of hiring, I put very little stock in degrees, at least in terms of assessing a candidate’s knowledge and skills.

      4. Yorick*

        I have a PhD from a top institution and I don’t know how to color code in Outlook. I imagine I could do it again after someone showed me how, though

        1. NACSACJACK*

          Yep. I’ve been in IT for 25 years and I’ve been shown how to do it, but I never have. I currently have no reason to do it. I could start by tagging the invidual projects I”m working on, but the colors would have to repeat due to limited palette. If I search for all yellow tagged emails, I”d have to remember “was that for 2017, 2019 or 221”? I just file everything

          1. AnonReader*

            You can also just create a category that is white so it doesn’t assign a color but assigns the title you want like “2017” and use that to sort. I find categories super helpful with contacts. I use limited color coding with emails (review, follow up, to do) and the post-its function.

    2. MuseumChick*

      I understand you want to do everything you can to have these women succeed. But the bottom line is, it sounds like they are just not a match for what you need this position. You are evaluating them on their work, not their age or other factors.

      I would just lay you everything you say here in your meeting and suggest you give each of these women one file warning “We are not seeing the improvements or the work quality we need for this position. If we don’t see that soon it will effect your employment here.” The things you are asking of these women sound completely reasonable. You can have someone who is bad at their job in a position simply because you feel for them. I completely understand the impulse.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        That’s why I’m hoping that someone in management takes the suggestion that they be moved to another (less fast paced) site to heart.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I think this is the line I would take. The candidates must have X, Y and Z skills BEFORE they can reliably be placed in such a position at this firm. It doesn’t matter what their age or degree is.

        And I’ve worked with many people over 50 who are very good at those skills and many under 30 who are not, so it’s not an age thing.

        1. Clisby Williams*

          I would almost think older people would know more about Outlook than younger ones. I don’t think either my 22-year-old or my 16-year-old has ever used Outlook – not even for its most basic read a message/reply to a message functions. Google apps is so prevalent in schools/universities now – that’s what I’d expect younger people to know.

    3. canamera*

      Don’t blame the screening firm. They barely talk to candidates (if at all) before sending them to clients. It’s your company’s job to interview these people to see if they are a good fit. If they can’t do the job, that’s your hiring mistake. So you need to train (or re-train them) with the needed skills.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I work for the screening firm, they’re the one’s doing the interviews. Staffing firm interviews, hires & staffs for hedge fund (sorry if I wasn’t clear on that!)

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It is a staffing agency’s job to send qualified candidates to their clients. That is what their reputation is based on.

        Labradoodle – to avoid this in the future, you can ask about testing that they do. When I worked for an agency, we had candidates do various software assessments and would provide scores to our clients if requested.

        1. Labradoodle Daddy*

          I know for a fact they don’t do any kind of testing, and I’m pretty confident they don’t check references either.

        2. Suggestion*

          The assessments could be incorrect, though.

          I applied to work at a staffing firm in 2011. They had me come in and take a typing test, an Excel test, and a Word test…using Office 2000, a program so old I would have only used it in passing in high school.

          1. LilySparrow*

            When I went thru staffing firms, not only were the assessments based on outdated software, they would mark a response as incorrect if you didn’t use one certain way of accomplishing the task. So if you’d never used the software in real life, but memorized a particularly kludgy training manual for that particular version, you’d get high marks.

            If you used office software all the time and knew the shortcuts and organizing principles to accomplish the task in any version, you’d be marked down.

            1. AdminX2*

              I’ve taken those SO MANY TIMES. I finally watched the youtube tutorials, took notes on the exact step by step and used that. There are many easy tests and tasks to show actual working knowledge of office suite software, those old auto tests are not one of them.

    4. Quill*

      I don’t think you’d be stepping on any toes if you suggested more intensive, slower paced training – not just for these, but for all incoming trainees. Most of my contract jobs have had 2 weeks to a month of training and then some shadowing of other workers.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        The other trainees are picking up just fine. It’s just these two (and yeah, it’s an unfortunate thing that the young people are picking up and working faster than the older… but that’s what our job requires).

        1. kittymommy*

          Could it be that maybe their outliers in your firm’s hiring practices? It does sound like you are in the perfect position to maybe bring up better screening practices to your firm. As far as these actual employees, this is a tough one. On one hand I’m like you, I would really want to do everything I could to avoid letting them go, but it also sounds like they may just not be capable of the job. Additionally, if they continue to do poorly you all may lose the contract anyways, and then more jobs might be in jeopardy (is that a possibility?).

          Uggh, you have my utmost sympathy in this!

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            Candidates from our firm are all over the place. Some are great, some are awful. It’s always luck of the draw as the company does no kind of screening prior to hiring.

        2. Jewel*

          It’s true in general that young people are quicker to learn though. I once taught a class that was a mix of teenagers and adults and the difference in how quickly they got things was staggering, even comparing teenagers to 30-year-olds.

    5. College Career Counselor*

      I think you are correct in suggesting a transfer to a less-demanding location in these instances. The larger issue, as you note, is the screening process (or lack thereof) and the churn that the lack of screening creates. Does your company use a skills-based screening process? Would TPTB implement one? If you don’t, do you offer skills-based training in outlook, word, excel, etc. that might be of use to the people you’re onboarding? If you offer those, I bet the costs could be incorporated into the service fees paid by the hedge fund clients, and they wouldn’t even blink.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        Nope, they just do one or two in person interviews to make sure you have a pulse and can speak English. I’ve been suggesting screening since February and no one has listened.

        1. nonymous*

          Even if they don’t implement a skills test, can the announcement be revised to ask for examples of using Outlook and any other tools in the resume/cover letter?

          If the company is pretty fast paced the first tier of candidates are going to be the people who have some experience in an admin work of this nature, regardless of educational background. It’s up to you whether you are willing to train up people who have worked with other software (e.g. like at an insurance company or car dealership or vet clinic) or demand that they have exposure to the exact software you use. Some applicants will be able to pick up the skills on the job, but as you’ve discovered, it’s hit-and-miss and not tied to a formal degree program.

          There’s also the “Microsoft Office Specialist” certification route. Just ask that qualified applicants posses certification for Outlook or be able to pass the exam within X months of hire.

        2. Someone Else*

          It sounds like you’ve already been suggesting very reasonable and logical solutions, but are being ignored. Which means unfortunately, your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

    6. JokeyJules*

      present the facts, “Annie and Alice are having a lot of difficulty keeping up with the level of work we need from them at this office. They are not able to keep up the pace needed with tasks X, Y, and Z. I’ve tried troubleshooting and checking in with them, but it only slows us down further. I don’t think they have the skillset and skill level necessary for this particular office. What are our options here before this snowballs into an even bigger issue?”

      1. Quackeen*

        I agree with this approach and suggest that you add a sentence about the business risks if the hedge fund continues to feel frustrated at the caliber of staff you are sending them. There’s the issue with Annie and Alice, and there’s the larger issue that poses some risks to the relationship with the hedge fund (and possibly/probably other clients).

        1. JokeyJules*

          now that i reread what i said and your response, maybe even change the “before it snowballs into an even bigger issue” say “because I can see the hedge fund firm wanting to go in a different direction over this”.

    7. Freelance Accountant*

      How responsible are you for the two trainees? Do you actually have authority to do something about this, or are you just stuck with the blowback from their incompetence?

      If you have some authority over the trainees then some blunt performance feedback is in order: I need you to (not deal with other floors when you are not scheduled on that floor / make notes about how to do tasks x/y/z in Outlook and refer to those notes when you have a question), etc.

      If you don’t have any authority, then really all you can do is let their supervisor know that they are struggling, and make suggestions (need training in Outlook, need to make notes on how to handle tasks for different floors, etc.), and perhaps give examples of how the trainees’ incompetence is impacting your own performance.

      Sounds very frustrating, good luck!

    8. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      So wait: making sure I have this right. You work for a contractor that does administrative work. Your client is the hedge fund. You use a staffing firm to hire admins and receptionists.

      Do I have that right, or are you employed directly at the hedge fund?

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        Nope, I’m employed by the staffing firm (who are the ones who conduct the interviews to staff the hedge fund). Does that clarify?

        1. Labradoodle Daddy*

          The hedge fund has a contract with the staffing firm, staffing firm hires & places at hedge fund.

        2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          It does – so basically it’s your own company that is hiring people who can’t do the work.

          I think it’s pretty easy. You are going to lose the client if it keeps going like this, then nobody’s going to have a job.

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            I agree with you, but I’m not even sure I can say that *that* bluntly in the meeting (I really, really wish I could).

            1. OlympiasEpiriot*

              Why not? Are they going to fire you? I mean, it reads like this is the situation and that you are the manager for this account. You have the boots-on-the-ground perspective.

              1. Labradoodle Daddy*

                I’m not the manager for this account, I’m a trainer and one of the members of the reception team.

                And yes, they could absolutely fire me.

            2. animaniactoo*

              I’m pretty sure you can.

              “As you know, I’ve been pressing this issue for awhile now. Our contract is up for renewal soon, and my sense is that they are pretty unhappy with our last few placements. If we don’t do something to correct our hiring practices quickly, I am afraid that we are going to lose this client. I am sorry to be so dire, but I think we need to be realistic and recognize that we’re in jeopardy and that even if we manage to get them to sign a renewal, that doesn’t mean they will sign again next year or even break the contract if we don’t shape up soon. As you know, client makes up X portion of our business and losing this contract would be a significant hit for us.

              I have a couple of suggestions that I think would be easy to put into place to turn it around. Should I outline those now or put them forth as a formal proposal in writing?”

              1. animaniactoo*

                Also – advise your two ladies to hit or youtube videos for training on Outlook ASAP. Let them know it’s imperative that they get their skills up to date on this because it’s basic skills for the kind of work and even if they end up at another slower location, they’re going to be expected to have this down. So “here are some places where you can get that info and work on it on your own time and get up to speed quickly”.

            3. [insert witty username here]*

              Could you at least bring up concerns about the kind of negative reputation these unskilled, untrained, unscreened workers (aka your 2 problem trainees, in this case) could be creating for ALL your clients?

    9. Artemesia*

      The diploma mill is not the problem with this level of skill required, but it is probably worth making the point to your bosses that diploma mill degrees are not evidence of competence. i.e. don’t rule people out for this type degree, but don’t let it substitute for screening.

      And if people are not up to the job with reasonable training then letting them go needs to happen. So push for better skill screening; there must be tests you can use to weed out the kind of incompetence you are seeing. And if using software is important that is easy to test during screening.

      Focus your feedback on the need to test for skills and aptitudes going in and not letting credentials substitute for that.

    10. ThankYouRoman*

      It’s low paying reception work, why anyone needs a diploma from anywhere is bizarre. I would leave education out of this.

      You shouldn’t be hiring anyone based off only education or only their resumes. That’s what interviewing and preliminary testing is for. You never ever know what someone can do until they’re hired and training. I’ve seen people with impressive schooling fail at general clerical and basic computers.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        They don’t need a diploma, but they DO need the basic skills to do this job (and frankly, they need a higher quality of candidate to successfully do this job and stay with the hedge fund, but that would mean paying the staff proper salaries and giving them benefits and bonuses, and no way in HELL would crappy staffing firm ever let that happen!).

        1. animaniactoo*

          In which case – the hedge fund is getting what they’ve paid for. They’ve outsourced staffing basic positions to a crappy staffing agency, probably because it came in with the most “reasonable” bid for taking that off their hands.

          Keep that in mind as you push for change.

        2. Auntie Social*

          What about sending them to a one day course on Outlook? Those classes send you back full of confidence in your skills and your self. Then if they still can’t do what the job requires, you put them someplace slower paced?? Or at that point you can cut them loose, saying “we’d hoped that your skills would increase. . . .”

    11. irene adler*

      In regards to not remembering their training:
      Are they writing down their instructions? Do they have a reference for using Outlook?
      As a woman over 50, I’m finding my memory is not like it was. So- I use memory aids! Post-its, note pads, etc. I jot down everything.

      Repetition and consistency are both helpful.

      However, if it is an issue of lacking basic skills, then you may have to cut bait here.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        One (who I have been training for several weeks) writes notes in a notebook, but my suspicion is they aren’t very well organized.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ah… then I double down on the idea of written reference materials that YOU write. Can you get an hour or so at a pop to generate something for their desk (s)? That could be a big help.

    12. Not So Super-visor*

      I understand your frustration. We use a lot of temps for temp-to-hire positions, and we see a lot of churn because we’re sent temps who just don’t have the skill sets to do the job (ie – can’t type, don’t know how to use basic Microsoft applications). It’s frustrating, and it makes you feel like the temp agency (or staffing agency in your case) just don’t care — they’re getting paid as long as they provide you with a body to fill the seat. Just remember, bad hires happen even when you are directly responsible for the hiring process. People lie or exaggerate on their resumes. People get references to lie on their behalf. It may not have been intentional on the staffing agency’s end.
      I think that what you need to do is make a list of the skills that you would expect the person to have. Evaluate the trainees to see if they have the skills that they need to do the job. If they don’t, are these skills that you are able to train them in? If they are, how long would you expect the trainee to need before they are proficient? What is your plan if they don’t meet that time frame? If the skills are not trainable or their not meeting the expectations for training, you may have to just come to terms that you will have to let them go. That sucks, and I’ve had to do it before, so I sympathize. Someone once told me that if letting people go becomes easy for you, then you’re in the wrong position.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        For what it’s worth, I know for a fact that the staffing agency doesn’t do any kind of skills test for this job (and I’m pretty confident they don’t check references). So that’s a big part of the problem.

    13. triplehiccup*

      Is there anyone else at your firm who has managed to make a positive change? If so, I would pick their brain for strategies.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        Nope, because staffing firm is useless and incompetent and wouldn’t know a good suggestion if it punched them in the face.

    14. coffeeee*

      For the record, Cappella is not a diploma mill. I know a Director of a very large company who received an MBA from Capella (after getting a JD at a state school). He was very happy with his experience and learned alot.

      The skillset for the MBA does not include utilizing office programs. While one would assume that someone with an MBA would be adpt to Outlook – it shouldn’t be assumed. I never used Outlook for my MBA (at a different university) – I know how to use the program, but there’s no correlation.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        It is kind of true. I’ve worked with recent young college graduates who did not have good MS Office skills. They could type… but one could not figure out how to make hanging indents or page breaks correctly and as such it took them way too long to format documents. Same with Outlook, I guess they don’t use it at college and many colleges switched to Google docs/everything.

      2. Autumnheart*

        But Capella is a for-profit school that only offers online classes, and isn’t a particularly well-regarded insitution of higher learning. It’s slightly more credible than University of Phoenix, but that’s not saying very much.

        1. Ilikeyoualatte*

          For the record, it’s becoming widely acknowledged that online schools are just as tough ( or tougher for people with low self motivation) as brick and motor. Many state universities even offer full degrees online now. Luckily public perception is starting to change.

          1. Ri13*

            The problem isn’t how tough online schools, it’s that for-profit diploma mills like University of Phoenix have exceedingly low standards and will take anyone, so a degree from them indicates little.

    15. Labradoodle Daddy*

      I’m just a lowly receptionist, can I even make this point to my manager without getting, yknow, fired?

      “You need to start screening candidates because HedgeFund employees are noticing the duds you’ve put in to fill seats, they’re not happy and that will influence whether or not the contract gets renewed. Hedgefund employees don’t care if they see us eat or if we say “hi” instead of “hello,” what they want is a skilled and consistent admin team, which CrappyStaffingFirm is getting in its own way of being able to provide between offering low salary, awful benefits, and a sub-par insurance program. CrappyStaffingFirm WILL lose this contract if they don’t start addressing these problems, even if they’re uncomfortable.”

      1. Not Gary, Gareth*

        First of all: Love the screen name.

        And honestly, I think you could probably make a version of that point in a way that’s respectful and unlikely to result in firing, at least by any manager that’s within a standard deviation of reasonable. Think of it this way: As a receptionist, you’re on the front lines of this problem. You’re seeing results that those farther up the ‘food chain’ aren’t able to witness. Your point of view is valuable, and your input should at the very least be considered and taken seriously.

        I’ve been in a similar position to you – bottom of the org chart, and thus up-close and personal with the results of management’s missteps. In my case there was an awful lot of toxicity and dysfunction, combined with inexperience on my part in dealing with situations like that. Ultimately I did manage to push through a few much-needed changes, although it cost me all the political capital I had. Here are some lessons I learned from that (though your mileage may vary):

        1. Pose it as a solution, not a problem. For example, if you’re going to make the pitch that your company need to start screening candidates, come prepared with some options for doing so. There are lots of assessments candidates can take online, at home, that would at least serve as a wide barometer for someone’s knowledge of Outlook, Excel, Word, their typing speed, etc etc. One of my hardest-earned lessons at ToxicJob was that the people in charge will not put the time and effort into figuring out how to fix the problem. They should – it’s kind of their job – but they won’t. If you come to them and say “I’d like to improve the way we do business by XYZ,” and all they have to do is ask how much it’ll cost and say yes or no, you’re much more likely to see results.

        2. Pick your battles. I really wish I’d learned this one sooner. Assume you’re only going to be able to address one issue at a time, or possibly at all. Decide what’s most important to you and stick with that until it’s run its course, one way or another. In your case it might be pushing for screening, even if it means the pay and benefits and insurance are all going to stay sub-par.

        3. Stay conscious of what’s within your control, and what’s not. This is the hardest one. I spent an awful lot of time and energy trying to change the way certain members of management thought and operated, and it was all wasted effort. You can’t control what others do; only how you react to it. That might mean dialing back on your efforts to pick up the slack for these bad hires. It might mean continuing to remind TPTB that screening would solve some of their problems with minimal time and effort, and even offering to look into how to implement it. It might even mean deciding whether or not it’s worthwhile for you to stay in that job if nothing changes.

        I hope that helps. I know how tough and demoralizing it can be to see problems like this in your company that are so easily fixable, and I hope you get some good results if you decide to bring it up.

    16. Yorick*

      We should try to separate “deserving to have a good job” from “not being right for this job,” both when as the manager/recruiter and the job seeker/employee.

    17. Trainin*

      I would be as patient as possible with the women. Some people just take longer to learn. If they repeatedly forget something, after the second or third reminder, ask them to get out a sticky note or otherwise create a physical reminder for themselves. As far as the computer skills go, if they generally seem to remember something after seeing it a few times, there’s hope. If they totally blank out and don’t seem to retain information at all, then I’d consider that a more serious problem. I’m currently training a young person whose first language is not English. Due to the language barrier and limited computer skills, she often doesn’t know where to find things on the screen (like the “send” button), and I often have to point because she may not understand the word “send” in English. It’s slow and frustrating but not impossible, because she’s bright and conscientious and retains information well. Good luck to you!

    18. Nacho*

      I totally get wanting to go to bat for these women, because you’re right that there aren’t a lot of opportunities for anyone of their age without prior experience. But you’re not a charity, and your job isn’t to give work to people who can’t find it on their own. In the short term, you’re wasting money on people who can’t do the job they were hired for, and in the long term I can’t even imagine how the more competent members of your support staff must feel about the situation, and you’re probably going to lose some of them to that bitterness you mentioned. And then they’ll get replaced by more incompetent new hires in an endless cycle.

    19. anonagain*

      In the short term, are there training resources or job aids you can share? If there’s a calendar, maybe write down what floor you’re supporting that day. (I also like the suggestion to explicitly say “Do not answer questions for other floors.” Focus on floor 30 may leave room for someone to think they are showing initiative by focusing on 30, but still helping other floors occasionally.)

      It sounds like they are not equipped to do this job at this time, but that your management isn’t overly interested in fixing the problem. Giving them a training manual, sending them to a course, etc. isn’t going to solve either situation but it might make things a bit easier on you as far as cleaning up mistakes and repeating instructions.

    20. Chaordic One*

      I’ve found that a lot of these skills are easily learned and it is surprising to me that your trainees are having such problems. That said, you might consider advertising to fill positions at local community colleges that teach courses in specific software applications. Someone who has taken a course in Microsoft Office should definitely be able to fill the requirements you listed.

    21. Tired*

      Age is irrelevant. As is race. I’m 63 and know how to color code in Outlook, among other things. It’s OK to struggle during training, as long as things come together before the training period is over.

      Make your expectations crystal clear, with an end date for overall assessment of their suitability for the job that the candidates are aware of. Let them know if they cannot do certain things by that date they will be let go. Perhaps they will do you a favor and leave on their own accord. Also make sure that your expectations are fair. If you have a training department, have them recommend some pertinent tutorials for them to complete. Or recommend some yourself. Or have the staffing agency address this.

      I’m black and my heart goes out to these ladies, but in no case do you have to accept workers who cannot do the job quickly enough to meet your needs. You are coming from a position of privilege, and I’m glad that you are aware of this. I agree that the staffing firm is the root problem here, and I would no longer give it my business. I hope you can get at least one of the placements to work out, or it will not be a good look.

      Good luck to you.

      1. Tired*

        I see that you are the staffing agency, sorry. Fire yourself, LOL. Seriously, I know you didn’t select them, but I would bend over backwards to make it work since it’s not their fault they were hired, unless they misrepresented their credentials.

    22. bopper*

      You are noticing these issues…is the hedge firm? Like do they notice that work is being done for the 29th floor? Are they experiencing the delays? Do they need their outlook color coded?

    23. BluntBunny*

      For the were only doing work for the 30th floor this week could an automatic message say this, that way staff contacting reception are aware. For remembering how to do things in outlook most of the things for categorising and responding to emails are just by right clicking them, maybe putting a post it note on top of there pc saying this. Also maybe a printout of screenshots of the things they have to do as most of it will be remembering the icons. Also for colour coding it might be useful/ easier for you to setup rules in outlook for emails from this sender will automatically go in this folder.

  2. FaintlyMacabre*

    Had a phone interview this week. I was preparing for the call a little beforehand, glancing through my notes, skimming my cover letter- and I see a hideous typo in the cover letter. Eeeeeeerrrrrggggghhhh.

    I also kinda flubbed the interview. I was a little off before the call and finding the typo didn’t help. It was all downhill from there. I realize phone interviews make sense, but they are not my fave.

    1. JokeyJules*

      very curious, what was the typo?

      All you can do is try to learn from it, and practice keeping your cool. you’ll get ’em next time!

        1. JokeyJules*

          that’s not even that bad! IMO, a lesser offense than the people who write “defiantly” instead of “Definitely”

        2. CC*

          That’s really minor! Remember, the people interviewing are spending maybe 5-10 seconds reading your cover letter–they probably didn’t catch it!

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Honestly, the only resume I’ve weeded out for a typo was the one whose previous position was “poofreader”…

          It just inherently implied a problem with the stated skillset.

          Supervising a bunch of non-proofreaders, I probably wouldn’t bat an eye.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      This isn’t helpful now, but: remember that they liked your application (typo and all!) enough to invite you to a first interview. Humans make mistakes, and most other humans are respectful of that.

      1. Indefinite Contract Attorney*

        +1! They saw the typo and still brought you in–that counts for something!
        I’ve started interviewing other people lately and I certainly have been giving people the benefit of “Interviewing is hard and weird so you don’t have to be perfect.”

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      I’m so thrilled by cover letters being included at all, I’ll look over clerical errors. So unless it was truly an error that made the letter seem nonsensical, it probably wouldn’t even register!

    4. MissGirl*

      I had a typo on the first line of my resume for a job as an assistant editor! (“A editor” versus “an editor”). I deleted a word right before submitting. I still got an interview and handed them an updated resume when I walked in, never mentioning the typo. Got the job, go figure.

      Your human and you make mistakes. Don’t let it rattle you.

      1. Adele*

        Ha! Love your editing error in your last sentence, especially since it is of the “Eats Shoots and Leaves” variety. My dog and I make lots of mistakes, so it is understandable that your human and you do too. (I’m not implying you are a dog or other non-human.)

  3. Indefinite Contract Attorney*

    Commented last week, update and a little more information for this week.

    I am a temp at a company and have been for a solid 3/4 of a year. I get no benefits and am underpaid by a significant amount. Back in August I broached the topic of going full-time with them and was told to wait another month or so. Nothing changed so I kept applying to other jobs. One got back to me and I have now had 2 interviews with them. They scheduled a third for next Thursday in person with the hiring manager. I don’t know how much more time their process is going to take.

    This week my job gave me an offer letter to bring me on full-time. For Reasons, I won’t be able to sign the offer letter until next Friday and would “start” on the following Monday. Current Job knows that I’ve had pings/opportunities come across my desk over the last few months but are not aware that I am in talks with other companies.

    I know I am not the only candidate with Other Job, but it is an amazing opportunity at a company that so far seems to be non-toxic and modern and flexible and functioning in 2018…versus the current company which very much does not fit those criteria. Plus, even though I’ve been here for so long, I am starting with 0 vacation days, not eligible for the 401k until next April, and won’t get healthcare until December. Current Job also gave me exactly the salary I asked for without negotiating with me. Other Job could come through with an offer at any point, and we haven’t touched on salary yet either. But unless I see some glaring red flags on Thursday, I really would rather work there than here.

    It sort of feels like I’m stuck though. I can either not take the job here and hope the other job comes through–potentially ending my contract here because I have made clear that I need to be full time soon–or take this job and sadly wave goodbye to this amazing opportunity as it blows past me outside my very sad, very beige office.

    1. ACDC*

      Some people might disagree with this, but why can’t you accept the offer from current job and then quit if the other offer comes along? Or accept offer at current job and continue job searching?

      1. HBucket*

        I would do what ACDC suggests. Your employer won’t be thrilled but they will get over it. Just know that bridge will be burned

      2. Zennish*

        Personally, I also don’t think there is anything wrong with making the best decision you can at the moment, and if things change tomorrow, then things changed.

      3. Ender Wiggin*

        Exactly. I don’t even see why this is a question! They’ve been stringing you on for months and treating you badly; why are you so keen to treat them better than they treated you?

    2. Penny pen pen*

      Is there a reason why you can’t take the offer from current job and if you do receive an offer from the other company accept that and give notice from current job?

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      Can you take the Current Job and resign if something else comes through – whether it’s Other Job or Something Else Later? Based on what you share, I wouldn’t bend over backwards to be loyal to Current Job. Take it but move forward. If something “falls in your lap” later, so be it.

      Good luck!

    4. Anon From Here*

      Have you told the preferred Other Job that you have an offer in hand from non-preferred job? That could expedite communication or decisionmaking from Other Job.

    5. CatCat*

      I’d contact Other Job and let them know about the offer and that you have until next Friday to give a decision. If you’re a really strong candidate, they may be able to move up their time frame and move the interview scheduled for next Thursday to an earlier date.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d try to accelerate the other interview if possible, but also would not hesitate to accept job 1 and then give notice two weeks later BECAUSE you have worked there so long — it is not going to be as if you literally worked there a week and then left. You tell them that because the offer was so slow in coming you were looking and this fell in your lap and is a much better offer that you can’t refuse. Hope you get the new offer and it is great.

    6. Freelance Accountant*

      If I were in your shoes, I’d sign the offer letter and start on Monday, but keep pursuing the other opportunity. If the better opportunity comes through, then jump ship and don’t look back! Your current job was perfectly happy to underpay you and keep you on a contract for 9 months, you don’t owe them eternal loyalty just because they finally started to treat you well.

      1. President Porpoise*

        “Well” is overstating it – no PTO to start, other lacking benefits, etc. They wouldn’t bat an eye over replacing you, and you should owe them the exact same loyalty. Accept and see if the other job comes through. Best of luck.

    7. M. Albertine*

      If I understand your timeline correctly, you could ask at the end of your interview on Thursday what their timeline is on making a decision. There’s nothing wrong with letting *them* know you have a competing offer but you are very interested in their company. That will give you more information than you’re working with now.

    8. Indefinite Contract Attorney*

      Thanks for all the input y’all! Given the hiring manager’s ridonkulous schedule (it took 3 weeks to schedule the second interview and has taken 2 to get this one on the books) I doubt I’ll be able to accelerate the interview, but I can definitely ask about timing and possibly salary at the end of the next interview. I’ll go ahead and plan to accept this offer unless things change. Who knows, I might not get an offer with Other Job at all, or it might take another month or more anyway. Or it could be less than what Current Job is willing to pay, which could be a non-starter if it is a significant amount less.
      I was worried that I would potentially damage relationships (I really like my supervisor) but I think if I lay it out to her she will understand that I went this route because I felt like I had to, given that Current Job was moving so slowly and it was not certain they would move at all.

      1. Land Mermaid*

        Keep in mind that a lower salary plus benefits can easily outweigh a higher salary with none, so keep that in mind if Other Job does offer you a lower salary.

        Is it at all possible to negotiate with Current Job about salary? You could try countering with a higher salary number and say that you didn’t anticipate not receiving benefits with a full time offer (if that’s true) and so need to adjust the salary based on that. That could also buy you more time since you want to avoid burning bridges with your current supervisor.

        1. Indefinite Contract Attorney*

          So I will *eventually* get access to benefits. Medical starts the month following the start date, 401k next April, and I begin accruing leave from the start date. I am unclear about whether the schedule allows for some flexing, so that is also something I would want to discuss. But I miss out on everything that I would have accrued since I have been a temp, which is some 6 or so days of vacation and 6 or so days of sick leave.

          I would absolutely entertain a somewhat lower salary if there are certain benefits–for example, flex scheduling, a more generous leave policy, working from different locations than the main office, etc.

      2. pcake*

        Sometimes it can take well over a month before a company makes an offer. Years ago, my husband had accepted another job and completed the probationary period before he got an offer from a job he had interviewed with before he even interviewed with the job he accepted. And a family member interviewed for a job with a nearby city and didn’t hear back for over six months, so I’d suggest taking the offer you have – there’s no way to know if or when the untoxic company might make an offer.

        Good luck!

    9. Gaia*

      So normally I would not suggest this but here’s my recommendation:

      take the job in hand now and, if the other job pans out, take it and leave your current job. They have not been good to you. They kept you as a temp for 9 months with no benefits. That is ridiculous for for jobs on the lower end of the skill/pay/opportunity spectrum. Especially in this market, they have to know this is a risk.

      You can try to expedite things with the Other Job but they may not be able to do so.

  4. Let's Bagel*

    I have one of those “Is this normal?” questions and I would be so grateful for any advice!

    For awhile now, I’ve been feeling like I’m ready to move up to the next level at my job. I expressed this to my direct boss and he wholeheartedly agreed with me that he thinks I’m ready too. We discussed what that would mean for me (managing a new client completely on my own) and I said I was very enthusiastic about doing that. Great, he said he’d take it to his boss for approval.

    His boss (who I used to report to before he was promoted himself, so he knows me and my work quite well) informed me that they are going to give me this new client. Great! Except…not the title/salary bump that I had expressed wanting to come with it. When I brought it up at the end of our conversation, I was given a very wishy washy answer about how first I need to “prove myself” and manage the client well (for at least six months), and at that point they can “make a case” for my promotion.

    The thing is, I’ve already done this type of work in the past, at my old job (I came to my current company about 2.5 years ago). I managed my own clients there. At my current job I took on more of a supporting role, because the revenue size of the clients I support here are much larger. But this new client I’m managing brings in about the same revenue as clients I managed solo at my previous job. Both my boss and boss’ boss know about this prior experience.

    It’s been about 3 months so far, and I’m finding myself more and more demoralized as time goes on. It’s been a massive amount of extra work–late nights, extra travel, etc.–but I’ve received no title change, no extra pay and only this lofty promise that my boss will do everything he can to promote me in a few more months, but nothing is guaranteed from the PTB. (As an aside, I do believe that he’ll do everything he can, because my boss is great but ultimately it won’t be up to him.)

    On the one hand, I feel like I’m doing the job of someone one level above me, so I should have been given the title and raise at the outset, not after I’ve already done at least six months’ worth of work. (After all, if they were hiring externally for this, they wouldn’t advertise the position as one level down and say, “Do a good job and we’ll make a case for you to be promoted to the actual level this work requires!”) In that way I feel like I am being taken advantage of, and my company is essentially getting “free” work from me. On the other hand, I know some people think that you should have to prove yourself and do the work that the higher level job entails first before you can get the title.

    What is “normal” here? Am I being taken advantage of, or is it common and expected practice to do it this way? I definitely don’t want to be acting “entitled,” but I can’t help but feel frustrated.

    1. ACDC*

      Yes, you probably should have gotten the raise and title change at the start, but it’s annoyingly common for employers to want you to “prove yourself.” (So dumb because you’ve already been there 2.5 years, nothing should really be a surprise at this point…) That being said, the 6 month mark seems arbitrary and I think you can push back on it. I would schedule a meeting with bosses ASAP and say you want to reevaluate your position now that you’ve been in it a few months. Never hurts to ask.

    2. CatCat*

      Yeah, I agree with ACDC. I’d also start applying to higher level positions (that comes with the title and associated pay) at other companies as well.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      In my (very poor) experience it is normal for internal candidates but really, really! shouldn’t be.
      Go back to your boss and lay it out – you have repeatedly proven yourself and managing this client is requiring more time, energy, and skill than your current pay and title reflects. Your point about a new hire is an excellent one so make the case for the raise and title bump now based on your previous skills and current work product.

      1. Artemesia*

        And if they don’t come through get serious about a job search. Keep it quiet and don’t be in a rush, but you may never get rewarded properly where you are.

    4. OldJules*

      You can do outstanding where you are right now and if they don’t follow through on the comp, look outside. The market is looking for talents. It’s always easier to interview with “here are my accomplishments”. I did a manager’s level job all year and when internally, it didn’t pan out, I looked outside. Starting a new job on Monday.

    5. Waiting At The DMV*

      Some companies only officially promote after a person has proved that they can do the new role for 6 months or so. I think a good question to ask yourself is whether this is the norm at your company or not. If not, then your leadership may just be fearful.

      If I were you, I’d focus on knocking it out of the park, and I’d give myself an internal date to continue working hard through. At that date, if I wasn’t happy with my title/role, I would establish my own new normal (ie a new “good enough” performance threshold that is ok but not amazing) and would shift energy into job hunting.

      But don’t feel bad about this! Sounds like it’s a growth opportunity that can only help you in the long run.

    6. Darren*

      It is pretty common for businesses to want to see their employees operating at a new level consistently before they promote to that level. My work for example requires you to be doing tasks of the next level up consistently for around a year before promotion, it’s a little different (as the performance bonuses are such that exceeding at one level pays basically the same as meeting the expectations of the level above so the rating you will be getting while doing that higher level work means you are kind of being paid for it) but this has seemed pretty typical in most of the places I’ve worked.

    7. designbot*

      It’s definitely a Thing Companies Do to make you “prove” yourself, and discount the ways you’ve already proved yourself. Honestly, I think you probably didn’t advocate for your value in the first place and accepted their downgrade of “well your clients weren’t as big as ours” too readily. I don’t mean this as a slam, as I’ve made the same mistake myself. BUT, at this point, to avoid doing that again, I’d hold out there to get the promotion before jumping ship, otherwise you may find yourself having to prove yourself yet again to a new company, whereas if you bring the better title with you from your current company you’ll have better standing to make a case for yourself when you jump ship.

    8. Meteor*

      You’re certainly entitled to feel frustrated, but I do think this happens somewhat commonly. I have been doing the same job (sometimes more work, and with more praise/accomplishments) as people with the title/pay of a “manager”, while I have the title/pay of a “specialist” because I was hired right out of college. Organizationally the company doesn’t allow recent grads to progress quickly to “manager” level – has nothing to do with my merit.

      If you’re up for it, continue until the 6-month mark, and then advocate strongly for your deserved raise & title change. If you don’t see any progress at that time, and it feels like a hollow promise, it’s probably time to start job hunting.

    9. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      So, this sounds normal to me. 6 months is a long proving time, but especially when we’re talking about client interaction, it’s understandable to want to test how it works out first.

      Also, FWIW, I don’t think your previous client-management experience really matters here. They might know about the experience, but they didn’t see it. While they obviously have a lot of evidence that you’re good at it, it’s still experience that happened at a different company, so there’s a lot they *don’t* know about how you function. And while you’re a bit demoralized now, imagine if you’d been given the promotion, it didn’t work out (for any one of a million reasons, the least of which simply being that every client at every company is different), and you were either fired or demoted. There’s no way you’d stay at the company if they demoted you, right? For them, I think they view it as pure risk management; you’re good at your job, and they want you to succeed at the next level, and they’re testing it out provisionally first.

      I think you’d be fine to approach your boss and ask about moving up the 6 month timeline if they think you’ve done a great job. Or, you could just ask them if they can start those wheels turning, so the promotion might materialize closer to the 6 month mark (instead of you doing this work for 6 months, then waiting another 3 months on the promotion decision).

      But I wouldn’t push it unless you’re really considering leaving over it. And, ultimately, it sounds like you were happy with your job and pay, asked to advance to the next level, and steps are being taken along those lines, including giving you work that (I presume) you prefer to your purely support role. That’s all progress! Sometimes it’s slower than we’d like, and you should definitely advocate for yourself (more and more vocally as you get closer to looking for other jobs) but there’s nothing egregious here: they laid out a plan, you agreed, and the plan is moving forward.

    10. NotInUS*

      I’m replying late so I don’t know if you’ll see this, but…I’m kind of surprised at the responses here. I think it might depend on industry? If you’re in say Advertising, I would start looking because in my experience from what I’ve seen – it’s never going to happen. When I worked in the Ad world (got out thankfully) I once got the money for the promotion but not the title. I was also doing the workload of 1.5-2 full time people and I would have been expensive to replace. Where I am now, I would buy some of the explanations outlined by others – but only for a while. I ended up moving to another department within my company because my original department never followed through on what was promised. Maybe I just have bad luck, but I would be cautious.

    11. neverjaunty*

      You’re being taken advantage of.

      A real, good-faith probationary period is short; has clearly defined metrics of what “prove yourself” means; and has a clear end point at which you will either qualify for the promotion and raise or not.

      What these people are doing is getting higher-tier work for you at no extra cost, with a vague promise that maybe in six months things might change.

    12. BluntBunny*

      I know you are feeling demoralised because you haven’t been given the title and extra money but are you actually enjoying handling this client on your own? You mention late nights, extra travel and a huge amount of work, a promotion is not going to reduce the workload. Will the promotion fulfill you enough that the stress your feeling doesn’t matter? This is why I don’t thing they are in the wrong for seeing how you will handle it, as it seems like an actual step up and something that not everyone will be able to excel at. I think you should make sure you really can handle this job and all it entails before you demand the promotion because of you get it and then start asking for accommodations and more help I don’t think they would look favourably on it as they were trying to ease you in and especially if other people do without.

      1. Let's Bagel*

        Thanks for your feedback. No, I don’t particularly enjoy my job, but that’s a whole other can of worms. I do think the promotion and raise would fulfill me enough to make dealing with those extra things feel worthwhile. It’s not really a matter of handling it–I’m not asking for favors or extra support, I’m doing the tasks the job requires, meeting my deadlines and each time I ask for feedback from my supervisors I’ve gotten really positive answers–it’s more of a matter of just wanting to feel like I’m being treated fairly and my company values me.

    13. Let's Bagel*

      Thanks to everyone for your responses–I really appreciate it. I think the part that’s really getting to me is that there is not a firm plan in place: Deliver X, you will get Y. Instead it all just feels like I could get screwed over.

      Anyway, I’ll continue to muddle through for now but in the meantime have started to explore what else is out there. Appreciate all the feedback!

  5. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Question for the AAM Lawyer Types – going back to the letter earlier this week about what is considered work hours and not on business trips…

    If someone is injured on a work trip, would that fall under Worker’s Comp? Would it depend on what they were doing at the time?

    1. Amber Rose*

      IANAL but I am a safety manager who has taken classes on safety law: Yes.

      The thing about worker’s comp* is, were you injured while completing duties for your employer? Then you are covered by worker’s comp. Which is why it would be considered a workplace incident if someone took out the garbage and got hit by a car in the parking lot. Or if they showed up on the weekend/after hours to do work and got hurt. However, when my husband was on his way home and got hit by a bus on company property, that was NOT a worker’s comp thing, because he was not doing work.

      *Usual disclaimer: where I am. Some places may be different. It doesn’t seem like there are huge differences but I’m not an expert on every place’s rules.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        So if you were in a different city, it was your off hours, and you were injured in the hotel your company was paying for, that would qualify?

        1. Amber Rose*

          Probably not. The location doesn’t matter, but if you were actively doing something work related, it wouldn’t count as a worker’s comp issue.

          1. kittymommy*

            I just looked at our manual and ours is similar. If you were perfoming the duties and scope of your work (at a conference and get injured while in a session or in the exhibit hall) that is covered. Injured while you are at dinner by yourself (not an official dinner), no.

        2. Construction Safety*

          Varies tremendously by state. In GA, there was a case where the newly hired filed guy was killed in his company truck while moving his mother’s furniture before he ever set foot on the job he was hired for.

          WC had to pay.

          The short answer is: file the claim & let the company/WC carrier sort it out.

      2. Jack Be Nimble*

        I’m also NAL, but my brother received workers’ comp after slipping on the ice in the parking lot at his office while returning from a coffee run. To the best of my knowledge, it’s about whether you were injured at a work site during the course of work-related activities.

        1. Jack Be Nimble*

          I should clarify that he broke his arm pretty badly in the fall and needed emergency surgery to repair the damage!

        2. Doc in a Box*

          That injury sounds awful! I was injured in a bike accident commuting between two worksites in the middle of the day, and had a concussion and an avulsion fracture of my right (dominant-hand) middle finger. I took the bus the rest of the way, passed out while going over a bridge, and showed up to my office dazed and bloody. My co-worker immediately walked me down to occupational health who refused to even look at me until I signed a bunch of paperwork I couldn’t even comprehend.

          I was told no workers’ comp because I was not physically on-site when it happened. Your brother was (relatively) lucky.

      3. Tired*

        I agree, a coworker fell on the exterior stairs of a contractor where she was conducting a site visit and was on workers comp for quite some time.

      1. Drop Bear*

        Well, the decision was overturned by the High Court on appeal. The story is getting to be a bit like the woman who sued McDonalds – lots of judgement about her character in the press (sex romp!) and little discussion about the law – it was more about defining what is ‘after hours’ when travelling for business, not about what activity she was taking part in.

    2. Christmas Carol*

      Back in the day, like in the previous Millennium, a Michigan worker was transferred to his company’s London office. While in England, he began an extra-marital “relationship.” The gentleman and his paramour both passed away due to a carbon monoxide leak in her flat. There then proceeded to be years of court wrangling between the deceased executive’s company, their insurance carrier, and the state Workers’ Comp board as to whether his widow and the other survivors were entitled to W/C death benefits. I don’t remember how it all shook out, but I do remember that some state laws were changed as a result.

    3. Indefinite Contract Attorney*

      Yup. This happened to a friend of mine. She was at a conference in Boston for a California company and was at a networking event in the evening after the conference had let out for the day. She was injured at the networking event at a local bar. It fell under Worker’s Comp.

    4. ThankYouRoman*

      Not a lawyer but a safety rep and work directly with WC related shenanigans.

      Workers comp is designed to follow the employer as they’re doing company business.

      The thing that does differ is if you’re out of the country. We’ve been informed if we go to Canada, we’re all good but if we send folks to say England, they’re not covered.

      It has to be classified a work duty. So a networking meal afterwards, yep. Falling at the pool after hours while not representing the company, nope.

      You can also buy extra insurance packages to deal with other emergency events given your perceived liabilities and risks. (Not WC related of course).

    5. Gaia*

      Depends on the state, really.

      In my state it would absolutely be a worker’s comp issue and it absolutely would not matter what they were doing (so long as it wasn’t deemed reckless enough to discount any worker’s comp regardless of where they were or whether they were on duty).

      My state has incredibly employee friendly worker’s comp regulations. OldJob had an employee claim for an injury at a voluntary event provided as a benefit to him for performance. Employee won benefits on the basis that he wouldn’t have been there if not for work, therefore: worker’s comp.

    6. CDM*

      state laws will vary, but in general, if you are travelling at the behest of your employer, any injury from when you leave home until you return regardless of activity would fall under worker’s compensation, with the exclusion of your typical commute.

      Work comp covers all injuries that occur on company property to employees, or off property while acting at the direction of the employer. The employer trades off paying for injuries that may not actually be work related or caused by employer negligence for the benefits of being shielded from employee lawsuits, not paying legal defense costs, and not paying punitive or exemplary damages for negligence.

      And the “work comp pays for employee injured by chandelier while having hotel sex” story goes back to at least the early 90’s (when I was told it by a claims supervisor) – it’s amusing that there is a documented court case from 2007.

    7. DaniCalifornia*

      My dad used to joke that if he died on a business trip it’d be better for my mom cause he’d get extra life insurance money from his company.

      1. nonegiven*

        DH has joked that he can’t afford to retire so he’s waiting to get run over in the fenced, locked parking lot.

  6. E*

    Really liked this article (link to come) about “dream jobs” from Man Repeller. Choicest quote:

    “Part of the stress of the dream job narrative is to hurry up and get everything right the first time. To do that right thing at the right time so you can open the right doors. But that approach limited my vision to a pinhole. When I redefined my success in terms of how I wanted to feel when working or what I wanted to achieve, I found that I was in many ways already doing the kind of work I had dreamed of.”

    It’s a point that really resonated with me, as I have ended up very far away from “what I wanted to be when I grow up” but also very, very happy with what I do.


    1. merp*

      I like this a lot, thanks for sharing it. I had trouble with “dream job” type thoughts after finishing grad school last December and despite being 9 months into a job I generally enjoy, I have a hard time kicking the competitive/career ladder sort of thoughts that make me wonder if this is what I wanted after all that time/money in school.

      Not that those aren’t valid questions, but I am genuinely pretty happy and I feel like I get in my own way of that sometimes.

    2. School Inclusion Specialist*

      I’m soooo far away from where I wanted to be as a teen. I had everything planned out, but there was an issue where an internship fell through, so I gave up. Thinking back, I now know what I could have done to figure out something else.
      My first professional job was my second “dream job”… I told everyone it was and how lucky I was to be in it. While maybe the job responsibilities were what I wanted to be doing, the job itself and workplace was a nightmare…and sent me over the edge emotionally. It took years (and lots of therapy) to recover .
      Now, I’m working hard to look at work holistically–Is this what I want my life to look like? Am I participating in the hobbies I enjoy? Am I spending time with family? Do I enjoy going to work? Does my salary cover my needs and some wants?

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I read this GREAT book several years ago, and I tend to mention it whenever the subject of “dream jobs” or “following your passion” comes up. It’s called So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport. Bits of it get a a little dry as the author is a computer scientist by training and he tends to get in the weeds about extrapolating data, but the bulk of the book is about him interviewing people who claim to love their jobs, across allllll different fields and industries and whatnot, and looking for commonalities. From the Amazon summary:

      Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.

    4. Maggie May*

      my answer to the dream job question is always that it’s a role I’m satisfied with and fulfilled in. I’m not going to turn down opportunities for my 5, 10, whatever year plan (questions which I also hate) and I don’t want to feel unfulfilled if I’m not CEO of 17 companies by the time I’m 35. I do point out that at 5 I wanted to be a vet during the day and a ballerina at night, but life got in the way of that plan and I’ve found other things I enjoy. I always feel like they want you to explain what the job they’re interviewing for does lol

      though *cringe* one time in college I said my dream job was relaxing at a beach being paid millions! While true probably not for an interview ha ha

  7. Future Goggles*

    I’m about to get laid off and am looking for a new job.

    I currently do enablement at my job. I create all sorts of training materials. Reference and user guides, video tutorials, e-learning courses, WebEx session, email communications, PowerPoint presentations, wiki pages, etc., etc., etc. I also deliver training and manage content. I am the enablement lead for my part of the organization, but not in a management position.

    Most jobs want a degree in instructional design, which I don’t have, and I have never done real ID outside of training courses. But I’ve been doing this type of work for three and a half years. I’m a career changer so I’m not young and have a long work history in arts and education before that. Can anyone give me an idea of job titles to search for, good companies to look at, what sites are good resources for this kind of work? Advice on applying for this kind of work when I don’t have the degree?

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Do you have any degree? My company just posted an Instructional Designer position and they have Bachelors degree listed as a requirement but about 5 options are listed with an “or related field” caveat and 3 years experience.
      Lots of places will accept a complimentary degree if you have good experience and can back up your skills claims.

      1. Future Goggles*

        Yes. I have a B.A. and some grad school experience. I also have certifications in training, but nothing from an actual college.

    2. Mbarr*

      Maybe you could switch to being a Technical Writer? There are so many variations of tech writing out there that encompass what you’ve described, or that you could convince them are related to.

      1. Future Goggles*

        I was thinking of looking for technical writing jobs. I’m heavy on the creative side though and I’m a bit worried it won’t translate. But it’s certainly worth a look.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      Often experience will eclipse a degree requirement. So please still try at jobs that may request one. Worse case it’s a fast “no”.

      I have no degree but with my experience I beat out education requirements frequently. Of course there are firms and institutions that can’t go ahead without a degree but I’m coming at this from a private for profit life.

      1. Future Goggles*

        I’ll definitely apply. I do have a degree, just not and ID degree. It’s good to hear of experiences where people work in this field without the specific degree.

    4. periwinkle*

      My company also hires Instructional Designers; an undergrad degree is required but a degree in instructional design is only a preference and is superseded by actual work experience. With or without the degree, you’ll want a portfolio of actual or sample work as evidence of what you can do.

      It would be a good idea to take a free course on instructional design through Coursera or edX – don’t bother paying for the certificate version. If I were interviewing IDs, I would want to know if they’re familiar with adult learning theories (look up “Andragogy” in Wikipedia for a pretty good basic explanation) and appropriate uses of the different delivery methods (instructor-led, virtual, online courses, job aids, and so forth).

      “Instructional Designer” is the usual job title. I’ve also seen Training Designer, Training Specialist, Learning Specialist, and various combinations of those words. An easy way to search is using the keyword “ADDIE” – and if you don’t know about the ADDIE model, go learn about it because it will come up during interviews!

      There’s a lot of outsourcing going on right now. My employer has a small number of IDs, with most of the design and development work farmed out to companies which specialize in learning development (our staff oversees that contracted work). Those are the companies you’ll see advertising a lot of jobs on Indeed and LinkedIn – small companies with big clients.

      If you get a job in the field, I’d recommend getting the formal education. When I earned a master’s in the field, many of my classmates were already working in ID (including management roles) and wanted to acquire strong foundational theory knowledge that you usually don’t get when you learn by doing.

      The primary professional organization is the Association for Talent Development. If you join the field, you ought to attend their annual conference at least once. It’s HUGE; this year’s conference had around 11,000 attendees and the keynote speaker was Barack Obama. Next year’s keynote is Oprah Winfrey. There are several hundred educational sessions and a huge hall for vendor booths. It’s like a theme park for instructional designers! On a more practical note, go to their website (td dot org) and look for the info on local chapters. If there’s a chapter near you, it’s worth joining as a way to network and learn.

      1. Future Goggles*

        Thank you! So much great advice here. I am familiar with ADDIE and I’ve done it in practice for my own professional development, but I have not done it at an actual job. My current job does not work that way. I’m a a software company and we follow agile methodology for everything.

        Unfortunately, going back to school is not an option for me. I already owe way too much in student loans and I’m simply not willing to add to it. I’m hoping I can work my way up in the field without that.

        1. periwinkle*

          FWIW, our IDs are moving towards an agile framework too! Having that knowledge could be a selling point.

    5. Quackeen*

      I find that positions targeted to Instructional Designer are less flexible with their degree requirements than ones targeted to Learning and Development Specialist/Manager/Program Manager. That’s how it is in my region, at least.

      Mostly I find these roles on indeed, looking either for L&D or Organizational Development.

      I’d check out the Association for Talent Development website and see if there is a chapter local to you.

      1. Future Goggles*

        That’s an interesting point. I’m interviewing right now for an eLearning Manager position and they’re unconcerned that I don’t have the degree. But I’m having trouble finding those jobs in the area I am located.

        Good idea to check for the local ATD. I was a member in a different area years ago but I’ve moved since then and didn’t even think of that.

      1. Future Goggles*

        I usually look up trainer and get a lot of fitness jobs, haha. Adding corporate in front of it would certainly help.

    6. karou*

      This may be off base, but have you considered educational publishing? It may not be an option depending on your area and many people end up in publishing from an arts or humanities background.

      1. Future Goggles*

        Not off base at all! It’s a great idea! I never would have thought about that and it would be an excellent fit. Thank you!

    7. Maggie May*

      I’ve also been looking for a somewhat of a career jump, and for mine they seem to list “technical degree or four years of equivalent experience”. So you could probably frame it that way – sure you didn’t go to school but you’ve been on the force long enough to basically have one.

    8. Res Admin*

      Our university has a whole training center to for educating and training staff in Thing They Need to Know (from the financial system to HR, software, ethics, privacy, and everything else–LOTS of mandatory trainings for faculty and staff depending on what they do). They design these courses for both classroom and on-line as well as tutorials, guides, special presentations, open labs, etc. There is a wide variety and a big need. Could you do something like this? I am sure this isn’t the only university to have such a set-up–esp. in this day and age.

    9. Forevanon*

      Here’s my advice, since I recently did this myself:

      Don’t hesitate to apply to jobs that look like a good fit. I have a high school diploma and zero formal education in my field, but I have a background in compliance and experience developing training (actually very similar to your background, training development-wise) for the industry I currently work in. I’m now a senior ID specialist at a very, very large company making excellent money on a team with a bunch of people that have their masters in instructional design or a related field. Imposter syndrome for days, but it’s a fantastic job.

      Be prepared to have to show some kind of portfolio or do a small project to present as part of the interview process, but also know that it’s very common to not be able to share previous work since it’s the property of the company you did the work for. I work in a industry where a lot of intellectual property is involved, for example, so I couldn’t take any of it with me. But it’s completely reasonable to a potential employer (a good one, anyway) if you have to say “Sorry, I can’t show you anything I have worked on, but I’d be happy to create something on a topic of your choice.”

      Learning consultant, instructional design, training developer, there are a ton of terms this job goes under so just try creative web searching.

      Be open to contract work for more opportunities, and don’t limit yourself to any one industry, ID work is needed EVERYWHERE. My current contract started as a 6 month gig in June and is now extended into June 2019, possibly longer.

      Definitely work with a good recruiter –and I cannot stress this enough, one who understands what instructional design work IS (it’s exactly what you have been doing, if they don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t work with them) — because they can find these jobs way more quickly than you can and understand client needs … and if you post a well-crafted resume on Indeed you will probably be contacted by one soon. Good luck!!

  8. Goes On Anon*

    The following post is very sad. Many of my coworkers who are parents are not able to hear about this right now without crying. The rest of us are merely deeply unhappy. Just a heads up. I hope nobody gets mad at me for posting this, but I’m having a bit of a hard time today myself.

    We have a pretty tight knit team here and everyone is pretty close and we all kind of know each other’s families and stuff. Well, one of those coworkers had to bring his one year old daughter in to the hospital because she was a bit sick. They discovered a tumor. It was removable, so they went in and took it out, but now her internal organs are failing one by one. She is on life support barely hanging on, and she needs multiple transplants. All this happened just this week.

    The details are all on the family’s Go Fund Me page, and it’s just heartbreaking. I hurt for them. Everyone is walking around with :( faces today and it’s hard to focus. I wish I knew what to do. I’m really bad at stuff like this.

    1. Drop Bear*

      How awful. The thing is that pretty much every person is bad at this stuff – not knowing what to say, to do – so don’t get down on yourself about that. And really there isn’t anything you can do, everybody at work needs to work through this in their own way. So let yourself be sad, accept that your work will be affected, accept that people will cry – even you at some point perhaps.
      If you have access to an EAP then go if you think it will help, get support from friends/family, look after yourself and respect the ways that others at work take care of themselves (eg don’t judge someone if you find out they went somewhere ‘fun’ even if you can’t bring yourself to even think of doing that).

    2. Temperance*

      That’s awful. That poor baby, and that poor family. Is someone particularly close with the family, and can someone organize grub hub gift cards, and delivery of paper products?

      1. CastIrony*

        When tragedies strike at my workplace, they ask people to donate some sick/vacation time sometimes. I think the co-worker would benefit from some extra time off for this very difficult time.

        I’m so sorry.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Oh, how awful :(

      If your company has an EAP, maybe see if it’s possible for them to send someone out to your site. At a former job, they provided onsite counselors a few times when colleagues had tragedies.

    4. Artemesia*

      There is no being good at this. A friend’s 3 year old just died; she had been treated for a cureable sometimes but not always common childhood cancer for 2 years; she has struggled and suffered that whole time. She had the best most advanced care possible including stem cell transplant. There is no way to feel good about something like this; there is only sorrow and doing the best you can for the people affected by it. So sorry about your colleague.

    5. ThankYouRoman*

      Good heavens. My heart aches reading this.

      It’s good you’re careful to speak about this in an area away from the effected family and your coworkers. You need an outlet, this kind of thing is a ripple effect in motion.

      I come from a history of childhood tragedy. My best friend and neighbor died when we were kids and his parents were destroyed needless to say.

      The best you can do is stay in loose contact. Don’t hover but don’t disappear. Always stay available to the extent you’re comfortable with. Don’t be demanding of their energy. Don’t take their lack of response or energy personally, still keep the wagons circled and show them as much love and respect as possible.

    6. Kelly AF*

      That is so, so difficult. Really, there IS nothing you can really do to make this situation meaningfully better, which is incredibly stressful. The link in my name is to an article on the “ring theory” of grief/suffering, which I find very helpful. Basically, the sick person is in the innermost ring, with each successive ring around them being in descending orders of closeness. So if I had cancer, I would be in the center, with my husband in the next ring, my parents and brothers in the next, my good friends in the next, extended family in the next, coworkers in the next, etc. The rule is “comfort in, dump out.” That is, you can provide only comfort to people in rings smaller than your own, and you can only complain and seek support from those in rings larger than your own (and possibly in your own ring). I recommend reading it!

    7. What's with Today, today?*

      I can’t imagine how painful that is for everyone. I’m so sorry this is happening.

  9. Penelope*

    How do I remain professional (and not damage my own prospects) when I know I won’t have a job in a few months?

    I posted in last weeks open thread about my workplace deciding not to renew my contract. I have just over two months left on this contract, and while they’re being supportive in terms of letting me take time off for applications etc., I’m having a really hard time staying in a professional mindset at work.

    I feel so bitter about everything, I’m trying my best to conceal it because I don’t want to leave a bad impression and besides, they’ll have have to be my reference. Right now it’s just so hard to act normal or be productive.

    I’ve had a week to wallow about this. I really need to get things into gear. Along with having trouble being productive at work I’m also dreading the whole job search process. So far I’ve just started updating my resume, haven’t even thought about writing cover letters or interview prep (assuming I even get an interview…).

    (I have so much anxiety I’m having trouble sleeping, and I can’t drink coffee because that just exacerbates the anxiety, so on top of being bitter and anxious and stressed I’m also so, so tired.)

    I’m sure there are people here who have been in a similar situation? How did you managed to overcome to bitterness and leave on a positive (as much as possible) note?

    1. Let's Bagel*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this! My advice would be to try, as much as possible, to look at this with some excitement over starting something new. Use this as an opportunity to seek out something you might not have otherwise that excites you–a new city? A new (but related) industry? A new position? I’m certainly not suggesting you overturn your whole professional and personal life, but more so just try to approach this from first principles. What would your ideal position and location be? I think it can be really easy to get comfortable in a job that’s not so great, and it can stagnate your professional growth. While this certainly wasn’t your choice, maybe you can try to see it from the perspective of being a blessing in disguise–a push to find something for yourself that’s better, will make you happier, will make you more money, etc. Don’t go into it with a negative mindset (“I hate job searching, it’s so stressful”). Instead just try to focus on what will ultimately be better about your eventual new position.

      Another note, if it helps: I am currently working with someone who is being laid off in about a month. We really need his help in making the transition a smooth one, and as time has passed and his end date is getting closer, he has become more and more hostile and difficult to work with. I certainly feel for him, but at the end of the day, we all still have to get our jobs done and he’s making it harder for the rest of us. Originally I thought I would be happy to be a reference for him or otherwise help him in his job search if I could, but now I’ve decided I will no longer do either of those things if asked, because his behavior has become so unprofessional of late. I know you already know this, but when you feel yourself getting frustrated and bitter, try to put yourself in how you want your shoes to be one year from now: employed somewhere else, with this being a distant memory, and with good references and congenial relationships left behind at your current job. You won’t want to look back and cringe at something you said/did in a moment of bitterness.

      Good luck!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I also worked for two months after I was notified that I was being laid off. I did two things: 1) focused my work self on finishing off my projects because I was NOT going to be thought of as someone who just ditched work, and 2) focused my non-work self on all the potential opportunities I hadn’t really thought about because I hadn’t looked up from this job in a decade. It helped that I had been mostly angry about the possibility of getting laid off (and fumed to coworkers that I trusted) and was mostly over it by the time it actually happened, so I actually wasn’t bitter during the notice period because I had already started to look forward to the next phase of my life.

        However, it turned out that I was also wildly optimistic about the job hunt. The good thing is that it let me not be bitter while wrapping up my job. The bad thing is that I spent 18 months unemployed, some of which was marked by extreme bitterness and anxiety. And then my company invited me back, fully restored to my previous position but with a much better work assignment. That would definitely NOT have happened if I had let any of that bitterness leak out while in my notice period – several high ranking people went to bat for me to get me back, and they had definitely been in positions to observe any major slacking or unprofessional behavior.

        So, remind yourself about how much you want to preserve the reputation and the relationships you have now (even if you’re not super thrilled that some of them didn’t push enough to renew your contract). Use that for motivation as much as you can. It’s great that they’re giving you latitude to do job hunting stuff on the clock, so if it helps, schedule an hour or two to dedicate to job stuff and then go back to work stuff, just to break up the day. They’re both aimed at furthering your career, just in different ways. Leave a legacy of good work and they’ll miss you when you’re gone. (Okay, not always true and kind of Pollyanna, but that’s what I told myself) But you’ll also be reinforcing your own work ethic and that’ll help you on your next job.

    2. Best of luck in your search*

      I hate that you are going through this, but I thought “Do I want to be remembered as a good coworker who remained professional or someone who lets this mean that they can let things fall apart during their last few months here?” It’s also easier to look for a job when you are employed so I would use the time wisely and apply for as many job as you find that could potentially suit you.

    3. Artemesia*

      Been there, done that when our department got cut in a merger and I had several months left on my contract. It is miserable BUT there is nothing in it for you to be bitter and to let it show. You have to focus on the future and so be in planning your career development. AND people see your professionalism and that will stick. Your next opportunity may well come from or be affected by people who see the work you do now. Nothing kills interest in a candidate faster than hearing that they ‘coasted and did nothing’ when they were on the way out. Conversely people who go out of their way to be effective and easy to work with in a transition will have people who pull for them or give glowing recommendations. And you are more likely to find something new if you are positive, frame this as a growth opportunity and don’t wallow in the bitterness. And believe me I know how hard that is when you have been screwed over. If you are stuck, Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a remarkably effective quick fix.

      1. Xarcady*

        It’s not exactly the same, but I’ve been a temp at my company for two years now. In May, they created a permanent position for my job. In June, the company merged with another company and all hiring got put on hold. It’s still on hold (verified with HR).

        While I would really like to work here–commute is great, salary okay, benefits really good–I’m not holding my breath.

        When I start to get upset about the whole mess, I think about finding another job and giving this place two weeks notice and leaving them in the lurch just before a huge project starts. Take that, you people who refuse to hire me!

        I am actively job-hunting. I try to apply for one job a week, doing a really good job with my resume and cover letter, instead of applying to anything I might remotely be qualified for. I’ve had several phone interviews and two in-person interviews, which makes me think I’m qualified and have a good cover letter and resume. I just need to find the right fit somewhere.

    4. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon*

      Warning, this is kind of lame advice. But in my most dismal moments this process is what helps me get through, and I found myself in a similar situation once.

      First I wrote out a list of all my fears about the situation. That was a hard list to write, and I cried most of the way through, but what I realized is that most of the things I was anxious about boiled down to: “I’m afraid I won’t get another job.” Sometimes writing them down, makes them look a little less scary.

      So once I identified my key fear, I wrote a list of all the positives, starting with: “I will get another job.” Then “I’m an amazing worker, I will get a great reference from this job” and “maybe my next job will have a better kitchen/snack situation” and “Maybe my next job will have an amazing boss.” Suddenly by the end of this positive list I started looking at my situation as more hopeful. I realized this was an opportunity, not a disaster, and I found I was a lot less bitter as well.

      1. Drop Bear*

        Whatever works! I worked with someone who had been in the same position, and she said she got through it by pretending she was a member of the royal family – having to do boring, stupid things they don’t want to do, talk to people they don’t want to talk to, etc etc but having to always be polite, always seem interested and so on. They didn’t renew her contract, after promising her they would, so the owner’s son could have her job. While she trained him she said it occasionally helped to mentally go full medieval royal and plan his execution – he was, according to her (a woman who never swore), an arrogant d*ck.

    5. ThankYouRoman*

      Your reaction to feel bitter and unproductive are natural. However at very least grasp at the positives, sparse as they seem. You’re being given space to move forward and they’re your reference, keep in mind being your best despite the bad circumstances is in your best interest.

      I would try to focus on the future and just glide through the grind as a necessity to thrive later. It’s hard. You’ve got us to unload on so you’ve got a release!!!

    6. tangerineRose*

      Last time I was in a position like this, my motto was “Work so they’ll miss me when I’m gone.” Not sure if that helps.

    7. Close Bracket*

      I’m really sorry! That sounds terrible and depressing. How is your social support? Do you spend any time socializing outside of work? When I went through terrible times at my last job, having positive social interactions outside of work really helped balance the complete rejection I was experiencing outside work. It actually wasn’t even necessary to talk to people; sometimes it was enough to be around them while having a positive experience. For example, at that time, I went to a beginner meditation group. I didn’t have to talk to anyone there, but the teachers would give a little talk about Buddhism, meditation, and life before starting the meditation session, and listening to them in a group setting helped. I attended a Pilates class that wasn’t the greatest class Pilates-wise, but the teacher was really soothing. Again, no actual interaction required, just enjoyable experiences around other people. I had a couple of volunteer jobs working with kids, one in my field and one out of my field, which of course were heavy on interaction. Kids were great bc you cannot be focused on yourself while you have a kid with needs to attend to, even if it’s just for 2 hours at a time.
      While none of the specific things I mentioned might be interesting to you, perhaps you can come up with similar activities in terms of interaction level that would be more appealing. Pretty much anything you can do that is not your job and that gets you out of the house will break the rumination cycle. It has to be enjoyable, though. If you take something up and it’s filled with negative interactions, drop it. It will just amplify your existing negative interactions.
      Good luck!

    8. MissDisplaced*

      To put it this way, what’s better:
      a) continue to wallow and do nothing to better your situation?
      b) get your ducks in a row, be as prepared as you can be, and leave with a good review and a new job shortly after this one ends?

      I know it sucks, but put that energy into finding something else. Stay calm at work, work as you normally would have and/or begin wrapping things up for a smooth transition, and hunt, hunt hunt. Not doing anything means this job will end and you will only have unemployment and just be starting the job search. Maybe that’s fine if you don’t need the income due to being married or something, and can afford some time off. Surviving was always a huge motivation factor for me.

  10. Quill*

    Same question as last week: any advice wrangling a knowledgeable supervisor who has less practical lab experience than me?

      1. Quill*

        Mostly in terms of keeping our lab work organized / starting and finishing earlier in the day / getting the documents done faster since he’s a notoriously slow notebook writer (and he has to finish writing up the experiment before I can verify it.)

        This week I tried pre-organizing and filling out an equipment table for our experiment, similar to what I’d been doing with my previous supervisor, and he went and copied all the data into his notebook instead of pasting the document (which is allowed under our protocols.) When we go in to test, he doesn’t even bring his notebook into the lab! (He writes everything down after.)

        Also, I actually have more experience than him in teapots, because all of his previous work has been in sugar bowls, and I’m wondering if this is standard for testing sugar bowls. (I don’t know, when I worked in a bowl-adjacent field at a previous job our standards were… nonexistent.)

        1. Artemesia*

          Yikes. Sounds incompetent. Could you volunteer to paste it into his document once or twice so he gets the idea?

          1. Quill*

            I’ve volunteered to make a notebook-ready paste & sign procedure sheet, but so far, no dice. (Testing goes smoothly, but I’m getting tired of chasing him down to sign documents long after we leave the lab…)

        2. irene adler*

          I work in a GMP facility. Do you?
          If so, writing down the data in a non-contemporaneous fashion is not allowed. Hence, it will speed him up if he’s writing the data directly into his notebook as it is generated. Yes, it might end up a bit on the messy side, but that’s to be expected in a lab notebook. Bet he’s one that has to have the notebook all neat and tidy- nice columns with all the data neatly recorded.

          And, not bringing in the notebook into the lab?? Wow.

          1. Quill*

            We’re allowed to write in the material lot numbers as we assemble them / prep them for the experiment, rather than immediately after the experiment, due to some constraints of the experimentation (we work in biosafety hoods…) Data after protocols are run is always entered at time of analysis, it’s just the protocol that I can’t always sign off on because he’s not done transcribing it.

            He seems to be dedicated to writing the procedure down immediately after completion (rather than before/during, but as a result, when we leave the lab, I’m always having to meet back up with him to sign for where I assisted.

            (His notebook is very neat. Mine… looks like the scrapbook from heck, lol.)

            1. Nesprin*

              Ahh- this sounds like a difference of opinion- yours is that lab books are for on the fly -protocol deviation notes, his is that books are for writing down a retrospective with no corrections. I’m of the former mind, but I know people who keep 2 books- one for scribbles and 1 for clean copies….
              Given that he has a system that works for him, your options may be limited unless his approach violates biohazard and or GMP rules. Especially if he’s above you in the heirarchy, your pushback options are few…I’d strongly advise keeping your book up to date- Can you get him to sign off on your book day of? I’m a huge fan of print out protocol, scribble over it and then tape in and sign off- bring him an extra copy?

        3. BluntBunny*

          When I had to experiments that would take 6-8 hours I would set up as much as possible the day before so when I get in in the morning I only need to heat up water bath and start feeds. On the lab book we had excel sheets that would have the time on the side in 10 min intervals and we would have columns were we could put strat time 9.30, 9.50 started feeds 10.00 sample taken etc. We had them taped on the fume cupboards so we could write and see what’s next especially if someone has to cover you while you go toilet. The sheet had the experiment name and you would put in all the steps you had taken and what we were monitoring on 10 min intervals at the end of the experiment we would just stick into the lab book. We had a separate sheet for the formulation which would get stuck in. If you are doing similar experiments each time it should be easy to come up with a experiment worksheet and if he forgets it just tell him to go get it, for my experiments there was nothing much to do in between readings except watch it stirring, clean glassware or prepare for the next stage so if we didn’t write up as we went along you would be sat there staring at it.
          I also would have prepared as much solutions and whatever else you need the day before.

    1. Jack Be Nimble*

      Are there written guidelines for your lab tasks? If not, can you develop them? Framing it as “there’s a standard we must meet,” versus “you’re doing it wrong” usually leads to better results.

  11. Tara S.*

    Has anyone gotten an interview for a GS job in the last year? I apply to at least one federal job a month. I keep getting form letter saying I was sorted into the “best” category, but law requires they move forward with veteran candidates first. I understand and support the point of that policy, but it is so frustrating to know that the hiring managers aren’t even seeing my resume.

    1. Not All*

      Decades as a federal employee here who has been on a lot of hiring panels.

      There are only a couple ways a non-vet who is not already a federal employee is ever going to get hired at any of the agencies I’ve worked at.

      1) be willing to go work at a notoriously problematic office in an extremely undesirable location (remote rural Nevada for example) long enough to get permanent status then apply elsewhere
      1a) go to work for a really problematic agency with extreme turnover to get status
      2) do something like Peace Corps or STEP program that makes you eligible for a special hiring authority
      3)apply for vacancy announcements where they have batched 6+ positions in a low-desirability position/office/agency so the hiring official can make it through the vets to get to the actual people they want

      Trust me, the hiring officials don’t want to be in this position either! I can’t tell you how many panels I’ve been on where there was someone amazing we really really wanted to hire but couldn’t because they were blocked by vets. And I can’t tell you how many positions we’ve simply not filled rather than hire the really horrible vet that was the top of the cert blocking good non-vet candidates.

      It was a well-intentioned policy, but it just isn’t working out in terms of getting the best (or even moderately capable) employees for the tax-payers’ money. But no politician on earth is going to take it on…it would be absolutely toxic.

      1. AnonEmu*

        What agencies does this apply to? Because I’ve been working on applications for some jobs I’ve seen at the USDA, and now I’m wondering if there’s stuff I could be doing differently.

        1. Former Retail Manager*

          To my knowledge, veteran’s preference applies to all federal jobs, so if you’re applying on USAjobs, it likely applies. Usually, there is something in the posting somewhere to alert you. Also, the key to success with USAjobs is to make your resume include as many of the words in the position description as you can. Also, real life resume conventions don’t really apply with the Government, based on my experience, meaning that you shouldn’t think you need to limit your resume to 1 page. If you go over 1 page, that’s fine as long as the information you’re including is accurate and relevant.

      2. Former Retail Manager*

        I cannot agree more about it being a well intentioned policy that often doesn’t play out very well in practice. My agency has hired quite a few over the years and only a couple have been truly outstanding. Most get by doing the minimum and quite a few don’t make it through training or eventually quit because they don’t like (and aren’t very good at) the position. Unfortunately, there are very few, if any, military positions that could even remotely prepare you for my position. I feel it’s a disservice to all involved.

    2. DCGirl*

      My husband got his job by working for a government contractor at his agency first. When a permanent position opened up, he was well-placed to apply for it.

    3. HBucket*

      NotAll and DCGirl provide some great advice. Also, perhaps consider a professional gov’t resume writer. There is a firm I have worked with in the general DC area that really knows it’s stuff. They can’t get you past the veterans’ preference and other priority placements if you don’t qualify, of course.

    4. Curious Cat*

      Just to add on to Not All and DCGirl, depending how far removed you are from undergrad/graduate school, the Pathways program is a great step in the door, too. I was a Pathways intern in college and they tried to offer me a full-time position at the end of it (they thought I was a senior when I was an underclassmen). Also I’ve known many people to do AmeriCorp or FEMACorp to get a leg up.

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      I’d also say that once you’re in the federal system, it’s easier to get other federal jobs, so you only need to get your foot in the door. (Note: I cannot say why this is and I’ve personally never worked for any other federal agency, but we have quite a few folks in my office who have worked at numerous federal agencies and seem to have had no issues moving from one to another.) I’d try to do that at an agency you really want to work at and that has opportunities for advancement, but if that doesn’t work out, then I’d try to just get into any federal agency. Also, realistically, most federal agencies are large enough to have multiple operating divisions and a multitude of different positions that will enable you to find something that you will probably enjoy at some point. Also, being mobile is a huge advantage as NotAll mentioned. If you are able to apply to multiple POD’s (posts of duty) then you have a much better shot at getting in. I also know several people who have done that.

      1. Not All*

        The reason it’s easier is because nearly every position is advertised under (at least) two different advertisements. One listing is open only to current federal employees…that category is open to all permanent federal civilian employees and vets preference doesn’t apply so you are just competing on merit (and the typical job hunting intangibles). The other is open to the general public and then things like vets preference points apply.

        That difference is why most people end up taking a “foot in the door” job in a location they don’t want to live doing a job they don’t want to do for one year to get their permanent status, then start competing for what they actually want to do.

        In general, the more remote and unpleasant the environment, the harder time they have getting people. So places like Battle Mountain, Nevada or Rawlins, Wyoming will have a lot less competition than someplace like Olympia, WA which is both a desirable place to live and right near a base.

    6. Tired*

      Thirty-one year fed here. Federal hiring is slow as fuck. The law doesn’t require moving forward with veterans first, they just get points added to their application if any vets applied. I am not a vet and nonetheless was selected. Depending on whether the job is being filled under direct hire authority or not, the hiring manager may indeed see your application/resume. Call the point of contact on the announcement if you have any questions about the process.

  12. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Late last week, I had a 3h15 in person interview with the manager and 3 colleagues. Think: amazing (it’s on Wikipedia) company, which was supposed to last 2 hours, but ended up 3 hours and 15 minutes.
    We had superb rapport and the interview got more relaxed as it went on, and every project the manager discussed, I had extensive experience in and could definitely speak to it. One of the other interviewees had worked at one of my previous jobs too, and I’ve always gotten raises/great reviews from all past places of employment. I provided references, and the hiring manager said she’d provide an update Monday or Tuesday. Now, it’s Friday, no word–and this was after what I can say felt like the most amazing interview where I had experience in all the right areas. No word. Nothing :((( Usually, I hear back the day of, that I got the job, or after 4-5 business days.

    It would’ve been a much better commute, and it would’ve offered much better 401(k) and maternity leave options (not for now but for 2 years down the line)….even if with slightly less or matched pay with what I’m currently making….

    Tl;dr: Anybody have stories to share, where they had a perfect interview (where you enjoyed it, rapport, felt great, and aced everything) and still didn’t get the job? Where, maybe, it worked out for the better? #halpme…;((((

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I would wait before jumping to conclusions and try not to dwell. Hiring manager time is not regular people time, and many people are going to feel that an sending an update just to say there isn’t an update isn’t worthwhile.

      Could you get in touch with one of your references to see if they’ve been contacted?

    2. ACDC*

      Have you reached out to them? From what you wrote, it doesn’t sound like you didn’t necessarily not get the job. They just haven’t gotten back to you yet. I would just send an email or call whoever your contact is. At least they can provide context for the delay or give you an answer.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      This is still not a long time for a Monday/Tuesday update. You might still hear something. That said, I know how you feel. I’ve had those interviews. Answered every question thoughtfully and well, established good rapport with everyone, addressed student concerns and interests, fundraising, etc. Aaaaaand, nothing. What I tell myself in those situations is that I was authentic, knowledgeable, personable, brought my “A” game, etc. I did everything _I_ could in that situation. If I don’t go forward, it’s because there’s someone better (for whatever values of “better” apply: more experience, different experience, greater institutional knowledge, known quantity, prior exposure to whatever) than me, OR it’s because the organization doesn’t know what it really wants to do.

      TL;DR: I know I gave it my best; they just didn’t go for what I was offering.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Yup – great job with HUGE prospects because they are a main supplier for Amazon distribution centers. I had great report with the hiring manager and his boss. I had 2 phone interviews and 2 in person interviews with several calls and email from hiring manager in the meantime asking about things that pop in your brain as “OMG they are writing up an offer” such as my options for a home office setup since WFH was an option and a few other things revolving around salary and benefits. So when the call came that they went with an internal candidate I was crushed.
      2 months later I accepted a job with a 7 minute commute and I’ve worked more than 40 hours about 3 times in 6 years for lots more money.

    5. Bowl of Oranges*

      I’m in almost the exact same boat right now!! It’s not a no yet. No advice or anything… Just commenting to say I hope it works out–for the both of us!:)

    6. Kelly AF*

      Yup! I once had an amazing interview with a company that turned into them tentatively offering me a much higher-level job than the one I was interviewing for on the spot. It was an hour longer than scheduled, they were pulling in lots of people to meet me, the rapport with the two main interviewers was amazing. Basically, they gave me the job description, told me I was perfect, provided free access to their subscription-only website so that I could check it out and speak with them.

      And then…. dead silence. They never responded to any of my emails or phone calls. I never heard another word from them. There are thousands of jobs I haven’t gotten, but that one still baffles me. (And kind of stings, tbh.)

    7. Birch*

      Yep, and it turned out all right in the end! I loved the place, loved the team, but they were going in a different direction than I wanted and it turned out they didn’t have the money to hire my position anyway. Now I’m collaborating with them from a team that’s doing exactly what I wanted to do. It will work out in the end! Maybe you dodged a bullet, maybe the stars didn’t line up, maybe they’ll call you in a few days, maybe you’ll eventually end up working there in the future!

    8. Bex*

      I have a story! A company flew me out for a final round of interviews on a Tuesday. I found out later that I was the only person they flew out and my boss had basically already decided I was the right candidate during the previous round. It still took them until the following Wednesday to make the offer.

      In a previous interview process, the final panel told me that they would be making their decision within 24-48 hours. They actually took almost two weeks because they couldn’t decide between the top two candidates. I didn’t get that one, but the guy that did was also waiting for 2 weeks to hear from them.

      So, in my experience, you’re still well within a normal wait time.

    9. Gaia*

      It is not a “no” yet. It is a “no news.”

      There could be a million reasons why you haven’t heard anything. I know it feels like forever, but 2-3 days later than expected from a hiring manager’s perspective is like….minutes. They could be out sick, there could be scheduling issues. A major thing could have happened that took their attention away for a moment.

      Don’t get yourself down. Just try to put it out of your mind and if you don’t hear anything by next Tuesday, follow up (once – ONLY once).

      Good luck. I’m on a job search too. I know this is so hard.

    10. Perpetua*

      From someone who used to do a lot of hiring – Monday/Tuesday can turn into next week so easily and quickly, even for people who make promises about giving updates and fully mean it at the time, and it doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s central in your life (understandably so), but for them it might be just 10% or less of what they’re working on at the moment, as Alison often points out. And it’s so easy for a bunch of other things to take priority over hiring!

      I’d wait another week or so before inquiring about an update. I know it’s difficult to wait and live in uncertainty, and you can try to move on mentally if you can, but I wouldn’t be so sure I didn’t get the job until more time has passed.

      Good luck!

    11. No Tribble At All*

      I had a 4 hour interview with multiple people, I’m perfectly qualified, I get along well with everyone, they say they’re prepared to make me an offer…. and nothing. They ghost me. I was pretty upset about it at the time, but the company isn’t doing very well now, so I’m glad I didn’t go work for them. Sorry anyways for you :(

    12. Eefs*

      This happens all the time, and I’m afraid you might want to contact them once next week and then forget about it. Unfortunately both my parents are going through the same thing where they’ll go on about four exceptional interviews a month and are consistently not contacted again or turned down even though the hirer is very positive the whole way through the interview. Some of these are major companies, others not. When a reason is stated normally it comes down to issues like salary, commute (employers worry but parents don’t mind) but above all “overqualified” (which frankly just means they’re too old). This is in the Bay Area by the way where there’s just too many incredible young candidates and employers seem to forget that the benefits of hiring people with life experience. Could those elements be a factor for you? Busy metereopolitan area by chance?

    13. Award winning llama wrangler*

      I had an interview that I thought went really well and then had radio silence for two weeks before they asked for references. I knew they couldn’t more than one other candidate that would have anywhere close to the very specific experience I had, but I thought it was possible they’d decided that something else was more important. I ended up getting a great offer, but wow, those two weeks took what felt like about five hundred years.

    14. Hamburke*

      I had 2 experiences like this and the ended differently –
      The first one was right out of college. I interviewed for 2.5 hours in a 1 hour slot (they pulled the big boss and benefit person in). I sent thank yous and followed up a week later with a phone call to the admin (point of contact for this small team but left a message). There aren’t too many lab jobs so when I went to a recruiter 6 weeks later, she still had the position listed open, I said I had interviewed there but hadn’t heard back. She called, they told her I was their top candidate but they hadn’t offered me the job yet. I started working there 3 weeks later.
      More recently, I interviewed for a job and had easy rapport with the hiring manager. The interview was supposed to be 30 minutes, we ended up going to an hour as she started showing me some of the job duties and caught herself as she nearly offered me the job. I didn’t hear for 10 days so I called, she hired someone else. I know what the sticking point was – later hours on short notice – but it was such a great interview.

  13. Otter box*

    I have a question for people in British Columbia. My partner and I moved to Vancouver from the US a little over a year ago, and in the course of things discovered that his employer appears to be violating various labour laws, specifically overtime laws and misclassification of employees. He’s thought about talking to an employment lawyer to see if there is actually anything that can be done, but we’re not sure where to begin. Where would someone start looking for a reputable employment lawyer here? Thank you!

    1. Freelance Accountant*

      Talk to the provincial labour board. The Ministry of Labour in your province is the organization with the power to enforce compliance. If you google British Columbia employment standards act you will find the Ministry’s website, and how to report an employer not conforming to the act. You can call the Ministry and ask an agent all your questions, and keep it anonymous if you want. No need to pay a lawyer, at least not right away.

    2. Anon in AB*

      Have you verified with the BC Employment standards of these violations? I live in Alberta and they are a bible.

      You can search for an employment lawyer on Google, and then verify them through the BC Law society. Employment law is taken very seriously in Canada. Make sure you have proof of their violations. BC is different than Alberta in terms of Overtime laws etc and amount of hours that can be worked. It also depends on whether you are deemed a salaried or hourly employee. I’m salaried and am not entitled to overtime (again this is Alberta!).

      Sorry for the rambling. But you don’t need to be afraid of making a claim!

    3. Lupin Lady*

      Canadian here, but not from BC. The Canada Revenue Agency (same rules province-wide) is really cracking down on employers who mis-classify employees as independent contractors. I reported a past employer to the CRA after I left (before they started the ‘crackdown’) and it was a really good experience. The CRA made my employer re-file my tax documents and pay their and my portion of unemployment insurance premiums. No lawyer or extensive time required, I just needed to answer questions and give them copies of my invoices/paycheques. They weren’t fined beyond paying my portion of the insurance, but I know they got a stern talking to. Now, your situation with moving to Vancouver is more complicated, but hopefully this helps. Good luck!

    4. EA in CA*

      Before taking this to a lawyer, have the conversation with the BC Labour board. I used them all the time for interpretation and explanations of the various employment laws. A lawyer is only going to talk to you once to get a feel for your case and to judge if this is something worth taking on. They will only give you the basic information, because until you are a client, they do not want to be held accountable for any advice they give. Make sure you have concrete examples and document them.

    5. Bobstinacy*

      If you google Work BC you’ll find information about labour laws as they apply to the different industries in BC. There’s also a guide on how to start the complaint process and contact info to the employment standards branch. I’ve had to use the complaint process a few times and it’s usually resolved pretty painlessly.

      If you don’t mind disclosing, what industry do they work in? I live in Vancouver and it feels like a hotbed of industries that rely on violating workers rights to get ahead.

  14. Anon412*

    Commenters, give me a reality check. Is an employer requiring a doctor’s note after you’ve been sick reasonable or unreasonable? My employer is not as bad as some, as they only want a doctor’s note if you’re out for more than three days. But then I still have to go to the doctor. Don’t get me wrong, if I have a fever of over 101, have the chills, or have a throat so sore I can’t swallow, I’m going to the doctor. But I also have a tendency to get colds that last four or five days. I’ve stopped going to the doctor for these, as it’s a waste of time and money, and all they do is say, “yep, you’ve got a cold.” So far, this hasn’t come up with my employer, as I’ve never missed more than three days (thanks to weekends), but the policy still annoys me. Is it an annoying policy, or am I just being overly sensitive? It still feels like having to prove I’m sick.

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      I don’t know if that’s reasonable or not, but I have a suggestion you can make to your employer. If they are going require a note, request they sign up with one of the services that allow you to Skype or call in a doctor’s visit. My employer has one (though I haven’t used it yet) and for $20 we can have a chat with a doctor at home.

      1. Not In NYC Any More*

        This is what I’d suggest. It doesn’t have to be through your company. I’ve used an online service for UTI through my insurance carrier, but I also know our local Urgent Care facility has an online option, and I think a couple of the national pharmacies do, as well. They can email you a PDF doctor’s note that you just print off yourself.

    2. Friday Anon*

      My company has this policy, and I’m fine with it. I think the assumption is that if you are out for more than 3 days, it is for something you would need to go to the doctor for such as the flu, bronchitis, etc. Being out for more than a day or two for a cold seems unusual. I’ve had cold symptoms last for about a week, but the worst is over in a day or two and I go back to work. Maybe if you’re in the healthcare field it’s different since you’re working with a vulnerable population.

      1. Gaia*

        I don’t go to the doctor for the flu but it could easily knock me out for a week. What is the doctor going to do? Tell me to rest, drink fluids, and rest more. All going to the doctor has done is spread my nasty little plague.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          This. In the UK during flu season they even put out ads telling people that unless they are in serious distress there really isn’t much the doctor can do, and the best thing is to stay home and rest. I think you can get a note to say you were out but it’s considered to be a bit of a waste of the doctor’s time (and there’s usually a fee).

          It’s one thing if you are missing a week or more for a serious problem, but sometimes common illness can really knock you out for no apparent reason. Three days seems like an overly stringent requirement.

    3. Amber Rose*

      I don’t know. To me, it was less about proving I was sick and more about proving I was doing what I could to get better. If I’ve been so sick that I need three plus days off, I clearly need to consult a professional about it, and my employer wants to know I’m not just letting it get worse and I’m working on it. Particularly for me, since any unaddressed cold turns almost immediately into bronchitis or pneumonia, and then I need to show that I’m not just taking time off, my doctor really needs me to do X to get better.

      Colds definitely do last more than a couple days sometimes, but I’m usually at least healthy enough to go back to work after two or three days, even if I’m not 100%. A cold where you’re way too sick to work for over three days sounds like more than a cold.

    4. It’s me*

      Is it just a little cold? I mean I work through tail ends of colds all the time. I’m sure doctors don’t want people with colds coming in to infect the rest of the people there because you’re right going to the doctor for that is a waste of time. If you truly need to take 4-5 days off for a cold maybe evaluate why? It doesn’t seem their policy is totally unreasonable it would be ideal if they just accepted you saying “I have a cold” but I have never taken off more than a day for the common cold.

      1. Anon for this*

        I get a cold and there’s a week of me in full-on cold mode. Then there’s a minimum of 4-8 weeks of me hacking my lungs out. Unless it turns into an infection, not one doctor has ever been able to give me anything for it. They recommend the usual home remedies. Obviously, I go back to work as soon as I can, but a cold can mean I’m off for at least 3-4 days.

        We won’t speak of the flu.

        I’d also point out there are people with weakened immune systems out there and what is a 1-2 day thing for you is a very different affair for them.

        1. New Anon*

          I feel like I have a pretty good immune system. I get sick about twice a year–with a cold, a virus, whatever’s going around–but when I get sick, I get sick. I rarely run a fever. But it always follow the same pattern. First a sore throat, caused by drainage, which makes me feel nauseous, then a nose that constantly drips no matter what I do, then being stuffed up that I’m doing tons of gross nose blowing. Throughout all this I feel terrible and couldn’t function at work. Then I’ll have a cough that lasts a few weeks. But yeah, the feeling terrible part will easily last for four days with me. Rarely a week. So I also get “just a cold” but it’s hardly a two day bug.

        2. Gumby*

          I’m very familiar with the post-cold hacking my lungs out thing. My cough sounded horrible. I mostly lived with it because it did last for months and months. A few times I went to the doctor (mainly because other people strongly suggested it) and the initial reaction was super-concerned. Like, “oh, you don’t have to wait in the waiting room, let’s get you a bed so you can lie down” whereas I was all “I’ve been like this for 2 months and only came in because my RA threatened me, I’m fine.”

          There were X-rays. There were blood tests. There were those breathe really hard into this thingamajig tests. (My *favorite* as they inevitably set off more coughing.) In most cases I walked out with standard inhaler prescriptions. Which did probably end things earlier than they would have otherwise.

          But! For the last 3 or 4 years I have avoided the cough-of-death entirely by taking a daily OTC allergy pill based on a suggestion from my doctor. I probably have slight allergies (and also possibly slight asthma) which don’t need treatment for normal day-to-day living but they get amplified by colds and then linger. At least that is my working theory and since the pills are effective I’m fine with it.

        3. EnfysNest*

          I wonder if it would be acceptable for someone with a weakened immune system or who consistently has a timeline like yours to get a note once from their doctor stating that they have a longer recovery time and to resubmit that same note each time the issue comes up so that they don’t have to visit the doctor again every time. I work for a branch of the government, so we have this policy and it’s not going anywhere, but I wonder if reusing the same note for the same issue could be acceptable. Perhaps it could even be considered a form of reasonable accommodation if it was brought up that way?

      2. Dance-y Reagan*

        My colds always, always turn into a URI. When my practice gets a new doctor, they will tell me to tough it out since it’s “just a cold” even though I know the infection is setting in. They make me wait, then it snowballs, and often I need 2 or 3 rounds of antibiotics to knock it out. And NOT a Z-pak; those are worthless with persistent sinus infections.

        Finally, the senior doctor at the practice wrote a note in my file to give me a specific 10-day antibiotic when I come in, and basically told them to take me seriously. He also had me screened for sinus surgery to see if that would help, but I’m not a candidate.

        TL;DR: my colds turn into a 2-week misery-fest. That’s just how it is for some people.

    5. Drop Bear*

      It’s fairly standard where I live – though with UHC the cost isn’t that high. My employer’s reasoning is that if someone is going to be way from work for more than a few days some planning needs to be done around duties, so getting some idea from a doctor about likely return date is helpful.

    6. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      It’s definitely annoying, but on paper that policy is really common. Some managers will enforce it, some won’t. Sometimes it’s there in case a manager suspects an employee is abusing their sick leave. Sometimes it comes from HR, so it isn’t your manager’s call. I would check with your manager to see if it’s something they really enforce, but don’t push back too hard if it is.

      That said, missing three days straight more than once a year for colds is a lot, IMO. I would focus more with your manager on trying to figure out if you can work from home, or schlep in for a couple hours and keep yourself completely isolated from your coworkers, or something to mitigate the missed time.

    7. Psyche*

      I think it is annoying but not egregious. Being sick enough that you can’t work for three days generally does require a doctor’s visit anyway. It feels like having to prove you are sick because that is exactly what they are asking. It is annoying but at least they don’t require it for every single sick day.

    8. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’m guessing you have a very generous sick leave policy if you can afford to miss 4 or 5 days for a cold.

      But, yeah, I think requiring a note after missing X number of days is perfectly reasonable.

      1. Anon412*

        I can afford to miss 4 days for a virus that knocks me on my butt, yeah. But we hardly have a generous sick leave policy. I don’t get sick a lot, so it builds up.

    9. CatCat*

      It’s an annoying and infantilizing policy as applied to everyone (I could see it with an employee with chronic absenteeism issues, but otherwise no.)

      I either (1) wouldn’t do it and let the chips fall where the may, or (2) would come in sick on day 4.

      1. Drop Bear*

        For some companies there are legitimate reasons for asking for it – obviously picking 3 days as the cut off point is a bit arbitrary but it has to be some number.

    10. Baby Fishmouth*

      That’s actually a fairly common policy – requiring a doctor’s note after 3 days isn’t egregarious, as usually 3 days off work means it’s something relatively serious-ish.

      Honestly though, taking 4-5 days off for a cold is a lot! I’ve never heard of someone taking that much time off for just a normal, common cold.

      1. Becky*

        I’ve also seen it as an assurance that a doctor clears you as healthy to return to work and (hopefully) not contagious.

    11. Hope*

      It’s an annoying policy, but it’s semi common? At least you only have to do it if it lasts longer than three days. I used to work at a place that required it for any sick leave (and we were responsible for finding coverage…not easy to do when you’re out because you have a sore throat so bad you can’t talk above a whisper). My current employer requires a doctor’s note if we miss a full week, which is a pain, but fortunately not many people are out for that long unless it’s serious.

    12. Anonamoose*

      You are having to prove you’re sick, but if they only want a note if you’re missing three days or more so it seems reasonable. That’s over half the work week out. I feel like any illness that can keep you from going to work for 3+ days is serious enough to warrant going to the doctor–or not so serious you need to miss work. And if I was getting colds regularly, I would wonder if there was some other underlying issue that makes me more susceptible to getting colds that needs to be addressed.

      1. Anon412*

        I never said I was getting them regularly. I sick maybe once a year. But when I do, it hits me. Maybe I’m using the wrong words; everyone seems to think ‘cold’ is something trifling. I’ll get some sort of virus and be sick for the better part of a week. Is that unusual?

        But it’s not strep throat or the flu, just the crud.

        1. CheeryO*

          I think most people take one or two days off and then work through the remainder of the crud, for better or worse. I can’t remember the last time any of my coworkers were out for more than two days for anything other than the flu or surgery.

        2. Toys in the attic*

          I don’t think it’s unusual at all. Case in point: I’m a relatively healthy individual who started getting sick with a run-of-the-mill cold on Tuesday. I called out of work Wed, was still stick but able to work from home Thurs, and am back in the office today, but I still am blowing my nose quite often and coughing, even though I FEEL better and don’t have a fever. And as the day goes on, I’m certainly feeling less well, so I probably should have stayed home again.

          I agree with others who say that it’s not unusual for people to push through the tail end of a cold at work (even though it will certainly slow your recovery time).

      2. Anon for This*

        Why would I go to the doctor for a bad cold? They can’t give you anything. It’s a virus and antibiotics won’t impact it. I get these colds about 1-2 times a year. It’s not like it’s every month and pointing to a larger issue.

        I’m in my fifties and I just don’t bounce back the way I used to. I wish I did, but that’s not the way it works for me anymore.

        Also, to get into the doctor, that either entails an appointment which is hard to get, plus the copay or urgent care, with a really outrageous copay. Usually, I’ve been told that unless the symptoms are really really bad or it’s lasting more than a week, I should stay home, get rest, drink lots of fluids, etc.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Will the doctor/nurse send you a doctor’s note if you call in and explain your symptoms?

          Might save you the copay at least.

          We have to have a note if we’re going to be out more than 2 consecutive days. It’s not at the supervisor’s discretion, it’s an edict from HR.

          I was out 4 days last week (3 days w/o pay as we don’t have sick leave and can’t roll over vacation so I didn’t have much left). I did have a note as my bf made me go to the dr and I was prescribed antibiotics, so it was okay.
          (It was an eye/sinus infection).

          I would have been really peeved though if it was just flu, no point is paying the $60 copay to get a note for that.

          1. Anon for This*

            I’d have to check with my current primary care physician. They would never do that at the last one I was with. You came in or no note.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I hope you mean “just a common cold” because there is no “just flu”….people DIE of the flu. We’ve been incredibly lucky the last decades. I’m glad the scares over H1N1 (mostly) fizzled out. I’m the youngest kid of a youngest kid and in my 50s…so i heard first hand about the Spanise Flu of 1918. People died within HOURS of first exposure. More people died of it that winter than in the entire WWI fighting.

    13. kittymommy*

      My company has it as well. They also have where if you call in sick next to a holiday (think calling in Friday when we have the following Monday off for Christmas) you need a note if you want holiday pay for the Monday (this actually doesn’t affect the sick leave itself). I don’t know, maybe because most everyplace I’ve worked at has something similar, it seems fine to me.

    14. Ciara Amberlie*

      I think three days is common, but in my opinion, it’s a bit short.

      I’d say after a week, requesting a note is reasonable. But a bad cold can easily take you out for three plus days and, like you say, going to the doctor for it would be a complete waste of time.

      If you’re in an environment where lots of people might abuse the sickness policy, then I can maybe see an employer wanting to see proof a bit earlier. But really, companies should trust their employees not to game the system. If they don’t then they need to ask themselves why they’re employing people that they don’t trust (or why their company might be pushing people to lie about sickness, e.g. denying vacation requests at the last minute).

      1. Auntie Social*

        But I think the “three days and a note” means that someone in the past has already gamed the system. My old boss ran into one of his “sick” paralegals—-in Vegas.

        1. Ciara Amberlie*

          True. But the last bit of my second paragraph still stands. If it was just one person (or a handful) taking advantage, then discipline that person, there is no need to punish good employees! And if it’s a systematic problem, the company should delve a little deeper into why that is, and try to fix that first. Because most people don’t actually want to scam their employer out of sick time (that is my personal experience, others may disagree).

    15. Bostonian*

      My previous company had this policy, and it annoyed the hell out of me (for all the reasons you stated). I also never had to actually use it (in the 8 years I was there), but that’s probably because I would just go in the 3rd day to avoid having to go to the doctor (it’s hard to remember for certain).

      So, it probably is common, but I don’t think it’s wise.

    16. ThankYouRoman*

      Our policy is we “may request” a doctor’s note after 3days but it’s discretionary. It’s for those people who call in sick and show up on Instagram partying kind of stuff.

      It’s actually part of the state sick leave law as well.

    17. I'm A Little Teapot*

      All I know is, I’ve had multiple doctors tell me they hate that policy, which tells me that it should not exist.

    18. WellRed*

      Annoying and infantilizing and inconvenient. I am honestly surprised at all the comments about how common it is. I guess I have been lucky with my employers.

    19. Gaia*

      Not even a little reasonable with the RARE exception of: you might still be contagious and there are very real concerns around this (like you work with immune-compromised populations).

      1. Anon412*

        I would say a policy like this is equally as likely to backfire and make someone go back to work on the fourth day because they don’t want to be bothered with going to the doctor. (I don’t work with immune-compromised populations, FWIW.)

        I’m surprised at how many people go back to work even when they feel bad. It’s kind of funny that my workplace has this policy, as they are also very encouraging of using sick time. As in, “We don’t you want you here, because we don’t want to get sick!” My manager has sent people home before. But this is a company wide HR thing, so.

    20. Hiring Mgr*

      Personally, i think it’s unreasonable for employers to treat adults like schoolchildren, but apparently this is not uncommon

    21. Middle School Teacher*

      Its a bit annoying but for us it’s part of proving you are either healthy enough to come back, or sick enough to stay out, for a few reasons: in a lot of boards, if a teacher is out for more than three days straight, they are no longer required to make sub plans; and also, after we use all our sick days, we go automatically into short term disability. It’s annoying and I hate we have to pay for it but I can see why we have to get a sick note.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        It’s worse where I work. New employees can’t take sick time until they’ve been here three months–except that recent hires are being told it’s *six* months. Come on, who goes six months without at least getting the sniffles or a bug?

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          That seems pretty ridiculous. I’d be mad if I was told no sick leave for six months.

    22. Where’s my coffee?*

      For a single day it’s unreasonable. For greater than 3 days it’s reasonable—this isn’t arbitrary as much as it is a recognition that the condition may be moving into FMLA territory.

    23. Former Retail Manager*

      I work for the feds and this is how our policy is written, but it leaves it up to the manager. (i.e. the manager may require a note). When I worked in private enterprise previously, the policy was the same. More than 3 days = note required, but I never had a supervisor enforce it unless they believed someone was abusing it.

    24. Becky*

      I would consider being sick 3 or more days something more serious, highly impactful to your health or possibly contagious and would see requiring a doctor’s note not to prove you were sick but to prove you are healthy enough to return to work and are not contagious or likely to spread the sickness around.

    25. Saph*

      My company has the same policy. Out for 3 or more days, you need a dr’s note. Our insurance company has a mychart website that we can use for various reasons. I’ve used it to obtain a dr’s note before and it cost me nothing. It might be worth checking out.

    26. AnonForThis*

      My company has this policy and they explicitly say it’s because if you’ve been out for three solid days, they want to (1) make sure you’re ok for work and (2) talk to you about FMLA or other benefits you might qualify for based on your illness.

    27. tangerineRose*

      It’s annoying, but it’s not uncommon. Seems like a waste of your time and energy and a waste of the doctor’s time too.

      Another option might be going to work on the 3rd day and being clearly so miserable that they send you home – it might be quicker too.

    28. Someone Else*

      Requesting it for multiple consecutive days seems very reasonable to me. My company policy is they “may” request a note for absences of more than 3 days, but they do not require one in that case.
      If your company had this policy for any sick leave, that would not be reasonable, but for 3 days I think you are being overly sensitive.

    29. MissDisplaced*

      I think my employer requires a doctor note only at 5 days, which is pretty reasonable. 3 seems a little short to me, but I guess it depends on the job/field/industry.

    30. LGC*

      So that’s my org’s policy. And I’ve always thought of it as…more like proving you’re healthy enough to work.

      It is a little onerous, I’ll admit. But I can see my org’s side of things – if you’re sick enough to be out for three days, we’re assuming you were pretty sick. I’ve never been hit with that myself but it’s something I worry about a little.

    31. IndoorCat*

      One reason I dislike these policies is, what if they can tell from the type of doctor the nature of your illness? Some illnesses are much more stigmatized than others, or simply more private for cultural reasons. I wouldn’t want my employer knowing I needed to see a psychiatrist or a gynecologist unexpectedly, for example. But, those are the people I’d see if I had a sudden serious mental health crisis or genital problems that lasted for 3+ days; I wouldn’t go to my primary care physician.

      My current employer doesn’t have this policy, fortunately, but I would definitely worry that a nosy employer would Google the doctor’s name or the office, and then it would be obvious. To the point that I worry, hypothetically, that I would risk my own health by pushing myself to go into work when I shouldn’t, or choose to go to an ER at a generic hospital when actually my regular specialist doctor would be a wiser choice, to avoid getting “found out.”

      Part of this is on me, but really, it’s not any of a manager’s business, especially if an employee generally uses sick leave infrequently and is responsible with getting all their work done.

  15. Stuck in the same place.*

    Is the only way to move up, to want to manage people?

    I’m feeling “stuck.” I got the promotion that I wanted, from Teapot Coordinator to Senior Teapot Coordinator – they agreed to switch my title because I had been Teapot Coordinator for a few years, and I asked for the switch. I don’t know why, when it was announced, I was more “meh” and “ho hum” about it than excited, although I did tell some people in my life. I love my job and the people I work with. Some have been here for decades and others are approaching a decade here and I don’t want to leave either, I love it here.

    But I feel like others are “moving upwards and onwards” and here I am. My old coworkers who held the same title as me Llama Groomers Incorporated are now Managers and Senior Managers at other companies, so they’ve moved up and on and more than likely, have those salaries to show for it.

    1. Mimmy*

      I worry about the same thing. I am not at all interested in–or comfortable with–managing people, but that seems to be involved in many professional-level positions :/

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Companies need highly skilled individual contributors so if you prefer that just keep advocating for title bumps and raises for yourself. I had to do that (unsuccessfully) at OldJob but NewJob realizes that I like to play with things so they will shoot over a few things here and there they are struggling with or just don’t have the bandwidth for and I figure it out. I get get increased knowledge and exposure and they get a finished product. I’ve gotten 2 significant raises and title bumps since I started here for the contributions I’ve already made (as opposed to “now you have to do this too”).
      Meanwhile the other 2 coworkers closest to my level were made supervisors recently. At first I was a bit bummed that they didn’t consider me for that level but then I realized all the shit I don’t have to deal with and got really happy with my title bump and raise.

    3. drpuma*

      Maybe it would be helpful to define what you mean by “moving up.” You mention title, salary, managing people. What’s the most important to you? If you are just looking for a salary increase, depending on your industry and skillset you may be able to find it by acting as a one-person freelance shop. But that still involves some client wrangling. Again, it depends on what’s most important to you.

    4. ThankYouRoman*

      Well I’ve always moved into spots that are small enough I’m managing myself. So it depends on company size in that regard. I’ve only ever had to manage people once and I’m paid more as a lone wolf who’s just my own department and an advisor to the big boss.

    5. HBucket*

      if you feel stuck, what will it take to get unstuck? And don’t think of it in terms of what you see other people at other companies doing. Think of it in terms of your happiness, quality of life….

      1. OP for this Question*

        The financial capability to live without roommates is a big one. While I love my roommate, boy do I wish to live alone, even if it’s a smaller space. But studios start at $1,700+ in this area and there’s no way I will be paying that, unless I make way more money. I have been given good raises here but I feel like it still won’t be enough because my rent keeps going up every time my lease is up (I expect this, I am just stating a fact) so any extra “raises” I get goes to rent.

        I know the whole “don’t compare yourself to others” but I really can’t help it, when others are moving upwards and onwards, even if I don’t want to do what they’re doing. Like Old Coworker, “Annie” who is now a Senior Manager at Different Llama Company. Annie was promoted to Senior Llama Coordinator 4+ years ago at our old job and I JUST got promoted to “Senior Coordinator” at Teapots Inc.

        1. HBucket*

          I’m sorry. I hope my original response didn’t come off as cold. I just have really only recently learned that the way for me to figure out what to do (in any situation) is to first remove the emotion. So if it’s money (and that’s not a bad thing), I guess the questions are:
          1) Is there any chance to move up at the speed you would like with current employer?
          2) Is there another employer where you might be able to move faster?
          3) Is more education/training worthwhile to get you where you want to be?
          4) If all else fails, can you move a little further out to get better rent? (I feel you… I am in DC)

          1. OP for this Question*

            I don’t think it sounded cold at all! I think it was a good question to ask someone who is stuck, but the money part is the first step. I know others my age and even people who are younger than I am who make way more $ than me and are living alone/doing other things. To answer your questions,

            1 – No, it is a small company. There’s only a handful of us (less than 10 people)
            2 – Definitely, especially since I work for a highly regarded company in this industry. But I don’t want to switch jobs. Salary isn’t what I want here but everything else pretty much is (drama free, best coworkers and boss, good hours, enjoyable work, great clients)
            3 – Sure, some people have a masters in this field but it’s not a requirement. I also don’t want to go back to school.
            4 – I am also living in the DMV area. For what I have in terms of space, I actually pay a reasonable rent, which is the crazy part. My part in our 2 bed/2 bath is $1,410 which includes all utilities except internet. This amount also includes garage parking (there is no option for not having a parking space because street parking in the area where I live is 2 hours only on weekdays. I don’t always drive to work.)

    6. Toys in the attic*

      Ugh. I’m in the same boat. I love training, teaching and mentoring, but I’m not sure I would like/be good at other aspects of being a manager. There is no career progression in my role past “senior” that doesn’t involve management, but I think the department is doing some soul-searching on having a career ladder for individual contributors because there are way too many of us to all have a direct report eventually.

    7. NW Mossy*

      It depends a lot on the company whether or not you need to manage people to move beyond a certain level. Different places handle it differently, and it’s not always obvious from the outside.

      At my company, we have high-level individual contributor roles that are on a similar pay scale to manager and director roles. They’re great roles and a critical way to keep experienced high performers who don’t want to manage, but they are very few in number – think less than ten in a division of almost 400 people. By contrast, manager and director jobs are a lot more plentiful, so most people who want more pay and advancement take that path.

      Personally, I ended up doing a bit of both. I maxed out in the individual contributor job family I was in, so I applied out to one of these rare-as-hen’s-teeth jobs and got it. I ended up pivoting from that job into management a couple of years later when the right opportunity came along, and I’ve been doing that since. It was a slower path than going straight to management, but ultimately, the detour meant that I was both more capable and more interested in managing by the time I got there.

    8. Sleepytime Tea*

      No, going into management is not the only way to move up, in terms of responsibility and salary, if that’s what you’re asking. But it also depends on your industry and job to a certain extent. So for example, I’m a teapot analyst. I started out in finance, worked in revenue, moved up to senior, and now I’m on an IT team. Each move was an increase in salary and responsibility. There is a ton that can be done in the analyst world and so many directions it can go. I have zero desire to go into management (at least right now), but that hasn’t held me back from finding higher level jobs. My current job title isn’t “senior” like my previous position, but it’s actually much more responsibility and interesting work because of the department I’m in.

      So it does depend on how narrow your field is and how specific you experience is to an industry. I recommend just going online and searching jobs in your realm. See what’s out there and what jobs with your experience, or at least some of your experience, are going for salary-wise. That can give you an idea of what experience you might need to get next to move up or what other opportunities there are. If you’re in a really specific industry or type of work though, yes, management may indeed be your only option for moving up. Or it could be that there’s not much room to move up in your specific organization and you need to start looking outside of it.

    9. Becky*

      I am finding more and more I really don’t want to manage people. I know I have significant weaknesses in that area and though I could improve them I just don’t enjoy or want to manage people. I’m actually actively looking into process and product management which is more my area of interest.

  16. A. Ham*

    Looking for some recommendations for desk organization supplies.
    They recently reconfigured my cube and now I have a lot more room (especially desk space) and have to re-think how I organize the stuff on my desk. Also- in reconfiguring, I lost my magnet board that used to be part of our standard cube setup, but I’ve been approved to order a new one.
    So, what are your favorite desk organization supplies? And do you have a magnet (or cork) board that you really like? I like stuff with a little design personality, but nothing totally OTT.

    1. ThankYouRoman*

      I have dreams of a magnet board. It’s on my list for when we move locations. Right now my walls are my cork board.

      I like things with compartments. I also prefer L shaped filing systems to the evil outdated wire racks.

    2. drpuma*

      I got some cute printed file folders from a teachers’ supplies website for half the cost of printed folders at stationery stores. Enjoy and get creative about where you shop.

    3. School Inclusion Specialist*

      I really like the organizers from Poppin
      Fun colors and the different pieces fit together well.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m an “out of sight, out of mind” person so when I have physical files to deal with, I rely heavily on desktop trays and sorters. The configuration varies depending on the job, but I usually opt for the black wire mesh because it looks a little more polished than plastic and looks nicer longer than acrylic.

      I also had this super sturdy shelf thing that hung on my cube wall so that I could get my binders and things up and out of the way and keep my desk surface clear for spreading out papers and projects.

      I always keep my phone to the left of my monitors because I hold the phone with my left shoulder if I’m not using a headset.

  17. Nervous Accountant*

    Simple misunderstanding or do I need to shift my mindset or something here? I always get good advice here, esp things that help me change my mindset.

    Yesterday, I went into an rage (and by rage I mean I was sitting with a frowny grumpy face at my desk for an hour while I worked) b/c I was left out o f a meeting I should have been in. I cooled down, and asked the mgr who held it why I wasn’t included and it turned out to be a simple misunderstanding.

    I got upset b/c this was one of the mgrs I’d had issues with in the past. (I had told my mgr and he said we can sit and talk it out…things got better so I dropped it and the talk didn’t happen). I thought it was just one more example in a list of behavior, hence my frustration.

    Old me would have felt silly for being so upset but now I also kind of dont’ feel silly for being upset. Ok, he gets a pass on this specific example , but I still constantly get the sense that “I dont’ see you as a competent, professional valuable member of the team.”

    I keep my head down and do my work, help out my team however I can and stopped being bothered about someone respecting me or not. But this legit felt like going 6 steps back.

    Tbh I’ve never brought it up to him face to face b/c I’m not confrontational and I’m scared of crying. I hate this about myself. I don’t know if this is even something worth having a conversation about.

    1. Psyche*

      Do you think that he was lying about it being a misunderstanding/oversight? If so then maybe you should keep a log of the things that make you feel like this manager doesn’t respect you and then have a conversation about it or go to someone you trust at the company for advice on how to handle it. If you do believe him, then still keep that list but don’t include this on it. You may be at BEC stage which makes even minor slights seem egregious. That is why it might be helpful to write things down, take a step back and evaluate that list. It can help show if there is actually a pattern and all the little things are building up or it could help you see that it isn’t as bad as it felt in the moment.

    2. Murphy*

      Ha, one of the things I’m mad about today is that my boss said he wanted to get me involved in a new huge project from the beginning…and then forgot to invite me to the first meeting. :-/ Not the first time he’s done this, and probably won’t be the last, so I can relate.

      I think you’re justified in being upset, but I’m not sure there’s much you can do about it.

    3. Tara S.*

      That’s super frustrating. My manager gives me great mentoring and has expressed how happy he is with my work, but he still leaves me off staff emails (accidentally, I later confirm) or misspells my name in email. It feels disrespectful and like it should be a sign of something (am I unmemorable in a way that’s affecting my job?), but I try to focus on the positive aspect of our work relationship and take his feedback at face value. “Do not assign to malice what can be contributed to ignorance” something something. I hope things turn up for you soon.

    4. HBucket*

      I had something similar happen a couple years ago. I do not have a poker face so my boss knew I was bent about something. Fortunately, she approached me and i told her and she apologized profusely and figured out a way that it didn’t happen again. Perhaps you should approach the manager. They may think you’re invited and wonder why you don’t show??

      1. HBucket*

        P.S. I started tearing up when talking to her about it (because I cry at only inopportune moments!) so just breathe and try to hold the tears in.

    5. Sleepytime Tea*

      Maybe I’m shameless, but I have crashed meetings that I know I should be a part of. Not literally show up uninvited without telling anyone, but if I learn about it ahead of time I just reach out to the organizer and ask if it would be useful for me to be there and explain why I think I should participate. Seriously, sometimes it slips people’s minds even when it seems obvious.

      Example 1: A meeting where they were mapping out the flow from manufacturing to sales of a product. I was on the pricing team. They COMPLETELY FORGOT TO PRICE THE PRODUCT in the flow. That’s a meeting I learned of maybe a day or two ahead of time and just pinged the person holding it, whom I’d never even heard of, and said that my team handles pricing approvals and putting the product in the ordering system, and would it be useful if I attended? (Yes.)

      Example 2: Meeting about deploying a new system to a team that my team trains. Did they think about who was going to train that team on the new system? Nope, didn’t occur to them. Again, no one I’d met before, but reached out and suggested that perhaps a representative from the training team should attend so we could find out what they might need in deployment. (They were thrilled because yes, they forgot, and yes, they needed training. Duh.)

      1. tangerineRose*

        “if I learn about it ahead of time I just reach out to the organizer and ask if it would be useful for me to be there and explain why I think I should participate. ” – excellent idea.

    6. Meteor*

      It may help to try to keep the perspective that work simply isn’t personal. It sounds like you took this very personally (“frowny grumpy face for an hour”, “bothered about someone respecting me or not”).
      Sometimes team structures and (who’s an important attendee) can be difficult to understand for someone on a different team. Or perhaps this person was just scatterbrained when they put the meeting together. If you have good documentation of several other, worse instances of “lack of respect” from this person, perhaps it is worth another discussion with your manager. But it’s really likely that this isn’t a personal slight at all.

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      Mmm….a couple of options IMO, neither of which really matter if this was a legitimate oversight or deliberate snub.

      1) This person may never see you has a competent member of the team that should be valued and respected. And you just have to accept that, do the best work you can do, and hopefully prove him wrong, if you haven’t already.

      2) You say the sit-down meeting to hash out the issues between the 2 of you never happened because he began behaving differently. I’d give it another month or so (time to see if he’s really changed his tune or not) and if other instances occur, then I’d have the sit-down. It will be hard, but I’d make every effort to keep the discussion factual (take notes ahead of time listing specific instances you want to address with him), and not get emotional, and see if you can really get to the bottom of this person’s issue with you and see how you two can move forward and work together. (Or it might illuminate the fact that you can’t ever work together well, but it doesn’t sound unsalvageable based on what you’ve said today. I don’t know the backstory though.)

      For now, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and wait to see how he interacts with you in the future.

    8. ..Kat..*

      You have said that this manager (and the other one giving you problems) is male. Are you female? When considering the past history in past posts, (if you are female) this appears to be more gender based harassment – which is illegal in the USA. Given this manager’s past behavior, I would consider it more harassment and at least report it to your manager. Have you reported this stuff to HR? Have you considered filing a complaint with your state’s labor department?

      I hope you have been keeping a log about these incidents. If not, start now and include as many past incidents as you can remember. Don’t put this log on your work computer. Do keep a copy at home.

    9. BluntBunny*

      I would ask for meeting minutes and slides if there were any and see if there anything we need to catch up on. I think a change of mindset might be in order depending on what the meeting was about was it part of a regular monthly meeting where you just get updates which you could get another time or really could be done over email, or was it an opportunity to meet other people that’s not going to come round again. I think what the consequences of not being invited is important rather than just being left out. Something you could do is contribute more to agenda items say I would like to give an update on X please add me to the agenda or at the end of the meetings where it’s AOB bring up what you feel is relevant. By taking on a more active role in meetings the team as well as your manager will remember you and what insight you bring.

  18. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone have a good resource for finding salary information on information systems security officer positions? This position is in the aerospace industry rather than banking, so I’m having a hard time finding what I’m looking for. The position appears to be more on the side of document and systems security rather than pure cyber security, and includes awareness training, preparing for and leading internal/external audits (point person), system maintenance and audits, certification and accreditation of computer systems and creation and implementation of SOPs. It would be working under information systems security manager. In the banking world, where I am now, the officer position would usually be considered the higher position, so looking for salaries for the typical officer position doesn’t really translate I don’t think.

    1. Elle*

      You might not be able to get that specific. But try going to Glassdoor and Indeed and looking under companies, rather than job descriptions. For instance, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, GE, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, Raytheon. Then sort by IT and security positions and see what comes up. I believe that kind of job is pretty industry specific.

  19. Psyched Out in the South*

    Finally got over my cover letter nerves and fired off several applications!

    I applied to two similar positions at a company earlier this month, and it turns out I will be in their city for a couple days in two weeks. Would it be appropriate to reach out to a recruiter to let them know I will be in town those days and would be available to talk if they think I’m a good fit? Trying to stay out of gumption territory, but also save my PTO.

    1. Psyche*

      I wouldn’t. If they have not reached out to you to invite you to an interview it would probably come across as presumptuous. If they reach out and offer a phone interview you could ask if they would prefer in person while you are in the city, but that is as far as I would go.

    2. ThankYouRoman*

      Have you had any contact since the applications were submitted?

      I ask because when I was moving cities, I made sure to let people know if I were in town but only if we had established interest. Such as a phone screening or email dialog chain. That worked in my favor each time.

      However if you haven’t had a nibble on your bait, you’re pushing too far into presumptuous territory.

  20. Anon From Here*

    Funny story this week at work: I had to take some paperwork to a manager I don’t usually interact with, and whom I don’t directly report to. His child, maybe age 8, was in the office with him, because of a well-baby appointment later that day. I handed over the paperwork and said something pleasant like, “Hey, these new interns get younger every year, right?” After the manager signed the paperwork, he handed it back to me. As I was turning to go, he said, “Thanks, sweetie!”

    It didn’t even register to my ears until I was through the door. I’ve been laughing about it all week. It was very, very clearly just a no-thought slip of the tongue. I think his brain must have been thinking, “Offspring, myself, and woman in office equals woman must be wife.” By the time I recognized what he’d said it was too late to go back, and it would have changed it from funny to awkward and unnecessary confrontation.

      1. Anon From Here*

        When I just kept walking away and ignored the term of endearment, I think I helped preserve everybody’s dignity. Maybe he’ll post about it the next time a “tell your cringe story” thread comes up!

    1. Not In NYC Any More*

      Oh wow. That just brought back a cringe-worthy moment. I’ve been on the the manager side. Was staying with son’s family complete with grandchildren while meeting with clients in his city. How do I speak to grandchildren? “Thank you, honey.” or “Do you want to play catch, honey?” or “Time for bed, honey.” So, when leaving big client’s office, it just seemed natural to say, “Glad we had time to meet, honey. I’ll get back to you with a proposal next week.” I just kept walking.

    2. Free Meerkats*

      Last month I closed a phone call with one of the big companies I regulate (you’ve probably ridden on one of the airplanes made here) with, “Love you” and hung up.

      I immediately called her back – she was still laughing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I said something very similar to my manager few years. I’d been fending off unwanted family phone calls…three or four phone calls ending “Okay love you bye.”
        And yep. I said that to my manager. Luckily she thought it was the funniest thing to happen all week.

    3. Penny Hartz*

      Back in my rock n’ roll journalist/editor days, I got a call at the office offering us an interview with a performer. Fairly quickly into the conversation, the promo guy and I realized we had worked together at a record label a few years earlier, so we ended up reminiscing, catching up, etc.–it was a much friendlier phone call than most.
      Since it was such a comfortable phone call, my brain must have gone to “talking to hubby or mom,” so the last thing I said to the guy before I hung up was “Love you!” A coworker who was in the room at the time wasted no time in 1) laughing his butt off, and 2) telling me I just told random NY promo guy I loved them.
      Called him back, got his voicemail, laughingly apologized. Had a good chuckle a few days later when he called back.

      1. Jen in Oregon*

        My husband drops me off at the train every morning, and every morning I lean in to kiss him goodbye then tell him I Love You as I shut the car door. A few weeks ago my boss dropped me off at the train station at the end of the day and I totally started leaning in to kiss her! She didn’t realize what I was doing at first and I probably could’ve passed it off as leaning in to open the door or grab my stuff but instead I started laughing hysterically and blurted out what I almost did because I knew she’d think it was hilarious. I told her our morning ritual, so we exchanged Love Ya!s as I got out of the car. This is not a habit we’ve continued, but it was a fun, funny anecdote (I mean, we are a laid-back, casual group, especially for finance, but we’re not *that* laid-back and casual!)

  21. Nervous Accountant*

    It’s been an Interesting week. Halloween party today, so, open bar. Which I’ll need.. lol.

    Bunch of new hires started. Seems like a pretty decent bunch. So since August, it’s about 20 people, 2 of whom are gone.

    The first day I had a few sessions with them, and they were 5-20 minutes late. The rest of the week seemed to go smoother, I was super annoyed at the lateness, but apparently I was being too rigid about this

    One guy was on his phone all morning, like pacing back and forth in the lobby, and then texting all day long. I brought it up to his team leader, but the guy resigned the same day. oh well.

    This probably needs to be a post on its own but I’m nesting it here….it hasn’t reached that level yet I guess:

    I’m having issues with my “new” guy, the one who sits next to me (he’s from the first batch in august). He acknowledges I’m his supervisor but argues or ignores everything I say; if I tell him “well you shouldn’t be so abrasive with clients” he just gets very negative. I tell him to keep his phone on silent (seriously, that thing beeps/rings 12 times a day), *silence*

    I used to defer to my mgr on the issues I’m finding with him, but he wants me to take a more active role in training and stuff, including stuff like this. Now, this guy does have valid points sometimes, but there are things that I’m just like….can you pls stop fighting me on every damn thing. Im not gonna lie, I’m doubtful b/c I think my ego is playing a role in this. so, yeah , basically I’m shit on by both those above me and below me. Yay.

    1. Helpful*

      From this and your above post, and many others, it sounds like you are the common denominator. It may benefit you to receive some professional coaching in order to more specifically identify the patterns in place, the way you interact with others, etc. We can’t see those things via this forum but a professional could.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Thank you, That’s a good idea. Where would I even start? I don’t think my company has this. I can talk confidently with my own manager and the others that are peers. They are nice and helpful but I feel like… they’re the types tha can make anything and everything sound good . No secret that I have issues with ego, self esteem etc.

        1. Ali G*

          Dale Carnegie online has lots of good training tools. Look into new manager training or executive coaching (not sure which would be more appropriate for your level). If you feel you need one-on-one help, look for executive coaches in your area. You don’t have to be an “executive” per se, it’s more about learning how to navigate staffing issues, peers, etc.

        2. ThankYouRoman*

          They have professional development seminars and groups to help bolster your confidence and communication style. They’re relatively low cost depending on the setup, as in they range from 100-500 dollars and I’m comparing the cost to hiring a personal coach or taking a lengthy class! Still may be too steep price wise if you’re footing the bill but may be cheap enough to get your company to foot the bill.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I can see that I am the common denominator here. It’s taken me a lot of time and effort to shift the mindset of always reporting to someone to having someone report to me (while still reporting to others. I’m not secretive (here at least) about the fact that my insecurities really come in to play and make me doubtful of my every move. I know everyone tends to be insecure from time to time, I just wish I wasn’t so insecure. I have no reason to be.

            1. thepinkleprechaun*

              Have you ever been to counseling? I have issues with anxiety, not quite the same as insecurity but they both certainly makes your thought processes unhelpful (to put it mildly). I would highly recommend seeing an experienced cognitive behavioral therapist, they can give you real tools and strategies to sort of retrain your brain on how to react in interpersonal situations.

    2. ThankYouRoman*

      You need to be firm and not voice things in a questioning tone.

      “Turn your phone on silent.” not “Would you mind turning the ringer off?” You’re the boss, you have to stop dancing around the subject.

      He’s arguing because it’s either worked for him or he sees cracks in your armor. Be as harsh with him as he is with clients if you need to prove your point.

      I stopped softening things that aren’t suggestions and then if there is pushback the response is “it wasn’t a suggestion. Turn your phone off.”

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yep. Also, “why are you arguing with me about this?” is a good phrase to keep in your pocket.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          Oooh, this is helpful! I did talk to my mgr today and he said I can talk to him, and lay it out in clear terms what can/will happen if he continues to be like this. Other people are noticing so it is a big deal. I guess I hesitate to argue back b/c when he does push back, he has perfectly valid reasons for doing so. I see where he’s coming from. But at the end of the day, there are certain things that need to be done a certain way, and being abrasive with clients or your supervisors isn’t something that flies in any company.

          I like this language here. I’m going to look through the archives.

          1. Auntie Social*

            The arguing tells me hes not listening. “And you need to understand why WE do it THIS way. There are great and good reasons why we do it this way. Do it this way.”

            1. ThankYouRoman*

              The arguing shows me he lacks maturity and respect for authority. He sounds like a child pushing back when you tell him to put his toys away.

          2. neverjaunty*

            There are no perfectly valid reasons to be abrasive to clients.

            Stop treating this like a debate. You are his boss.

            1. Nervous Accountant*

              Sorry I meant, valid reasons to push back against what we say. Not to clients. i am definitely not OK with him being abrasive with some of them.

    3. Cowgirl in hiding*

      You might use some of the wording Alison has suggested for other posts to deal with him talking back and arguing about what he should do; office manners, being negative as a new hire, listening when you are training him etc. Talk with your manager about how much wiggle room you have with him and see where you stand as his manager. If it continues, put him one PIP, some people if you write them up change and some don’t and decide to leave or are fired. AMA has tons of examples on how to talk to employees and make them feel like they aren’t being belittled but gets the point across. Good luck.

    4. ..Kat..*

      Talk to your boss about what consequences you can enforce. Then start using consequences if this keeps occurring.

    5. Texan at Heart*

      Here are a few phrases that have helped me in this area. (I haven’t seen your previous posts, so please forgive me if I’m duplicating!)

      I noticed you’ve been xxxxx. Help me understand why. Ok I completely get you’re reasoning. We do it by xxxx here because xxxx. If you find that doesn’t work, you might also address your need for xxxx by xxxx.

      I know you disagree with me, and I understand why. Right now, I really need you to give this a try my way. Let’s check back in xxxx days to see how is going.

      I asked you to xxxx. It’s really essential that it happens. What’s preventing it? or What can I do to help with making it a priority? Or (in the case of the cell phone) What’s your plan for addressing this immediately? We’re going to be forced to have a different kind of conversation (or begin looking at a PIP or a better fit for this role or whatever disciplinary thing) if this continues.

      And when it’s really essential: I understand we disagree about this. At this company, this is how we do things. It’s not really something we can change at this stage, and I need you to follow through on xxx. Thanks!

      When I was really struggling in this area, I also reached out to a therapist to deal with my own issues. It sounds like that may be a good option for you too. Good luck!

  22. NewCareerSwitch*

    Possible Career switch–advice/direction appreciated! I’m interested the possibility of corporate training/instructional design as mentioned by Monday’s 5 Letters OP #2 (

    Those of you in this field, what certifications/education do you have? What does a typical week look life for you? Any great job titles or keywords to search that you learned with industry insider-knowledge? I’ve led trainings, webinars, etc and I really enjoy it–I’m thinking of looking for a position that would let me do it full time rather than just occasionally as the opportunities show up.

    Thanks Everyone!

    1. periwinkle*

      I’ve already posted some thoughts in the earlier thread started by Future Goggles.

      My company has professional instructors who can handle a wide range of topics and “amateurs” who hold other roles but share their expertise through teaching on their areas of technical expertise. The latter do get training on how to train, and most of our full-time instructors started off this way.

      And then there are the facilitators, who focus on facilitation and leading rather than teaching. Facilitators might lead executive workshops, train on non-technical topics (soft skills), facilitate all-team meetings or classes with multiple speakers, and otherwise keep discussions flowing while also keeping to the schedule and agenda.

      And then there are the instructional designers and other learning professionals who define performance issues, identify a knowledge gap, conduct learner and content analysis, determine appropriate learning solutions, and design/develop or oversee design/development.

      These are three separate skill areas. Some people do it all. Many specialize. What interests you?

      1. NewCareerSwitch*

        I saw, thank you! That comment must have been in moderation when I submitted mine. Looking at the three skill areas you outline, each are interesting–especially Instructing and Facilitating. I’ve done both, and as such I’m usually doing the ID work as well. Most organizations I’ve worked for/with aren’t large enough to have a separate team to do this, so I’ve worked to be able to handle each.

    2. Designing Woman*

      Hi, I’m an instructional designer! I work for a Fortune 5 company and I’ve been in my role for about 5 months. Before then, I worked with the ID team on a project basis; I was on a team that handled vendor relations for a certain ramp/sales period of the year, so during our sort of “off-season” we were utilized by other teams. I don’t have any ID-specific certifications. My degree is in professional writing, so I do think that experience and skill helped me catch on quickly to the part of the work that involves writing and summarizing ideas in an easy-to-understand way.

      When the job opened up it was because another designer left and I was already one of the helpers for the ID team. My 4 teammates came from various teams, including training delivery (facilitation), IT, and vendor support like myself.

      A typical week for me: a handful of meetings with stakeholders and subject matter experts, as well as my team. A majority of my time is independent and self-directed: I decide how much time to spend on X or Y project, deadlines are *usually* set relatively far out so I’m able to create my own plan for milestone goals and stuff. My team and I do spend time collaborating all the time; often that just consists of popping your head up or emailing the group and asking for another set of eyes on something. We’re usually all working on our own things, but often as parts of a larger thing we split up, like a new hire curriculum or an e-learning on YOY changes.

      I can’t really think of any keywords that you haven’t already identified (instructional design, training design, learning theory, ADDIE as mentioned above/below). I see that you do have some ID experience by virtue of being a trainer, which is great! I recognize that the route I took to my current role wasn’t exactly a straight line… the thing that really made my manager want me was the work she’d already seen me do for her, which I was able to do as a helper while in a different department entirely. So YMMV.

      It seems like it’s a growing field right now – I hope you can find something that works for you! Good luck!

      1. NewCareerSwitch*

        Thanks very much for your insight and response; much of this sounds like things I’m already doing on a much smaller scale when opportunities arise–though certainly not for a company at the Fortune 5 Level! I agree that this is a growing field, and that’s one of the reasons I’m interested in looking into it further.

    3. Forevanon*

      I also posted in the upthread topic! So glad there are lots of people interested in this field, because it benefits from having people with lots of different backgrounds and experience.

      As I told Future Goggles, I have no formal educational background in my field. I worked my way “up,” for lack of a better term, in the securities industry from sales assistant (read: admin assistant) to compliance, writing policies and procedures for a few years, and then I worked in oilfield services doing a variety of things, most recently on a change management project that morphed into an ID role, and when my contract with that company ended I decided to continue pursuing ID work, because I love it. I also have a natural affinity for technology and an aptitude for the technical, so I reinforced that wherever I could on my resume. Here’s what my work currently looks like, which is typical.

      I design, write, and develop content in a wide variety of “modalities” (that’s the current ID buzzword that just means how content is delivered to a student).

      Right now I am working on four different projects/courses in various stages of the development process that also cover a wide range of topics:

      In the planning stage: I am reviewing a five-week instructor-led course on a highly technical subject in preparation for its redesign. Today I had a meeting with our curriculum design manager (my boss), the instructor, and the SMEs for the subject in question. The course is a candidate for conversion to a “blended” delivery mode to reduce class time required (some content can potentially be delivered online via e-learning; much, by necessity, is conducted hands-on in a lab with an instructor). After today’s meeting I understand the challenges around this course, what needs to be delivered in person and why, and some other things I needed to know, so my next step is what I like to call “information architecture”: figuring out how to organize all the content, streamline it, generally make it nicer to look at, and package it in such a way that it can be delivered more efficiently while not overwhelming the students by condensing it too much.

      In the design phase: I am storyboarding an e-learning module on a very dry but safety-critical topic for advanced users. I’ll be creating graphics for this one as well as designing interactive components. The content
      in question is typically presented in tables. I’m developing more creative, engaging (well, hopefully, anyway) ways to present it. One example: there are safety “zones” that one has to understand, with concentric perimeters that require specific signage and specific training and protection to enter. I’ve made kind of an online diorama with the zones and a little dude in each one. The user interacts with these things to see the different signs, training requirements, and PPE. It demonstrates all of this using graphics, so what was previously about 20 slides of text content is now presented in a single interaction that is much easier to understand and remember.

      In the development stage: I have a wretched albatross of a project that I have spent the last four months converting from a 1,000 slide, 250-page script (basically a novel and a feature-length film worth of content) PowerPoint monstrosity into a clean, crisp, interactive course, divided into 9 20-minute modules. I hate this project with every atom of my being but the SME is absolutely thrilled with it! That is the only thing keeping me going at this point. I have another week and a half of this horrible thing where I will be creating the remainder of the interactive content and packaging it, recording the VO/audio (which I do myself), sending it out for peer-review by my colleagues and the SME, incorporating their feedback/critiques/fixing any bugs they find, then publishing it. And then hopefully I never have to look at it again.

      In peer-review: next week I am helping a colleague (who is less technically adept than I) with an e-learning course. I’ll be helping him map out some complicated branching logic, fix some interactive components that are misbehaving, and (he requested this specifically, lol) giving him feedback about where he can be more concise, because he is notoriously wordy. I’ll also be recording the female voice for his audio.

      A typical week for me could also include: going into the shop, safety googles and steel-toe caps on, to understand how something is physically done in a repair or manufacturing setting, teaching a classroom full of people from around the globe how to use VR technology, boning up on an engineering topic I know nothing about so I can discuss it intelligently with experts, writing scripts and lecture notes, creating graphics in Illustrator or enhancing crappy photos taken in a shop setting in Photoshop, animating text or objects in After Effects, recording voiceovers and/or editing audio, or helping my boss figure out how to fix a pivot table.

      It’s a super great job and I love it (but I still hate that project a lot).

      I am so very sorry for the ridiculously long post.

      1. NewCareerSwitch*

        Please don’t apologize for the length of this post–it was very helpful and informative. I’m technically inclined as well, but I don’t always share your affinity for technology. This is one of the areas I’ve already identified for my own self-development, so it was great to see you reinforce the importance of it to your work. Most all my ID thus far has centered on in-person learning (either by requirement or request) so navigating ENGAGING e-learning methods and practices will be a vital aspect of rounding out my skill set. Thank you so much for the insight, and good luck with that albatross of a project!

        1. Forevanon*

          I’m always glad to have an excuse to talk about my work. :P

          Don’t be discouraged if technology is not your strongest suit! I’m sort of the go-to geek on the team but most of the IDs I work with (it’s a big company so we have a large team, which is a new experience for me) are not as advanced … they can design really cool things but can’t always figure out the best way to implement it or figure out what’s wrong if it doesn’t work. Having said that, if you’re using one of the latest e-learning authoring suites, they are extremely user-friendly and it’s pretty easy to build interactive content. Definitely download some demos (they’re usually free for 30-60 days) and play with them if you’re interested. There are courses on Lynda that can help you with this also. (That’s where I learned!)

          I work on traditional instructor-led training, job aids, etc as well — in fact, this company relies heavily on workbooks, self-study guides, and other more traditional materials — but the majority of my workload lands in the e-learning realm because that’s where my strength is.

          In any case, the blended approach is the way most companies are headed. Nothing can take the place of hands-on, in-person delivery for practical training in my industry (basically, it would be like trying to go into the shop and work as an auto mechanic without ever having driven or seen anything but engineering drawings of a car). Online delivery for conceptual learning is less expensive both time- and money-wise, and generally more efficient, but many IDs haven’t figured out how to create interactive, and, yes, engaging learning experiences instead of linear, narrated PowerPoint presentations (although there are a lot of GREAT designers out there too). So even if you don’t create e-learning material, having a good understanding of both worlds (digital and traditional) and where each can serve a curriculum and budget best is probably the best position to be in to get a job in this field!

  23. ella*

    We have a keurig machine in my office, and my employer buys k-cups for us, both coffee and tea, which is very cool. Usually for coffee, they buy a box of “assorted” k-cups (light, medium, and dark roasts) and a separate box of decaf. Twice in the past month, someone has taken all of the light and medium k-cups out of the box, and replaced them with all dark roast. Like the number of k-cups in the box stays the same from one day to the next, but instead of 30 k-cups of assorted roasts, there will be 30 k-cups of all dark roast. What is happening?? Someone is squirreling away light and medium roast coffee, clearly, but where is all the dark roast coming from??

    Like, I’ll drink it, free coffee is free coffee, but I’m so confused about what is happening.

    1. BadWolf*

      Maybe someone got a giant box ‘o dark roast for a gift and hates it and figured this was a good way to trade in for light/medium?

      1. ella*

        Maybe! It’s the same brand of coffee, though, and it’s not a common retail brand like Starbucks or Dunkins, though it might be available at Costco. And why not just swap out the boxes? Why put all the dark roast in the assorted box? We’re already buying the biggest size that the roaster sells (because I just went to the roaster’s website and looked at their offerings because that’s how much this has gotten to me, haha).

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          Maybe they also have an assorted box and they want the light and medium but not the dark roast. Maybe they have several assorted boxes, or buy them routinely. Hence the quantity.

      2. LCL*

        Ha ha, yeah. I buy the K cups for our office. I get them at Costco, and always get a single variety box. Quantities vary between 60-120 K cups per box. Most people here prefer the darker roast, I think your idea as to what is happening is right.

    2. Shelly*

      I’m not a coffee drinker (and have never used a keurig in my office) and I still think this is totally crazy. Is there another keurig in a different part of the building? I wonder if someone in that area is buying the same multi-packs but never using the dark roast/everyone prefers the light and medium. So strange

      1. ella*

        There is another keurig, but we all get the same supplies from the same person. But yeah. Maybe the upstairs only drinks light roast so they’re engaging in some supply redistribution.

      2. Joielle*

        I think this is the most likely! This whole issue is hilarious to me though, because I’d totally be doing the same thing… like this doesn’t REALLY affect me and I don’t ACTUALLY care, but WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE

    3. Tara S.*

      I remember a strongly worded email from my old non-profit job’s CEO that he had bought the assorted sweeteners in the kitchen for general use and whoever took all the Splenda packets had *better* put them back by tomorrow. Give people an inch and they’ll take a mile, but after the email rant the sugars came back, so…

    4. Cosette*

      I don’t know…. but I’ll take all the dark roast you can throw at me! Only, please don’t throw it at me!!

  24. Bee's Knees*

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    Wakeen reads his emails out loud as he writes them. He also speaks to no one in general, narrating his day. It’s not great, overall. He talked several times one morning about how he’s getting his wife a gift certificate to a salon for her birthday today. Cause that’ll go over well. “Here, honey, for your birthday, change how you look!”

    Fergus was one the phone, and described someone as made for childbearing. I about got in trouble for the look I gave Violet, cause I already made her choke on her drink for something earlier.

    I had a woman call about an obit. I didn’t have it from the funeral home yet and she said while she had me on the phone, she had a question. Her husband passed away, and his name was spelled wrong. She wants it changed for genealogy purposes. Ok, fine. She then tells me he died two years ago. No dice. There’s no way for me to change that. I tell her I’m sorry, but there is not a way to do that. I am the one who would know. She says that’s fine. She goes to church with the publisher (GGB) and she’ll talk to him about it. So now I have that to look forward to. (In her defense, she phrased it like she thought someone else could fix it. They cannot.)

    Fergus had a very loud conversation in the very open room about where exactly on one’s person one could store illegal substances. (Horrifyingly, many places, if you were wondering.)

    My high hopes were for naught. Wakeen is not a great reporter or coworker. At the risk of sounding mean, he just isn’t that smart. Someone sitting in the back of the room called him, and he walked up to the lady sitting two desks away from him. In the other direction. She told him who asked him to come to their desk. He said ok, then sat back down at his desk. He had to be asked three more times to ‘come here’ before he finally understood.

    1. JanetM*

      Ai-yi. I don’t envy you (although I love the way you tell stories).

      For what it’s worth, though, my husband gave me a salon gift certificate / package certificate as a present once, and I loved it! Massage, facial, manicure/pedicure, lunch.

    2. Quill*

      To be totally fair about the gift certificate to the salon, his wife could be a devotee of maintaining a color she doesn’t naturally have, and cutting down on salon visits due to the cost.

      Or maybe she’s been talking about getting a new cut for a while.

    3. submerged tenths*

      tried to comment on your blog, but was defeated by the nosy intrusiveness of Mr. Google. So just want to say I appreciate your stories, please keep them up! Back in the previous century I, too, was a reporter in a small town newsroom. Sometimes I still miss the shenanigans.

    4. Alice Ulf*

      Was the obituary woman…asking if you could change the spelling of her late husband’s name in a newspaper published two years ago? I… What.

      Sure, let me just jump in the TARDIS, here…

      1. boo bot*

        I’m actually curious why this can’t be done! Obviously not in the print version of the newspaper, but I’m assuming she’s asking about having it corrected in the online version, so that if someone searches for her husband, they will be able to find his obituary.

        If the digital copy is still accessible, then why can’t the paper change the name and update the obit with a correction note, as they would for a more recent correction?

        All this is assuming that the issue is an actual misspelling, and not, “We discovered last year that we’re related to Engelbert Humperdinck, and we’ve all changed our names in his honor, and I want to include dear departed Joey, because he was such a fan of turn-of-the-century German opera.” If it’s the latter case, then hah!

        1. Bee's Knees*

          Yup. She was. She wanted to do it for genealogy, which I understand, but should have been on it two years ago. When something’s uploaded to our archives, it’s uploaded as a pdf. The only way to maybe do it would be to rebuild the entire paper. We’re digital in only the barest sense of the word. Also, lol.

        2. Alice Ulf*

          Hmm, I see your point. I was only thinking of physical, hard-copy archives, so that making any alteration probably wouldn’t be possible. If we’re talking online archives, that would be more of a “living” document, I guess.

  25. Kramerica Industries*

    I have an interview as a Technical Project Manager coming up. In the email confirmation, the HR rep said that there would be “technical and behavioural questions”. I’m currently a general project manager with a basic-intermediate knowledge of HTML/CSS, JavaScript, SQL. I looked over the job description and it said that those coding languages were “bonus assets”. Am I allowed to ask the HR rep if the “technical questions” will test me on hard coding skills? I’m not sure how hard I should be preparing.

    1. Sleepytime Tea*

      Unless there is a practical test or something that they are going to give you, then no, I don’t think I would ask this. You don’t generally get a preview of what the interview questions are going to be like. And even if you did ask if they are going to ask you about “hard coding skills” I don’t know how much prep you could really do, because that encompasses a crazy amount of information and they wouldn’t tell you exactly what areas they are going to ask you.

      In my experience, I have usually been asked things like “are you familiar with a spider schema” and so forth. They aren’t going to ask you to try and spout off by memory how you would code something verbatim. Well, if they did, that would be pretty ridiculous, especially considering it’s “bonus skills.” They would give you some sort of practical test if they really want to see how you code.

    2. Elle*

      I’ve found “technical” project management questions actually relate to project management skills – like right to left vs left to right scheduling, budget jargon like EAC /BAC/etc. And then they expect a general understanding of the product and the needs of the company, but certainly no actual coding skills required.

    3. Earthwalker*

      Perhaps instead of focusing on interview prep you could ask HR for a clear job description. In some companies a tech project manager manages a project team and communicates between them and stakeholders, but has enough tech background not to throw off discussions with comments like “you mentioned Java; what is that?” In other companies a tech project manager actually does the project – the design and coding, etc. – but is self driven enough to stay on track without someone to oversee his work and will manage communication with stakeholders.

    4. leukothea*

      When I interviewed for a technical project manager position last year, they were happy I had some experience with the software, but the interview was focused around project management as a discipline. They asked me the phases of a project, to define an “artifact,” and so on.

      I think that quite often, the technical parts can be picked up once you’re there if you’re reasonably bright and willing to learn. From that angle it might make sense to only ask PM questions and not truly technical questions. I don’t think many PM interviews would require a coding interview, for example, while many software roles do.

  26. Boo Hoo*

    Encountered this the other day and curious on your thoughts.

    My husband took off at 2:30 the other day to bring me to a doctors appointment he needed to be present at. This was the ONLY time available for months and I waited months to get this appointment which actually was fairly urgent and waiting has sent me to the ER once already. The day he put in the request, during a meeting with the whole team. boss mentioned “no doctors appointment takes 3 hours”. Husband was going to not go back in as by the time he would have got there, 45 min drive total back, he would be there for about 20-30 mins. He is not allowed to work past those hours. They lock the office down for security reasons (think insanely high level government security). Husband went back for the 20 mins due to his bosses comment. This bothered me however. His workplace very much encourages taking sick time for family illnesses or appointments as well as your own, so he did so. Driving to the appointment (I met him there), the time waiting, seeing the Dr, doing the test and the drive back was easily three hours. He left me a bit early when the test was done. I have numerous appointments coming up that will take this long. We do not live in an area where specialists are right around the corner. He will need to be there for many as he will have to administer some of these treatments for me, as well as some involving some level of sedation. I have ZERO family or friends here. I feel that boss saying this was a bit out of line as it easily discourages people to use their time for these appointments. He could of course use PTO, which we will if needed but I am a bit frustrated he cannot use the sick time as intended due to this comment. He rarely takes time off and has no performance issues at work, this will just be a few appointments for this issue. He works half days one day a week but sadly in this area almost every doctor only takes appointments until noon on Fridays (his half day). No idea why but it has been the case for every single appointment I have scheduled.

    Would you just take the sick time as needed? Just take the PTO? Discuss the need for some appointments with boss and ask him which he prefers? I think his comment was a bit out of line and just curious on others opinions? A doctors appointment in theory doesn’t usually take three hours but travel time it easily can.

    1. Temperance*

      Your husband should probably talk to HR about getting FMLA to be your caregiver. It sounds like your husband’s boss might be the type to make this into an issue.

      1. Sleepytime Tea*

        This. You can absolutely get intermittent FMLA for care of a family member, including attending their doctors appointments and transporting them.

    2. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I currently come into work 2-3 hours late one day a week. I just started a new job a couple of months ago, and I’d worked this out with HR prior to accepting the offer. I alerted my new boss on the first day. Three weeks in, he told me I was no longer allowed to come in more than an hour late and that it could be at most once a month. So I sent an email explaining my situation, that I’d cleared it with HR beforehand, etc. I also clearly but politely wrote that I would be taking that time off and asked whether he’d like me to stay late that weekday or whether he’d like that time to be unpaid. He chose option 1, and things are stable.

      So this is a longwinded way of saying that I’d have your husband send an email then go to HR if the situation is not resolved. And possibly job search.

      1. Boo Hoo*

        Job search sadly won’t happen. He is happy enough at his job but him staying will get him up to his next pay grade which will facilitate our out of state move. The way it works, if he left now he would start over to get to the next pay grade. So short of a great job outside of government (which won’t happen where we currently are but he is keeping his eyes open in the location we are intending to move to) we will be here until he reaches his level 12. He has put in so many years in the Air Force and now out of it that he doesn’t want to lose that last bump, which I totally understand. Understand I may be explaining this a bit wrong as I don’t know exactly how it works, this is just me playing the telephone game with what he explained to me. Plus we are trying to keep my stepson in the same school until he graduates in two years, which is just about exactly when husband will get that promotion.

        To note, I would LOVE to move sooner, this place SUCKKKSSS!!! I support this though as it is temporary and benefits us all in the long run.

    3. BadWolf*

      First, it’s not cool for the boss to declare that he knows how long a doctor’s appointment can take. Even a “quick” appointment can not start for awhile turning 20 minutes into an hour. Then sometimes they can get you in right away for a test (blood draw, whatever). Frankly, I always assume I’m sinking a couple hours into any appointment.

      At my job, we’re salaried exempt and can work from home as needed, so assuming you were doing fine at your job, I’d expect my manager to say, “Take the time you need, keep the team up to date when you’ll be out.”

      In your husband’s job, it sound like he’ll need help from HR or manager the next boss up to wrangle the leave time.

      1. BadWolf*

        ” manager the next boss up to wrangle the leave time.” This garble was supposed to mean, he might need help from his boss’s boss (depending on the company structure/norms).

      2. Boo Hoo*

        Luckily in the somewhat near future he will be able to work from home one day a week so we can schedule appointments on that day. That will help. I truly cannot comprehend doctors limited availability here. I have never waited so long for basic appointments (think months). I called once for a non stop sinus infection and was told they could see me 4 months later. Pretty sure I’ll be better by then.

    4. WellRed*

      If I have an appt at an inconvenient time, I take the half day. Ad frankly, some appts could take 3 hours, who’s his boss to say otherwise?

    5. ArtK*

      If not a red flag, this is at least a yellow flag. They’re asking for a commitment from you before they make an offer. It’s certainly reasonable to discuss a start date, but asking for a commitment is too much, IMO.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’ve been at specialist eye doctor appointments that easily take 2 hours (check in, wait, see someone, wait, see someone else, wait, take a photo, wait, wait, see the first someone, check out), but since those are out of town, we just take the entire day. In other words, I think your spouse should just say that with travel time, it’s not really worth while to come back to work for less than a half hour, so yes, doctor appointments can take 3 hours or more.

    7. ThankYouRoman*

      What a prick move on the bosses part.

      I don’t think he needs to leave by any means. He needs to clear things with HR and start processes for FLMA so he’s got ducks in a row. I’m assuming it’s a large enough employer that the end all isn’t this dillweed boss. He should be able to schedule PTO without disclosing details to avoid this pipsqueak adding in nonsense like “you don’t need 3hrs for an appointment”

    8. anna green*

      Tons of doctor’s appointments take 3 hours! I don’t know what kind of luck this guy has had that he hasn’t spent more than 3 hours at a doctor’s office, but omg it’s extremely common, especially with specialists. There are places you have to wait 3 hours before being seen, much less driving there and the actual appointment. So, not that it’s super helpful, but he is way way off base.

    9. Imtheone*

      Lots of specialty doctor’s appointments take more than two hours. We’ve had some last four hours, plus travel time! Your husband’s boss needs to be clued in.

      In response to, “No doctors appointment takes three hours,” he needs to be politely told how long some of them take. If the appointment and then travel time to get back to work mean only twenty minutes at the office, it would make much more sense to do some working from home.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        Yeah, agree. I’m a subspecialist and see people in a 3 state region. My new patient visits are about 75 minutes of face-to-face time (my follow-ups range from 30-45 min depending on what issues we’re dealing with), and that doesn’t include checking in, getting vital signs taken, any lab work, checking out, travel time… A patient could easily spend 3 hours for an appointment.

        Government agencies can be really strict about hours, though. Intermittent FMLA is a good option here. Hope your health issues improve and your move goes well!

    10. nonegiven*

      I’d not just take the sick time but also call out the manager when he says something like that. Lots of appointments take that long or longer, especially if you have to travel. Maybe a quick 10 minute normal acute illness appointment of his own or a followup, within a mile of work, he could get back to the office within an hour. Spouses usually don’t need to go to those.

      Many people going to appointments with travel like that, will also shop and eat dinner in the other town while they are there, if they feel up to it.

    11. Dr. Anonymous*

      I think maybe your husband is overreacting to his boss’s uninformed comment. He should make sure his manager has an idea what’s up and get a real feel for if it’s is better to use FMLA. Your doctor would need to fill out the FMLA paperwork since your husband will be out for your illness. I do this for patients’ family members routinely.

    12. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Does his boss know the situation? Maybe he didn’t understand that he was taking you to a specialist appointment far away, for something you can’t do by yourself. The first step might be trying to gently remind the boss that this is not a simple routine appointment with the neighbourhood doctor.

  27. Jane*

    Is it normal for a company to start negotiating a start date before giving you a formal offer?

    I am in this situation now. This company has indicated that they are in the process of coming up with an offer, but I have to tell them my start date. I gave them a start date with the caveat that it was tentative, based on when we all came to an agreement. Now they are pushing back, implying that they can’t move forward with an offer until I commit to a start date, and also, they want a start date earlier than I proposed.

    They still haven’t even given me a salary hiring range, let along offered me a salary. I want to write back “I feel uncomfortable agreeing to a start date before agreeing to take the job,” but obviously I can’t say it like that.

    What do I say to them?

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Your response to the offer letter is still 1) yes 2) no or 3) negotiate. None of those are really relevant to the start date, except that if you take several days back and forth negotiating it’s going to cut into your notice period.

      I would say that assuming you can get all the details hammered out by X date, it’s fine to say that IF you accept the offer, you can start on Y date. And start date is probably one of the things you want to do your best to be a little flexible on, because it’s a pretty low-cost way to build goodwill with the new company.

    2. Natalie*

      This might be a place where less explanation is better, maybe stick with the Miss Manners classic “I’m afraid that won’t be possible” or similar. Assuming what you’re proposing is a reasonable start date, normal amount of notice for your current position, etc, if they lose their minds that’s extremely valuable information about them.

    3. Murphy*

      My offer letter had a start date on it, so we discussed a start date before I’d formally accepted anything. That being said, I’d made it pretty clear that I was taking the job.

      Can you say something like “I can agree to X weeks from the formal acceptance of a written offer?”

      1. Jane*

        That was what I started with, and when they pressed me for a specific date, I said “Since I don’t know the exact time when we’ll get the details of this figured out, how about X date, tentatively?”

        And they basically came back with “We are going to get that letter to you very soon, so how about one week earlier than that date?”

        I guess part of it is that I feel like this entire communication has the feeling of “Congratulations! We picked you! Now, when can you start?” without considering I might not even want the job, or that there might be any time taken for discussion at this point. I’m definitely not ready to even consider accepting without knowing what the offer would be, but they are giving me the impression that they are viewing the actual offer as a formality because they’ve already decided they are hiring me.

        But maybe I’m reading into it a bit, because of some other communications I’ve had with them, and that this is perfectly normal.

          1. Jane*

            I don’t know if this makes it more or less weird, but it involves a move across the country, so having enough time to get my affairs in order is really important to me! So, it’s not JUST about giving my notice, although that of course is also important. I have to find an apartment, pack my stuff, move, etc. I can’t start those balls rolling until things are finalized!

            I’m puzzled as to their hurry, too, because this is a new position they are creating–it is not a vacancy left by someone else. They are growing, and needed to add staff. So, I’m not sure what difference one week makes to them, but it is a big deal to me!

            1. HBucket*

              I think it makes it more weird! My Sheridan turned down a job he really wanted because they wouldn’t give him ample time to move and find a place. Part of him regrets it, but it just wasn’t feasible!

            2. Nita*

              I’ve been in that situation! It was also a new position, and there was more than a month of radio silence between the interview and the verbal offer. Ended up turning it down, in no small part because I wanted to leave my current job on good terms, without dumping a mess of half-finished work on someone’s desk.

    4. Everdene*

      I think that is an entirely reasonable thing to say! What happens if you agree 1st December but the don’t officially offer till Nov 30th, will you be expected to honour that? No, offer job, agree salary and only then agree a start date.

    5. Overeducated*

      My current job did this. It took literally months from verbal offer from hiring manager to formal offer letter from HR, and HR called before issuing it to “confirm” my start date. Conversation:

      “I can’t commit to a start date without a firm offer.”
      “But we can’t send an offer letter without a start date! We need that to send it out.”
      “OK, but the start date I agree to now will have to be contingent on the timing of the offer letter. I need to give at least 2 weeks notice to my current job.”
      “OK, well hopefully it will be quick and you’ll be able to start on the date we’re talking about.”

      It was not quick. The start date would have meant 1.5 weeks notice at current job. I had to call back and say “thanks, finally got the offer letter! Can you revise it with a later start date, please?” which they did. It was fine. An extra bureaucratic step, but fine.

      1. Jane*

        Yes, exactly. And I don’t even really have a verbal offer, either. They have not told me what the salary is or what the hiring range for the salary is.

        If they give me a really great offer, I will take it, and be happy to incur some extra expenses that arise of a fast move. For example, if I had to stay in a hotel for the first week because I was still looking for an apartment, or if I didn’t have time to sell my furniture and had to just give it all to charity. Those things might be doable if I got a big raise from what I’m making now. But I’d be less flexible if they weren’t going to give me a big raise from what I already make (which I kind of have a feeling they aren’t).

        So I don’t want to agree to a start date, and then find out they aren’t paying all that much for me to be willing to start on that date. I guess that means I’ll just turn it down, if that is the case. I’m kind of thinking I’m going to turn it down anyway, just because this entire process has not given me a good impression of this company. I hadn’t quite decided yet.

        1. Overeducated*

          Yeah, this all sounds bad. At least i had full salary and benefits info and had tentatively accepted a verbal offer while I was doing that dance.

    6. Sleepytime Tea*

      I’m a fan of saying giving a hard timeline rather than a specific date. “I can start 2 weeks from the date of an accepted offer” or whatever it is that you need. If they push for a specific date, then tell them “if you get me the offer by x date, then my start date can be y date.” Make sure it’s contingent and they have some responsibility in it. If they don’t understand that you need to give 2 weeks notice plus an extra week because you’re moving or whatever it is that you need that is reasonable and customary, I would be a little concerned at their lack of basic courtesy in the matter.

    7. ArtK*

      If not a red flag, this is at least a yellow flag. They’re asking for a commitment from you before they make an offer. It’s certainly reasonable to discuss a start date, but asking for a commitment is too much, IMO.

    8. ThankYouRoman*

      They’re slightly lacking to say the least. You just put a start date that’s two weeks from the offer letter date.

      It’s also insanely sketchy they’re hammering at this detail and wont disclose salary range.

      An offer letter is negotiable. They can ask you to start last Thursday. It’ll be rewritten later because you’ll have to negotiate whatever magic number they plug into the salary line.

      1. Easily Amused*

        I think you should tell them that you can’t commit to a start date without knowing what the offer is. I’ve always had verbal discussions about salary and benefits before ever receiving a formal offer letter. They’re being a bit cagey. I took a job with a cross country move and they really pushed for me to get there ASAP. I had to skip a personal event of a friend that I would have liked to attend (since it was my first job out of grad school and I didn’t want to lose out on the opportunity by pushing back) and when I got there, they weren’t ready to get me started and I spent about a month with nothing assigned to me. I told myself I would never allow that to happen again (though I have). My current employer pushed me for a start date (though I had salary/benefits laid out already) and I pushed back that I wanted 2 weeks off in between jobs but would not commit to a specific date until the background/drug test cleared. They pushed a bit but I held firm and it was fine. If they really want you and are reasonable, they will understand that this is a big logistical move and help you through it by… being reasonable. That means having a salary/benefits/title/yes I accept this offer before nailing down a start date.

    9. ..Kat..*

      “Since I have to give 2 weeks notice, I can start 2 weeks after I accept your formal offer. When can I expect your formal offer?” They are being ridiculous.

    10. pcake*

      Tell them you can start 2 weeks from the date of the offer or whatever amount of time you need.

      It’s ridiculous to ask for a hard date without the offer. What if you tell them you can start on November 10 and you don’t get an offer till November 15th?

    11. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I would give them a date and make very clear that it’s contingent on their getting the offer to you in a timely manner. Something like, “My start date could be Nov 26th, allowing for the requisite two weeks notice at my current employer”. If they push back, push back yourself. It’s a flag, but a mild one.

      Also, they have enough time to hassle you about the start date, but not put together the salary? Interesting. Keep that one in mind.

      From my own personal experience, I had a HR person push back when I wanted to start 3 weeks out (I wanted to give myself time between jobs). We went back and forth a bit, her helpfully telling me “only 2 weeks notice is required! We really want everyone to start at X time!” until I finally told her, “I’m committed to making sure I leave my current projects in good shape for easy transfer to my team, and this is the same level commitment I’m bringing to your company. I hope this will not be an issue.” I was ready to walk if the recruiter pushed back on that.

      Finally, I got there, and 3 people started after me–one over a month later. So much for “everyone starting at the same time”. Seriously, do what works for you.

  28. Peaches*

    I have a boss who I’ve had for a year now. He knows NOTHING about me as a person. He compliments my work and is a good boss overall from a work standpoint, but he has literally never asked me anything about my personal life (hobbies, spouse, etc.) Now, I certainly don’t want an overbearing boss who pries into my personal life – I’ve had that, and it’s been awful. However, I just think it’s weird how he’s never asked even a single thing about me.

    I know things about him because he shares them (he likes football and fishing, has two sons and a daughter, etc.) He’s had many opportunities over the past year to ask about me (even if it were the smallest thing). For instance, I took a week vacation last May (a cruise). He bought up the fact that I was going to be gone many times, but never said, “doing anything fun?” or, “how was your vacation?” when I returned. It’s also come up in conversation a several times that my husband was in school last year (he graduated PA school this past spring). My boss never once said, “oh, what’s he going to school for?” When my birthday rolled around a few months ago, a few of my coworkers told me happy birthday in front of my boss, but my boss still didn’t wish me a happy birthday.

    On Mondays, I will ask my boss how his weekend was. He’ll share everything he did, but never follow it up with, “and how was your weekend?” Again, it’s not that I won’t him to pry into my personal life, but he has never even asked the most general questions about me, even in times when any normal person in conversation would interject SOME sort of general question about the other person. It makes me feel like he only cares about me as an employee, and not as a person. Am I being too sensitive for being bothered by this?

    1. ACDC*

      I’m the same way, Peaches. I don’t need my boss/coworkers/whomever to be my friends, but I definitely need at least some personal interaction here and there. Some people might say you’re being overly sensitive, but I certainly wouldn’t. Some people crave that interaction more than others and that’s just the way it is.

      The flip side of that is that your boss is the opposite of people like us. He doesn’t seem to need or care for that sort of interaction. My current supervisor is the same way (however, my supervisor is more of a hermit type in that he doesn’t talk to ANYONE, not even “hello” or “goodbye,” he just disappears at the end of the day without saying anything to anyone). I just sum it up to that being his personality and nothing will ever change about that.

      I do think it’s weird though that your boss talks about his personal matters with you, you ask him questions about it, and then he never reciprocates in any way. But I think we can sum that up to a personality quirk too.

    2. In short, yes*

      Some people just don’t know how to ask these things or take the cue that they should. He may have also been told by others not to ask his direct reports details about their personal life. Be happy you have a good boss and accept that he won’t be discussing your personal life :)

      1. She's upstairs hiding from her cousins*

        I have to say, this is me to an extent. I’ve been extremely quiet (previously known as “shy” or “introverted”) almost my entire life.
        I truly forget to ask people questions. OK, maybe not even forget…I just don’t think to do it.
        I *know* many people find it odd, because I’ll say that I saw someone or met someone and the person I’m telling finds it astounding that I didn’t ask the “Who, What,When, Where, Why” of things. “How come you didn’t ask where he moved to? ” “Why didn’t you ask where she’s working?” “How many times had she been to Ireland?” “Is he married yet?”
        It’s just not in me. It’s not that I don’t care – OK, well sometimes I don’t – it’s just that it doesn’t matter to me. I feel like, the less I know, the better sometimes.
        Sometimes I feel like Sherlock – the Benedict Cumberbatch v.) when he says he can’t let insignificant details cloud his brain.

        1. Super anon*

          Wow. I think you should read this back to yourself. It comes off as incredibly snobbish, particularly the last two paragraphs.

          1. Grace Less*

            Unkind, Super Anon.

            I don’t ask those questions of people because I’m afraid of accidentally “crossing the line” and asking something too personal. I hope that people understand it’s reserve, not snobbishness. I do make an effort to be a good listener and respond warmly when people offer details about their personal lives, and to me, that’s appropriate, especially at work.

          2. Land Grant*

            Very unkind. The OP wants to know why her boss is this way. When a similar type of person answers, it’s helpful to the OP.&

            1. She’s upstairs,*

              Wow. Yeah, thanks for defending me. Truly not a snob and honestly err on the side of too empathetic and concerned over things I can’t control… been known to drive people crazy by saying “Sorry.” wayyyy too much.

              A f*cking dog bit me tonight, and I feel like sh*t because I had to go to Urgent Care and that triggers an inquiry from the local authorities into their dog. And the owners.
              Snobbish? No.

              Maybe I shouldn’t have used Sherlock as an example because for the most part he seems, or maybe he is, pretty self-absorbed.
              Sometimes, I just have trouble focusing. I think I was trying to say that.

              I differ in the boss in this example, too, because I don’t talk about all the things that I did over a weekend and things of that nature.
              It’s definitely not all about me.

              I don’t know why I don’t ask questions, other than I feel like I am prying or could touch on an uncomfortable subject.
              It just feels nosy to me, rather than actually interested. And it’s not that I don’t care. It just makes me uncomfortable. As you can imagine, I’m not great at parties with idle chitchat.

              Another example just came to mind: this weekend a friend of mine told me her son was moving. When I got home it dawned on me that I never asked where to? Why? And I did feel like a total sh*t.

              Maybe I have had so many bad experiences in my life and I hate being asked questions for fear of bring something up. I have a really bad habit of not being able to control crying. Or at least really visibly tearing up. I guess I feel the same way about asking questions of others, rational or not.

    3. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I wish I had your boss! Some people are aware that there are employees like me who very much like to keep their lives private, and so maybe he’s just adopted the approach of “listen, but don’t ask.” However, if you want to share something, do! After he tells you about his weekend, share a bit about yours for example.

    4. Blue*

      Personally, I’d say that he’s there to be a good boss and to be supportive of you as an employee. As long as he’s doing that (and we know from this blog that it can be rare!), I think anything else is a bonus. But I can understand why this would bother you if you’re a relationship-oriented person. My guess is that he’s just more focused on tasks and that this habit has nothing to do with you, personally. If the one-sidedness is bothering you, I think you could either stop asking about his life (if he’s task-oriented, it may not even register that you’ve stopped, to be honest) or just share things without him explicitly asking.

      I have had working relationships like this in the past, so I don’t think it’s super rare. I mean, I worked with my last boss for about 4 years, and he knows virtually nothing about my personal life. I didn’t volunteer much, but he never really asked, either. But we had a fantastic working relationship. He was the best boss I’ve ever had, and I would work for him again in a heartbeat. Non-work chatter just wasn’t part of our dynamic.

    5. LCL*

      If your boss is otherwise a decent person, it sounds he has got slapped for asking questions that one of the employees considered too personal. So he won’t ask. When he tells you about his fishing trip, it is up to you to respond with something you did for recreation.

      I can see why you find this off putting, but it won’t change unless you start telling him about things that you did. The amount of personal information and interaction we have with our coworkers can be a neverending source of discussion and hurt feelings, on this blog and in the workplace and in the rest of the real world. Life is good when people who work together are a match in regards to how much information to share, but that is not so common.

    6. Forkeater*

      I totally get how you feel – but he might be acting like this because he thinks it would be rude to “pry.” My mom is like this – we don’t live close by but even when I visit in person she doesn’t ask me questions about myself, or my spouse, or job, or kids, or anything. I’ve learned to just babble which does not come naturally to me at all, I’m very quiet by nature but if I didn’t do it she wouldn’t know anything about my life, and she is a kind person.

      But on a related note – I have objectively the best job I’ve ever had or ever will have, and I still hate it because nobody talks to each other. I just got back today from being out all week at a conference and I brought treats back to the office and no one said thanks and no one said how was the conference. I don’t think they dislike me, it’s just our crappy culture. I keep my eyes open for new jobs but everything else here is so good, hopefully I can just transfer to a more outgoing department at some point.

      1. Nita*

        This. Just “volunteer” your personal info when he starts talking about his life. It’s not weird for him to avoid asking you directly – for some people, family topics are painful or sensitive. He may be thinking that talking about himself is an indirect opening for you to do the same, if you want.

    7. Sleepytime Tea*

      I understand where you’re coming from, because I too want my boss to show some sort of basic personal interest in me as a person and not just a peon. That said, like you mentioned you’ve had bosses that have been overly prying and it’s an issue. There’s more sensitivity when questions are asked flowing down the chain of power. Some people do not want their boss to inquire about their personal lives at all, and it’s safer for a manager not to ask those questions. I think it’s a good sign that he’s willing to share with you, which means that there is a personal rapport to a certain extent and it’s not like he blows you off and is cold and uninterested. But it may just be that he believes that those questions shouldn’t flow downward and instead he lets people volunteer that information about themselves.

    8. Alex*

      My boss is sort of like this too. VERY occasionally she will ask how my vacation was, but never anything less dramatic like, how was your weekend? Personal questions are definitely a no-go.

      I think she just views this as a professional relationship.

      Even stuff like…once I had a hard-to-explain emergency at my house one morning that involved calling 911. I texted her to say that I was late, dealing with an emergency and the fire department, but will be coming in.

      She never even asked about it. Just said “OK.” No “Hope your’e OK!” or checking in with me when I got to work. Fortunately, I was OK and so was my house, but she didn’t know that!

      I also recently won an award at work. Everyone else was saying “Hey, congrats!” when they saw me around the office that day or the day after it was announced. My boss never acknowledged it at all. And yet, I’m 99% sure she was the one who nominated me for it. So weird!

    9. Bagpuss*

      Do you get the impression that he does talk to or ask other employees about theses things.
      It may be that he isn’t great at picking up social cues or that he isn’t really interested and hasn’t worked out that it helps ‘oil the wheels’ .
      I can identify a bit . I have some colleagues and employees who I am also friends with, and I am genuinely interested in. There are others who I don’t have much in common with and I’m really not interested, on a personal level. fpr me, one distinction is whether Id be likely to remain in touch with the person f one of us left.
      I do make a conscious effort to ask from time to time, but it is , still, a conscious effort. , and for me it wasn’t intuitive.

      Also I think you can tell him stuff without waiting for him to ask. If you don’t typically volunteer stuff, he may be wary of asking in case it comes over as crossing a line . If he tells you something about his weekend, why not respond with ‘that sounds fun , mine was pretty good too, my husband and I did a climbing taster session, it was amazing !’ Or whatever.

    10. matcha123*

      I think I am like your boss. I am finding that most questions that many people see as innocent are ones that I was raised to interpret as crossing boundaries or just rude.
      I think if you want to share your vacation stories with your boss, you should just share them, rather than waiting for them to ask you. If I want to share something with a friend, I do it. And you might think that asking the question is fine, but I’ve been in the position too many times where people will try to ask what they see as an innocent question and I have to give them a really depressing answer they didn’t want to hear.
      Person: “I love all the time I spent with my grandparents as a child. What did you do with your grandparents when you were a kid?”
      Me: “Nothing really…”
      Person: “What do you mean? EVERYONE has some time at grandpa and grandma’s house!”
      Me: “My grandparents died before I ever met them.”
      Person: “…”)

      I think the fact that your boss is sharing with you means they are interested in your life, but they are waiting for you to jump into the conversation. Next time, just say, “I’m going to be trekking naked across wild drop bear country. I’ve been doing it for the past 20 years and it’s something I look forward to. The drop bears are lovely and sometimes giant scorpion spiders frolic in the bushes nearby. What are you doing this weekend?”

    11. BluntBunny*

      You should start the conversations if you have something to say rather that waiting to be asked. If I want to tell them something about my weekend I go I had dinner at this Italian restaunt etc or if it’s nice weather I would say oh it’s lovely today it was really nice on Saturday I went here. Or if it bad weather on the Thursday say something like oh it’s miserable today I hope it clears up by the weekend I’m going to the theatre. Some people assume that if you haven’t something to say you would have said it, it’s true for some people they genuinely have nothing to say or would rather keep interactions to a minimum. So just start telling him things like what you watching on tv, what you plans are for the weekend or if your going on holiday. Basically be the wakeen from Bee’s knees post once he knows more stuff about you he will ask you more things. To be fair a simple what about you isn’t hard for him to muster.

  29. anon today and tomorrow*

    So, I started a new job recently. It’s a company I’d been looking at for years, and I like it so far. But…so many people I know kept asking me if I was nervous/excited/anxious/etc. about starting a new job and I’ve always responded with some variation of “not really? I guess?” because I’m not any of those things. I’ve gotten some really taken aback reactions to my lack of excitement or nervousness.

    I like my job, but I didn’t have that overwhelming excitement starting it, and even now that I’m here it’s not like I jump out of bed each morning excited to start the day. And it’s not like I was nervous or anxious to leave my old job and start my new one.

    The best way I can describe it is….indifference? It’s sort of….it’s a job, I need a job to pay my bills, and I know I’ll be good at it, but that’s about it? But I rarely get super nervous or excited about things anyway and when I do, it’s more of a quick, fleeting emotion than something that lingers, and I just take them as they come, but I’m beginning to feel like that’s an “off” reaction to things based on how so many other people react (I also don’t know if my indifference is because of meds, but that’s a whole other issue, I think).

    1. Kendra*

      Even if it’s a bit different than how most people react, it sounds like it might be a nicer way to live! I get nervous and excited about things, and sometimes I think life would be a lot easier if I didn’t.

    2. peachie*

      I don’t think it’s that abnormal! It could partially be that saying something like “I’m excited to be moving on to a new job” is often just sort of what you say–not that it’s necessarily false, just in the sense of answering “I’m good!” when someone asks how you are.

    3. Kramerica Industries*

      I usually say that I’m “looking forward to it”, which tones down the excitement/anxious bit. Sure, it’s nice that I’m starting a new job. But would I call it “excited”? Ehh.

    4. Boo Hoo*

      I have never once in my life been excited to start a job. I feel like you, pays my bills but no I don’t have a strong desire to work, I want to win 1.6 Billion and hang out on my yacht. That doesn’t mean I don’t do my work with enthusiasm and work hard and care about my career, I do, but i am not excited to work quite frankly.

    5. Dr Whom*

      I’ve been on SSRIs that flatline me like this (but it also kept me from dipping into the low lows which is a fine trade off).

      That being said, I think some people put more emphasis on a job/company being a big part of your identity and so that’s more !!exciting!! Whereas I feel like “I need money, I’m here to dig ditches in exchange for money” about a job.

    6. De-Archivist*

      Seems normal to me, but I sometimes get that same weird reaction from people. I’m not especially emotive. I’m not depressed, dissociated, or depersonalized. I don’t take mood stabilizers. I’m just very chill and fairly content with my life. So it takes a ton of stress or something really, really exciting for me to get especially emotional. I’m not really scared of anything either, though heights give me vertigo sometimes.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about your own emotional responses if you feel like you’re doing okay emotionally. You can even have a set of canned answers like, “You seem really excited/happy/upset about that. Congrats/I’m sorry.” “I’m excited you’re so happy about this.” For this specific situation, “Not excited or nervous, but I’m glad to be talking on a new challenge.” Or, “Everything is going well. I think I’m going to enjoy working here.” Even, “I’ve only just started, but I like [these things] about new job.”

      It’s not that people are taken aback by your lack of an emotional answer, per se. More likely, it’s generally a bad sign when someone has a lackluster reaction to a new job. It can mean that the job isn’t what you thought or you think there may be some issues down the pipeline. Upthread, a couple of people mentioned “dream jobs,” and since there’s such a push to find a job that makes you wake up and sing for joy, people generally expect you to feel super pumped about your career. I personally think it’s fine to be happy with a job that gets the bills paid so that you can enjoy your like, but others-mileage-may-vary.

      I find myself wondering if other people feel feelings all the time. Like, I’m sitting here on my lunch break, reading the comments on this website. I’m not feeling anything at all. Nothing. Later, I’ll go to a baby shower, and I’ll be pleased that mom-to-be is so happy. But that’s it. Like how are people feeling so many feelings? Sometimes I wonder if people are just better at faking it, but even that seems unfairly judgemental. I just chalk it up to a difference in personality or brain chemistry.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I wonder about this too. Other people in my life seem to have much more intense emotions than I do. In my case I do suffer from chronic depression and take medication, but even when I’m not taking anything I just don’t have the same amplitude of feelings that other people seem to have.

  30. Kendra*

    How weird is it for a tech company to only hold one interview before deciding whether or not to hire you? It’s not quite the same situation as a previous ask a manager question where the company only had a 30 minute interview without asking any questions; the interview itself was a pretty thorough, hour-long technical one and they gave me plenty of time to ask questions. It’s not really a small company, either; it’s a small independent division of a big company, so it’s probably not that they don’t have much experience hiring.

    1. Sounds normal to me*

      Not weird at all! Sometimes they don’t need a whole bunch of people to “sign off” and you could be working with a small team.

    2. BadWolf*

      Not too weird. I think some tech companies are basically deciding, “Do you look pretty smart? Good at debug? Not a total jerk?” If yes, then you’ll pick up whatever specific thing they need you to work on.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      I’m not in tech specifically but rapidly expanding businesses tend not to have long interviewing processes in my experience.

    4. Sleepytime Tea*

      Not weird at all, especially in tech. They want to figure out if you have the skills you need to do the job. They gave you a technical interview and asked you a lot of questions. They got what they needed. My significant other works in tech and this has been his experience pretty much at every job he’s had.

    5. k8*

      mmmehhh in my personal experience as a dev in NYC, that’s pretty weird. even the smallest companies i’ve interviewed with did multiple rounds; it’s pretty de rigueur to do some combo of a phone screen, a take-home coding challenge or screenshare/hackerrank-type interview, and an onsite of 2-5 hour. only one hour-long interview (as nice as that sounds, considering the hoops i’ve had to jump through for some of these jobs) would make me question the job/how well they’re screening candidates. (for reference, i went through to the last round at 3 companies of varying sizes this past summer and 5-6 a year and a half ago, so i have some experience, lol).

  31. Psyche*

    I have an awkward situation now. I am getting married soon and sent save the dates to all of my coworkers. I then got a new job that I will start before the wedding. I am still going to invite everyone, but a new person just started. I do not know them and we will only overlap by about a month. I do not have space to invite them to the wedding. Is it terrible to invite everyone else but not the new person when I won’t even work here anymore? My only other option is to not invite anyone, but that feels so rude when I already sent out save the dates.

    1. peachie*

      Nah, I wouldn’t feel bad about it. Honestly, as a new person, I wouldn’t at all be expecting an invitation, especially for someone I only saw for maybe 20 days total.

    2. Peaches*

      No, it’s not rude at all. It’s doubtful you’ll establish a close enough friendship with this person in the slight overlap you’ll have at your job together to invite him or her to your wedding. I doubt the new person would even expect to be invited, and would know that you invited your other coworkers because you’ve known them much longer.

    3. Oxford Comma*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s not like you brought in lunch for everyone but the new person. It’s a wedding. I would never expect to be invited in the circumstances you’re describing.

    4. Jane*

      I think it’s pretty safe to say that new person doesn’t really want to attend the wedding of someone she doesn’t know just because her new coworkers are going to it.

      Unless the place is going all Dunder Mifflin and giving everyone who is going to the wedding a long weekend, leaving the new uninvited person sitting there by herself, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    5. Hermy-own*

      Yeah if you already sent out save the dates you cannot not invite those people. That is wildly rude. But new coworker doesn’t need an invite.

    6. Autumnheart*

      I’d say you’re in the clear. You sent out invitations before they started, you’re not previously acquainted, and I’m sure they would feel a little weird if they got a last-minute invite to a wedding for someone they only just met. If you wind up liking this person, give one of your coworkers a piece of cake to bring to them or something.

    7. ThankYouRoman*

      I think it’s more weird to invite someone you’ll know for a hot minute to a personal event! If their feelings are even dinged, that’s on them…it would be so odd to feel like you would be invited to a wedding your first month at a new job.

    8. Nana*

      I was once going to temp [in a small office] for a woman who was getting married on the weekend. So, I worked with her all day Friday. ..others said ‘goodbye…see you tomorrow’ to her, as they left. I said “I feel just like Cinderella!’…and we laughed. And, no, I had no interest in going to the wedding.

  32. Indecisive*

    I’m looking for advice regarding the timing of quitting my job. I’ve been with my current organization for almost 4 years. My fiancé was out of work for a few years and finally found a job in his field this summer, however the position was in a city three hours away. He took the job and we have been long distance since June. We are getting married in March, and the plan was to decide what to do (either I move with him, or he moves back with me) after the wedding.
    I’ve become increasingly unhappy with my job over the past six months. I was given a new boss this spring who I have always liked as a co-worker, but I do not like her as a boss. I feel like she treats me like her assistant and she is often unavailable and out of the office, making her very hard to reach. I’ve also come to the realization that there is very little career growth for me here. My previous boss confirmed that I am so good at what I currently do, they really want to keep me in my current position (which I am trying to get away from). Because of these reasons, my fiancé and I decided I would relocate to his city and live with him.
    Ideally, I would like to leave my current job right before my wedding and not come back. This would give me plenty of time for the wedding, our honeymoon, and to move to my fiance’s city. However, my current job is so busy I honestly don’t see myself having time to apply for new jobs right now. I definitely do not have the vacation time available to drive three hours for in-person interviews. I’ve talked to my fiancé about this, and we are both aware it’s wiser to leave a job when you have a new one lined up. However, I don’t think it’s realistic for me to be able to line up a new job until after the wedding is over. My fiancé has basically said he will support me with whatever I decide is best for me.
    I’ve considered giving notice right before my wedding, quitting my job, and moving to this new city without a new position lined up. I have some savings and I could potentially work for a temp agency, although I’ve never done this before and I’m not sure how easy it is to find temporary work. I really like the idea of being able to pack up and move, get settled, and then dive into applying for jobs, have interviews, etc. Is this a terribly reckless move? Should I stick it out at my current job until after our wedding, and try to secure a new position first? I know this question is kind of personal, but I’m really struggling with making a decision on this.

    1. Indecisive*

      Yikes, sorry about the wall of text. I copied and pasted and apparently my paragraph breaks didn’t save!

      1. Minerva McGonagall*

        I was in a similar situation in OldJob, only my fantastic boss retired and his boss decided to not bother worrying about filling his role (he gave her over a YEAR’S NOTICE that he planned to retire). So when GrandBoss, who is spectacularly ineffective, inherited me, she had no idea what to do with me. She ended up canning all of our programs, all of our activities, and having me on to be her second personal assistant. This did not fly with me, who had spent three years building those programs from scratch and loved working with students directly. Now, I’d have approximately zero interaction with students and OldJob never promoted internally, so looking elsewhere was my only choice.

        I was also in the middle of planning my wedding and honeymoon. Because work was making me so miserable, the plan was that I would quit when I got back from our honeymoon at the end of July. I’d keep applying for positions in my field but I had a plan to substitute teach if nothing came up by the start of September (husband is a teacher in a district that is desperate for subs). I ended up interviewing the day after getting back from my honeymoon for my current job.

        I think your plan of leaving before your wedding is a good idea-I wish I did. I would have actually gotten some payout from my vacation days instead of using them all up and then quitting. Look into temporary opportunities in that new area, whether it’s temping, subbing, retail, etc. I think once you quit your job, if you can, apply for a few positions before your wedding. Hiring managers can take forever in some cases to get back to you. I applied for NewJob a month before I got contacted for a phone interview. Having all the wedding stuff going on was actually a great distraction from the application process!

        I don’t think your reckless for thinking of leaving before having a new job. It is life-suckingly miserable to be in a job that doesn’t appreciate you and your skills, and I can’t imagine being long distance from my main support system. Communication with your fiance is KEY in all of this, and coming up with back-ups to your back-ups is also super important. Good luck in your search, and congrats on your wedding!

    2. Two Dog Night*

      For what it’s worth, I quit my job (which I really, really hated) when I got married in October, started job-hunting in January, and was working in February. This was back in the ’90s, so things might be different now, but I think a break at this point would be very explainable, especially since you’re moving cities. And moving is stressful enough without adding a new job to the mix.

    3. Shelly*

      You have to follow your gut instinct/tingly feelings/whatever your spiritual thing is. You are the person who has to live with this whole arrangement and you should follow what feels right to you. I don’t think there’s any option here that would be the end of the world, just a matter of timing. You are not a bad person or lazy or selfish for deciding to cut the cord now and move, and deal with whatever consequences that means for getting a new job.

      It sounds like you have five months between now and the wedding. If you’re going to keep your job and do what you can until the wedding, I would decide how much time you want to dedicate to job searching each week, and then write up a calendar (separate from wedding tasks) for yourself of working up your resume and cover letter, applying to jobs, setting up informational interviews, etc. Even if it’s only a few hours per week, I would start now so that you have a plan instead of feeling guilty because you aren’t taking action. You should also decide now what your last day at current job is, so that you know when you should give two weeks and include enough time before the wedding to pack, move, unpack, and not feel entirely in shambles before wedding.

      If your current job is flexible at all, I would consider asking if you could work longer hours four days per week, instead of coming in five days per week. If they need a reason, you could say something vague about wedding, fiance, etc. (And if you request Monday or Friday, that would go along with it.) That way, you would have a consistent day off that you could schedule interviews on and travel to city. Even if you don’t go every week, it will give you better flexibility now instead of trying to sneakily schedule days off and rushing to and from (not possible with three hours travel each way).

    4. OperaArt*

      Is the new city one which has several possible employers for your field of work? If so, I would risk leaving your current job before the wedding.

    5. SophieChotek*

      I’ve never done this and I would have some of the financial qualms it sounds like you are having, but it also sounds like you also already know you don’t have PTO to drive to 3 hour interviews, etc. (

      Honestly, I would give notice so you can be done before you wedding – enjoy the wedding, honeymoon, and move and then just commit full-time to the job search. Moving and marriage are two really big life events (so I hear, having not done marriage, but have moved across from one side of the country to the other 3x, plus moved within the same city 3x), so it seems like this could be a needed break. (It might be hard to be 100% in the job search, with the wedding and move coming up anyway). (Perhaps make an exception to this rule of not job searching while finishing up old job, if “perfect”/”really good job fit” in new city came up and you think you could swing 1 or 2 interviews in New City.)

      My one suggestion might be: I know when one takes a break (I’ve done this before, decided I just needed to take abreak for X amount of time and just let myself re-charge, I’ve allowed that 1 week to stretch to 3, etc.). I would suggest you make a plan: wedding, honeymoon, X weeks to move and settle in, and then commit to that schedule and on to it’s FT job search time. (And maybe volunteering/networking/whatever, go get connected in a new city and also give yourself some other outlets while job searching.)

      Of course, this depends on if this idea is financially feasible.

      Totally my 2 cents. Disregard as needed!

    6. CatCat*

      If you’re in the US, I’d check your state’s eligibility requirements for collecting unemployment insurance benefits. In my state, it is good cause to quit (and therefore one is eligible for benefits) to move to be with your spouse or move to get married and be with your new spouse. If that’s the case where you are and you have financial concerns, that could help alleviate them.

      When I got married and was long-distance from my spouse, I was living in a state that did not have such a provision, alas! I started looking while we were engaged and didn’t land a job and move to be with him until 4 months after we were married. Sucked!

    7. Sleepytime Tea*

      Yeah I think that in this case, with the wedding and with the distance you are from your new city, it will be much simpler and more feasible to quit without having something lined up and then job hunt when you’re back from the honeymoon. Your fiance has offered to support you which is fantastic, and then you can relax and not have to worry about throwing yourself into a job search. You can do some light job searching at the moment just to get a bit of a head start, but don’t throw yourself into it 110%, would be my recommendation. I don’t think you need to worry so much. You’ve got a lot on your plate. I give you permission to relax and put off the job hunt until after you enjoy your fabulous honeymoon. :-)

    8. HMM*

      I have quit my job 2 times without having anything lined up (once because I didn’t like the job, and once for a move to join my boyfriend in his city), and have had no trouble getting a new job. This all happened within the last 5-6 years, so relatively recently. Plus, I’ve always found that it’s easier to search for a job when I have time instead of doing it after being exhausted at work. This process requires 1) that you save up as much money as you can because it’ll allow you to do 2) not jump at the first job that you like/makes you an offer when you do get around to searching. You want to make sure you’re taking a job you want, and not getting into a bad situation out of desperation.

      Explaining to an interviewer that you had a gap because you moved to join your spouse is very common and will not reflect poorly on you. If you’ll be moving anyway, quit the job, devote the time you want to your wedding/moving, and then pick up the job search later. (My only caveat – I’ve never planned a wedding, but if you have time to start planting seeds for a job search (having a couple of networking coffees, applying here or there when you see a job you like), I would do that. I think you’ll feel much better not having to start from scratch after the honeymoon is over. And it really won’t take that much time. If interviews come up, you can always schedule around your personal life, as usual.)

    9. Jerry Vandesic*

      “… my current job is so busy I honestly don’t see myself having time to apply for new jobs right now”

      My suggestion would be to adjust your priorities so that finding a new job is more important and gets more time than your current job. If your current work slips because you are trying to find a new job, so be it. Focus on what is important, which is a new job that will support your post-marriage life.

    10. valentine*

      The wedding is giving you a great break. Resign pre-wedding, so you can enjoy it and the honeymoon, then move, settle in, and temp whilst job searching.

    11. BluntBunny*

      Could your fiancé scope out what companies in the area align with you requirements then atleast you have a list of where to look. I would try to keep your LinkedIn and CV up to date at least and how about if you say when applying you can have face to face interviews Monday-Tuesday but Skype and telephone interviews anytime. As you could stay with you Fiancé on the weekend interview on Monday and be at work the Tuesday using only one day PTO.

    12. ronda*

      it sound like you are having a little guilt about the timing of your leaving…. you don’t need to, it is normal for people to leave jobs. Just decide when you want to leave and how much notice you want to give and go for it. You are leaving no matter what, so be matter of fact about it.

      Also, you can start looking for jobs now if you want without investing too much time. Look at the job postings and only apply to the ones that are very good fits for now. In your cover letter mention your timeline for marriage / moving and say you understand if this does not fit with their timeline, but the job looked like a good fit and so you did want to take the chance and apply. Someone may be willing to wait, or they might have a long hiring process that will match up with your timeline.
      Once you are in the city, I would apply again if any of your likely jobs look like they might still have openings.

    13. Hamburke*

      This was pretty much the situation laid out in the latest podcast – a few months employment gap isn’t going to stand out in a resume. Especially for “reasons” – the podcast lw finished a degree, you moved cities.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This sounds to me like a great time to contact recruiters to let them do legwork. You like & are liked at your current job. You want another job like it but in a new city, for an easily communicated reason. You have a defined future start date. And you’re going to be financially able to accept a contract-to-perm opportunity if need be.
      I’d think a recruiter would jump on that!

  33. peachie*

    Any folks have data science/data analytics/SQL reporting jobs? I’m new to the field and trying to figure out where to go, but I’m a little lost and unsure of the possibilities.

    My background/experience: I have had basically no formal education in anything in the ballpark of computer science/statistics (so apologies in advance if I’m explaining things poorly). My current job, which I’ve been in for about half a year, is mainly SQL reporting, specifically in the field of healthcare/medical research. I’d consider myself ‘strong intermediate’ in SQL–what I mean is that what I do doesn’t get deep into the more complex T-SQL programming type stuff, but I feel strong/comfortable about the scope of what I do. (It’s mostly what I’d call ‘qualitative’ reporting, for lack of a better word–I don’t do much with numbers outside of counting.) I also don’t know basically anything about the more DBA-type SQL stuff, but I also have no desire to do that kind of work, so. I’ve been using Tableau for a few years, so I’m comfortable but still probably at the beginner-intermediate level. I just–like, JUST–started learning R, and I’m currently taking an introductory stats class just so I have the basic-basics to go on. I’m in the beginning stages of doing some natural-language processing. I also have a few Epic certifications that may be relevant for job reasons.

    I’m not looking to leave my job in the near future, though I also don’t plan to stay forever. While I’m here, I’m trying to get some educational experience that will help me out down the road, but that’s where I’m getting stuck–I just don’t know what direction to go in. I work for a university and have the chance to audit about one class a semester (hence the stats), but I’m also looking at doing a part-time online grad program somewhere in the data science universe while working.

    Ultimately, I would love to get to a place where I can do independent consulting/independent contracting/freelance work. Having to be in an office at specific times 40+ hours a week is not something I want to do forever, and having flexibility to work from home/setting my own hours and even being able to take on more or less work throughout the year. (My mom, mostly by virtue of being really good at her job, has picked up a few contractor/consulting jobs for SQL reporting that she does in addition to full-time work–she does them on her own time, but regularly enough that she could probably approach her full-time salary if she quit the ‘day job’ and picked up one or two of the contracts she had to turn down.)

    I’ve worked with healthcare/medicine/higher education a lot, and I’d be happy to keep doing that–probably happier than in a commercial sector, but who knows. I prefer medicine/research to healthcare operations, but those are both fields I’d potentially be interested in.

    But as far as what I want to DO, I’m lost. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t have a formal background, but I don’t know what’s out there or what it would be worth pursuing. I like the reporting stuff. I’d potentially be interested in doing more with analysis, visualization, NLP, machine learning, AI… I have no idea!

    So, some questions:

    * If you work in data science/adjacent, what is your work like?

    * I’m really at sea re: graduate programs and confused by trying to suss out the nuances/what would be useful. Any thoughts of how to approach this?

    * This is very general, but… what’s out there? I don’t even know what the possibilities are.

    This is SO many words, sorry! It’s been a week and I’m rambly this morning.

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Data Scientist here!

      * If you work in data science/adjacent, what is your work like?

      I work exclusively in R and Python and a bit of Excel. I’d say 20% of my job is also making powerpoints and presenting my work.

      * I’m really at sea re: graduate programs and confused by trying to suss out the nuances/what would be useful. Any thoughts of how to approach this?

      My masters was literally titled “MSc in Data Science and Analytics”. It was heavy on the practical side: how to code, real projects, presenting, and visualisation. I’d look for ones that do focus on code. I was taught SPSS and SQL, for example, but I’ve never used either.

      * This is very general, but… what’s out there? I don’t even know what the possibilities are.

      I’m relatively new in my career, but jobs tend to gravate towards mathematics and statistics, time series analysis, and machine learning. My last job was all maths, my current deals with classification, and the one I’m moving to in March is maths and machine learning based. I know that’s all really vague. What kind of stuff interests you? Classifying data? Working with sensors? Predicting information? There are so many possibilities.

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        I should note that even within, say, healthcare, there so many options. I know someone that works with data from sensors on the machines that make knee replacements. I also know someone that predicts patients’ costs.

        1. peachie*

          That thing with the machine sensors sounds so cool! I’m more drawn to that type of thing, though I know working with finances/money/costs is often where the money is (heh).

          This is a very stupid question, but what do you… do?… with Python? I see it mentioned a lot as a thing you should learn, but we don’t use it at all in my org (that I know of) so I don’t have more than a theoretical understanding.

          I wish I had a better idea of what I wanted to do specifically, but I’m still trying to figure it out. I got into my current job basically by chance, and it’s something I never would have thought to try. I think what I like about it is the problem-solving aspects of the job, plus the fact that almost every project I get involves something I haven’t done before. Predictive analytics is also interesting, though I haven’t done anything with it (and I definitely don’t have the stats/math background for it yet). I have done nothing at all with machine learning, but I’d like to start exploring that–I’ve especially been thinking about ethics/bias in machine learning, and I’d be interested to work on studying/correcting that.

          1. Less Bread More Taxes*

            So at my last job, I was brought on solely to work on building an algorithm that detected the presence of anomalies in some data. That was all about machine learning and trying to find the patterns in the data first and then identify the anomalies. For example, let’s say someone clocking in at 9am on a weekday is normal but clocking in at 9am on a Saturday isn’t. But you don’t have the days or dates and you’re just trying to figure out why a 9am clockin would be abnormal. That’s really basic, but that was kind of the idea.

            As maybe a better example, this is what I’m doing right now: without going into too much detail, this company has a huge amount of data from people’s expenses, and the way this company handles it means employees enter the expense info themselves. So we have a huge CSV file with over a million rows with just blocks of text. Everything from non-detailed stuff like “food” to “bought breakfast while in Hamburg on partner meeting trip March 23, 2016”. Obviously you can find out what business trip the second one came from fairly easily. But the first not so much. So I am writing a program in R actually to group keywords into different categories. I’m also using the employee names to cross-reference other files to try to source dates, managers, departments, etc. and whatever else can help me sort out what business trip ID goes with what line. It’s not very exciting stuff, but the actual code part is interesting to me.

            To be honest, this isn’t really what I want to be doing. I am only at this current job for a couple of months, but for unrelated reasons, it’s not for me. The new position I have that starts next year has to do with getting data from sensors in a home and dealing with it. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be looking for yet, but it will probably be either prediction-based or anomaly-based.

      2. AnonEmu*

        Any tips for learning Python/ good online resources? I am pretty fluent in R and a bit above beginner in QGIS but want to learn Python to gain additional skills. I’ve used SQL for a previous course, but I’m rusty.

        1. Close Bracket*

          Udemy has classes on sale for $10.99 regularly, and Datacamp has a subscription model that allows you to take as many classes as you like. edX is another good resource.

        2. Product person*


          Make sure you find a course in Python for Data Science / Analytics, if that’s your focus.
          Don’t waste time in a generic Python course, as you’ll be learning lots of stuff that will be useless for someone in the analytics field.

          I’ve added to my signature a good place to start.

          1. AnonEmu*

            Thanks! I do a lot of biological/environmental stuff in R so Python seems like a logical step, and if I’m quitting current hell job anyway, “I was job hunting and learning a new programming language” seems like a good enough reason for any potential gap.

    2. Notapirate*

      What’s your education/degree background? Are you looking to go back to school or just other fields you can move into with current abilities?

      “Bioinformatics” is the keyword that covers conputer work within bioengineering, biostatistics and the like. A lot of people in that work in the mmedical field or adjacent doing data processing and creating workflows and pipelines for data. It is a huge field and hiring right now. You prob do need some sort of degree related just to get past the resume filters but my friends say there’s usually mpre emphasis on coding skills test at interview stage rather than what is your degree. It is a bit more code heavy. I think some places will hire with just a BS or BE but a lot of the places are looking for a masters or PhD. If you’re not looking to move up within that role a masters is fine, phd is more if you want to move up to managing people and designing the stuff that generates thr data.

      A lot of startups in biotech are also hiring data wranglers. Startups tend to pay less and have long hours but a lot of potential for growth. They are less automated we only want resumes with a masters in this particular field too.

      1. peachie*

        Haha, my education/degree background is “not really.” I do have a bachelor’s, but it’s a BA in theater and history–don’t regret doing it, but it’s not really relevant. I’m self-taught + some online classes for SQL/R and I have a few Epic (electronic healthcare records) certifications. That’s pretty much it!

        I’ve been looking into some bioinformatics things. From a not-particularly-knowledgeable perspective, I think I’d be interested in that kind of work, though I’d really have to work to get my stats skills to a competent enough level. But it sounds like it might be workable from an education-path standpoint–I do want to get a masters, but I don’t think I want to pursue a doctoral degree. Do you happen to know if most people in that field have a bioinformatics-specific degree (as opposed to a more generalized informatics/data science degree)?

    3. nonymous*

      Why don’t you start by asking your Mom for a referral for one of those contracts she turned down?

      As far as what skills to work on, I’d say given your description it sounds like presentation skills would be really helpful. Just think – using your SME/SQL knowledge to query the DB, and then switch to R/tidyverse/knitr/shiny to bang it into something accessible to a stakeholder. It’s obviously a little more complex than that, but your experience in the field should help you zero in on what questions are of value to the stakeholder. Ultimately there’s a narrative to be told and the data summaries, modeling and graphics provide justification and help engage the audience.

      1. peachie*

        Haha, I’ve thought about it! I can’t really take it on right now, but I’ll probably end up working with her on some projects like that. The only downside/potential snag is that for her, it’s lots of numbers and financial data; I suppose it’s not THAT different, but (in my limited experience) there are some differences in techniques/approach looking to, say, sum quarterly earnings by location vs. finding patients with a specific list of criteria for a study. I dunno, though.

        Presentation skills–that’s a good point! I think I’m pretty good at the generals of presenting things/talking to people; I’m also an actor and have done conferences and that sort of thing. But I’m interested in learning some of the psychology of how data is presented, especially visually.

    4. Data Manager*

      I’m a data manager, and I do a lot of work in Excel, Cognos, and Tableau. I also have experience with R, SQL, and Python. (For job hunting, don’t feel like you have to know *every* language and program. If you have a sustained track record of using and learning some of them, people will trust that you can pick up more.) I have a light-to-medium stats background but rarely use actual statistical tests and such in my work.

      If you’re looking for jobs in this area, I’d emphasize your communication and presentation skills — there are a LOT of people who are brilliant with data but are not so good at communicating the bottom line to the appropriate audiences. In that same vein, brush up on your Tableau skills, for sure, as data viz is pretty hot right now. Tableau + SQL skills can take you pretty far. There are lots of jobs like this in higher ed. You can look in specific research centers or something central like business intelligence.

      1. peachie*

        That’s good to hear! SQL and Tableau are definitely what I’m most comfortable with. Our team is painfully understaffed at the moment, but when we’re not, I’m planning to start working on incorporating Tableau into more of our projects–at the moment, when my sub-team uses it, it’s basically just functioning as a live data file that can update automatically.

        Probably a silly question, but what sorts of Tableau visualizations do you typically make? It seems like there are so many ways it could be used, but I’ve only been exposed to a few and I don’t know if that’s representative.

        1. Data Manager*

          Mostly either dashboards that monitor KPIs or “live” reports for senior staff (instead of a weekly or monthly paper report, for example). For Tableau inspiration, I’d recommend following Makeover Monday on Twitter and keeping up with the gallery on Tableau Public, where you can subscribe to the Viz of the Day. You can get really creative with Tableau, and there’s some awesome vizzes out there.

    5. anonagain*

      Are there meetups near you? If not, getting involved in the community online is a good idea. (Probably do that anyway.) Apologies if I already gave you this advice. I don’t remember who I suggested this to before.

      One thing: Do you anyone with the knowledge to help you gauge your skill level? Maybe your mom? If you go to a meetup you might find a mentor there too. You might be a beginner-intermediate at Tableau, but you might be selling yourself short. When it’s time to apply for jobs you obviously don’t want to do that. You also don’t want to self-select out of learning opportunities that you are ready for because you are downplaying your skill level. (I waited way too long to go to meetups that required a basic knowledge of the language. When I finally went I realized that I should have been going for years.)

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      Don’t shy away from business analyst, reporting anylst, and operating anylyst type jobs. Also I have been very successful with my statsitics degree as a financial analyst. Even though most say CPA preferred.

    7. DouDouPaille*

      I used to do exactly what you do. When I quit my full-time job at a health insurance company, I found short-term contract work, of which there was plenty in my metro area. Some was for biotech companies, some was for other insurance companies, some was for health-related companies. It was 40-hours a week, 9-5, but these contracts were 2-8 months, and I was always able to take nice little breaks in between them to offset the monotony of the 9-5. Find a good recruiter/temp agency that specializes in techie placements. Your lack of degree or formal training should not be an issue if you have solid experience and can show results from previous projects you’ve worked on.

    8. thepinkleprechaun*

      I’m an analyst…. well what I do is more data science but I don’t have a degree in it. I work for an organization that provides consulting, TA, analytics services, etc for an industry that is somewhat similar to healthcare. I almost exclusively use R, because it’s such a flexible tool. Some of my coworkers who have been there for a long time still use SPSS, but they also recognize its limitations. We also work a lot with SQL Server. I am the only one who has used Tableau, and it was very briefly before my R skills advanced to the point where I was doing geospatial mapping and building interactive Shiny applications (I started with absolutely 0 skills in data analysis).

      If you want to beef up your analytic skills, you will probably want to become proficient in R or Python, or both I guess. There are also plenty of online data science masters degrees now from reputable universities, although they’re not usually cheap. UC Berkeley is one I can think of in particular but there are many others. So you could further your education while you are in your current job.

      So, the organization I work with is small, and because of that I and other members of my team are expected to be competent in many different areas. So we regularly write proposals, do conference presentations, client visits on site, sometimes write journal articles, etc etc. Because we are constantly trying to bring in new business I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get clients or get a contract.

      You can use your current job to get experience that will make you seem credible to potential future clients. You’ll probably want to be able to highlight project manager roles at the very least. Having publications under your belt does not hurt at all. Having a masters in data science would be a bonus and give you added credibility. You might want to also start working on building your online presence as an analyst/data scientist. You can do that by answering questions on stackoverflow, starting a blog and doing interesting analyses on your own time, etc. It’s really helpful to have an online presence because it’s a quick and easy way for people to see that you know what you’re doing.

    9. Windchime*

      I am not a data scientist, but I’m a SQL programmer in an IT shop for a big medical group. I started taking the R class at Coursera but it wasn’t really my jam. My job uses Epic as their medical system, so my programming is done mostly out of there and can get pretty complex (lots of temp tables, window functions, etc). I use SQL for the back end and Crystal Reports for the front end. I find it really interesting and lots of big hospital/medical systems have a need for this type of reporting.

  34. AnonAnon*

    I recently went through a lengthy, thorough, and very competitive interview process and was not selected in the final stage. I’m disappointed not to have gotten the job, but more than that I’m feeling unenthusiastic about my current job. (Which is a new feeling – I hadn’t been planning to look for other jobs; this particular opportunity was just too good to pass up.)

    The hiring process was incredibly well done, IMO – it involved a lot of reflection and consideration of what I wanted to accomplish in my work and what kind of roles would allow me to do that. I did some dreaming about the work I wanted to be doing and, frankly, fantasized about getting to let go of the stuff in my current job that is frustrating, unfair, uninteresting, etc.

    Does anyone have recommendations for how to get my head back in the game of my current work, after coming close to leaving for something bigger and more exciting?

    Here are the things I’m thinking about doing:

    1) Telling my manager what’s going on and what I’m struggling with. I trust her completely (as well as her manager, who I also work with closely and who I’ve known for over a decade), and I think she could be helpful in processing some of what I’m thinking about. (I also know that she had a similar experience over the summer; I don’t know if she wasn’t offered the job or if she turned it down, but I know she was a finalist for something but ended up staying here.)

    2) Choosing one or two bigger-picture projects to focus on, to give myself a break from the grind of the day-to-day. I could do this without involving my manager, but obviously it would be great to get her support so I could potentially let go of some of my less-exciting work in the meantime.

    3) Tackling head on one of the crappy problems that I was fantasizing about not having to deal with if I got the new job. I have something in mind – a nagging problem that I’ve been working around rather than addressing head on.

    I also want to do some thinking about whether I want to stay here. It wasn’t a question before this opportunity cropped up, but I’m not sure where my head is at now. What other suggestions do folks have to stay happy where I am (for now) and think through what else I may want to do?

    1. peachie*

      I think all your plans are good plans! I’m glad you have a good manager–I would definitely be honest with her. It sounds like she’d want to work with you to find ways to make you happier in your role (or be a reference/resource for your job hunt, if that’s the way you decide to go).

      It might be helpful to make a list of what things you specifically don’t like about your job, then go through one by one and write out what change(s) would alleviate/eliminate that. I don’t mean what you think could practically actually happen, necessarily–this is more to ground your thoughts re: what you do and don’t want in a job. For example, if you have to do a ton of administrative tasks that aren’t your speed, having an administrative assistant for the department could alleviate that part of the stress. That doesn’t mean your organization would ever do that, but it could still help you clarify what kind of work environment you do want.

      Also, I think it’s totally normal to start thinking about leaving a job in your situation. No advice, I just think it’s normal.

  35. Evil HR Person*

    We have this applicant who keeps applying for the same position over and over, and we keep rejecting them using the Applicant Tracking System’s general “thank you for applying, but…” message. Part of the problem is their experience: it doesn’t quite work for the position. But, their application is awful. It’s riddled with typos and grammatical errors, even though this person just graduated from a well-known university and (one would think) should know how to spell and write correctly – or at least use Word to fix the errors! When I downloaded their resume from the Applicant Tracking System, it was a Word document, and my screen lit up like the Fourth of July: red and blue everywhere. They keep submitting the same exact resume and we simply cannot hire this person.

    So, what do I do? I really want to send them a polite message, in part to help them understand the role in our company is simply not a good fit; but also, I’d like to tell them that their resume will impact their selection, not just at my company, but elsewhere as well. I know I’m not obligated to do so – but I feel I owe it to cosmos, to do something to help someone get ahead, even if it’s not at my company. Thoughts??

    1. Psyche*

      It really depends on whether you are willing to risk them either lashing out or trying to talk you into hiring them. I probably wouldn’t give feedback unless they reached out to ask. I do think it is a kind thing to do, but giving criticism to a stranger is always risky because you don’t know how they will react.

    2. Sleepytime Tea*

      I think it would be kind of you to give this person feedback. I know I would want to know. And yes, you take the risk of them being a jerk and lashing out at you or taking the dialogue you’ve started as a way to try and convince you to give them an interview. But you can always simply ignore them if they get that way. (That’s not easy for everyone to do, I know, but it’s easy for me.)

      If you can avoid sending something from your personal e-mail, that would be ideal, but at a bare minimum make sure you don’t have your phone number in your e-mail signature or something like that. As a job applicant, I would appreciate something like this:

      “Thank you so much for applying to xyz position. I know from your past applications that you must be very interested in it. Unfortunately your current experience level is not what is required for this position. (Feel free to add more detail if you’d like. We really need someone with at least 5 years experience in teapot design, etc.) I wish you the best in your job search. On that note, I wanted to alert you to some errors in your resume. You may benefit from some additional proofreading or using a program like Microsoft Word to resolve some spelling and grammatical issues. I hope that you find success in your next venture.”

      You’re polite, you’re also hinting that they need not apply to this position anymore (ie “next venture”), and tying the suggesting that they clean up their resume to your very courteous well wishes on their job hunt. Personally, I would appreciate it immensely. It’s like having lettuce in your teeth and no one telling you about it.

        1. valentine*

          The applicant will interpret this as an invitation to shape up and reapply or to apply for other positions with you. If you do this, specify “venture with another firm.”

    3. BRR*

      Ugh that’s tough. I think you’re fine to submit a message about the constant applying for this role. While I really understand why you want to help him out, I think employers should almost always avoid unsolicited feedback. I know it’s such a small thing to just suggest spell checking and I think you should be able to, but I’ve just heard of it going wrong so many times.

    4. Mockingjay*

      If you give a mouse a cookie…

      This applicant is a big red flag. They applied; you rejected. And yet they reapply, you reject, they reapply, you reject. This person is not comprehending that they don’t qualify for the job.

      If you reach out to them, you will become their personal “in” to your company. You may be inundated with phone calls and emails. They won’t accept that your company doesn’t want to hire them; after all, “you’re taking a personal interest in me, so obviously I AM qualified.”

      If you want to give back, is there a local career center where you could volunteer to coach job seekers, offer a seminar on applications process, or provide resume critiques?

    5. Pinky Pie*

      There are two rejection letters from my 20s (mid 90s) that I will never forget. One flat out told me I wasn’t qualified for the position I applied to twice. The other told me never to email a group of employers and to spell the position correctly. Neither were great to get but both helped me grow professionally.

  36. Written Warning*

    I received a written warning at work this past week, and I’m trying to decide if I should use the appeals process, or just leave it alone.

    Here are the pertinent pieces of information, but I should mention right off the bat that that I do not want to work here. I have no future here (I wouldn’t have even before any of this happened.) This is a Healthcare organization, but my department is administrative and no other departments would use my skills and experience. I have been searching for work for seven months. I have only been here a year – I started looking before the six month mark.

    1. I made a couple of mistakes that were very visible and embarrassing to my manager. The written warning focused on these, but “embellished” to make them look worse. My manager has a tendency to exaggerate and, well … lie. She is a habitual liar; her pattern is to make a point that is valid, and then add to it with suspect information. She does this in everything from casual, personal conversations to meetings, and this is very much the style in which the written warning was fashioned.

    2. I can refute a lot of the embellishments via e-mails and screen shots of text messages, but I totally own the original mistakes.

    3. I am not required to submit an appeal in writing, but I would because I have the back up e-mails and text messages. The process involves me sitting down with my manager and the Employee Relations rep (the same one who met with me when I reached out to have the process explained; I am comfortable with her.) After we talk and I make my case, my manager has the option to leave the written warning in place, tone it down, or remove it. I do not think she’ll change anything. She tends to dig her heels in when challenged.

    4. We are a department of three. One colleague and our manager, and the manager and I work very closely together. This will make things very awkward. However, I asked the Employee Relations rep if my written appeal would need to be seen and signed off on by anyone above my boss, and was told no – this is good because further embarrassment will make my boss act out. I don’t want her embarrassed.

    5. I have reached out to attorneys, but so far no luck securing one – there’s not a lot of money to be made here. I just want to be laid off with no blemish on my record. In other words, I don’t want to have to say to any future would-be employer that I’d been fired. I want to collect unemployment. Essentially, I’d like to offer this employer the option to be rid of me now rather than have to spend the next six months documenting in order to fire me. The only down side I can see about this (aside from the reduced income and having to go on my spouse’s benefits which are costly) is that I would have no valid explanation for future job applications for why I”m not giving this boss as a reference. If I’m still employed, I can explain that the usual way: that I don’t want my current employer to know I am looking. That said, the policy here is “titles and dates of employment.” Even if I check a box saying this employer can be contacted, in theory, they do not disclose the reason for leaving.

    6. I am not applying for work in this geographic area; it was a mistake to take on this commute. I am not looking for jobs in healthcare, either.

    7. I see my choices as
    A. Do nothing in order not to provoke my manager, keep my head down and try even harder to get out of here
    B. Appeal the process in case they try to fire me; perhaps my boss will think twice rather than have her lies and poor management skills exposed
    C. Use an attorney (although I’m not sure how) to negotiate my getting laid off. I should mention that layoffs may be coming after 11/6 due to a ballot question that – if it passes – will mean necessary organizational changes.

    Sorry so long; I was hoping the numbered list format would help with that! But I’d appreciate thoughts on any of this, especially the three choices I lay out in number 7.

    1. ACDC*

      I vote for A. Hiring an attorney seems wildly inappropriate and a mega overreaction to what has happened. You’ll be escalating a situation for really no reason. Sorry your job search hasn’t been going well, but I’d say put all of your efforts into that and the right thing will come up soon!

      1. Written Warning*

        Thanks for the response. Does it make a difference that my boss is an executive director and her boss is a VP? One of the mistakes I made was broadcast to the C-Suite by her boss in an e-mail that most people agree was a complete overreaction. (He wasn’t her boss at the time; that just happened a few days ago.)

        Does it make a difference that my job is nothing like what I was recruited to do and I may have a case for Constructive Dismissal?

        What about if I did (C) without hiring a lawyer? Just negotiated the ability to be laid off on my own? I am basically cooked at this job, so I want to put myself in the best position to find a new one, which in my mind is “not get fired!”

        1. ACDC*

          I totally get the reaction to wanting to prove that you did nothing wrong, but I think you’ll come across as argumentative if you try to escalate the situation to prove a few points. It really won’t win you any friends at your job and might actually put you on a termination track that you aren’t currently on.

          Was this your first warning with them? To me it sounds like they have some areas they would like you to improve (normal), but I don’t get the impression from what you wrote that they want to get rid of you. I think if you focus on the areas of improvement that were addresses while keeping a low profile, you’ll be able to survive without getting fired until a new job comes.

          For what it’s worth, my husband also works in healthcare admin and your boss sounds a lot like his boss.

          1. Written Warning*

            Thanks for the reply. Yes, it was my first written warning here (and EVER in over 20 years of working!) The mistakes I made were visible and could have been costly (they weren’t, but could have been).

            I was also told that “people don’t want to work with me” which is kind of a death knell. Also people don’t like my tone. I have heard the “tone” comments before, and I have tried very hard to overcome that and my restingbitchface, but I still hear these things now and then. And once you hear it once in an organization, you cannot get away from it. You can have 99 good interactions, but if the 100th one rubs someone the wrong way, that’s you’re reputation. I have spoken to so many people who are surprised that I get negative feedback on tone, but their opinions don’t matter when one person does.

    2. Psyche*

      I think it depends on what you actually think will happen. I would probably appeal it if just to have it toned down and eliminate the exaggerations or lies. I would say that in the appeal (that I do not dispute the mistakes just the embellishments and would like the written warning to accurately reflect the facts). I’m not sure that you will be able to negotiate being laid off vs fired. You could offer to resign in exchange for controlling the story, but they have little incentive to lay you off. I don’t think an attorney would be helpful in this situation.

      As far as applying for new jobs, it sounds like it would be easy to explain why you left this job. The commute was to long, the job was different than described and you no longer want to work in that field. If you have enough work history without this job you could probably even leave it off your resume.

      1. Written Warning*

        Thanks. They might have incentive for laying me off. My work has dwindled, and with this ballot question coming up, they could be laying off lots of people.

        I think it would be easy to explain why I left this job, but not why this boss would not give me a recommendation.

    3. Sleepytime Tea*

      Unless you have lots of extra cash lying around to pay for the lawyer (because the company isn’t going to be giving you some sort of settlement for them to collect from), then that’s not a very realistic option.

      I think you could go with route C on your own. Sit down with your manager and employee relations rep. Say that you are getting the feeling that the company doesn’t find you to be the best fit and you would be willing to resign on 2 conditions: you will apply for unemployment and they will not contest it, and that they give you a positive reference in the future. Get these in writing. Now, the danger in this is they could say nope, you know what, if you don’t want to be here and you’re on an action plan you can just go ahead and leave right now.

      I don’t think route B is very feasible. Regardless of any embellishments, you did indeed make the highly visible mistakes that you were put on the action plan for. You might be able to dispute certain details, but the core of the issue is the same. They are going to use that action plan against you if you were to be fired and tried to file for unemployment. If that ends up happening, you can use the documentation you have as a way to try and prove that the issue is not as egregious as they are trying to make it sound, and that may help, but I think that’s the best you’re going to get out of it.

      Route A is your safest route. Work your butt off to be the best employee you can and keep your job for now (and avoid any additional write ups or mistakes), try to make peace with your manager in the meantime, and job hunt like crazy. When asked why you’re leaving it’s simple. You have a long commute. You could even use that you expect organizational changes that will put your job in jeopardy to be taking place and therefore it is makes sense to find something more stable.

      1. Written Warning*

        I like your wording on option C – offer to resign on two conditions because it’s clear they don’t “find me to be the best fit.”

        I actually am not on an action plan, I don’t think. There was no “you must do this, that and the other thing or you’re out.” I will have to read it more carefully, but certainly it was not reviewed with me that way. I wrote to the HR Rep to get clarity on that after you posted this, so thank you for pointing that out.

    4. BRR*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. One thing I really don’t like about most work environments is how often explanations can work against you. You want to put certain things into context when it’s better to just say ok and move on. This is more extreme than most examples obviously. The question I would ask is how much is this going to sour your working relationship? You could file the appeal and have an incredibly stressful work environment while the case is built to fire you (if it takes a long time). It’s a tough call without knowing your situation. It sounds like it might be best to leave it alone.

      The easier answer is, I wouldn’t hire an attorney. It doesn’t sound like anything illegal happened. I’m not sure about how you’re using fired vs. laid off. Laid off is usually for purely financial reasons, which as you said might happen anyways. You can be fired for making mistakes or something criminal like embezzlement. I would check your local rules regarding collecting unemployment. In a lot of places, you can still collect if you’re fired for just making some mistakes (I speak from experience). I would make sure to save that documentation you have on your home computer so it doesn’t get deleted.

      1. Written Warning*

        About saying “OK” and moving on, it’s funny you bring this up because my manager and I did have some minor miscommunications and I just said “OK, I understand” because I didn’t want to be THAT person – the one who can’t take feedback. But when she brought them up again, I asked if I could clarify and when I did, she felt so much better.

        This would be different though because I would actually be refuting some of what she wrote. The good news is that no one but her and the HR rep needs to know that I am refuting it and providing proof. She can save face if she wants to.

        Yes, nothing illegal happened here, but sometimes a letter from a lawyer can persuade people to do things the way you want. If I offer to resign, I want them to take me up on it without dragging it out.

        Thanks, I am documenting as much as I can!