open thread – October 5-6, 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.

{ 1,612 comments… read them below }

  1. Lillie Lane*

    Question about employer accounts in Glassdoor:

    Someone said yesterday that it is easy for an employer to manipulate Glassdoor’s algorithms to change the order of reviews. How does this work?

    My former employer obviously pays for a package, because they post jobs and have a “featured review” at the top (which is really old and reads fake, but is four stars so I suppose HR thinks it looks unbiased to feature it). I have noticed lately that there have been a number of recent terrible reviews (say, all from September 2018). All of these terrible reviews are rated as very helpful. However, one older 5-star review (from, say, August 2018) continues to stay in the first review position (right below the “featured review”). This 5-star review has no “helpful” ratings. Can employers pay to have specific reviews hang around the top, first-seen position?
    I know the review listing is generally chronological (at least in the app). However, what I’m trying to say is that the most recent, helpful, but negative reviews for this company get shoved down the line and older, positive (and IMO fake) reviews always seem to float to the top of the list so they are seen first. Is this some quirk of Glassdoor, or can companies pay to control the order of review listings?

    1. Something Something*

      Yes, employers can pay to have a “featured” review always appear at the top. That’s why I find it more valuable to always sort by date.

      1. Bostonian*

        I do the same. I don’t know what the app interface looks like, as I mostly use Glassdoor from a desktop, but I always sort reviews by most recent. I think you can also sort by “helpful” and rating.

    2. saturnine*

      Yes, my employer paid a hefty sum to push the more negative reviews down. Also, all of a sudden, the overall rating of my company went waaay up.

      1. Lillie Lane*

        Gross. I checked another (former) horrible employer and if you calculate the average of the ratings, the overall rating does not match. The overall rating that Glassdoor claims is higher than the actual.

        Personally I find this pay-to-play model sleazy and manipulative.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I’m really beginning to wonder how much validity you can put into glassdoor.
        Some companies have obvious fakes – such as all the “current employee, less than one year” reviews being 5 stars because they clearly just attended some sort of Onboarding Rah Rah where they were encouraged to do so, but other companies, that have hundreds of reviews and perhaps really good PR people regularly posting fakes from all sorts of departments, aren’t so obvious and would take a ton of work to decipher, if at all possible.

    3. Beth Anne*

      I’ve wondered about this as well. I recently asked in a FB group about how accurate they are. I recently interviewed in a job that had some really crazy BAD REVIEWS…but it also had good reviews. And I got mixed information. Many said to take them with a grain of salt. Others say sometimes someone gets fired and writes a mean review. Others said they write fake reviews. So I guess the idea is when you interview to ask about the culture to see how accurate the reviews are.

      1. Seespotbitejane*

        This conversation prompted me to go look up an extremely toxic company where I used to work. Most of the reviews (including mine) are one star with titles like “Stay Away,” “Treated Like Cattle,” “Grim,” but now there are a smattering of definitely fake five star reviews. The average is still only up to 2.8, but the family owned nature of this company means that leadership will not improve until both the head partners die so I’m actually a little alarmed because there are no straights dire enough for you to take a job there.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t know what the life expectancy of a review is, but I do know that my review just vanished. I assume they only keep a few of the most recent years?

      1. Lillie Lane*

        I didn’t think they purged older reviews — I see there are ones still up back to at least 2011. I think you can’t write a review if you haven’t worked at a company within the past 5 years.

        I thought Glassdoor started as a review site for job seekers. Now that they have IMO completely sold out to companies, I don’t trust it at all.

    5. AshK434*

      I wish I knew but it’s totally true! I left a scathing review for my former employer (all true and it wasn’t ranty it just alleges racial bias at a very well known media company) and somehow it doesn’t appear in within the first couple of pages of review even though it’s relatively recent.

    6. Eric*

      I wrote a review about a tech startup I interviewed at and it was taken down within a week. Reason cited was personal attacks on the company’s employees. I said they were condescending to me because my resume was mostly big financials. Specifically, one of my interviewers said “I don’t know about you, because big company people don’t know how to get things done.” Sounds fishy to me.

      People in industry talk to each other. Take everything you see online with a grain of salt. Best way is in person chats, of course.

  2. Cheerily Terrified*

    I was officially told today that I am being laid off, from an organisation that had become pretty toxic and demotivating. I knew it was coming, so it is not a shock, but the fact that soon I won’t have a job is still sinking in. I will keep working until mid-November, and I will get a redundancy payment.

    I have been looking for work and had one or two interviews so far, but I’m in quite a specialised field, and not that much tends to come up. I also would prefer not to move. I’ve also been considering changing fields, though I’m not sure to what.

    So at the moment I’m swing between excitement that this job will finally be over, and I can take some time off to consider what to do, and complete and utter panic that I will never find another job again and I will lose my flat which has a relatively affordable rent.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for how to keep going and keep motivated in a situation like this? If others have gone through layoffs what did you do?

    1. Tara S.*

      Routine! I was laid off without notice (company went bankrupt) I felt crazy until I self-imposed a routine. Regular business hours were dedicated to job searching, then I could relax like normal in the evenings. Depending on your field and financial situation, it might make sense to also try and pick up some part time work once your job ends, to help ends meet while you’re looking. Best of luck!

      1. GeniusCandyBar*

        Agree on the Routine. When I was downsized, I volunteered part time 2 days a week a the local Red Cross office. I built databases & mailing lists for them (tasks similar to ones I did at my old job). This gave me an office to go to, plus allowed me to volunteer more (fulfilling that, some day when I retire I will….).

    2. Audiophile*

      I’m so sorry. While I’ve been laid off from a few jobs, I usually did not have much advance notice.

      I can’t say I have a ton of advice, but when I was laid off previously I usually took a day (or the weekend, since it tended to happen on Thursdays or Fridays) to let it sink in. Then Monday or Tuesday, I’d kick start my job search, file for unemployment and basically get all my ducks in a a row.

    3. Gelliebean*

      I haven’t been through layoffs, but I’m also prone to the same kind of mood swings – what sometimes helps me is to take the situation in tiny bites. If I’m super excited about something, making myself focus on one small part of it lets me direct that energy efficiently. And when it’s too big and overwhelming, and I’m ready to give up in frustration, breaking it down into small tasks gives me something that’s manageable. Sometimes that mini task is nothing but “make a list of things”. Don’t let yourself get distracted by thinking about all the items on the list that need to be done; just tell yourself “my job right now is making a list”. Then when you move to the first thing on the list, say contacting references, break that down into smaller tasks (make a list of people, then make sure you have their contact information, then call Pam, then call Mitch). This helps me feel like I’m making progress, even if I’m only marking off a single phone call.

    4. Colette*

      Before your last day:
      – make sure you have everything (physical and electronic) that you want to keep from work (personal stuff, I’m not suggesting you start stealing confidential information)
      – figure out your budget (how long will your savings/redundancy payment last)
      – figure out what expenses you want to/can cut (e.g. if you’re not driving to work, you may be able to reduce your car insurance)
      – figure out the EI/UI process (in Canada you would need to apply for EI as soon as you get your record of employment, even if you wouldn’t actually be able to collect until your severance runs out)
      – start working on your resume, and figure out if you know anyone who hires would could review it and give you feedback.

      Once you are unemployed:
      – figure out a routine (both job-hunting related and otherwise) – e.g. I will check the job postings every morning, go to the gym, then have a networking call/meeting or email 3 people to set up a meeting
      – tell people you are unemployed. (I got my last 2 jobs through random connections.)
      – get out of the house every day, even if it’s just to go for a walk.
      – are there projects you want to do? Work them into your schedule.

      1. Butter Makes Things Better*

        Colette’s first tip about gathering all your electronic belongings is huge! I’m still crushed that I accidentally waved bye-bye to email from writers I love/admire when I left OldJob years ago. I was not smiles times.

        1. Colette*

          Yeah, funny/touching emails you’ve received, performance evaluations, bookmarks for industry or personal pages, that picture you downloaded as your wallpaper and then lost at home when your hard drive crashed, …

        2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          And your personal contact list from Outlook (or the equivalent)! You want to be sure you know how to reach key people for networking, etc.

    5. RVA Cat*

      Put the “utter panic that I will never find another job again” completely out of your mind unless you’re very close to retirement. It may take longer that you expect, but you can and will work again.

      It sounds like you are in the UK or British Commonwealth so at least you don’t have to panic about healthcare like Americans do.

      1. misspiggy*

        Absolutely. Assuming OP is in the U.K., they should register with temp agencies now, for temp, temp to perm and permanent jobs. Physically go into their office if at all possible. Schedule a break and, after that is ended, pester the agency by phone every day for opportunities. (If asked whether you can audio type, say yes if you have a good typing speed. It’s pretty easy if you’re already a good typist.)

        Check with Citizens Advice for how to manage claiming benefits – you may need to submit a claim to keep up your National Insurance contributions, even if you don’t intend to be out of work for long.

        In the very, very unlikely event that you couldn’t pay your rent, sit tight – evicting people in the UK is very difficult if they have an assured shorthold tenancy. Look at Shelter’s website for info.

        Once you’ve got those ducks in a row, you’ll hopefully feel freer to look for the right permanent job.

        1. London Calling*

          Especially as we’re coming up to December, register with temp agencies asap. Temp work can be very thin on the ground in December/January, so it helps to be registered and ready to go when a job does come up.

    6. Jennifer M.*

      I was unemployed for 6 months. On the one hand, I really needed the rest because it was coming off of 3 years in a high stress situation in a different country with security issues.

      I had some rules to create structure: I had to make my bed every day (I haven’t made my bed since I got a job, other than when the sheets are changed). I was allowed to weary “comfy” clothes all day if I wanted, but they couldn’t be the same ones I slept in the night before. I couldn’t graze all day, I had to have 2 proper meals a day (in my working life, I’ll often skip either breakfast or dinner). I shifted a lot of errands that I would normally do on the weekends to the weekdays just to get out of the house more often (and the grocery store on a Tuesday morning is way better than a Saturday morning). I live alone, so I also checked in with family more often than typical so I didn’t get too hermit-y (my parents were actually starting a massive downsize at approximately the same time so I did go over there a lot to help them sort things).

      I still had to deal with some resentment over the lay off and I believe I was straight up depressed, but I believe it could have ended up a lot worse than it was. I ended up in a subset of my industry that I had never really been aware of and never would have found if I had just been casually looking for a job from a place of security and I’m quite happy with the result.

      1. Gaia*

        I have to say the clothes thing is huge for me. It sounds silly but not getting changed in the morning is a quick turn towards a path that leads to laying in bed all day, depressed, angry, sad, and binge watching reruns on Netflix wondering why a job hasn’t landed in your lap. Get. Dressed.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          That.
          A friend of mine, when they got downsized, went through their budget and put a lot of discretionary spending on hold. Cable and Netflix were the first to go, to discourage themselves from becoming couch potatoes.

    7. Urdnot Bakara*

      I was also laid off without notice (position eliminated and that’s just how that company liked to do things) but with some severance. I signed up for unemployment as soon as was possible, and I started sending my resume to temp agencies in addition to applying for jobs regularly. I was able to find a job through a temp-to-hire position, but even if you can’t find a permanent job you’d like this way (and if you’re in a specialized field, it’s likely you won’t), having the option to work temporary jobs at least maintains some income for a while. Some other things that kept me sane while unemployed were setting realistic goals for myself (# of jobs to apply to every day, etc.) and negotiating with my former employer for an additional month of healthcare coverage.

      1. Urdnot Bakara*

        (Just saw where another commenter pointed out you might not be in the US, so the healthcare portion is probably not applicable to you!)

    8. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      There is a lot of good advice here. What I would add: Getting laid off sucks. It is natural to find it scary and painful. You don’t need to wallow, but don’t try to fast forward through it, deny it, or minimize it either. Just – it’s going to hurt, but it won’t hurt forever, and you will be okay.

      Come back here and post on Fridays for a while.

    9. Lexi Kate*

      When I got laid off I cried and fell apart that day then the next morning I got up at my regular time, got showered and ready for work. And started my daily work to search for a job
      – I set up a station in my living room
      -Created a spreadsheet to track jobs, interviews, etc so I had the backup to know when someone called as to which position they were calling for since I was open to changing fields.
      -I researched jobs and salaries and determined a low point that I could take and not have to pick up a side gig.
      – I updated my linked in added everyone I could think of and posted that I was looking for a change and if anyone had any leads to let me know.
      -I applied for jobs that I was almost qualified for that looked like places I wanted to work or jobs I wanted to do.

      My advice is to work your layoff likes its your job 8-10 hours a day. First figure out what are deal breakers, and what your salary scale is. Then to get your resumes together (more than one option). And to get interview suits together (1st interview, 2nd, and 3rd) and set them aside to keep clean, ironed starched at all times because if not you will inevitably need one when they are all wrinkled and stained. And be open I learned titles are irrelevant, even in the same industry (seriously I interviewed for a Analytics Engineer, BI Specialist, and a Senior Analyst with the same job description verbatim at 3 different insurance companies, with the same pay) So be open.

      1. Colette*

        Oh, about tracking jobs – I created a folder structure on my hard drive:
        Company
        Job
        Resume (the copy I used to apply)
        Posting (cut and paste from the listing on the web)
        Cover letter

        That way when it came time for an interview, I knew what version of my resume I had sent them, what I had said in the cover letter, and what they were looking for.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Thanks so much for this useful information! I love the way your system is clear and streamlined without making room to hold onto Every. Last. Detail. (such as multiple drafts of the cover letter & resume).
          Some of us are wired to organize the forest right down to the leaves & bark on each tree. And whether these features change color, texture, etc. depending on facing north, south, east, or west. Ahem. Nobody I know personally, of course.

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          I did the same, using Evernote. (The free version is plenty for this.) I made a new note for each job, with the company name, date applied, the cut-and-pasted job posting, and cover letter. Super helpful when it was interview time and I needed to remember which one of the eleventy billion postings I was actually up for.

      2. Whatsinaname*

        Absolutely that. I returned to the US when I got laid off from my job in Europe. It took me four months to find a job. What helped me was having a routine. First thing in the morning I would go swimming or for a walk. Then breakfast and then I would ‘work’ for six hours a day applying for jobs. Afterwards I would reward myself with doing something fun like going to the library, the mall or just exploring the new city I had moved to. I think the reward thing was important because it was demoralizing to not get a response or negative responses. In addition there was the element of running out of money since I was financing everything with my severance pay and I had no additional income. So while my main focus was on finding a job, I also tended to my mental well being because not being mentally well will definitely impact the outcome of your job search. I’m happy to report that it ended well and the results of my search led me into a high paying career.

    10. From the High Tower on the Hill*

      I have definitely found it helpful to not be at home during the work day so I can better focus on “working” aka job hunting. I would go to a library or coffee shop, anything to get me away from the distractions of regular life. It also helped me to put on “real clothes” aka not sweatpants and sweatshirts and put on what I would regularly wear to work to keep me in the right mindset.

    11. Persimmons*

      I was unemployed for six years after a layoff. Remind yourself through the panic that even if you can’t find something in your field, it’s almost certain that you can still find something. I cobbled together waitressing, part-time work, freelancing, and odd jobs until the economy recovered enough that my field started hiring again. It wasn’t fun, and I’m way behind in how much field experience (and retirement funds) I should have for someone my age, but I got by. You will too.

    12. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      First off, sorry to hear about your layoff. As RVA Cat said–get the idea that you will never find another job out of your head. You will ABSOLUTELY find another job. Just be prepared that it might take a while– a long while. It took me two years to find another job. Like you, I was given prior notice (1 month). During that month, I started getting my things together. You may also want to ask around your organization to find out if there are openings in other departments. While you are unemployed, get a routine going. Sign up with Permanent employment agencies and Temporary agencies. I signed up with quite a few, but it was the Temp agency that finally called me for a long term assignment (the Company finally made me permanent). If you do go on Temp assignments, ask if you can leave your resume. And you never know–the temp assignment could turn into a permanent job.

    13. Over It*

      Speaking to the psychological side of getting laid off, it’s very common to be told “it’s not personal.” When it happened to me, that’s actually what offended me. I felt like, I AM a person, and the fact that this situation has grave consequences to me personally, was a losing consideration in the decision*. If it had been personal, if there was something I did wrong that I could learn from, I actually could have taken it better. It’s really a lack of control issue that is so disorienting, that there’s really nothing I could have done to prevent this. So recognizing that, and taking control of things you can do, as suggested by others here, might help in wrapping your brain around the whole thing.

      Have patience, do what you can, and remember that you will be looking back in 5 years at the fact that if this crappy thing hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t be in whatever great new situation you will find yourself in.

      Good luck.

      *yes, I get that it’s never an easy decision, business realities, economic feasibilities, blah blah… still sucks.

      1. Gaia*

        I was told over and over it wasn’t personal, just business and….I get that but it was so rage inducing because I AM A PERSON.

        1. Colette*

          It’s not personal in the same way a natural disaster is not personal. It affects you as a person, but it’s not something you could control. (Having said that, there may be a personal aspect to a lay-off – it’s worth considering whether you were at the lower end of performance because the job wasn’t a good fit, or if you’d received performance feedback that wasn’t bad enough to fire you but still made you more vulnerable than others in the same job – that’s not necessarily the case, but there might be something you should learn).

        2. Gaia*

          I get it isn’t personal but it is also a really crappy thing to say because you’re acknowledging that you didn’t consider the human aspect. That isn’t to say the humans aspect should change the decision, but it should impact behavior.

    14. Jean (just Jean)*

      tl;dr: It stinks to be laid off but you sound capable of weathering the transition to new employment. Please take comfort from past and present fellow/sister travelers on the same road! (Also, internet hugs or warm vibes if you want either or both.)

      Lots of good advice here and allusions to being resourceful and resilient. I was particularly struck by these words of Persimmons:
      >Remind yourself through the panic that even if you can’t find something in your field, it’s almost certain that you can still find something.

      Never underestimate the power of Simply Keeping Going via Honest Work, even if it’s not at the top of your field and/or does not require all of your skills and abilities. There’s a country song with the refrain “that’s something to be proud of.” (Sorry, I don’t know title, songwriter, or recording artist(s).)

      I wish you a brief but effective period of grieving followed by self-care, self-discipline (establishing a new weekday routine, updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, reaching out to your network, and methodically checking for and applying to open positions), and self-discovery. Please be encouraged by your cogent, clear but calm request for help–it shows that you have skills, determination, and sufficient emotional awareness to know that your moments of panic need not become your entire mindset. (I don’t know your full life circumstances but you present as someone aware of options beyond the grim choices of Thrive, and Not Thrive.)

      1. Artemesia*

        The self care is critical. Whenever you are under a lot of stress it is absolutely crucial to be meticulous about self care. Eat healthy meals; go stock the refrigerator with easy to make things you like and know you will eat but that don’t take a lot of effort if you know cooking will be something you don’t want to do. Exercise every day even if it is an evening half hour power walk. Maybe look up the Canadian 12 minute workout on line which is a set of stretches etc you can do first thing in the morning; they are organized by age, gender, fitness so you start where you are. Just starting the day this way and then getting at least that walk in makes a huge difference in well being. Make sure you practice great personal hygiene; shower, dress, put on whatever make up you normally would; make yourself presentable even if the only person who sees you today is you in the mirror. Schedule at least weekly social engagement. Meet with friends for a movie or a night out; go to museums or concerts (start scanning for free stuff) etc so you have a calendar with things to do every week. Have strategies for anxiety reduction — whatever has worked for you starting with framing the situation as an opportunity rather than a disaster. (been there and know how hard that is — but perpetual wallowing just makes you miserable and makes it less likely to find something new). This too will pass. I thought the world and my career was over and I got through and had a good career and you will too.

      2. Geillis D*

        Jean, I know I’m not the intended recipient of your wise and kind words, but I’m in the same rickety boat and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Thank you as well. Glad I was helpful. My own tenancy in the rickety boat has been measured in both months and years.

    15. Geillis D*

      Ouch, oi, ouch. So sorry. I was laid off last week, from a job I loved and was very excited about when I was hired last year. I’m pretty positive I will be employed again before 2018 is done but my self esteem took a serious beating.

      I’m trying to keep busy, and also complete projects around the house I didn’t get around to do when I was working full-time. I also allow myself the occasional (non-weekend) do absolutely nothing day, when I simply read, snuggle with the felines who graciously allow me to be their personal heating pad, and sit on the couch looking out the window.

      All the best, please tell your brain to say nothing if it doesn’t have anything nice to say.

    16. Gaia*

      I was laid off 5 weeks ago now and I have found the following helpful:

      1. Don’t read the job reports or articles about the low unemployment numbers. They don’t help when you don’t have a job.
      2. Find something to do. Take a class (lots of free pretty cool MOOCs online these days), volunteer, take up a new weird hobby. DO SOMETHING.
      3. Alongside number 2, structure your day. Set the alarm. Wake up. Shower. Get dressed. Do something. Do not binge Netflix all day (okay, maybe some days).
      4. Be sad. Be angry. Be grateful. Be scared. Allow yourself to feel. Don’t think about how you “should” feel. You feel how you feel and that is okay. Remember that this is a loss and you will grieve and your grief will be different than mine was (is) and different than anyone else’s. That is okay. It is yours. Own it.
      5. Know that you’re going to be okay and that job was toxic and crap anyway. Know that you still have value and that you will land on your feet.

    17. Gaia*

      Oh, I just read that you’ll be working until November. Hmm how to put this?

      I also had about 2 months’ notice. It was okay at first. I was glad for the notice. Then, I found myself increasingly frustrated/angry/sad/demotivated because everything else was going on around me and I wasn’t going to be there for it and I was losing my job and these people weren’t, etc.

      If you experience anything similar know that it is 1. normal and 2. not a reason to be unprofessional. Keep it together. Go out on a high. You got this.

      1. Not so rainy*

        Ooooh I can relate to what Gaia said. Best tip I was given is to take one of those paper meter/foot measurer from Ikea and shred it to the amount of days left. Kept me grounded to keep the target (last day at ToxicCompany!) in sight when I was roller coasting between contradictory emotions.
        And during the job search, may I suggest to fend off the associated depression with an activity that rewards you with the pleasure of concrete success: baking, do-it-yourself, gardening, gaming (Pokemon Go anyone?) if you must, anything that will bring you a daily feeling of success, of having done something tangible.
        Take care of yourself in the troubled times ahead. If you don’t, who will?
        Warm regards.

      2. JxB1000*

        I had the exact experience. Company going thru tough times. I was in the 3rd waves of layoffs. They wanted to help so gave us about two months notice. We were expected to continue jobs but they were super flexible about spending some time on job search, interviews, could print things out. Sounded GREAT at first – and they meant well. But he lame duck status set in quickly. And even though we intellectually understood the layoff wasn’t personal or about performance, some bitterness still set in. And it was just as awkward for those not laid off. Despite everyone’s great intentions, it quickly became a toxic environment.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    What’s the best way to interact with an office bully who tried to get you fired? My current approach is to be coldly cordial but distant.

    Jane is my organization’s resident mean girl. Earlier this year, she tried to get me fired by spreading rumors about me and sabotaging my work, and she didn’t cover her tracks well. She didn’t succeed, but she did get me kicked off a major project that would have given my career a boost.

    Two weeks ago, I ran into Jane at a large event. When she walked in the room, I crossed to the other side. When she took a step toward me, I crossed my arms, raised one eyebrow, and tilted my head. She went another way. When she joined a conversation I was having with a group of people (WHY?), I waited until she was done talking and excused myself with no expression on my face.

    One coworker, who knew the whole story, called me out for being rude. I repeated, “Jane tried to get me fired,” several times. My initial draft of this post included a detailed explanation of why wrongly getting fired would be bad, but you know what? Wrongly getting fired is a terrible thing all by itself. It doesn’t need a justification.

    I’m not going to smack Jane, but I’m not going to be friends with her either. She committed a pretty horrific act against me so I don’t think anyone should be shocked at my reaction, especially her. (I’m also getting the impression I’m the first person who has responded to her in this way.)

    I strongly identify with this OP: https://www.askamanager.org/2013/09/my-coworker-framed-me-to-try-to-get-me-in-trouble-and-now-wants-to-meet-for-coffee.html. I’ve been pouring over the comments and feeling a bit better about how I treated Jane.

    I really don’t think I’m the bad guy here. When you mess with someone’s life like that, you shouldn’t be surprised at the reactions you get.

    1. Tara S.*

      Your actions are understandable and are not affecting anyone’s ability to do their job. I wouldn’t be worried.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      I guess there’s a question of, might you be hurting yourSELF by being very public and making other people uncomfortable around this? Forget her, if people who don’t know you or the backstory see you souring their experience at an event, you are going to look like the one with the problem, which is another way that she “wins.” You might need to be more subtle in your digs at her. Certainly you don’t need to converse or be at all friendly though.

      1. NicoleK*

        This. Unless they’re close friends of yours, most people who work with you and Jane may not care all that much about what Jane did to you, because it wasn’t done to them. Or they may not even be aware of what went on.

        1. Yorick*

          Or some may have heard just enough of the story to already wonder if you’ve done something wrong. If you’re noticeably cool, those people might assume you’re “retaliating” against someone who spoke up about your bad work.

          You definitely don’t have to be friendly, but I guess try not to make it obvious that you’re avoiding her.

      2. Stormfeather*

        But I don’t really see anything inappropriate/souring about simply waiting for a lull in the conversation and excusing yourself, personally. It sounds like Snark is handling it totally appropriately to me – if they were throwing a tantrum about HOW DARE YOU APPROACH ME and making a big scene, then yeah I could see a complaint. But this? Sounds totally reasonable.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I guess the fact that the coworker noticed and felt uncomfortable (enough to say something to OP, at least) made me wonder if they had been quite overt. If they had truly just excused themselves, the coworker wouldn’t have clocked it. It’s not that I don’t think Jane deserves the blowback, I just wouldn’t want this OP to alienate coworkers and others in a way that may reflect badly on their own options. There might be more of a middle ground.

          1. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon*

            Agreed! We also don’t know what Jane said after OP left the conversation. She could have either played up feeling hurt by it, or played dumb “did I say something to upset her?” etc. Suddenly people who don’t know the whole story think OP is the jerk. I’d be really careful leaving anything open for her to apply spin to.

            1. Camellia*

              At first I was ‘yeah, what you did was perfect and expected’, but this comment about what Jane might be doing and saying when you are not there scares me. I think you should figure this is exactly what someone like this should do and not be so overt in your actions.

              Much as I hate to say it, you are apparently the one who has more to lose since SHE WAS NOT FIRED FOR DOING THIS TO YOU! You said she had not covered her tracks well, which I assume is why you did not get fired, but sheesh! Why was she not fired for doing this???????

      3. designbot*

        This is what I’m wondering. Would a better approach to do as Mr. Wickham says (not as he does) and deciding that *you* deserve to own the space, and if there is any discomfort then *she* can be the one to leave, since you have done nothing wrong? By ceding the space, you’re automatically in a weakened position. As others have mentioned, this gives her the opportunity to put her spin on it for everyone else, and may deprive you of opportunity if the people you’re conversing with are influential ones.

        1. wherewolf*

          This is a good comparison to make, because if you recall Mr. Wickham came across as the wronged party and the kinder gentleman because of this. Mr. Darcy, even though he was the one actually wronged, had to write a letter explaining what had actually happened, and even then Lizzie had to share that with her family. So while you should certainly get out of any situation you feel uncomfortable in, by choosing to leave whenever Jane shows up, you may be cutting yourself out of opportunities at work and also allowing her to own the story, even though you were the wronged party.

    3. Lirael*

      I think that’s a totally reasonable response. If you have to interact with her for work purposes, you’d need to be able to speak to her, but socially? Nah.

      And I’m sorry this happened to you!

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I suspect your co-worker may have a vested interest in everyone getting along and there not being discomfort. Bottom line, Jane tried to get you fired and has shown you who she is. She doesn’t get an automatic pass back into your good graces because her attempt failed. Agree with others that your response is reasonable. You just have to work with Jane (and what is up with her boss/HR not reprimanding or firing her for her actions?), not be buddies with her.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think you handled yourself well. Your coworker was probably uncomfortable but that’s too bad. You don’t owe Jane anything more than frosty politeness.

      1. Fergus*

        You don’t owe Jane and Jane is not entitled to anything from you, you already know she’s not your friend. I would have done the same thing. I have done the same thing to people and will continue.

    5. LadyPhoenix*

      The inly courtesy you have to give Jane is to make sure your work between you and her is conplete.

      You don’t have to invite her for drinks out, be friends, invite her to chats with your buddies (unless it is a project that she has partial responsibility), or be nice to her.

      And no other explanation is needed besides “she tried to get me fired”. She knew what she did, she doesn’t get to play innocent either.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        That’s a really important question. I’d be thinking of leaving if she didn’t, because a place that allows “mean girl” behavior is not a place you should stay.

    6. JokeyJules*

      you aren’t the bad guy. Unfortunately, when people do wrong by you but you must still be around them professionally and personally, it just heaps even more responsibility onto you.
      I think your friend wanted you to “rise above” and still be nice to her. Which is absolute crap. Just continue to be truly cordial and civil and that’s all that you need to do.

    7. Phyllis*

      One coworker, who knew the whole story, called me out for being rude.

      I’d have to respond to that with “What’s your point?”

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        Agreed. It’s not “friendly” but it’s not rude, and that’s how I would respond to the busy-body third party inserting herself into this.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Yes.
        There is no etiquette requirement to pretend you like horrible people.

        In a work setting, or at work-related industry events, you don’t want uninvolved people picking up on a “bad blood” vibe. So if you’re socializing with coworkers or colleagues, you’re going to want to be very smooth and subtle about disengaging. But manners-wise, you did just fine.

    8. Linzava*

      Sounds like nobody’s ever stood up to Jane before. And her trying to interject into conversations with you are her trying to make you uncomfortable or trying to put you in a position to be nice to her. Either way, it’s a power play and you handled it fine. As for your coworker, they’re being rude by interjecting themselves into the drama.

      I wouldn’t worry about it, keeping things icy between you makes it nearly impossible for her to mess with your career again. Would your coworker expect you to be polite to someone who publicly slapped you in the face? No.

      1. Camellia*

        You say, “…keeping things icy between you makes it nearly impossible for her to mess with your career again.” But as Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon said above, “We also don’t know what Jane said after OP left the conversation. She could have either played up feeling hurt by it, or played dumb “did I say something to upset her?” etc. Suddenly people who don’t know the whole story think OP is the jerk. I’d be really careful leaving anything open for her to apply spin to.”

        So I think OP’s behavior potentially makes room for Jane to mess with her reputation and career. At first I agreed with her actions but, like I replied above, this potential scares me for the OP and I believe should rethink their approach.

        1. Anne (with an “e”)*

          When I first read the OP’s post I didn’t think they had done anything wrong. However, after reading several of the comments I am beginning to change my opinion. The OP definitely does not want to do anything to damage their reputation. Appearances matter, especially in a professional setting, even more so if not everyone knows the full backstory. This “ mean girl” is still employed by the same company. She was not let go, nor apparently disciplined. That says a lot to me. That means she apparently has clout and power. She did succeed in getting OP kicked off of a major project and slowing down OP’s advancement. Thus, I think that OP should never be overtly, obviously rude to this “mean girl.” That “rude” look can be detrimental to the OP to casual observers. I actually believe that as difficult as it might be, the OP might benefit from the old maxim, “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.” Pretend to tolerate the “mean girl,” but proceed with caution. Use the opportunity to spy on her.

          1. Not so rainy*

            Or try to smother her in kindness! This is counter-intuitive, but will deprive her of the pleasure to get a reaction from you (they get high on that!). Reframe it as not being an amusing toy that rises or flinches under her gaze. So you would never appear publicly as a weird person, and she would get no opportunity to tell her side of the story. And you keep control of the conversation, preferably on light non-work subjects: “how was your weekend?”, “Such a lovely/terrible weather isn’t it?”, ” Oh would that be a new outfit?”, and then excuse yourself to refresh your drink, miss Manners way.
            The victory is in not letting her further control your emotions and your public image. She does not deserve your anger, only your disdain/pity.

            1. TardyTardis*

              “Bless your heart.” Southern ladies know how to skewer with a smile. It’s very useful.

      1. Anon From Here*

        Enh, a good ol’ “cut direct” is problematic among friends and family. But co-workers aren’t friends or family, and professional relationships are different from friend and family relationships.

        1. TootsNYC*

          except that: for you to not suffer for this breach of civility, other people have to know of the offense, and agree with you that it was offensive.

          And in our culture, there are lots of people who will come up with all kinds of excuses for rudenesses and offenses they didn’t personally suffer.

          Go for the cut-indirect. Vague drifting away.

    9. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Sounds good to me. If your coworker mentions this again, I would ask “That’s very interesting, perhaps you can elaborate on how I was being rude” I would suspect that the person wouldn’t be able to elaborate without citing you being unfriendly. If that’s the case then you can calmly explain that you are willing and able to be professional with Jane, but that is where it will end. Alternately you could respond with a simple “No, I wasn’t rude nor was I unprofessional.”

      I would recommend that you continue this detached professionalism with Jane. She sounds like the type who try to engage with you in a public setting in order to help her come out looking like the victim.

      You don’t have to defend yourself to Clueless Cathy, Jane, or anyone else on this matter in fact now that I’ve written that it may just be better to respond to Clueless Cathy with a simple “I’m not discussing Jane”. This gives you the moral high ground and doesn’t leave you open to accusations of gossiping or disparaging Jane publicly.

    10. OhGee*

      You’re under no obligation to interact with her any further than what’s required for work purposes. I’m sorry you have to work with such a jerk at all.

    11. Bea*

      You’re behaving correctly.

      You should keep your distance because she sucks and is dangerous to your job! She shouldn’t be given the chance to buddy up with you ever, it’s giving her another opening to sneak in and do damage further.

      You’re not rude for being on guard and not allowing others to threaten your livelihood. Anyone who thinks so isn’t thinking clearly about the consequences and it’s not your job to teach them.

    12. epi*

      Honestly, to me your behavior as described sounds unnoticeable to anyone but you, Jane, and anyone who knows what happened between the two of you. It’s normal at a large event to move around the room, or to excuse yoursel from one group to go talk to another. I wouldn’t worry about it.

      I so know that urge to explain why a bad thing is bad. Make sure you are getting validation somewhere of how crappy this was! IME reading is great for when you need to think about this right now (as long as it’s not so often it’s interfering with you moving on), but you deserve to have real people in your life telling you that your own personal experience wasn’t OK. Only you know if your friend is projecting a pretty common personal anxiety on to you, or if she’s just actually not that supportive. But either way I don’t think you need to be hearing right now that you’re the one making it weird if you don’t pretend that nothing happened. I’d talk to this friend about other topics, at a minimum.

    13. Res Admin*

      I have been in a very similar position (actually, it just raised it’s ugly mug again even though I am in a new unit). My best advice is to be cordial, but distant. Very professional, but not particularly friendly. Keep your distance as much as is reasonably possible–without actually going out of your way to do so.

      This is where you let her manipulate you: She joined the group conversation, however you left and you got called out for being rude. Next time: Stay and continue your conversation without acknowledging her presence (I know it is an acquired skill, but it is worth learning). Be blissfully oblivious to her presence. If she addresses you directly, respond politely, briefly, and return to talking to someone else (as if a stranger had briefly interrupted a conversation).

      Her inserting herself into your space is a power play. It makes her feel powerful to make you uncomfortable. Don’t give her the satisfaction. She will eventually back off for the most part and move on to new victims. And, eventually, more and more people will see her true character which will make it easier for you as well.

      (Until she finds a new way to be a pestilential plague–it took a few years, but mine is trying to worm her way back. I am working on nipping that in the bud.)

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        This is really good advice. Also, when you left the conversation Snarkus Aurelius, you left the door open for Jane to “fill in” the story to the others there, “Oh, Snarkus hates me. They were removed from a big project earlier this year and they blame me, but I had nothing to do with it.”

          1. Res Admin*

            To clarify: My Pest made the most of the fact that I would NOT bad mouth her. I would just redirect the conversation or refuse to discuss. It took about 6 months of the rest of the team trying to figure out what had happened and my feeling rather isolated. In the meantime, they thought I was overly sensitive or who knows what with Pest always whispering, whispering into their ears.

            And then the apologies started coming in. And other team members started requesting transfers.

            There were Reasons why no serious repercussions (Pest did pay a price and will never get promoted–or transferred to another unit for that matter), but the higher ups that knew and cared have left and the new ones haven’t figured it out yet. Hence my sudden discovery that Pest has volunteered to be the team point person for my new unit.

      2. Lucille2*

        This is brilliant advice. I had some mean girl drama at OldJob. Don’t give her power should be your mantra. Interact with her on a needs-to-know basis only. Don’t go around her, it just fuels the drama. Don’t trust her, but keep every interaction you have with her on the up and up. Initially, she’ll try to turn others against you, which is exactly why you shouldn’t leave when she enters a conversation. It’s also why you should avoid the temptation to make snarky remarks and be mindful of your body language in her presence. That can often be a dead giveaway that there’s some kind of tension and gives her an opening to act the victim.

        It’s a power play. Don’t play the game. Take the high road.

        1. uranus wars*

          I would 2nd this comment. She will try to, and may successfully, turn others against you. it can be a hard time to get through — I have had it happen to me.

          However, like Res Admin above, as others starting seeing her true colors the apologies came rolling in. Luckily my pest quit, and earned herself a “do not rehire” in the exit, which she found out about when she tried to come back.

    14. Fact & Fiction*

      I just want to echo the chorus singing that you acted perfectly appropriately. Once somebody TRIES TO GET YOU FIRED they have proven themselves to be untrustworthy. Acting courteously or professionally toward a colleague does not mean you have to be overly friendly toward or socialize with them. Especially not someone who has outright tried to sabotage you. Your coworker who called you out for this is completely wrong. Jane did a terrible thing and she does not deserve kindness or friendliness from you, ESPECIALLY if she never faced consequences and MORE ESPECIALLY if she never sincerely apologized to you.

      In my opinion you’re definitely good here.

    15. JSPA*

      Hm, depends a bit on whether the grounds she tried to get you fired for were framing you for a project that she (or someone else) screwed up, or if it was for interpersonal behavior issues.

      If the first (and if you’re 100% sure that someone didn’t frame you first, and her secondly), then the cut direct seems about right.

      If the second–especially if the both of you temperamentally mix like…oil and water? Bleach and ammonia? Cats and vacuum cleaners? Then it may be better to stay and be civil (while giving nothing away), making it abundantly clear that any interpersonal problems have nothing to do with you being intrinsically difficult or unpleasant in any way. After all, given that she presumably does not like you, putting on a show of collegiality is probably the most likely explanation for why she’s popping into your conversations in the first place.

      Basically, it may be the first salvo of a new, “see how nice I am and how difficult S-A is” campaign. Don’t play into it.

    16. Fibchopkin*

      Oh man Snark, I don’t think you did anything wrong per se; and Jane deserves to contract a dreadful case of fungus infection somewhere sensitive… but. (There’s always a but, isn’t there?) I think that I have to agree with some of the other commenters that, while your behavior wasn’t precisely rude, it may come off as a tad unprofessional to colleagues who don’t know much about the situation. Especially the bit with the obviously hostile body language when you crossed your arms and gave Jane a “look”. That behavior, combined with deliberately avoiding Jane and noticeably excusing yourself from any conversation she joins could be construed by outsiders as mean or even bullying behavior. Not that Jane doesn’t deserve much, much worse than your relatively minor treatment of her! It’s just that you wouldn’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by coming off as unprofessional or dramatic during networking events.
      The real question for me is, if your employers caught her fraudulently attempting to get another employee terminated, why is she still employed by them? Trying to get someone wrongfully fired is a BIG deal, one that could potentially cost the employer a massive headache and financial drain in the case of a wrongful termination suit, depending on the circumstances. It’s too bad your company didn’t let her go. Someone who only knows the bare details of the situation might be thinking along the same lines and come to the conclusion that if Jane didn’t get fired over the incident, there must be a reason why, and maybe they will look at the way they have seen you ice Jane out and combine it with her continued employment and attribute the rumors to a spat between coworkers or even assume that Jane’s continued employment indicates that there was some truth to her allegations.

    17. alannaofdoom*

      If ever there were a contemporary situation for which the Cut Direct is appropriate, it’s this.

    18. Aphrodite*

      Your co-worker who called you out was wrong. What you are not doing is rude. Instead you are using the cut indirect, which seems appropriate to me. You are ignoring her without making others around you uncomfortable with your actions.

    19. Stranger than fiction*

      All I can offer is a reminder that Karma eventually kicks in.
      I had a similar situation with an office mean girl, who told everyone I was responsible for a negative glassdoor review (long story, I was involved in a conversation about glassdoor and suggested to a couple people in a specific department some specific constructive criticism may help their cause, but in a “they told two friends and they told two friends…” kind of thing, a couple ex employees from an adjacent dept posted some mildly bad to horrific reviews). She went on and on and chastised me about loyalty…
      Well she was fired about six months later, for screaming and cussing at another coworker. And in the aftermath, we found out so many things about her work history here, how she cheated, lied etc….and then she went on to work for our competitor, with whom we had a lawsuit, and several of our customers have since told us “she calls all the time but we won’t buy from her.” And “I think she’s slept with all our salespeople “ and things like that.
      As petty as it sounds, it’s satisfying to know her true nature came out.

      1. Texan at Heart*

        I completely understand why you took this approach. This is such hurtful behavior on her part! I’ve been there too, and it’s unspeakably scary and painful.

        I wonder if you could approach it from the perspective of showing the best of who you are, rather than not dealing with her awful behavior. I think others are often more impressed and encouraged by a friendly approach to someone like this (not trusting- just polite and seemingly normal). The other person’s bad behavior then speaks for itself, and you don’t have to worry about anyone’s perception of you. (Plus it shows strong confidence, leadership skills, and makes you look good).

        Good luck!

    20. Forking great username*

      I feel like I would need the visual to go along with this. I’m a high school teacher, and in my honest opinion, the arms crossed/head tilted/eyebrow raised move makes me think of my students. Specifically, my students that always seem to find themselves in the middle of drama and give this look to other girls in a “wanna fight” sort of way. So it may be that my reading is off due to my own background, but as a person who doesn’t know the backstory, you’d body language wouldn’t give off the best impression.

    21. Artemesia*

      The ‘direct cut’ while justified in your situation doesn’t work well in the workplace. I would shift to the ‘cordial stranger’ i.e. vaguely cordial, but you don’t quite recognize who she is and you move away, as you have, from interactions with her. Anything that makes you look rude to onlookers hurts you more than her justified as you are. I am sorry she was as successful as she was. I managed to get my nemesis fired but quite different than your situation. For years I had protected his job when management wanted to not renew his contracts; then he screwed me over just one more time and so the next time, I just sat back and let it come down on him. So if you can inflict harm on her — great. But be mindful that things you do don’t hurt you worse. So the ‘cordial stranger’ is pleasant, but doesn’t engage beyond shallow pleasantries and avoids interaction as gracefully as possible.

    22. Shoes on My Cat*

      You handled it politely. That being said, jerks like her who manage to avoid getting fired for egregious jerk-ness tend to be brilliant at social/office politics. NEVER EVER trust her but if/when you can, out-nice her anytime there are witnesses. I lost my (at the time) DreamJob to one like her. And I was right to be furious. I was also polite. Yes, my colleagues and grand boss knew the backstory. Yes I worked with her for a year after that blowup. Yes, she got me fired anyway. Yes, she was eventually fired herself for incompetence two months after I left & wasn’t doing her work for her. But it was too late for me. Since then I’ve managed to confuse and dull the fangs of the *very few* MegaJerks I’ve dealt with in the decades since then. Not very satisfying AT ALL, but keeping my job(s) was. And eventually, the jerks have been transferred or fired. You know, since I was ALWAYS helping another colleague whenever Jerk was in a bind or needed training, so incompetence got displayed to all. Unless it was a minor thing and in front of a manager or office gossip. Then I’d help Jerk. So Jerk couldn’t complain I never helped. It was just that it was only with BS stuff that didn’t factor. And yes, STILL BITTER!!! ***BUT am now in dream job I never thought was possible beyond daydreams, so there’s that ;-).

    23. John Doe*

      I’d be careful, because while you’re not the bad guy, you could give “Jane” some ammunition to portray herself as being done dirty by you, rather than the other way around. Then you’d be in the position of saying “Yes, I was mean to Jane, BUT”… and after that “BUT,” people will tune you out.

      And that is if people address you at all about it. I learned this the hard way in a similar situation, and lost a lot of my contact network at that company. Even HR at that company took the side of the other person, until I presented hard evidence of retaliation (by the legal definition) and him violating company rules, and then they reluctantly stepped in.

    24. A. Traveller*

      Snark,
      If a coworker who knows the story calls you out for being rude, then sit up and listen.

      She’s waging a guerilla war on you, and she’s winning. Once you walk away, she controls the narrative, and I’d bet you everything that’s she’s batting her eyelids like crazy and asking the audience to help her fix your problem with poor little her. That’s why she’s going after you – you shut down and walk away without defending yourself. You’re an easy target, and the fact that you already ‘cost’ her a promotion probably just wet her appetite.

      I know this, because I went through a similar thing with a coworker. Only my situation ended with me ‘voluntarily’ finding a new job.

      Here’s what I’d have done different:

      1. Grey-stone her: Be unfailingly polite, but don’t give details. “Did you have a good weekend?” – “Thank you, I did!” etc. Twist all and any small talk into a very brief discussion about the job (“Looking forward to getting cracking on X”) and then tell her that you really need to get to . Don’t ever let her draw you in, or cause you to loose your cool. Remember that any details (“Bobs proposal was good, but needs more work”) can be twisted (“Snark said that Bobs proposal sucked!”).

      3. If possible, never be alone with her. Covertly or otherwise, make sure that other people witness your interactions at all time, and if anything comes up, make sure to go to them for advice. People in general like feeling knowledgeable, and dislike too much disruption – make her the disruptive one, and make sure you’re the one getting good advice on how to handle her behavior, not the other way around. Make sure that the focus is on her actions, and you come off as the one trying to keep (an understandably somewhat distant) peace.

      4. STAY! Don’t let her control the narrative, ever. Don’t loose your cool, don’t walk away, don’t expect people to remember what a nice, decent person you are when she’s plying them with innuendo and ‘innocent’ questions about why you dislike her so much. Because even your most loyal coworkers will start to think since there’s so much smoke blowing around, there has to be a fire somewhere. You want to be there to remind them that there isn’t and you ARE a good person. Gossip happens behind your back – make her see your best side at all times front and center, no matter what (and yeah, I know exactly how much that sucks).

      6. Don’t defend yourself. Details are not your friend. If she tries to paint a situation in the wrong light, tell her that you are sorry she feels this way, but you remember things differently. If she presses on, ask your witness for help. Don’t let her draw you into a “he said, she said” debate, or any kind of debate, because in that situation the best storyteller will win, and she’s most likely been there a lot more than you have. Also, people often have a sympathy for the underdog – again, if she can show others how you ‘undermine her narrative’ and ‘disregard her opinions’ then they’ll side with her against you, no matter your prior history.

      7. Read up on psychopaths, borderlines and narcissism. Quora is a pretty good place for that. I’m not saying she’s any of those (she’s most likely not), but it helps to know the tactics you may be defending yourself against. Check out gaslighting while you’re at it. Just don’t EVER diagnose, especially not out loud to others – but know thy enemy.

      Best of luck to you.

    25. Probably Nerdy*

      This is something that I would really like to see Alison tackle – where is the line between “reasonable cold shoulder” and “rude/immature silent treatment”? Even Miss Manners supports the cold shoulder at times.

      I’m asking because I too had a formerly cordial coworker do something heinous to me (lied to my boss about my actions) and I stopped interacting with him socially beyond curt sentences that had to do with work. Things got weird there and even his work-related emails were just full of ass-hattery so I know I made the right choice as he showed himself to be a bully. But it didn’t stop my boss from lecturing me about it. I later quit that place because it was so toxic, but still.

    26. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk*

      First off, I’d like to comment that you are completely justified in being angry with Jane for her attempt to get you fired. I say this because, honestly, as I read your letter I get the impression that you might be experiencing some difficulty in convincing yourself of this. And maybe you aren’t getting a lot of support from friends and co-workers on this point. But I will say it again, for emphasis: you are completely justified in being angry with Jane for her attempt to get you fired.

      It may be difficult to believe, but you probably won’t be Jane’s only victim.

      There’s a book called The Asshole Survival Guide (written by the same fellow who wrote The No Asshole Rule). It doesn’t have any magic answers to your problem, but it might help you in your thinking.

      I seem to possess some quality that attracts a-holes, so perhaps I shouldn’t even try to give you advice. But the one thing I did, which I believe worked out well over the long haul, was to keep to the High Road. Ie, don’t lower yourself to the same kind of a-hole scheming behavior, don’t seek revenge, etc. It’s not a quick fix, but I found that over time I developed a reputation for being honest and even-tempered and a “straight shooter”. It was a bit like a suit of armor. And it happened that occasionally someone would talk some trash about me to management – but management would tend to dismiss it out of hand. I know this sounds like some Pollyanna fairytale – but it really did work out well for me.

      Of course, it takes time and effort to do this: you can’t fake a good reputation. For instance, I had a policy that I wouldn’t say bad things about my co-workers. “Jane and I don’t get along” was the worst thing I would say. It was rough – sometimes impossible – to adhere to it 100% of the time. But it took really egregious behavior, or my boss telling me they had a serious business need to know, or etc, before I’d ‘break policy’. This is probably more than many people would want to commit to. But in general, it’s not difficult – for most people – to simply not be an asshole.

      I wish you the best in dealing with this.

  4. What’s with Today, today?*

    My husband is a defense attorney. Our county’s elected District Attorney lost his last re-election bid, it was decided during the March primary, and his term will end at the close of this calendar year. This week he sent all the attorneys and court personnel the following letter (verbatim except for name/phone # change):

    “Dear Court Personnel and Counsel:

    Please be advised I will be out of the office with limited availability from October 8, 2018 through November 1, 2018 at which time I will be on vacation the rest of the calendar year. It would be greatly appreciated if you would make note of these dates and not schedule any hearings that require my personal involvement during this time frame. Any and all matters needing my office’s attention should be forwarded to my first assistant John Smith.

    Thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at my office at 555-5555.”

    My husband says the first assistant is a good deal maker, and he likes the first assistant better, but a lot of the local attorneys are highly pissed. Any one have thoughts?

    1. WellRed*

      Can’t speak to the legal profession specifically, but this seems pretty typical for a public/local government position.

      1. Kittymommy*

        Yep, at least in my experience it’s very common. When one of my previous bosses lost his primary everyone was shocked that he continued to show up to stuff afterwards.

        1. What's with Today, today?*

          Our last DA (that this guy beat 2 terms ago) kept coming to everything too. He also ran for Judge the next election cycle and won, so that may be why.

          1. Jenn*

            Yeah, this guy should never ever be a DA again. Frankly, he should not be an attorney. His lack of ethics is shocking.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      On one hand, it seems kind of shitty, like he’s being a sore loser. But on the other hand, if the vacation benefits are “use it or lose it”, I can’t blame him. Plus I can understand not wanting to start any trials that might continue into the next term that another DA would need to pick up.

      1. What's with Today, today?*

        It’s definitely use it or lose it. The county had to pay a lady $12k when she retired last year for unused vacation and they changed the policy during the very next commissioner’s meeting.

        1. A person*

          Sounds to me like anyone who’s mad about this guy using his vacation time (which is part of his compensation package) instead of losing it should take that up with the people who changed the payout policy!

    3. Qwerty*

      My first thought was to be annoyed, but then I remembered that some government jobs compensate overtime work with extra vacation hours that don’t pay out. The people I know in those situations usually had their retirement party and then went on leave for weeks/months until those days ran out.

      I think the biggest problem here is the lack of notice. It would have been better if this was sent out a month ago instead of sprung on everyone a week before he left.

      1. What's with Today, today?*

        The overtime wouldn’t come into play here. Being a prosecutor (at least in our county) is very much an 8-5 job. My husband was one for about 6 years, and I don’t remember them ever being there late. If you have a major crime, they may have to go out in the middle of the night, but we average about 5-6 homicides per year, tops. I’m media, and several of the attorneys have actually contacted me to see if we’ll run a story, their thought process was basically “Your tax dollars at work.” We aren’t running a story about it though. I actually got contacted about the letter by a local family law attorney, then I asked my husband and he was like, “Oh yeah, no big deal. Why is she upset?” Then he asked around, and a lot of attorneys are upset and annoyed.

        1. Jenn*

          My sister is a prosecutor in a large city and I have been a prosecutor’s intern and clerk in another city and this is definitely not the case there. My sister will work until midnight regularly before a major case, as will her colleagues. She has has to do crime scene duty, which drags her out of bed regularly in the middle of the night.

          Maybe because I am used to a busy urban jurisdiction, but I find this genuinely shocking. Not having a functioning criminal system for three months is a clear miscarriage of justice. It isn’t up to the defense attorneys, their clients have rights here. Waiting an additional three months for trial can have a huge affect on a defender. My sister reprimanded a junior attorney because she left someone in jail a weekend longer than he needed to be (they found evidence that cleared the guy).

          He doesn’t get his vacation? Tough. You’re a DA, it’s a public trust position, you’re bound by ethical rules, and people’s rights don’t get trampled over your vacation.

          1. What’s with Today, today?*

            Yeah, it’s way different here, rural Texas. My husband has a client in jail now, and all the charges against him were dropped last Wednesday. The guy is still in jail and probably won’t get out until mid-week next week, and my husband will have to push to make that happen. But that would be true even if they weren’t short staffed. If you are involved in a major crime, it’s about a two year turnaround on trial here. There are only a handful of DPS crime scene labs in the state, and DNA can take a year to get back. (I do a lot of media crime stories, and a weekly show with our sheriff, that’s how I met my husband and hear these things). Our biggest problem out here is meth. I’m sure the prosecutors work late when they have a murder trial or big sex case, but we may have 2-3 of those trials a year, and that’s a pretty liberal estimate.

            1. Jenn*

              I find this genuinely upsetting and I have generally been on the state side of things. This is just not okay. Being in jail for extended periods can absolutely ruin someone. The fact that they don’t take this seriously is sick.

          2. Lynn*

            How many assistants are there in the office? This question is very different if there is 1 or 101.

        2. Lynn*

          How do you go home at 5 while on trial? I feel lucky to get more than 6 hours of sleep when I’m on trial.

    4. LKW*

      What’s the alternative? I mean, if the guy has to use his vacation or lose it and there is no replacement who can fill in while he’s out – it sounds like he’s trying to put everyone on notice that he’s between a rock and a hard place. I’ve no doubt that the pissed off attorneys would be equally pissed if someone took a perk (vacation) away or refused to pay them for said unused perk.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      In my state, attorneys must book vacation as “secured leave” in the courts they practice in well in advance or get sanctioned by the Bar. I don’t know if your DA is an attorney or purely a politician. But either way, I can totally understand why the local attorneys would be pissed off.

      Also, it’s a huge pain to try to get anything heard between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Things like your situation make it even harder, which also is going to annoy attorneys.

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        Wow! That’s interesting. He’s an attorney first, returning to private practice in January.

    6. Anon From Here*

      As an attorney, I’d say whether John or Jane Defense Attorney decides to honor that request depends on how collegial — or, at least, how not openly hostile — the defense and prosecution bars are toward each other. Will there be long-term repercussions? Will other prosecutors hold a grudge of some kind?

      For your clients, though, will honoring the request cause continuances in their cases that unfairly affect them?

    7. SoooAnonymous*

      As someone dealing with the DA’s office because I have a criminal trial pending, I would be pissed. I’ve already dealt with months of pre-trial. Now I could potentially (finally) be moving to trial, except the actual DA is out of the office, so I have yet another delay. What happened to my right to a speedy trial?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That would be a good question for the judge/your attorney. Hopefully, you have an attorney. She may advise you this is a hornet’s nest and do not kick it as it will cause the DA to keep track of times you ask for an adjournment. I dunno, your lawyer would have the best answer given your givens.

      2. Jenn*

        It is possible your attorney didn’t drop their speedy demand, but yeah, talk to your lawyer. My sister has definitely had to cancel vacations and similar due to trials and hearings.

        Does the justice system just not function outside of major cities?

    8. samiratou*

      I can understand why the local attorneys are pissed, but it seems the nature of the business, and if DA needs to use his vacation, then I wouldn’t begrudge him that at all.

      1. Jenn*

        The nature of the business is actually the exact opposite. A defense attorney has obligations to their clients, who have legal rights.

        I mean seriously, is this guy just planning in thwir being no bimd hearings for three months? So what, every person arrested just sits in jail for three months?

        I don’t think people understand the full extent of the implications here. He has no back up, he MUST be available.

        Hopefully whatever judge you have will make him see the light. I think threatening to jail him for contempt if he refuses to appear or have coverage at criminal cases for three months is appropriate. As is a complaint to the state bar.

    9. CTT*

      I think it’s understandable given what people said about the use it or lose it nature of time off, but I think the way he worded it was off. If he had just taken out that middle sentence and cut directly to contacting his assistant it would have come off as less “please don’t make my life difficult.”

    10. From the High Tower on the Hill*

      Yeah, working in politics this is incredibly normal unfortunately. Once you, or the person you work for, loses, you kind of just tap out and start looking immediately for something new.

    11. JSPA*

      To what degree is a DA’s personal involvement truly necessary in cases? That is, what percentage of trials will have to be postponed (if any?).

      I can’t imagine that trials often require the present of the specific person who currently holds the job (as opposed to the office holder). Otherwise, they’d fall apart anytime someone was voted out (or stepped down, or was indicted) or in counties where it’s not an elected office, simply quit or was fired.

      I’m guessing that most daily functions of a DA can also be accomplished by the Assistant DA. In which case–what’s the anger about? He’s got vacation to use, a tight deadline to use it. The office will be short-staffed, which always stinks, but that’s a function of understaffing in general, and not planning for the known, predictable results of changes in vacation rules, in specific.

      1. What's with Today, today?*

        Well, we are in one of the poorest counties in our state, and the whole office staffs under 10 attorneys and including the appellate attorney. They are extremely short-staffed. All three or the other felony attorneys and one of the misdemeanor attorney’s have already left for other jobs. The new first assistant has been there three weeks, but is extremely qualified and has been a prosecutor in neighboring counties before(and in our county once before). So essentially, the office usually has 7-9 full-time attorneys and they now have four, including the DA that is out for the year.

        1. What's with Today, today?*

          My husband said no trials will happen at all, if it’s not a plea deal, nothing will happen on the case until 2019.

          1. Someone On-Line*

            To me this is media worthy, and I say this as the wife of a criminal defense attorney. Not throwing the DA under the bus, but explaining what is going on and why trials may be delayed and an understaffed agency that serves the people are all worthy news topics. It’s not breaking news, but it’s relevant.

            1. Videogame Lurker*

              I would call it informing the public, which is news, under the basic terminology of what news is – whatever the public should know, needs to know, or is in the interest of the public to know.

              AKA I took a mass media class about news.

          2. Huxley*

            That seems like it would unfairly affect people involved with the cases. I agree with the previous poster that it is media-worthy.

          3. Llamas at Law*

            This could potentially be a very big deal as it involves the constitutional rights of the accused.

        2. Jenn*

          Seems like that call would be the judge’s, not the Da’s. I mean, what if a speedy demand is dropped? There’s a constitutional right here.

          Sucks for the guy’s vacation but no way a judge is just going to let a whole jurisdiction operate with no criminal trials. You’ll have constitutional violations left and right.

          Alternately, if no one from the state shows for any felony trials, that might be grounds to get a metric ton of stuff dropped. I have never, ever, seen the state just fail to appear.

          Heck, you guys might consider a bar complaint against this attorney. Sure he lost his election but while in his position he is bound by prosecutorial ethics rules.

          1. What’s with Today, today?*

            So, the speedy trial thing doesn’t happen here. My husband works in two counties. The county I’ve referred to in my original post is our home county. The second county he works in is a neighboring county and is the county where the Bernie case happened…the case that was made into a movie with Jack Black, Shirley McClaine and Matt M. I work for the radio station featured in that movie, and husband work with the DA that was played by Matt M. Again, my original post is not about the Bernie county, but our home county, 20 minutes north, but in the Bernie County, it is not unusual for my husband to have cases that are 10-15 years old. They have a new judge that has dismissed a few, but he just took a case from 2006 to trial there, and that’s a normal thing. I’ve often asked him how they do that and he said the judges don’t care and just deny the motions.

            1. What’s with Today, today?*

              My husband has tried to interview witnesses that end up being dead or the defendant moved out of state a decade ago…all kinds of stuff. He’ll get a *new* court appointment and the police report will be 13 years old.

            2. Jenn*

              Jeez, this is straight up sickening. The constitution just doesn’t apply in rural places? That is absurd. Someone call the ACLU.

    12. SechsKatzen*

      My first thought is to be annoyed because private attorneys don’t always get that same courtesy! But it’s very much how the environment works and so there isn’t anything particularly unusual–maybe specifying that he would be “on vacation” was a bit much. He could’ve just said he’d be unavailable.

  5. Detective Amy Santiago*

    My friend ran into a weird thing with an application this week. A section of it requested a statement “in your own handwriting”. I’ve never heard of this being a thing before (and, no, this isn’t relevant to the job description).

    Anyone else ever see it?

    1. irene adler*

      I’ve seen a few job ads where they require a handwriting sample.
      Some folks believe they can discern personality characteristics from the way the handwriting looks. A poor way to judge job candidates, IMHO.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        It’s a pseudoscience; I would absolutely self-select out if that were the case (and I have very neat handwriting).

        1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          I have dyspraxia. My handwriting is legible, but ugly. I think if that’s not part of the job, it shouldn’t be a criterion.

    2. Audiophile*

      Never seen that. The only time it might be useful would be for fundraising positions, where you might be writing cards or notes to funders/donors.

    3. Lupin Lady*

      I’ve been asked twice to show my handwriting in an interview, presumably for the purpose of ensuring it’s legible to other people, which seems reasonable. I only had to write 2-3 words in each case before the people said I could stop.

    4. Squeeble*

      That’s bizarre. Any chance it was some sort of malapropism, like they meant to say “in your own words”?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That was my thought, but they were asking why you wanted to work there, so I’m not sure that makes sense.

        She’s interviewing there today, so I’m hoping she asks about it.

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      So weird! I abandoned cursive writing years ago, since college note-taking degraded it to the point it looked like med student handwriting, so now I have two styles. Maybe for whatever reason they can’t/don’t use captchas, but it’s eccentric to the point of raising suspicions. Definitely a no-no for me.

      1. Amber T*

        My handwriting is a mix of cursive and scribbles, probably half in my own language. If I’m writing something that I know someone will read, I’ll write it in block lettering that’s nice and legible… but idk, I hold a pen weird? So my hand and pinkie cramps for some reason after a while, and it’s just not comfortable. But if I’m in a meeting writing notes for what I need to do, it’s in script, 40% of the letters are missing, and most people can’t read it.

        (I do tend to remember things better when I write them down versus typing them out – my favorite classes in college posted their powerpoints before class, where I’d print them out and make notes on the side.)

        1. Butter Makes Things Better*

          And now I hope you’re imagining this response to you is written in calligraphy, engraved in stone or spray-painted on a cake. :)

    6. Miss Wels*

      Maybe they want to make sure that candidates are filling out their applications themselves and not having their parents or wives do it for them.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        How would this even suss that out? Unless they did a comparison of your handwriting on the application and a sample you did in front of them at an interview, which would be so over the top I would just leave.

        1. Miss Wels*

          Good point, I just have been reading posts on this site long enough knowing that filling out applications for family members is a thing people do so it was a thought I had.

    7. Reba*

      I understand that graphology is somewhat common (?) in some European countries. It’s like an even-less-science-based personality questionnaire, trying to read your level of self-esteem in the stroke of your T’s. I hope it’s not becoming more widespread!

      Even if it’s not graphology as such , it seems like a weird screening tool. My sibling, a smart and ethical person, has the worst handwriting on earth (ON EARTH) and I hate to think of judgment on this costing them professionally.

      1. irene adler*

        Graphology is not so much about quality of handwriting as it is about the characteristics.
        Examples:
        lower case o & a opened at the top: open, talkative, warm person
        lower case o & a opened at the bottom: dishonest person (think about how one writes ‘a’ and ‘o’. Awfully hard to leave a gap at the bottom of these letters)
        Signature: if last name is larger in size than first name: family -oriented person
        Signature: if first name is larger in size than last name: self-oriented person
        Wide or narrow margins on the paper: healthy or unhealthy respect for boundaries
        Handwriting slants left=introverted
        Handwriting slants right=extroverted
        Letter ‘i’ dotted with a circle=immaturity
        Written lines (on unlined paper) trend up = happy person
        Written lines (on unlined paper) trend down= depression
        Letters in the words get larger (left to right)= immaturity
        Letters in the words get smaller or remain same size (left to right) = mature person
        Larger print size = gregarious person
        Smaller print size = modest or shy person
        Heavy pen pressure on the page = virile person with a zest for life
        Very weak pen pressure on the page = bad health

        I could go on and on.

        1. General Ginger*

          Wow. I really hope nobody is making these assumptions about me from my handwriting. Based on this list, I’m an “extrovert” (I’m not. However, I was taught that proper writing had to slant right, and our elementary school teacher penalized us if it didn’t), at least somewhat “dishonest” (I leave a gap in my lowercase a, again, because I was taught to do so by the above teacher), “self-oriented” (as a young adult, modeled my signature on the signature of someone I admired) — I could also go on!

          1. Reba*

            Yeah, I was wondering how these would hold up on different eras/cultures of handwriting instruction!

        2. Reba*

          Yeah, I get the distinction. I was saying that even if they are not applying the ‘principles’ of graphology, his handwritten whatever form would look a mess.

          Also, LOL at “virile person with zest for life.” My spouse writes their O’s that way, I’ll have to watch out ;) And as a former instructor, I’d rewrite “Wide or narrow margins on the paper” as “healthy or unhealthy respect for the minimum page length of assignment.”

          Sorry, this is no more harmful than astrology, I guess, but it is no more scientific than that either.

        3. Marthooh*

          Yes, children, this is what we did before there were “Which Marvel Supervillain Are You?” quizzes on the interwebs.

        4. TardyTardis*

          I have a signature, but then I have my actual writing, which is mainly print, and then there’s my Modified Italic for fancy. I would probably fulfill this requirement in Modified Italic. (I’m don’t have multiple personalities, except when I’m writing, but I am lefthanded–my print looks a great deal like my dad’s, who was also lefthanded, and my daughter’s printing looks like mine, and she’s lefthanded. My son’s handwriting looks like his father’s, both of whom specialize in Dead Spider).

    8. misspiggy*

      That’s interesting. Wouldn’t it come up against disability discrimination rules, as it would exclude dyslexic people who rely on spellchecks, and people with all sorts of physical disabilities – oh, maybe that’s what they want…

      1. Miss Wels*

        My understanding of ADA laws is that it’s only illegal to select out disabled people if their disability prevents them from doing the essential functions of their job. So if handwriting was a primary job duty and for whatever reason typing was not an option as a workaround it would be legal to deny them the job. But if their primary job was replacing spouts on teapots and their disability allowed them to do that but prevented them from having nice handwriting it would be illegal.

    9. Bea*

      My handwriting changes depending on my mood. It’s actually the only reason why I’m putting off being a notary public…having to have a consistent signature is virtually impossible for me. Waaaaah. What a weird thing to request on an application.

      1. LilySparrow*

        My handwriting changes a good bit, it was never a problem for me as a notary.

        I didn’t want to be a notary at my last law firm because I’d worked at enough law firms to know that the boss is always going to lean on you to do a “courtesy” for a “good client.”

        I mean, it’s bad enough if my boss brings me the papers after a meeting & has me notarize them after the client left. But then there’s the times they want you to notarize signed papers that were FedExed from out of state…

        1. Bea*

          My default personality is to stand up to authority and follow rules with a heavy dose of “lol no”, so I’m def not worried about anyone leaning on me like that. It’s mostly for government contract crud and not for a legal firm…an attorney trying to tell me to break the law and oath, Lord…give me strength

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I used to have a set signature that I used only at work. Now I am being told with electronic signature for credit cards, people have a signature that they only use on credit card machines, so their signature is not forged onto other documents electronically.

        My suggestion is to have a sig just for when you sign as a notary.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I have an electronic signature that I used as a tax preparer. I always give sincere condolences to people when they have to sign on that POS electronic signing screen, it’s pretty ghastly. But it sure beats having to file paper for everyone.

      3. Courageous cat*

        My handwriting changes all the time, but my signature never does. I’m surprised that’s the case for you – esp since I think it’s generally expected that your signature will stay the same. Either way I wouldn’t let it hold you back! Being a notary can be useful.

    10. Persimmons*

      I work with engineers, so my mind immediately went to a subtle form of ageism. Older engineers who learned on drafting tables usually have impeccable all-caps handwriting. Younger engineers who learned on CAD software didn’t need to develop that distinctive “engineer handwriting”.

    11. Kat Em*

      I’ve been asked to hand-write a paragraph in response to an essay-type question as part of an interview, but that job required writing a lot of documentation by hand. They really just wanted to make sure it would be halfway legible and you wouldn’t be an embarrassment to the company.

    12. JSPA*

      Yup. I would end the application right there, unless I were desperate.

      But then, I had a highly-respected, so-called handwriting expert submit testimony that the signatures I’d submitted on a petition were forged. I had to get notarized statements from the signers to the effect that those were, in fact, their signatures. So I know that “expertise” firsthand not only as a party-game-level pseudoscience, but as a pseudoscience that’s actively used to frame honest people and pervert the political system.

    13. dawbs*

      Back in the dark ages of my younger years, one of my bosses at an entry-level retail-esque job required part of the application to be hand-written by the applicant as a literacy test.
      There was nothing that prevented someone from having the friend w/ good handwriting or a typewriter from typing most of the application, but he wanted to be sure that they had fundamental literacy skills.

    14. Cedarthea*

      My only thought with this is to confirm that the candidate is able to write.

      I run a summer camp and I have had teenagers (18-20) who cannot read cursive and some that can’t really write (pen to paper, as opposed to typing). My only thought is that this is a position that has some handwritten requirements (like filling out incident reports) and they want to confirm that the candidate can write and that their writing can be read.

      I had one camp counsellor (who did not ask for an official accommodation) who when quitting over the summer was unable to write her own letter of resignation (and I wasn’t able to let her use my work computer as it has seriously confidential stuff on it and she had already given verbal notice), so I wrote, I read verbally, she read and then she signed it.

      It was only then that I understood why she hadn’t been handing in incident reports, but also she never asked for an accommodation as I had several staff who she could have done verbal dictations to complete the reporting.

    15. Cardamom*

      I hope it’s not for graphology because that is just a bunch of pseudoscience hocu-pocus.

      Is it possible that they are screening out people who can’t read/write in general? I know in some job areas, there will be applicants who really can’t read/write, and they’ll have a friend or family member fill out the application for them. So employers find ways to gently screen out those people. But I’m just grasping at straws here, no clue if it applies in this situation.

    16. Artemesia*

      This is a thing in Germany where handwriting analysis is considered a useful way to judge someone. My writing is barely legible, so I would be doomed if this were required.

    17. Shoes on My Cat*

      Possibly that “handwriting science” BUT it could also be for a job that includes writing phone messages, whiteboard notices, etc. (My job! And some of my writing is client-facing. Eep! Although for fun, when it’s only regulars, the info goes up in cursive, because!)

      1. JR*

        Could just be to see if people can follow directions or just to eliminate people applying to jobs indiscriminately, on the theory that it will weed out people who don’t really want it.

  6. Tara S.*

    Petty Office Grievances: If you need hot water, and somebody already had the kettle on, do you:

    A: Leave and wait until whoever put the kettle on comes back before getting your tea on.
    B: Look around for whoever put the kettle on, fail to see anyone, take the hot water you need BUT then refill the kettle and put it back on so there will be hot water for whomever put it on originally.
    C: Take the hot water and don’t fill the kettle back up, sucks to be you person who needed water.

    (Personally I subscribe to B, so of course C drives me up the wall. The worst was when somebody took my tea packet right out of my cup. Baffling and infuriating.)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I would probably do B, but I actually have a kettle on my desk to avoid these type of issues :)

      1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

        I’m going to take a stab and say it’s a fussy little man who wears shorts, socks, and sandals at the same time and says that people who leave their food “mess” unattended are on a power trip, wanting to “control” his environment. He’s probably still smug about the “lessons” he teaches people.

        Or Dolores Umbridge. Dolores Umbridge would take tea packets. I’m pretty sure that’s why she was given remote assignments instead of working at Death Eater Central.

        1. TardyTardis*

          Dolores Umbridge fixes her lunch off the tray waiting to be served to a meeting of higher-ups (she’s not in the meeting herself).

      1. Beancounter Eric*

        Try using boiling water sometime…..bet you’ll find it makes better tea.

        Look up “A Nice Cup of Tea” online….really good essay from 1946 on making a proper cup of tea. Also, if you search Royal Society of Chemistry tea, you should find a paper they published on the preparation of an ideal cup of tea.

        Cup’s empty – time to fill the kettle.

        Cheers!!

        1. Rectilinear Propagation*

          I’ve never been in an office that provided a kettle. One of my co-workers has his own, a rather nice one, but the office has a water machine that does hot water. And the coffee machine is one of those that use single use packet/pod things so you can’t use it to boil water.

          1. Kat Em*

            You can make water with a pod machine actually! Just remove the last person’s pod and shut the machine, tricking it into thinking you’re making coffee. It will heat the water and squirt it into your cup. You might get a tiny touch of coffee residue, but most tea is strong enough that you shouldn’t notice any difference in flavor.

            1. Lindsay*

              Yeah, once a Keurig type machine is used for coffee, you can never get good tea out of it. It always has a coffee taste to it.

        2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          If Quill is using Oolong-cut or green tea, the slightly lower temperature is actually better. (Oh, whom do I kid? I never turn teasnob off.)

          1. Le’Veon Bell is right*

            My understanding is that boiling water is worse for most kinds of tea! The instructions I’ve been given for both green and black tea were that you should boil the water, remove from heat, and then let cool for at least a full minute before pouring over the teabag. Supposedly it can actually burn the leaves if you don’t!

        3. LabTech*

          Interesting! I was under the impression that sub-boiling water was ideal – supposedly the dissolved oxygen enhances the flavor. (Boiling water has a much lower dissolved gas concentration due to the sparging action of the water.) Personally, I can’t tell the difference, but the pedant in me needs to know the “proper” way to do it!

          1. Beancounter Eric*

            From the Royal Society of Chemistry:

            How to make a Perfect Cup of Tea
            Ingredients: Loose-leaf Assam tea; soft water; fresh, chilled milk; white sugar.
            Implements: Kettle; ceramic tea-pot; large ceramic mug; fine mesh tea strainer; tea
            spoon, microwave oven.
            Draw fresh, soft water and place in kettle and boil. Boil just the required quantity to
            avoid wasting time, water and power.
            While waiting for the water to boil place a ceramic tea pot containing a quarter of a
            cup of water in a microwave oven on full power for one minute.
            Synchronise your actions so that you have drained the water from the microwaved pot
            at the same time that the kettle water boils.
            Place one rounded teaspoon of tea per cup into the pot.
            Take the pot to the kettle as it is boiling, pour onto the leaves and stir.
            Leave to brew for three minutes.
            The ideal receptacle is a ceramic mug or your favourite personal mug.
            Pour milk into the cup FIRST, followed by the tea, aiming to achieve a colour that is
            rich and attractive.
            Add sugar to taste.
            Drink at between 60-65 degrees Centigrade to avoid vulgar slurping which results
            from trying to drink tea at too high a temperature.
            Personal chemistry: to gain optimum ambience for enjoyment of tea aim to achieve
            a seated drinking position in a favoured home spot where quietness and calm will
            elevate the moment to a special dimension. For best results carry a heavy bag of
            shopping – of walk the dog – in cold, driving rain for at least half an hour beforehand.
            This will make the tea taste out of this world.
            Recommended ideal reading to accompany The Perfect Cup of Tea: Down and Out in Paris
            and London by George Orwell.
            Dr Andrew Stapley of Loughborough University writes:
            · Use freshly drawn water that has not previously been boiled. Previously boiled water will
            have lost some of its dissolved oxygen which is important to bring out the tea flavour.
            · Avoid “hard” water as the minerals it contains gives rise to unpleasant tea scum. If you
            live in hard water area use softened (filtered) water. For the same reason do not use
            bottled mineral water.
            · To achieve perfection, we advocate using a tea-pot with loose tea. The pot should be
            made of ceramic as metal pots can sometimes taint the flavour of the tea. Tea bags are a
            handy convenience, but they do slow down infusion, and favour infusion of the slower
            infusing but less desirable higher molecular weight tannins (see below).
            · It is not necessary to use a lot of tea. 2 grammes (a teaspoon) per cup is normally
            sufficient.
            · Tea infusion needs to be performed at as high a temperature as is possible, and this
            needs a properly pre-warmed pot. Swilling a small amount of hot water in the pot for a
            couple of seconds is not enough. Fill at least a quarter of the pot with boiling water and
            keep it there for half a minute. Then, in quick succession, drain the water from the pot, add
            the tea and then fill with the other boiled water from the kettle.
            A better alternative is to pre-warm the pot using a microwave oven! Add 1/4 cup of water to
            the pot and microwave on full power for a minute. Then drain, and add tea and boiling
            water from the kettle. Aim to synchronise events such that the kettle water is added
            immediately after it has boiled, and just after you have drained the water. Taking “the pot
            to the kettle” will marginally help keep the temperature high.
            · Brew for typically 3 to 4 minutes (depending on the tea). It is a myth that brewing for
            longer times causes more caffeine to infuse into the tea. Caffeine is a relatively quick
            infuser and caffeine infusion is largely complete within the first minute. More time is,
            however, needed for the polyphenolic compounds (tannins) to come out which give the tea
            is colour and some of its flavour. Infusing for longer times than this, however, introduces
            high molecular weight tannins which leave a bad aftertaste.
            · Use your favourite cup. Never use polystyrene cups, which result in the tea being too hot
            to drink straightaway (and will also degrade the milk, see below). Large mugs retain their
            heat much longer than small cups in addition to providing more tea!
            · Add fresh chilled milk, not UHT milk which contains denatured proteins and tastes bad.
            Milk should be added before the tea, because denaturation (degradation) of milk proteins
            is liable to occur if milk encounters temperatures above 75°C. If milk is poured into hot tea,
            individual drops separate from the bulk of the milk and come into contact with the high
            temperatures of the tea for enough time for significant denaturation to occur. This is much
            less likely to happen if hot water is added to the milk. Once full mixing has occurred the
            temperature should be below 75°C, unless polystyrene cups were used.
            · Lastly add sugar to taste. Both milk and sugar are optional, but they both act to moderate
            the natural astringency of tea.
            · The perfect temperature to drink tea is between 60°C and 65°C, which should be obtained
            within a minute if the above guide is used. Higher temperatures than this require the
            drinker to engage in excessive air-cooling of the tea whilst drinking – or “slurping” in
            everyday parlance. Leaving a teaspoon in the tea for a few seconds is a very effective
            cooling alternative.

    2. Tami Too*

      I say “B” also for a couple of reasons. First, if the person was not in a big hurry to get their tea on, and they left the kettle unattended, they probably won’t mind if you get your tea on first. Second, if I am in the break room heating up something, or filling the icemaker water, or otherwise “adulting” in the morning, I will also fill up the tea kettle and turn it on for whomever may need hot water for tea. It takes a second, and it’s nice to walk into a steaming hot tea kettle rather than wait for tea. It’s just the right thing to do.

    3. Overeducated*

      A! They’re in line first, even if they are not standing directly over the kettle waiting for it to boil, so you’re interrupting them and making their tea-making into a longer process by taking the water and starting over. B if you are waiting a while and they don’t come back.

      1. Birch*

        Agreed, A. Even if time isn’t a factor at all, it’s like skipping in line. Doesn’t affect them that much, but it’s still a little rude.

    4. CatCat*

      This seems like an awfully small kettle. The office needs an upgrade. Then you can take the hot water and there is still hot water for the person who put it on!

      1. Kat the Russian*

        Ah, you haven’t yet encountered the “Puts just enough hot water in the kettle for his own cup of tea even if there are 12 of you there” colleague.

        1. Reba*

          I used to be peeved at unknown co-worker who always filled the kettle to (or actually over) the max.

          It didn’t seem to be used by that many people–it was always tepid and still mostly full when I got to it–and it takes much longer to boil 56 ounces of water than the 12 I need!

        2. lost academic*

          I do that. It takes a lot less time to boil less water and there’s no reason to waste the energy if I have no idea who might want water soon after me.

          1. epi*

            Yes, it is a waste of energy and your time to boil way more water than you need. It’s not like making a pot of coffee. If the water isn’t just off the boil, or the next person doesn’t realize that it is, they are going to heat that same water up all over again when they want tea.

            1. Bagpuss*

              Also, the tea isn’t as nice if the waters been boiled too often.Better to make it with fresh water.

      2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

        In my house, I have a one-cup coffee maker that puts out water between 180 and 190 Fahrenheit. (Yes, I measured. I’m kind of a nerd.) I’ve repurposed it for use solely for tea, since it’s the perfect temperature. It’s so convenient, actually faster than my electric teakettle. But you’d have to keep it at your desk if you wanted to do that, because I can’t imagine people not using it for coffee.

        1. Artemesia*

          I always got a small kettle I kept in my office; just be sure you have one with a safety shut off. They don’t all oddly.

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      I would do something similar to B… I would normally almost-fill my cup with cold water and use that to transport it to the kettle to top it up a bit and then continue it boiling. Because of the minimum fill point required to boil a kettle (I assume it’s an electric kettle) there’ll already be slightly more than is needed for a single cup, even if they’re only boiling for themselves. This will have the water ready (for the 2nd cup) quicker than taking the water then starting again with cold.

      B the way you’ve described it would not bother me but I could see it bothering some people.

      However, in practice this isn’t really an issue for me as I would so rarely boil for just me – I’d probably be making multiple drinks and would need a full kettle anyway. So I’d be more likely to wait then start again or something.

      Or, if I’m making only for myself, but know others are likely to very soon need water, I’m likely to boil a fuller kettle than I need so that it’ll boil quicker for the next person (still/already hot).

      Reading back my answer, I think it depends on too many things, like if the office is shared with multiple companies, or people I don’t know, or so on. I would usually try to impact the first-boiler as little as possible in terms of inconveniencing them but if they don’t come back soon after the kettle’s boiled, it makes me unable to proceed with my own tea-making unless I interrupt theirs…

      ps. if I leave a boiling kettle unattended, then I would not fault another person for taking the water while I was away, but would feel mildly irritated if they left it empty and didn’t put more on for my likely soon return.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      This happened to me except it was specialty coffee! I put the pot on, walked away while it brewed and came back a minute later to a mostly empty pot that was still brewing! The vultures had literally filled 20oz cold direct from the spout as it brewed while I was gone.

    7. General Ginger*

      B makes the most sense.
      The person who took your tea packet out of your cup is a jerk.

    8. Amber T*

      I don’t use the kettle in my office, but for those who do – no one actually uses the water that’s already in there, because they don’t know how long it’s been sitting there, so most in my office do D) dump the water, put fresh in (enough for 1.5 cups, just enough to leave the next person confused), wait, and leave a little bit left to mess up the next person.

    9. Sparkly Librarian*

      This question made me realize, JUST now, that I did B on Wednesday night at a friend’s home (with 15 people crowded into the living room for rehearsal) and left the stove on. I expect someone sitting closer to the kitchen than I amended the situation within ten minutes… but way to forget, me!

    10. Lulu*

      What kind of person turns on the kettle when there is only a cup’s worth of water left in it? I would never turn it on that low — I’d fill it to at least halfway and then turn it on. So I guess the best answer here is B, but the real answer is that the person who turned it on only thinking about their own tea needs, and wasn’t even there to get their hot water, was an inconsiderate person and either needs more tea, or doesn’t deserve their tea?

      1. Bagpuss*

        Why? It’s a waste of of energy to boil more than you need.
        I fill it up first thing in the morning when I know that lots of people will be coming in to make drinks in the next few minutes, and if it is being boiled when I go into the kitchen then I’ll either pour out the other person’s drink (usually in our office, they’ll have left their mug on the side by the kettle) then top up for myself, or, if they’ve not left their mug, I’d go with ‘wait a moment to see if they come back , then use the water and refill the kettle’ option.

  7. Kendra*

    I have my first all-day, out-of-town job interview at the end of the month, with a company I’d really like to work for! Any advice on how to prepare and make sure it goes well?

    I’m a senior in my last semester of college, and my major (computer science) is one where the main part of it is really common and easy to find some kind of job for but the emphasis I picked (graphics) is a little less common, so I wasn’t expecting to find a job related to graphics. I talked to Company at my college’s career fair, and it turns out the work they do lines up really well with the things I’ve studied and the direction I’d like to go with a career, and the company culture and the location all sound like they’d fit me well! I had an in-person interview with them on campus the day after the career fair, so this would be the second interview. I’ve never been to the area before, but they were nice enough to schedule the flights so that I could be there over the weekend and look around. I already know of a couple things I’d like to check out (local church that I would attend, gym, apartments, etc); is there anything else that I should investigate about a place that I’d want to move to?

    1. Elizabeth W.*

      Re moving, if it were me, I’d look at what there is to do in the city. Are there theaters? Cinemas? (No Alamo Drafthouse is a deal breaker for me, LOL.) You can look at this online before you go.

      I’d also look around a bit in the area where you’re going to be working. I know it would be the weekend, but what’s the traffic like? Are there public transport options? Places to eat nearby? If it’s way out in an industrial park, for example, that will affect your commute and your routine (do I have to pack a lunch every day, etc.).

    2. LKW*

      General cost of living. Grocery prices, movies, etc all get drastically more expensive the closer to major urban areas. A four pack of instant mac n’ cheese is $3.50 in Georgia and $8 in NYC.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Oooh, make a hypothetical grocery list of the stuff you actually eat, and see what a week’s worth of food would cost you there.

    3. Marthooh*

      Before you go, find out the cost of living for that area so you can factor that into salary negotiations.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yep, there’s actually calculators online where you put your current city and salary and prospective city, and it spits out how much you’d need to make in prospective city.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Elizabeth gave you some really good ideas.

      I’d spend time in the ordinary grocery store, grab any free newspapers (especially the ones with “what’s going on around town” sections), and read bulletin boards in coffee shops and lunch spots.

      When you go to check out the church or the gym or whatever, be bold (even if you’re naturally shy) and just speak up … “I’m considering a move here, what’s your favorite secret about this city?” Ask anyone. You’ll start getting all kinds of interesting leads.

      1. Gregor*

        Hopefully most people would give useful insight, but I think the place the person is moving to can elicit different reactions (especially in ‘hot’ growth cities where population growth is making the cost of living increase drastically, like Seattle, Denver, etc.). You might get eye rolls there where they are thinking in their head ‘Great another transplant looking to move here.”

    5. From the High Tower on the Hill*

      I absolutely agree with everyone. Since I am assuming you are younger, if night life is important to you, you may want to check out local bars, breweries, clubs etc. Also, I know when I moved I didn’t take into account that it was a smaller city and didn’t have public transportation (uber, busses, etc.) and moved into an apartment that was miles from any night life so I could never really go out at night without excessive planning. Just something to keep in mind.

    6. Ferris*

      Most important factor in cost of living will be the housing costs (and related utilities). So, make sure to look for some apartment prices before you go, and also get a feel for if you have to pay for heating, etc. (especially bad in New England). Also look at the area you’d likely be able to afford to live in. (You may have to live really far away (traffic time) from your work in order to be able to afford a place.)

      Also, for CS, salaries can change a lot regionally. (Silicon Valley you can get a starting offer of over $100K, but it’s not necessarily a good wage to live on there.) So, make sure you do your homework about the going wages in that area.

    7. epi*

      If this is a city, look up the Walk Score for the areas you’d be considering moving to. It’s not perfect– for example it doesn’t always distinguish well between supermarkets and little corner stores when determining whether the area has good access to groceries– but I have found the total score gives a pretty accurate impression of areas of my city that I know well.

      Also, check out some apartment listings even for places you don’t plan to go. What kind of stuff do people looking to rent out an apartment consider a perk, and brag about being located near? I’m in Chicago so obviously apartment listings will say if they’re near the L. But you can find out about what bus lines are also considered especially worthwhile this way, or what the good grocery store is.

      There are two other resources that might interest you in choosing a neighborhood. One is a recent article about the top US ZIP codes with large millennial populations. For Chicago, only pretty established neighborhoods show up in that data, not the newer neighborhoods people are moving to right now (and which might still be cheaper), but it may give you a sense of what neighborhoods are going to feel right for you, and possibly in your price range, as a young person. The other is called Mapnificent. For many cities, it will show you what areas you can reach via public transit in a given amount of time. If you plan to commute via public transit, it will help you visualize all the areas of the city you can consider living, depending how long of a commute you’re willing to accept.

      Good luck on your interview!

      1. epi*

        Oh, I forgot to specify– that article is the link in my username above. The other resources I mentioned by name should come right up in a Google search.

    8. Zen Cohen*

      Tips for the all-day interview itself: don’t forget to hydrate and fuel yourself that day. You’ll be talking a lot and you’ll be nervous, so your mouth will be dry. The perceived awkwardness of excusing yourself to go to the restroom is not worth ending up with a dehydration headache by mid-afternoon. And if you normally snack throughout the day, don’t skip those! Just eat something that won’t make a lot of crumbs or get stuck in your teeth. You will not be your best slef if you’re hangry.

    9. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Two suggestions to cover different aspects of your interview trip:
      1. For the company, be sure to learn about the culture. You’ve done a great job learning about the job and ithe skill sets you will need. Now, notice what people are wearing, how their workspaces are set up, and if possible, how they interact. You will be spending 40+ hours a week with your co-workers. Try to learn if you will be looking forward to being with these people or not.
      2. For the city, see if you can find a contact or two who lives there. Maybe a friend of a friend. Maybe an alum of your school (if they have a local alumni organization, you can contact them). Websites and visiting a city are helpful, but I have found nothing beats actually speaking with residents.

    10. Easily Amused*

      Definitely ask about how many hours everyone works per week on average. I was a VFX Artist and we worked 60-80 hours a week regularly. I knew this going into it so I chose a duplex within walking distance of the office in LA even though it was a little more expensive than an apt further away. (I had dogs so I knew I’d need to come home mid-day every day). The people who wrote the tools may have had more normal schedules, I’m not sure. If you’re going into gaming, you’ll definitely be subject to overtime at some point so it’s important to know if it’s just stretches of OT at the end of a project or if OT is the lifestyle.

      I’m sorry this doesn’t really answer your questions about interviewing but I wanted to call it out because I’m not sure how aware people are that working in computer graphics can end up being more of a lifestyle than a job. It can be a lot of fun -extremely talented co-workers, good money, schwag, creative work, lots of laughing, there’s often a celebration of some milestone happening and it’s exciting to see your hard work out there for the public to enjoy in the end but it can also be tough when hours are consistently long. Good Luck in your interviews!

      1. Kendra*

        That is actually super helpful, thanks! Part of the reason I wasn’t expecting to find a graphics job is because I knew how nuts the film/gaming industries were and wanted to avoid that. This job/company is more of the tool-writing side and the company makes consumer design software rather than games so hopefully there shouldn’t be too much overtime craziness, but I’ll definitely ask about average work hours!

  8. anonypissed*

    Any advice on questions to ask when interviewing for a remote position? Does the size of the company have an effect? (startup, mid-size, big corp, etc).

    I’m considering switching to finding a fully remote job. As I’ve complained about in recent posts, the culture at most of the tech companies in my area is pretty sexist, so this is a way of expanding my possibilities without having to move.

    Being fully remote would be new to me – previous jobs have only allowed me to work from home one day a week, so I’m sure the dynamics are very different. Usually when I interview I’m paying attention to the office and the culture (in addition to the work) I’m only looking at remote options for projects that I’m really excited about, since the job would more about the work than the people.

    1. LKW*

      I would ask about general communication styles of the team. Are they water-cooler conversationalists, stop by and chatters or IM pingers? The biggest challenge with remote working is that you never have the side convos that you get in an office. Almost everything starts with email/IM or a tangent on a teleconference.

      1. Ferris*

        The other thing to ask about is what typical group meetings are like. If you’re the only one remote, and everybody else is in a conference room, writing on a whiteboard, and not paying attention to the phone, it can be pretty miserable.

    2. ToodieCat*

      Good luck on your search! I do want to add a note of caution, though. I work in tech. Forty percent of the time I telecommute, but lately my new boss has let me telecommute for longer stretches so I can join my husband on the other side of the state.

      I don’t know what form the sexism you’ve seen is taking. If it’s harassment type things, yeah, telecommuting might help because it takes you out of that atmosphere. But if it’s some of the more nuanced things (like not getting heard), then I think telecommuting makes the sexism even worse (because somehow it’s even easier to ignore people who aren’t in the office).

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        Exactly this. My office is a mix of butts in seats and remote positions. I get cut out of a lot of things for the simple possession of my uterus (your cramps are acting up; you don’t know what you’re doing) and “oh you weren’t on that call?”/ forgetting to include in emails/teleconferences. So it’s very dependent on what sort of harassment you’re wanting to avoid.

      2. A person*

        This!
        Me: *idea* in conference call or email chain
        Others: (conversation moves on)
        Tech bro: *repeats what I said two minutes ago*
        Others: that’s a great idea!

        Telecommuting will never solve that problem, but it might help in other ways.

        1. Easily Amused*

          I’m dealing with this right now and I’m in the office right in front of people. It’s so frustrating.

    3. Doug Judy*

      I’m in the final rounds of interviews for a remote position. They are newish company with about 100 employees. Pretty much everyone works from home 90% of the time so they have established practices on communication and on-boarding new employees so you don’t feel so isolated. They have team video calls a few times a week, an assigned mentor, weekly one-on-one’s with the manager, and a weekly whole company conference call. Once a year they have a two day onsite meeting/event too. In my interviews I asked a lot of questions about the challenges of working remote and they were honest that there is usually an adjustment period and gave some tips of what they do to limit things like isolation and making sure you are organized and hitting your objectives. This particular company has a lot of touch points during the week to help everyone still feel connected. Team calls, one-on-ones, and entire organization calls happen every week, with one to two times a year with a two day onsite meeting. So make sure to ask how they on-board new employees, what they provide or reimburse for (computer, phone,etc.), and if there are any guidelines on what time you work. Some jobs might have core hours while others are just project based where what time you are working is up to you.

      1. Doug Judy*

        Ack, sorry for the double information. I typed it up, it disappeared, rewrote it and it posted both replies.

    4. Rose Tyler*

      Working remotely won’t be a silver bullet to a toxic culture – I’d ask the same questions you usually do to suss out the company’s ‘personality’.

    5. Aunt Vixen*

      Friend,

      Out of curiosity, what kind of tech work do you do? I may know of an opportunity if you’re interested in hearing about it. I’ll put my email address on this comment in the hope that Alison can retrieve it and share it with you if you’re interested.

    6. Banana Pancakes*

      How much of their employee base WFH can make a big difference in how your work is viewed and how you’re managed, i.e. in workplaces where only a few people WFH infrequently, you might run into people acting like WFH is 80% goofing off on company time. You might be micromanaged as a result or just poorly managed because they haven’t figured out how to handle people who WFH.

      I work remotely for a start-up and they’re still working out a lot of software kinks and figuring out their pay structure. It works for me right now, but they just switched us from hourly pay to commission only with very little notice and you can imagine how alarming that would be for a lot of people. I like my company, but start-ups can be really unpredictable and I’d make sure you know what you’re walking into.

    7. WFH Mom*

      Full time remote employee here. Also, at OldJob, I worked with a mix of in-office and full time remotes. A lot depends on how many telecommuters you will work with. Currently, the majority of my peers also telecommute from all over the world. That makes a difference in the company culture. I also work in tech and have faced my fair share of sexism. Telecommuting doesn’t solve the problem; company culture does. But I understand if having the option to work with peers from a less conservative environment makes a difference. It has for me.

      Some advice for the world of remote work:
      – Figuring out company culture in the interview process – ask lots of questions. What are the expectations, what tools are used to communicate, how do remote employees get involved and stay in the loop?
      – Communication must be more deliberate. If you’re an introvert, you’ll need to put yourself out there more than you’d like to get what you need. Schedule meetings with your peers. If the culture is full of remote employees, you can take cues from peers how to be successful.
      – Learn the expectations early. Is this a concrete business hours type schedule, or flexible? And find out what that means for the hiring manager. They may say it’s flexible, but be sure you understand what that means to them.
      – What’s the day to day like? Will you need a quiet space for conference calls, and can you accommodate that in your home? What’s your internet connection & cell service like at home? What resources will the company provide? Laptop, monitor, cell phone? Do they reimburse for those things, or internet/cell service? Is that important to you?
      – PTO expectations? If you need to cut out for a Dr’s appointment for a few hours, what’s the expectation? You may be able to work from various locations if, for example, you wanted to visit family for the holidays but can’t take the time off.

      Good luck to you. Working remotely has definitely opened up job prospects for me in my mid-size city.

  9. Namast'ay in Bed*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for standing desk rocker boards? I’d like to have one to stand on while my desk is in standing position to mix things up and also engage my body a little bit more, I’ve also heard they can also be good to keep your feet on while you’re sitting at your desk. I’m not looking to break the bank – I’ve seen some that go for hundreds of dollars, which seems nuts, I’m looking more in the $50 range?
    Thanks!

    1. Lillie Lane*

      I just got one on Amazon (“Yogree”), one of the many versions of round wooden balance boards on the site. It was about $25. Though I think it’s meant for physical therapy, I do like it for my standing desk. The only issue is that I would prefer a board that is a little bit wider. I read in an article that for standing desks it is preferable to have a wide board, and I would agree.

        1. Lillie Lane*

          If you get fidgety while standing (that’s why I got mine), you will probably like a board a lot. You can either balance without touching the desk (more challenging but also more satisfying from an exercise/core standpoint) or lightly stabilize against the desk. I have found it to make me feel a little better than just standing.

          1. Namast'ay in Bed*

            I’ve been finding I use my standing desk less than I should/want to, and I’m thinking it’s because it’s less satisfying than sitting at my desk and being able to jostle my leg, move my feet around, etc. I’m hoping that a board would liven things up a bit while standing, it sounds like it might do the trick!

    2. General Ginger*

      I’m actually looking for something like that right now, too. I usually look at Wirecutter for “the best of” product reviews, and they usually have an “affordable best of”. Link for their standing desk mats/boards reviews to follow in next comment.

    3. CTAtty*

      I have the Gaiam standing desk balance board. I think it was I’m the $60-$70 range? It’s held up well and is not so wobbly that I feel like I’m going to fall.

  10. Defending Turf?*

    I need to defend my scope of work (programmatic) from an ED who has a philosophy that “every one should pitch in all the time.” I won’t be able to get my stuff done if I’m helping random newbies all day with stupid stuff (printer problems, never done a mail merge, needs help finding folders etc). ED is clearly going to hold it against me if I say I can’t/won’t help. We have a high turnover in the junior positions, so there is always somebody knew and needing help with stupid stuff; it’s not like I could do one big training and be done with it. Any suggestions? I’m normally a people pleaser so this is hard for me.

    1. Kendra*

      Could you plan with your ED to schedule some small portion of your day as “pitch-in time” and the rest of it as uninterruptable programming time? That way you’re not outright refusing to help, but you would still have time to focus and do your actual job descriptiong.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Alternately, would you be able to volunteer to create documentation for the basic recurring stuff? Then your pitching in could be, “oh, here’s the notes on printer problems”, and it would hopefully interrupt you less.

      1. Le’Veon Bell is right*

        Yeah, I think writing out a lot of the common ones is a good idea. The printer should have a troubleshooting guide, there should be a doc for FAQs on systems used in the office, etc. Also, for stuff like mail merge, there are a million tutorials online! Maybe you can slowly change the culture to “Google first, ask Defending Turf if you still can’t make it work.”

    3. Qwerty*

      How will the junior people get better if no one helps them? The tone of your question is a bit condescending towards new staff. The idea behind having everyone pitch in is to prevent one person from getting stuck with all of the work. If people aren’t willing or allowed to ask you questions about regular stuff, will junior programmers feel comfortable asking questions about programming? Or will they go on to make a huge mistake because their previous inquiries were deemed “stupid”?

      What about looking for more efficient and collaborative ways of getting them the information they need? I’ve trained a lot of new hires, here are a couple things that helped the most:

      1) Document the tasks that new people tend to have trouble with and put it on the team or company wiki. It provides a first line of defense (either they look it up themselves or you *kindly* direct them towards it when asked). Revise it during the first few rounds of new hires, and after that have the person using it fill in whatever steps or details they wish had been included.

      2) Have some form of group chat channel where people can ask about these things. Whenever I’ve done this, the newish-hires tend to take on the questions of the brand-new-hires, because they were recently there and it is fresh in their memory.

      1. OP*

        My dream would definitely be that the new people help each other or problem solve together. I take your point on the condensation – I appreciate that it’s not really their fault, I just … can’t allow their problems to become my problems.

        1. Qwerty*

          Thought of one more thing – you mentioned the ED’s vision is “everyone pitches in” – does that mean there’s other people who can also answer these questions? If so and if you’re able to do the chat channel, we’ve had success with setting up a rotation for who is primarily responsible to paying attention to the chats for the day. So maybe you help with questions in the morning and Jane handles them in the afternoon. Or you rotate it each day, so you know that Tuesdays are your turn and you’ll have more interruptions, but at least the rest of the days you are free. The newbies don’t need to know the schedule – they keep sending their questions to one place – but as more people gain knowledge, it’ll ease the burden. (Plus, it fits the description of what your ED wants, so it makes you look more collaborative while actually freeing you up. Maybe he’ll even take a turn!)

          If you have trouble getting the newbies to collaborate, you can sometimes help with that with some redirection. Rob sends in a question about mail merges? Here’s a link to the wiki and Sansa just learned how to do that, she can help! The key is to sound cheery, like of course they would want to help each other.

      2. Phoenix Programmer*

        Clearly you have never been the go to tech person in an office when it’s not your job. It eats up your life and then no one is happy. Your boss is mad that you are behind on programming and the office folks are mad you weren’t available when their phone froze. Being able to provide the guidance op is talking about should come from a help desk person or the one responsible for training the new staff. It sounds like new staff are being sent to op for “computer stuff” and really that should be covered by whoever is training them.

        Finally for those who have never been in this unofficial thankless role please understand that documentation is worthless. Most don’t bother to read “how to unlock your account” before coming to you. When you send the the instructions these same people pout “It will only take a minute! Why won’t you help me?” Then the next time they lock themselves out they are back at your door interrupting your implementation meeting with clients because they cant get into their email.

        “Stupid tasks” aren’t a great term but the reality is hierachy exists. Most people don’t bring a broom to the CEO when they notice a muddy hall but for some reason people don’t seem to get that there is scope to tech work and asking a programmer who you pay $31 an hour to drop their, usually money making or saving, project to help Steve print his account list is just as non sensical as asking the CEO to sweep.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          I’m with you here. I’ve created all kinds of help guides here and NOBODY remembers to look at them before asking me the same thing iver and over with no recollection of ever having asked before! (And I’m not even talking about new people. I’m talking about people that have been around for years). We even choose topics from the archives and meet with them once a month and they still don’t remember anything.

        2. Qwerty*

          I’ve actually spent several years as the unofficial go-to person. That’s how I learned to train people to use and update the documentation and to be willing to share their knowledge once they’ve been helped.

          Part of the reason one person gets stuck as the go-to role is because other people aren’t helping out. A good portion of the people who were willing to walk to my desk at the other end of the building to ask me questions instead of turning to the very knowledgeable people on their team was because those teammates reacted gruffly and made them feel stupid for having questions.

          The theory behind the ED’s belief that “everyone should pitch in” is to prevent this scenario that you’re talking about, where one person gets stuck with all of the questions, all of the time.

    4. LKW*

      Perhaps take a proactive approach to get the other newbies to do the bulk of the work for you.
      Create a list of the FAQs that you don’t want to deal with. Give em to a not-as-new newbie to create a handbook. For those issues that need support in between now and handbook development – Make a Template: Tell any newbie that comes for help: Newbie “We need to make instructions. I’m going to walk you through this once. Then you write everything I tell you down and put it into this template. Use this template and refine it so that you think it will help the next person.” Tell your ED this is your plan.

      Also -it’s ok to say “What did you try so far? Did you try xyz? Do that and then come back to me if you still have trouble.” I will subtly call out people for not doing basic research – “LKW – I don’t know what Teapotism means.” LKW: Hmmm, well I just popped it into Google and this is what it says.” Then they know – google before coming to me.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Personally, I would take the approach that you’re happy to help, but then you won’t meet your deadlines, etc and you would like to discuss with the ED the new deadlines/goals so you can accommodate the “pitching in”. In other words, throw the consequences squarely in her lap.

      1. OP*

        Yeah, this is where I wish I could push back. Unfortunately, I have a boss who gets it, and a grandboss (this ExDir) who doesn’t. Let’s say I’m in charge of something important but vague, like Compliance; I have to get certain reports filed, respond to fires all day, etc. Grandboss doesn’t really know/care what that entails and I don’t think really appreciates that we as an org are doomed if we flunk a compliance check because I was helping an intern load new toner into the printer. We would literally lose millions of dollars that would have gone to important work.

        Unfortunately my boss can’t really shield me if ExDir starts in. She has the same problems herself TBH.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Honestly, if the ED doesn’t get it, then they shouldn’t be at the that level. Which you know. Unless there’s someone else in the org who does get it and has power over the ED?
          Myself, I’d probably be job searching.

        2. Stan Lee (not the famous one)*

          “Grandboss [doesn’t really appreciate] that we as an org are doomed if we flunk a compliance check because I was helping an intern load new toner into the printer. We would literally lose millions of dollars that would have gone to important work.”

          This may not be a nice thing to say, but maybe that’s what has to happen for Grandboss to appreciate it.

    6. Troutwaxer*

      Tell the junior programmers to talk to the duck. (For non technical people, this means “talk about the problem to anything, even a toy duck, because once you start talking about the problem, you’ll probably figure out the solution on your own.” It doesn’t mean “talk to the hand.”)

      Also, the suggestions about the wiki are good. Every time you help someone, the “price” for the help is that they document what you told them in the wiki.

      1. TootsNYC*

        My mother used to say, “What would you do if I wasn’t here?”

        And she used to say, “Pretend it’s a cookie, and you get to eat it if you can figure out how.”

        But absolutely you can say, “What have you done to answer your own question?” And even, “Is there another place you can go to find the answer to your question?”

        I’d be wanting to negotiate for that right. And also I’d be pointing out: the things people figure out for themselves are the ones they remember. So it’s important to teach people to be more resourceful and resilient. And you do that by not doing things for them that they can do themselves. (It’s actually not that respectful to do so.) Mention “helicopter parents” while you’re at it.

  11. Labradoodle Daddy*

    I just learned that I, along with a few other team members, will be getting a bonus this month. Yay! Problem is, two of my coworkers who have been doing just as much training (and doing more overtime than me, I’m the only one of the group that really can’t take overtime bc of health concerns) WON’T be getting this bonus. The company I work for is so, so crappy. Is there anything I can do or say to my bosses about this?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I wouldn’t. There is probably a reason that you aren’t privy to. Just accept your bonus with grace and don’t mention it to anyone else.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        But there can’t be a reason– we’ve been doing the *exact* same work. The training they’re doing is *exactly* the same as mine. They’ve also been putting MORE time in than I have, which makes this feel like a total slap in the face.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Just because you’re doing the same work doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on behind the scenes that you aren’t aware of.

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            There isn’t, that’s what makes this so confusing. The company I work for sadly has a looooong history of shadiness.

            1. designbot*

              well, would your view change if it turned out that they make more than you as far as salary, and this bonus would just bring your compensation more in line with theirs? Just an example of how there could be something not readily visible that could change the perspective on this.

          2. Labradoodle Daddy*

            Hell, one of the girls is better at this than I am! It can’t be their performance, and external anchors (I’d argue) have a far harder job because they aren’t at base camp and don’t have a team of coworkers they can call on if they need an extra set of hands. If anything, the external bonuses should be HIGHER. Unfortunately, our new manager has put very little effort into understanding the basics of our job.

        2. Sloan Kittering*

          I just feel like there can always be things behind the scenes you’re not aware of. Could they have terrible reviews and they’re on a PIP? Could they have botched something a few months back that they’re still recovering from? Gotten entangled with unnecessary drama with another coworker? If you like and trust your boss you could gently ask them about it with the rationale that you’re trying to understand how the reward system is structured, but it’s possible your coworker is not as aggrieved as you are about this.

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            One of the anchors is the single best team member, so it can’t be her performance. I’d be pretty surprised if the other external girl was having issues– we’re on a team, so we notice when someone is falling behind or doing poorly. It would take way too long to explain but we would notice based on how our job is structured. I also don’t like or trust my manager, so there’s that.

            1. Qwerty*

              If I understand this correctly, both of the teammates not receiving bonuses are women? Are there any women who are receiving bonuses? Or is this all the people at your location are getting bonuses but the two external people are not?

          2. Labradoodle Daddy*

            And yeah, at least one of the girls is incredibly pissed off (particularly because she’s been working 7:00-6:00 shifts that I haven’t been able to do).

              1. Labradoodle Daddy*

                Ugh, sorry. This is a habit I’m still trying to break (I’m a 27 year old woman). Apologies!

      2. Labradoodle Daddy*

        One of the team members has also been here longer than I have *and* been a trainer for far longer than I have. It just doesn’t make sense.

    2. Labradoodle Daddy*

      I also learned that they are planning to pay external team members a lower salary for doing the exact same job. A new floater trainee would be earning more than a year-long external anchor team member (we’re in NYC and have several offices in a 3 block radius).

      1. It's the little things*

        I agree with Detective Amy, there could be something you aren’t privy to affecting their decision, you say there isn’t but you don’t know what you don’t know. On the pay front, are the externals based in lower cost of living areas? Just thinking that might have something to do with it given that home office is NYC with a very high cost of living.

        1. Labradoodle Daddy*

          All three offices are within two blocks of one another in NYC. The team members all live in outer boroughs.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I think the stress we’re all feeling is that this is our company’s MO— shadiness and unevenness.

      2. Labradoodle Daddy*

        There’s also the uncomfortable fact that the white girls are the ones getting bonuses and the WOC are the ones getting screwed. And there isn’t a conceivable reason why.

        1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

          Don’t get me wrong! It’s shady AF. But I don’t think you can push back on this without risk to your own job. They’re clearly the kind of people who are going to bite your head off if you even suggest they’re being unfair or (whisper it) racist, because HOW DARE YOU, and yeah.

          I would do all you can to talk up your un-bonused colleagues’ accomplishments and make it really, really hard to justify not giving them raises in the future, but confrontation feels sharky.

        2. Qwerty*

          If your management is shady, I’m not sure what you can say at the company that would help. It really depends on how much you trust your HR department. I’d recommend documenting what’s been happening and any other instances you’ve seen where WOC are being treated differently in case you or these women decide to report the company.

          It’s also worth letting these women know that you support them and think they deserve more. (Preferably have this conversation outside company channels). Ask what you can do for them. Maybe they just want a sympathetic ear, maybe they want you as witness if they go to HR/a government agency/sue for discrimination.

        3. Nita*

          Ah. Well, in that case… They may have a winnable lawsuit. I’ve seen cases of discrimination that would be very hard to prove because the victim wasn’t part of the usual protected classes. This sounds easier to prove. I hope they sue, and win. If they’re interested, I can look up the name of a NYC lawyer I consulted with a few years ago.

    3. CatCat*

      I don’t think there’s anything you can say to your bosses. You can let your coworkers know about the bonuses (if they don’t already). You can also compare with your coworkers the work you do and the quality of the output. This will give them info to decide on what *they* want to do next whether it’s go to the bosses, escalate in some other way, or look for other work.

    4. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Wait, is there a gender/race difference between people who got bonuses and people who didn’t? I’m gleaning from your responses that the two people who didn’t get bonuses were women, but it now sounds like they’re not the only women on the team, but they are the only women of color?

      If that’s the case and you think it’s discrimination based, Allison has some good language for bringing it up to HR, I’m paraphrasing from what I remember so definitely look it up, but it was definitely something like “I’m afraid that externally it’s going to look like we are practicing discriminatory behavior…”

      Maybe it’s not that but either way dang that sucks.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, if that is the situation, then I’d say bringing it up to HR might be the way to go.

        However, it sounds like these women are aware of the situation? If that’s the case, I would ask them what, if anything, they would like you to do. Don’t make the decision for them.

        1. Labradoodle Daddy*

          My company’s HR already did a full investigation of the racial bias accusation. A bunch of people were fired. They’re still doing it.

          1. Namast'ay in Bed*

            Well if they already did a full investigation that means (hopefully!) they’re interested in fixing the problem, so “hey this seems like a further example of what we’re trying to fix” seems like a good thing to bring up.

    5. Essess*

      There is also a question of whether they’ve received bonuses more recently than you have, or higher than you have in the past. I’ve worked at places that could only give a limited number so they rotated them around to try to cover all the people that deserved bonuses, but they could only do a few people each bonus round. I’ve also worked places where they gave higher bonuses to the people that were lower on the salary range for the position. You mention that there is new management so they might be looking at historical pay/bonuses to determine who should get them this time.
      I also want to mention that I agree with another commenter that that there might be reasons you don’t know. You responded that there weren’t reasons you didn’t know. But that’s the point… you wouldn’t know that there are reasons that you don’t know. :-D

        1. Horrified*

          You said you “learned” that you would be getting bonuses. Is this office gossip or was it through official channels?
          Is there a remote chance that this is a tempest in a teacup and that either everybody (or nobody) will be getting bonuses??

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            The facilities manager emailed it to our team inbox (by mistake, but it’s hard to feel bad when they put no effort into understanding our jobs and how they work).

    6. Trying to be CJ Cregg*

      I’m just here to ask if you sign cars??? (seeing if your name is the reference i think it is lol)

  12. Anonymous404*

    I received a verbal job offer on Tuesday!! Thank you to Ask a manager and everyone who has replied to my comments here, I really appreciate it. For the offer, I emailed them last night and mentioned that I hadn’t received an official offer and would like to look it over before I give notice on Monday. Should I wait to give notice if I still don’t have it by Monday? I want to get out of my current job ASAP, but I don’t want to jump the gun. Am I right in trusting my instincts to wait to give notice?

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I would wait for something in writing, and a start date, before I gave any notice. Feels safer to me.

      1. Tara S.*

        Absolutely, wait until you have the paper in hand (so to speak). It should also confirm your start date.

    2. Evil HR Person*

      You are right. Besides, you don’t know if the offer is contingent upon something like a clean driving record, or clear background check, or good references, etc. I’d wait. If you haven’t heard yet (it’s noon in the eastern US), call instead and explain your concerns. Any good employer will totally understand.

    3. halmsh*

      Yeah definitely *definitely* wait – you don’t know if the offer may have parts that weren’t otherwise discussed that you need to go back on, etc.

    4. Ferris*

      Never, ever assume you have an offer until it is in writing in front of you and has all the details, including a start date. There are too many things that could happen that cancel your position (especially, including needing to get all the bureaucracy to sign off on the offer). Things could happen once you have a written offer as well, but they are less likely, and you have some leverage with that in hand.

    5. Bea*

      Wait until you have a start date! Then you can give notice. I’ve only started receiving written offers so I’m less dependent on them but a start date is critical. Then you don’t give notice Monday and find out they don’t have you start until say Nov 1st.

    6. Overeducated*

      YES. WAIT. My verbal and written offers for my current job were four months apart. My spouse’s verbal and written offers for the job he starts next month were about six weeks apart.

    7. OldJules*

      I would not resign until I pass all the background check and drug screen. I’m as vanilla as it comes but I’m always extra careful about it.

    8. Lis*

      Yes you are right to wait. I once interviewed and accepted a job offer to then be told corporate eliminated the position, sorry. I had not resigned my previous position so no one was the wiser. A few months later they came back to me saying the position had been reauthorized amd they really wanted me but then the new HR person was pushing me to give notice before i had the written offer and I was all LOL, given what happened before it’s a hard no before I have a commitment your end.

    9. Sarah G*

      Congrats! As to your question, I’ve been hired many times (including gov’t jobs) without receiving a written offer — not every employer does them. Did they explicitly tell you to expect a written offer? If so, then it makes sense to wait.
      If not, then just send an email to your contact there (HR of hiring manager) with the agreed-upon details (salary, start date, benefits package, and any other pertinent details) asking to confirm. That’s what I’ve typically done, and then once they respond, you know that you are in agreement about the important details, and have it in writing. A written offer isn’t legally binding anyway, so an email exchange serves the same purpose. Alison has recommended this method here regularly.
      Good luck with the new job!

  13. Environmental Compliance*

    I just want to share that I was really bothered that I (as the environmental compliance person) had to raise up the issue of LOTO procedures not being followed, and whether or not the safety compliance person will be retraining those individuals following an incident that had the potential to result in a multi-fatality OSHA investigation and a high priority violation from EPA. The safety person was in the same meeting when this was brought up, and I only brought it up at the end of the meeting after the organizer asked if there were any other questions/concerns, and Safety Dude just shrugged. The situation as a whole left a bad taste in my mouth, and I have brought it up to the EHS guy that oversees both of us, but I’m just feeling squicky about it.

      1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

        My observation is that there’s some people charged with compliance-related tasks who think being lax and unobtrusive is a shortcut to the friendly and mutually trustworthy relationship you need to have with the people who need to comply stuff, and they need to find another line of work.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I cannot agree more with the above statement. And it really, really bothers me that the HS part of my EHS department is like this. The E should not be raising these concerns about LOTO. It makes me incredibly squicky to sit through a meeting and have the safety guy brush off the potential for a frickin’ explosion because no one followed LOTO. Augh!

        2. Quill*

          Yeah… don’t terrorize people over everything but it is not your job to be the “cool dad” in this situation.

          1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

            Precisely. I need people to like me, trust me, and view me as a person who can help them get their job done without running into any regulatory brick walls, but the cool dad is always kind of annoying and creepy, right?

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Creepy Trying Too Hard To Be Cool Dad is a description that fits this guy very well. In so many ways.

          2. Decima Dewey*

            Now I’m thinking about the John Travolta character in “Broken Arrow” saying through gritted teeth “Do you *mind* not shooting at the thermonuclear warhead?”

        3. Ama*

          Yeah, a dear friend of mine does OSHA compliance for an international firm that is constantly buying new plants in the region she’s in charge of — every time they take one over, she has to do a considerable amount of retraining, with much resistance from the staff who were used to safety officers who never made them do anything they didn’t want to.

    1. KR*

      Sounds like this guy is flli into the trap of complacency, which as you must know is one of the biggest causes of workplace injuries. “Oh we don’t need to talk about this, everyone knows it, it’s how it’s always done,ect ect”

      1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

        I suspect it’s more like “Oh, they actually know better, they just messed up this one time, and I won’t make waves or risk making anybody mad at me by calling them out on it, I’ll just let it ride…”

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          He’s very nonconfrontational, but I also don’t think he thinks about what’s going on.

          1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

            I am struggling to understand why he is in the role he is in. I would think that being the safety guy would entail a willingness to be assertive and analytical about things that could, y’know, explode.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              I honestly am not quite sure. I kinda think at the prior place he was at complacency must have been the name of the game, and I can only assume it was a less explode-risky environment.

          2. Nita*

            So maybe give him one more chance. Maybe the very end of the meeting was not the best time to bring up a big thing like that. What if you have a one-on-one conversation with him, and give him a very graphic breakdown of what could have happened, and what can happen if this sort of safety lapse takes place again. Might snap him into thinking less about “I might hurt my buddy’s feelings” and more about “my buddy and a bunch of others might die if I don’t make sure they remember that safety procedure.”

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      If LOTO isn’t followed, an incident is inevitable. You’re totally in the right here to be upset about it. I personally would say something to the workers that didn’t follow LOTO directly. If I got any push back at all from them, I would say something to their manager. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Happily enough (?), their supervisor is furious (in a good way, not a yell-y way) and told them in no uncertain terms why LOTO exists, and how it is indeed their responsibility to follow it, and that it will. not. happen. again. All the leads forwarded my strongly worded email to their employees along with their strongly worded email of while EC can’t directly fire you…. *they can*.

        We work at a flammable chemical manufacturing facility. Things go BOOM and the whole plant is gone, along with all the customers filling their tanker trucks, and about 100 employees.

        1. Bea*

          Thank God it’s just one flippant dude and the ones above him seem to care.

          I’ll gun for someone’s job if they want to shrug at LOTO not being followed.

    3. Not Really a Waitress*

      I hope you dont have my old safety mgr. His policy was as long as we gave visitors safety training before they left (be it a day or a week) we are covered. Yeah… unless they just got hurt….

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Yeah, our visitor safety training (this includes contractors doing work) is a one page checklist of work types. Literally. Just read the checklist, wait for them to nod, and move on.

        I had to go through safety trainings ad nauseum as a state inspector, and the vast majority of them made us watch a 15-20 minute video that actually included information, not just a checklist of what kind of work you’re doing.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Our EHS main guy actually swore on the phone during our conversation because he was that mad at the situation, and then said if someone has to lose their job to understand the seriousness of the situation, then that’s what’s going to happen.

        Not that I want someone to lose the stability and income of a job……but safety isn’t something you can screw around with. Period.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          If they get fired, they at least go home for the day. If they fuck up LOTO bad enough, they don’t.

    4. Construction Safety*

      The way all companies I’ve been with is that no one rally reports to the safety guy (unless it was the safety guy’s own people who messed up the LOTO). They report to their supervisors, and on up the chain. The safety guy should do the investigation, write the report, come up causal factors and root cause(s), and make recommendations.

      FWIW, I did an investigation on an incident several years ago & recommended that an individual be terminated for his part in the incident. Mgmt. gave him the ole “stern talking to”. About 6 months later & 3 months after I left, he rolled a scaffold down an outside stairway in Midtown Atlanta and made the evening news with helicopter coverage & everything. OSHA citations followed.

    5. 99 lead balloons*

      I know some forensic engineers and fire investigators -not following LOTO is not a “meh, whatevs man, it’s all good” thing AT ALL. Some gruesome sh*t happens when people skip LOTO. So yeah, you’re totally justified to feel squicky and would be justified to raise some heck about it.

  14. Lirael*

    This is part vent, part wondering if I should say anything to the facilities manager at work about cockroaches.

    So on Monday, I went to the restroom at work, sat down on the toilet without looking under the seat, and there was an enormous cockroach hiding under there, which I found out as I was finishing my business and I looked down and saw it starting to crawl onto my leg. I don’t know if it rises to the level of a phobia, but I am very afraid of bugs, so I screamed and jumped up. I got myself under control enough that I was decent again before I left the stall, but I was really upset and a little incoherent, and there was someone in the stall next to me who asked me if I was all right, which was embarassing.

    I called the facilities number posted in the restroom to report the roach, and I assume they came and killed it, but should I do any other follow up? I’m really unsettled about it still – less so now that a few days have gone by, but Monday and Tuesday, I had trouble psyching myself up to go into any restroom at all, and I’m still checking under the toilet seat for bugs. I’d like to know that they’ve got some sort of extermination plan because I have seen dead cockroaches in the stairwells before (infrequently), but I don’t want to come across as weirdly fixated. Other context, I work for a fairly large company at headquarters, so it’s a three building campus with somewhere around 2000 people, and I don’t know the facilities manager at all.

    1. Audiophile*

      That’s gross.

      I hope they took care of it. We’re currently experiencing an issue in our building, which facilities is staying on top of.

    2. Kendra*

      I think it wouldn’t seem oddly fixated if you called the facilities number again to ask if there’s a cockroach extermination plan, especially if they don’t track exactly who is calling and when.

    3. Elizabeth W.*

      You can if you want to, but if you already made a report, they’ve probably already called the exterminator.

      Also, bleah.

    4. KR*

      I saw one live roach in our office the other week and now I’m getting the whole place sprayed down got roaches. You are not overreacting. I’m still uneasy in our bathroom a week later.

    5. Notthemomma*

      Email the facilities manager and cc your manager in a polite way saying, “after I encountered a cockroach last week, I’ve been hesitant to use the facilities. Can you confirm for me that the exterminators we’re here and are on a pest control schedule so I can focus on work and not creepy crawlers? Thanks!”
      I had a similar, only the pink slime mold in the ice machine and it got cleaned and put on a maintenance plan, because, well, it was gross.

    6. Quill*

      1) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAh!

      2) They need/want to know about the roaches. Tell them. Few details beyond “discovered live, active roach in toilet.”

    7. Lissa*

      Don’t be embarrassed! I’m not particularly scared of bugs and would have absolutely screamed and jumped if that had happened to me. I think most people would in that situation. I hope they got some good exterminators in there.

    8. Lexi Kate*

      You can email them, but sadly with this being an office building they are most likely always fighting bugs and rodents. They most likely came and sprayed so you should be ok, maybe check around the seat and try not to be the one to turn the lights on in the morning.

    9. Lirael*

      Thanks everyone! I think I will just send an email to see. I would hope they’ve already got exterminators scheduled regularly, but I’d feel better to know for sure.

  15. Penelope*

    Has anyone ever calculated how much it costs to hire a new employee? Assuming a medium sized organisation with a dedicated HR department using the regular channels (online applications etc.)

    1. Seriously?*

      I don’t imagine that there is a standard answer to that. It will depend on how many people apply, do you pay for interview travel, if so how many are out of town and how many of the applicants are actually good (if you have a lot of applicants that aren’t qualified it is a longer process).

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      For an individual contributor with experience and in-demand skills, my company doesn’t bat an eye at paying a 30% head-hunter’s fee, relocation, and travel for the interview.

      For an entry level person, they’re lucky to get lunch at the local diner.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        It’s not just those obvious expenses, though. You also have to count in the salaries of the people doing the interviews since they’re spending time on that they would otherwise use differently. That can really push up the cost, especially for panel interviews. Even entry-level interviewing isn’t going to be cheap.

    3. ZSD*

      SHRM estimates that replacing a salaried employee costs 6 to 9 months of their salary, but CAP estimates that it can cost more than twice the annual salary. (These organizations are going in with different biases, of course.)

    4. JHunz*

      In addition to what the other commentors have said, don’t forget about the hidden costs of the time for everyone involved in the interviews. If you’re doing panel interviews and do multiple applicants that can really stack up pretty quick

    5. Drop Bear*

      My organisation (medium sized, HR handling recruitment admin and line managers handling interviews) operates on the basis it will cost somewhere between 6-12 months salary per recruitment (direct and indirect costs). Variables identified include average hours/weeks of training required to get up to speed, cost of paying temp staff during recruitment/training.

      1. Drop Bear*

        Oh sorry – forgot to say that the cost of paying out contracts for executives (all our employees have employment contracts – as do most, if not all, workers in this country) isn’t included in our calculations. Non-executives must either be given at least one pay period’s notice or be paid the salary for that period in lieu of notice – this is either a fortnight or a month as per the relevant collective bargaining agreement- executives negotiate individual contracts, including contract ‘payouts’ with the CEO.

    6. Bea*

      Our recruitment ends up being about 3 months time for a small business without many steps to the process. The costs are time for interviews, phone and in person. Then the costs to put the listings on applicable boards.

    7. Phoenix Programmer*

      Yes once. It came out to 50% of the annual salary of the role. In this case $25,000.

      I think the rule of thumb is 30% if you are calculating turnover costs.

    8. AshK434*

      That really depends. At my organization the cost per hire is insanely high at around $15K but that’s because our recruiters rely on agencies to fill most positions. Our new CHRO came from an organization where the cost per hire was much much lower around $3800. I’m sure you can find benchmarks based on industry and company sized online

  16. Uhdrea*

    It struck me today that this time last year I was dealing with the tail end of a really rough period at work, complete with a come to Jesus conversation with my manager about whether this job was the right fit for me. This week I attended the kick off breakfast for a highly competitive leadership program she nominated me for. I think I might be getting the hang of this whole career thing.

  17. NonprofitBurnout*

    UPDATE: Accepted the lower-level contract position

    Two Fridays ago, I asked the AAM community for insight into accepting a lower-level position after not being hired for the original role. Both positions are yearlong contract positions that pay very little and aren’t clearly defined.

    My SO persuaded me to give the job a shot because I’ve been actively searching for several months. Therefore, I accepted the position and am now biting my tongue and thinking of excuses to stay out of the office. This is proving challenging because the ED of the tiny nonprofit (five full-time staff and five part-time contractors).

    On three occasions already, the director has failed to communicate need-to-know information to me and twice has contradicted information she and other staff member have provided on assignments. I realize that the full-time position was planned and mine wasn’t directly, so there are issues getting up and running.

    Many of you pointed out that I should be cautious and indicated there might be organizational issues. I agree with your assessment and am trying to make the best of it until something better comes along.

    My strategy is just to think of the position as very elaborate volunteering. Given how tiny amount of the flat-rate monthly check, this should not prove problematic.

    Thanks for your help two weeks ago. Some of it proved accurate, sadly.

  18. Nervous Accountant*

    Earlier in the week, a manager refused to do a training he was supposed to do with me. No explanation, just that i’m on my own. I understand if he had something that was higher priority…but he raised his voice, and was really frustrated and aggravated. It bothered me a lot. I don’t have a problem doing work but I do not yell at my reports or peers and don’t expect to be treated like that by ANYONE here. This was the second time in the last 2-3 months he shouted at me.

    I’m not a confrontational person, I tend to freeze and/or shut down so LOTS of things happen that in the moment, either snarky jokes or (rarely) shouting. I just let it go. My own mgr was out that day, so I emailed him the morning after about it and they had a talk. That same day, we were in a training session that I organized, and this same mgr was laughing and smirking with another mgr. Others noticed this as well. When I had asked him last week to contribute something for the meeting, he made a joke and walked away. He’s also “joked” in the past that he puts all my emails in the trash folder.

    He’s besties with another manager who currently–snarks on me coming in a little late (due to dr appt or medical issues that I’ve already cleared with my own mgr [even though he calls out]), snarked on me when I got nervous about speaking in a room of 30+ people, constantly excludes me when asked “who reviews on your team?” (there’s absolutely NO ambiguity that I review and even my boss has pointed this out that he excludes me).

    And, no, I’m not quitting this job or leaving this field for many many reasons. I just want to know how to deal with this crappiness–scripts, coping tactics etc. Thankfully I have a good relationship w my manager but I can’t go running to him with every single thing. And I’m not even going to ask if I have a right to be upset, b/c I’m tired of always wondering this. I know respect is earned, not given, but I’ve worked my ass off over the years. At some point enough is enough right?

    1. Reba*

      Sorry no advice, just affirmation: that guy is an ass. So’s his friend. I hope someday you do not have to work with them any longer.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Eventually, the toxic people here leave. The ones who treat others like crap, are negative, and just weird….they eventually leave. I am unsure about a lot fo things but I’m definitely not a toxic person and neither are most of the ppl on my team.

        I actually like(d) both of these people, and enjoyed chatting with them from time to time. Bart started alongside me and I had a lot of respect for his knowledge and work ethic, but lately it’s just felt like this. (Nelson just started last year).

        1. Reba*

          Maybe there is a bad dynamic that has emerged with the two of them, where either one alone is ok. Interpersonal stuff can be so weird.

    2. Qwerty*

      I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this!

      Have you had a big picture talk with your manager? The non-shouting events individually feel weird to bring up to a manager, but put them together and you have a pattern of not being respected by your coworker. Maybe take a couple weeks and document what’s been going on since your manager talked to your coworker?

      You mention that respect is earned, but that is not an excuse for how this mean-guy clique is acting. Treating your coworkers with basic decency is an expectation for any working professional.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I did talk to Homer (my manager) about it a while ago, but it was a small part in the context of something else.

        Homer had been away on vacation, and I dropped the ball on a few things. We talked when he came back, and I told him that a lot of my anxiety stemmed from how Bart (the second guy in my post above) was treating me, and I listed other examples. At the time, Homer talked to Bart separately and said the 3 of us can talk when Bart comes back from vacation. Bart came back and things were fine so I dropped it. Nelson shouting at me was a second occurrence. According to Homer, when he spoke to Nelson, Nelson didn’t care that he had shouted. For some reason he had said “I could have handled that better” but he didn’t make any moves to apologize or anything, so we assumed he thinks he did nothing wrong. I don’t report to Nelson, and our work doesn’t overlap so I have no reason to talk to him…it’s a shame, b/c I really did actually enjoy his company and talking to him.

        As far as this being the big picture, yeah, I definitely feel that.

        I hope this isn’t too confusing, I should have used names in the initial post.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      Call out the snark and jokes in front of the group in a way the highlights the shirking of duties.
      “Since manager immediately deletes all the emails I send, we do not have an update on X project to report.”
      “I didn’t realized my IBS caused you such an inconvenience.”
      “Sorry I’m late – Snarky Manager once again forgot to include me in the meeting notice for reviewers. Thank you Coworker B for sending it over to me this morning.”
      “Do not raise your voice at me. If you cannot handle this conversation with professionalism, I’ll come back at a better time” and then leave.

      You are right you can’t go to your manager with every little thing, but your email after the shouting incident was appropriate. The more witnesses you have the better and I know your default is to shut down but you are going to have to straighten up and fire back with extreme professionalism. Start with the emails since it isn’t face to face – when excluded from the meeting or group reviewers chat whatever reply all with a “Looks like you forgot to include me again – thanks so and so for adding me in”. Then if it continues, he just looks petty.
      Think of a few phrases you can use in the moment for repeated offenses.
      “Yes, you already made that joke at the last meeting…still isn’t funny” (I wouldn’t add the last part until it has happened at 2 or 3 meetings)
      “Are you done yet? I would like to continue with my presentation on new tax law X since we only have 30 minutes for this meeting.”
      “Please hold comments until the end of the meeting”

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Thank you so much, These are good ideas for scripts, esp for the raising the voice. I just hope I could do it without cracking in to tears or something (I hate that about myself).

        The being late thing–I wasn’t there for it. Homer (he knows what’s going on with me) informed Bart I’d be late, and he remarked “what a surprise” in a very sarcastic way. I heard about this later, so it’s not like I could directly confront him about it. Funny thing? I’m here every damn day 30-45 min before him and my mgr pointed this out to him too.

        At the reviewers training, Nelson was snarking on me for mistyping the web address on the screen (seriously, who tf does that?). Normally I’d laugh along but I rolled my eyes and ignored his stupid comments. I wish I had called the two of them out for giggling and whispering during the meeting , but hindsight is 20/20.

        1. Yetanotherjennifer*

          You could practice your responses now, to an empty room, when there’s no emotion. Then practice with a friend being the snark-er. Have fun with it if you can. Make a wand and use a couple spells (but not curses) from Harry Potter. Watch classic or current episodes of Murphy Brown; there’s tons of clips on You Tube. I used to live vicariously through her, thinking of the people I’d like to tell-off like that. Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women is another role model. Or you could play clips of Emily from Gilmore Girls and come up with your own responses. Try it in a Shakespeare-ian language. And then find your own voice and your own words. You may not do it well the first time you have to do it in real life, but the shock that you’re doing it at all will hide that.

    4. Nita*

      I’d either ignore the snarking or snark right back, whatever floats your boat – but in either case, forget about it the moment it happens because this toxic BS is not worth carrying around in your mind. The bit where he excludes you from the review process is something else, probably should be escalated with your manager and/or HR because in this case, this guy’s childish behavior affects your ability to work with his team. If he’s legit ignoring your emails (not just joking about it), that should be escalated too. Oh, and while you’re at it, throw in the bit where he just didn’t feel like showing up to a training meeting.

      I just really hope you don’t work in the public sector. My husband does, and… this stuff is tolerated to an incredible degree. Going to HR is 200% pointless, and the only answer for anyone who doesn’t like working in that environment, really, is “go job-hunting because this place isn’t going to change.”

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I’d love ot snark right back, but I tend to freeze up in the moment. I’ve found that when I do stand up for myself, as much as Im ugh in the moment, I do feel much better than when I let it sldie.

        The one who excludes me (Bart), he did this right in front of my manager and boss. They didn’t say anything in the moment but they too were like “WTF?” I let it slide the first time b/c there were a lot of other things going on, but when he said ti a second time, I was kinda blindsided, and tbh still stewing over Nelson.

        The one who ignores my emails (Nelson)–so the context is that all of us managers/supervisors have to deal with tickets that come in. For a long time, he wasn’t doing the ones for his team, and more than once my manager (Homer) had to put his foot down and tell them “hey my teams and I are picking up your slack, start taking care of your tickets.” Bart & Nelson have a tendency to pass off a lot of things that they feel they shouldn’t do as managers…even though other managers (Homer, Marge, etc) do them.

        Don’t get me wrong, there are positives to working here so I’m not leaving this company/field/industry. There’s also the fact that jerks exist everywhere, better learn to deal with them where I can right?

        1. valentine*

          While I think it’s possible there may be a place where people behave professionally toward you, since you’re staying, it’ll help to stop caring what Bart and Nelson think of you, especially when it’s just personal or when you know they’re wrong about you and Homer knows all this and it won’t affect your job negatively. (If they can make trouble for you and ruin your reputation, I don’t know what to say because Homer’s not helping.) A book called Emotional Blackmail taught me I don’t have to interpret others’ actions as requiring emotional labor from me and that, even if they do, I needn’t, and often mustn’t, provide it. Bart and/or Nelson are nasty. They dislike you and no one’s making them hide it. Can you just not care? Can Homer stop passing on the nasty comments he should be handling instead of uselessly dumping them on you? I like CupcakeCounter’s scripts, but you can probably not respond to most of the crap. It’s a lot of wasted effort, unless you’d feel good about it.

    5. Evil HR Person*

      When you come in late and someone snarks at you, “My supervisor is aware and has no problem.” And if you’re feeling extra saucy, “Why do you have a problem with this?” When you’re giving the training, and the two snarkers are together, separate them. One of my VP’s does this by saying we’re playing a game later and wants us to form groups. She goes around the room telling everyone to count up to 4, looks something like this: Jane says 1, Joe says 2, Fergus says 3, Wakeen says 4, Snark #1 says 1, Snark #2 says 2 – and so on. Those people who called out 1 are on Jane’s team and have to sit next to Jane; those who called out 2 are in Joe’s team, etc. Even if you don’t have a game later on, or your training runs the full hour, say, “Aw, chucks! We ran out of time to play the game. Darn!” I mean, teachers separate students all the time; trainers should be afforded respect – since, one would think, you’re surrounded by adults… *rolls eyes* – so you may have to find other ways to separate the snarkers that don’t involve directly telling them to sit apart from each other. I’ve been known to stop talking during a training and look pointedly at the people who are interrupting, so that others have to turn to those people as well. And I WILL separate people who cannot be quiet when sitting together. I do it respectfully, but in front of everybody, so that everybody knows who is wasting their time (it isn’t me).

      I would run scenarios past your manager so that you feel comfortable before implementing things. So, even though you don’t want to go to your supervisor every time Snarky McSnarkypants says something stupid, you can just get a blanket permission from your supervisor to shut him down. Say, “I’ve been having continuing trouble with Snarky, and I don’t want to come to you every time it happens. Is there anything you’d like me to say to shut him down?” Or, conversely, if you think of something, ask your supervisor, “Is it okay to tell Snarky 1 and Snarky 2 to go F themselves as a matter of course?” (That’s probably bad advice from me. I’m happy to tell people off in diplomatic ways, but you may not be – so substitute “to go F themselves” with an action that you’re actually comfortable doing.)

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        That’s an excellent idea of running scenarios with him. He’s been great at helping me w client scenarios and generally has my back on Bart & Nelson. Thank you.

    6. GeniusCandyBar*

      Actually, respect to others should be given. Just as courtesy should be shown. Treating others with respect is how adults secure with themselves act. “respect is earned, not given” is how you ‘other’ people, it is how the giver of respect creates authority over those who have to do the earning. Case in point – you have years of ass-working-off, yet this manager does not believe you’ve earned the ‘gift’ of his respect. When you interact with this person, remind yourself of what he has done to lose your respect, not why haven’t you earned his. Call him out on his bad behavior by stating exactly what it is. “Roger, you and Barton are laughing so hard – tell us the joke?” or try the classic wait until the laughing stops, and then either carry on with no comment, or continue on after saying “Roger, I want to make sure you and Barton hear this next part on xxx process, which as I was saying…” If left out of meetings, show up (even if late) with the bright comment, “Roger must have left me off again, I can’t imagine why he keeps forgetting who has been reviewing for the past 3 year, I guess his memory is not what it used to be.”
      He’s an ass, and he is relying on the social contract, your sense of courtesy, and your fear of confrontation to allow him to continue being an ass. You have to distance yourself from the fear, the anxiety, the anger of his behavior and just name it as it happens – imagine you are a sociologist who is studying a subject, and your comments are you giving a factual report. Otherwise you will continue to shoulder all the emotional burden of his bad behavior, while he gets to keep on acting badly and has the position of being able to say “I forgot”, “I was kidding”, “Nervous never said anything”.

    7. Meredith Brooks*

      Not sure if he’s a manager or has some authority over you. But if not…

      As discussing this with your manager hasn’t really resolved the situation and you’re not interested in leaving or transferring or etc. I think you need to bite the bullet on this guy. It feels to me that he’s picking on you because he can and he knows it. Your response has been to get your manager involved, which hasn’t resulted in resolving the problem, which just confirms to this person that he can continue to do it. I think you need to stick up for yourself. If he yells at you, cut him off and tell him you’ll talk to him when he’s calmed down. If he makes snarky comments about you in front of others, tell him he’s being obnoxious. Do all of this calmly without agitation or emotion. He doesn’t deserve your emotional energy and you shouldn’t give it to him.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        He is a manager, although I don’t report to him I report to my own manager (Homer). I don’t think That should affect any of the responses here? we don’t yell at people here and refuse to do work. In fact I don’t thjnk this guy respects my manager/boss either

        1. Meredith Brooks*

          The fact that he’s an awful human being doesn’t change, but his position may influence the best way to respond to him and keep your job. While I agree with you that it’s never approrpriate to yell at someone or ignore one’s responsibilities, the fact is that we live and work in a world of other people who have different interpretations of what that means.

          It doesn’t seem that he respects your manager either as he hasn’t changed his tone. Though it’s also possible your manager hasn’t expressed how strongly this needs to stop.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            True, you’re right. I think I misunderstood your earlier comment. A lot of ppl I know seem to think it’s OK for managers to yell, belittle etc. I know I used to think that.

        2. Gingersnapped*

          Think about how a teacher interacts with an unruly child. The teacher must be firm and direct, cannot take offense or retaliate. Because the person with authority is the person who is showing respect and patience. Just because he wants lord over people doesn’t mean you have to agree to bow down. His bad behavior & disrespect of others is actually his problem, not yours. It feels personal, but he really doesn’t know you well enough to interact with you on a personal basis. Whatever you symbolize to him, has little to do with who you actually are.

          1. TootsNYC*

            oh yes!! I gather great strength of will from the phrase “channel my inner daycare worker.”

            (my kids were in a great daycare, and the staff there are role models in so many ways)

  19. Anon librarian*

    My degree is in library science, but I want to be in a more technical role. (Maybe something with databases or IT?) Did anyone transition to a more technical role from libraries (or non-librarians out there) ? What do you do?

    1. GigglyPuff*

      From what I’ve seen, these are actually the more in-demand librarian jobs out there right now, I think a lot of places are looking for people to be bridges between traditional IT and regular library folk. From looking at job postings, I’m in a slightly related area, they are usually looking for programming knowledge/experience like Python, Ruby, etc., things like SQL, database knowledge, different operating systems like Linux are typically mentioned. Usually the job titles are along the lines of Systems Librarian/Archivist if you look at those.

      Sorry if you already know all that. I haven’t transitioned to those roles or anything but my guess, you’d either have to be really good at self-teaching yourself and creating examples of your work, or go to school for some of this stuff, either continuing education or another degree.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Note that Linux is a variety of Unix. You should be able to find a class called something like “Unix for Programmers and Users” which will get you a healthy start.

    2. Rosamond*

      I haven’t done this transition myself (though I’ve considered it, on and off), but have plenty of colleagues who have. Lots of people like GigglyPuff describes, who work tech jobs in libraries, or library-ish jobs in tech fields. Also some people who work in UX, and then some hardcore data science/informatics people. Do you have some tech skills already? If not, can you try teaching yourself some simple coding? And do you have the opportunity to contribute to tech-oriented projects in a library? That’s where I’d start, and see if you actually like doing it. I also know librarians who tried a more tech-y role, and then decided they missed public interaction.

        1. Rosamond*

          Well, it’s a start, and now you know you have the aptitude to learn more. To proceed, you’ll likely need to do some combination of teaching yourself more skills (probably SQL if you’re interested in databases), taking some classes, volunteering on projects that will give you experience, and applying for entry-level jobs.

    3. Ellery*

      I’m a Technical Services Librarian for a large law firm, and a lot of my co-workers are more technical and less librarian (I’d consider myself more librarian since I’m the cataloger) but they deal with providing access to databases, resource management, organizing the wiki, and helping me with issues in the OPAC if anything comes up that I can’t handle, etc. You might look to the private sector like businesses who are looking for more technically-minded people to help manage their information resources. Or even look to those resources themselves?

    4. Blablabirdie*

      I work with several librarians within IT. We train librarians in database management and catalogue handling with various software solutions. The librarians are consultants that help with planning and development. They also work with project management.

    5. Doc Control Librarian*

      I have an MLIS and work as a document control manager and all of the work is in databases and GIS, and involves engineering records. So that might be a route to explore. Document control also tends to pay more than traditional library roles.

  20. BRR*

    I’ve been in limbo for a new/better title for a very long time. There has been a lot of back and forth because I’m trying to get one that is typical for my industry but my industry’s title structure and my employer’s title structure don’t line up (my employer is also quite rigid about titles). The tl;dr is that when my manager finally asked senior leadership, who has to approve all new titles, she asked for the wrong title. The one she asked for is worse than my current title and I had previously told her (with professional wording) that this title would essentially be a demotion.

    While not final yet, my understanding is that my options are going to be either keep my current title with no option anytime soon (possibly ever) for a better one or take the new/worse one. How do I politely decline the new/worse title? From our last conversation I realized that I’m at risk of coming off somewhat unappreciative in her eyes but I would prefer to not take a worse title as a “promotion.”

    1. Cosette*

      Unless your industry is vastly different than the several I have worked in, the title is much less important than you are making it. Just make it clear in your resume what your actual duties are/were. I’m curious what the titles are, but I suspect if you tell me it may out you. I don’t know that you can turn down a title change, at any rate….

  21. breathing into paper bag*

    New manager, not even past my probationary period yet at the new job, and I have to have a pretty serious performance- and behavior-related conversation this afternoon with a direct report I inherited. I have no advice to ask but just have to get it off my chest that even though I signed up for this and it’s unquestionably the right thing to do for the rest of the department… it sucks a lot.

      1. breathing into paper bag*

        This is the official warning before a PIP if things don’t improve. I’m not optimistic they will, either. There have been issues for many years, but nothing has been documented, which has been a point of major frustration for me – when I started, no fewer than ten people told me with varying degrees of directness that this person has had some pretty egregious issues. I witnessed these issues myself within days. But I have to start the documentation from scratch. He even got a merit raise in the past year. I am less than thrilled, to say the least, that even though EVERYONE knew there was a problem, I’m the first person ever trying to hold this person accountable in any meaningful way. I’m a brand new manager, and this is completely new to me, and I’m not shying away from the situation, but I’m profoundly unhappy about it. I guess I’m just venting here to better maintain the cool, unflappable professional demeanor offline.

        TGIF, at least.

        1. Car Alarm that Goes Off at 5am*

          Just remember, an underperforming employee is a burden that the other employees bear the brunt of.
          It undermines other people’s faith in the company, reduces morale and makes extra work for those who have to correct or complete unfinished work.

        2. Em*

          But what a rock star / hero you are going to be for being the one who finally deals with the problem that everyone sees.

      1. breathing into paper bag*

        Yep. Thanks for the commiseration. Just had the initial conversation and… I do not feel better. But at least it’s out there now.

        1. Bea*

          You eat an elephant one bite at a time. You’ve got the first one down. Many good vibes being sent your way. This sucks but it’s worth it in the end to help the team.

    1. Bar Director*

      I feel you, when I started here I inherited quite a few handfuls of a similar nature and then at various points was pushed into hiring others.

      A thing to think about though, and I’d love to hear other folks thoughts on this – I recently was about to put an employee on PIP and googled around for some examples of what a good form might look like, what it should include, etc. One website mentioned that a PIP should only be used when one genuinely thinks the employee CAN improve and to guide them in that way, rather than just as a way to collect documentation to lead to firing. It was phrased in a way like “it’s not a kindness or fair to string people along when you don’t feel its possible to get to the level they ought to be.” Really made me consider whether or not the situation fit and whether I should indeed draft a formal PIP. We ended up letting the person go instead.

  22. :(*

    How do people cope with mental help during a job search? I’ve been looking for full time positions since February (always a bridesmaid and never the bride). Plus it doesn’t help that companies are constantly ghosting me (3 so far) – one was even for a big name in the entertainment industry! For the last month, I’ve just been so dead tired and unable to enjoy anything. Politics don’t help but I just need to find healthier ways of coping instead of feeling like I’m about to cry all the time.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      You’ve probably seen the Captain Awkward about keeping up your work game when you’re depressed – I think there’s a few things that would work for job searching as well, in terms of not letting the small things (looking presentable, being on time) trip you up.

    2. Quill*

      My past two oeriods of unemployment I played a LOT of video games. And got a decent amount of exercise – my preferred method is bike riding.

      Turning off twitter/facebook/etc is good for both productivity and controlling your news consumption, I find.

    3. Storie*

      Entertainment companies are the worst, in my opinion, about ghosting. I’ve got enough ghosts to fill a haunted house from my own search. Try not to take it personally—even though it feels personal. My best tactics are making lists of proactive things to do each day (call contacts, set meetings, check job boards, or explore new ways to network) and then do something for myself. Exercise, etc. This is a tough time in the industry. Chin up!

    4. Kay*

      Whenever I’m unemployed I try to throw myself into a new hobby/learning a new skill. That’s how I picked up knitting, and started to teach myself a few different languages, and some other things that I didn’t stick with but helped a lot at the time. It gives you something to talk about when people ask about the job search “nothing yet, but I’m trying Cool Thing lately! Let me tell you about that…” and gives the feeling of completing goals, of progressing, of filling the hours productively. It’s also good for your brain to pick up new skills, so even if you don’t stick with it when you do get a job it’s not time wasted.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Agreed. I started my blog during my last period of unemployment, initially because I wanted to write something that wasn’t job applications, but it actually meant I learnt new skills in terms of photography, SEO etc as well. Plus it led to me getting my side job, so it did eventually pay off! I also got really into running – we lived right next a huge park and it was just going into summer, so I started the Zombies, Run! version of Couch to 5k and got myself in the habit of going out for a run around 5pm to help clear the cobwebs of a day of job-hunting.

        Good luck in your job search OP. I hope you find something soon.

    5. Gumby*

      Is there any sort of job seekers meet up near you? I found working on my job search near other people doing the same thing for a few hours each week really helped. As long as you keep working towards the goal rather than distracting yourselves.

      I also tried to plan one fun “I couldn’t do this if I had a job” thing every week. Mostly it was hiking in the middle of a weekday on paths that are crowded on the weekend. Or going to a beach. Visiting a museum. There is a certain amount of glee in going to the grocery store mid-day when it’s not crowded. Taking a factory tour (bonus points if it is a chocolate factory or similar).

      Also, I’m fully employed and am staying off social media and, frankly, most traditional media right now for my own mental health.

    6. Just Me*

      I feel for you. My partner went through a protracted period of unemployment where there was absolutely nothing in his industry. It was really hard on him, especially as he already struggles with mental health issues. A few things helped; meds (I know, easier said than done if you have limited income. But seeing his doctor and getting his meds adjusted helped.); a hobby he could focus on and feel like accomplished something; he took over almost all the housework to feel like he was contributing; exercise; talking about it with someone who didn’t judge; turning off the news. Being unemployed is incredibly difficult, realizing that it is exhausting, draining and mentally brutal is important. Be kind to yourself and good luck.

    7. Alfonzo Mango*

      Have you looked up temp agencies in your area? That really helped me get back on my feet.

    8. Laura H.*

      Find something volunteery to do. Once a week. That was prolly the only thing that helped me stay level while I was unemployed for 18 months after college. (Now I’m underemployed but holy moly it beats unemployment by miles- and I still do that volunteer activity.)

    9. Redshirt*

      I try to focus on volunteering. It’s something that gets me out of the house, gets the brain happy, and helps to keep my resume relevant.

      Plus I don’t apply for jobs as if it’s a full time gig. 1) Applying for jobs 8 hours a day is exhausting. 2) one usually runs out of relevant jobs to apply for. Even if you’re applying at Tim Hortons, they have a finite amount of locations to apply at!

  23. quitting quitter*

    I resigned from my job of several years this week and wow. My normally distant-but-friendly-enough boss is being kind of a jerk about it. Basically pretending I don’t exist, refusing to meet about what he’d like done between now and when I leave in two weeks.

    I’m mostly raising my eyebrow at it, and doing the best I can to make sure everything is in good shape before I leave.

    1. Annie Moose*

      Honestly, what else can you do? If he’s not willing to talk to you, then you’ll just have to do the best you can on your own.

      If there was stuff you absolutely needed to talk to him about, I’d wonder about cornering him in person instead of trying to schedule a formal meeting or emailing, if you had one or two major questions that you needed direct answers or input for.

    2. LKW*

      I find it fascinating that people react like that to a resignation, especially after several years. My first reaction is always “Congrats!” then I start to swear since I have to now do more work.

    3. Doug Judy*

      I had a boss like this. He was a very good manager, and turn over in our department was very minimal, only three people total had left during the 8 years I worked there. But when someone did leave, he basically ignored them during their notice period. I was an exception. I had many conversations with him for the two years leading up to my departure about career advancement, and he was helping me but there just wasn’t anything coming internally. So he wasn’t surprised when I gave my notice and we had a very nice conversation on my last day. The other two that left had worked there 10 and 15 years and I think he was just blindsided and he just ignored the fact they were leaving. I don’t know if he was in some kind of denial or what but it was weird and out of character for a normally very good manager.

      Do what you can and don’t worry about it. If things are left a mess, that’s on him, not you.

    4. OhGee*

      I’m in a similar place with one of my two teammates, and it feels pretty crummy, but I’m also just trying to hand over all of my long-term projects neat and tidy.

      1. quitting quitter*

        Thanks for the commiseration. The many bros I work with keep telling me not to take it personally. Which, I’m not hurt, I feel frustrated because I’m trying to do a good job and he seems disinterested in that happening. Honestly the guys trying to make any work issues or frustrations I’ve had into figments of phantom girl feelings is part of the reason I’m leaving.

    5. Bea*

      You’re such a good person.

      Seriously.

      When I quit my boss did the same stuff only I hated him so the distance was cool as well. I didn’t do anything to clean things up, he never asked and I was done with working my butt off for such a buffoon. So yep, you’re awesome. I even shredded all my notes and check lists so whoever came in next could rely on their own instincts to carry them through.

    6. ..Kat..*

      I recommend sending him an email that details what you will focus on during your notice period. End with “let me know if you want any changes to this plan.”

  24. Bye Academia*

    Where are the best places to find remote job listings?

    I remember different job boards being brought up here before, but can’t find them now. A paid site is okay if it’s really good.

    1. DivineMissL*

      I had signed up for FlexJobs.com, as I was looking for a part-time job to do from home in the evenings and on weekends. While there was not much in the way of part-time evening work, there were TONS of full-time jobs as well as part-time day jobs from very reputable, well-known companies. I paid for one month of access for $14.99 to try it out, but I think there were longer subscriptions that worked out to be cheaper if you were willing to commit to more time.

    2. Qwerty*

      This was discussed a couple weeks ago, but I don’t remember which date. I think someone mentioned that regular job sites like Indeed allow you to type “remote” into the location bar. If there’s job sites that you typically use for non-remote jobs, maybe Google if they have a remote filter?

      Also, if you’re in tech, I’ve been seeing a lot of remote job ads when on StackOverflow, so I’m assuming they have a filter for them.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I’ve had pretty varying levels of luck using “remote” as a search term on Indeed. Some of the jobs that turned up were remote, but most didn’t have any mention of being remote when you actually opened them, and some specifically said you had to be local in an office. I’m not sure how the algorithm works for that, but it needs a lot of help before you can rely on it.

    1. Tardigrade*

      I’m curious about this as well! I feel like the title for my role doesn’t accurately reflect the work, but another title does.

        1. only acting normal*

          Been there: I was a “customer service assistant” (average industry wage = minimum wage) instead of “data entry clerk” (average industry wage > minimum wage).

    2. DukesoftheStratosphere*

      I have in the past (got it) and am currently doing it again. What made it successful the first time (and I hope will make it successful again), is showing the business case of why the change is needed. Documenting the additional work that was not on the job description, showing the saved man-hours for the department (and saved hours for other departments for stuff that was interdepartmental), making the case that these were higher-level duties- resulting in a new title and a bump in job grade.

    3. halmsh*

      I’ve watched other people do this to little/no success. Eventually we unionized recognizing that it was the only way to have a say in our titles, job descriptions, and compensation.

    4. Canadian Natasha*

      Not exactly the same but in a past government job I worked with my office mates to successfully get our common position recategorised at a higher union level. There was a built-in process for it that involved writing up a ton of examples of how we regularly did each job duty listed in the job description for the higher level.

  25. Lauren*

    I mentioned this before: I work with another woman, “Vera”. It’s just the two if us in our department. There’s another woman, “Roxie” that comes in from another branch a couple times during the week. Vera and Roxie worked together at the other branch, but then Vera was moved.

    Vera and I were talking a few weeks ago and I mentioned that the AC wasn’t working in my car because we were talking about cars. (It’s a 10 year-old car.)

    The weather was hot out the other day and as we were leaving for the day, we were with Roxie talking about how it was such a nice day, etc.

    Then Vera said to Roxie, “Hey, Roxie. Does the AC work in YOUR car?”

    I was sort of hurt because Vera KNOWS that I’m having issues with my car. It’s an old car and I’m looking at getting another car, but I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t know why she had to say that. (Yes, I realize that I shouldn’t have told her about my car, but she also didn’t have to make a remark like that.)

    It was the end of the day, so I just ignored the remark, said good night, and went to my car, but what is her problem? I don’t know if she’s trying to be funny, but I thought I left this type of stuff back in junior high where it belongs. How do you handle people or situations like this? I don’t get it because she teases people and will say, “I’m just teasing!” But with me she doesn’t.

    1. WellRed*

      I think you are taking that remark waaaaaaay too personally, probably because, if I recall, you are having other, ongoing issues with these two.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            I don’t have the Background that others do. But I can understand how a seemingly innocent remark can be grating when someone is constantly snarking on you. Hopefully they stop soon.

        1. Kittymommy*

          Neither do I. I don’t know what happened the history is, but I’m not seeing the problem. It’s weird, but not really a big deal, in my opinion.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Yeah I’d agree with the first part, it sounds pretty innocuous to me. I’m sure it’s context-dependent but I can’t imagine feeling too put out by it.

        If this is a chronic problem, then start limiting yourself with her. Be professional and polite and nothing more.

    2. LKW*

      So now you know she’s a bit of a mean girl and a definite gossip. Limit what you share. Redirect the conversation if it gets into personal areas. Ask her questions about her life “Oh, my car troubles are what they are… What are you doing for the holidays?”

      1. Lauren*

        I just get thrown because she seems nice and sweet… sort of like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I feel stupid and manipulated after though.

        1. LKW*

          That’s how they do it though. They suck you in and then boom. We’ve all been there. Come up with a few choice deflection phrases. Also the “That’s Nice” game is fun. When she’s telling you about all the things she has you just say “Oh, isn’t that nice.” without a hint of jealousy. It drives people mad because they want you to be jealous or try to top them. A similar game is “Hmmm…” / “Hmmm?” -which is when they’re gossiping and you just respond as if you’re not paying attention.

        2. Meredith Brooks*

          I’m about to be blunt, though I do understand your frustration… but, if you’ve experienced this multiple times with Vera — then she is manipulating you and you’re also letting her do it. Stop confiding in her, you are not going to win her over. The woman either is mean, thrives on creating drama, or is clueless. None of which you want to deal with.

  26. A Nonnus Mousicus*

    So, I was laid off last Friday. It has turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise, however, since I wasn’t happy at the company and felt like I was being forced into a role that I didn’t want. The major hiccup is that I am now 7 months pregnant. I’ve had several phone screens so far and I’m confident that I will get something soon, but I have no idea how to do in-person interviews while pregnant. I am planning to hide it as best I can during the interview and bring it up only when I get an offer along with my plan for maternity leave. Has anyone else had experience with this?

      1. A Nonnus Mousicus*

        I’ve been thinking about that, but I’ll be honest that it’s only been a week and I’m starting to go stir-crazy. I want to get started ASAP not just for my own sanity but because I want to get up to speed before I am off for maternity leave. The nature of my occupation is such that remote work is also possible.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I’ll be honest, if I was the hiring manager, I would be reluctant to bring you on board before your leave if you’re that far along. It seems unlikely that you’d be able to get up to speed before your leave and I’d worry that we’d be starting over from scratch when you returned. You have no idea how long the hiring process is going to take plus there is always a chance of the baby coming early.

          1. A Nonnus Mousicus*

            Hmm that is good to note, thank you. I will consider that. Would you still advise only bringing it up should I get an offer?

            1. A Nonnus Mousicus*

              Beyond my needing to work for my own sanity, I can’t afford not to work until after my baby is born.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                What’s your severance situation? As a very pregnant person, you may be well positioned to negotiate more severance than you were initially offered.

                1. A Nonnus Mousicus*

                  I received severance, but the company wasn’t in a good enough position financially to offer me more than they did. I am kicking myself for not pushing harder, but it was something of a shock and I was in something of an emotional state at the time.

                2. Natalie*

                  @A Nonnus Mousicus, it’s not clear to me if there’s a working partner in the picture, but if not you almost certainly qualify for WIC and possibly other benefits. I mention that just because if you haven’t needed assistance before it might not occur to you that you qualify. Most programs are based on your current income, not what you made last year or whatever.

          2. Ktelzbeth*

            I have no idea what you do, but will share this hopeful opposite example. The neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital where I worked just hired two new doctors. One went out on maternity leave very shortly after her start date (but she did start) and the other about the time the first came back.

    1. Nanc*

      Would short-term temp work be an option? It’s been quite awhile since I temped (which I actually loved and if I could get benefits I would have done it for the rest of my life) but the agency was always scrambling to find folks who would take short-term jobs. Literally 1 or 2 days of receptionist work or data entry or other admin stuff.

      Good luck with all this and the new kiddo.

      1. Almond Butter*

        I second the temp positions until you have the baby. Not to be the horrible person but really even if they picked you today it would take 2 -3 weeks to get the background checks done and get you a start date, which at that point the you would be at least 8 months. Then you would be in the job for maybe 3-6 weeks and then off for 6-12 weeks. So at the least anyone hiring you would be looking at not having you really start until after maternity leave. If you are in the US you are most likely in the same boat for maternity leave if you get hired or are still unemployed as most companies wouldn’t have you eligible in your first 90 days to use any paid leave.

  27. AnonGoodNurse*

    I received this email yesterday (names changed)…. It was out of the blue. I haven’t spoken with Lucinda in two years. I guesses she’s moving (since it’s from out of state?) She was a rock star EA but quit because she wanted more flexibility and decided to pursue a real estate. On the other hand, I don’t have the time or inclination to respond chapter and verse to these questions. Thoughts?
    I may respond that Lucinda is fantastic and I’m available to chat for a few minutes if there are specific questions she wants to discuss?

    Good morning,

    I am a Recruiter for Staffing Agency.  Recently Lucinda Warblesworth has listed you as a reference. Can you please describe your working relationship with Lucinda?  What can you tell me about her work performance, attendance, reliability and quality of work?  What are her greatest strengths and/or weaknesses?  She is interested in an Executive Assistant position with one of my clients.  How will her skills and experience align with this type of position?

    Thanks in advance for your time,

    Fergus

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think that’s weird. This is a phone call, not an email. The recruiter should have asked you if you have time to talk. I would answer exactly the way you want to, that you’d be happy to be a reference for Lucinda (if that’s the case!) but you’d prefer to discuss this over the phone.

    2. Anon's Last Day*

      Considering it’s out of the blue I would definitely not take the time to craft a well-written response to all that. IMO I think suggesting a phone call is perfectly fine.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      I would start by contacting Lucinda and letting her know that you received this e-mail and to ask her more about it before you respond to a random request for the information about her. At this point you have no idea if she even knows that this person is requesting info about her.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        This!! with so many scams going on out here, I would definitely check with Lucinda to make sure this is legit.

    4. Anon From Here*

      Maybe Lucinda didn’t share your phone number with the recruiter and gave them just your e-mail.

      Anyway, I’d handle with a phone call, not a return e-mail.

    5. Bea*

      Lucinda should have told you she’s still using you as a reference. I agree with others it may also be a scam and would assume as much unless Lucinda contacts you first.

      1. Darren*

        I’m not sure I understand the potential scam aspects of this (and you aren’t the only person that mentioned this as a possibility).

        All of those questions strike me as entirely safe to answer (they deal solely with work experience and performance) and I can’t see how any answers to them could potentially lead to a scam of some kind.

        I definitely understand caution, and I’d definitely make sure not to give out personal information but strictly performance related questions like this I would answer without a second thought (especially since some people that might use me as a reference wouldn’t have a way to contact me directly easily).

    6. Sarah G*

      Written reference requests by email are actually relatively common. They’re a dumb approach, but nonetheless it’s not unusual.
      I can’t imagine how or why this would be a scam; none of the information they are requesting would be of any use to anyone other than a recruiter or potential employer — it’s not like their asking for her SSN or telling you to click on a suspect link.
      That said, I think your suggested response is reasonable overall, with the exception that I would briefly address the questions just a little bit more. If she was a “rockstar” EA, it would be a kindness to take 5 min and write that Lucinda worked for you as an EA from 2015 to 2017 (or whatever is applicable) and tell them what you told us — that she was a “rockstar EA” but left to pursue other opportunities. And then state that you would recommend her unequivocally and without reservation for any EA position (if that’s true) or that you’d hire her again in a heartbeat, or something along those lines. Then you can wrapt it up by offering the phone chat if there are specific questions she wants to discuss.
      Regardless of whether Lucinda gave you a heads up, I think she deserves this much, if she was a rockstar caliber employee! She may not have known they would be calling references; perhaps she hasn’t even interviewed yet. You could give Lucinda a heads up that this person contacted you, and that you gave a positive reference, but I really believe you do NOT need to worry about this being a scam!

  28. Anon's Last Day*

    It’s my last day at work! Starting the new job bright and early on Monday so not much time to rest and recharge. No questions today… but I think this will be the strangest last day of work I’ll ever have. My boss left abruptly citing an anxiety attack (sent me a text while I was in the bathroom, no less) so I suppose I will be dismissing myself today. It’s been an eventful, often chaotic five years at this place, ha!

    1. Cosette*

      That sounds like something my grandboss would do! He will do anything to avoid actually having a conversation.

  29. Jackers*

    How do you explain to a potential interviewer a voluntary change from high level management (director with a team of 30) to a senior level individual contributor role? I was good at the management of processes and getting shit done but recognized I sucked as a people manager and therefore voluntarily sought out a new role with no supervisory responsibilities. How do you say “I sucked at that part without making them think you sucked at everything? I put in over 2 years in that role, for perspective, so it’s not a small blip on the resume.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      “I learned that I prefer managing processes to managing people and am looking to contribute more that way.”

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah, you don’t have to tell them you sucked at it. Just that you realized you don’t like it and don’t want to do it any longer.

    2. Qwerty*

      It is not uncommon for someone to want to go back to being a contributor. The best managers I had ended up getting new jobs as senior contributors because they preferred doing the work to being in meetings. I’d recommend focusing on why you like being a contributor and why you are skilled at rather than saying you bad at being a people manager. The interviewer just needs to know that it was a voluntary switch and that you don’t want to be on the management track anymore.

    3. OtterB*

      “While there were things I liked about a management role, I found I really missed the chance to dig deeply into X [where, preferably, X is something key to the job you’re interviewing for] because I think that’s my strength.”

  30. Bee's Knees*

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    So something I’ve long suspected about Fergus has been confirmed. With his personality type, I was almost certain that he would be a conspiracy theorist. Whoo, boy. Is he ever. He talked for probably about a half an hour today about how some celebrities are secretly lizard people. Lizard people. He made another coworker watch a video on it. He’s not sure about some of the others, but he’s sure about Beyoncé. There’s about a 60/40 chance that he actually believes this. He talks about it like he does.

    We did some articles on breast cancer for October. Farquad did a story on a lady who’s a breast cancer survivor. He wrote about how she had chemo and radiation. And then a vasectomy. We had to have a talk about how ladies don’t have those.

    You hear the most interesting things on the scanner on Saturday nights. A woman called in to 911, said her boyfriend/husband/whatever was outside slashing her tires. The dispatcher said she could hear him going on in the background, yelling. Well, about fifteen minutes later, the woman calls back, and says that she doesn’t need cops, because he was only pretending to slash her tires.

    1. Quill*

      I would be so tempted to just continuously send Fergus youtube clips of various lizards with subject lines like “Kanye West” and “Mozart.”

      What kind of a lizard would Kanye West be anyway?

      Regardless, you’re living in the plot of a novel at this job.

    2. Not a Lizard Person*

      It’s actually a pretty common thought in some parts of the internet that the Queen of England is a lizard person, since she has seemingly stopped getting older. :P

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I find conspiracy theories entertaining, and I keep meaning to read the original “omg lizard people” book, but I find I never quite have the mental bandwidth for that level of… hm… specialness when there are other things I could be doing. Like napping.

    3. Garland not Andrews*

      Well the vasectomy works if the survivor is a man! A male cousin had breast cancer a few years ago. Guys it is not just ladies that get it so please be aware!

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thanks for returning…and reminding us that wherever there are people, there is potential for drama and narrative.

      Re the breast cancer patient who needed a vasectomy: It’s possible the journalist reached for the wrong word (“vasectomy” instead of “tubal ligation” or “hysterectomy”??); or that the patient was a trans woman, meaning started out life with male genitals; … or that I’m astonishingly uninformed, in which case, somebody please pardon and correct my ignorance. I’m honestly trying not to spread misinformation.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Nope, he meant mastectomy. He just couldn’t remember what it’s called, so he went with vasectomy. He didn’t understand what was wrong until I pointed it out.

  31. I am a mouse, duh*

    Does being peers means equal treatment?
    in my department i have 3 colleague who have a title at the same level as mine (manager), although our work and responsibilities are very different. we all report to the same boss, Alison. we all started in our position within weeks of each other.
    alison treats two of my colleagues very differently than me: lots of availability, support in their work, A LOT more time scheduled to discuss and advance projects, etc. Alison’s requested that the two other colleagues’ office be placed closest to hers, while mine is far away, even though i was vocal about how this was impacting my work.
    as a result i feel like it is harder for me to complete my work, and worse is that i feel like the difference in treatment cultivates an impression that i am inferior in title or status to my other colleagues (i do feel like the two of them have started to get “a big head” and are being condescending to me). when i ask my boss about it she does say that we are equals and that our respective works have the same importance and priority. she also recognizes that she should give me more time and support.
    in my head, because we have the same seniority and the same level title, i feel like we should be treated more as equals.
    am I wrong?

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Kinda. Just like with raising children, certain staff need different support. I would try to shift my thinking to, “I must not need so much support in her eyes”. It may not be accurate but your boss might just have a different perspective. Ask her about it. “I notice you kept me across the bull-pin and that you seem to spend a lot of time coaching Jim and Sue. Is there anything I need to know or that I should be worried about? I’m feeling a little like a silo when I very much want to be part of the team.”

    2. valentine*

      Don’t let him control your interactions, cut him off as often as necessary, and be blunt if you need to tell him to listen until you ask a direct question. Cite examples where he fell short and how the person in his role should have handled it, even if it’s in more general terms, because he’ll argue the specifics and claim the world’s out to get him, everyone/-thing is blocking his genius.

  32. New ED*

    So, I recently became the Executive director of a small non profit and unfortunately have to have a conversation with our office manager about poor performance that is at the level it threatens his job. This will be an initial conversation which, if it doesn’t solve the problem, will be followed by a PIP and then, if the performance doesn’t vastly improve, dismissal. This is my first time dealing with this and all of the concerns about his performance relate either to soft skills, clearly communicating with staff, attitude towards staff making requests of him, or to mistakes which on their own are all minor but in the aggregate mean that I spend so much of my time checking his work and that I can’t give him tasks that should be his responsibility. Additionally part of the problem is that he is not able to figure things out on his own. With clear and explicit directions he does better but we need someone in this position who doesn’t require that. Any suggestions for ways to discuss with him that will get through to him, he has a tendency toward defensiveness, or to explain that the results of his frequent mistakes are the problem, not any of the individual mistakes? All help is appreciated as I’m new to this!

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      This is extra hard because I think it pays to be really clear about the changes you need to see, and it sounds like you have more big-picture overview stuff you’re worried about. I’ve realized at my org they do a pretty good job about giving people assignments to handle and then holding them responsible. Could you ask him to handle all aspects of X complicated stretch assignment that uses the skills you’re worried about, with the understanding that this is his chance to prove himself and his job is one the line? At least then you’d have a more fair unambiguous reason to either continue to invest in him, or fire him.

      1. New ED*

        Thanks, I totally understand your point but worry that giving him a stretch project would send the wrong message – your performance is below par and is threatening your job, so let me give you extra responsibility with a difficult project. Also I really don’t have a stretch project that would help me measure attitude and communication, which are some of the areas where he is really falling down.

    2. LKW*

      I think given the sheer scope of the mistakes and issues you need to lay out a careful prioritization of what is most important to correct and demonstrate competency first. Of his issues, which impact the organization most? Which impact you the most? Which would be most damaging if left unresolved/uncorrected?

      Then lay out discrete milestones – I need to see this improve by this date. With that better, I then need to see this by this date…

      You will also have to be very clear that once skill A is better and he tackles skill B he has to keep Skill A at the expected level.

      1. New ED*

        Honestly, the biggest issue is his attitude, followed closely by his judgment, but it is really hard to lay out discrete milestones around attitude and judgment. Even the third most critical piece, his ability to figure things out on his own is hard to create benchmarks around because I could say “Be able to handle x process without errors” but the expectaion then is that I should give him the training/support to achieve this. However, it is ridiculous for me as the Executive Director to need to train him in things that he should be the lead on. Also, my providing training on one process, and him ultimately mastering it and reducing errors, won’t address any of the top issues we have with him so it would be unfair to set this as a benchmark.

    3. Marthooh*

      It sounds like he’s an all-around bad manager. It’s especially concerning that he has problems with “soft skills, clearly communicating with staff, attitude towards staff making requests of him”.

      Explain the problems as clearly as you can, put him on a PIP, and fire him. Start looking for a replacement now. This is a situation where you really do have to be cruel (to this guy) to be kind (to everyone he manages).

      1. New ED*

        To be clear, he is the office manager, so he manages office processes around things like supply orders, bill payments, etc. This is an admin support position, he does not manage any staff.

    4. zora*

      Look on this site for articles about PIPs and handling low performers, Alison has written a few.

      Unfortunately, I agree with the others, you are eventually going to have to fire this person. If they are not a detail person and you need someone who is autonomous and detail-oriented in this position, he is probably going to have to go. So, the longer you drag it out, the worse for everyone involved including the employee.

      Try to remember:
      1. Your other employees are being harmed the longer you keep this guy, they are either picking up his slack, or not having support, which makes their jobs harder. Think about how resolving this is actually to help them, not just yourself.
      2. There is someone out there (probably several of them) who COULD do this guy’s job, and do it better, and are also nice people and deserve to have a good job. By keeping him, you are depriving that person of a job, and also depriving yourself of having a good employee!

      You probably aren’t going to “get through to him” as in, make him completely change and realize he has to pay attention to detail and be autonomous. What you have to focus on is making it clear what you need from him, and then document how he is unable to do that. And then kindly let him go, and start hiring for the position.

      And be REALLY clear with yourself and your team about what you need in the position, so you can hire the right person next time.

      1. New ED*

        Thanks, I really appreciate the thoughts. Number one is definitely the reason I am having this conversation now, my employees are frustrated and at the end of their ropes. We had a large senior staff check in earlier this week where this became clear as I think everyone had been stewing on their own, not realizing that others were having similar concerns. I also heard concerns from our outside accountant and web developer so this has to be dealt with now rather than later. I am sure number two is true is well.

        I’ve certainly spoken with him around individual incidents before, and have documented via e-mail times when he has made mistakes and what my concerns were, but I’m not sure he realizes that overall his performance is sub par. I fully recognize I am likely to have to fire him in the end, I just want to be fair in terms of making clear that his performance is poor enough that it is jeopardizing his job, and give him a final chance to improve. I’m just struggling with giving him clear benchmarks for what adequate performance looks like in an admin, support staff type role. How do we measure things like atitude, ability to figure things out on ones own, and appropriate judgment in terms of things he should come to me with and things he should handle on his own?

        1. zora*

          Shoot, might be too late for this, I hope you are coming back to check.

          But now I see which part you are struggling with. Honestly, just scroll through the category “Being the boss” (categories are on the right side menu, scroll down) And look for similar posts. Alison has given great advice in the past for how you can make “be pleasant to your coworkers” a clear benchmark. And also how to phrase “taking initiative” and “being self-directed.” Those things seem hard to phrase, but actually they are job requirements for certain jobs, not just interpersonal.

          I think Alison says it best in her columns, but the basic idea is YOU are the one who measures attitude, there isn’t an objective, mathematical measurement. But, you can say, “I need you to be pleasant to work with, and your coworkers should feel good about interactions with you.” And then YOU as the manager decide whether he is accomplishing that, because that is your job as the manager. He doesn’t get to debate what these things mean. That is part of the problem he is posing for you, you are letting him determine the terms of the discussion right now, which is not how it works.

          I hope you can read some of Alison’s other columns and that helps with your approach. And I hope you report back and let us know how it goes!

    5. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      You may not be able to fix the conversation, but afterwards, give him a written summary of the deficiencies, the standard to which he should be performing, and what he can do to fix the situation. Be concrete, so instead of saying “you need to keep your co-workers informed about timing deliverables”, say “if you cannot fulfill a request the day it is made, you need to inform your co-worker by 4:00pm “. In follow-up discussions, use the summary and don’t allow the conversation to wander. Keep it factual, specific, and clear.

      1. New ED*

        Thanks, this is helpful because I realize what I’m struggling with is the coming up with concretely what he should be doing. Figure this stuff out yourself and use better judgment about when to contact outside support doesn’t have clearly meatable targets. I don’t want the requirement to be “check with me before contacting outside support, because ultimately he needs to be more independant and less reliant on me. Any other suggestions welcome!

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          Sometimes it’s as simply as asking “what would I do in this situation?” Think of the problem, how you would handle it if you were in his shoes, and put that down on paper. It sounds directive (and he may feel you are treating him as if he is a child), but that is what your employee requires.

    6. pcake*

      Is it not possible that the previous executive director is responsible for some of the issues? He/she could have been a micro manager, which would make the office manager have to give up having responsibility or making decisions, and after a while, would consider that’s the way to behave. Or the previous executive director could have told the office manager that he’s doing a great job, leaving him confused about how to behave?

  33. Kramerica Industries*

    My role is a hybrid role – design and development. My official title is “Junior Developer” because I get small projects on a team of 5 Senior Developers. The trouble is that I’m the only designer for the department. I create new designs, manage projects, and quality control check external designers.

    One of my issues is that being a “Junior Developer”, the natural progression of my role is to become a Senior Developer. But I’m realizing that design is more my jam. However, because there are no other designers on site, I don’t think there’s any room for advancement. Then there’s the issue of my current pay. My pay reflects my junior status, but do I have room to argue that if I’m the only designer, I should be paid according to this value, not based off the junior categorization?

    1. Seriously?*

      That depends in a large part on how your company values your design work. If they have no other designers they may not see that as something they wish to put more resources into. How much of your time is spend on design work compared to development work? If they don’t feel that they need a “senior” designer they are unlikely to give you a raise based not the fact that you are the most senior designer they have. You may need to start job hunting if you want to progress in a different direction than your company currently allows.

    2. Reba*

      Well, designers are not often paid better than developers, so not sure if that is an angle to pursue. Are you saying that you do senior-level design work? I’d have a conversation about making sure your title and level reflect the scope and quality of your work. And do some research about how other companies structure and value these kinds of positions.

    3. give me something I can use*

      Is there enough design work that you could get promoted to Designer, not Sr. Dev? I would make that argument at the next review/promotion opportunity. Assuming you do good work as a developer, that’s great experience to take with you as you focus more on design, and the specializing (in an essential skillset your Sr. Dev don’t have or want to have?) + the initiative and general togetherness you’ll need to be the only X in a group of Ys sounds like a reasonable case for a raise to me.

    4. Techworker*

      Question for interest of how it works at other companies, no need to answer if you don’t want to!

      What’s the definition of ‘design’ here? Is it like something front-end? Or the design for what needs to be developed? (I’m just struggling to see how that wouldn’t be like, quite important and thus odd that they only need one junior person doing it!)

  34. Tigger*

    I was wondering about to have balance with a side job. I have a career job that I love and is double the pay of my old job, but with the holidays coming up and a move upcoming money is a bit tight. I have an interview tomorrow for a local liquor store to have a little extra money for gifts/ rent/ plane tickets home. However, I am a little worried about burnout. I have had 2 or 3 jobs at the time in the past but that was when I wasn’t in a career. Does anyone have any advice to keep myself sane?

    1. DivineMissL*

      Good luck, but keep in mind that a liquor store, or any retail establishment, is going to be busy around the holidays and may have extended hours (even be actually open on Thanksgiving and/or Christmas). If you are planning to work there and then go home for the holidays, make sure you work out your availability so there’s not a problem later on when the holiday comes up and they expect you to work. As the new employee, you’d probably get stuck with the worst hours.

      You didn’t mention your home situation, but you may have to resign yourself to lowering your standards for a little while – maybe the laundry will have to wait, or you do more fast food to grab something to eat between jobs, or you will miss your kid’s science fair or hanging out with your friends, because you have to work. It will be annoying, but then you see your bank balance going up and remember it’s only short-term.

      1. Tigger*

        Thanks for the advice! I am a retail veteran so I know the drill with the holiday hours :) I have already booked the first flight my home (thank you credit cards) so at this point, there is nothing I can do about that and if it is a deal breaker so be it. At my last retail job, my cousin was getting married out of the country Thanksgiving weekend and they were understanding, hopefully the new place is the same.

        My home situation is why I’m looking for a second job. I am currently living in a 500 sq ft studio apartment with my boyfriend and our cat and the lease is up on New Year’s Eve. We just got approved today for a bigger 1 bedroom (WITH WASHER DRYER IN UNIT OMGGGGGG) for only $200 more then what we pay now, but the leases will overlap by 1 and a half months so there is a slight cash flow problem on that end. The second job will be purely for making sure I have a cushion for my savings/ moving costs/ gifts/ cc bills.

        I really hope its all worth it. I might be overthinking things

        1. Kate Daniels*

          The in-unit W&D alone would be worth the price increase! ;-) But seriously, I love doing laundry now and save so much time without having to block out two hours and no longer experience the frustration of trekking down to a laundry room only to see that all of the machines are full!

          1. Kate Daniels*

            Oops, I hit enter too quickly! If your boyfriend is not also picking up an additional side job, perhaps one way to help ensure that you don’t get burnt out would be if he could pick up the bulk of the household chores, cook dinner, etc.

            1. Marion Ravenwood*

              Agreed. I’m lucky that my husband is a lot more ‘domestically inclined’ than me anyway, but I genuinely don’t know how I’d manage two jobs and looking after the house/cats if he wasn’t there to pick up a lot of the slack at home.

        2. valentine*

          Can you do most of the move yourselves, in stages, during the lease overlap, and save on movers?

      2. Nita*

        This. You need to be very clear about what hours/how many hours you’re available. Since it’s a part-time thing, they may just need you to fill gaps in coverage, but you can’t have it cutting into your regular work hours. Probably a good idea to make sure it’s not cutting into time for whatever is important to you outside of work, because that’s how burnout happens. If they don’t hire you with these limitations, keep looking for another part-time job – it’s not the end of the world if this one doesn’t end up being right.

    2. WellRed*

      Since the side gig is different from the career job, and arguably, easier etc, burnout may not wind up being an issue. My side gig, at a bookstore, was fun and totally different from my career job. I do recommend being clear with yourself about how many hours you can work each week and ideally, a set schedule each week.

      1. Tigger*

        I was always good about that when I worked for preppy clothes inc while lifeguarding and working for big time sports team. I guess I am overthinking it cause I have a career and not a job lol

    3. Kay*

      I would say to always remember re: the side gig “not my circus, not my monkeys.” Don’t get pulled into any drama in the store, or ruffle any feathers with brainstorming new ideas, etc etc. Just clock in, do a good shift’s work, and clock out. Also if you can set an expectation that when you’re not at the store they should pretend you’re dead (well, not in those words, but yeah). You’ll need to guard your off time carefully (your brain needs to rest too!) so you don’t want to worry that they’ll be calling you in randomly.

    4. Bea*

      You’ll be fine!

      I’ve done side jobs that basically equate to data entry for retail or micro businesses. The thing is to keep them only as a side thing, don’t invest emotionally and if your career needs you and the side job whines, just up and walk. It’s not worth stressing about when it’s pocket change.

      Make them live up to your expectations because they need you more than you need them. It’s a great place to be in actually!

    5. Persimmons*

      You may find that what works best for you isn’t intuitive. When I worked multiple jobs, I thought it was no big deal to have shifts 7 days a week, since many of them were so short. On Sunday, for example, I only worked the lunch rush from 11:00 to 2:00.

      But, it turned out that having to be somewhere every single day was so draining that I could barely function. I didn’t have a single day to myself for months at a stretch, and I started making stupid mistakes. One day when I was waitressing, I gave a customer change for $100 when he’d only given me a $50, and the whole shift was a waste because I had to make that up out of my tips. I went home and cried, and knew I had to make a change.

      I felt so much better by rearranging my schedule to work a few very long days in order to free up at least one day completely. I absolutely could not get by without having that one day a week to wake up whenever I wanted, lie around in rags, and veg out. I gladly worked multiple 14 hour days during the week just to get that one day off.

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      Background: I have a ‘career’ in PR, and a side job as a writer for an entertainment website (mostly focusing on country/folk music reviews, interviews and news but also the odd bit of TV writing as well). So my experience is a little different, but hopefully I can help a bit!

      Agree with lots of what’s already been said. The main thing I’ve found is not over-committing to the side job – especially during busy periods at my main job – and also planning ahead to balance things out. For example, Side Job has a really busy week coming up at the end of this month, so I’ve booked in two WFH days at Main Job which mean I don’t have to commute in, and I’m not committing to too much extra-curricular stuff the week before or after so I’m well-rested for that busy week. I’ll also regularly let my editor at Side Job know as far in advance as possibly if I’ve got a busy period coming up in Main Job so he can allocate the work accordingly (I’m the main writer on our country section apart from him, but we do have others who can step into the breach if needed).

      And yes to planning ahead on cooking! I’ll admit that I do still occasionally fall prey to a late-night McDonald’s, but I found that making extra portions of dinner to microwave at work the next day, bringing tins of baked beans/spaghetti and bread for toast, or packing another sandwich/pasta salad that I can eat either in my office kitchen or on the way between work and gig venues (depending what it is) has been massively helpful for my health and bank balance. So if you’ve got that option then I highly recommend it.

    7. Fish Microwaver*

      I have had side gigs for all of my professional career. Sometimes the side gig is in my field, sometimes not. I have always enjoyed the different skill sets/environment /personalities etc that the part time positions affoded me and found them stimulating. I thoroughly recommend at least trying a second job.

  35. Melody Pond*

    Hello, AAM commentariat! Happy Friday!

    I used to be able to get interviews really easily, after I first came across Alison’s advice about resumes and cover letters. But recently, that hasn’t been happening – I’ve been submitting applications for junior level data analyst positions (which is a new field for me). I’m a pretty advanced Excel user, and I just started doing cool things with VBA. But maybe my technical abilities/aptitude aren’t coming across all that clearly in my own descriptions of what I’m doing?

    I’ve been thinking – maybe it would make sense to attach a couple different Excel documents as examples of what I can do (on application systems that will allow this) – to illustrate, “no, I don’t know SQL yet, but look at the advanced work I’ve done in Excel and VBA – this is why I’m confident I’ll pick up things like SQL very quickly.”

    So questions:
    1) does this seem like a decent strategy? I’m not going to go crazy, just include two top examples of my most advanced work.
    2) how the heck do you deal with scrubbing all of the personal data and company information from something you made at work? The spreadsheets don’t work the way they otherwise would, when I just replace all the names, addresses, SSNs, and ID numbers, etc., with “scrubbed”. Is there a better way to fill in fake data sets?
    3) should I write up some kind of a summary within each workbook, explaining what it’s doing? And maybe add comments throughout to explain how the different workbook components are working together and what they are accomplishing?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Seriously?*

      It may be more helpful to learn SQL. If you don’t have the required skills they are unlikely to consider you even with other advanced skills if they have applicants who already do have the skills they need. And they probably won’t look at the sample documents unless they requested them.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Note that you can download free databases that run SQL. Sqlite is a very small, fast database, but it lacks some of the features of the major database. MySQL is very much a standard in the Linux world, and Postgresql is probably the best for really big SQL data. All are free, Open Source programs available for both Windows and Linux… But if you can manage high-level SQL on a Linux machine, there’s probably work for you. Also, a basic Unix class will get you some good, useful knowledge. (Linux is a variety of Unix.)

    2. Annie Moose*

      I’ve never hired anybody, but as a developer who uses SQL all the time… I don’t know how comparable those really are. I think you could spin it as “I’m fast at picking up technical stuff, such as Excel macros and VBA”, but those things are not very much like SQL. Excel doesn’t really work like a database.

      Would you be able to start doing some SQL learning on your own time? Resources like W3Schools are free and are a good intro. And then you could outright say that you’ve starting learning SQL and have been picking it up quickly, or however you work it in.

      1. Qwerty*

        Seconding this as someone who conducts tech interviews. Excel and SQL are so different that it will look naive to try to substitute Excel/VBA experience for SQL experience, which will hurt your candidacy overall.

        If you really want to incorporate your Excel experience, there are ways of getting your Excel sheet to load data from your SQL database. VBA is one way, but there’s also a way to do it through the Data section in Excel.

        Finally, do *not* take your work spreadsheets and send them to other companies. Even if you’ve scrubbed the data, your current employer will not be happy that you took them, and it’s not going to look good to the places that you’re applying to. Taking a file home that contains people’s SSN’s might also get you into legal trouble.

        1. give me something I can use*

          Yeah, I would substitute a public dataset, write a script to generate correctly formatted but clearly fake PII (all phone numbers start with 555, etc.), and/or write a modified version of the analysis that isn’t specific to the company, possibly as a learning project if you do want to tackle SQL. Having something to build that’s already mostly spec’d and designed means you can focus on “how do I do X in this new language” without getting bogged down in “but what happens next??”

          Put more comments and documentation in work samples that live in your portfolio (which can be linked in your resume), since they have to speak for themselves; you should still have some in anything you take to an interview, though.

          If you do want to learn SQL: I’ve been using Codecademy’s free SQL courses and then practicing with SQLBolt.com recently. Anti-rec IBM’s Big Data online courses; I’d try Google Data Studio instead, if you want a hosted analytics environment, it struck me as more polished than AWS training materials the last time I looked.

          Disclaimer: I myself have not interviewed for a data analyst job, nor did I stay at a HIX last night

          1. give me something I can use*

            Augh, sorrry for the double post, I thought the browser ate it but now I see it below.

      2. Sam Foster*

        My experience is that most of the data analysts roles I see are at least SQL experts if not verging on Data Scientists. I’d focus on those skills unless I was certain the jobs you are applying for are excel-based analysis.

    3. Arielle*

      I would not include examples of work product with your application. Instead, I would include it in your accomplishments for the role.

      Also, this is not exactly the answer to the question that you asked, but are you applying for positions that list SQL as a job requirement? It’s a pretty core skill for a data analyst, even a junior one. At our company we do some internal SQL training for people who move into analyst roles from other areas, but I don’t think we’d hire even a junior analyst who didn’t come with that skill already. There are lots of free tutorials online if you’re looking to learn, and very inexpensive tutorials on sites like Udemy.

    4. give me something I can use*

      I would write a script to generate properly formatted but clearly fake data, or use a public dataset. Or write something similar that doesn’t work with PII (especially if you decide to learn SQL – reimplementing something that’s already mostly spec’d and designed lets you focus on “how do I do X” without so much “but what do I do next?”).

      If you wrote it for work, I wouldn’t send it around randomly – figure out if your company owns the rights to it! If not, you could bring it to the interview if they ask for a work sample. Comments and introductory notes are generally good practice, though more crucial for your portfolio which needs to speak for itself; if you show up to an interview with code to talk through, it can be less thorough.

      Recent SQL resources I’ve liked: Codecademy’s free SQL courses; https://sqlbolt.com/;
      I’ve done several of IBM’s Big Data online courses (including SQL) but wasn’t impressed with them. I’m considering switching to Google Data Studio or the Amazon equivalent.

      Disclaimer: I have not myself interviewed for a data analyst position, nor did I stay at a HIX last night

    5. Undine*

      I think samples will hurt rather than help, because they will come across as naive or unaware. If they haven’t asked for samples, they don’t have time to look at samples. And they don’t care about your Excel skills, because they don’t translate directly. I concur that you should try to pick up the basics of SQL & relational databases on your own or through a free or low-cost class. At the moment it sounds like you don’t even know what you don’t know.

      If you are submitting in a new field, it’s not surprising that it is hard to get interviews. It takes longer to get a break. Keep trying & good luck.

    6. epi*

      So, some weird stuff is going on in data analytics right now that I think is hurting you. (I’m an epidemiologist but I keep an eye on those professional communities for the statistical programming resources.)

      There are jobs, often titled data analyst or business analyst, where being an Excel and VBA power user is a core part of the role. In particular, there are industries– my impression is they are mostly in business/finance– that rely very heavily on Excel and third-party add-ons for Excel that make it much more powerful and basically allow you to use Excel in ways it wasn’t originally intended. There are newer official expansions to Excel too, such as PowerPivot. If you are in an industry where those things are a big deal– and they’re out there– you will already know it.

      However. Data analysts are increasingly data scientists (a trendy term I don’t think is that meaningful, except that it’s helpful to differentiate from other analyst jobs). They are analyzing– and often automating part of the analysis of– huge commercial data sets using software and languages that are very different from Excel. Common languages for analyzing and managing all that data include Python, SQL, and R. There is a lot more emphasis on statistical and other types of data-driven predictions, graphics, and fitting into a larger workflow that includes people like developers, data architects, administrators. If you are inadvertently applying to jobs in that field– and since titles can be idiosyncratic and job descriptions can be unclear, you probably are– Excel skills are totally irrelevant to that. Even as a humble applied statistician who never has to automate anything and rarely even has to share my code, I *never* use Excel for anything but a convenient way to look over my data or format a table. It’s just not an appropriate tool for larger scale data analysis, to the point that it doesn’t even give you cred that you *could* pick up a more appropriate language, it actually makes you sound like a worse candidate. The environments are just totally different.

      If you see yourself as more of a business analyst, even just for now, I hope this helps you weed out the latter type of job for which you aren’t currently qualified. There is also a ton of buzz about data science out in the world right now, reading about the field might help you understand what you are and aren’t looking for in a job description. For business analyst type career paths, my sense (from subscribing to a lot of analyst type job alerts) is you may want to look at Tableau in addition to SQL. If you think more of a data scientist direction for you, it’s likely you will want some formal training because there are both stats and computer science skills involved in addition to programming.

      If you’re interested, Python and R are free and there are free database platforms that use SQL. Tableau is free to students, so definitely take advantage of the one year free license they offer if you take classes at a college. For your portfolio, you will probably want to use some of these learning projects or a passion project of some kind. Check out data.gov and see if your state or city has an open data portal. These are great sources of free, public, real (i.e. dirty and undocumented) data on any topic your heart could desire.

      I hope this helps you! This is a super confusing time to be interested in analytics careers because they are changing fast right now.

    7. marmalade*

      I work in tech and use SQL frequently in my job.

      Like the others, I don’t think your strategy is sound. Firstly, if they haven’t asked for samples, they probably don’t care about them. Secondly, there is a wiiiide gulf between Excel macros/VBA and SQL – they are really not very similar technologies. If you refer to them as comparable, then it looks like you don’t really understand what each is and what problem they are trying to solve. Like someone else said, it’s a comparison that makes you look naive.
      To be blunt, tech people don’t care about Excel/VBA. I recommend you to learn SQL.

    8. AshK434*

      I wouldn’t submit anything because most employers have their own exercises they’ll ask you to do if they’re interested.

      Analyst positions are very competitive and there’s always more qualified candidates applying to lower level positions. I would learn SQL, Python or R and and a data visualization tool like Tableau. That would really make you stand out and more competitive.

    9. valentine*

      I entered only as many lines as needed to show everything it did, with fictional characters and true-to-verse data, so the SSNs would have at least the correct digits for the state of issuance. If it’s massive, you might enter, a couple lines under the last filled row, in the name field, “original continued for x rows”.

  36. Kali*

    I got my first promotion this week! I’ve gone from being a student ambassador – taking applicants on tours, delivering them to their interview, feeding their parents cakes – to being a senior ambassador, so now I’m telling other people to do the tours, making sure the professors are on time for their interviews, and organising the cake. I worked for ten years before uni and never got promoted before, so it’s pretty exciting. I’m also mentoring first years while doing my own work.

    One thing’s been bugging me this week though. Are there good reasons why people are sending me images of their screens taken from their phones? Or is it just that the print screen button is surprisingly obscure? I don’t want to come across as patronising if people know it exists but just prefer to take photos with their phones, but I also don’t want people to miss out on the joy of taking screenshots.

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Ha! That is bizarre and I have never had someone send me a cell-phone photo of a computer screen. So it has all the waves and lines and pixels? Nah–tell them to teach themselves to print screen or use the snipper tool. Crazytown.

      1. Kali*

        Yep. It’s happened on a few group projects, and it’s been happening now with my mentoring partner and the other seniors. The one reason I can think of is that maybe they don’t realise whatsapp can be used on the computer? But then, a lot of these are through things like facebook and email…

    2. Anon's Last Day*

      As someone that works in a tech-adjacent field, in my experience, people mostly do not know how to take screenshots on their computers. You can always come up with a friendly way to ask for them moving forward (if that applies here)– it’s not patronizing if it makes it easier for you to do your job. Just a simple “Thanks for sending that photo, for future reference, can you use the print screen feature to send a screenshot instead? It makes it easier for me to see the contents of your screen” if they don’t know how they’ll follow up!

    3. Notthemomma*

      I’ve had that happen with clients who don’t know how to do a print screen- which depending on the level of detail you need to see can be too small to use. You may want to write a quick paragraph on this to find Snip It which is Windows Standard (98.37% sure) and ask to resend.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Snipping Tool, I think you mean. I believe it showed up in Windows 7 first, but has been standard ever since. And it’s quite easy to use!

    4. ItsOnlyMe*

      My teen does this all the time, it drives me bonkers. he says he likes to do it that was as he has the photo saved on his phone for reference and he finds it quicker.

      Me…I love the Snipping Tool. Small feature that packs a punch :)

    5. LQ*

      Our enterprise architect did this to me once (the photo thing) which was crazy because he took the photo with his personal phone, emailed it from his personal email to his work email then forwarded me the work email.

      Yes, I did judge the heck out of him as the makes an ungodly amount of money enterprise architect to me the cheap knows nothing business person when I showed him how to use the snipping tool.

  37. Phoenix Programmer*

    I manage interns from a specific program at our local University. This is an unpaid school credit internship during the semester.

    The university intern coordinator has gotten more involved on the most recent cohort and set up strict timelines. Now instead of having the intern work odd jobs for me, orient, and try several mini projects for hours 1-70 then do an intensive hands on project from hours 71-135 the coordinator wants the project work to start no later than hour 24 preferably by 12.

    I like having students. But teaching them the skills for this project and hand holding as they get the project done is a lot of work. Previously I felt the project part of managing these students was at least subsidized a bit by the important but simple and boring tasks part.

    Now if the program is demanding the project be the vast majority of their time on site I am not sure I want to take on more students.

    Do I reach out to the coordinator and let her know the new set up is untenable for us? Or do I simply decline to take future students. The intern coordinator set up this major and program so it’s near and dear to her. She is well liked at my employer and I would hate to upset her. On the other hand I want her students to have opportunities for their internship. Help!

    1. Anon's Last Day*

      So I’ve been in your shoes, in a way. If the new requirements for the interns are going to seriously hamper your ability to do your job speak up now and speak up clearly! I made the mistake of being too timid about changes to our intern program and it ended up being terrible for me and the interns– I saw it coming and was trying to be accommodating to others and it did not work out. People really don’t understand how time-consuming it is to lead interns through major projects. I had to lay out how many hours a week I was dedicating to working with them before my boss understood why I was pushing back.

      1. Anon's Last Day*

        Forgot to add: If you push back and offer to compromise (if you’re open to it) you might be able to find a middle ground that is less upsetting to everyone. The difference between 12 hours in and 70 hours in is VAST.

    2. Tara S.*

      I feel like you should let her know your issue with the new setup. It’s valuable feedback! She/her org may have done the redesign without fully thinking through how it would affect the businesses involved with the program. Be honest about your reservations, ask if there’s any room for adjustment to better match your business needs.

    3. Kes*

      I think it’s worth letting them know that you won’t be able to continue taking students under the new setup. It’s valuable feedback for them, although it may or may not change anything – from your perspective, the odd jobs/gruntwork is what makes it worth it, but they want to maximize the time spent gaining relevant experience which is the point for them.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Just tell her no, that’s not how it is going to work. She can decide if she wants to continue the program

  38. Folklorist*

    It’s time for your I’m-totally-procrastinating-by-writing-this ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!! Go and do something that you’ve been putting off and then come back here and brag about it!

    I have a HUGE article due for work before I go on vacation next week, and it’s…erm…not close to done. So, yeah. Good luck everyone!

  39. Red Reader*

    I don’t know if I exactly have a question, but I’ve been pondering of late – I work in an extremely woman-dominated career field. Like, in the team of 26 that I help manage, we have two men, and otherwise, the next man in my direct line of succession on the org chart in either direction is six levels up. The next woman who has a male report at all is four levels up. I haven’t had a male coworker at my level that I regularly had to interact with, or a male supervisor, in fifteen years. It’s an interesting lens to be looking through when discussions about sexism in the workplace come up.

    1. Reba*

      I love my mostly-female-dominated field. But I do reflect from time to time about how the fact that men have fled probably means that its value to society is considered low.

      1. Tedious Cat*

        Yeah, I feel like my always working in predominantly female fields has had the plus of not being sexually harassed and the minus of never being paid very much.

      2. Tedious Cat*

        I’ve always worked in predominantly female fields. The plus is I haven’t had to deal with sexual harassment. The minus is I’ve never made much money.

    2. KatieKate*

      I have this on my team too, but I view it as a negative. My peers (minus one) are women, my boss is a woman, and her boss is a woman. Most of the people on my boss’s level are women and the level about her are about 70/30 women/men. But above that–all men. And I’ve found that especially in my corner of nonprofits, men are viewed as unicorns because there are so many women and valued above women. It’s frustrating.