open thread – January 4-5, 2019

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.

{ 2,012 comments… read them below }

  1. BirthdayBlues*

    Each time there is a birthday in the office, I have been aided with the responsibility of purchasing (I am reimbursed each quarter), gathering signatures, and decorating the envelope of the card. This was a task that used to be shared by all employees, but the precedent has pointed to me for well over a year now because I am artistic (drawing is a hobby, nothing to do with my professional job).

    Nearly three weeks ago my birthday came and went and no card for me. No one stepped up to do it. I am rightfully a bit hurt, even though I have to assume it was an innocent oversight. I will absolutely not be coordinating my own card, especially as it could come across petty given it would be so late.

    Birthdays are posted in the break room for all to see. I really feel unappreciated not having the gesture reciprocated. I’m at a loss of what to do, or if it’s worth bringing up. Last year my card was organized, but by someone who has since left the company.

      1. Garroulous Jane*

        I would stop as well. Not because my birthday went un-celebrated, but because it is not an *office* celebration if all the work falls to one person. Then is really just you giving each celebrant a card. Maybe make a casual announcement (not a birthday, at a general meeting) that you want to give others a chance. Or just buy a whole box of birthday cards and give to the group manager/supervisor to dole out.

        1. TootsNYC*

          For future, this is what I might do.
          Announce that because no one bothered to do anything about your birthday, that’s an indicator that the duty has become too consolidated in one person, and that the birthday INITIATIVE needs to become shared by more people.

          And so you won’t take the responsibility anymore; someone else needs to do it, and you recommend that it be two or three people, to eliminate the chance that the next person will also be overlooked.

          Feel free to say, “I’ll be happy to decorate the envelope if the organizer wants to bring it to me, but I’m not going to do all the initiating anymore.”

          1. Kes*

            I wouldn’t announce it that way; unfortunately, I think it will just make her sound petty (“If I don’t get a birthday card, none of you do either!”).

            However, I think it’s reasonable to realize that you’re putting a lot of effort into something that isn’t even actually part of your job, and decide that it might be time to step back and let others take over (it’s nice that you’ve been decorating the envelope, but I can assure you most places get along just fine without that and the admins are in charge of birthdays if anyone is, not whoever is most artistic).

            I would just be matter of fact and announce that you’ve been doing this for a while but find you don’t have time to do this anymore and someone else (or multiple other people) will need to take over if people want this to continue

            1. motherofdragons*

              Totally co-signing “I would just be matter of fact and announce that you’ve been doing this for a while but find you don’t have time to do this anymore and someone else (or multiple other people) will need to take over if people want this to continue”.

              I also just want to offer validation that this really sucks! I’d be upset in your shoes, for sure. And you can bet that all of my birthday card efforts would come to a screeching and unapologetic halt.

      2. Art3mis*

        Same. My old job forgot my birthday and then promptly asked me to sign a holiday card for someone who I’d never met and no longer worked there.

      3. AliceW*

        I would stop doing the birthday cards. I find it odd that so many people celebrate birthdays at work. I’ve worked professionally for 25 years in different industries for very large, medium -sized and small companies with less than 12 employees, and I’ve never seen anyone’s birthday celebrated. Ever. I did once work for a company that gave everyone their birthday off, but that’s it.

        1. Queen of Cans and Jars*

          Same! I think it’s kind of strange for adults to make a big deal out of their birthday, particularly if it’s not a ‘landmark’ year, particularly if it’s at work. I mean, if you want to ask your coworkers to go out with you for a celebratory drink or whatever, sure that’s fine. But to make birthday celebrations at work mandatory seems like overkill.

        2. Arya Snark*

          I find it odd that a lot of adults celebrate birthdays in general but my old office did a cake once a month for all the birthdays. There were no cards to sign with no one singled out or left out either. It was nice excuse to have cake and chat about nothing work related.

          1. Tysons in NE*

            I worked at one place that there was once a month party “hosted” by different departments. Assigned of course.
            But at this company wide event, birthdays were read out. Just the name of the employee who had a birthday in that month. So “Happy Birthday to Fergus, Sansa, etc.” The list of people came from HR and while the same person usually did it, it was known that is HR-Mary wasn’t there, HR-Catbert was to produce the list.

          2. Cait*

            Yeah- my office has a cake day each month. Our HR head announces that month’s birthdays and any new hires that other groups may not be aware of, and then we eat cake. She also makes a point of asking if she missed anything in the announcements. I’ve not seen anyone get upset about it.

            1. JessaB*

              I worked for a state institution that had a birthday club. You put in x amount a paydate, there was a special account at the institution’s credit union and there were parties once a month that covered all the people that month, people did potlatch food and the money went to get a professional cake and a decent small present for each person. If you didn’t want to participate you just didn’t. It was like two bucks a paycheque if that. We had the party at the institution canteen/snack shop. And there were two people in charge of it, because the account required two signatures to prevent theft. Worked great all seven years I worked there.

          3. Justin*

            We do cards and that’s it.

            But i do love my birthday because it makes me feel happy, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that if you’re not pressuring anyone.

            1. Third username*

              I agree completely. Just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I have to stop enjoying my birthday. My birthday is the one day a year I get to feel special. What’s wrong with that?

            2. CleverGirl*

              Seriously, what’s with all the hate on adult birthdays? What about being an adult means we can’t have fun anymore? And at what point does caring about your own birthday become “strange”? High school? When you turn 18 and are legally an adult? When you move out? 21?

              1. BirthdayisONEday*

                When adults started claiming birthday weeks and birthday months….
                Seriously…you were shoved out a hoohah. Or c-section. Or hatched. Whatever way you came to be…other than immediate family, no one cares. And no one else needs to be subjected to, “BUT IT’S MY BIRTHDAY WEEKKKKKK/MONTHHHH!” and feel forced to celebrate.

                1. CleverGirl*

                  LOL, yes, this I agree with. If you want to take the week/month of your birthday and treat yourself, go ahead, but don’t subject the rest of us to constant reminders that it’s your “birth month!!!” and expect us to make a huge deal about it every time we see you.

                  Also, while we’re at it, can we drop the “half birthday” thing already. Your birthday is the day you were born. 6 months before/after your birthday is not the day you were half born. Thus, itt’s NOT your “half birthday”. Take the number of people who care about your actual birthday and multiply that by 0 and that’s the number who care about your “half birthday”.

            3. coffee cup*

              There’s nothing wrong with it at all. It might be that some associated birthdays with children, but I don’t see why people should stop feeling a wee bit happy and special because they’re adults. Heck, we need that more than ever these days!

            4. Indie*

              It’s not the fact that adults aren’t supposed to enjoy their birthday (I love mine) but the fact that adults generally tend to go to work, a place where you’re not necessarily truly friends with people and where there are temps, new starters etc. I think a lot of people feel that birthdays at work can get kind of admin-y and meaningless and it is easy to exclude people. Also when my name gets read off a monthly list or when a harrassed admin who is under appreciated runs around with a dutiful card, I’m adult enough to say ‘why bother?’ It is different in different workplaces of course but I think the best course of action is to allow people the day off and encourage them to self arrange it.

              1. Coder von Frankenstein*

                Agreed. I organize a masquerade party for my own birthday every year (I did it when I turned 40 and everyone had so much fun that I turned it into a tradition), but that’s with my friends on my own time.

                At work, I find birthday celebrations boring and annoying, *especially* my own.

        3. Ace in the Hole*

          The last time my workplace did something for my birthday was when I turned 18. It didn’t feel weird at all, mostly because there were some job duties minors weren’t allowed to do. Aside from a big milestone like that? Not interested in a work birthday celebration.

      4. SheLooksFamiliar*

        OP, I’m not super petty and I would totally stop doing birthday celebrations. Innocent oversight or not, your team thinks you’re their den mother.

        1. NotaPirate*

          In general how do you get away from that reputation? One coworker said i was the mom of our lab and it made me extremely uncomfortable.

          1. Clorinda*

            Consider what you do that is mommish and then stop. If it’s just ‘being 15 or more years older than everyone else,’ you can’t stop, but you can tell your younger co-worker that their comment was strange and made you uncomfortable.

            1. pancakes*

              You could also just turn it around and ask whoever said it why they said it. If they can’t articulate an answer that isn’t embarrassing, the awkwardness is theirs to keep, as it should’ve been anyhow.

              1. TechWorker*

                I’ve been referred to as ‘the mum of the group’ once, when I was training a bunch of new hires. I can’t remember if I explicitly said ‘please don’t call me that’ but I did make a point of saying it was a bizarre thing to call a colleague.

          2. Artemesia*

            I’d immediately stop doing any Mom tasks or other nurturing even if you might ordinary have been happy to do so. And if requests for ‘Momming’ come your way, I would deflect them to other people. And never let anyone refer to you as the ‘office Mom’.

          3. Chatty Katy*

            Next time someone says that, look them straight in the eye, pause, and then say “No. Not mom. RULER”

      5. MatKnifeNinja*



        There’s no graceful way to say, “Which one of you schmoes will step it up for my BDay?”

        Actions speak louder than words. New Year. Time for a new routine.

        If anyone gets butt hurt, they can become the birthday planner.

        I’d be more aggravated that I am wasting my time on a “oh, yeah that nice”, than truly appreciated.

      6. DH-B*

        Me too! And I did stop at a former job. One gal flat out called me out (after several months of no birthday celebrations) and asked, “aren’t there treats for my birthday…”

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      No good deed goes unpunished.

      I’m sorry this happened to you. My kneejerk reaction would be to stop doing the cards. I don’t know if it’s worth bringing up to your manager, although you might want to talk to her if you are stopping the cards.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        This sums up my take on it, too.

        No reason all the weight should land on you for something that is supposed to be a nice thing for everyone.

      2. Artemesia*

        It is the first month of the year — great time to stop or announce you are stopping and someone else needs to pick it up if people actually want it. One problem with doing this kind of task is you get labeled in ways that do not advance you professionally. No one ever got a promotion because they cleaned the kitchen, made the coffee and did the birthday cards.

        1. Cat Fan*

          Agreed, now is the time for smooth transition to someone else. You can just say you’ve been doing it alone for the past year and it’s time for someone else to take over. No need to debate with anyone, just keep saying in a nice way it’s time for someone else to take over.

    2. DC*

      I would suggest employing Alison’s scripts for folks who no longer want to be seen as the baker, etc. “I’m sorry, I just don’t have the time/bandwidth/availability for that right now.” or “I’m taking a bit of a break, I’ve been feeling burned out on my artwork.”

      Let this duty pass to someone else- and then be the one person who makes sure they get a card in the future.

      1. BirthdayBlues*

        Great advice! And I appreciate everyone’s responses so far. Pass the responsibility, but make sure the one person doesn’t go unnoticed.

        1. valentine*

          Assigning yourself the duty of organizing the card for the one person who has to do everyone else’s just perpetuates the cycle. When one of you is on leave, no one’s going to pick up the slack they don’t know about and, even if you’re known as the card person, it’s only hurt you now everyone’s overlooked you. Bow out completely from the organizing. I can’t think of a way to do this well because it’s so random. Even if the admin has a box of cards ready to go, someone has to add/remove a card for every new hire/separation and on and on.

          1. D'Arcy*

            My office handled birthday cards this way: the boss personally did cards for all of the office staff, and the office staff did them for everyone else, not including the boss.

      2. Emma*

        The other option is to frame it as “it doesn’t seem like anyone else is particularly fussed about doing birthday cards, so I don’t think there’s any point continuing to corral everyone into it if they’re otherwise uninterested”. That has the advantage of focusing on this stuff as a collective thing – either everyone does it or noone does, rather than a string of overburdened individuals.

    3. MissMonsoon*

      Adult birthdays are hard. It’s almost like we aren’t supposed to celebrate ourselves. Also, people are oblivious if it doesn’t directly impact them. It sucks, but it is what it is.

      I wouldn’t say you have to go so far as to organize your own birthday card but maybe put a bug in the ear of someone you trust next year before your birthday. I was really hurt one year when my very close co-workers completely forgot my birthday and when they remembered, they jokingly asked for a countdown. They got a countdown the next year and I received a lovely card which is all I ever want. People to acknowledge that I’m on the planet and it’s a good thing.

    4. Audrey Puffins*

      Bring it up! It’s SO EASY for people to assume that someone else has got a task covered when it’s not been given specifically to them, and I bet people will feel awful when they realise you’ve been overlooked. Decide what you want to do going forward – get someone specific to remember your birthday in future? Spread out the responsibility to an organised group rather than doing it all? – then mention it to your boss. “I feel awkward bringing this up, but it was my birthday last week and no one organised my card. Could we please…” and so on and so forth. It sucks to be overlooked, even if it’s just a card, and it’s totally normal to feel unappreciated when it happens.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        This! Even if BirthdayBlues passes on the task to someone else or declines to do it further, at least she can point out “Hey mine was missed, it shouldn’t all fall on me to do this, we need to make sure we appreciate everyone (or no one)”

      2. fposte*

        Yes. This is why this isn’t uncommon–people post this exact thing here with some frequency.

        Basically, you feel like you’re handling other people’s birthdays because it’s a nice thing. They think you’re handling birthdays because it’s part of your job. They’re not going to take on part of your job unless they’re tasked with it.

        1. Sally*

          At my new job, every month they send out a list of the birthdays from that month. Then we have cupcakes in the lunchroom on one day to celebrate everyone. Doing it for everyone with a birthday in each month means no one gets left out, and your own birthday would be covered. If you haven’t already soured on the whole thing, maybe this method would work for you.

          1. TootsNYC*

            This is what we did at my last job. I ended up being the person in charge of getting it done (it tended to be potluck food w/ company drinks, and no card), and when it was my month, it didn’t feel weird to organize, bcs there were other people whose birthdays were on that month.

            If we’d done a card as well, I would simply have said to a colleague or two, “I’m buying the card for the other June birthdays, but I’m not buying my own–someone else will have to do that.”

            I’m totally OK w/ hints!

        2. Gatomon*

          I agree that someone needs to be formally tasked with it, whether it’s another peer or OP’s boss or whomever. When I was the appointee at my old job, someone was specifically appointed to remember my birthday so I was never left out. But it was just a small, branch-office sized recognition thing, and instead of cards or food, we did emails. So it was pretty low-effort overall.

      3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Honestly, depending on how snarky I was feeling I would follow the same procedure for your card for all others.

        Get one, wander around getting signatures, and decorate your card. I’ll bet someone picks it up next year.

        OP: Hi Jane, Bob, Joe got a card for you to sign
        J/B/J: Oh great whose birthday?
        OP: Mine! it was last week and I guess everyone got used to me doing the cards… so umm I guess I’m doing my own card

        Ok maybe don’t do that. But yes, you are the card person. Unless you can find someone to split the task with… How about you find another person in the office that would be willing to do this and split the tasks, they buy the card and get signatures and you decorate the envelope. This way there is another person designated to do this with you ensuring that there is at least another person who will get you a card.

    5. rolling in the deeeeeeeeep*

      This is all assuming you still want to do the cards:

      Sometimes the person organizing it is invisible. “Oh, birthday cards get organized” is the prevailing assumption, so people assume that Somebody Is Handling It. You have to reach out to someone, perhaps your supervisor, perhaps someone else, to say, hey, I need someone to handle my own birthday.

      This also helps when there’s more than one person doing the thing, because then they can back the other person up.

      If you don’t want to do it, well, I’m assuming this isn’t on your actual job description and it just A Nice Thing To Do For Morale. So push back. Say “hey, this used to be on a rota, can we go back to that? I want to spend more time on X, Y, Z job duties.”

      1. MassMatt*

        That the person doing this sort of thing is often “invisible” and unappreciated suggests it’s the kind of thing people should not take on.

        OP didn’t mention a gender but this sounds very much like the sort of semi-volunteer activity that people just expect women to do, like bringing in all the food for pot lucks, cleaning up after meetings, etc.

        1. LittleMissCrankyPants*

          I was specifically asked if I wanted to do the birthday card thing just this past month, and I told told my male supervisor, that, no, I think a man should take on this emotional labor task. (The previous three card organizers that I’ve known of since I started there were women.) He looked kinda dumbfounded for a minutes and then nodded.

          A man is doing it now. :)

    6. Not Elizabeth*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. I do think you should bring it up, though I’m not sure with whom — whoever you go to for reimbursement? your manager? an office manager/chief admin type? (I wouldn’t do a mass email though.)

      You could say something like, “I haven’t been sure how to bring this up, and it seems like a small thing, but I’ve been doing everybody’s birthday card for the past year or so. My birthday was three weeks ago, and….” Maybe present it as a problem to be solved — when one person does all the b-days, their own gets overlooked (and it sounds like even if you did get a card, it might not have been as nice because you’re the artist!). So you could propose going back to a rotating system.

      Good luck. If I were one of your coworkers, I would want to know and make it up to you.

      1. Artemesia*

        There is no way to couple this with the missing of your own birthday without looking childish and petty. It isn’t fair, but it is so. I’d drop being the office drudge in this respect but not mention my own birthday at all.

        1. CM*

          I think it depends what the most important issue is for the OP as well as how big the office is. If it’s a larger office, then agree, bring it up with whoever is “in charge” of the cards — the office manager would be a likely candidate and then either say “I’m happy to keep getting cards as long as somebody remembers my birthday as well” OR “I’d rather not be the designated card person” but not “I’d rather not be the designated card person because you all forgot my birthday” even though that’s a valid reaction.

          If it’s a smaller office — like six people or something — I think it’s fine to have a group discussion about it at some point when it feels natural and say, “Hey, it kind of hurt my feelings that you guys forgot my birthday.”

    7. Meredith Brooks*

      I’m just writing to give you a pat on the shoulder. I am so frustrated for you. I’m sure it was largely a matter of people not thinking about something that they have sort of been trained they don’t have to think about, since you did it for them. I don’t think it’s petty to take a step back. The truth is, you were doing something kind for everyone, and they took advantage of it — not maliciously, but still. If everyone isn’t able to acknowledge their coworkers in a reciprocal way, then they no longer deserve to have you do it for them.

    8. Alfonzo Mango*

      I would definitely bring it up with your manager, or HR! This is worth mentioning, you were left out of the team activity.

    9. Casper*

      That’s such a bummer! I’m sorry that happened.

      Maybe if you brought it up to manager just like, “Hey, I don’t know if you know this, but I’ve somehow become the sole birthday card organizer. Can you help me to get more people involved? If I’m ever on vacation then someone’s birthday might get missed, which is pretty bad for morale. In fact, I didn’t get a card for my birthday since I’m the only one doing this.” If it’s like, I want to prevent other people from getting hurt, it might feel like it’s not about yours?

      (All this to say it’s a frustrating conundrum like it seemss petty to care about your birthday [it’s not] but any situation where there’s unequal treatment feels shitty)

      1. Chip Hackman*

        I think this is the definite move because it points out how having it all fall on one person can lead to issues and people getting forgotten, etc.

    10. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Please try to convince yourself that you are not unappreciated. It’s not personal. It’s a system problem, not a person problem.

      For everyone else in the office, the birthday cards are just a think that happens, so they’re not thinking about the birthday calendar.

      To make sure it doesn’t happen this year, I’d ask to share the responsibility with someone — alternate months, or work together on each card. Be sure to make it clear to them that you’ll handle their birthday card on your own. I’m guessing that will be enough signals to make sure that they take care of yours.

      (Of course you could also just directly ask someone to do it, but if you’re anything like me part of what you’re looking for is to not have to ask for the recognition. You want to be appreciated, not to put in a requisition order for your birthday card.)

      1. Bostonian*

        “It’s a system problem, not a person problem.” I like this line. It totally sucks that nobody organized a card for OP, but I can also see how nobody thought of it, either.

    11. Tysons in NE*

      I would be volunteering someone else to help out going forward. If there is a list assign a month(s) per person (obviously not your own to you) If there is any push back, explain your reason.
      I probably wouldn’t be so politically correct when explaining, but others on this site are much better at wording things than I am.
      Another thought, do people really want this? Just take the temperature of the employees if the majority like the recognition.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I worked one place where no one wanted it. A person from another department decided celebrating was a good thing. This person was coming from a good place but she was blind to seeing that people actually did not want cake and cards. It took a bit to get it across to her. “stop with the cakes”.

    12. Person from the Resume*

      That disappointing, but not surprising. That would have required someone to see your name and realize the implication (“hey, Blues usually does the birthday card”) and realize that no one else was doing and take it upon themselves to it for you.

      You have become the person responsible for birthday cards; you’re the one that didn’t arrange for someone else to do your card. To prevent the problem next year, you will have to mention it someone.
      (1) When your birthday is coming up ask someone to do it for you.
      (2) Change the process now so you’re not the only one doing cards and when your birthday rolls around next year it’s already the other birthday team members responsibility.

      If you say nothing, I doubt anyone else will notice and this will happen again next year.

    13. WellRed*

      I think the key is that people are expected to decorate the envelope (??) which, frankly, I would find irritating on top of buying the card (what’s up with quarterly reimbursement?) and gathering signatures. If there’s an artistic person, like others who can bake or quilt, people are going to let it migrate to that person, which is unfair. Then, as so often happens, the person who does all the work gets forgotten. Say something.

    14. Venus*

      It sounds like there are two tasks – one is getting a card, and the other is signatures. If I were you, I would be tempted to make that division clear, as it would be fun to draw cards and it would be more work to go around and get signatures from everyone. So I would ask my employer that they return to the previous system, with the knowledge that the organiser for that birthday could ask you to draw up a card.

      You could mention it in a context of “What if I’m sick, and miss someone’s birthday?” if that would be helpful. Whatever you decide – you are totally valid in your feelings of having been forgotten. I would be grumpy if that happened to me! (although the irony is that I do not want my birthday celebrated at work, so personally I wouldn’t mind having been forgotten, but if I was in your situation… I’d be annoyed!)

    15. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m petty, so I’d stop doing it, and when someone asks, I’d say “Oh, we still do birthday cards? I thought we’d stopped that.”

      1. CandyCorn*

        I was gonna write the exact same thing, because I too am petty af. “Oh – when I didn’t get a card for my birthday I assumed we stopped doing that.”

        Of course, the only sensible way for adults to celebrate birthdays at the office is to take charge of your own birthday. That way you have as much or as little celebration as you want. My dad made that rule for his office and I always thought it was a good one.

        1. Lisa*

          I love that idea. Today is my birthday, I am home, and when I come back to the office I do not want any acknowledgement at all. I go to work to work. I can buy my own cake.

      2. argh*


        “I feel a little embarrassed that I’ve been organizing birthdays when it seems that others aren’t really that interested in celebrating them. I didn’t realize that until my birthday passed without any cards or mentions. I figured it would be awkward for me to continue doing the card thing when it’s obviously not a kind of celebration that others enjoy, and everyone can rest assured that they won’t be asked to participate in such silliness again. My bad!”

        (I mean, I assume that this is not actually the case. But kill them with passive aggressiveness. They deserve it. meh.)

    16. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I was shocked and excited when I wasn’t forgotten with our card tradition. But that’s due to a boss who is thoughtful and doesn’t let this slip.

      I think it needs to be at minimum a duo involved so nobody is overwhelmed or skipped. That’s how to fix the system. It’s one of those things that’s so small, it’s taken for granted but still stings when it goes wrong.

    17. Boop*

      “I thought that since I didn’t get one, that I was the only one who cared about doing this, so I’ve stopped.”

    18. Sled dog mama*

      Didn’t read all the responses so sorry if this is no longer relevant.
      In my office each month is responsible for procuring the cards for the next month. Each person writes/decorates as they see fit. We have one person who will typically do the name on the envelope because he can make beautiful embellishments. We also have a defined order of who signs cards (cards go to Riley’s team first then Riley takes them to Sandra’s team etc).
      This is really nice because it spreads out the work and everyone is involved.

    19. learnedthehardway*

      Honestly, I’d do it myself, since that way, it definitely gets done.
      (Speaking as the person who gets themselves their own birthday and Christmas presents, here. My spouse will get me something, but my big presents are things I’ve chosen and purchased. It works out better this way….)

      1. TootsNYC*

        Personally, I would rather be forgotten.

        Because then I didn’t participate in being overlooked!

    20. Bluebell*

      I think you are well within your rights to gracefully hand this over to another co-worker! and maybe they should give you a thank you card for being awesom at it for so long! :)

    21. EmKay*

      I understand how you feel. I was admin of a pretty large team at my old job, 60ish people. I coordinated birthday cards (and lunches) for everyone. The year I quit doing it is the year everyone forgot me for my birthday AND for admin professionals day. I didn’t make a fuss, I didn’t bring it up, I just stopped. I’m still salty about it.

    22. Anonandon*

      I’d probably stop the birthday celebrations, or do something like one company where I worked – whoever had the birthday would bring in a small treat to share with the team (fruit, bagels, etc.). It seemed to work pretty well, and for those who didn’t want to recognize their birthdays, they didn’t feel left out.

    23. t.i.a.s.p.*

      Well first of all, happy belated birthday.

      Do you like the card tradition? Totally agree with everyone else that if you enjoy it, it needs to be spread around between more people.

      But if you don’t actually enjoy either getting a card (separate from the issue that you’ve been doing this for everyone and no one did it for you) or giving the cards, I would just full stop and let the tradition die.

      Personally, buying the card and collecting signatures is the kind of task that I hate doing, and I would probably be even more annoyed if I had to front the expense, track it, and only got reimbursed quarterly.

    24. stitchinthyme*

      My office doesn’t celebrate individual birthdays; near the end of every month they have a cake or cupcakes or something to celebrate all the birthdays that occurred in that month, and the management team leaves the employee a card signed by just them on your actual birthday. So maybe that would be a better solution. (My husband’s office does the same thing.)

    25. Ladybug*

      I was the one who used to serve as the “so-and-so’s birthday is coming up!” calendar. My boss, who normally bakes a cake for birthday celebrations and has enlisted my help in the past to make decorative banners, told me a couple weeks beforehand that she’d not be at work the day of my birthday but promised to make it up to me.

      She never did, and after she went all out to celebrate another co-worker’s birthday, I realized that it’d never happen. I’m still nursing resentment from it, because she’s made a grand spectacle over younger co-workers’ milestone birthdays and etc. I have a milestone birthday coming up this year, and I doubt that anything awaits me.

        1. Rachel in Non Profits*

          We have a great system in our office of 12 people. We are each assigned one other person’s birthday to organize, which is just a card with signatures and some kind of treat for staff meeting. Our admin sends out a reminder a couple of days before the birthdays to the person who is assigned to organize it. She includes her own birthday in the email reminder list, but that is her stated responsibility.

          I’m pretty close to the admin and she doesn’t mind. it’s still a surprise because she doesn’t know what kind of treat they are going to get or the card.

    26. Tuna*

      I’ve been there. I’m the one who makes sure everyone gets a gift, so a few years went by where I didn’t get a card or a gift. One year I was asked to buy my own card and get it signed. Sigh. What I ended up doing was conscripting other employees to help. One was responsible for the card (she made cards, they were lovely) and one was responsible for cake, another for planning a monthly b-day lunch. It worked well, until CardLady moved away. Then a volunteer stepped up to do cards, so we’re doing OK again.

    27. BirthdayBlues*

      OP here. Wow! This has generated a lot of response. I hope this reply doesn’t get buried.

      It is true that the card responsibility used to get passed around, organized by whoever was friendliest/closest to the card receiver (a bad system, for sure). If no one stepped up, I would usually take on the responsibility at my own doing, so that’s on me. This is how my artistic abilities were outed, I did some really nice cards (realistic portraits of their pet, or a caricature type cartoon version of their face on the body of a professional sports team). Well, my boss liked the envelopes so much asked me to start handling all the cards. The idea behind this was 1) He thought I was good at it and 2) Only one person would have to file for reimbursement.

      We do not have an office manager, and I know Alison has talked about women being pegged with celebration-type tasks. I am a woman (as so many of you have rightfully guessed) and I’m afraid this falls in line with that.

      Either way, you have all inspired me to speak up. While I giggled reading the petty responses some have provided, that’s just not my style. I am letting go of my own missed card and will propose that this go back to a shared responsibility, with each person caring for the next in line (say your birthday is the 1st, you are responsible for the person on the 15th who is responsible for the person on the 30th, etc.). Or having a month-wide celebration with cupcakes (doubt we have the budget for that) or getting rid of the cards all together.

      I will also cool it on my envelope design. I don’t want anyone to feel slighted not getting BirthdayBlue’s card (eye roll) so I’ll just write their name in a fancy font and call it a day.

      I plan on providing everyone with an update when I have one!

      1. Venus*

        Not completely buried – I’m pleased to see it!

        Good luck. I’m sorry that some comments have turned into complaints about any celebrations at all, as I have found them to be fun distractions if done right (essentially they shouldn’t be mandatory). I think it’s a matter of sorting out what is best for your workplace, and with these responses you can feel confident that it’s reasonable to push back a bit!

    28. Third username*

      I would feel hurt too. I’m so sorry. I agree that it’s best to say since this has fallen onto one person, it doesn’t seem like the office really wants to celebrate birthdays in this way anymore. Let someone else start doing it if they really want to continue.

      1. jolene*

        I really wouldn’t appreciate having to do the next person in line’s birthday. Mind you, I don’t remotely care about my own being celebrated at work.

    29. Avocado Toast*

      This happened to me at my old job….4 years in a row. At first I was like “Oh, I’m the person who usually does birthdays so it makes sense that they forgot about me” but then realized that was only true for 2/4 years. That was sign 339494819 that I wasn’t appreciated and that I should look for a new job!

    30. Bazinga*

      Time to hand off this responsibility. We used to have each person bring a cake for the person whose birthday cake next. So if my birthday is Jan 10 and Sansa is Jan 25, I bring Sansa a cake. Then Sansa brings a cake for the next person, etc.
      Or have a “sunshine club” overseen by a few people. Anyone who wants to participate kicks in a couple bucks a pay. Then that’s money gets a cake and card for each birthday person. Having a club means it falls to a few people and not just you.
      I would probably say something to the person I’m closest to at work that I was hurt my birthday was missed.

    31. Jaid_Diah*

      I’d outright ask the boss if I’d been expected to get my own birthday card, because no one else seems to have been responsible for it.

    32. Smarty Boots*

      Stop being in charge of the birthdays. Tell your boss that it is taking too much time away from your work, and that it needs to be a shared task. There is no reason why each person in the office can’t take a turn at doing it. All you need is a list of the staff with birthdays (which you already have), add a column for “birthday organizer”, and assign a person to each birthday. I suggest making the next person on the list for responsible: so, B is responsible for A’s birthday, C is responsible for B’s birthday, and so on, with Z being responsible for A’s birthday. Post it in the break room. Make it big. Done.

    33. Nacho*

      Yeah, that sucks. There’s a pretty good chance that most people don’t really care about birthdays , either theirs or anybody else’s (by the time you’re an adult they stop being very important), which is why nobody paid much attention to the fact that there wasn’t a card being passed around for your birthday. Maybe talk to your boss about whether or not you need to continue with the card.

    34. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      I would just stop doing the cards without announcing it. Then if anyone asks about it you can just say “oh, I thought we weren’t doing that anymore” (since nobody did anything for your birthday).

    35. Temit*

      Don’t do it anymore – the fact that it was a shared task and devolved to one person carrying the entire burden for the team doesn’t say much for the team.

      It wasn’t an innocent oversight – it was posted in the break room for all to see. They were waiting for Someone to do it, No one did. So its No one’s fault. Let the next one pass like yours did. First one to complain, should step up for the next birthday. There is nothing to bring up or confront.

    36. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      It sucks you got overlooked after all your efforts Birthday Blues. I am also an amateur artist with enough skill that people ask me to make birthday cards. When our office was small someone or other would ask me to do a card and everyone’s birthday was covered.
      Now that the office has trpled in size no one can remember all the birthdays and we’ve quietly phased out the cake and card thing. This went smoothly since there was never an official person in charge of birthdays.
      In your shoes I would ask my boss if I could not be the official birthday organizer anymore.
      It sounds like a lot of work for what I’m sure is no extra compensation.
      I love to draw so on my own initiative I will make a card for significant and non-annual milestones (e.g. retirement).

    37. Melba Toast*

      On the bright side, the new year has just started so this is actually good timing to cease with the whole birthdays at the office stuff. I’d combine what others have said and add something like: “With the new year beginning, why don’t we change things up with how we do birthdays?”

    38. The Messy Headed Momma*

      I am not a fan of celebrating bdays at the office BUT the one & only time I saw a process work went like this:
      Whoever just celebrated their birthday is in charge of the next person’s birthday & so on & so on. They had limits ($20 collected from the group/a cake/a card) that they all agreed upon beforehand. That way, everybody shared the work. And it was a bunch of waiters and they actually made it work!

    39. OutToSea*

      Understandable some hurt feelings around the missing of your birthday, but I think the beginning of the year is good timing to make a natural change to simply not doing it anymore. If someone questions you about it, you could say something to the tune of you just wanted to allow someone else to take lead for a change, or that you thought as a group, some other ideas would be fun to consider. Happy Belated Birthday!

    40. Workerbee*

      I’m sorry nobody thought beyond their own birthdays when yours came around, innocent-oversight or not. That sucks.

      This is one of the several reasons I pulled unofficial “birthday coordinator” away from my direct report when I inherited her. I was informed by a good friend in that department that she would always go above and beyond to make sure the birthday recipients had their card/present/decorations/cake (often at her own expense, which was reason #1 that I stopped that practice). Good Friend said that last year, when my direct report’s birthday rolled around, he noticed that nobody was doing a damn thing about it. He ended up rallying everyone and buying some things himself. If he hadn’t done that, she’d have received absolutely nothing.

      That really pissed me off. So, as we’re a multi-manager department, I informed each manager that my d.r. would no longer be handling this and it would be up to each of them if they wanted to get a card/gift for their own employee(s). They were all fine with this. Apparently some of them had been trying to stop the practice anyway, citing how it was too disruptive!

      Since then, others in our department decided to make a quarterly Food Day to celebrate birthdays, and everyone seems satisfied.

      So I too hope you feel all right about disengaging from being the office birthday person. People will either step up or it will die off in a somewhat-natural but overdue death.

    41. ENFP*

      This same thing happened to me at my previous company. So, in December, I wrote a fake-cheerful email asking who would like to take a turn as the “Birthday Fairy” in the new year, coordinating cards for the 60+ employees in our department. Guess how many takers I had?

      Seriously, don’t do this. I went to a lot of trouble and expense and no one cared. Yes, still bitter!

  2. Emma*

    Have any of you had good luck using social media management software like Hootsuite? I decided to dip my toe into the freelance modeling world about a year ago, mostly for fun, but I’d like to get more serious about it. A huge part of getting modeling jobs is having an active social media presence, which isn’t something I’m naturally very good at (I tend to scroll and lurk without posting much). I’m totally mystified by the people who seem to just breathe and accidentally end up with a zillion followers. I figured that maybe scheduling my posts and using a platform to help manage my accounts might make it easier, I’m just not sure whether it would be worth the money. Have you found that using something like Hootsuite actually made a difference in engagement or how much business you were getting?

    1. Overeducated*

      I use Hootsuite for work but i don’t think the platform itself has increased our following in any noticeable way. It’s more useful for organizing, scheduling, and tracking. But it’s very possible I’m not using it to its full capacity, I think we may use a free version (just based on the fact that my office doesn’t value social media highly) so features could be different as well.

      My one big complaint is that it doesn’t seem to allow alt text for images so our posts aren’t fully accessible.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I use it not as a way to increase my following so much as to decrease my time investment. I set all my tweets for the week or whatever in one window on the weekend (this is a terrible way to do Social Media, I do understand) so that I don’t have to be logging in as much or worrying about it.

    2. AliceBD*

      Hi! I am a professional social media marketer, but I do not maintain a personal brand myself. (People can look at the big company I work for to see my work; they don’t need to learn anything about my personal life and frankly I use up my energy making the work accounts look nice.) If you’re going to be busy during the day, using a scheduling app is definitely helpful to get posts out consistently. Part of the thought needs to be if you have time every week to sit down and set it up. It’s no good to have Hootsuite or another scheduling platform if you forget to fill it out or if you don’t engage with people asking questions or commenting or whatever.

      Now, AFAIK Hootsuite does not let you do Instagram stories. Based on a relative who is a professional model, Instagram stories are big and Instagram is the social media channel that seems most important. (She is also 18 which may have something to do with it; I don’t know if models who are 25 do as many Stories as my only contact with modeling is knowing what she’s up to.) So you will have to take that into consideration. However most of her posts on her Instagram itself are from previous modeling gigs so those are good candidates to be scheduled because on Instagram itself she is not usually using in the moment shots.

      I will say you may expect some creepy comments, depending on your age and gender, just to prepare you. My relative just turned 18 and her followers include a lot of creepy old men, IMO.

      1. Anonysand*


        I’m a professional social media manager and work with marketing as well, and the above is spot on. Hootsuite is great for the organizational aspect of your accounts, especially when you want to have a consistent presence across multiple platforms. The analytics aren’t bad, but not the best IMO. I don’t think you’d need the paid version to do what you need it to, as the free edition would cover your bases pretty well.

        As for getting a ton of new followers? It’s pretty hard. It takes a lot of work and a consistent presence, and as stated above, you’re definitely opening the door to some serious creeps. As for advice, there are a lot of great articles and podcasts (check out the Goal Digger podcast by Jenna Kutcher) about personal branding on social media that are super useful and can get you started on some best practices.

      2. LDP*

        As someone who also does a bit of social media for work and has a (very small) personal blog, Instagram stories are going to help you with engaging with your followers and building your audience! The main pro to stories is that they stay in chronological order, and therefore beat Instagram’s algorithm. This makes you much more visible to your followers, and you won’t end up having people only see your posts 2-3 days after you initially posted them.
        It’s been over a year since the last time I used Hootsuite, so it may have changed, but from what I remember, the scheduling tool wasn’t that great. It would just send you a reminder that you needed to post, and then you had to manually go into the Hootsuite app to get to the post and share it. You could write out the whole caption and all your hashtags ahead of time, so it was better than having to come up with that on the fly, but it was still annoying to have Saturday morning brunch interrupted by a notification that I needed to post a work Instagram. We use Sked Social now, and if you’re just looking for something for scheduling, it works a lot better than Hootsuite ever did for me, mainly because it will actually post for you. But, it only works for Instagram, so if you’re wanting to schedule posts for other platforms, this may not be the best option for you, either.

        1. Trinity Beeper*

          The scheduling tool has evolved a lot, actually! I’m only using Hootsuite for Twitter but it’s great for that. Now you can write a ton of tweets at once in a spreadsheet and have them pre-scheduled. It has its limitations though – I’m not sure how well this feature works for Instagram, for example. Also, for Twitter, you can’t schedule polls. Still, I manage about 10 different accounts, and it’s been hugely helpful for making sure they’re all posting consistently.

      3. lobsterp0t*

        Yeah my wife uses Buffer for her (one woman) business and it includes Instagram; I would definitely agree that you have to be religious about scheduling the scheduling time. She usually does a 3-6 month content plan around all her planned promotions and then does weekly top ups. Due to the nature of her business, very little of her posting is spontaneous, other than her Insta stories, which are.

    3. envirolady*

      So, Hootsuite and similar software products aren’t there to help you boost engagement themselves, they just give you the tools to make it easier for you to boost your own engagement/following–be allowing you to schedule and look at analytics. Part of my job is managing social media and I use a program called AgoraPulse, which I have liked a lot so far. It’s a lot easier to schedule posts across platforms and see a calendar of what I’ve got coming up.

      1. Anonysand*

        Can I pick your brain on AgoraPulse? I’m a SM manager and looking to switch to literally anything besides Hootsuite. I really like HeyOrca, but we’re not an agency and only need a single license. I’m desperate to find options!

        1. Curious Cat*

          I don’t use AgoraPulse, but I’m on the social team at my org and we just switched recently from Hootsuite to Falcon and we. love. it. Falcon is so easy and very user-friendly, and best of all we haven’t had any major system malfunctions like we were constantly having with Hootsuite (scheduled posts failing to post, the system crashing, accounts disconnecting for no reason). So I’m a big advocate now for Falcon!

          1. Anonysand*

            I haven’t heard of Falcon! I’m currently looking into SocialReport, mostly because it’s one of the few that has the functionality to export a *queued* content calendar for sharing outside the platform. It’s a strange need that doesn’t seem to be widely available, unfortunately.

            1. Curious Cat*

              I think you can actually do that with Falcon too :) I’ve never heard of SocialReport though, there are so many tools available on the market it’s hard to keep up with all of them

    4. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I’m not in this world, but have heard that a shockingly large number of those accounts with huge followings are actually followed by some large percentage of bots that were paid for by the account holder. So, don’t judge yourself by them. If you want to do this, set about making your own brand on your own terms and use options for promoting your channels, don’t worry.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Yeah. I recently started trying to re-build my own online presence as I try to resurrect my publishing career, and I sometimes get bummed out that I have less than 1,000 Twitter followers even though I had several books published by a big publisher. Then I remind myself that it’s better to have a few hundred real followers than thousands of bots! And also, it’s probably better for my particular career to focus on writing more books rather than stressing out about that.

      2. Anon Anon Anon*

        Other things that influence your number of followers:

        – What percentage of your fan base actively uses social media

        – Promoting your stuff offline

        – Someone else helping you to promote your stuff.

        – A company is helping to promote your stuff

        You see where this is going. People who have a lot of followers often aren’t doing that alone. They’re often working with some kind of company or someone is helping to get the word out and get people talking about them. It’s really important not to neglect the offline side of things. What happens online is a reflection of what’s going on offline. You have to go out and talk to people and ask them to follow you on social media. You have to connect with people who will help get the word out, who will say positive things about you. Or even negative things – anything is better than nothing. If you’re introverted and that doesn’t come naturally, find someone who can help, whether they officially work for you or it’s a friend or family member. Once you get the ball rolling, then it becomes more a matter of just having great content that will help the word to travel farther. You can do this! It will happen!

      3. nonegiven*

        Even I get followed by bots. It just isn’t worth my time to check each follower to make sure they aren’t a bot and block them if they are.

    5. Emma*

      Thanks for all the amazing advice, everyone! I think I’m going to try to post once a day on instagram (or more, if the situation calls for it- I’m participating in a pin-up contest next weekend so I’ll likely do several posts/stories that day) and see how it goes and then maybe try the free version of hootsuite if I’m really feeling a need to schedule my posts ahead of time.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      I have used a platform called “Later” that is based around Instagram. The free account lets you prepare and cue up 2 weeks of posts at a time, save captions (useful for hashtag lists), and push to FB and Twitter as well. It doesn’t auto-post, but it prompts you at your planned time, with the post ready to go.

      It’s not super powerful and doesn’t help with analytics, but that scheduling is useful.

      I’ve had the most success in increasing organic followers by actively participating in regularly scheduled hashtag chats on Twitter. But my industry is very different.

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

      I’ve used Buffer before! I really like the product, and even more so, they’re a great and innovative company. I recommend checking them out!

    8. pcake*

      I don’t know about social media for modeling, but we used to hire our models via Model Mayhem.

  3. Way to the Dawn*

    Hello, first time commenting but could really use some outside insight. My brother has gone through a bit of a rough patch in life and has two DUIs. But in the past year or so he has really turned a new leaf and wants to leave our hometown and work towards a career. I want to help him towards that! He helped my grandfather last year as he died of cancer, and he is interested in becoming a nurse. We know that he can’t do a paramedic or EMT route because of his DUIs, but we are getting mixed signals about the nursing route. Does anybody know if he could pursue any type of medical career with the DUIs?

    He really feels like the military is his only option, which if he wants to do that, great! But I want to show him what options he does have. If not medical, does anyone have any suggestions for a field where you don’t sit at a desk all day? He wants to be moving/active and he is very charismatic and driven.

    1. LKW*

      Can’t speak to nurse specifically, but there are a lot of health care jobs that don’t require as strict licensing and registration. Still, he’d likely have access to drugs, would that be a temptation?

      There are a lot of service jobs where you’re moving all the time including construction management (construction management as a potential education route), repair trades, forestry management, and corporate sales. If he’s charismatic and charming, sales might be a good fit although the DUIs may be slightly problematic for jobs like pharma sales where they give you a company car. Software sales might be a good fit.

      1. Way to the Dawn*

        He is definitely not going to be tempted by anything, he joked that he wouldn’t even jay walk after this. I will look into your other suggestions, thank you!

        1. Yvette*

          Thing is, it is not just if he is going to be tempted, to some people multiple DUIs = substance abuse issues or possibly an addiction, that they are just the tip of a larger iceberg. So even if from a regulations standpoint they are not a deal breaker, having them come up in a background check might be problematic.

          1. Way to the Dawn*

            Yes, that is what worries me, and I feel that no matter what field he goes into it may just be a risk that someone will hang it over his head. But I don’t want him to give up finding a career, so we are just trying to find the best situation we can for him. Thanks for the advice!

            1. Yvette*

              Somethings can get expunged, but I don’t know what or how. Sorry, just realized how super unhelpful that is, but maybe someone else does?

            2. Catleesi*

              I think once you get past whether or not it will hang up licensing – the attitude about the DUIs from employers is going to vary a lot by state. I’m from Wisconsin – and for a lot of places there (sadly) having a DUI or even two is not really notable. However there are areas where people are really going to look down on it. In addition to licensing ramifications, he might want to consider regional culture in how it’s going to be perceived.

          2. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

            I was going to suggest forestry so thanks for saying that LKW. In my experience the culture of this work basically that you will be judged on your ability to do the work and absolutely nothing else, including if you’ve had DUI’s in the past.
            If he doesn’t currently have a valid driver’s license because of this it would make it harder to get a forestry job but not impossible.

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I did a quick Google search and it revealed that depending where you live, he can still take the boards as long as he has disclosed every felony and misdemeanor conviction. You want to research that with the board in your area.

      The DUIs wouldn’t keep him out of a nursing program, so he could pursue that outside of the military. I’d recommend he schools first before going into the military so he has more skills to consider upon enlistment.

      1. Way to the Dawn*

        We did talk to some nursing programs and they said they would take him, we just worry about whether people would hire him after he spends all of his time to get his degree.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This. If it’s not a problem with getting licensed (RN, LPN, nurse’s aid, etc) in your state, then there are likely to be jobs that require the degree and no driving.

          2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

            This! Check your state’s laws regarding how background checks can be used in employment decisions. It may feel like a really long time, but some states, you cannot use things that are more than 5, 7, or 10 years in the past in making employment decisions.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Don’t DUI’s go off your record after a period of time if you have no more convictions? I’m thinking three years, but that may depend on your state. Depending on long a program he enters, he could have these off his record before he has to take boards. Of course he may have to tell them he got them, but if they’ve been dropped, should be less of a problem.

          1. T. Boone Pickens*

            I believe some states allow you to expunge them from your record but otherwise, they stay on there forever.

        2. kittymommy*

          I would also quickly caution that he may want to double check information like that with the state licensing boards, not just the schools. I have had many a friend who was told one thing my the program offices and then when they went to sit for NCLEX it turned out to be very different.

      2. Joielle*

        Even if the DUIs won’t keep him out of a nursing program, he should make absolutely sure with the licensing board that they won’t keep him from being licensed before he starts the program. I’ve run into situations with clients where they got through an entire degree in a medical field, only to discover that they were disqualified from being licensed because of past convictions. There’s not much you can do at that point, it’s just a huge waste and major disappointment (and often very expensive).

        1. Way to the Dawn*

          Yes, this is our biggest fear. We do not want him to spend money and time only to hit a road block.

    3. Joielle*

      It’ll depend on the state! Different state licensing boards have different requirements for nursing and related professions. I’d recommend that you call the state licensing board for nursing and any other health-related profession he might be interested in. I will say that I’d be surprised if a DUI was a problem for nursing unless there were significant extenuating circumstances.

      If your state has licensed drug and alcohol counselors, peer support specialists, recovery coaches, or something like that, that might be an avenue to look into. In my state, it’s not uncommon for people with addictions in their past to become counselors and help people in a similar situation.

      1. Way to the Dawn*

        Thank you for the info! I had not thought about the drug and alcohol counselors. I think he would be a great recovery coach! I will pass that along to him.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Echoing, it’s so nice to see siblings taking care of each other. Thanks for brightening my day, OP.

            1. Way to the Dawn*

              Thank you both so much. You don’t know how much that means to me. 2018 was an awful year for our family but I am trying to be as supportive as I can.

      2. Sally*

        Great idea! My close friend’s niece was addicted to alcohol and doing all sorts of self-destructive things, and after she stopped drinking, she really wanted to help others in similar situations. So she went back to school, got licensed, and she is now a counselor, and she’s very happy doing that.

        1. PhyllisB*

          My oldest daughter was addicted to meth (three years sober now!!) After she got through with her rehab she started working for a detox center, and now she’s in marketing recruiting patients for a recovery center in her state, and she’s working toward credentials to be a counselor.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Adding: Check the window of time for the look back. It could be in five years or whatever this will be even less of a problem.
        So worst case scenario perhaps they say “no how, no way”. Ask them how far back they look for things like this. At what point does a DUI become a non-issue? It could be by the time he gets a degree and/or does entry level work adjacent to nursing, enough time may have passed that he will be okay.

        I don’t know if he had probation. But if he had a probation officer who can speak highly of his progress this might be a game changer also.

    4. Gimme Shelter*

      My daughter was recently accepted into the nursing program at her university and as a result, was fingerprinted and subjected to a background check. Not sure this applies everywhere, but seems to be par-for-the-course in Michigan. Has he entertained the idea of becoming a CENA first, and then working his way into nursing via that route? Best of luck to your brother!

        1. Gimme Shelter*

          You’re welcome! Here’s hoping that 2019 is better for him and that he’ll find a career he enjoys.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Background checks are standard in nursing programs. Schools generally have a compliance office/officer, who ensures all students get background checks, vaccination records, drug screenings, etc in annually.

        Students may go to a variety of hospitals for clinical rotations, and there may be different requirements at each. The compliance office compiles this and ensures students can attend their placements.

        Once your brother gets to the point of selecting schools to apply to, I’d ask to talk to their compliance person.

    5. Venus*

      The military is obviously a very different option, however I wanted to mention that they have nurses. It might be worthwhile to talk with recruiters to confirm whether or not they needed nurses right now, and the educational expectations (i.e. do you do the degree ahead of time? will the military pay for it?)

      1. Yvette*

        From what I have heard form people, nursing, EMTs, Firefighters, Law Enforcement etc. with a military background in the field are a considered desirable in the civilian world.

        1. Liet-Kinda*

          There is, however, a very large number of people ending military service with those qualifications, so it’s not a silver bullet.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I know of someone who had felony charges and was accepted as a firefighter. He worked his way up the ranks and is very well respected. One example is not a pattern but it is inspiration.

      2. Way to the Dawn*

        Yes I think if he does head to the military that having those right questions with the recruiter is important. Thank you!

        1. Veteran of the Wild Blue Yonder*

          The challenge will be the (2) DUI’s – severity of the offense, duration between the offense.

          Right now the Army and Air Force are not meeting their enlisted recruiting requirements which may offer some leniency but legal issues are less flexible. Officers are accessed through a different route and recruiter system. Recruiters in the retail centers typically focus on enlisted. So when you go to them, they’re going to focus on enlisted fields, not wanting to pass up the chance to recruit. If you want an officer recruiter, you must be firm in asking for that person who might be in a completely different office/city due to the region they cover.

          – A nurse is a commissioned field which means they must have a college degree to apply for and pass commissioning board then go to COT (Commissioned Officer Training) for their respective branch.

          – If the brother is not a college graduate they can 1) become a graduate and then apply or 2) enlist in a medical field, obtain their college degree and then apply for commissioning.

          – If the ‘only’ route presented by the recruiter is that they can’t offer a specific enlisted MOS/AFSC due to the legal issues, but other MOS/AFSC’s are available (as every job in the military has different type of accession requirements) then ask the brother if he’s willing to enter in one career field to get in, and then change at a later date. All fields have a different contract requirements so it may be 4-years before he can change over, but by that time he might have specific education requirements completed for his next step – either enlisted or officer medical fields.

          Air Force: Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program, or NECP. Enlisted Airmen are selected for the program attend college full-time at an accredited college while remaining on active duty. It is a different program than Direct Enlistment Commissioning program, which lets Airmen who already have a nursing degree and have passed the licensure exam to commission into the Nurse Corps.

          Army PRACTICAL NURSING SPECIALIST (68C) is an enlisted route The practical nursing specialist supervises or performs preventive, therapeutic, and emergency nursing care procedures under the supervision of a physician, nurse or NCO.

          Good luck

          1. Veteran of the Wild Blue Yonder*

            I was waiting for this to load to add in the Navy link and ‘how to go to a recruiter’

            I do not recommend going into a recruiters office without any type of research. Use the military branches respective recruiting websites to learn the fields (realize recruiters go to school to learn about all the fields and how to sell the military, but they didn’t work in those fields) and forums for more information (there’s a lot of ‘been there done that’ and ‘back in the day’ oldies there who aren’t close to the current operations). Even seek out some social media channels and YouTube as well. I took both my brothers to their recruiters and I did a lot of research on my Air Force career field choices before I went (I was a college graduate who considered enlisted and officer).

            Navy The Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP)

            The military is a good option to reinvent oneself. Just know it’s a rigid lifestyle with a lot of oversight. As time goes on he will be given many opportunities to lead, manage and grow. It’s a great life.

            1. Venus*

              A lot of useful info, thank you! My knowledge is not US, so I didn’t feel qualified to provide details. You raise a good point that a lot of information can be found on websites (most specifically the military’s) rather than recruiting offices. I only wanted to ensure that the OP knows that nursing and the military aren’t necessarily two different options, and I appreciate your adding to this.

    6. SJ*

      One thing to consider…nursing is a VERY valuable profession. Nursing will often take people who may have trouble with other fields. Definitely worth pursuing. Also might want to consider talking to recruiters about joining the military to become a nurse (they pay your way through school for a few years commitment). Good luck!

      1. Liet-Kinda*

        The military also has a need for so-called “bioenvironmental” specialists (which is stuff like radiation, industrial hygiene, nuclear/chemical/biological hazards, lead paint, asbestos mitigation, and other OSHA and environmental requirements), and hoooooly crap can you parlay that into a lucrative consulting practice on the flipside.

    7. dawbs*

      Tangential, but volunteer work might give him the references he needs for somne if this too.

      I work in a museum, and I do run background checks on ALL volunteers (even if you’re only there a day), and they can keep someone from volunteering, but we try to be accessible and a part of our community- which means it’s, sometimes someone with a DUI can volunteer for me, and yes I’ll sign off on community service hours, and yrs, I’ll be a reference/ write a letter of rec.

      Since hospitals have programs, call and see, it might give him a foot in the door

      1. OhNo*

        This is a good point, because having recent and glowing references can help overshadow older issues when he starts job hunting. As a bonus, as a volunteer in a hospital, he’d be able to see what kind of work different medical professionals do up-close and have a better idea of what career path or specialty he might be interested in.

    8. Emmie*

      I have experience with occupational licenses and criminal offenses which may impact employment. I’m excited for your brother, and that he’s found a path to sobriety. I recommend he do these things:
      * Every state has regulations explaining offenses that impact employment, and they are slightly different in each state. Locate the licensing board’s website and search for that information. If it is not there, he may find that information in statute.
      * DUIs are pretty common unfortunately. It would help a person’s application to show a record of compliance with laws; that there’s been a time lapse between the DUIs and his application; a steady employment history; have proof of his treatment for drinking such as AA or counseling; and show a period of time as a sober person. This will be especially important if he blew high, and / or with his multiple DUIs.
      * If he attends nursing school, I recommend that he submits his license application as early as possible. Can he apply while working on his pre-reqs? This allows the nursing board to review complicated cases, and shows that your brother is proactive.
      * He may wish to call the nursing board, or a local attorney about his licensing chances.
      * He may be approved with sanctions / monitoring, or delayed slightly in his application. Since I do not know the nature of your brother’s offenses or how high he blew, I cannot say that he would be approved.

      1. Way to the Dawn*

        Thank you so much for the info. This is all so helpful to know before he starts applying to schools.

        1. Emmie*

          You are very welcome. I should add the obvious: disclose all required info on the application such as his convictions. I recommend that he request copies for himself of his fingerprint based state police background check (in all states he’s lived), his fingerprint based FBI check, and his driving record (in all stated he’s lived.). This allows him to see what shows up on his record, so he can disclose the exact convictions on his application.

      2. Half-Caf Latte*

        He won’t be able to submit an application prior to graduating from nursing school. The school sends proof of graduation to the NCSBN, which administers the NCLEX (licensing exam in the US), which generates the ATT (authorization to test). That inital test is linked to a license application in one state.

        Nothing can be finalized until the school submits the paperwork, and the paperwork has to be perfect on the school’s end. Any hiccups delay testing.

        Source: My own ATT was delayed by my school back in the day, and now the course I teach is the last set of grades the office of student records needs to initiate the process. I am expected to get grades in toot sweet.

    9. Armchair Analyst*

      Could he be a 9-1-1 dispatcher in the call center? I feel like this might be a great start into the field?

    10. Half-Caf Latte*

      Anecdata time:

      I was a new assistant nurse manager, and we were interviewing a candidate for a nursing job. This person had come to nursing in their 30s, and had prior work experience in an unrelated field. We asked about the criminal history (believe it was misdemeanor but can’t recall) they indicated on the application, and they had a really great response about a DUI from their early twenties, and said that they were young and stupid, and really regretted the action and couldn’t change the past but had grown from it. I had no real hiring experience and didn’t know how to weight this, but my wonderful manager was pretty clear that one mistake should not hinder the rest of someone’s life.

      This person was a great nurse, and a really great addition to our team. My manager made the right call to hire them.

      All that said, you are going to have managers who are going to see this as a barrier and not want to deal with the perceived increased potential for drug diversion, so I think you are right to be at least considering the implications. My hunch is that psych/mental health nursing might be more sensitive to the realities of addiction, and may be an avenue for him. Something like 1% of all nurses are in mental health specialties, but there’s a real need for more nurses in those areas.

      A few more thoughts:

      education First, the field as a whole is really moving towards the Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) as the entry-level degree. This is happening faster in some pockets of the country than others, driven by large academic medical centers. In my neck of the woods, more or less every hospital require a BSN as an entry to practice, and it’s absolutely required at all of the prestige/higher paying organizations. In this town, I would tell someone thinking of going into nursing that they needed to only look at the BSN programs.* If your brother can find work as an ADN at a hospital that provides tuition support to return for a BSN, that’s often a more economical solution if those programs are offered in your area, and hospitals regularly hire ADNs.

      Substance Abuse Programs for RNs Many states have programs that enroll currently practicing nurses into a monitoring/rehabilitation program, which allows them to continue practicing and avoid discipline by the board and loss of licensure. Two examples are the Wisconsin Professional Assistance Procedure ( and New Jersey’s RAMP ( I’d encourage you to contact the board and the state nurses’ association where your brother is looking to be located, and find out if there is a similar program. While he wouldn’t be eligible to participate since these are geared towards licensed individuals, I imagine they could provide you with a lot of guidance and insight.

      Tobacco use Is your brother a tobacco user? I ask because in my clinical experience, there are more smokers in the recovery community than the general population. Again, this is a regional difference, but around here all of the major hospital employers are tobacco free, and require all new hires (not just nurses) to be non-tobacco users. To be clear, this doesn’t mean “I don’t smoke at work”, this means completely tobacco free for the last 12 months. More and more employers are setting this standard, and once one health system in an area enacts it, the rest follow, in my experience.

      *Yes, these are more costly/time intensive than the ADN programs, and harder to get into. I fully recognize that that’s a barrier for many folks, especially non-traditional students. The reality is that the job market around here is much stronger for BSNs, and I have capital F Feelings about the professional respect and autonomy of nurses and how those are influenced by the educational entry to practice requirements as compared to our interprofessional peers. There are areas of the country where this is not yet the case, but the national trend is that the BSN is becoming more common, and the ADN less so.

      1. Way to the Dawn*

        Thank you so much for all of that information! My mother is an LPN and she also agreed with him getting a BSN if he went into the field. I do really feel that with his passion and determination he would be an excellent nurse – I just hope someone like your manager gives him a chance!

    11. Mia2019*

      I don’t do hiring for nurses, but I do insurance panel credentialing in a healthcare field. A DUI would never be a non issue for us, but it doesn’t mean a deal breaker. If a candidate disclosed a DUI, we would ask for more information. Basically to see it’s been “dealt with”, it it an ongoing problem? Was treatment sought? Is the client taking responsibility and moving forward? Was it very recent or a while back? Many people in the mental health field that work with addiction come from an addiction background, so it’s not uncommon. What’s most important is to never hide it or down play it. That is always a red flag. I agree with other who said to check directly with the licensing board. Talk to a person if you can, don’t just read the website. Often the regulations can be convoluted, dense and hard to understand if you aren’t super familiar with them.

    12. Tigger*

      My Boyfriend is in the same boat as your brother (He has one DUI). He can 100% take classes to be an EMT. My boyfriend got his EMT certificate last October, is working as a ski patrol medic on the weekends and a plasma collection center during the week. A lot of those medical skills can translate into non EMT roles.

      He talked to a lawyer up here in MN and they told him once his probation ends in 2 years he can work on an ambulance and has a “standing” offer from a healthcare system that really likes him but couldn’t hire him because of the driving record.

    13. chi chan*

      I have some suggestions. A lot of people only think of doctors and nurses but actually there are a lot of allied professions supporting patients. Speech therapist, audiologist, perfusionist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, medical technologist, clincial psychologist. Some of these might have less strict requirements because you are not exposed to drugs in them.

    14. chi chan*

      I have some suggestions. A lot of people only think of doctors and nurses but there are a lot of allied professions supporting patients. Speech therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, perfusionist, medical technologist, audiologist.

    15. JustAskingForAFriend*

      This was recently on The Indicator by Planet Money (an NPR podcast). It was talking about a program that helps nurses find jobs specifically after they’d recovered from opioid addition. I know that’s not exactly the same but maybe that will help. The org that helped them was called Parkdale Center for Professionals and I think they were in Cali. Here is the full transcript and a link:

    16. JustAskingForAFriend*

      Planet Money Indicator (NPR) just did a podcast on this. I can’t post the link I suppose because of it being a link, but google Planet Money Indiator of the Year Opioids and you should find it.

      It talks about a guy who was a nurse, developed an opioid addiction, and couldn’t get hired again until he found an organization that specifically helps people with that type of role after an addiction or similar type situation. I think there are definitely programs that want to give people a little help to work through the red tape.

    17. FridayFeels*

      I work with people who have criminal convictions, so I see this every day and your brother is definitely not alone! It is a possible issue for employment, as well as healthcare licensing, but he shouldn’t get discouraged! Much depends on your state laws, the circumstances of the convictions, and (of course) a given employer’s policies. I would highly recommend contacting a lawyer with a specialty in this area to see what his legal options are, and what the specific concerns might be about background checks and licensing in your state. (Local legal aids and your state’s bar association are a good place to start if he doesn’t have the resources to consult a private attorney.)

    18. CupcakeCounter*

      My BIL got one and had no problem getting a new job because of several factors:
      -he was very forthright about it in all interviews, including the circumstances leading up to it
      -he admitted his guilt and attended all court mandated driving, counseling, etc…sessions with 100% attendance
      -had changed several significant things about his life that show read as remorse (which he has even though he didn’t hurt anyone or cause any damage but knows he could have)
      -has continued to stay active in AA and is working to become a sponsor

      He doesn’t work in the medical field but we live in a VERY conservative area.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        he should also look into positions at in-patient rehab centers – they are well known for giving opportunities to people who have gone through addition/gotten in trouble for drug or alcohol related incidents.

    19. Way to the Dawn*

      I wanted to comment all one last time to sincerely thank every single one of you for responding. My mother called today saying how upset my brother was when he found out today that he couldn’t be an EMT. When I told her about all the information that you all gave me, she cried. Hopefully I can use all of the information that you have given me to give my brother some hope and an idea of all of the opportunities that he has. Thank you!

    20. Temit*

      there are other allied healthcare professions he might consider – Radiology Tech, Nuclear Medicine, Respiratory Tech (huge growth area). These are unspoken heroes in healthcare who have just as much passion for patient care. In terms of working in an urgent care/oncall area, as long as he can get to the healthcare facility within 30 minutes his DUIs wouldn’t be an issue.

  4. Sphinx Programmer*

    What are good sites for practicing programming questions and brushing up on skills? Old Job had me juggling complex projects in multiple languages simultaneously. Current Job has devolved into do simplistic tasks in one language and I feel like all my skills and knowledge have been draining away over the past couple years. I’d like my next job to be more like Old Job, but I need to be comfortable in various languages again.

    So far I’ve started with Codility’s exercises since you can use any language. What other sites have you found useful for getting interview ready or just for staying current in a language?

    Languages to brush up on: C#, Python, C++, SQL, Angular2/Javascript

    1. ArtK*

      No answer for you, but I’ll be following this with interest. My job is very constrained in technology and my skills are ossifying. Plus, there are lots of new technologies that I can’t get experience with, but are absolute requirements for many positions. For instance, I’ve dabbled, briefly, with Angular but need a lot more practice.

      1. Penny Hartz*

        Same here. I’m looking to move up professionally to where I was before a physical move took me down a notch, career-wise, but at this (admittedly, very nice) job, we have a very bright line dividing us “content providers/creatives” from the digital team, and every position description for what I want to do is looking for experience in both. I HAD experience in the software/deployment side of things, but that was in my last job and the technology changes SO fast.

        I’m making it a resolution to do as much free, online training as I can in various platforms so instead of saying “Well, I proof emails and newsletters in Marketo” I can at least say I know how Marketo works.

    2. Matty*

      I used to use this (with Python) when it was CodeFights and they kept it fun. The challenges were not too long, so you don’t have to devote a day to doing a challenge. They are explicitly doing interview prep now, and are using this as a way for companies to find candidates, so you may want to look at the privacy terms, etc.

    3. Rachel*

      Code-academy is a pretty good source – especially for brushing up or basic learning. Best of luck!

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        I’ve been using Codecademy to learn SQL and have been extremely pleased!

    4. Mrs. Badcrumble*

      I like CodeAcademy and Coursera — CodeAcademy is extra good if you’re just starting up a language, I can’t speak to their more advanced stuff because that’s not free. Coursera can be great because you can work on your skills in a context. Some courses are still free, but some now require a fee, so YMMV. Caveats — I was only looking into Python and R.

    5. Khaz*

      Codecademy is always good for brushing up on the basics, but if these are languages you already know I’d personally recommend just setting up a compiler for yourself and running through some super simple (1-2 hours a piece) projects in each language; you’d be surprised at how much comes back to you when you start using them and trying to think of how to do something again.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      Hello Spynx!

      I find that it’s actually really easy to get back into the language when you have been off it several years. It had been years since I needed to do VBA and after a fuzzy couple of hours I was impressed with how quickly I was like – oh yeah it’s ‘For each i from 2 to n’

      After all coding is are more so understanding the logic and flow of machine steps. Each language has it’s own Grammer but it’s easy to pick that back up after being away a while.

    7. Dan*

      You might enjoy Advent of Code – it just finished (runs through dec 25th, obv), but the problems are still up, and they’re a little more story-ish than stuff like hackerrank. If you want to do more serious study, especially if you want a job at a FAANG-type company, you should get a copy of Cracking the Coding Interview and do as many of the exercises as you can.

    8. spock*

      Last time I was going through interviews, all the prep in the world didn’t get me as far as just going in and doing those first few coding interviews. You should definitely study if you feel like you’re rusty, doing algo questions was really helpful for me when interviewing after a year of code-free liberal arts courses in college, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if it still takes a few interviews to get all the way back up to speed. Not a reflection of our skills at all, interviews are just a really weird environment for solving odd programming problems that often aren’t representative of the job.

    9. olusatrum*

      After doing a code challenge on HackerRank as part of an interview process, I’ve been using it on my own to learn. My skill level is pretty basic so I’m not sure how well it scales up to people who actually code for a living, but thought I’d mention it. Unfortunately I think you have to do the challenges in the languages they say, but it has challenges in most of the languages you listed, plus some general stuff like algorithms and data structures

    10. Aphrael*

      I found the book “Cracking the Coding Interview” has (more general) helpful practice problems.

      I personally practice by answering StackOverflow questions – they tend to be more real-world and interesting niche problems than most textbooks.

    11. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      CodeSchool has excellent mini lessons for all coding languages and skill levels. A fun way to learn is through CodeCombat, where you fight your way through trolls and dungeons as you learn code. It’s geared towards kids, but it’s super fun!

    12. Kes*

      Besides some ones people have already mentioned like Hackerrank and Codecademy, I know Project Euler also has a series of problems that I think you can solve in various languages.

      Another thing to consider is that if you want to brush up on a framework like Angular or React, you might want to come up with an idea for just a very basic type of website with a few features, and then build a simple version of that in whatever framework you have in mind (this will also mean you’re working with HTML/CSS/Javascript/Typescript in a more ‘real’ context)

      1. The Grammarian*

        Same–I’m commenting to follow. As a technical writer, I feel like I need to keep learning to stay relevant.

    13. SusanIvanova*

      When I needed ObjectiveC, I found an interesting open source app that didn’t have a Mac version and ported it. It’s in the App Store and I’m in Apple, so it worked ;)

      And related – anyone who wants to get into tech writing, open source projects are *always* in search of someone to take that on.

    14. Nesprin*

      Euler problems! A set of computer science type programs designed to get you algorithm feet wet.

  5. Susan K*

    I am a Teapot Handle Analyst, and one of my coworkers, Fergus, recently got promoted from Teapot Spout Analyst to Teapot Assembly Manager (in the same department, but not my direct manager), and now I am replacing him as Teapot Spout Analyst.

    Fergus has been severely neglecting his job for years. He left me a 4-foot-long file drawer jam-packed full of spout inspection reports, spout repair records, spout performance tests, and other paperwork that needs to be reviewed, scanned, and electronically filed (these are official records that we are legally required to retain for a certain number of years).

    Each Teapot Analyst is supposed to review all data in the database related to our component at least weekly and mark it as reviewed. We make sure all the required measurements were obtained, entered correctly, within tolerance, corrections made for measurements out of tolerance, and look for indications of recurring problems. Fergus hasn’t reviewed anything in 3 months, and before that, only sporadically. 3-4 times per year, he would review the first page of data but not the other 5-10 pages since the last time he reviewed data.

    As a manager, Fergus now has access to reassign projects in the tracking software without asking/telling me or my manager. He was given 2 to 4 months to complete most of these projects, and he has been reassigning them to me, unstarted, just before the deadlines. I went on vacation for a week, and while I was gone, he reassigned 5 projects that were due the day after I got back from vacation.

    Ok, now for my question: how should I approach my manager about all of this? I don’t think my manager has ANY idea about the sorry state in which Fergus left the spouts program, and I don’t think he would be cool with Fergus screwing me over like this. The problem is, Fergus is a really charming guy and has convinced my manager and grand-boss that he was an awesome Teapot Analyst (hence the promotion). He is a very smooth talker and can talk his way out of anything. Plus, nobody in management has any background in spouts, which is why they’ve simply trusted him to do his job without really checking up on him.

    If I go to my manager with a list of things Fergus has neglected, I suspect my manager will ask Fergus about it and he will convince my manager that I’m blowing everything way out of proportion; he just left me a few things and they’re all easy; X, Y, Z aren’t done because someone else was supposed to do them, etc. I have a sinking feeling that no matter what I say, Fergus is going to come out smelling like roses and I’ll look like a lazy, whining, slacker trying to blame my incompetence on Fergus. But I’m afraid if I’m too coy about it and just frame it as needing help with my workload or not being able to meet the impossible deadlines, it will just look like I can’t handle my job.

    1. Dasein9*

      Ugh! I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

      I would gather the documentation for all this neglected stuff and ask to meet with my boss for the purpose of clarifying my priorities and processes so as to avoid missed deadlines. Asking your supervisor how to deal with this still takes responsibility for it instead of slacking or whining, but also gives the supervisor a chance to see that you’re being given impossible tasks.

      1. erynlibrarian*

        I love this answer. You may not even have to mention Fergus’ name at all in the conversation. Just frame it as an ask for help prioritizing the work.

        1. Rachel*

          You might also see if your software shows when things were re-assigned, or if you get email confirmations of when they were re-assigned to you.

          “Hi Boss, I was out on vacation from XX-YY. When I returned, I was catching up on emails and noticed that I’ve been assigned A-F with deadlines rapidly approaching! Is there a specific reason these were shifted to me? Can we assess the current state of these items together? and prioritized? Can they be distributed in order to maintain the listed deadline?

          1. valentine*

            When you sit down with your manager, mention the 4-foot drawer and ask whether Fergus is meant to finish his tasks or whether they can be redistributed among various people, instead of him assigning them to you last-minute (especially whilst you’re away!). Don’t just accept that you have to take up Fergus’s slack. Presumably you’re having to neglect your own paperwork to do his.

            The bigger problem is the lack of oversight. No one was checking in on Fergus, yet they promoted him. No one knows what he’s doing to you and your colleagues are dumping on you when they could’ve alerted someone to Fergus’s neglect ages ago. (Perhaps they did, but, again, it’s management’s to solve.) If they don’t right this ship for you, consider whether you want to stay there. Maybe any position where you’re not cleaning up after Fergus at his direction is preferable to this, even if you stay with the company.

          2. TooTiredToThink*

            Yep; and if there is no history that shows when tasks were re-assigned; I would start printing/screen shot each day to show that items are being assigned last minute.

        2. CM*

          +1 to all of this.

          OP — you know the reason why Fergus is assigning you projects at the last minute and why he didn’t do half of his job while he was there. He’s a lazy jerk. And you want other people to know he’s a lazy jerk. And your temptation is to TELL THEM he’s a lazy jerk. But don’t. Instead, describe what’s happening without assigning any explanation to it. “Gosh, I keep getting last minute assignments for projects I don’t have time to complete. What should we do about that?”

          They’ll figure it out or they won’t. But hopefully they’ll stop the last minute projects from coming.

      2. Venus*

        Yes, this is a good way to phrase it! I would also be tempted to say something like “The records for Spouts have been done way X (based on documentation A,B, and C), although I’m used to doing them for Handles in way Y. How would you prefer that I do them in future?”

        1. designbot*

          “Would you like me to maintain the paper records system for spouts? We’d already gone digital in Handles.”

    2. Four lights*

      It might help to be very specific. Maybe you can make a spreadsheet re the status of the various projects/reports so that you have a list of each one, when it was created, when any work if any, may have been done on it.

    3. Auburn*

      With someone like that I suspect you aren’t even seeing the worst of it. You’ve probably only scratched the surface of the neglect. Yikes. You should definitely go to your boss and you should be ready for blowback from Fergus. Be methodical. Have a list of all unfinished work. And evidence of all the neglected paperwork. Don’t diminish and be very direct. Just make
      It clear you are not trying to get him in trouble you are concerned about making sure all of this legally required paperwork is complete due to the potential liability to the company.

      1. Susan K*

        Yeah, I’m sure I’m going to keep finding more and more problems. I brought up spout issues with Fergus when I was a Teapot Maker and he ignored them, and he did the same to the other Teapot Makers. Now the Teapot Makers are coming to me with all of the issues Fergus ignored because they know I’ll actually fix them, but it’s going to be a long time before I can catch up.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Can you ask them to make those requests via email and confirm when they previously submitted them? That way you would have some additional evidence to show your supervisor of the nature and timecale of the issues.

    4. StressedButOkay*

      Document, document, document. Even if Fergus wasn’t a smooth talker, having as much proof as you can before going to your manager is the way to go. If he’s reassigning items he failed to do to you through the tracking software, is there any way of highlighting in the tracker the original due date and the original person assigned?

      If you still have that giant drawer to go through, I would chronicle each one (depending on how worried you are, you could go as far as scanning in parts/all that show that Fergus left them), as well.

      1. Susan K*

        Yes, the tracking software has these details in the audit trail, so I can prove that Fergus was assigned something on November 4 with a due date of January 4 and reassigned it to me on December 28. There is an automatic report that gets sent to everyone in the department every day, and things that are due in less than a week show up in red. There have been an awful lot of red assignments with my name lately, but the report doesn’t show that it was already red when it was assigned to me, and I’m sure my manager isn’t comparing previous reports to see that all my red assignments were assigned to Fergus last week. It probably just looks like I am waiting until the last minute to get my work done! I bet if my manager asks Fergus, he will say that he told me about these projects weeks ago but just remembered to reassign them.

        1. TootsNYC*

          if they weren’t assigned to you in the system, they weren’t assigned to you.

          Sort of, “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen”

        2. Bagpuss*

          DO you have access to older reports? i.e. can you show that until Fergus got promoted and stopped being responsible for these tasks, your records show that you deal with tasks promptly and are not in the habit of leaving things until the last minute?
          Are there policies bout how tasks should be reassigned?i.e. IF Fergus had verbally told you and failed to update the system, would that be a breach of the procedure? I think being able to show both that your normal record is to deal with things promptly and in time, AND that the red tasks were assigned to you at the last minute and when they were already ‘red’ would suggest to any reasonable manager that the problem was unlikely to be with you!
          Particularly if it is backed up by records from other employees that they have jobs backed up which Fergus failed to address but which you are dealing with or have dealt with.

          1. Susan K*

            Yes, I have the older reports, and the software also has an audit trail that shows when projects are assigned or reassigned. I’m sure Fergus can come up with a plausible story about how he verbally told me about it long before he reassigned it in the software, or it was almost done when he reassigned it to me, or it was easy and should have only taken me an hour, etc. But the software doesn’t lie (unlike Fergus, haha), so I can at least prove that he waited until the last minute to reassign to me. I’ve only been a Teapot Analyst for about 6 months, so I don’t have that long of a track record to show that I’m normally more on top of things.

            I don’t know of any policies about how tasks are reassigned; it’s generally at the managers’ discretion. That’s why the managers have the ability in the software to assign or reassign projects. I’m sure my manager is fine with Fergus reassigning spout projects to me, since that is now my job. The issue is just that he should have finished or been working on many of these projects before he got promoted and he wasn’t, so now I have 10% of the time to do 100% of the project, all while catching up on the files, data review, etc. that he was neglecting.

            1. Bawab*

              I would recommend heading off his lies. When you talk to your supervisor about being reassigned his tasks, you could always say something like “it would be easier to manage the addition to my workload if I were given a heads up on these tasks, but I’m finding out about them when they’re reassigned in the system.” And ” They’re also coming to me unstarted, so I’m having to scramble to complete them from scratch days before they’re due.”

              Do the same thing with your other concerns about his excuses. Mention them when discussing the issue with your supervisor so that they come across as the obvious lie they are when he uses them.

    5. Always Tired*

      Is there any “paper trail” in the system or otherwise that would show when these things were reassigned and by whom? How are you alerted to the reassignments? Might help to take that or any other “evidence” you can collect to a conversation with your manager.

      Also, are any of these deadlines adjustable? If so, might be worth a direct conversation with Fergus about that if he’s the one managing that aspect of the system.

      1. Susan K*

        Yes, there is an audit trail in the tracking software that shows when assignments were made or changed — if you go looking for it. The main project screen doesn’t show any difference between something that was assigned to me all along or reassigned the day before it was due. I don’t get any alerts for reassignments — they just show up on the assignment list on my dashboard. It sucks because my list gets longer every time I log in!

        1. Anonymous Penguin*

          Can you email Fergus and make it explicit that he didn’t notify you of these before vacation, and that you would like for him to email you any time he assigns something to you? If you can get him to admit in writing that he didn’t notify that would be awesome, but at least you can have it down that he’s either not following procedure by not notifying you or reassigning things last minute.

    6. Drax*

      I’d word this more like “Boss, I’ve been having an issue with Fergus assigning me last minute projects while I’m trying to sort out the backlog I inherited. I’m not sure how to prioritize this as it’s an overwhelming amount, should my focus be on the new or the old”. Make sure you are documenting everything before that conversation (unless there are time stamps that can back up what you are saying)

      That way it looks like your asking for guidance instead of saying Fergus is a hot mess. It’s easier to have someone dig in and make their own conclusions then trying to convince someone that the golden boy is bad at his job. I also say this assuming that you are sure it would come back on you if you pointed these out as errors.

    7. LKW*

      Use facts vs charm. If you have reports that should have been filed moths ago, give your boss a very clear understanding of how big the problem is, and how long it’s been going on. Go through the four foot file and then summarize with specific, relevant information.
      How many files remain open
      How many files remain open that are between 3-4 months overdue; 5- 7 months overdue; 8-10 months overdue; 11-12 months overdue, older than 1 year.
      Of these reports, how many indicate that there was a problem? of these reports that indicate there was a problem, how many indicate there was a recurring problem? How long ago would this recurring problem been identified if it had been reported on time (what risk has the business been carrying unknowingly).
      How much time is it going to take for you to close the reports and determine the scope of the problems identified and trace back for recurring problems?

      As for the new assignments, is there an audit trail that shows when something was assigned? If so, you can show that something was assigned when you were out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this. Just give the facts.
        IRL, I found myself with boxes of files. Each “file” was folded in a trifold and stapled closed. There were many boxes. Once I removed the staples and unfolded the papers and put in order by year, the papers filled NINE filing cabinet drawers and covered decades of work. I would estimate each file drawer contains 400-500 files. This is conservative it could be more than that. To clean one drawer will take several months given my givens.

        Notice here I just related a disaster story and did not name any names. I did not say how this mess came into being, I just stated what I found. I also just subtly said, “It will take years to clean this up.” One would arrive at the conclusion by multiplying nine drawers times several months and see, yep, this will take years to fix.

        My boss is very aware of dates. She knows what work predates my work. When we dig into these files she can glance at the date and know instantly that I had nothing to do with the condition the file is in.

        Loop your boss in ASAP. This guy is basically giving you work that he failed to do. He is asking (demanding) that you cover it up for him. Refuse to play along. First, only your boss can assign you work. Second, this may not be your boss’ priority at the moment. Third, there may be other things going on and your boss may very well be aware of stuff that you don’t even know about.

        You saw how I measured my problem by the file cabinet drawer full. Find a quick way of measuring what is there. This could be by projecting out how many reports should have been done. I was able to deduce that each of the files from my setting contained NOT less than 6 errors and perhaps more. So if one multiplies this out I need to fix thousand and thousands of errors. Hopefully, I will be reincarnated so I can finish this in my next life.

        If you can, print out reports that show incomplete reporting. Make sure it has the date of printing on it. If this not possible take screen shots or something to show what is missing. Definitely save his emails asking you to do the work he should have done.

        Stand up for you. Yes, it’s exhausting. Make yourself stick to reporting facts. Instead of saying, “Bob did not do the October report and now I have to do it.” say, “The October report was not done, so do you want me do to it, Boss?” (Just an example of wording, I understand your problem is bigger than just the “October report”.)

        Overall pattern: “Boss, I have X problem. How do you want me to handle it?”

    8. Snubble*

      You can definitely say something about the projects being transferred over to you last minute. Even if your manager won’t want to hear the full story of the state Fergus left the database and filing in, assigning you work that he must have known about for months, which he could have transferred to you weeks ago, the day before the deadline, is something they should want to correct. It’s totally reasonable to bring up the last-minute projects and ask that they have a word with Fergus about assigning work in good time.
      I’d also make – even just for myself – a short writeup of the state things are in right now. Estimates of file numbers and quantities, number of pages of data to review, scanning to be done, and so on. And track progress through that catch-up work. You can use that when you come to performance reviews and planning meetings. Which is pretty much the ist of things Fergus has neglected, but phrased as “here are my current tasks and projects” instead of “here’s the evidence”.

      1. Susan K*

        Thanks, that’s a good idea to track my progress on the catchup work. It’s going to take me a lot of time and effort just to get caught up on the backlog, and more work is going to be coming in all the while, so it might be good to have something to show for the rate at which I’m clearing the backlog.

        1. TechWorker*

          Definitely definitely loop your manager into all of this. They need to know what the workload is (and who knows, maybe some of the projects are less important than you fear, maybe not).

          We refer to stuff that hasn’t been done but should have been as ‘debt’ – so when you’re giving your boss estimates that might be useful terminology? (Or at least useful to split things up between what’s new vs what’s old).

          Also, Fergus is a prick. I’ve inherited a project which is not exactly in an ideal state and the backlog is bigger than the number of people… some of the stuff the previous manager did was a bit neglectful but sounds like absolutely nothing compared to Fergus neglect!

        2. Blue_eyes*

          Definitely record the rate at which you’re clearing the backlog. That will show progress, and help make your case that the backlog was not caused by your negligence. And also make your boss aware of it now, which shows that you are being proactive and a conscientious worker. If the backlog is that large, and the filings are required by law, your company may even want to loan someone from another department or bring a in a temp to help with some of the “grunt” work of scanning and filing.

    9. Someone On-Line*

      I agree about being specific and, rather than going in blaming Fergus, ask your boss how he would like you to prioritize your tasks. For instance, “It’s my understanding that these files are to be scanned and reviewed weekly. As there is a backlog of three months, how would you like me to prioritize?” “I see that these assignments were given to me while on vacation and due the day I got back. How would you like me to prioritize?” And keep asking until your boss starts to notice a pattern.

      1. AL*

        And, depending on your feel for the work, perhaps suggest prioritisation levels “I think that ABC should have priority over XYZ but want to check in with you first”

    10. Qwerty*

      Escalate this! Documentation is your friend! The 5 projects that were assigned to you while you were on vacation are a good starting point.

      In addition to all of the neglected work, Fergus needs to tell you when you are assigned tasks! Do you report to Fergus at all? You mentioned that your manager doesn’t even know Fergus is assigning things to you – that should be a red flag to your manager.

      When talking to your manager, keep the focus on the work and processes that aren’t being followed rather than your emotions. Present the facts and the outcomes and show that you are trying to work with your manager to protect the company. Don’t say that you need help with your workload, say that you inherited a position that was behind in its deadlines (like the vacation projects). While AAM hasn’t answered this exact question, there’s a lot of examples on the phrasing to use when presenting problems to your boss that you can practice with and modify to your own situation.

      Good luck!

    11. Llellayena*

      “Boss, I’ve been working through the backlog of reviews from before I was in this position, but I just received these five new projects with a very short deadline and I’m not going to be able to get it all done in the time I have. Can you let me know how you want these prioritized?”
      The key words in that are “backlog from before” and “just received”. These let your manager know you’re doing more work than you would normally have if there was no backlog and that by the time you were assigned the projects, the deadlines were already tight. If you have a summary of how long the 5 projects will take (X and Y will take 3 hours each, but A, B and C are a day and a half each). Documented information is more difficult to refute, so a list of when data was received and when (and who) reviewed it would be a good thing to keep. Hang on to the emails assigning you projects as well. With this phrasing, you’re not accusing Fergus but you are flagging that project assignment might need more oversight. You probably can’t do much about the backlog, but if they do end up doing something about Fergus, the documentation will help them.

    12. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Document, document, document. Fergus can’t argue with hard deadlines. Make a list of all the work that he neglected while he had his old job. Take that to the boss. In a separate meeting document all the deadlines he has given you since his promotion. Have this meeting with him and the other bosses so he has to explain in front of them why he piled on the work. With Fergus sitting there, ask him what he would like prioritized. Use historical records to show that his deadlines are unrealistic. Again, documents any interaction you have with him. If he gives you A,B, and C each of which requires 40 hours to complete, ask him to rank them in order of importance. This is where he gets bitten in the behind.

      1. StellaBella*

        I agree that having a meeting with your boss and with Fergus, “to aid in this transition and be able to prioritise work from this backlog” while having Fergus help to explain all this is brilliant. All the things here are good ideas in terms of tracking, getting ideas for how to prioritise from your boss, but I like this the best as it calls him on the mat and makes it clear he cannot weasel his way out of this bs. Starting with the assignments given to you the day you returned. Please do this and update us next week!

    13. hbc*

      I think you need to sort out the purpose of going to your manager. If it’s to get Fergus in trouble, then yeah, you’re probably going to have a hard time with a smooth-talking opponent and managers who don’t really understand what you do.

      If it’s to avoid getting thrown under the bus, then his smooth talking doesn’t matter. “Hey, boss, I just wanted to let you know that there’s a backlog of data to review and scan. I don’t know why, but since it’s a requirement that we keep it, I’ll start working my way through it. I’m going to focus on keeping up the most recent data so we’re clean from my start date, unless you object.” Whether or not Fergus gets his deserved shade for this is irrelevant to your objective.

      Also, “I’m finding projects are being assigned way too late for me to do them on time. Can we find a way to get these assigned sooner or have the due dates reevaluated? Five two-month projects with due dates in a week are too many to handle.”

      Basically, come at everything like you’re sure Fergus had good reasons for doing what he did, and you’re just expressing the impact on you and asking for guidance/support.

      1. Susan K*

        Yeah, part of my problem is that I’m not really sure what I want my manager to do about this. My main concern is that I don’t want to look like I’m failing at my job when the reality is that I’m behind because Fergus set me up to fail. I’m a hard worker and I’m good at what I do (and I take my laptop home every weekend to do even more work at home), so I think I can eventually get things under control, but it will be quite a while before I get there. I also don’t want my hard work on catching up to go unnoticed, because if my manager doesn’t know there’s a huge backlog, he won’t know what an incredible accomplishment it will be to clear the backlog.

        There is a process for getting extensions on projects, but extensions are typically only approved for really good reasons (e.g., the part needed to repair something is out of stock and won’t be available until after the deadline), so I don’t want to depend on that.

        1. Blue*

          Yeah, I think you need to apprise them of the situation now that you have a clear picture of what’s going on. You can just matter-of-factly explain (and, more importantly, demonstrate) the state of things when you took over from Fergus and your plan for attacking the remainder. It’s perfectly reasonable to say, “As I’ve gotten farther into this, I’m finding that it’s going to be a substantial project that we hadn’t factored into my workload over the upcoming months. My plan for resolving this backlog is X, but I wanted to loop you in and clear it with you because it’s likely that my progress on [other projects] will slow down a bit until this is complete.”

          And definitely make sure the boss is in the know about the last-minute assignment of tasks. He’s probably not going to stop that without intervention from above, and if your boss respects you and knows you’re a good worker, she’s not going to be ok with you being set up to fail on a regular basis. Don’t worry about convincing TPTB that Fergus is The Worst – just be prepared with copious documentation that makes clear that you have a problem the boss should be aware and keep the focus on that. (Besides, it sounds like the evidence should speak for itself…)

        2. Not So NewReader*

          You don’t have to decide what you manager should do about this. That’s up to your boss. In order for your boss to make a decision he has to be aware of the problem. Whatever your boss decides is what it is. Hopefully your boss is a reasonable person and things go well for you and not so well for slacker dude.

          In this story I had a bad boss. I went on vacation, after I set up the work to do over my week off. I even made TWO sets of samples and put them in a very visible spot. I labeled everything and left a note on my desk.
          Of course, I got back and the task was messed up beyond belief. Even my bad boss caved, after I showed her what I done (samples, notes) to avoid problems. She had my slacker dude fix all the problems. He became scary angry and accused me of weaseling my way out of work. Fortunately, my boss saw through all this and slacker dude had to finish cleaning up his mess. And she was not that great a boss.
          Be strategic, lay out the facts so even a casual viewer can clearly see this is someone else’s error not yours.

        3. ket*

          You especially want to document that you’re working weekends, evenings or any extra amount of hours to finish this — you don’t want a situation where the work goes unappreciated/unnoticed, or where that amount of work becomes “the new normal” and it never ends!

        4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Don’t defeat yourself by assuming that Fergus can talk his way out of everything before you even try to document it all! His charm may start to evaporate once your boss sees all the facts. Just be as detached as possible and make it about documenting the situation and asking for a plan to tackle the backlog, rather than trying to challenge Fergus. You won’t look like you are failing if you adequately document what has been happening.

    14. Blue Eagle*

      How about going with the stupid and cheerful approach. Instead of approaching your manager with statements of fact about what Fergus hasn’t done that he was supposed to do, how about approaching your manager with questions about how does he want you to handle an assignment that Fergus gave you while you were on vacation that was due the day that you returned. Approach it as something that you don’t really understand why there was a delay between Fergus getting the project 4 months ago and you not getting until last week and what is the process supposed to be for assigning projects?

      Regarding the backlog of items, approach this in the question format too (i.e. “I was going through the files and noticed _________ from x number of years that haven’t been __________ — my understanding on taking this promotion is that the files would be up to date, and that I would be taking care of the paperwork of teapot spouts from the date of my promotion, but now I’m wondering what to do with all of these old files. Should I just leave them there and the company can worry about it if they are actually needed in the future or can you hire some temporary help to go through all of the old stuff and process them or how should it be handled.”)

      These may not be exactly the appropriate words, as I’m just thinking out loud, but you get the idea. And if this idea isn’t exactly right, maybe it will stimulate other ideas for you.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Yes, I like these ideas. The focus is not on Fergus, but on the fact that your own workload doesn’t make sense. You don’t want to set up an expectation that you will maintain a crushing workload going on.

    15. Working with professionals*

      First take a deep breath, say every awful thing you need to about Fergus’ lack of decency and then put together your documentation – list all the items you have to complete with the date you found out along with the deadline dates and the actual estimated time you’ll need to complete each item. Have a preliminary plan of your own on how you think you should handle the current workload to share so your manager sees you’ve been working on the problem and then ask her how she’d like you to handle them in case she has different ideas. Use a very neutral tone and discuss them as your projects – no mention of Fergus. Your manager already knows where this stuff came from. Making this about your projects shows your manager that you are not trying to point fingers or assign blame, only trying to get direction and prioritize all the fires you have. Once you’ve discussed these issues and received guidance, ask for clarification on the projects getting assigned to you in the system without notice to you, specifically for how to improve the communication in the future. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this issue.

      1. Susan K*

        I’m not 100% sure my manager does know where this stuff came from. One of my coworkers told me that our grand-boss commented a while ago that all of the Teapot Analysts seem to be working at a frantic pace except Fergus — because Fergus is so awesome at his job that he works more efficiently than the rest of us. Um, no, it’s because Fergus just wasn’t bothering to do his work!

        I don’t like to throw people under the bus, but in this case, I’m afraid that if I’m not crystal clear about Fergus’s role in the situation, I will be throwing myself under the bus. I’m afraid that if I go to him with a plan to handle my workload, he’ll be scratching his head wondering why I’m struggling so much that I need such a plan. After all, (in the manager’s mind) Fergus got it all done without having to go to the manager for help.

        1. Blue*

          You’re not throwing him under the bus! He created this mess himself – don’t make yourself a martyr trying to clean it up. You can be explicitly clear that about his role in this by focusing purely on the documentation he’s left you. Honestly, I would sit my boss down and show them both the giant stack of records and a few specific examples from the stack to make clear the extent of the issue. It’s hard to pretend 4 feet of unprocessed documents don’t exist/were an oversight on his part. But, as others have said, you’re showing them all that as context, to explain the challenge that’s been dumped in your lap. The conversation you’re actually having with your boss is how you’re going to deal with that challenge.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            Except Susan needs to be really really careful not to sound like she is speaking I’ll of Fergus. Even just saying – Fergus left a backog can come across bad for Susan. Ask me how I know!

            She should talk to her boss but be very careful how she does. I provided some scripts/ideas for this below.

            I can also say from experience that documenting and showing “just how bad” the backlog ia goes nowhere on this situation. Truly start with Fergus then your boss.

              1. Phoenix Programmer*

                I am coming from the perspective of:
                1 No one likes to think ill of the great guy
                2 no one likes to believe they are fooled
                3 SusanK may not have the full story. Perceptions can be off. If she is wrong about the backlog it’s not a good look to come in saying Fergus was way behind if it turns out the drawer is low priority.

                All I am saying is be carful speaking ill of Fergus. Focus on facts.

          2. Not Gary, Gareth*

            Adding my voice in support of this. You’re not doing anything wrong, Susan, by showing your boss that there’s a pile of previously-unaddressed work and asking for assistance in getting it under control now that it’s your responsibility. That’s not throwing anyone under the bus. That’s just making sure you’re not getting pushed into the street during rush hour.

            And I would frame it as exactly that: “Boss, now that [Fergus’ previous work] is my responsibility, I’m noticing that there’s quite a backlog from before I took over. I’ll need to address it in order to be compliant/be successful at my job/ensure the company doesn’t suffer penalties/etc. but that will, of course, pull focus from my current full-time responsibilities. I’d like your advice on how best to handle it and get everything squared away.”

            You said yourself they don’t really understand the nuts and bolts of the job. So of course Fergus is going to look like he’s just more competent than the rest of your team. But it won’t take much, I suspect, for your boss to make the connection between “Fergus had so much free time” and “Fergus was cutting hella corners” if they’re at all a reasonable person. (And if not, then frankly you have bigger problems anyway.)

            Don’t think of it as throwing Fergus under the bus; think of it as providing your bosses some much-needed context about the work habits of the guy they just promoted.

            1. t.i.a.s.p.*

              I would make a point with the boss that you want to stay current with all your own work as your first priority. If something ever comes up where they are digging into files, I’d want the non compliant ones to be the ones that originated with Fergus, not the ones that originated with me and fell behind while I was bringing Fergus’s stuff into compliance.

              1. Phoenix Programmer*

                Yes and in addition the non compliant files may not be your bosses priority. Be sure not to fall into working on scut work at the expense of visobke projects.

                Honestly I still think the biggest issue is ops boss doesn’t know her workload. If boss was at all involved then the whole assigned a major project while on vacation causing a missed deadline would not have happened.

    16. gecko*

      I think you can go to your manager. First I think you should do two things.

      One, figure out what you want out of the meeting. Your primary goal can’t be, you know, “my manager gives Fergus the what-for!” It has to be something you can state to your manager. For instance, “I’d like help figuring out how to deal with this backlog and last-minute requests,” or, “I’d like some extra time in my schedule to deal with this.”

      Two, figure out what data you need to show your manager, and arrange it into something your manager will understand.

      For instance: “when I moved into the Spout Analyst role, I found a large backlog of data to review, in addition to normal projects and urgent requests from Fergus to handle existing projects. For the backlog, as you know, each of these documents needs to be reviews, digitized, etc, which I estimate takes 10 minutes per document. I’ve noted here that there are an estimated X number of documents, so Y hours. My daily duties and normal projects are A, B, and C, and as you can see here these are on track. Here’s a list of projects originally assigned to other folks; as you can see this project from Wakeen was in the yellow when he handed it off to me but is doable, but these five projects from Fergus unfortunately had X hours of work left when he handed them off to me and since I was on vacation I don’t have time to complete all of them before Tuesday. For context, all my projects when I was a Handle Analyst were consistently in the green. My goal in this meeting is to figure out how to fit this all in (or whatever it is) and prioritize, so can we walk through this a bit?”

      From my completely vague script what I hope is coming out is, do the thing that Alison recommends all the time of requesting help with time management (and emphasizing your goal). Additionally, if possible, I’d have a written, clear report that you can point to for each of your descriptions of your workload/the backlog. This may mean taking your normal report and adding to it, creating a whole new document, but I think it’ll help if you have a sheet with the pertinent information laid out for your meeting.

    17. HB*

      Do people do updates in open threads? Bc I would really love to see an update to this eventually. Good luck to you, regardless!

      1. Susan K*

        Yeah, sometimes people do updates in open threads. I will post an update sometime… How about 6 months from now to say how much progress I’ve made in the backlog? I’ll mark my calendar to post an update in the July 5 open thread :)

    18. Phoenix Programmer*

      This sucks and is actually a much more precarious situation than most of the commenters are letting on. I have been in your exact shoes – promoted to Sr analyst to replace extremely well liked guy who went on to manage. That guy then threw me under the bus whenever he could.

      Whatever you do don’t go to your boss and say – actually Fergus was way behind. That will earn you nothing but the title jealous B faster than you can blink.

      Here is how I recommend handling the various issues:
      Last minute projects. Talk to Fergus first. Approach it as of course you did not know I was on vacation – how can we work together to make sure this works smoothly for both of us. You have to be cheerful and helpful in this conversation as much as it sucks. Convince yourself before going in that it was an honest mistake by Fergus and he would do right by you if he only knew how to.

      Backlog/boss not knowing your projects
      After this conversation go to your boss. Let him know that you caught up with Fergus and have already decided on [solution] – but [problem] occurred. This shows your boss you respect Fergus new role. It’s also a great Segway into your biggest problem that you did not mention – your boss doesn’t know your workload. Ask your boss how he would like you to keep him apprised and of what items. This naturally leads into your 3rd and also least worrisome problem – the backlog. When you bring it up be sure not to say Fergus left this backlog, failed to address, or anything like that. Just flag it – hey I found this file drawer that appears to be full of past due spout reports. Do you know anything about it? Well I was thinking of doing X,Y, Z to address and should be done by by [conservative date]. Boss will let you know if he even wants you working on this. Being fair to Fergus – it could be a known low priority issue. Or it could be a major screw up. But treat it like Fergus was actually competent and great but this drawer os here so what do I do with it?

      1. Mike C.*

        Why can’t you say, “Fergus was way behind”? If work wasn’t performed, it wasn’t performed. It doesn’t make you appear jealous to speak up about it, that’s really strange. If you have months and months of serious issues like this, it becomes almost an ethical requirement to report it as soon as you know about it.

        1. AL*

          They (the boss and grandboss) think Fergus is ace and amazing…they just promoted him. And boss didn’t know about the backlog.
          Pointing out to them that their viewpoint is wrong will make them resistant to any feedback.
          The aim should be to get clarification on-
          what the manager sees as priority tasks from current workload
          Fergus assigning projects without manager knowing
          What to do about existing backlog
          Expectation about short term weekend work to clear the backlog
          How often does manager want to be looped in on project statuses in future…
          All factual, but hopefully without saying anything at all about Fergus leaving the backlog…

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            That and we don’t know that Fergus was way behind. For all we know he was told to ignore these to focus on bigger priorities.

    19. M. Albertine*

      Everyone else has had really good suggestions (especially about focusing on asking for input on addressing the problem rather than on Fergus’ role in the mess), I would just like to request an update when you have one!

    20. designbot*

      In addition to what others have mentioned, I would also talk about the reassignments with Fergus. I’d frame it as hey, I noticed you reassigned these to me and the timing was actually really tough. I was out on vacation that week, and only got back a day before the deadline, and there was no way to complete it all. Going forward, could you shoot me an email when you’re reassigning things? That way if a situation like this comes up again you’ll get my out of office reply and know there’s an issue.

    21. ArtK*

      So, Fergus is giving you assignments without clearing them with your manager? That’s badly overstepping bounds. I would make sure that when talking to your manager, you point that out. “Am I supposed to be taking assignments from Fergus? It’s difficult with both of you giving me work. How is this supposed to be handled?”

      Fergus needs his wings clipped for starters.

      1. TechWorker*

        Sounds more like Fergus didn’t reply do a full handover and is now randomly dumping things he doesn’t have time to and/or doesn’t want to do. It’s not ok (especially not if done only when he realises the deadline is looming), but I’m not sure all companies would treat the ‘assigning work to someone who isn’t a direct report’ as a gross misstep by him.

    22. Mike C.*

      So I do a whole lot of the sort of thing you’re talking about, and I’ve been in your shoes. In addition to the stuff others have talked about, you need to start looking into automating the reviews of this sort of data. I do this all the time, and well within the rigorous regulatory requirements we’re required to follow.

      I mean sure, Fergus is a complete jerk here, but you also need to look at the process side of things. I suspect that things started small, and piled up over time, and it’s a really, really common failing. Even without that, that a single person can really screw things up is in and of itself a weakness in your process. He should have come up to his boss and done something about it, but not everyone does, so you get to do it.

      But you’ll also be the hero. You can not only work this backlog (and providing a plan with regular updates goes a long, long way to clear the panic of management!), but by promoting something like some automated systems (I can go into more detail if you’re able to say more about the sorts of reviews you do), you can prevent this problem from happening again, earn yourself some recognition, make more time for more interesting projects and so on.

      1. Susan K*

        What kind of automated processes do you have for data reviews? I’m certainly open to making this easier, but I think we already automate the reviews just about as much as we can. Our database schedules all required measurements and shows any that aren’t completed when required. It also has tolerances for each measurement and flags any measurements outside of tolerances or that are statistically anomalous, shows a warning message with required actions, and requires the Teapot Maker to enter a comment with actions taken. It does automatic calculations and generates graphs and reports with a couple of clicks.

        Still, humans actually have to look at the data, check the list of missed measurements and whether or not there were legitimate reasons for not taking the measurements, make sure the required actions were actually completed for out of tolerance measurements, check for errors and get the Teapot Makers to correct the errors, etc. There is a huge amount of data (approximately 20,000 individual measurements per month on average), so even with the automated features of our database, it takes time to review it. It’s actually not bad at all if I keep up with it every week; it usually takes me about an hour per week to review the data for handles (more if there are problems or errors I need to investigate or address). I just ran a report of unreviewed spouts data up until the day Fergus’s promotion was announced, and it was 1400 pages. Any problems or errors I find more than about a month back will be 10 times more difficult to address because people won’t remember, the person who entered it might not work here anymore, the data might have been included in reports that I’ll have to find and correct, etc.

    23. Temit*

      Just report on how the role was left, what you are currently working on, what is left to do and Fergus’ expectations. Communicate the estimated timelines for completion. And NOTHING ELSE! Share your lens/point of view with your manager but not your opinions or emotional investment.

      Let the manager come to his or her own conclusions. If he/she agrees with your realistic timelines, then remember the amount of time and effort you required to bring your area to par before actually doing your real job and document it in an email. Communication does not just flow in one direction (Fergus – You). Maintain an email trail, take screenshots of assigned tasks, deadlines and what was already 6 months late the day that you started.

      I was accused of neglecting something for three years. I had only worked at this role 6 months. The truth is absolute. No one can challenge it.

  6. Shellesbelles*

    Urgent question. I’ve received a job offer for a great position that I’m super excited about. It’s in writing with a start date, salary, job description, the works and I’ve accepted. However, I haven’t been able to sign anything yet because of a slower HR process (it’s a major company that was reduced to a skeleton crew over the holidays – offer came in the first week of December, so no big surprises there). My new boss is super excited about me, has assured me that I have the job and that this is just an HR formality.

    The issue – my start date is in two weeks and I’m currently employed. Should I give notice to my current employer today without having signed anything? I’ve talked to multiple people about this and everyone is telling me to just give notice today. But is it crazy to give notice without having signed anything? I’ve followed up with my new boss about it, but she doesn’t think it’s an issue at all and seems to almost be getting annoyed with me – “it’s just a formality and will not impact your start date.”

    Some background – my current job is horribly toxic and awful. I’ve been desperate to quit for years and it has been severely impacting my mental health. I’m terrified that I’ll quit and then something will go horribly wrong and the job will evaporate. The anxiety is tearing me apart. Everyone is telling my that I’m just letting my anxiety get in the way of being happy about getting out.

    1. Jenn*

      I’ve never ‘signed’ anything for a new job, but have always had a written offer in hand. What do you need to sign? Is it a background check?

      1. Shellesbelles*

        Background check and processing through HR. Soonest they can get something to me is mid next week, which doesn’t worry the new boss re: starting in two weeks, but it worries me. Everyone I’ve talked to, both at the company and externally, says that this is normal and fine and to go ahead and resign already. But everywhere I’ve worked (mostly smaller companies), I’ve always had to sign at least a job offer either electronically or in person. I feel pretty wary about leaving my current position without this being complete, but I also deal with anxiety and people telling me that I blow things out of proportion.

        1. LaDeeDa*

          I don’t give notice until the background check and everything is completed. I once had a company rescind their offer after the background check company provided wrong information. The company just send me a letter rescinding my offer, and a few weeks later when I finally got a copy of the report I see that the background check company had my name wrong and my master’s degree graduation dates wrong. But the company HR and hiring manager refused to take my calls or answer my emails. I was SO glad I had not given notice.
          Tell HR that until all the steps are complete and the offer is signed you aren’t able to give notice and will need to push back your start date, they should understand.

          1. RG2*

            FYI if this ever happens again, my understanding is that this isn’t legal (at least in some states). You can pull an offer based on a background check, but have to share a copy of the report with the hire and give them a chance to respond to the information. I’d consider reporting them to your state DOL.

        2. Bend & Snap*

          Nope. Both jobs I’ve had that required background checks, I’ve refused to give notice until all the hurdles were cleared. That’s not unreasonable.

        3. Bostonian*

          Yeah, don’t give notice until the background check clears. But when you say “soonest they can get something to me is mid next week”, do you mean the completed background check, or signing consent/permission to do the background check? Because the check itself could take weeks, and by then you’re already past your start date, so you might as well resign your current job now.

          However, if it’s just that the background check won’t be done until next week…. is there any harm in giving less than 2 weeks notice? You said the job was toxic, so were you expecting to use this place as a review in the future? You might have to go with the less than ideal option of not giving a ton of notice.

          FWIW, I ran into a similar issue when I last switched jobs. After accepting the offer, we decided on a start data a month ahead, but the background check didn’t clear until 8 business days before the start date, so I ended up giving *just* under 2 weeks notice at a job I actually liked and a manager I really liked. My manager wasn’t happy, but I would rather screw over my former company by 2 days than have the anxiety of having given notice without the background check clearing (which I had no reason to believe it wouldn’t, but still…).

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I wouldn’t give notice, unless you’re sitting on a pile of cash and can afford to be unemployed a while in a worst-case scenario. I’d rather give 1 week at my current job or push back my start date than to quit before I had completed the HR process of the offer. I work in a very professional job, and I’ve seen crazy stuff happen a couple times between offers and start dates, on both the candidate side and company side. Sure, it’s unusual, but I wouldn’t risk it.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        To follow up because of others’ comments about “signing things”. . .What I am picturing here is like a formal HRIS electronic offer and acceptance (not yet done) vs. receiving an email with the details from the hiring manager and accepting (done). I would want the formal stuff from HR done before I gave notice. Seriously, what the hiring VPs here think can be done and what HR does can be vastly different sometimes.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I’ve never had to sign an HRIS offer and acceptance, which is where my advice comes from. If that’s what the OP is waiting for, then she should wait (or bug them more). I’m pretty curious about what she’s waiting to sign!

      2. LaDeeDa*

        I once had accepted a job, had signed the offer, and was just about to give notice when I got a call from the recruiter to tell me that the VP who hired me had been fired and the CEO had put a hold on everything in that department, including hiring me.
        Companies can rescind an offer any reason at any time in the process. I am sooo leery of it now.

        1. TechWorker*

          thats so rubbish. Also feels like even with countries with decent laws around redundancy you wouldn’t have any recourse here, because you didn’t ever actually work there.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When you say you haven’t signed anything yet, what types of paperwork are you talking about? If you’re talking about new hire paperwork, like an I-9, then you ordinarily wouldn’t do that until you start (or, at least, I have never done that until my start date). If you have an offer in writing with a start date, you’re in fine shape and should give notice today (or Monday).

      For what it’s worth, I’ve never signed anything before giving notice. I have only done it when I’ve received and accepted an offer in writing– and that includes email. Just something with a record that the offer has been made and I have accepted it. I think your “multiple people” are correct here.

      Oh, and congratulations!

    4. Susan K*

      Congrats on the new job! You should go ahead and give your notice. You have the job offer with all the details in writing, so I don’t see any reason to be concerned that you haven’t been asked to sign anything yet.

    5. rubyrose*

      So you have verbally accepted, but you have not returned a written acceptance? Or you have returned a written acceptance, but HR has not processed it yet? Or HR has not acknowledged your written acceptance?

      If you have received nothing from HR, I would push back on that manager. Nothing in writing, start date can change. If you have returned a written acceptance and have just not heard back from HR, inform the manager that you desire their acknowledgement.

    6. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      If you have the offer in writing and have passed any checks, give notice. You have a start date coming up. It’s uncommon to sign anything in the US since most full time employee jobs don’t involve contracts.

      The official forms like I9 will be done on your start date.

    7. DaniCalifornia*

      I think you are perfectly fine to give notice. You have an offer with details in writing. It’s normal in my field not to do any HR stuff before you actually start.


    8. Seattleite*

      What is the ”anything” you haven’t been able to sign? It sounds as if you are expecting New Job to be as duplicitous as Old Job. I’ve been there, too. In Good Job World a signed job offer and official start date mean just that. New employee paperwork will likely be completed on your first couple of days. I think it’s.normal to.feel distrustful when leaving a toxic situation, but helpful to remember that toxic is why you’re leaving. When I left my own Toxic Job it was helpful to think of it as the employment equivalent of a Bad Boyfriend. There were reasons I left, it was never going to change, I learned a lot about red flags, and I knew what my dealbreakers were for the next time around. Congratulations on your new job!

    9. Ali G*

      Just because you received an offer letter (yay!) with a start date assigned to you, doesn’t mean you need to accept that date. Just send an email to your soon-to-be manager, today, that says “As you know, I am very excited to be joining your team! However, I want to maintain good relations with my current employer, and therefore need to give them 2-weeks notice. Since I haven’t received my final offer letter yet, I ask that when I do, it includes a start date of 2 weeks after the date of the offer letter.”
      Then on the day you receive the letter, you sign it, send it back and give notice.

      1. ket*

        If they do an offer letter that you sign and send back, then that’s a fair process. But what if they don’t? I’ve certainly had jobs where I get an offer letter and then show up and do paperwork the first day — nothing signed to send back, as folks above are also saying.

        Get clear on what is normal in your new job, not what’s normal in toxic-job-land!

    10. Qwerty*

      Does the new job require this signed document for you to start? If so, what happens if they don’t produce it before the start date? If they would push back the start date until the document is ready, then it is too soon to give notice.

      If you are unclear on the process, what about calling the new boss and/or new HR and stating your concern(s)? It shouldn’t be too strange to say that you need to give your current job two weeks notice but want to make sure that the new job is locked in before doing so. Find out what it is that HR is waiting on and if it has the power to jeopardize your offer.

      About your anxiety – your concerns seem pretty normal, especially for someone leaving a toxic environment. Common advice is to wait until you have signed the offer letter and passed the pre-employment screenings (like background checks) before giving notice.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah, I’ve never had to sign anything to accept an offer, but if that’s a requirement where your are (non US?) and/or your new job requires it, this should be easy to push back against. When New Manager says it doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect your start date, cheerfully say “Unfortunately, it does affect my start date, since I can’t give notice at Old Job until this formality has been completed at New Job.”

    11. Schnoodle HR*

      You have the offer, you not signing it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been offered. You signing it just says you accept, it’s more for the employer than you. Even after signing, it can be rescinded, it doesn’t protect you any further. I get it, I’d still prefer to sign one, sure, but the new company has already shown signs to just be okay with it and I wouldn’t start a new job with a bad impression, whether it’s warranted or not. I’d give notice, your current place is toxic anyway.

    12. Could be Anyone*

      Unless you’ll be signing an actual contract (which is uncommon) it sounds like you’re fine. You have the offer in writing, and I don’t see any red flags with the new employer, you signing it doesn’t really make it any more or less official.


    13. Hallowflame*

      If you have a written record of the offer, start date, and your acceptance (email chain works), go ahead and give notice. The only documents I have ever had to sign prior to starting a new job were authorizations for background checks and drug testing, and that was just for the employers to get a head start on the process. Everything else was done in-person as part of the first day orientation/onboarding process.
      Your new boss has stayed in communication with you, reassured you that the job is waiting for you, and is excited to get you started. It sounds to me like the offer is good, you’re just moving to a company with crummy/understaffed HR.

    14. A person*

      Toxic jobs mess with you like that – they make you think every employer is out to screw you and everything is about to fall apart. You have a written offer and start date in writing – that’s the ticket. Unless it’s a background check or something like that the job offer is contingent on, you should be all set. If it makes you feel better, call HR to confirm first. Congrats!

    15. Sally*

      I’ve followed up with my new boss about it, but she doesn’t think it’s an issue at all and seems to almost be getting annoyed with me – “it’s just a formality and will not impact your start date.”

      But she’s not the one who would be unemployed if anything happened to scuttle the new job after you gave notice. I don’t think you’re being unreasonable. Perhaps you can calmly tell her that you need the offer process to be officially completed before you feel comfortable giving notice at your current job. If that happens soon, and you don’t care about giving your current company 1 week’s notice, then you’re good. But if it takes longer, you may want to ask your potential new manager to push out your start date by a few days.

      If they keep pushing and acting like this is no big deal, when you have stated what your concerns are and what you need, you may want to think hard about any other potential issues with the new place. When I started my new job, I told them I wanted to give my old job 4 weeks’ notice (I was the only person doing my type of work there, and internal clients really relied on me, so that was my preference). If they had said they wanted me to start earlier, I would have, but they completely understood.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        But unless the OP is actually signing a contract position for a certain amount of time, the signing of the official offer letter does not matter one bit. Assuming they are in the US most people are under an employment at will situation. If the company is a bad one, OP could sign the official offer letter give notice at their current job, and then the new company can turn around and say JK we have to pull the offer because of XYZ reasons. I get that OP would have a better peace of mind having signed the official offer letter, but having signed it does not give them an increased protections. I signed an offer letter when I started at my current company and two weeks in they could have said going forward we are going to pay you $15 an hour even if my official offer letter stated I was supposed to be paid $25 an hour.

        1. Teacher*

          OP states up thread that they have to sign off on a background check, which could definitely change the situation dramatically.

    16. Anonandon*

      I work in HR. If the new employer is telling you that your offer is contingent upon successfully completing their background check (which I’m assuming it probably did), I would wait to give notice until the background check comes back as clear. It’s not a legal requirement to give your current employer 2 weeks’ notice; it’s a nice courtesy, but not required. I’d recommend just sitting tight until you know for sure that you’re all clear.

    17. ChachkisGalore*

      I think it all depends on your risk tolerance… To avoid any risk whatsoever you would need to wait until everything is signed/dotted/crossed before giving notice. Unfortunately there is a chance that something could pop up between now and when you are able to sign (something could come up on a background check, the company could take a drastic turn and they could rescind the offer, the hiring manager might win the lottery taking off with no notice so they want the new hiring manager to hire for your role). If you have already received, in writing, the start date, salary, etc – my personal opinion is that the risk is very low that something will come up, however there is still a chance (however small or unlikely). Are you ok with that amount of risk?

      Personally – I was in a very similar situation when starting my current job. I didn’t want to give notice until my background check cleared, but it was dragging out a bit. The new company really needed me to start by a specific date and my old company required more than 2 weeks notice, so I was quickly coming up on the last possible date to give notice and still start on time at new job. I went ahead and took the risk. I judged it to be extremely unlikely for anything to come up on the background check.

    18. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      I’ve had a background check for every position I’ve ever had (banking/finance) and I’ve never had a confirmation of when the background check “cleared” so I’ve always given notice without having that confirmation. And I’m pretty sure that you aren’t going to get a background check back before you start if they aren’t doing anything until next week. I also don’t think I’ve ever had to sign my acceptance for the position. I have received the offer, but I don’t remember having to sign anything beyond the approval for them to run the background check. It’s been pretty common to start signing that (electronically) when I actually apply. All of that to say: I’d go ahead and resign so your future start date isn’t impacted especially since you already have the offer letter.

      1. ChachkisGalore*

        Oh interesting! I’m in finance too, but I’ve had a pretty formal (and uniform) offer/background check process when starting my last couple of jobs. It usually went: Step #1 verbal offer and I would verbally accept. Step #2 I’d usually get, in writing, the details of the job (salary, planned start date, etc.) – but this would not be signed and always had language about “pending background check”. At the same time as the written details I’d usually get the background check approval form – that I would sign and return. Then step #3 after the background check cleared, HR would send me the formal offer letter that I would sign and the company would sign.

    19. designbot*

      I’ve never signed anything until the day I show up to start work. I suspect though that this is an industry-specific thing, and I would defer to the norms in your field. In mine this would be seen as overly rigid and a red flag that you weren’t of a flexible enough mindset for the job.

    20. AMA Long-time Lurker*

      OP – I was in a very similar situation when applying to my current job: big company, long HR process, involved background check, etc. The background check was outsourced and consequently took a REALLY LONG TIME, filling me with anxiety until it was complete. HOWEVER, the company I had applied to did the right thing and pushed back my start date because they understand that HR formalities were holding up the process. This is what your new employer should do as well: push back your start date so that it will be two weeks from signing your letter. My guess is that your VP is very out of touch with HR’s lead time and practices, and this is causing confusion. In my situation, my prospective boss totally empathized and knew that HR could take a very long time.

    21. Another HR Person*

      I’m not an employment law attorney. I do work in HR. My education/training in the field has been such that promissory estoppel can be detrimental to employers’ when rescinding offers. In essence, if you have been made a promise (job offer, even if it’s not in writing) and have taken action to accept the offer (given notice to previous employer, relocated, etc), the employer can be held responsible if the job offer is rescinded without just cause. As a HR professional, I treat verbal offers no different than written job offers and therefore, supervisors do not provide a verbal offer until the pre-employment checks have cleared (we do not require background checks, which I understand can slow down the process). Personally, I have never relied on an offer in writing and am comfortable with verbal offers. However, I understand people have different comfort levels and I expect my HR team to move fast once the verbal offer is made to ensure the applicant can put the wheels in motion on their end.

    22. Justme, The OG*

      Don’t quit until the offer is finalized. And if current job is toxic, maybe don’t worry about giving them two weeks notice.

    23. leukothea*

      I haven’t read the other replies, but I was in your shoes a year ago. I had a verbal offer on the phone, and later an email, but there was no form to sign. I have notice at my old company and started at the new one 2 weeks later. It was fine!

      I think the onboarding at the new place was done 3 or 4 days before my official start date. By official onboarding, I mean I showed up at their HR department and filled out some forms. They only held those sessions twice a month, so that timing was never going to work out perfectly with the notice date / start date.

      Anyway, I think just giving notice at the old place would be very normal.

  7. New ED*

    My organization is about to do yearly performance reviews for the first time since I became the ED and I’d love any advice people have on performance review processed that go well- i.e. Questions to ask in self evaluations, ways for managers to structure their feedback, ways to solicit colleague feedback, etc.

    1. rolling in the deeeeeeeeep*

      One thing is that nothing on the performance review should be new info to the employee. My last review, my new supervisor left some weird feedback that he’d felt about something from 7 months before and had never mentioned to me, but felt it was important enough to put on my official review. I just stared at it going, “if you’d addressed at the time, I could have… done something about this”, but so much water had gone under the bridge, I couldn’t actually address it at all anymore.

      1. Bluebell*

        agreed on this. a friend once told me that her boss would say “If anything on this is a surprise, then I’m not doing my job.”

    2. Auburn*

      Just seconding this. In the same position of putting together a review process for my org and would also love to hear this from others!

      As a resource OP, the management center has some info that I’ve found useful in getting started. They have advice on process and sample forms, including sample completed ones for both positive and corrective reviews, and advice on things like 360 reviews.

      But I’d love to hear from people about what has worked for them. I’ve never worked somewhere that has done this well.

    3. SansaStark*

      The system we have at my job is REALLY structured and aligns with each person’s job description. So I have like 6 major categories and then all of my “duties and responsibilities” fall under one of those categories, which are weighted different depending on the responsibilities. We’re then evaluated using those categories. One thing I really liked that my boss did this year was talk about my goals for 2019 and things I could do over the course of this next year to achieve them.

      1. Blue*

        We do something similar. There’s a larger template for the whole office, maybe 20 categories altogether, each with some specifically defined criteria/expectations. You and your boss identify which categories are relevant for your role, and you write a little assessment of your work in that area over the last year and what you hope to build on next year. The supervisor writes their own assessment of your performance in each area, sometimes directly responding to things you brought up, and then grades each category.

        The self-eval also includes questions like, “What projects did you particularly like or enjoy this year?” and “Which projects did you not like?” I like those questions – they provide some interesting insight and the answers frequently lay the groundwork for discussions of future goals and professional development. In the past, I’ve said things like, “I thought X was interesting, but I didn’t enjoy the experience because I didn’t have the technical skills to navigate it confidently,” which lead to my boss asking if developing those specific skills was something I wanted and then facilitating that. Or I once talked about how much I liked an unexpected project that had been dumped in our laps, in part because it was a great fit for my skills and strengths. My boss agreed, and, knowing that I’d be eager to work on that kind of project again, tapped me to be team lead the next time a similar one came up. For supervisors who didn’t regularly think about professional development for staff and how to best utilize people within the office, the answers were good prompts to start the discussion at least once a year.

        1. SansaStark*

          I love the idea of asking people what they liked and what they didn’t! I started a new role in my department this year and have sort of struggled with a way to tell my boss that this role has a lot of administrative work that needs to be reassigned but I don’t have the authority to do that…It would be much easier for me to frame it under “things I don’t like,” i.e. less time for the projects associated with my actual job.

    4. sammy_two*

      Are your managers talking with their staff about any issues that come up during the year? I think not surprising anyone in their annual review by bringing up issues that should have been addressed earlier in the year is always a really good thing. (I’ve been surprised before after asking my manager to let me know if he has any concerns with my work, and it wasn’t fun.)

    5. Ama*

      One of the things I like best about my current employer’s review process is that everyone is in agreement that your yearly goals (usually outlined by your manager, although some will leave one goal for the employee to suggest themselves) don’t need to be big stretch goals, but can be getting a vital aspect of your job done, sometimes with a slight add (“assist with program management and take over development of project timelines”) and sometimes just a simple what is expected of you (my goals often include “oversee grant cycle and onboarding of new grant class” which is pretty much a core aspect of my job but also one that’s crucial to our operations). Usually most people have a mix of “do job as expected” with at least one special project or new-to-them responsibility mixed in.

      I like this because I’ve been at other places where goals were always supposed to be some kind of growth and that’s really unrealistic for a lot of jobs — or there might be growth possible in the first few years but then you hit capacity or make processes as efficient as they can possibly be and things plateau.

    6. CAA*

      If this is the first go-round, keep it as simple as possible. Really, there are only three things that you need to cover:
      – what is the employee doing well
      – what should they be doing better
      – what professional goals do they have for the next year

      The self-eval form should cover these three areas. If you think the questions above are too generic, you can personalize them by asking about communications skills, technical skills, interpersonal relationships, or whatever; but be careful not to get so specific that the questions end up irrelevant for some roles. Leave lots of room so that people can interpret the questions in appropriate ways for their own jobs without having to twist their meanings. It’s really annoying to have to rate yourself on timeliness of handling phone calls when you don’t even have a phone on your desk.

      Some places have a score for each category and overall, and some also rank employees by department and division. You do not need to do those things in order to have an effective evaluation system, but if you do them, then you should know what you’re going to use them for. Is this how you’ll decide who gets a raise or a promotion? Once you do performance reviews, and especially if there are numbers or overall ratings associated with them, your employees will expect that they factor into those decisions.

      Once the employee fills out the self eval it gets turned over to the manager, who reads it and answers the same questions about the employee. Then the manager and employee have a meeting where they discuss the form, agree on the goals and everybody signs it and turns it in to HR where it goes in the employee’s file.

      If you want more of a 360 feedback process, you can ask each employee to select a few coworkers to answer the “doing well” and “needs improvement” questions about them and turn those responses in to the employee’s manager before the manager writes her part of the review.

      You must provide work time during the business day for people to do both the self evaluations and peer evals as well as the review meetings. If you are not prepared to take the productivity hit of having everybody writing 4 or 5 evals for their coworkers, then don’t do the 360 feedback part this year. Performance review is an expensive process for businesses, so be prepared for that and don’t breed resentment by making people squeeze it in among all their other job duties.

    7. media monkey*

      i like reviews that have a bit of give and take – so you and your manager both evaluate performance vs objectives and if you don’t agree on the score you discuss til you get there. there should ideally be some written evaluation against each, not just a number. we typically have 360 reviews where the employee can give names of people to speak to (both internal and external) and they are sent a set of simple questions to answer. the manager can ask anyone else they would like to as well.

      i agree with the people below who are saying no new bad news in a review – in this context surprises are bad!

      normally the feedback we ask for is :
      – what does x do well?
      – what should x do more of?
      – what should x do less of? (often these 3 are framed as stop/start/continue)
      – then there’s a box for “anything else”.
      it’s fairly quick to do and you normally get actionable feedback. managers normally send these out on email in a standard template. we don’t usually get told who said which piece of feedback.

      in self evaluation, we tend to have categories of work (say client service or admin, depending on the level/ function of the person being evaluated). You look at last year’s objectives and give a score – goes above and beyond/ exceeds expectation/meets expectation/ below expectation/ needs improvement and you can write a bit for each one. then you set new objectives for the coming year.

      manager writes an overall evaluation using the performance vs objectives and 360 feedback. employee writes their response after the meeting and both have to sign off to say that they agree it is a true representation of the performance.

    8. StellaBella*

      SMART Goals and using SMART methods for measuring performance – specific, measurable, achievable/actionable, relevant, and time bound. You can look this up online for guidance. Also a resource here on this blog: searching for “performance review” gives a lot of results – here is one you may like to read

      Planning, regular 1:1 meetings throughout the year (monthly and updates on performance quarterly), communication, format of review, goal setting, self-evaluations, outline your agenda and make sure they outline their agenda too for this meeting…discuss the things that went well and how to improve things that need some development. There is a lot of info here on the blog.

      Do you have in place a performance appraisal checklist or format that everyone knows about, how to use it, where they get filed, all the process things – and how to refer back to them in quarterly meetings for tracking progress? Good luck!

    9. SusanIvanova*

      Include the good stuff. I got one from a new-ish manager that was all “here are the things you need to work on” (and, as the other people mentioned, it was a surprise so wtf?) and then “and here’s your raise because you did such a great job”. OK, so which parts were great?

    10. CM*

      Unpopular and non-traditional advice: don’t use numbers and don’t tie compensation to the review. Use annual reviews to set goals for each employee for the coming year — projects they want to work on, skills they want to develop — and a roadmap for how and when they can complete those projects or develop those skills. Then review how it went at the end of the year and have a conversation about next year. Find the middle ground between what they want to do to learn and grow and thrive as individuals and what you need them to do to support the organization.

      Treat it like coaching and not like a report card. Come up with a different system to figure out fair compensation packages for people.

  8. Lindsey Willow*

    How do I explain to a prospective employer why I left my job of three months because of cigarettes smoke?

    I recently started a new job doing call center work from August until November. While I enjoyed the job and had previous experience in customer service, I did not care for my fellow employees smoking inside our room and in the building. In between calls, you could look around and see people smoking at their desks (literally puffs of smoke). It wasn’t actual cigarettes but the e-cigs (vape or juul whatever they call them). To make matters worse, my managers smoked inside too. I tried to endure it as long as I could since I needed a paycheck, but that kind of cultrual/environment wasn’t something I wanted to be in. Even co-workers would ask “So what kind of drugs do you do?” That was enough for me. I didn’t want to breathe smoke in and possibly deal with a drug-infested workplace. I decided it was time. Even with no job lined up, I left in November, and never came back.

    Should I give the standard, cliched answers of “looking for new challenges”, “not a good cultural fit” etc. and avoid talking about the reason why I really left? I suppose I could say I left due to health reasons and leave it at that? All I know is I don’t want to ever walk into a situation/work environment like that again. (I’m in NJ btw)

    1. BlueWolf*

      Honestly, for a job you were only at for three months, I think Alison’s standard advice would be to just leave it off your resume. A gap of three months wouldn’t be that unusual when job hunting, so most employers probably wouldn’t comment on it. If the gap comes up you could say that you had an opportunity that didn’t work out or something.

    2. vw*

      I’d be completely honest! I’d explain that people were consistently smoking inside! That hasn’t been acceptable in YEARS. I think you can leave the rest of it out (ie, being asked what drugs you do).

      I also hate smoking with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns, so I’m very much on your side. I’m glad you left and I hope you told them why.

      1. fposte*

        They were vaping, though, not smoking cigarettes. I wouldn’t like it either, but you don’t want to suggest the one when you mean the other.

        1. CAA*

          New Jersey bans vaping everywhere they ban smoking though, so it’s just as illegal to do it indoors in a workplace and I don’t think it would be bad to cite it as the reason for leaving an employer, especially if you’re applying at other places in NJ.

          1. fposte*

            If you’re in a jurisdiction where it’s illegal, you’d have more traction, but I still would want to be clear which I was talking about.

          2. Tinkerbell*

            And the fact that Lindsey already quit the place after three months will tell prospective employers that she is quicker to bail on a company instead of reporting them for doing something illegal and/or unethical. If “New Jersey bans vaping everywhere they ban smoking,” what kind of punishements/penalties would the company have encountered if Lindsey decided to report them?

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Who would she report them to and with what outcome for her? I’d imagine that either no action would be taken, because it’s not that high on the list of law enforcement priorities, and she would have been pushed out of the company or otherwise made miserable at work.

              Not to say she should have tolerated it, but rather I am not sure how much recourse a new employee would have to change an office culture like this.

        2. EH*

          Vape fog/mist and cigarette smoke have identical impact on my allergic reaction. The reduced particulate matter helps with the wear and tear on my esophagus, but they both give me a nasty headache.

          Vapers think they’re being less horrible to the people around them than cigarette smokers, but… no. They are not. Take it outside.

          1. fposte*

            I get that, but my point isn’t that “it was totes okay because it was vaping.” It’s that they’re two different things to most people, the laws are still different on the two things in a lot of areas, and they’re at very different sociocultural points. If say “smoking” and it turns out that you meant vaping, that has high potential to throw an interviewer. You don’t want to throw an interviewer.

            1. Joielle*

              Do you think it’s likely that the interviewer would find out during the hiring process, though? I assume they’re not going to call the current place of employment and ask about it, since Lindsey probably doesn’t want the current employer to know about the job search. If she gets hired, on the off chance it were to come up later on, I just can’t imagine it mattering that much.

              Maybe it’s just that among my social and professional circles, smoking and vaping are seen as basically the same thing, and both obviously disgusting to do indoors. Personally, I think of them as identical in terms of how gross and annoying they are. (And honestly, vaping is probably worse with all the awful chemical fruit smells.)

              1. fposte*

                I was imagining that it would come clear during the conversation–I’m presuming Lindsey wouldn’t be deliberately trying to avoid saying e-cigs.

                1. Joielle*

                  Ah, maybe. I’m imagining what my reaction would be if an interviewee said their previous employer allowed smoking… I think I’d be too flabbergasted to say much beyond “well that sounds like a good reason!” or something, and we’d move on. But perhaps a different interviewer would have more questions.

                2. Little Bean*

                  Agreed, they are different things. If someone told me they quit a job because their coworkers smoked in the room, I would feel indignant on their behalf. If they later clarified that they meant vaping, my feelings would change. Vaping doesn’t burn anything so it doesn’t have the same secondhand smoke effects as cigarettes. Vaping also doesn’t necessarily include nicotine.

                3. Joseph*

                  Little Bean,

                  Regardless of whether vaping has the same secondhand smoke effect as cigarettes, you wouldn’t feel indignant for a non-smoker who did not want to be around that stuff all day long in a professional work environment? I don’t smoke and I sure wouldn’t want to work in a place that allows that. I have nothing against people who do vape or smoke, but please, take it outside. Letting your employees vape in the office tells me that you, as a manager, have no consideration or common decency for your other employees who do NOT smoke.

    3. Audrey Puffins*

      Smoking at desks sounds so outside cultural norms that I would be tempted to be completely honest about it, in interviews at least (I wouldn’t mention my reasons for leaving at all in a cover letter or CV). As long as you say it in a matter-of-fact tone rather than a haughtily judgmental one, then I know that as interviewer, I would think you made a totally reasonable decision and tbh I’d be delighted to hear an answer that *wasn’t* a standard cliche.

      1. Audrey Puffins*

        Oh, but as vw says, leave off the bits about drugs. There’s “this office had unusual norms”, and there’s “this office was really open about the use of illegal drugs”!

    4. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Wow that’s insane, is smoking even allowed indoors any more? Since I’m like 99.99999999% sure that 99.99999999% offices are smoke free I think you can be honest and no one will fault you for it: “They allowed smoking in the building and it began to negatively impact my health” should do the trick, and if anyone isn’t understanding then that shows it isn’t a place you want to work at.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        They’re e-cigs, not cigarettes. Not that I think it’s right, but that I think it makes this reason a bit murkier. I used to work with a senior guy who smoked an e-cig when he visited our (open plan) office and I haaaaated it, but I never felt I could say anything because it wasn’t a cigarette. Not pleasant (I don’t care what they do to “flavor” that stuff, I think it all smells sickly sweet), but not illegal or even against all established norms.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I think people are reading fast and missing that this isn’t smoking cigarettes. It’s not going to be the automatic outlier that cigs at desks would have been.

        2. kbeers0su*

          There is a distinction, but there’s no evidence (that I’m aware of) that shows that the second-hand smoke from vape is any less harmful than the second-hand smoke from actual cigarettes. So I don’t think that OP would need to make that distinction.

          1. fposte*

            I think if she doesn’t make the differentiation she may end up at another place that allows vaping on the job.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Agreed. Not that I’m down with vaping in the office (or indoors anywhere but one’s own home), but in many places there’s still a social differentiation between vaping and smoking that the OP needs to recognize as she moves forward.

            2. Tinkerbell*

              I believe the previous poster (CAA) stated that New Jersey bans vaping everywhere they ban smoking. So if Lindsey interviews with a prospective employer in NJ which allows for vaping inside the workplace, then the prospective employer is already breaking the law.

        3. Natalie*

          A bunch of states amended their Clean Indoor Air Acts to include vaping, so it may well be as illegal as smoking indoors.

        4. media monkey*

          that wouldn’t be legal in a UK workplace (or public transport or anywhere else smoking is forbidden)

        5. Seeking Second Childhood*

          FYI… She’s in a state that already bans vaping in all locations where smoking is banned.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Annnd somehow I hadn’t updated since loading this at lunch yesterday. Sorry for the duplicate comment.

      2. Namast'ay in Bed*

        Hmm where I am e-cigs and cigarettes fall under the same category and are both banned indoors, so I didn’t think the distinction was worth it. But if you live in an area that’s different, I think it’s worth mentioning that people were vaping at their desks and it made you sick, that will allow you to self-select out of places that do allow indoor vaping.

      1. ket*

        I guess I wouldn’t, because like it or not, that might raise suspicions in the interviewer’s mind that you have health problems that will affect your work with them. Instead, I think saying everyone vaped at their desks and you did not like the smell would be fine. That’s such a rare problem that it won’t put interviewers off!

      2. designbot*

        I think I’d say, the physical workplace turned out to be an usually bad fit for me. If they asked further questions I’d be honest, but I agree with ket that “health reasons” is more likely to signal to people that you have trouble doing the job for your own reasons, rather than that you found the physical work environment intolerable.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I think it depends on what type of job you’re looking at next, but I would most likely go with the not a good cultural fit, with the type of tone that implies this place was some brand of crazytown.

      My concern with getting into too much detail would be leaving the hiring manager [unfairly] wondering how you ended up in that type of place in the first place.

    6. Murphy*

      I wouldn’t say “looking for new challenges” after a 3 month stay. I’d say culture fit, or the working environment wasn’t what you expected, etc. If pressed, I’d probably just be honest. Just don’t be emotional and be and matter of fact about it. (But also, WTF? I wouldn’t want to work there either.)

    7. Susan K*

      I’m curious to see other people’s opinions, but I think it would be ok to say, “I left my previous job because they allowed smoking inside the workplace, and I need to be in a nonsmoking environment. I’ve been looking for a position like this because…” Keep in mind that when prospective employers ask why you left your last job, it’s not because they really care about the story, but because they want to know if you’re going to be a good fit for this job. Few employers these days allow smoking inside, so that shouldn’t raise any red flags. The conventional advice not to badmouth previous employers doesn’t mean you have to keep everything a secret. I wouldn’t say you left due to health reasons because that could mean a lot of things and could make them wonder if your health issues are going to be a problem for them.

      1. Kathenus*

        I agree with this approach. While I’m not allergic I’ve always been overly sensitive to smoke and e-cigs bother me as well. I don’t think you need to insult or trash the organization because of it, but saying you’re looking for a new job due to the working conditions is very matter of fact and I think would be completely understandable.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, I’d go with that. Trying to be euphemistic about it runs the risk of the interviewer thinking you’re hiding something. And there’s no reason to try to hide this – it’s obviously a legitimate reason to leave a job!

        I’d still leave it off your resume though, since it’ll raise a flag that you’re looking for a new job after only 3 months, but without being able to explain why.

      3. Kes*

        I think this is the best answer – it’s straightforward and just explains the basic facts of the previous situation without being vague or negative, and then focuses on the positive of what you’re looking for.

    8. Mediamaven*

      A lot of people are suggesting you say not a culture fit but in a three month position that would be a huge red flag for me as a boss. It sounds like you didn’t get along with people. I would be honest about this one. It’s perfectly reasonable.

    9. WellRed*

      Smoking inside? Do you work in the 1950s? That’s so far outside the norm, I think you could mention that specifically. If you say “health reasons” they are going to think you have health issues that may impact your ability to do your job.

    10. Anon in CA*

      Vapes can cause breathing difficulty especially if you aren’t used to any type of smoke at all. I barely notice my husbands vape because I smoke weed off and on, but my friend with asthma who lives in a completely smoke free home notices it upsets her breathing to be around vape even if it’s mostly water vapor so we don’t smoke or vape inside on a day she’s coming over. It’s completely ok IMO for you to say your team Vaped indoors and it caused you breathing distress so you decided to look for other opportunities rather than try to change the existing culture.

    11. Akcipitrokulo*

      Just tell them. And something positive as well helps! “I really enjoyed X/working for Y, but unfortunately the office allowed using e-cigs in the office itself, and this was having an adverse effect on me.”

      Perfectly reasonable!

      1. Kathenus*

        Great wording, and as mentioned in response to Susan K’s comment above, I agree with being straightforward about the smoking/vaping being the reason for leaving.

    12. Decima Dewey*

      Check the local rules. In Philadelphia, all City offices/agencies are nonsmoking and have been for decades. The order has been updated, explicitly excluding vaping as well as regular cigarettes.

    13. Doctor is In*

      I live in KY, where workplace smoking laws are city by city. There is no statewide law. My county/city do not have any laws prohibiting it, but we are working on it!

    14. BadWolf*

      I agree with the others saying to acknowledge the vaping. I think that’s odd enough that most people would think, “Oh yeah, I wouldn’t stay there either.” And if the interviewer doesn’t think that’s a problem/reason to leave, maybe they vape in the office too and you wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

      I would just stick to a neutral, simple statement “They allowed vaping in the office and after a couple of months, it wasn’t working well for me.” vs “Oh my god, they let eeeeeveryone vape all day all over the office. It was max awful!!1!”

  9. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    My team is getting into Spiral Dynamics for communication and transformation. I can follow along through resources on the details, but am having trouble visualizing how to use the knowledge. I’m getting lost in Orange, Teal, Green, etc.

    Anyone with experience *using* Spiral Dynamics in action that they can share?

    1. LaDeeDa*

      Do you have an outside consultant? Did you certify someone in your company? Is your company going through a big change- organizational restructuring or corporate culture changes?
      All of these types of assessments are designed to better understand how you communicate and perceive the world, how best to work with/communicate with people, and how to approach change at an organizational level.
      I am not a fan of Spiral Dynamics for a few reasons, I find it to be a little too “woo woo” for my taste, but most importantly I find it overly complicated. There are so many labels and layers that employees who are not part of talent or organizational development do not understand it, and leaders have no idea how to use is it in a sustainable and meaningful way.
      The best way to use it for your team is to take a look at the various labels and see what is your team’s distribution- and focus on what motivates them; harmony, integration, rules, (I can’t remember what they all are for SD) and then craft your messages so that it hits each motivator. It might feel repetitive to you, but to the receiver, it won’t.
      I hope this helps a bit- it’s a hard thing to capture in a comments section.

  10. FaintlyMacabre*

    I’ve been trying to switch fields into llama herding and have applied and interviewed several times for my state’s llama herding department, but have not been hired. In the meantime, I saw a job for the state’s lizard herding program and I applied, as it seems like it’d be easier to get that job and would give me skills that are transferable to llama herding. They called for an interview which is great, except for one thing.

    The way the llama herding interview went, I spoke with the current llama herders and two people higher up in the division. Given the overlap in the departments, I may end up speaking with someone who I have spoken to about my passion for llama herding. I have no equivalent passion for lizard herding. If I get the job, it’s just a stepping stone. How do I address that if I interview with someone I interviewed with before, for a job that I would have liked better?

    1. Murphy*

      Can you focus on the things that do interest you about lizard herding? (Particularly any similarities that there might be between lizard herding and llama herding?) Presumably it’s not the kind of job that you would hate, even if you’re not actually passionate about it.

  11. sequitur*

    I had the fun this week of updating our expenses policy to make it clear that employees cannot expense fines (e.g. parking or speeding tickets) incurred during business travel…because someone actually tried to expense a parking ticket. The mind boggles.

      1. Snow Drift*

        EZ Pass is bull, and I’m surprised they don’t get sued. The ones in my area change lane categories on the fly, using only the color-coded light to signal which is which. My colorblind husband gets nailed EVERY TIME.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Using colors to impart crucial information is so, so contrary to standard usability guidelines. In fact, I’m not even allowed to do that on my workplace’s webpage because it conflicts with accessibility standards.

          1. silverpie*

            Those glasses don’t work for all colorblind people. They adjust for deficiencies in the relevant color by adding more light in that color, but if you have zero reception in that frequency, 100 times zero is still zero.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’m not surprised that your employer doesn’t cover it (I don’t think mine would, either), but as someone who used to travel 50% for work I would absolutely expect to be able to expense a parking ticket. I wouldn’t have gotten the ticket had I not been in City X for work. Mistakes happen, and that’s a part of doing business.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I have to disagree with this; most cities have marked “No Parking” signs or some kind of indication that parking is not allowed in a specific spot. And I imagine the company reimburses for parking, so there’s no reason not to go to a garage or something. Simply being in a city doesn’t mean that a parking ticket is inevitable.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Of course it’s not inevitable, but employers are expected to cover a lot of costs that aren’t inevitable. If I drop my laptop as I’m carrying it to a meeting, I’m not expected to pay for a replacement. (If I drop my laptop frequently, or if I get parking tickets frequently, my employer may decide that I’m not worth the cost and fire me. But I still don’t have to pay for the laptop.)

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I still see those two things very differently. Dropping your laptop is usually an accident, parking in the wrong space is usually avoidable. One can drop a laptop intentionally and one can park in the wrong space by accident, but I think the majority of the time people get parking tickets it’s because they didn’t obey the signs (I’ve had a couple and that’s been why, and it sucks, but it’s my fault).

            1. Natalie*

              Ah, see in my city you don’t get tickets for parking in the wrong space. You get towed. Tickets almost always come from someone letting the meter expire, which is nearly always an oversight or an unavoidable delay, so it seems much more akin to dropping a computer.

              Businesses pay extra expenses due to employee oversights or delays all the time – CC processing or wire fees to pay a late bill immediately, rush shipping because someone wasn’t watching the supply levels, penalties or interest because payments were delayed. Unless a person is exceptionally cavalier about it and keeps racking up tickets, I’d probably pay the reimburse the occasional parking ticket just for the goodwill.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Inappropriate parking is usually intentional (I know there are exceptions). Dropping your laptop is usually an accident. I wouldn’t expect the same policy to apply to both.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I can understand not paying for parking tickets, I am usually pretty good about reading signs and figuring out restrictions and not parking where I was not supposed to. But I have traveled a few times where I tried to be super diligent about routes/tolls and have still run into unexpected toll lanes where you are not adequately warned until you are already on it and have no chance of getting off.

              1. Sharon*

                A great example is the NY Throughway, as it doesn’t work like (or didn’t when I used it last some years ago) other toll roads I’m used to. I had to learn how it works by violating it the first time I drove on it: you take a ticket when you get on it, and then pay when you get off. I had no idea, so didn’t take the ticket or even notice that there was one! I drove up to the gate/arm, it went up and I went through. Needless to say when I got off the Thruway, the toll clerk was very confused and threatened to charge me for driving the entire length of it.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  That arm should say “take ticket” but I bet it doesn’t. Yep it says right on the ticket that if you lose the ticket they will assume you drove the entire Throughway. Like we can read that size 6 font at 60 plus mph.
                  For some folks in NY avoiding the Throughway is a religion/way of life/genetically passed down through generations. Up north of Albany, 87 becomes the Northway and it has no toll booths.

            2. PhyllisB*

              It could be they parked in a place that said something like “two hour parking” and were held up in a meeting and could not get out to move their car in time. I had to go to court with my son one time, parked in a 2 hour parking area thinking I would be fine, and the judge was an hour late!! Bailiff would not let me leave the courtroom to move my car. So, I ended up with a parking ticket. The next time I was called for jury duty. This time I parked in a four hour zone. Well, jury selection took 6(!!!) hours. Got another ticket. The first one I paid because it wasn’t worth the hassle of going to court. A parking ticket in our town costs $6.00 so I just sucked it up. The second one I took to the court clerk and she made it good plus gave me a pass to put on my dash.
              There are lots of ways to get a parking ticket even when you are legally parked. I would let them expense parking tickets ONE TIME then make them show documentation of why they got the ticket. Now speeding tickets are another story; I can’t think of many good reasons to get one.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Ask the court clerk if the court can help you, if this happens again. Some parking tickets can be really steep.

          3. Yorick*

            Your laptop is a necessary tool for your work, and it must be replaced if broken or you can’t keep working. A parking ticket is totally different from that.

        2. WellRed*

          I live in a city with atrocious parking, and myriad parking rules (Only park on this side of the street on alternate Mondays and Wednesdays, but only when the moon is full). I live here and can’t figure it out half the time. Don’t even get me started on the private company that started managing what seemed like public lots. If you went over by 5 minutes they’d boot you ($70).

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am thinking of Big City in my area. You can drive around and around and never find a parking spot during business hours.
            I think some areas just have chronic problems and parking tickets become a part of doing business.

        3. WellRed*

          I live in a city with atrocious parking and convulted parking rules that are confusing to the locals. Don’t even get me started on the lots that look public but are managed by a mercenary vendor who slaps a boot ($70) on cars the minute they go over their allotted time.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah as someone who travels in a place with lots of traffic cameras and bad toll lanes and incorrectly marked parking, I *wish* my employer would consider helping me out as it’s impossible to avoid getting dinged when you’re out in the world on business. I just have to have a whoops budget because I’m going to have to eat these fines … but they really are basically a business expense, since the only reason I’m there is work. However, this is a near universal rule everywhere I’ve ever worked. Positions with a lot of travel need to pay more because of this kind of thing, plus the inconvenience factor generally.

        1. New Year, New Me*

          Does this happen when you travel on vacation? I travel to new places all the time for work and for fun; I have never gotten an infraction ticket because I didn’t know a city very well. The last time I got a speeding ticket when just a few miles down the road from my parents’ house, a road I frequent when I visit them. This seems like a really flimsy excuse to me.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            My husband did 500-700 miles per week business travel. If you look around for a legit spot then your other numbers that they evaluate you on can go down. For example, you lose time looking for a space you do less service calls per day.
            After the WTC, my husband had to get through security before he could work on a customers machine. Which was understandable to everyone, except his bosses. On many calls he lost 45 minutes just waiting to get through the security check point.
            You see the pressure cooker building here. Lose time looking for a legit spot, lose more time waiting for security, and other things all ended up being stuff the employees got reprimanded for. Employees get sick of being scolded for things they cannot fix.
            Vacation travel does not have the time pressures that work travel has.

            1. New Year, New Me*

              I’m confused about ‘looking for a legit spot’. When I’m a new city, I look for a parking garage nearby where I want to go and park there. I don’t risk street parking (for work or personal travel); I go straight for the parking garage.

              The security stuff, that I definitely agree with you on, and I’d be pissed if my boss didn’t understand that the customer’s own security checkpoint is what made me late… though in my office, I know a few projects have involved high security government places and security checks are factored into the timelines for our meetings. But those are known security spots; for it to be a surprise, take forever, and the boss isn’t sympathetic is not okay.

              Also, depends on your vacation. As a kid, my dad once had our family flying through an unknown city to reach a cruise ship when we were running late for the departure point, and he still avoided any tickets… in fact, all vacation travel with my father is a time crunch that would put my work to shame. At least one time we ended up in a foreign country without a passport, it was his own passport and we were able to prove it was his own fault. He was about ready to chew out my stepmom until we pointed out that he had done photocopies of all our passports before we left and thus left his own on the printer.

      3. New Year, New Me*

        I work for a business where people travel at least once a month for work and it specifically states in our policy that that employees cannot expense for parking tickets, speeding tickets, and other such fines. Yes, mistakes happen, but that’s on you as a person to pay attention, not the company.

        If you visited a friend in another city that you didn’t know and got a ticket there, would you expect them to pay for it because you wouldn’t have gotten it if you weren’t in that city visiting them?

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          While I understand that it’s not common for parking tickets to be covered by employers (as I said in my first comment), I’m genuinely baffled by everyone planting their flag in the absolute rightness of this arbitrary policy.

          Of course I wouldn’t expect a friend to pay for the parking ticket I got while visiting her… because, unlike my employer, she didn’t obligate me to go on a business trip to her apartment, and we don’t have an formal economic relationship in which she explicitly trusts me to make decisions that have financial consequences for her.

          It’s just silly that we’re asked to pay for this one particular kind of mistake we make on our jobs, but not the millions of others. I don’t have to personally pay the overtime for an employee if I make a mistake that someone else has to stay late fixing or, hey, even if I have an accident while I’m driving a company car. My employer trusts that I do my best, and has decided over time that my best is worth the salary they pay me.

          I’d also like to think that they could trust me to make a judgment call that it’s worth a $25 parking ticket to not be late to a training session after a flight was delayed, or that it makes more sense to pay a $100 ticket than to walk out of an important meeting to feed the meter.

          (And, of course, if they’re ever dissatisfied with my performance, including the number of times I have an accident or make mistakes or get parking tickets, they can coach me, change my job so I don’t do the things that I keep screwing up, or fire me.)

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Oh, and: I’ve never gotten a ticket while driving (whether for work or otherwise), or a parking ticket or toll-lane violation on a work trip. I’m arguing the principle.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            I would say that if someone gets a speeding ticket, or ticket for unsafe driving, it should absolutely be payed by the driver.

            But things like parking tickets are trickier when you’re in an unfamiliar city, particularly one with Byzantine parking regulations. If the parking tickets are 100% on the driver, then the employer needs to accept that they might sometimes be late or need to leave a meeting to feed the meter, or be wiling to let the employee take an Uber from the hotel if there isn’t a convenient public garage. Also, time spent researching parking options and regulation should count as work time.

            I do think that things like merging into the toll road by accident or making a mistake with commuter lanes should be covered by the employer, within reason.

            Vacations are different – you’re doing it for fun, not for work, and you usually aren’t under the same time constraints – arriving at the museum at 9:30 rather than 9 is less of a big deal. Plus, major tourist sites tend to be well set up for public parking in a way that vendor sites or random businesses aren’t.

        2. TechWorker*

          That’s not a great comparison, if I drive to visit a friend I also don’t expect them to reimburse petrol..

          1. New Year, New Me*

            I’ve had friends expect it in situations with me, which is probably why I’m defensive about money in regards to transportation. At least my work has the courtesy to lay out their expectations in advance; while my friends have left me high and dry in other circumstances.

            One example, I was driving to an outting with a friend in my own car. On the way back, I got ill and asked if my friend could drive the rest of the way home. She agreed and took over the steering wheel. Weeks later, I got a notice in the mail of a speeding ticket from a highway camera. Based on the time and location, it was from when my friend was driving my car. When I asked her about paying it, she got upset because she was helping me out when I was sick and shouldn’t be punished for doing a favor for me. I didn’t point out that I had volunteered to drive us to our outting with no request of gas money from her and simply paid the ticket without pushing a fight.

            1. Marthooh*

              That’s a very different situation, though! Your friend was being extremely petty and definitely should have paid the ticket, but she’s not your employer and you don’t have a financial relationship with her.

              I’m afraid the best way to look at it is that you got an expensive lesson in how much you can trust that friend’s judgment.

    2. Nessun*

      I’ve had people try to expense parking tickets in the past – and it’s been a hard No in our expense policy for over 20 years! Just last week someone had a fit because there are delinquency charges on their corporate card, and that was also a hard No in the policy but they expensed them anyway – and got denied, and got mad. I even got an email asking me to call the cc company and tell them that the company would pay later, so the employee would stop getting calls! Un-be-lievable.

      1. WellRed*

        Why isn’t the company paying the corporate card on time? Presumably, employees aren’t expected to float the company loans?

        1. TexanInExile*

          I have always had to pay my corporate credit card myself. The company is really good on turning around expense reports, so I always have my money before the CC bill comes, but for people who don’t file their expense reports quickly, they might have a problem.

        2. Nessun*

          They pay when the expenses are approved, and they’re approved after they’re submitted, pending review of policy. The delinquency charges were against policy, so the whole thing got disallowed, and he had to resubmit. And of course, he had waited ages to submit in the first place, so his allowable expenses were into 90 day territory, and his disallowed expenses (which he wanted to be reimbursed on) were at the same point too. It’s a matter of his procrastination, expecting policy to be waived (!), and timing turnaround.

    3. Sara without an H*

      I once had a job working for a sparsely-populated, largely rural western state. All new hires were warned that they would be personally responsible for fines incurred while driving vehicles from the motor pool. No exceptions.

      Apparently, at one time, before I started there, if you were pulled over by the State Patrol while driving a state vehicle, you got a personal call from the governor. And those calls were not fun.

    4. Grapey*

      It’s good you clarified it because some industries DO cover parking tickets as a matter of course. I see plenty of contractors at our factory in an very busy urban setting (e.g. very little parking anywhere except for meters – we don’t even have a parking lot for employees).

      I told one guy that he had a parking ticket on his van and he said the companies he’s worked at always pay for those. Depends on your area I guess.

      1. Natalie*

        Yep. My husband has had a couple of roving maintenance jobs where the company would pay typically pay tickets. No one’s going to stop in the middle of a repair to move their vehicle or add time to the meter. It’s just part of the deal in areas with limited parking and strict enforcement.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      I don’t recall if it was in a recent open thread here or perhaps on The Workplace (StackExchange), but someone was complaining about the company not covering a ticket. They’d been travelling for work and a ticket had been automatically and incorrectly given. The OP found cameras that proved their innocence, but the rental car agency just pays the tickets and bills the company that rented the car. The company wasn’t budging – you got a ticket, so you have to pay it.

      That’s a long way to say – I hope you’re willing to examine the circumstances when your people push back. If they are wrongly given a ticket, if they get a ticket because they are color blind and color is how the information is given, if the parking was not clearly marked – be willing to consider it a business expense in some cases.

      1. New Year, New Me*

        That was a thread on here and that was a case of the writer getting an incorrect fine on a rental car. The rental agency had a policy of simply paying the fines without further investigation and then asking the drivers for reimbursement. So the rental agency asked the writer’s company, who said the writer needed to pay for it. I believe the responses encouraged the writer to tell the rental agency that the fine was an easily researched mistake and they shouldn’t have blindly paid it.

    6. Jake*

      I’ve worked several places that would cover an occasional ticket if they required you to get reimbursed for parking instead of actually providing parking.

      Not unreasonable to me, considering I’d park at a meter 300 plus days a year.

    7. JHunz*

      In that case, I hope you cover the cost of traveling back to the city to fight the ticket in the local traffic court in the case of undeserved fines or tickets.

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

      Yeah, I was on the fence about it, but after reading the replies here, I’m absolutely on the side that parking tickets while travelling for work are a business expense that need to be picked up by the business. If there’s abuse of the policy, or particular worry about abuse, you could set it to an individual max of 1 or 2 or 3 per year or whatever makes sense, but saying the business will not cover tickets not make sense as a blanket policy for an organization that cares about not hassling their staff.

    9. the flying piglet*

      I used to work for a past-paced retail chain. The company was located in a high-traffic, notoriously bad parking area. They provided parking spaces for two cars, but there were usually up to 7 employees working per day. The policy was that you are allowed to go out and refill the meter/move your car when you have to (every two hours) and the cost of the meter would be covered. That said, on busy weekends we were often SWAMPED and the only way to move your car on time would be to interrupt a transaction, leave your fellow coworkers in the lurch while you moved your car, or both. I racked up a ton of parking tickets, most of which cost quite a bit more than my hourly rate, and none of them were covered by the company.

    10. MatKnifeNinja*

      Those people come from “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” land. No they are not embarrassed. If you tell them WTH, NO!, they aren’t even upset.

      Have 3 relatives who roll through life that way.


  12. Doug Judy*

    How do you keep your confidence up when going through an extended job search? Since the fall I have gotten to the final round of interviews 5 times, and rejected each time. If you go back to the past two years, it’s close to a dozen. I have asked for feedback each time, only one has ever responded that it wasn’t anything I did, they loved me, just the other person had a bit more relevant experience.

    Here I am yet again, waiting to hear back next week as they are down to me and another person. I am trying to temper my expectations, but I really am not feeling confident. Add to it I know my current position is going to be over, as soon as next week.

    1. New Year, New Me*

      I went through a very long searching process, like at least two years. The most important thing to me was allowing myself to take a break, especially if I didn’t get a job that I was really hoping for. Allow yourself time to be sad for a bit, get a breather away from the cycle of applications and interviews, before diving back in. It saved my sanity.

      Also, I had to tell my friends and family to stop asking me about the search unless I brought it up in conversation. They all knew I was looking but talking about it when I was trying to enjoy down time with my loved ones did not help.

      Good luck!

      1. Doug Judy*

        Yes, I have a new policy to only discuss my job search with my husband. I know my friends are supportive and mean well, but having them ask about it has gotten too hard, I feel embarrassed to have to tell them yet again, I didn’t get it. I know they don’t think any less of me or anything, but it still is hard. Plus when I am with them I want to have fun, not talk about the crap circus my career is.

    2. AliceW*

      I’d concentrate on the positives. You’ve had a lot of final round interviews. The job market is strong. The one bit of feedback you got was very good. These all point to you nabbing a job eventually. Some friends I know who’ve looked for jobs in the past three years have had trouble even getting an interview or advancing further than the first round. Good luck and hang in there. It’s just a matter of time since you sound like you’re doing things right.

      1. Doug Judy*

        I hope so! I don’t usually stay down for too long after a rejection, a day or two and then I bounce back and get back out there. Hopefully now that the holidays are over there will be more openings too. I live in a small city so there aren’t many openings in general and December is not an ideal time to be job searching unless you are in retail or something where it’s critical to have positions filled ASAP.

    3. Minerva McGonagall*

      I went through a nearly 18 month job search with many final round interviews ending with “you’re amazing and passionate and we think you’d be great! But we went with someone else.” results. Probably close to 25. It was super frustrating and really demoralizing. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      Something I did, in addition to what the other comments have mentioned, was focus on something I was good at that had zero connection to my working life to help boost my confidence to make me prepared to get back in the saddle. So I got into baking and sharing those with friends and family. It also helped segway away from “Oh how’s your job search?” to “OMG this is so good!” So if there’s something that you really enjoy doing find some passion and confidence from that, and let it bleed into the rest of your life. Good luck!

      1. Doug Judy*

        Good point! I am also a baker. This summer I did cupcakes for a wedding of two good friends. It was very nice to do something I am good at and be recognized for. Not something I in at all interested in doing for a career, it was so much work, I could not imagine doing it on a daily basis.

      2. Natatat*

        “focus on something I was good at that had zero connection to my working life to help boost my confidence”

        What a great idea! My situation isn’t like OPs, but this advice still seems like a great idea to turn off the work/worry part of my brain (new job, lacking confidence) and help myself feel good. Some easy “wins” (doing a good job at something I’m good at outside of work) would probably help my self-confidence overall.

    4. Natalie*

      I realized recently that I’ve been job searching off and on for the last three years – a nine month job search led to position A, then three months later that business was sold and I was going to get laid off within a year. So I spent a year job searching, accepted Position B right as my layoff date was approaching, but Position B turned out to be such a bad fit that I started searching again within a month. Now a year later I’ve just accepted an offer and am working out my notice period.

      The most important thing that helped me keep going was breaks, as others have mentioned. Sometimes really long breaks. I took a whole summer off. I worked with a ton of recruiters so I could do some passive job searching. I also spent some time developing other stuff in my life – hobbies, relationships, a city advisory board – which was both something else for me to focus on and something else to talk about at parties or whatever.

    5. emmelemm*

      I don’t know. My boyfriend went through a very extended job search and got a fair number of interviews and… no offers. I don’t know how he stayed sane, honestly.

    6. CastIrony*

      I have a similar question: I am in an extended job-search in a small town. Like Doug Judy, I get interviews and no offers for the same reason, despite having the education and in one case, all the qualifications.

      However, I think my current employer is hurting my chances (I have grown professionally and personally in my job of six years, but have had some incidents in the first few years), and I wonder how to tell interviewers that I don’t want my current employer to be contacted (until I have an offer) so that I can get a full-time job!

  13. Dragoning*

    I have a bit of long question, but it boils down to: is it a good idea to apply to this job or not?

    Context: I am a permalance contractor with a specific company. Recently, I’ve been getting bothered by recruiters from other firms for another contract/permalance position also at this company, doing somewhat similar work in a different department. But work I’m more interested in, and that I think would be more useful for my future career (I’m very early in my career at the moment, but I definitely do not want to be promoted in my current department–all their jobs make me cringe).

    My current department works with this department the new job is with a fair amount–and they like me over there. Enough that the hiring manager for this position actually gave me a bonus out of her department’s budget in June.

    But, my dad (who works as a FTE in a whole completely other sector of the Specific company) insists this is a terrible idea and will show I’m “disloyal.” Well–I’m a contractor, what reason should I have for loyalty? If this is a better job for me, why am I not allowed to take it because I’m a contractor? If this was a full-time opening, or if I was full time, I would apply for the transfer in a heartbeat–but it’s not, and I’m not.

    He also thinks it would mean I would have to impress my entirely-new chain of management for a hope of getting a FTE position at specific company–which I do want (BENEFITS, YES, PLEASE). My current line of management is currently VERY happy with my work at my current job. But they don’t have the budget to make me a FTE anyway, and who knows when they ever will.

    Obviously, if I apply for this job, it’s likely that the New Job Department will ask my current department about me in more detail, and thus spill the beans about my “job search.” But I’m not really actively looking for a job, and I do like my current job…I just don’t want to do it forever.

    I’d at least like to interview at learn more about the job…

    Thoughts? I’m really torn.

    1. Sara*

      I feel like there’s a generation of workers that really stress loyalty to a company or a manager as a way of improving your station in life. Unfortunately that’s not the case in today’s job market, loyalty will only get you so far. I say apply! You need to do what’s best for yourself, and it sounds like you’re interested in moving into this role. Perhaps ask the recruiters how they’d handle an internal interview because you don’t want to alarm your current manager if you don’t have to.

    2. Observer*

      I’m kind of puzzled about the “loyalty” bit. It’s weird enough in general, but especially in the context of making a move within the organization. Is this place REALLY siloed and full of intrigue?

    3. Overeducated*

      Interview! Contractors are not expected to be loyal where I work, and having to impress your new chain of command is a red herring anyway, permalance jobs are not guaranteed so you might have to make a move regardless. At least get the experience you want.

    4. revueller*

      The most important details here are the following:

      The position you would apply for:
      – is more interesting to you
      – would better advance your career
      – has benefits that you want

      Your current position:
      – you don’t want to be promoted at
      – BUT your managers are very happy with your work and sound reasonable

      The only one being unreasonable here is your dad. Go for the job.

      1. Dragoning*

        That’s the thing–it DOESN’T have benefits I want. I wish it did. In fact, if I have to switch contracting firms, I’m going to lose what few benefits I currently have.

        1. revueller*

          Ah, my bad. I misread then. Maybe try for a coffee with someone you know at that department. That way you can dip your toe in without having to formally interview right away.

          I just firmly disagree with the loyalty thing, especially if your current position isn’t what you want to do forever.

    5. rolling in the deeeeeeeeep*

      You don’t owe your current employer “loyalty”. You owe them your work. And then when you want to leave, you can leave. Unless there’s serious conflict of interest issues at play, you can apply where you want to apply.

      And since they’re not giving your benefits at your current place, they should probably already know that you’d be happy to leave for a place with a better compensation package.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        I’m loyal to the branch where I’m assigned. That branches priorities are my priorities.

        And, since TPTB can reassign me to another branch at any time, my loyalty and my priorities are subject to change.

    6. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Blech, I hate when people bring up so-called owed loyalty to a company. Unless he has some weird insider information about Specific company, I think you can trust your instincts and throw your hat in the ring for the full-time position. Your current management knows you want a full time position and they don’t have the means to provide you with one, they probably expect you to be job-hunting anyway.

      Go for it and good luck!

      1. Namast'ay in Bed*

        Hmm well I still think it doesn’t hurt to learn more information about the position.

        But should you take it if offered? With the idea that you’d be leaving a contract position for another contract position, potentially losing what benefits you do have, all while still wanting to go fulltime, I think it would have to be a pretty good offer to make that move. Either it would have to be a job you REALLY want to do, or will provide great experience/connections, or offers you a lot more money, or has a good chance to actually go fulltime, otherwise I think you may be better off in a holding pattern at your current position while looking for fulltime work elsewhere.

        Long story short: get more information, it can’t hurt!

        1. Dragoning*

          It’s difficult to get more information without interviewing, though, and that kind of…spills a hand all over the desk I don’t want showing right now because it’ll look like something it’s not.

    7. LKW*

      As a contractor, you don’t owe the company loyalty. And this notion of loyalty is outdated. Companies will take as much as possible from their employees.

      You know the environment better than I but is this a company that rules by fear? If so, then your dad may be right. But they may value gumption over fear and like people who take risks. And then your dad would be wrong. I say apply. Anyone in the company who takes it personally has a screw loose.

    8. Snow Drift*

      Strongly agree with other commenters. Your dad’s ideas are incredibly outdated, and actually contradict the current job market. Many articles in business pubs are talking about how long-term employment stagnates people in regards to salary and promotion. Listening to your dad could be actively harmful to your career growth. You should apply.

    9. Sara without an H*

      Hey, you’re a contractor — you owe your present employer your best work, and that’s it.

      Do give your current manager a heads up about this. If she’s at all decent, she’ll understand your desire for a position that could lead to full-time employment. With benefits.

      1. Dragoning*

        Well, it has about the same odds of getting benefits as this one does, really–my dad’s thing is that he thinks it’s going to “reset” the timeline on how long it takes (since I’ve been in my current department for a year and a half now)–not that I was ever given any guarantee or timelines anyway.

        1. Sara without an H*

          I’d still go for it. If you don’t have a specific guarantee (in writing!), then you have no reason not to interview for the other position.

        2. De-Archivist*

          Longevity=/=promotibility. This is a common mistake that people make about getting promoted, probably lingering from your dad’s generation’s outdated misconceptions of the job market. I fell into it myself early in my career. There’s this mindset that if you “put in your time” and do good work that you’ll eventually get promoted. But that’s not always the case (though it can happen). Anyone who’s been passed over for promotion over an outside hire can probably attest to that.

          If you want to do the work of the other department to expand your skillset or because you see some advantage to your career in the long-term or finances in the short term, then apply. Don’t think about it as a “reset” and/or trying to impress your bosses. Think about it as trying to make yourself the most attractive candidate you can to *all* your future employers.

          If you have no desire to do the job in your current department, it seems like a waste of time putting in months or years with them in the hopes that they’ll eventually figure out they can’t live without you. The benefits thing is a bit sticky and scary, but this doesn’t have to be a binary situation: stay and get promoted or go and start over. You could be a permalance employee for years for no benefits. You could move and impress some random VP from a different company. You could win the lottery.

          But to reiterate what other commenters have said, “loyalty” is rarely going to be a quality that gets you promoted. Professionalism, demand for your skill set, and a great resume will.

    10. learnedthehardway*

      You don’t really need to go through an outside recruiter for this other position within the same company for which you are working. In fact, because you are already a contractor with the company, your employer would very likely not pay two companies for representing you. Look up the job on the employer career site and let your manager know that you’d be really interested in being considered for it. Would your manager support your candidacy?

      If yes, you’re golden. If no, for whatever reason (eg. your department needs you too much), you weren’t going to get that role anyway.

      It may be that you ultimately end up in the role, and your payroll may get run through this other contracting company, so to not burn that bridge, I’d tell the recruiters approaching you that you’ve already been aware of the position and are looking into it from within the organization, but that you appreciate their call.

      1. Dragoning*

        I think you are confused.

        I am not, technically, an employee of any kind with this company–I am employed by and paid by a contracting firm, who they pay a fee to, to handle my employment.

        This position I’m interested in is of the same nature. There is no looking into the position from within. It is not being offered as an internal position.

        I could, maybe, bring it up with my contact at the contracting firm, but I have no idea how to begin to approach that conversation, either.

    11. LaDeeDa*

      I totally disagree with your father– in most companies now there is a push for “global knowledge”. Global means a lot of different things to different companies- but it boils down they want leaders who have a broader range of knowledge and experience in the whole company and the industry. In your father’s day being really good at your job in your department was enough to make you a leader– not anymore.
      Get experience anywhere and everywhere you can. And if the recruiters thought the managers wouldn’t like it- they wouldn’t be reaching out to you, if they make the managers mad they will know it.

    12. Binky*

      Can you talk to the hiring manager who gave you the bonus? Depending on how well the departments work together, maybe she and your current manager can work out what amounts to a transfer, even if you have to jump through some contractor hoops to get there.

      I think that moving departments sounds like a good idea, and I don’t think you need to worry about “loyalty,” but some sensitivity to the fact that you’d be making an internal move may benefit you. To me, that sensitivity would take the form of not blindsiding your current manager, so long as you don’t have to worry about your manager being a jerk (obviously, do what you need to do if your manager is a jerk).

    13. Not Gary, Gareth*

      So reading through this and the comments, let me see if I’m understanding correctly:

      It sounds like this other job is a job you would like better, or at least the same amount. You already know the new department likes you/your work. New Department would be more likely to open you up to career advancement (though not guaranteed, of course).

      Current Department likes your work. You like them well enough but don’t really want to stay there forever or move up the ranks there, which doesn’t seem likely to happen anyway. You don’t want them to think you’re job-searching, because you’re not really – you’re just interested in the one, possibly, and you don’t want to give them any reason to think you want out (I assume?).

      Additionally, because you’re a contractor, you’re not actually employed by this company – and I think it sounds like you’d have to switch contracting companies to apply for this other job?

      Assuming the above is more or less true, here’s my advice: Apply for the dang job! Your dad is giving you bad advice that basically amounts to “You should limit your potential and stifle your ambitions for the benefit of your current employer.” Maybe this wasn’t always the case but the notion that employers reward loyalty is, at best, badly outdated. (And I’m willing to bet it was never all that true to begin with. The words “Triangle Shirtwaist Factory” come to mind.) And even if he’s right – what reward would you get from your current job that would make passing up this opportunity worthwhile?

      Additionally, on the off chance he’s talking about loyalty to the contracting company and not the department you work in: they’re a contracting company. I work for a temp agency – which, admittedly, is a different industry – but at least in temping we all understand that folks are going to be working with multiple agencies. And often job-searching on their own as well. Assuming contracting is even slightly the same, I don’t think the question of ‘loyalty’ to your current firm is even really a question at all. They should know you’re an independent agent, and that you have the prerogative to change up your working situation anytime you feel like it. It might be worthwhile to tell the new firm “Hey, I already work for this company in a different department through [CurrentFirm] and I don’t want to jeopardize my work there, is it possible to ask for discretion during the application and interview process? I am interested in this job, but obviously I want to keep my current one if it doesn’t work out.”

      TL;DR: Your dad’s advice is bad, some nebulous concept of ‘loyalty’ is a silly reason to hold yourself back from advancement, you should totally go for it.

    14. Armchair Analyst*

      Will your current employer, who arranged this 1st position that you’re at with the client company, think less of you or make your life difficult?
      I am unclear if you’d be moving to a different employer for this next contracting position. If so, that could fall under some sort of don’t-work-for-our-competitor clause.
      Something to consider.
      Good luck.

      1. Dragoning*

        I checked the contract–there’s nothing like that in there as far as I can tell.

        Right now, switching contracting employers is my plan–I don’t really know how to go about addressing “hey can I switch contracts after they just extended it” with them. They certainly have not offered me this position and have no real incentive to do so, when I already have a position and they could in theory place a second person in the new one.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          I don’t have much to add except to ask if the parent/client company you’re working at (versus the contracting firm that is paying you) allows contractors to switch firms without requiring a break period (3 months, 6 months, etc)? If no such penalty exists, I say shoot your shot!

          Good luck!

    15. Not So Little My*

      I’ve moved between contracting and full-time employment in a variety of companies for the last 20 years. Gaining new skills by trying different teams/positions in the same company is actually considered quite valuable as it gives you a breadth of skills and connections. You should always move to increase your knowledge and leverage any opportunities to do so. Your father’s ideas are from about 50 years ago and you should not give them any credence.

  14. Seifer*

    My boss is going to be on location for four months starting in about a week and a half and my cube mate and I are panicking because that means that basically, we are running the department. Yesterday we had a ‘pray for us in the hour of our deaths’ moment. Today we may drink.

    Unrelated: how long does it usually take you to stop writing the previous year? I’ve written and scribbled out ‘_ January 2018’ more times than I can count by now.

    1. Audrey Puffins*

      I’m very good at getting the year right in the first few months of a new year, but I did have an extended phase a few weeks back where I couldn’t stop myself writing 2014. Explain that one! :)

      1. Seifer*

        That happened to me too! Not a few weeks back but when it was 2017, I started writing 2014! I guess I was in denial about 2014-2016?? Not my best years, so maybe I was onto something, ha!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It depends on the year for me, weirdly. I have better luck with odd years than even. So far I’ve been ok, though I haven’t actually written the new date, just typed it. I felt so accomplished when I labeled a file with “1.2.19”. Little things!

      1. Wulfgar*

        I like odd numbers and have found that I also remember the new year better in odd years. Weird but true.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m actually having the reverse problem – for the last 10 months, I’ve been entering dates in excel as MM/DD and leaving Excel to fill in the year, but it enters current year so I keep having to go back and change December dates from 2019 to 2018. (I tend to be reviewing documents that are 4-8 weeks old.)

      1. Blarg*

        YES. This is making me crazy. My “type slightly fewer digits” is now “type a crap ton extra” when my formulas calculate an event that took 4 days over the new year to be -361 days.

    4. EnfysNest*

      Thanks for the reminder to check the date – I’m working on a stack of paperwork right now and all of it says 1/4/18 and I hadn’t even noticed. Whoops!

      1. Seifer*

        Haha oh no! I’ve caught it on a couple of other papers that people have given me too. All the white out thing are suspiciously missing from the supply cabinet, so I guess we’re not the only ones with this problem.

    5. Sara without an H*

      Re dates: it usually takes me about a week.

      As for the other issue: Have a briefing meeting with your manager, then try not to worry excessively. She probably has more confidence in you than you do.

      1. Seifer*

        You’re lucky with the dates! I like to think of myself as an organized person but come January, I have papers from January previous year and January current year everywhere. But they were all from yesterday. Fail.

        Eeeeek. He does indeed have more confidence in me than me. I think we’ll be okay but I think it’s just the reality of the situation finally sinking in… we’ve known for about a month now and have been having briefing meetings since then.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Since I’m very concerned about upcoming schedule, I’ve been learning to write 2019 for the past couple of months and am pretty much in the habit of it.

      There were some times, though, where all dates – the December ones and the January and February ones – were all 2018. At one point it seemed like it would have been easier to leave the year off and let people figure it out by context.

    7. LizB*

      I am at this moment in the midst of re-printing a flyer that should have been titled “January 2019 Teapot Trainings” but… was not. The wrong version has been up for three days before any of us noticed it said 2018. *facepalm*

    8. Hallowflame*

      It usually takes me a couple of months, but that’s mostly because I work in accounting, so all through January I’ll be typing and writing 2018 as we close the books on the previous year!

    9. :-)*

      Every beginning of the year I take a spare piece of paper (the backside of a bill that came in the post, or even a page of a newspaper) and write it full with the year, 2019 in this case. If you write it a few dozen times, it’s all about the movement.

      I think you can do the same with typing? Open a document and only type the year a few dozen times?

    10. Hamburke*

      I’m still processing 2018 items (invoices, payroll, etc) but QuickBooks is ahead of me -instead of typing m/d, I have to go m/d/y which I forget to do and get beeped at for trying to add something more than 30 days in the future…someday soon I’ll be writing 2019!

      Usually by March I have it sorted out in my brain to write the correct date.

  15. But you don't have an accent...*

    I’m thinking about applying for an open internal position, but am worried it’s going to be a drastic pay cut. I’m willing to take up to a certain amount – but is there a polite way to ask the hiring manager what the salary range is before I apply? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, and if I end up applying I have to have sign off from my boss.

    1. Audrey Puffins*

      I think what you have there is fine – you politely ask “could I ask what the salary range is before I apply? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time” should be plenty!

      1. rolling in the deeeeeeeeep*

        I agree with this. It sounds like you might already have relationships built, so a e-mail asking about range before applying should go fine.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          No, don’t do this via e-mail. It is unlikely that the hiring manager wants to put this in writing. Go ask face-to-face.

          1. rolling in the deeeeeeeeep*

            At some point, they’re gonna have to put it in writing? And it’s probably already in writing with HR when they negotiated out the position creation? At least, where I am, if you make a position, you set down the salary range.

      2. Doug Judy*

        At old job we could just ask HR, “Hey what is the salary range for X position?” and they would give the bottom, mid and high.
        If you don’t know the hiring manger well, just check with HR. They might be more open than the hiring manager because hiring managers can sometimes are afraid to state a number.

    2. kbeers0su*

      I teach people how not to get in trouble, and then when they ignore what I told them, I investigate them and fire them.

    3. Alice Ulf*

      I make sure the good peoples get in and the problematic peoples stay out. Current success rate around 50 percent. :P

  16. CatCat*

    I saw this in a social media group I’m in and the results were hilarious so I thought it would be fun to do here:

    Badly explain your profession. Go.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I tell people how to avoid dying and how to keep their customers from dying.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        An attorney who helped me with some estate stuff, told me the same thing about his job. “I call people up and tell them how to do their jobs”, he said. And from what I saw that was about right.

      1. Cowgirlinhiding*

        Me too. I am always in the way, making things harder than they should be and talking too much.

      1. Greymalk*

        Me too! I encourage things to rot and then show it to others… then later they encourage things to rot and show me….

    1. Frea*

      I correct people with PhDs and way more degrees than me, and they like it.

      NightJob: I put in hundreds of hours of work on a product, give it to a near stranger to give to other strangers, and hope I make money off of it someday. Despite this being a largely solitary profession, I’m expected to be social and charming for the Brand(tm).

        1. Frea*

          Nope! The near stranger happens to be my agent, who is lovely but pretty hands off—and also trying to sell my book. :)

      1. Office Gumby*

        That’s my night job as well. Oh yeah, you forgot the part where we don’t get paid for the hundreds of hours we put in.

    2. Skipp*

      I set people up on blind dates where they will be pressured to give large amounts of money for nothing in return

    3. Meredith Brooks*

      I’m a babysitter. If you’re a good kid, I tell everyone I know. If you’re a bad kid, I try to prevent you from setting the house on fire.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I quite literally did this at one time. I was an inventory analyst for a grain elevator and processing plant.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I take medical documentation and turn it into medical bills. (That is, when there IS documentation. Which there often isn’t.)

        1. Mrs. Fenris*

          Ha! Fenris is an appraiser. He gets to tell people that they aren’t going to get a fortune out of their house.

    5. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I stare at glowing rectangles for hours at a time. Then I go home, and stare at different glowing rectangles.

      1. Fiona*

        Oooooh same.

        I move the pictures around on the rectangles. Then I go home and watch the pictures that someone else moved around for me.

        1. rolling in the deeeeeeeeep*

          I saw yours and was like “jinx!” :D

          I made a toolkit to specifications. Then they wanted it shorter. I made a quick short guide. Then they wanted it shorter. Then that suddenly got passed around as “here are the 3 best practices, do _all_ of them” (physically impossible). Me: nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

    6. it_guy*

      I get to tell people what they can’t have and why I won’t give it to them in ways they can’t understand.

    7. Archaeologist*

      I used to dig holes and fill them back in again. Now I give people money to do that, and sometimes even more money to not dig holes at all.

      1. Also an Archaeologist*

        I was going to go with “I dig up dead people” or “digging ditches, but with a degree”, but I like this one too.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I dig holes, put the contents in plastic bags or sometimes buckets, draw pictures, and fill out forms that somebody will have to decipher next year when I’m working for someone else.

      1. Susan*

        Me too.

        A conversation from a few years ago, re: asks.

        Internal customer: I want a pony
        My job: You can’t have a pony
        IC: Can my pony be white?
        My job: You can’t have a pony
        IC: How about a black pony?
        MJ: NO PONIES
        IC: Unicorn?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Someone mentioned ponies on FB this morning and I flashed back to this. It’s memorable!

    8. BeanCat*

      I process air vibrations that come from a lump of plastic on my desk and send those air vibrations to other people.

    9. Drax*

      Everything is on fire, I put out the biggest ones first while trying to keep the feral kittens in line.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Functionally yes. Mostly I’m the person that has flaming piles of poo dropped in their lap and makes it better regardless of what my job and department is.

      1. designbot*

        Ooh, and I tell them how to get out if it burns anyway! Also how to use buildings in general.

      1. Yeah, no...*

        Same. But not the fun kind where you get to buy products and keep them and get paid to do it.

    10. AnotherAlison*

      I ask people if they are done with the stuff I told them to do, tell them they need to be done, and then I report back to clients that we will be done soon.

    11. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      I give people money, but also take people’s money away when they don’t open their mail.

    12. kbeers0su*

      I teach people how not to get in trouble, and then when they ignore what I told them, I investigate them and fire them.

    13. Nerfmobile*

      I talk a lot to people about how things on computers should work, but don’t actually make them work that way.
      [user experience manager]

    14. Seifer*

      I tell the c-suite how behind we are and listen to them squawk about loss of profit. Then I move the beans around so that it looks like we’re at least breaking even.

      1. librarygal30*

        I also tell them where to find reliable information, when they are doing things at 2AM the day a thing is due…

    15. Sammie*

      I do things for people that everyone else thinks they should be able to do for themselves.

      And, yes, this is hilarious. Thank you!

    16. Sybil Carpenter*

      I act as a middle man to help people find information that they can easily find themselves.

    17. Asperger Hare*

      I exchange more and more fraught emails with people who want to get to C without passing A and B, until the deadline passes and we all give up.