open thread – February 1-2, 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.

{ 1,853 comments… read them below }

  1. BirthdayWeek*

    We have a set number of PTO days which allot for our sick and vacation time. I’m taking 10 days off in March for a vacation, which is 60% of my yearly PTO. Six weeks after I return from my vacation, I plan on leaving my company. I’d like to give them as much advanced notice as possible given my niche position.

    Is taking a bunch of PTO and then giving notice the ‘wrong’ thing to do? I’ve been with this company for five years and I don’t want to burn bridges – this is the first ‘real’ job I’ll be leaving. The time off has already been approved and the vacation is booked. Not sure what my company’s policy is for reimbursing unused PTO. (Anyone know if it’s regulated USA state by state?)

    1. Wendie*

      Not a big deal! No one will notice I bet. We had a pastor do this (talk about a hard position to fill) and who would begrudge a good employee their vacation?

    2. ThatGirl*

      Not the wrong thing to do – people have lives and make plans.

      Laws for unused PTO payout do vary by state -I know Illinois mandates payout. You may also find, depending on your company’s accrual policy, that you actually owe them if you’ve dipped into unaccrued territory, but that may not be the case.

      1. FTW*

        This was my thought as well. At my firm, we have a set number of sick/personal days for the year given at the start, but we accrue a certain number of vacation days each month. If I took 60 % in March, I’d be in the negative.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Not wrong at all. Lots of people use vacation up prior to leaving, especially if you aren’t paid out when you leave. It’s your benefit to use while employed, nobody should be upset by you using the time, if they are, that’s on them.

    4. Minerva McGonagall*

      I gave two weeks notice the week after I returned from my wedding and honeymoon (nearly two weeks out of the office). It’s just how everything happened in regards to timing for the new job. You should be fine to give them six weeks once you get back from your vacation!

    5. Natalie*

      PTO payout is regulated state by state. Additionally, some states have case law that generally enforces whatever is written in the handbook (that is, if the handbook says “we will pay your PTO balance” the state considers that binding even if state law doesn’t require it).

      Quitting happens, and sometimes it happens at an inconvenient time. Six weeks is a generous notice period for most positions, which should soothe any miffed feelings about giving notice after vacation. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

    6. mf*

      CA has mandatory payout for PTO.

      And no, I don’t think this is the “wrong” thing to do. PTO is part of your compensation. Not using it before you resign is like saying you’re not allowed to spend your paycheck before you leave your job.

      1. PaidforNapping*

        The writer says they are taking 60% of their 2019 PTO in March, then leaving in six weeks (so gone by May).
        So they may be in a position of taking un-earned PTO.

        1. Hamburke*

          I don’t know if that matters when the OP leaves depending on how the PTO policy is written – does it accrue or is it granted. I’ve worked in places with both systems.

    7. Anon nonprofit worker*

      Not the wrong thing to do, and if you don’t do it you’ll lose your PTO. I think a lot of people do this and sometimes it happens unexpectedly. It also might be your last time for a while to take ten days off, and as a huge promoter of taking time off (because we all work so much) I think you should do it.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I have, when people who work for me have given notice, sat down with them to make a plan for them to take their vacation before their last day, or whether the company will pay it out, and if so how much, etc.

        Many companies I’ve worked for had policies that you have to be IN the office on your last day or half-day of work (I don’t remember how they enforced that), so you can’t give notice and then immediately take 2 weeks of vacation; you’d have to at least come back for the last half day.

    8. AdAgencyChick*

      Yeah, PTO payout/clawback laws vary by state.

      I don’t think it’s wrong to do, but you should figure out ahead of time what the financial hit to you could be, based on your state’s laws and employee handbook, and whether you can afford it. Based on personal experience, once you quit, they will try to recover as much money from you as they can. After all, the bean counters don’t care about keeping you happy to retain you at that point.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        to be clear, I mean a financial hit if your company has a policy that you accrue only a certain amount of PTO per month and taking 60% of your annual allotment in March would cause you to be technically in the red when you quit.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            You may find that you need to reimburse for the “extra” PTO you used. I’d take a look at your employee handbook and any state regulations around vacation time.

          2. Rockhopper*

            You may want to double check that. We also get the full amount on January 1, but if we leave during that year it is subject to prorating. So, say I get 4 weeks per year. If I used two weeks in February (and I am welcome to do so) and left the company on March 31, I would have to pay back one week.

            1. BirthdayWeek*

              Ahh, I see. I will double check then. It won’t impact my plans, but at least I won’t be caught off guard.

            2. blink14*

              This is how it worked at my last job – I was given a prorated amount of vacation payout when I left.

            3. MoopySwarpet*

              This. You should consult your handbook regarding how (and if) they are paid out. I know quite a few states require payout. There should be something in the handbook about how they are actually accrued, though.

              For example, we have a separate bucket for sick pay (that does NOT require pay out by law). You are free to use those days throughout the year (all of them in January if needed), but if you are employed with us at the end of the year, any remaining days are paid out. It is worded such that the actual accrual of the sick pay doesn’t happen until Dec 31st, so you are actually borrowing against your sick days throughout the year. If someone quits or is terminated during the year, we do not make them pay back the sick time, but they haven’t technically earned any to pay out.

              I think with using over half your PTO before the first half of the year, you’ll want to make sure that you know if you’re going to owe the company when you resign.

      2. Aoife*

        One thing I learned from a friend online after the Buzzfeed layoffs is this – that some companies offer “unlimited” PTO to get around the mandatory payout laws in say, California. I always wondered what the benefit to them would be from such a seemingly generous policy…

        1. Bend & Snap*

          It’s because PTO can be a financial liability, especially for companies looking at being acquired or going public.

          I work for a public company with unlimited PTO. It does not suck.

        2. TootsNYC*

          they also discover that their employees often don’t take that vacation. My cousin worked at Best Buy during a time when they had unlimited PTO. (they may still–he just doesn’t work there)

          He was always hassling his subordinates to TAKE VACATION!
          He eventually just told them that his person demand for them was to take two weeks, period, and then incidental days (like, he took a day off to pick me up at the airport once–he’d “harass” his folks into taking a whole day for an errand like that).

          1. TootsNYC*

            My point being, it doesn’t really cost them in terms of productivity, etc., so there’s really very little risk to being that generous.

            I hadn’t known about the accounting/pay-out side of it!

          2. Autumnheart*

            Best Buy never had unlimited PTO. They had ROWE (results-oriented work environment) which allowed people to work wherever they wished, as long as the work was completed on schedule. It ended in 2013. But there’s still flexibility to work from home when it’s necessary (like this week, with the weather).

    9. blink14*

      There are regulations that vary by state about unused PTO. In my state, any earned, unused vacation time must be paid out by law when leaving an employer. Sick time varies by policy – my last company gave me a payout on my sick time, my current employer does not.

    10. irene adler*

      I concur- not an issue.
      In fact, if the company is cash-strapped, they may appreciate you taking as much PTO as you can so that they may pay off a smaller amount of PTO to you.

    11. TheAssistant*

      At my first job, the stars aligned in a way where I took 5 days of vacation, worked two months, took another week of vacation, and left the job two days later. I ended up giving three weeks notice that included my week of approved vacation (it was for a wedding halfway across the world, so everyone understood I couldn’t change the plans). We were in the midst of a huge staff transition and department reorganization. The timing was textbook terrible.

      But because I was a great employee, and because they were good people to work for, it was absolutely fine. My references didn’t suffer and we made everything work the best we could.

      Doing things like documenting your work during the transition and working hard (but not crazy) during your notice period matter so much more than the timing of your vacation.

    12. epi*

      It’s not at all a wrong thing to do, it’s just smart. It would be hard or impossible to get the exact same PTO approved if you gave notice even earlier, even if you know you can wrap things up in the time you have left. Maybe it would inconvenience your employer if you gave two weeks of notice the day you got back or something, but leaving six weeks later is not a big deal in most roles.

      I knew several months ahead of time that I would be leaving my last job for grad school. I got in all my PTO requests first– between a few weddings, summer holidays, and a handful of pre-schedule days just because, I arranged it to have four day weeks my last two months. I still gave them plenty of notice. They didn’t want any of the PTO cancelled.

    13. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      While I agree with the general message you’re getting in these comments, I do think it matters why you’re leaving (and how long you reasonably would have known you were planning to leave).

      So: if you come back from vacation and give notice that you’re starting a new job, that’s no problem. Job offers happen when they happen (and it doesn’t matter that you happen to already know that you’ll be leaving in April or May; your colleagues and boss won’t know that).

      But if you’re leaving for grad school or some other reason that gives away that you’d known you’d be leaving? I do think that changes things and makes it a little uncomfortable to take “extra” PTO right before announcing that you’re leaving. (By “extra” I just mean taking 60% of your annual PTO 25% of the way through the year, knowing that you won’t be there to “earn” the rest of the PTO.)

      1. BirthdayWeek*

        I am leaving because I am moving out of the state. I agree with your sentiment, which is why I was uncomfortable about doing this. My dad is aging and I need to spend some time with him as I only see him once a year. I don’t know if these details really matter – but I did want to express that I’m not going on a ‘vacation’ beach side resort or anything, it’s more for personal family reasons.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I hear ya, and that’s obviously a very good reason for moving (and anyway your reason isn’t really their business)… but I do think it changes things a little bit that you’re leaving on your own schedule (rather than a start date set by a new job).

          I’d review your employee handbook and think back about how it’s worked when other employees left, so you can get really clear about how your org treats PTO. It would be reasonable if they don’t intend staff who leave mid-year to take advantage the full year’s worth of PTO. Ideally, if they’re concerned about that, they would have a policy in place (requiring you to “pay back” PTO); that’s what my previous employer who had this system did.

          1. BirthdayWeek*

            Thank you for weighing in! These are all really good things to consider, and I want to be fair to my organization because it has been a really great place to work. If I have to pay back some time, so be it. I’m more concerned about resentment than money.

    14. Kali*

      Totally fine. My industry has generous sick time that never expires, and people tend to stay for decades here, so we have soon-to-be retirees with literal years of sick time they could take. (I’ve been here 7 years and could take almost 5 straight months off.) But there’s a cap to how much you can get paid out for that accrued time when you retire, so there’s been a history of older workers getting the surgeries they need with all the months of associated recovery time shortly before announcing their retirement. No one gets upset by it, because they *earned* that sick time, just as you earned your vacation time.

    15. Snark*

      Your PTO is compensation. You wouldn’t feel badly about spending money from your last couple of paychecks before leaving the position, would you? Same same.

      People have lives, make plans, and come and go. This is totally normal and totally acceptable, ethically and professionally.

    16. Anoncorporate*

      The way I see it, your PTO is part of your compensation. You have every right to use it, or you lose it (unless your company completely cashes it out, but you still have a right to take time off.)

  2. Foreign Octopus*

    When do I start applying for jobs?

    In October, I’m moving countries and settling in Ireland. At the moment, I’m working as an online ESL teacher so I’ll still have income when I switch countries but I am looking for other jobs (preferably in publishing but also administration work). These will be entry level jobs for graduates that I’m looking for and I don’t know when to start looking. October is set in stone as my move date and I won’t be able to start any earlier than that, so my question is: when do I start applying for jobs?

    1. Amylou*

      Just start looking! Even if the timeline doesn’t work out, writing letters and going through part of the process can be a learning opportunity in itself I always find.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      I’d try to find out what the norms and regulations around notice periods are in Ireland, and go from there – in Germany, for example, 3-6 months are often contractually mandated, so everyone is used to hiring that far in advance. Whatever that timeframe is in Ireland; add some extra for potential bureaucratic hold-ups, and there you go.

    3. PX*

      Tough one. I would look at what the typical notice period is in Ireland (eg I just looked at my contract and was surprised to realise mine is 3 months!) and then give yourself some buffer to actually find a job you like. However given these are entry level jobs where they may expect you to be fresh out of school/working retail with no long notice period etc, maybe budget a bit less?

      But I would certainly say 3-4 months out sounds sensible.

    4. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I’m an American expat in Ireland, and depending on the background check, hiring can take months. I’d agree with six months. However, they may want you there for an in-person interview first. I don’t think there’s any harm in reaching out over the summer though.

        1. MoopySwarpet*

          You move to Ireland? Of course, you have to be American to be an American expat . . . otherwise you’d be a ______ian expat.

          1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

            I think they mean in terms of the legality to work. It can be difficult to get a work visa if you’re not a student or recent grad! Lots of hurdles if you want to earn a paycheck abroad – believe me, I’ve looked :)

            1. Wanderlust*

              Hah, yes indeed that’s what I mean. I wasn’t under the impression I could just buy a ticket to Ireland and claim to live there now :)

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        I arrived on a working holiday visa (you had to have graduated within the previous year). I then did my masters degree here and now I’m on another work visa for 2 years. None of this required visa sponsorship. I’m happy to answer more questions via email. Hopefully Alison is okay with me posting it. aryanazcj at gmail.

    5. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      Seconding the 3-6 months comment. I moved to Ireland after graduating college and found that even just looking for entry level retail jobs, the hiring process can be somewhat slow. Plus you’ll have a lot of admin tasks to do once you’re there, like getting your PPS number, opening a bank account (which some companies require you to have before you’re on payroll – when I worked there, my company was direct deposit only, no paper checks). So definitely give yourself more time than you think you need, and more savings than you think you need. Good luck and enjoy!

    6. Sammie*

      It’s happening – I’m so excited for you!

      Looking for a job in Ireland, especially outside the main cities, can still be challenging. There is something of a preference to favour local experience as well. Having said that, administrative positions abound (and I hear our indie publishing sector is thriving, for such a small country) and I recommend checking out recruitment companies (e.g. Osborne) who can help you tailor your CV and match you up with some roles. You might consider getting a contract position (there are a lot of 8 – 12 month maternity-fill positions) so that you can get that local experience, get some income, without having to commit too much.

      In the meantime, work on getting your foot in the door in the publishing industry (if there aren’t open positions you want to already apply for). The smallness of the place can work in your favour – getting your face and your expertise known could be a bit of a simpler process. Also, may I recommend the Irish Writers Center in Dublin for a visit, regardless of your interest in publishing? It is a wonderful excursion!

      There is also the Listowel Writers Week, which I have heard only fantastic things about – from people who don’t even have anything to do with writing! And of course if you are still considering Sligo as a possible place to live, that is Yeats Country, and there is the Yeats Visitors Center in Sligo town (many counties have a principal town by the same name). All of these centers should have information about getting involved in publishing at a local and national level.

      I would certainly start getting your search under way but to work in Ireland you will need a PPS number and an Irish bank account (I believe) and all of that will have to be done when you get there. Yet, I have heard of people being hired before they’ve even moved there – it tends to be more specialized roles, but I wouldn’t nix the idea altogether. The red tape when you get there, just to warn you, can be a pain because you need a proof of address to get a bank account and to get somewhere to live you need a bank account… This is a common problem and people have found ways around it, so I would literally just google it. Also, Citizens Advice are very helpful there.

      Oh and I believe we have a fair few summer schools that teach visiting students English so that might be a consideration for you at some point as well, if you still want to use your ESL skills.

      If you’ve got any particular questions, I’ll check back in later.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        As ever, Sammie, your advice is wonderful. I’ve bookmarked it to read through in more depth later, but I hadn’t heard of the writers’ festival, or the Irish Writers’ Centre so I’m super excited about that.

        Thanks for your enthusiasm as well! It really helps me feel like I’ve made the right decision as the family is pressuring me to stay in Spain.

        1. Sammie*

          Family will often do that :)

          Ireland is in many ways just one of the best places to visit/live. I have a tricky relationship with it purely because of all that baggage 30-odd years in a once super conservative country will do to an LGBTQ woman. It’s still hard for me to really believe how much it’s changed. But change it has and I’m so glad that you will get to experience it!

      2. Loubelou*

        Writing from Ireland also, Sammie has given great advice!
        However, I think you’ll find (sadly) that admin jobs won’t be willing to hire without an in-person interview. There are just too many good candidates around for employers to be willing to take the risk of hiring based only on Skype interviews. Unless you’re planning on flying over for interviews, which can get expensive.
        I would recommend aiming for an ESL job first, as language schools are far more likely to hire without an in-person interview. Then search for jobs in publishing/admin when you get here.

        It’s verh true that you need a PPS number to work. Make sure you quickly get proof of your new address to get this. About bank accounts, employers will probably be willing to pay into your Spanish account because Ireland uses the EU banking system (IBAN/BIC) so it should be no different, as long as the payroll person knows this.

        I’m assuming you’re moving to Dublin as it’s the only place you’ll have much chance of getting a job, except perhaps Galway. It’s a great place to live, absolutely loads going on. However, do be aware we’re sadly going through a housing crisis, and rents are astronomical. €600-900 for a room in a shared apartment.

        On a completely different note, are you a singer by any chance? I’m in an intercultural choir in Dublin and we’re always looking for new voices! It’s a great way to meet kind, welcoming people as soon as you get here.

        1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

          Hi! Off-topic, just wondering – what Dublin choir are you in? I used to sing with Cuore, wondering if we know people in common :)

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          I am 100% not a singer. I sound like a bag of cats being swung around, though I wish I was a singer as I would love to have joined a choir as a way of meeting people!

          1. Loubelou*

            It is a great way to meet people! But there are loads of intercultural things going on in Dublin so you’re sure to meet people handily enough.
            @Eleanor Shellstrop, it’s Discovery Gospel Choir. I have just looked up Cuore and you guys look great, I don’t think I know anything in it though.

    7. Miss Smilla*

      I’d say looking now, applying around May (3-6 months in advance). Where I’m based, they often include the required/ideal start date, so just looking gives you an idea about the timeline of the average hiring process and how dynamic the market is.

      When I was moving between countries (within CEE), my move date was also October and I started applying around May. I actually got a job by the end of June and they were willing to move the start date for me with a couple of months. (They had two open positions and the other one was filled on time so it made things easier for them. However, I must say that being able to wait so much can be a red flag.)
      Good luck with your search!

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Wouldn’t some of your decision depend on how your portion of Ireland is affected by Breixit?

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        This will be the Republic of Ireland and the Common Travel Agreement between the ROI and the UK predates any agreement with the EU so we’re going to default back to that. The CTA is also the reason that there are no hard borders between England-Scotland, and England-Wales.

    9. Traveling Teacher*

      Since you’re be working as an online (self-employed?) teacher, I’d recommend checking with an accountant about your tax status/filing country for the first year or two!

      In a couple years, I may cross EU internal borders and have a similar headache.

      Also, yes, start looking by March, that’s a very popular hiring time for fall positions in all EU countries I’ve lived in, as you have to account for time delays due to summer holidays.

  3. Doug Judy*

    After a very lengthy job search, including many rejections in the final round, I finally got a job offer yesterday!! Thanks to advice here I was able to get a 6% increase in pay form the original offer, plus an extra week of PTO. It’s not a “dream” job but the company has a solid track record in the community as being a great employer. I am fairly good at reading people, and I felt very comfortable with my new boss and team members. One reason I think it took me so long is that I was very upfront in what I was looking for in my next position and an employer. I know I lost a few positions because long term it wasn’t what I was looking for. I am very glad I didn’t settle.

    There were many times after a rejection that I felt fundamentally unemployable, and the depression from that is real. I even stopped talking to family and friends about how it was going. They were all supportive, but having to tell 10 people every time I got a rejection just made me feel worse. Those of you going through a long search, hang in there! Take breaks when you can, give yourself time to grieve a bit after a rejection, do something fun, then get back out there!

    1. Anon nonprofit worker*

      Congrats on the job and the pay negotiation! I had an eight-month job search a couple of years ago and it was really rough. It was eight months after I finished graduate school so it had been a while since I had had a FT job. It was definitely a stressful time that was quite isolating. I’m glad you are done with it and did your due diligence to find a good place that works for you.

    2. General Ginger*


      Your 2nd paragraph is exceptionally relatable/something I’m going through right now. I’m very glad for you, and also feeling a bit more hopeful for myself!

    3. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Congratulations and thank you for paying it forward by sharing the encouragement with all of us!!! You persevered and every word from those who reached the other shore, helps those struggling to wade through the muck to get there….

    4. StellaBella*

      Congratulations, this is great news! And well done on not settling.

      Thanks, too for the encouragement, I have been looking since October and have been lucky to land 4 interviews. In process with 2 firms still, but have had close to 100 rejections so far.

    5. 653-CXK*

      Congratulations on getting the job, Doug Judy!

      It’ll be nine months for me, but I have an interview next week with a local company. We had a very lengthy phone interview (I don’t know if that’s a good sign or not) but hopefully it will bear fruit.

      I don’t look at rejections as something to be depressed about – I learn from them. I had maybe one or two that I really felt that a potential employer and I clicked, but then it turned out I had everything but that tiny thing they were looking for, and I felt bad I didn’t get it. Another involved talking to a recruiter and having to hear that the manager rejected me and three other people, but never gave a reason. On the other hand, there was one rejection that I felt was due to not being a good culture fit, and the amount of icy reception cemented that.

      I second Doug Judy’s plan on the search. Take an hour or two a day of You time, get out of the house, get a good lunch/dinner, then get back into the groove later on.

    6. pugs for all*

      Congratulations and thank you for your words of encouragement. It is easy (for me at least) to get down sometimes after so may number of months of applying and not getting anywhere. Though I did make a vow to myself not to settle this time around so your words really resonated with me.

      1. Doug Judy*

        Absolutely do not settle! Long story short but my last two positions were definitely settling and not surprisingly I was only at each a little over a year. This time I refused to settle for something I wasn’t excited about.

        Hang in there. It will happen.

  4. Anon nonprofit worker*

    Hi all. I recently took a temporary promotion that is supposed to become a permanent promotion very soon. (It’s not an option to go back to my previous position) With the increased work and responsibilities I had expected the pay raise to be about $10K but it ended up only being a few thousand because “that’s where I fell on the salary band”. I was very surprised disappointed by this. Well it’s been a few months with the new work and it’s a lot more work than I expected and previous promises of support have not materialized, so I want to address the salary again with my boss today but I’m terrified.

    Can anyone give me words of wisdom or a script? OR tell me about when you negotiated and it worked for you?

    1. Wendie*

      Salary bands are so hard. I know a few Union people who could talk the ear off a donkey about salary bands. Unfortunately sometimes the cost of fairness for some can be unfairness for others. I would ask if everyone with your position are in that salary band, sometimes people can be surprised and not connect the dots that it’s not being divvied up right.

      1. Anon nonprofit worker*

        What’s tricky with my role is that I’m the only person in my position and who does my set of work at our org so my salary band was lumped in with a group of other people that I work with but none of them do my specific kind of work. And I didn’t even know the salary band until the last minute, its sort of secretive at my org which is really unfortunate.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Hmm, I wonder if there’s an opportunity to renegotiate when the job becomes permanent. Did you already accept an offer at a certain amount? It’s harder to negotiate after that, since you’ve indicated that you’re willing to work for that salary. After you’ve accepted, I’d say your next best opportunity to ask for more would be after a successful year of doing the job, or when they start adding a new responsibilities that you can leverage into a promotion. Or, if you know you can’t continue working at that wage, I suppose you can have a come-to-Jesus conversation because you have nothing to lose if you’re planning to quit anyway.

      1. Anon nonprofit worker*

        I’m wondering the same thing too, I have a feeling that they were not planning on having a second negotiation which is why I wanted to bring it up to them beforehand. Unless I say something to the hire-ups about the increased work and lack of support, they’d never ask and just assume it was all good. When I was first shown the salary band there was not really any area to argue, but I was hoping that since I’ve done the work for a few months now I could say that from my current experience in the rule, the workload is heavier than predicted and I’d like to revisit salary? But I’m also don’t have a great track record for negotiating and its making me more nervous now.

        1. Marthooh*

          Maybe identify a job or group of jobs in a higher salary band and argue that your position is more like that and deserves the higher pay?

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      “When I accepted this promotion, I was told I would be given additional support to offset the increased workload. The support has not materialized, and my workload has [doubled/tripled/whatever]. I am fine with continuing with this workload if we can revisit my salary and adjust it to reflect the amount of work I’ve taken on in this new role.”

    4. Been there*

      Your question goes beyond this specific situation, and the answer has to take a longer-range look at your career goals. The truth I learned about this is that you will seldom seem as valuable to your current employer as you would to your next employer. Organizations tend to take for granted people like you and me who work our way up; they’re convinced that applicants from outside have to be paid more.

      I have two suggestions I hope will be helpful: (1) Do a “deep think” about what you want from your life and work; how important is salary? You can ask for more PTO, or an assistant, or training, or any number of other things even if the answer on the money is no. (2) If you decide to settle for less this time, start looking elsewhere right away; I would start with a government or unionized job, because their pay policies are generally less secretive.

      I hope this is helpful — Good Luck!

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        +1000 to the first paragraph, and an addition: sometimes the best way to get a raise is to get an outside offer. But only do this if you would leave; don’t use it as a bluff, even though it may well work to get your salary to a reasonable level for the work.

  5. Murphy*

    I’ve looked through AAM on this, but I’d appreciate some thoughts from the commentariat. I work at a university and am and considering applying for internal positions. I’m stumped with who to use for professional references. My employer always asks for three references, up front (annoying, I know).

    I’ve been at my job 3 years. Original manager retired, so she’s one reference. Before that, I was at Job A for 2.5 years. That job isn’t relevant to what I do now, but that manager is my 2nd reference. Here’s where things get messy. I started at that job part time, so for a while I worked 2 part time jobs at Job A and Job B (which were both nonprofits, so before that I was actually volunteering at both places, and continued to volunteer for Job B after I started working for Job A full time). Before that I was unemployed because I was fired from a job I held for a short period of time (which will not be going on my resume at all). Before that, I dropped out of a PhD program. I have a master’s and I held TA positions while in school.

    Current manager is out. I’m a team of one, so I don’t think there’s anyone else who could truly speak to my work. Job B mentioned above also isn’t relevant to what I do now, the nonprofit folded, and I’m not in touch with the manager. I think she’d be willing to be a reference, but she’s flaky, so I don’t think she’d be the best. I think using a grad school professor would be going back too far, and it’s not the same. I know it’s hard without specifics, but does anyone have any suggestions for someone I may not have considered?

    1. Rey*

      Is there someone that you work with frequently in your current position, who isn’t your current manager? For example, I am a committee secretary, and my committee chair agreed to be a reference when I needed three letters.

      1. Murphy*

        Hmm…I used to provide administrative assistance to a committee, so the former chair might not be a terrible choice. I’ll have to think on that. Thanks!

      2. University Minion*

        +1 to this idea.
        I’ve served as a reference for several people I’ve worked with in academic departments who have worked closely with me (I’m in a fairly centralized admin role).

    2. Hailrobonia*

      Is there anyone with a in a different office or department at your university whom you’ve worked closely with who has a parallel or higher position? When I was applying for an internal job at the university I work at, I got stumped about who to use as references as well. I had my current supervisor (who was very supportive) and previous supervisor (who had left for a different department and was also a great reference), but the job asked for three references and I was stumped.

      I finally reached out to someone who was the administrative officer in a department that was closely aligned with the one I was currently at. Our two departments had frequent interactions, because there were many faculty who had appointments in both, etc. She turned out to be a great resource as she said she could attest to my ability to coordinate scheduling meetings with multiple “challenging” personalities (you know how faculty can be), as well as my attention to detail etc.

      1. Murphy*

        Unfortunately, I don’t really work closely with anyone! My boss keeps me pretty well isolated (which is the big reason I want to change jobs).

        99% of my work interactions with anyone other than my boss are by email. Is that enough?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes!! I’ve met most of the people at my client’s office face-to-face once or twice, but 99.9% of our interactions are via email because our offices are miles apart. I’ve had people who have only met me F2F briefly once or twice send unsolicited rave/thank you emails because of the support I’ve provided. I know approaching someone to ask is the hardest part, but it’s very possible that people who you only work with over email know your work very well. (In fact, who knows, they could be more objective than your boss!)

            1. Hailrobonia*

              When I asked my third person if she could be my reference, I did add a little context, something like “my boss and previous boss are providing references, and thought it would be great to have someone like you from outside my department who could give perspective on my communication and organization style.”

    3. blink14*

      I’m also at a university, and it seems common to use references from outside your department. Is there someone you interact with on work related items on a consistent basis? For me, I would think of other administrators or someone in a related department that I assist on certain projects. These are people I have work experience with and can comment on things like being on time, effort level, work quality, etc.

      1. Murphy*

        There’s maybe one or two of those, but I don’t know that I’d say we worked together closely. And our interactions would mostly be email.

    4. CG*

      Do you have any senior colleagues in your current position? That’s what I did for my current role, with the bonus that they were actually better qualified to speak to my work quality/demeanor than my manager because they worked with me, and they were less likely to be unhappy with me if I found a new gig. Also: if 3 references are required and you’ve had some unrelated-field jobs, hiring managers will understand if not all of your references are for 100% pertinent jobs, so if there is someone from Job A or B who makes sense, I think you’re just fine to go with them. You already have a manager from your current position as a reference, which is pretty huge!

    5. Indie*

      What do they want for the third? Someone to just confirm job dates ? General character reference? Direct managers only or will peers, or possibly someone slightly senior do? Expecting three recent ‘I can speak to her recent job performance’ references is expecting a bit much. When I was in a reference bind recently I asked them to speak to my traning mentor.

    6. Admin by Day Roller Derby by Night*

      Moving from one college to another, I was luckily able to use a person who had been the lead on a VP Search Committee that I had staffed. But I had kept up the relationship with him after the search because of circumstances, so he was something of a mentor by that point. Anyone like that you could use?

    7. CAA*

      Is there anyone who was formerly higher up in your reporting chain that you could use? I.e. not your current grand-boss but a former grand-boss?

      1. Murphy*

        Too high up to have actually worked with me, and not someone I would trust not to tell my boss that I was looking. (Him finding out wouldn’t be the worst thing ever, but I would like to avoid it if possible.)

    8. OhGee*

      I finished grad school in 2011 and used a reference from my time there for my current job (hire date: October 2018). It’s a good reference: my ref was both a prof and my TA supervisor, and has since moved from head of the department to head of the division under which that department falls – this is someone with a prestigious role who can speak to my professional qualities and character, and they’ve been kind enough to be willing to be a reference. References from ~8-10 years ago are fine if they’re relevant in some way.

      1. OhGee*

        Oh, and my grad program was in theater and I now work in fundraising — your area of study doesn’t have to relate to the job to be useful!

    9. Existentialista*

      You could reach out to a client or customer, or the equivalent. Who receives the benefit of your current work – maybe a student, faculty, department staff?

    10. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      Could you ask your old PI, even if you dropped out? Or old TA supervisors?

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Did your nonprofit support any outside organizations where you came to know someone in particular? A positive client/customer reference would seem logical to me.

    12. R*

      You’re giving them two managers, so the third can be a peer. I have been a reference for a few of my peers, and the person who called me never remarked on it being odd.

  6. sad and concerned*

    My close relative who has had some mental health issues may have lost his job . This is his first job after college and he seemed to be doing really well up until a few months ago. He said he was frustrated because his medications were making him slow, he was annoyed about needing to take time off from work for doctor’s appointments and his doctor was not listening to his concerns so I suggested he see a new doctor. He stopped taking his medications and started seeing a new doctor. At first I noticed a good change; he seemed friendlier and more confident so i began to think he didn’t need his meds. He interviewed for better paying jobs both externally and internally and he was offered a transfer to a new department at his company. I’m not sure when it really started happening but at some point things got strange and he began to get really paranoid. At first, it was just things like people at work were jealous of him for getting a better job. Then he would call me constantly ask me why his boss/coworkers were asking him to do certain tasks. Then he said he could no longer stay at his company and declined the new job. I didn’t realize something was seriously wrong until he said they were talking about him on the news and he needed to leave the world. I was able to convince him to go to the hospital. When we got to the ER, he was upset about missing work and asked me to email his boss. I sent an email saying relative had an emergency and was in the ER and would probably need the rest of the week off. I really thought he’d be better by the next week once they adjusted his meds. The boss emailed back and said they were sorry to hear that and not worry about work. Hospital didn’t think hospitalization was necessary since he was able to pull himself together really quickly. They referred him to outpatient care. Outpatient doctor suggested he complete paperwork for FMLA while they work to find a solution but I think he refused. He returned to work and Boss emailed me a few days later saying they were concerned since he has not been himself and asked relative to bring doctors note before returning to work. At this point, He was really angry with me, refused to see his doctor so I can only imagine what his behavior at work must have been like. It’s been about a month now and I feel terrible. I’m assuming he may have lost his job, if he hasn’t I don’t know if it’s a good idea to return to work. I think the manager may know about my relative’s disability but as far as coworkers, I’m not sure. Relative is now hospitalized and I’m guessing they’ll be out within a week. He now seems stable when I talk to him but it’s difficult to have a conversation of any substance with him. He calls to say hello and asks the same questions each time.
    When he is able to function normally again, is there any advice on how to navigate this?
    And I’m sure people at his work must be going WTF. I know it would be out of line to email boss but in this situation is it better to just let relative to hoprfully handle when he can?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Oh God, my heart sank and saw the landslide coming when you said he stopped taking his meds. He will always need medication, please remember that for the future. That’s common issue for many mental illnesses, the meds work and they think they’re curred and don’t need them any longer…then the meds wear off and you’re back to an untreated illness :(

      Let him get stabilised and he can handle dealing with if he wants to return if he can or even wants to salvage his relationship with his boss.

      1. Doug Judy*

        This. My brother has bipolar 1 with psychosis, and it was an endless cycle of going off his meds, being hospitalized, stable for a bit, repeat. Sometimes he would go voluntarily to the hospital, but I did on on occasion have to have in involuntarily committed. It was the worst week of my life. 5 years ago, we had a very dangerous situation with him when he was off his medication. After that instance, we were able to get him on an injectible anti-psychotic, but we had to fight for nearly 10 years to get to that point. It really is used as a last resort. Even properly medicated, long term employment is a challenge for him. The medication make him stable, but he gets disproportionately stressed out by minor things, so he usually ends up quitting after a year or so.

        I am glad you are trying to help, and people like your relative and my brother need family support. My brother is so fortunate to have my parents, who are able to financially support him, so working full time isn’t something he needs to do. But it is hard on them, and me. Add in mental health care is not what it needs to be, it is an uphill battle. All my support, hang in there.

      2. Headshrinker Extraordinaire*

        Seconding this comment. I used to work in a hospital and it was so sad to see the same people come back time and time again, because they’d decide they didn’t need medication once they felt better. It usually took 3 hospitalizations for the “I really need to stay on my meds” idea to click, if it was ever going to.

        I would recommend waiting awhile before discussing work. If relative is having trouble communicating clearly and asking the same question over and over they need more time to get stable before making a decision about work. When he is stable you might consider having relative discuss work with his doctor and other care team members, in case there are any changes they can recommend.

      3. Pommette!*

        It’s not just that people whose medication works well think that they are cured. It’s also that a lot of medications doesn’t actually work that well, or work well enough but has serious side effects. Hope – that you might be able to think clearly and quickly, that you might not have to feel nauseated and tired every day for the rest of your life, that you might be able to act lively and charming and make friends as easily as you remember once being able to, that you might feel like yourself again… – dies hard.

        Which isn’t to minimize how hard it is to watch someone you care about stop treatment that you know they need, or how hard it is to have to care for someone who is struggling.

      4. Snowcat*

        Gosh this is some dangerous misinformation. Not everyone finds medication helpful and plenty of people – including those who do find it helpful – come off it successfully.

        1. J*

          It’s definitely true that some people can successfully discontinue meds, but a lot of people with certain disorders (like schizophrenia) do meed medication for life. And regardless, the person should always taper off under the careful guidance of a qualified professional rather than deciding all on their own to abruptly stop.

    2. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      I don’t think it would be out of line to check in with his boss, given that boss has reached out to you twice already to check in, and your relative is hospitalized.
      I’m sorry this is happening, and I hope your relative can find stability soon.

    3. A person*

      I don’t think you’re out of line to communicate your relative currently is in the hospital but anything further than that (like guesses to when he might be out and/or returning to work) when your relative has not asked you to be a go-between may get you way more involved than your relative wants you to be in this situation.

      I hope his new care team can get him the treatment he needs to get back on track.

    4. Myrin*

      I’m so sorry – that sounds incredibly stressful and upsetting. I don’t have any advice but wanted to let you know that I think you’ve been behaving really admirably and awesomely helpfully during this whole ordeal!

    5. Misha*

      So sorry you’re dealing with this and please remember to seek support or care for yourself too.

      I think you know your relative/the situation best, but I think it could be helpful to limit focus to relative’s well-being and recovery for the time being. When you talk to him, ask what is challenging him right now, what would be helpful for him (from you or outside of what you can offer). Don’t ask how work is, what he wants to do about work. Just focus on the overall well-being and listen as much as possible. Encourage him to keep getting support, say things like “your well-being is really important to me. This is a priority.” If he tries to talk about work, reiterate that “I know work is important to you. Let’s focus on what you’re dealing with right now and work can come next.” Are you the only relative? Is there someone else able to speak with his doctor, or is that something you can do? It would be ideal to have clarity from his medical team about how they perceive his ability to return to work and recovery needs (I’m not in the US, so I’m not sure about legality and privacy in this context). It’s reasonable to think about what his coworkers/boss might be thinking, but there are 2 important points here:
      1) what they think is simply not as high a priority as keeping him safe.
      2) treating this like a “WTF” situation, rather than a difficult, uncomfortable, but COMMON experience perpetuates the idea that mental illness is bad, wrong, embarrassing, weak, etc. I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but try to re-imagine the situation as if he had a sudden physical health issue (a broken leg, a fever). Imagine how you would want his workplace to handle that situation. Then proceed as if that is the case.

      You say when he is able to function normally again – that might not happen for some time. Or frankly, it might not happen. You said this is his first job after college, so I’m assuming he might be in his 20’s, which is a VERY common age for mental illness and psychosis to present. This might be normal for a while and it is an incredible amount for you to carry – your care and concern for this person shines through and please remember you need to be cared for too.

      I’m not sure if any of that helps, but I hope things get better for him and wishing you all the best.

      1. Pommette!*

        This is such a great comment – thoughtful and helpful.
        Learning to work with an illness that affects your, or your loved one’s sense of self and sense of reality is really difficult, and can take time. Please be kind to yourself, and don’t be afraid to get any support you can, as you support your nephew.
        Best wishes for you, OP, and for your nephew.

    6. Grits McGee*

      S&C, if you’re in the US are you familiar with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)? They have a hotline that you can call to speak to someone who can talk you through all of this, and figure out what the best next steps might be.

      1. Ada*

        +1 for NAMI. I’m also dealing with a loved one with mental illness. They have classes both for those with mental illness and for their families. I took their Family-to-Family class last year and it had a ton of useful info on how to cope with just about every aspect of this. If not for them, we would have had no idea there’s a local vocational rehab service in my area that helps match people with physical disabilities, mental illness, etc. to appropriate jobs, and helps them navigate the working world with their conditions. My loved one is actually going to start reaching out to this service today, in fact.

    7. Temperance*

      Your relative needs to handle this on his own. Regardless of the situation, outside of an emergency, a family member shouldn’t be reaching out to someone’s manager to mitigate the situation.

      I think it probably also depends heavily on the nature of your relative’s mental illness. If he has an illness that causes him to behave erratically when unmedicated, which it sounds like he may, it might be best for him to focus on getting his medication sorted before looking for a new job.

    8. ag47*

      A really similar thing happened to my brother. He has a history of mental illness and was working his first job out of college when he had a prolonged episode of paranoia. He thought his work was following him, stalking his email, etc. He quit the job without notice (after about 9 months there) because he thought his boss was following him home. We finally go him help. He eventually reached out to his old job, explained what had happened, and that he had received treatment–they agreed to give him a positive reference based on the work he had done (which was really good, before he went off the rails) and not mention the psychotic break in a reference check. He did wait, though, until he was able to handle the calls to his old job himself, even though it took several months after the original breakdown until he was able to do that.

      It took almost a year for him to find a job after that, which honestly may have been for the best since it gave him a lot of time to get himself stable. He temped and volunteered to have something on his resume. Almost two years ago, he started a job at a large company and he’s been doing great–he’s hitting his targets every quarter, has been promoted multiple times, and is much more stable overall.

      I feel for you. This is such a hard situation and it’s so difficult to try and help someone through it. In my experience, the only thing I could really do was provide as much encouragement and support as possible to my brother–but he had to be the one to see a therapist, take his meds, and (eventually) reach out to OldJob. We (his family) didn’t reach out to OldJob before he was ready, in part because his mental health issues were his to share. But I also think that coming back to the job after-the-fact, when the episode was over, made it easier for OldJob to frame it and give a positive reference. It wasn’t, “Oh we have an ex-employee with ongoing mental health issues that we may have to deal with,” but “We had an employee who had a serious health issue that is now resolved, and of course we’ll give a good reference.”

      I wish you and your relative the best, and hope it works out in the end. I’m so sorry you both are going through this.

    9. DaffyDuck*

      Just another repeat to the meds cause side effects/go off meds/OK for a bit then crash and burn is a very common scenario for people with mental illness. It is very, very important for them to stay on their meds despite feeling slow, etc. This scenario is often repeated multiple times.
      Concentrate on getting normal functioning back (he will probably be released from the hospital before this point if you are in the USA). FMLA paperwork is a good idea, I would gently encourage but pushing too hard can cause resistance. Let him deal with the job once stable.

    10. WellRed*

      I think you are kind to want to help, and you can still offer support, but I think you need to step waaay back for your own health. Also, I think you kind of got in over your head (it sounds like you didn’t realize going off meds is a big NO–not that you can make your relative take them if he doesn’t want to, of course). Step back, let the pros handle getting him stable. Forget about the job stuff.

    11. Argh!*

      Boss & doctor can’t tell you any personal details, but you’re under no obligation to keep the details a secret. You can tell the doctor about work issues & you can tell the boss that your relative really needs to go on FML or whatever.

      My relative with a severe mental illness refused to even try medication, got fired from his job, and is now homeless. Trying to help someone with a mental illness is like trying to help someone with cancer — there is only so much you can do. Take care of yourself and don’t let yourself think it’s possible to be a superhero in this situation. It’s not.

      Good luck with this.

  7. Tigger*

    Hi guys! I am a mid 20’s female working in a male-dominated field. I sound a bit young on the phone but I dress older for my age and keep everything professional. Recently I noticed that older men in my field address me as my dear, sweetheart, darling etc. Is this a common part of doing business? It feels really gross to me.

    1. MuseumChick*

      I am tangentially in a male dominated field. I work in a museum with a collection focused on a topic that is traditionally associated with men. Think something like vintage cars. I’ve noticed that many of our visitors/donor/other associated with the museum, who are almost exclusively men, will call me things like that. The way I deal with it is by thinking of it as another culture that I am just starting to learn about. As long as they do not push it beyond these annoying “terms of endearment”.

      You could try, in the moment sating something like, “Oh, I actually really don’t like being call pet names. Tigger or Tig is fine.”

    2. Shark Whisperer*

      EWWWW. I don’t know if it’s common or not, but it’s definitely not acceptable in my book. I would shut that down if you feel comfortable doing so. I think you can cheerfully say, “Oh don’t call me dear. I am your coworker not your granddaughter.”

    3. Parenthetically*

      Ew no it is NOT, it IS gross, you absolutely can respond, “It’s Tigger, actually.” You can also have a separate conversation with people you see frequently, and say something like, “Hey Bob, I’ve noticed you sometimes call me dear or sweetheart, and I know you mean it kindly, and I appreciate it, but I’m really trying to build my professional reputation, and I think pet names can undermine that. I’d appreciate it if we just stuck with names. Thanks for understanding!”

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, do what you want. I included it because it seems Tigger is dealing with clients/outside folks which necessitates more softening language unfortunately.

          1. OhNo*

            “I appreciate the sentiment” might be a decent alternative phrase. It acknowledges the intent without okaying the language used, which is a line you’ll probably want to draw in order to preserve the relationships.

            1. Blue Eagle*

              How about “hey, my grandfather always calls me that, you remind me of my grandfather”. I used to do that and it would shut them right down because what man wants to be thought of as old as a grandfather.

          2. Delphine*

            I think “I know you mean it kindly” probably softens the statement enough. “I appreciate it” means that she enjoys being called pet names and these men might see it as an invitation to continue to call her “sweetheart” when it’s just them and OP in a room.

    4. General Ginger*

      Nope, not normal. Gross.

      FWIW I know (professionally) a grand total of one person who addresses everyone younger, regardless of gender, as “my dear”. She’s close to retirement age & from the South. I still find it weird, but at least with her I know it’s not meant to be gross at all.

      1. EggEgg*

        This made me realize I occasionally call my coworkers “my dear,” even though I’m (pretty significantly) the youngest in the office. Interestingly, I only use that for the folks I did direct service with, even though I’ve moved over to a tech role now. None of them bat an eye at it–nonprofits are weird :)

    5. Coffee Bean*

      I think it is normal Tigger – I am in the same boat as you. “Sweetheart” is the favorite around here.

      When I get called “sweetheart”, “darling” etc. I give them a very perplexed look and just say “Sweetheart?” That tends to make them stop for a second and realize that work isn’t the place for those names.

      I’ll be following this post, because curious to see if anyone else has any suggestions!

      1. Coffee Bean*

        And for clarification. Normal in the sense it happens, not normal because it is gross and annoying

      2. ANon.*

        Alternative: call them different terms of endearments, getting increasingly more intimate/ridiculous until they say something/stop (“dear,” “hun,” “sweetie-pie,” “pumpkin,” “pookie”).

        1. Not Me*

          This is more likely to make them think you like it than to make them stop. They are being overly familiar, returning the favor won’t help.

        2. Steve*

          I know someone who dealt with “Dear” by offering to return the favour with “Moose” (a play on dear / deer). It was done privately, but apparently the old guy complained to their mutual boss because suddenly the boss was calling him Moose and “dear” had disappeared from the workplace.

    6. Handwavy Things with Databases*

      Hello! Mid-thirties woman in an IT-adjacent field here. It is both gross and in my experience semi-common. We are thankfully in a cultural moment where people should not be surprised by (firm, polite) pushback, however. Depending on relative seniority, how closely I work with someone, and how well-meaning I judge them to be, I’ve had success with everything from, “Ew, not your sweetheart” to “Please don’t call me ‘darling’, thanks” to “Please call me [name], thanks,” to “Hey, I don’t know if you realize this, but you often call me [and other young women] pet names. I’m sure you don’t mean it this way, but it feels demeaning and makes you look out of touch with today’s business norms”.

      1. Working with professionals*

        I found a rapid double take with raised eyebrows and a longish pause usually put an end to it.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah, in the male dominated areas, the Good Ol’ Boys still exist. I don’t mind it, I’ve never been undermined by the men who use those endearments but those with sexist geared nature aren’t always malicious either.

      You can certainly tell them you prefer they not use that language towards you if it’s grossing you out.

    8. ISuckAtUserNames*

      No, it’s not normal. It’s condescending and sexist.

      I hope others have advice on what to do about it, as it’s not something I’ve encountered and I’m not sure how to address it constructively or whether it’s even worth it, depending on how often you have to deal with them.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Raised eyebrows and “it’s [my name], not [hon / dear / sweetheart] ” or jokingly, “oh, don’t call me [hon / dear / sweetheart], because [your wife / my boyfriend / EEOC] would really not like that.”

        1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

          I can’t help but hear the line from Tootsie in my head:

          Ron Carlisle : Take, Tootsie.
          Dorothy Michaels : Ron? I have a name, it’s Dorothy. It’s not Tootsie or Toots or Sweetie or Honey or Doll.
          Ron Carlisle : Oh, Christ.
          Dorothy Michaels : No, just Dorothy. Alan’s always Alan, Tom’s always Tom and John’s always John. I have a name too. It’s Dorothy, capital D-O-R-O-T-H-Y.

          For a movie that didn’t really succeed at being at all feminist, I still love this line.

    9. K. A.*

      It’s perfectly acceptable to privately ask him to address you by your name instead of a term of endearment that is reserved for more intimate relationships (like family). If he asks why, just say in a matter-of-fact way that it makes you uncomfortable. Then repeat your request.

      If he pushes back or acts like he doesn’t understand, just calmly keep stating it. I’ve found that works for me.

    10. LilySparrow*

      Very common, unfortunately. Does not mean you have to accept it.

      Depending on your personality and relationship with the people doing it, I’ve had success with two different approaches:

      The direct and simple, “I’ts Tigger, actually.” or “Please call me Tigger.” or “Please don’t call me Sweetheart.” are one way. They work on reasonable people who are not invested in deliberately being jerks. But if it is an ingrained habit that is culturally the norm where you live, and other women they interact with professionally accept it, you may have to repeat this several times before they remember. And people who are deliberately trying to annoy or undermine you will pretend they don’t remember forever.

      The more oblique — and somewhat more aggressive — way is to reply with an even sillier endearment, like “sweet cheeks” or “honeybun” or “snookums'”. If the person is mostly kind and professional, you’re relying on their sense of humor here. If not, well, I have never had anyone, even royal jerks, push past that one.

    11. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji*

      I haaaaaate when men do this. I don’t remember if it was here or elsewhere, but there was a commenter somewhere who was a younger woman working at a loading dock, and responded to this exact same problem by calling the offending men “champ” or “sport” until they knocked it off.

    12. Sunny*

      I know it’s difficult to train yourself to do this (and for sure I couldn’t do it at your age), but try to get comfortable with speaking up for yourself. It will help you in so many ways, in so many situations. Be direct, look them in the eye, state things simply, don’t apologize or say “I know you mean well” because THEY DO NOT.

    13. Environmental Compliance*

      I had/have that a lot. You can usually tell by tone how they mean it, which then translates into what my response is.

      If it’s really meant harmlessly enough, as in they don’t necessarily understand why that’s icky, I start by ignoring it and if it’s a consistent thing, I very breezily ask them to stop, as that’s a nickname only my husband gets to use. I had good success with that.

      If it’s meant in an obviously sleazy way, I’m usually quite a bit more abrupt with it. There was one guy using “sweetheart” to mock me, and I flat out told him that I’m not his sweetheart, and what he can refer to me by is my name, and my name only, else he can feel free to find out how not sweet I am. He (as a contractor trying to bully me into issuing a permit for shoddy work) really didn’t expect me to stand my ground or call him out on his BS.

      To be clear – I don’t think it’s okay either way, but I think there’s different ways to handle based on what the terms are actually being used for.

      1. MattKnifeNinja*

        I’m 54 and still get honey/sweet heart/dear/hon.

        It’s common where I live. When you call them on it, THEY get really pissy and offended.

    14. CheeryO*

      Common in my experience, but worth pushing back on. Unfortunately, the people who are most likely to pull that crap are also the least likely to respect your boundaries, so it’s an uphill battle.

    15. KR*

      It’s gross and common. I usually go with either a) say “Oh it’s actually Tigger. Thanks.” b) ignore it but be *all business* on the phone until they start treating you like a person and not their daughter/relative

      Sincerely, another young face in an industry traditionally male

    16. Another Librarian*

      Super annoying and super common, also dependent on the region. When I moved to the Deep South I had to get used to everyone (regardless of gender) referring to me as honey, sweetie, dear or darling. Mild upside, is that it seems to be more gender neutral. Especially from older women who often seem to call everyone “honey”. It’s fascinating. I digress.

      Having said that, I would decide how much political capital you want to spend. It might be worth just rolling your eyes internally and letting it go if it’s not someone you deal with everyday.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Another wrinkle for your fascination: my team lead is a mature US Southern Traditional white woman. She calls everyone under her ‘hon’ (male or female), but not her equals or bosses. They are *always* [First Name]. My experience has been this is common for US Southern Traditional white women; non-white US Southern women are more likely to call *everyone* honey / hon, no matter what the potential relationship power differentials may be.

        My team lead’s use is totally condescending and pretty annoying, as are the other ‘forced teaming’ gestures, but I operate fairly independently so I can mostly shrug it off. I hate when I get sucked into the forced teaming stuff tho. Haven’t quite figured out how to do the ‘neutral non-comment without being offensively abrupt’ when she’s dishing on the latest thing that exec whom she knows I don’t like has done.

    17. Surprising common*

      I’m a mid 30s female that’s been in construction for 12 years. I’m in the office with a few other women but my 50 person team is all men and 90% of my vendors, customers, and subcontractors are men. It’s extremely common. Some do it out of habit and others because they’re sexist. A polite request usually works on the first group, the second group are more difficult to change. It’s a constant battle.

    18. Jule*

      It is common, though it is bad. People should know by this point that it’s bad, but honestly…some of these people ARE doing this with full knowledge that most women don’t like it, and they’re ready to rant and hold grudges if they get called on it. Be careful out there.

    19. Lluviata*

      There are lots of great replies here on what you can say to stop it, and I’d like to add what it looks like AFTER you’ve said something. What used to hold me back was wondering if it was “worth it,” so maybe this’ll be helpful to you too.

      In my case, he called me something like “buddy.” I had a normal conversation with him, then ended up telling him to call me by my name. Afterwards, he was a little more cautious and less casual when we would talk to me. And I REALLY liked it! It put me at ease, because he was less likely to say something condescending or unprofessional to me. And I felt like a peer, where before I usually felt like a “junior” (and I wasn’t). I plan on speaking up more often now, based on how well it went.

    20. Ada*

      I feel you so much right now. I’ve always looked waaaaay young for my age no matter how I dress or carry myself, which is probably why the guy running the business next to ours refers to me as “young lady.” I’m in my thirties.

    21. Applesauced*

      I hear you! I am a young-looking architect (yes, licensed and all!) who frequently goes to construction sites. 90% of the time contractors (who have been 100% male) are fine, but I chewed the ear off the guy who tried to give me the pink hardhat.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Do YOU want a pink helmet? Why not? So why did you assume that I’d want one? Oh… I see…

    22. Adminx2*

      NO and feel free to correct them on the spot “Oh my name is Sally” plus relaxed smile.
      99% of them will smarten up, the other 1% will feel entitled to keep being “old fashioned” and you’ll have to pick and choose what authority and capital you want to spend on correcting further.

    23. Hamburke*

      I hate this and just plain old don’t respond and play it off as “I didn’t know you were talking to me b/c my name isn’t ‘Darling’ and we don’t have that kind of personal relationship to use lovey-dovey names”.

    24. J*

      Yeah, this is super gross, and you can 100 oercent ask them politely but not very firmly not to do that. If they don’t stop right away, insist, and feel free to become increasingly stern with repeat reminders.

    25. Close Bracket*

      You have to judge who you can say this to without blow back, but I did once respond to something like this with, “Sure thing, darlin’.” The recipient did a slight double take and acknowledged that he shouldn’t call people sweetheart. It won’t work with everyone, that’s for sure, and you have to be careful about your delivery. Pointed deadpan worked for me.

    26. Namey McNameface*

      My friend had the same experience. She said she would respond using the same endearment, like “you’re welcome sweetheart” “no problem hun” “I’ll get those files for you now, darling.” Apparently that put it end to it quickly.

      It’s sexist and patronising. Even if you’re working with someone much, much younger there’s no place for endearments like that in the workplace.

    27. A Rare Bird*

      Everyone saying it’s not normal… Is wrong. I work in engineering and construction, I’m 26 and female, and it’s a constant battle with middle aged men.

      They don’t think they’re doing anything wrong, so can get really defensive when you call them on it, but what worked for me was being really blunt when it happened, and moving on immediately. “Don’t call me darling”, move on. If they start a debate, refuse to engage and reiterate that it’s unprofessional or condescending or sexist or whatever works for your situation, and then move on. Try not to be emotive or dragged into a fight; just an absolute non-negotiable “stop that” and continue with your business.

      YMMV depending on how naturally confrontational you are, and you might get a reputation as a feminist battleaxe among the bad ones, but they will stop and it will get better for the other women you work with. It gets easier over time as well once you’re used to shutting it down… And gives you plenty of good examples for competency based questions about cultural differences and difficulties with colleagues in future interviews.

      Good luck!

      1. A Rare Bird*

        Nothing wrong with being a feminist battleaxe obviously, I am one! Could have phrased that part better!

  8. Enescudoh*

    Hey folks. Got laid off this week, completely out of the blue, in particular harsh circumstances. It was my first job out of uni and I’d done two years there, had no real indication things weren’t good enough. Would love some encouragement and anecdotal evidence that this isn’t the end of all hope of finding a job I enjoy, which it kinda feels like right now.

    1. Tigger*

      Omg I am so sorry. I have been there before and it sucks. I just kept on applying to everything that sounded interesting to me and enrolled in a temp company and they found me some cool temp gigs. It gets better I promise.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You’ve got 2 years experience under your belt so you’re in a good place to look for your next adventure at least!

      I didn’t get laid off but I quit my first job after 14 months because they were going bankrupt fast. I ended up in the job that built my entire career afterwards. The 14 months experience was just enough to get my foot in the door and show my next boss what I was capable of doing. I was running the business within 5 years, no joke.

      Dust yourself off. You’re young and the world isn’t as scary after you dive back in whenever it tries spitting you out.

      1. Mellow*

        “Dust yourself off. You’re young and the world isn’t as scary after you dive back in whenever it tries spitting you out.”

        I love this. Well put, The Man, Becky Lynch, and so, so, SO true.

    3. intelligent_zombie*

      Just over a year ago my company suddenly went out of business. It was surprising and emotionally draining.

      A couple of things that worked for me: (all with the caveat – if you are financially able)
      – take some time, a day/week/month, to just let yourself be sad and angry and anything else you feel. Losing your job is emotionally very trying
      – let your network know you are available for new opportunities
      – work with someone you trust to brush up your CV/resume and cover letter and then practice your interviewing skills
      – take your time in finding the right job for you
      – depending on your skill set, take on some short-term, temporary work to bring in some money, keep your skills sharp, and grow your network

      Biggest thing – this was your first job and you were there 2 years. That’s actually really great. You have a million opportunities in front of you and look at this as the chance to start fresh in a new and exciting workplace

      1. JediSquirrel*

        This. When bad things like this happen, I give myself a week to feel terrible and indulge those feelings. Halfway through, I’m itching to get going on something positive. You’ve got to give yourself permission to feel the awful feelings and space to do that.

    4. fromscratch*

      I’ve been there! You will bounce back.
      My advice: Make the most of linkedin. Start connecting with people in your area and in your field (even not locally). Build out a great profile with as many project specifics as you can. Find local groups to join and start volunteering. Temp agencies can be really helpful during this type of situation as well.

    5. MLB*

      Ugh that sucks. I’ve been laid off twice in my career, and while neither time was easy, the opportunities that came after would have never happened had I not lost my jobs. Apply for unemployment immediately, even if they gave you severance pay, learn to be frugal and get out of the house often so you don’t go nuts and focus on the bad stuff.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      I did ten years of trying various jobs / careers after my BA: retail management, tech support, web development, non-profit. There were all various degrees of ok – I could pay the bills, I had time to be social, I learned a lot.

      Turns out, my dream career’s in an area I’d never even heard of until I got to grad school (supply chain), when I was about 30. I get to solve problems every day! I have tools and skills that can Make The World Run Better!

      You don’t have to go to grad school to find the area that is great for you – it was just another way to check out different businesses / careers / opportunities . Just make sure you set yourself up to be able to go for new options and opportunities (have good savings / walk away $; don’t do illegal / mean things), try to stay flexible and open to options, and don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go to plan. Best laid plans of mice and men….

    7. Junior Dev*

      Hey, I’m sorry this happened.

      Some hopeful points:
      * “College, then 2 years at same job, which ended for reasons out of your control” is a pretty good timeline to have on your resume. It’s much better than I had (less than a year at various places, got fired from last one) last time I was out of work, and I found a new job about 4 months later, with some contract work in-between.
      * You found a job you liked so you can probably do so again, right? I don’t know what your financial situation is like but I encourage you to be picky if you can–interview companies as much as they interview you, think about what you do and don’t want to do in a job.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was blindsided by a layoff after 2 years of a job that I’d started as a temp. 200 people let go in one day. We were all reeling. The best thing for me though was that the company offered an outplacement package. A few group sessions and a few one-on-ones. Take the training — even if you don’t take the trainer’s advice, you get good practice at talking about the layoff itself and about yourself in general. They ran us through self-evaluations, and I ran myself through every exercise in “What Color Is Your Parachute?” — and four months later I started at the company I’m still working for 19 years later.

      Another random thought… Try Toastmaster’s. I wish I’d found them sooner — I just went to my first session a few days ago actually, and I can already see where the practice will help me a lot.

      Hang in there – and keep us posted.

    9. theletter*

      layoffs are very different from getting fired. A layoff means the company or the department wasn’t doing well and couldn’t support the amount of staff, and some people had to go. A lot of the time, management will choose the person who was hired most recently, which is probably why you got picked. Chances are this choice had very little to do with the quality of your work.

      But like others said, two years of work right after graduating from college is very good. You are exactly what most employers are looking for: a recent graduate with a bit of work experience and you’re available.

      My father, who had a very successful career in IT consulting, told me that every layoff and firing he had was blessing in disguise.

    10. SansaStark*

      I’m so sorry. I had a similar thing happen (although I had a few additional years out of college). Eight years later, it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me and set me on a path I didn’t even know existed. I really hope that this is true for you, too. Over the next few days, treat yourself to something nice – even if it’s just turning your phone off and reading a good book or watching an old favorite movie. It’s been a rough week and you deserve something comforting.

    11. schmana*

      Ah this happened to me too, about 6 years ago.

      My job was so bad that I would throw up on my way to work (like, pull over on the side of the road and then finish driving in) and I was on anti anxiety meds and anti depressants. Since I graduated during the recession, I figured any job was better than no job, so I kept dealing with it. Then I got laid off (was also blindsided) and thought my world was ending. I took a few days to get stupidly drunk with my other coworkers who were also laid off, and then got to job hunting.

      Six weeks later, I found a job that I figured would be a temporary gig, but I’m still here. It was honestly the best thing to happen to my career. I’ve grown so much, traveled/lived internationally for work, and even my worst days at this company are 100% better than my best days at my last job. I think back to those days and laugh thinking about how I thought I had lost something that I needed. What I needed was a kick in the ass to find a job that was so much better for me.

      Good luck, and I hope you get to look back on this one day and laugh!

    12. Brandy*

      I was laid off totally out of the blue. I had been recently promoted, 5 years with the company, had 5 straight years of excellent performance and the promotions to prove it.

      My boss moved elsewhere in the company (not his choice) and my department got absorbed into another division. I was a senior director and new department head brought over a former coworker to take my role at the VP level. I was totally shocked, as was my entire team and all of my peers—as well as the entire senior leadership team, none of whom had been told or consulted except the new CEO (who was brand new and my boss and his new VP’s former coworker).

      Also, I was just shy of 3 months pregnant (had not yet told work).

      So….long/short of this is I hired a lawyer who got me more severance. I ended up with 8 months of severance(initial offer was 5) due to various factors. Lawyer also got them to pay me my bonus, which would have been paid out 12/31 and I got laid off right after Thanksgiving.

      I ended up picking up some contract consulting work during my severance period. I did 2 interviews and realized it wouldn’t be good for either party for me to be interviewing/seriously job hunting after 5 months for various reasons. One of my contract clients ended up calling me a few weeks after I gave birth to see if I wanted to join him in forming a consulting group.

      Four years later, I now have 3 wonderful kids, a job where I work on my time (about 20-30 hours a week, super flexed), and while I don’t have benefits, we have the infrastructure to offer them if/as needed. Right now I take more in cash and we use my husband’s company’s great health insurance, I have a Self employed 401k that is a fabulous tax shelter and enables me to sock money away like crazy and also being 1099 gives me a ton of tax write offs (yes, we still sadly have to itemize even under the new rules).

      I had a full blown panic attack when I was laid off- had never had one before. I thought I was having a stroke. But wow, my live would have been so different if I’d stayed in that role. I’m not quite as wealthy, but close, and so much happier.

      Best of luck to you- I know your story isn’t the same as yours but I know many people that have been laid off and it has put them in much better places in the long run.

    13. LayoffsArentJustForOldPeople*

      Oh my, someone in my exact same boat! I was laid off 6 work days ago from my first job out of school, too! Don’t be afraid to kind of practice saying, “I got laid off” because it helps begin to normalize it and others can relate to that and will be supportive.

      Two years out of school is a great place to be- you’ve gotten experience working professionally, you’ve learned things you like and dislike in your job and in an organization’s culture, and you’re more confident in your skills. Use those teachings to help fuel finding the right next job for you! It’s a sucky process but I’ve really come to enjoy finding many opportunities that I would never have imagined once I was forced back onto the job search.

    14. Namey McNameface*

      I’m sorry. I got laid off around 2 years after my first job, too. Even though I wasn’t fond of my job it still sucked and I cried a lot at home. I felt irrationally betrayed by my boss, although in retrospect I totally understand it was out of his hands.

      It was right in the middle of the GFC so I knew job searching would be incredibly difficult. I took some time off to do study, went to the gym a lot, and generally just relaxed and lived off my savings. Fortunately I could live with my parents and I had saved a reasonable amount before being laid off so money wasn’t a concern. Eventually I found a job which was more challenging and enjoyable than my old one.

      That was 10 years ago. I don’t even think about it now. Actually, I’m glad that happened because it forced me to take a different direction in life and do something that was much better. A lot of people have experience of losing their job at least once in a lifetime. But they all move on. As upsetting as it is now it will be a non-event when time passes.

  9. Parenthetically*

    Mr. Brackets is applying for some new jobs with better pay. We’re hoping to expand our family this year. Anyone ever successfully negotiated for paternity leave as part of an offer?

    1. StellaBella*

      In the country where I live, it is part of our social security and is paid up to 14 weeks both for mom and for dad (can take more unpaid). There is a wikipedia article called Parental Leave – it’s eye opening. I’m not sure I’d try to negotiate this but I would ask about the policies, and maybe ask about more holiday time if they won’t give parental leave? Not sure.

    2. Hmmm*

      Disclaimer: I am a childless woman who has never negotiated paternity leave.

      How much time is he looking to get? If it is a week or maybe two he could try to negotiate that as part of his overall vacation/PTO time. That way he will have it forever and it will still allow him to take the time to be with your baby.

      If he is looking at longer, then I would advise to use traditional negotiating tactics and emphasize that it is a one time event (unless you plan on having more children). Keep in mind that – when offered – most maternity leave policies in the US (if that is where you are) are contingent on 1 year of employment. So if he is asking for paternity leave specifically it would not be unreasonable for an employer to make usage contingent on the 1 year deadline as well. Good luck to him!

      1. Parenthetically*

        The 1-year thing is the issue. If he stayed at his current company, we’d be eligible for him to take 6 weeks because he’s been there over a year. If he left and moved to a new place, he wouldn’t be there for a year before we had another kid, most likely.

    3. Lisa B*

      Depends on what the company is. Big major corporations sometimes have pretty strict policies that are set in stone and can’t be negotiated, unless you’re up at a VP-ish level. Smaller companies might be more willing to be flexible.

  10. MuseumChick*

    I have an interview in a few days. Fingers crossed I will be out of my toxic job soon. The only down side is that it is 2 1/2 hours from where I current live. I’m not jazzed about having to move. I like the city I’m in, have a social circle, have started seeing a great guy for a few months now. But I cannot take this place anymore.

  11. Cheer me up please*

    I need to hear from people in other industries that it’s not all doom and gloom. I work in journalism and if you follow that news, this has obviously been a long and hard month (year, decade) for the entire industry. But then I have friends in healthcare, pharmacy, education (both K-12 and higher ed), and those industries feel like they are struggling as well. Can the AAM commentariat give me some hope that NOT all industries are collapsing? (Or should I just welcome our new robot overlords?)

    1. ThatGirl*

      I started out in journalism and it SUCKS. Things have been going downhill a long time and I sympathize mightily.

      But I work in consumer goods now and although this company is definitely having some struggles as retail landscapes change, overall the company is thriving, profitable and the biggest problem we’re having is finding good employees because the labor market is tight!

    2. KX*

      Publishing is… adapting. Print sales are down, but depending on the market and the creativity of the publishing and sales teams, moving to electronic formats is opening up interesting possibilities. The robot overlords so far are open to suggestions.

      1. Social*

        Curious what part of publishing you’re referring to. In the book world, print sales are up. And in the children’s space, digital sales have dropped in favor of print.

        There are paper issues these days but sales are quite solid.

        So, OP, consider publishing!

        1. Delphine*

          Not the person you were responding to, but I work in tech/software book publishing and we recently decided to be even more conservative with print runs because of how many people are opting to purchase e-books instead. But overall, the business is doing well, so I think it’s just a matter of adapting.

          The paper issues have been a nightmare. All our schedules have been thrown off.

    3. Formerly a reporter*

      My first job out of college was as a reporter. I was single and my needs were modest, so I didn’t care a lot that I wasn’t earning much. That job was fulfilling and rewarding for many reasons, but I had to leave the field when I realized that there was nowhere to go.

      One cheering element was that being a reporter made it easier than you might think to job-hunt in other industries. Prospective employers had seen me on TV and interviewers felt like they knew me. I chose jobs to apply for based, in part, on how valuable the knowledge I had gained could be to government, PR, marketing, bizcomm etc. Think of all the connections you’ve made!

      The hard truth is, I’m afraid, that journalism is only a rewarding career for a tiny number of super-talented, lucky, hard-working people with such dedication to the noble purposes of the fourth estate that they’ll accept the instability, low pay, deranged/disconnected management etc. that has come to characterize the industry. You post suggests that maybe now it’s time to think harder about what’s next for you.

      1. Midwest Writer*

        I really want to disagree with your last paragraph, but it’s hard to actually do so. I’ve been in medium markets, small markets and now tiny markets and I’ve found the latter are maybe the last frontier for getting to do good journalism with less corporate pressure. But I had to move hours from any big city to do it. This job and my last one actually pay better than when I was at a 70,000-circulation daily, in a much lower COL area. I’ve had good owners here, but terrible owners at bigger papers.
        Journalism seems so glamorous and there’s an unending pipeline of young people thrilled to work for peanuts, so it’s hard to get bigger papers to pay a living wage or even stop being awful employers.

      2. BenAdminGeek*

        Yes, journalism seems similar to the NFL in some ways- there’s always really talented, driven, young folks willing to work for less money than you. And that’s always going to make it very hard to get longevity or employers that will care about you.

    4. Tourism*

      It’s not so terrible, clickbait sites don’t represent journalism on the whole. My industry (tourism) is chugging along just fine and we tend to feel downturns relatively quick because when travelers need to cut back on expenses, vacations are one of the first things to go.

    5. Darrow*

      I work in insurance and things are going extremely well, from both a company and employee perspective. This is certainly not an industry that is going away anytime soon.

    6. Maya Elena*

      Health care is changing rapidly and good for some but bad for others. It is a growth field in terms of lots of new jobs, but definitely a major threat to anyone still in smaller companies, practices, hospitals, or anything else not well-prepared for the march of changing regulations and consolidation across the industry.

      In primary and secondary education, at it seems like again – there’s jobs and demand, but a big push to go to new methods, new approaches, new curricula, and a distrust of those with experience (with an accompanying attempt to oust them).

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        mm – education, like journalism, is actually a struggling field. The Koch bros and their minions (like Art Pope / Bob Luddy in NC) have been working to cut funding for public education for decades, and they’ve succeeded in a lot of places. The funding comes out of teacher pay, either directly or through higher workloads / class sizes.

        (I live in NC, it suuuuuuuucks to be a teacher in most of the state)

        1. Mellow*

          I was living in NC a few years ago when then-“Governor” McCrory (quotes intended) abolished K-12 teacher tenure and made up for it by giving all teachers one-time $500 bonuses.

          In a word, awful.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      It’s a time of transition, and transitions are always stressful. Some people are going to win, others are going to lose. We should as a society do better about people who are losing, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

      But the other part is that you may want to separate ‘industry’ from ‘labor inside an industry’. Healthcare, pharma – those *industries* are going strong (in the US / EMEA at least)(1). But in the US, we’ve got a serious labor / capital power imbalance across most industries, so that companies are not treating their employees well. The low unemployment rate should help, but it isn’t (2). People are struggling to understand why; my theory is ‘it’s hard to move jobs and take advantage bcs it’s hard to move housing and employees got scared by the Great Recession.’ The uncertainty about US future / trade relations under the current president doesn’t help.

      So, you and your friends are part of the current US angst, but the business / industry fundamentals are fairly strong. Until the next recession, which is probably going to be in 2020 as the pres campaign heats up. I’m just hoping it’s not a bad one.

      (1) GooBing ” ” and hit the St Louis Fed for 50 years of history on corporate profits, to 2015. They aren’t hurting, it’s only gone up since 2015, and it was high then.
      (2) “Unemployment in the US is historically low, but wage growth is sluggish”, Business Insider, Sep 2018

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m an accountant in manufacturing. Small niche items are still booming, large ticket items not so much.

      1. CMart*

        I’m an accountant in manufacturing as well. Trucking is currently booming. Accounting in general is always in demand. I’m feeling pretty secure for the moment.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yep, I just got dropped into manufacturing but when I’ve looked for jobs over the years, even during the dark days of the recovering recession, accounting opportunities are never lacking. Granted when businesses start failing, accounting gets injected with more applicants of course but I’m always snapped up rather quickly with my background.

          I did a stint in construction for a minute. Lumber is still hot, despite the timber industry collapse of the past decades. They aren’t popping up everywhere but if you’re around a mill, it’s solid after the purges.

        1. Cheer me up please*

          This is super interesting to hear, as my pharmacist friends ( I have a few) are experiencing a major shrinking of steady work. It’s all becoming part-time/contract and very hard to find positions with benefits. Is this pharmaceutical research/sales that is doing well?

          1. Lora*

            Research is meh but they are usually meh or terrible, never awesome. It’s hard to be better than meh with high failure rates.

            Development seems to be doing pretty good.

            Manufacturing doing great! We have lots of work coming from the pipeline.

            Don’t know about sales.

    9. Justin*

      There’s actually ways to do very well in education. It’s just that traditional education is struggling (not that this is okay).

      I expect that this is true for many such industries.

    10. NewNameJustForThisBecause*

      I’m in health care IT/website, and it is booming. And I’m not a developer, just on the business side of our website. The writers, UX, designers, product managers, project managers and auxiliary support are all booming, not just developers. I’m a marketing person, undergrad in journalism, with an ability to understand business cases and speak tech, and my math/logic, communication and presentation skills are invaluable.

      I think looking at skills – not just industries – is important. And I’ve had an unending quest to learn something new (example, I read the industry trends or items of interest in the wall street journal every day; I am of an age where you think I’d use a flip phone, but I’m designing if this/ then that scenarios for future strategy and able to talk about machine learning).

    11. Natalie*

      Accounting in general is killing it. I’m a “non traditional” candidate (humanities degree and no public accounting experience) and I’m getting cold called by recruiters. Internal, at that.

    12. Cheer me up please*

      Thank you everyone for the comments! This has, in fact, cheered me up.

      I knew going into journalism 10+ years ago that my time would be limited and I wouldn’t stick around forever, but despite all the ups and downs I’ve greatly enjoyed the work and felt like I’ve made a difference. Even through multiple rounds of layoffs I’ve never been worried that I wouldn’t find something else if my number was up (I’ve acquired MANY marketable skills doing this work). I just worried more that I would then go to another industry and get the same rollercoaster ride, and doing that when you are young and have no dependents is much different when you are over 40 and have kids depending on you.

      1. CMart*

        I can’t speak to the “over 40” aspect, but I entered the accounting field as a 30-something with a baby on the way (now proud owner of one additional baby). The continuous growth of that field and the nearly guaranteed stability were very reassuring to me.

      2. Katy*

        I think it would be smart to break down your categories. Some colleges are doing fine, others are struggling, depending on where they’re located, how many students they enroll, how reliant they are on public funding, and other factors. I work in edtech and we’re doing fine. With your journalism experience, I would encourage you to consider marketing. There are positions where you might have a lot of transferable skills in writing, editing, data analysis, a smattering of HTML, graphic design, or photography. And people always worry they will find marketing to be soulless but it can be very satisfying if you work at an organization you support. Good luck!

    13. Rufo*

      You could take your skills to a software development company as a technical writer or marketing writer. Both jobs require not just writing chops, but also investigative abilities. Jobs range from the super technical to the not-at-all technical. And software development continues to boom. (Plus it pays very well.)

    14. CY-CS*

      I studied journalism but pivoted to other things and I’m a UX content strategist. If you’re willing to leave journalism, I’d definitely check this field out. It’s really in demand and I really love it. Every major brand is hiring people like us because we are storytellers. It’s all about storytelling except for the user. There is still a ton of writing in it.

  12. Sloan Kittering*

    I was astonished at the strong reactions to the candy jar letter yesterday (one thousand comments!) and especially how many people jumped to it being a moral issue that was worth OP making a stand over. I don’t want to re-litigate it here, I just think it’s fascinating that it’s the smallest things – like office candy jars – that ignite the most ire.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s like the rule that arguments in academia get more vicious as the issues get smaller.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yes isn’t there some adage about the smaller the issue is, the bigger and more entrenched the fight becomes….? Cannot recall the exact phrase, but I learned it when starting higher academe from one of my colleagues who was counseling not to take things too personal if some of my advisors got really mean, etc.

        1. Natalie*

          Sayre’s Law: “Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.”

      2. rebelipar*


        1. Sam Sepiol*

          I totally agree. Mr Banks says “nitch” in Mary Poppins, I only realised this recently and I can’t tell you how mad I got.

        2. Electric Sheep*

          Btw, it is definitely not nitch, and it’s pronounced neesh, but it’s actually spelt ‘niche’.

    2. Shark Whisperer*

      I think they talked about this on an episode of Han and Matt Know it All where Alison was a guest. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but people definitely get their hackles up over low stakes questions. I think maybe the obviously bad ones are so obviously that there is no one to argue with so you don’t get the same dopamine rush of feeling morally superior.

    3. Susan Calvin*

      I was surprised by how many of the “It’s not *about* the candy jar” crowd didn’t seem to be familiar with the concept of giving someone a long enough rope to hang themselves with!

      1. Mellow*

        And we in the “It’s not *about* the candy jar” crowd were surprised by how many in the “It’s just candy!” crowd don’t understand the long view of boundary violations.

    4. Psyche*

      I think it’s because more of us can see ourselves ending up in a situation like that and so it resonates more. The bigger issues are less relatable, although we can sympathize for those involved.

    5. Plain Jane*

      I’ve worked as an administrative assistant for most of my career, so I have a lot of experience with candy jars, potlucks, business meals, receiving food baskets from vendors, etc. and people have Strong Feelings And Opinions when it comes to food and beverages at work.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I do think it’s just a flashpoint somehow. Like very small perks that some people get and others don’t – it’s like it ignites the childish sibling rivalry point in your brain and then rationality really goes out the window. I have been astonished at the behavior of some professionals (and fallen victim to it myself as well!). I guess it’s because I feel trapped here all day against my will, so hearing that some other team got donuts or gets to sit by a window or has some new desk gadget …

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          I think this has a lot to do with it, actually—the fact that we’re all “trapped here all day” doing what other people tell us to do, sitting where they tell us to sit, wearing what they tell us to wear. Then tiny things like walking over to the candy dish and deciding which Hershey’s Miniature you want become a bigger deal than normal because it’s something that you’re doing entirely for yourself and that’s quite rare. So when you mess with the candy jar or the coffee machine, it touches a very sensitive nerve.

          *obviously I’m choosing a Krackle. It’s by far the best.

          1. fposte*

            Fistbump on the Krackle!

            I also think food really does hit at some basic mammalian neurology. Who eats what and when is super-important in lots of species, and we’re not as evolved as we like to think.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            It can also reflect a survival mentality where people are struggling to get from one minute to the next minute. I have associated it with toxic workplaces. I think that if management treats people like crap then people tend to treat each other like crap. People go toward what they see around them.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I’ll have all the Special Dark, please. It’s the only Hershey’s I can stand. Fortunately, no one else seems to like them so I get all of them, heh heh.

    6. MuseumChick*

      I agree. I’m always fascinated when the AAM community strongly disagrees on something. It reminded me a little of the letter when one person had go through another person’s trash and gotten them in trouble. Alison noted in a later post that there had been a strong divide between managers and non-manager on that letter.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        LOVE it when there’s (civil) disagreement in the comments. One I remember vividly was about the necessity of asking for a raise sometimes. There were some passionate arguments that this was NOT a thing professionals should be expected to have to do, and that the commenter would just leave their job immediately if raises were not bestowed automatically.

      2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

        The nearly even division of opinions makes me really want an update. I’d like to see which way the LW went.

    7. Myrin*

      Yeah, I was astounded by that, too. I didn’t really participate in that comment section because it was already pretty late where I am when it went up but mostly because I found the situation pretty benign and something where Alison’s answer seemed entirely satisfactory to me. Now imagine how absolutely astounded I was when I opened the site this morning and saw the number of comments! I had truly not expected that at all!

      (It’s something I’ve observed several times on this site, actually. At least once a month, the one question in a five-answers-posts I find utterly uninteresting gets like two thirds of the comments directed at it. I don’t infer anything from that other than that it’s really fascinating to me how differently interests skew!)

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Agree, it was such a low stakes question! Not at all the most interesting one that week to me.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep, I almost didn’t print this one because I thought it might be too small an issue.


        I ended being pretty taken aback how common it was in the response to that letter for people not to think to separate “who is in the wrong?” from “what should the letter writer actually do?”

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I feel like that’s a theme of the letters that get a lot of traction in the comments: commenters get really interested in who is right or wrong, and sort of forget about the actual question that is asked.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            But … I feel like nobody was even arguing that the crabby coworker was right! Obviously, she was acting childishly, we all agreed about that.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Yes everyone thought crabby coworker was wrong, but some people were also arguing about whether the OP was wrong / right in persisting in keeping the candy out. That was where most of the traction seemed to be, to me.

          2. PB*

            I think this is true. I also feel like more relatable problems are more likely to raise hackles. Most of us have never had to manage an ex that ghosted us, give up pieces of our liver, or leave a note on a grave. These were all interesting letters, of course, and generated lots of comments, but the anger they provoked was more removed. The candy letter, or the leap-day birthday letter, however, feel more relatable. Have I had coworkers with no respect for boundaries? Yes! Have many people had PTO cancelled for a dumb reason? Sure! As a result, I think these letters just feel more personal.

        2. Drew*

          I’ve often found that people who seem to treat every encroachment on their perquisites as an opportunity to gird for battle are desperately unhappy about things they can’t control, and so it’s even more important to them to fight for the things they can.

          They’re the ones who don’t understand the concept of picking one’s battles, because to them, all battles are equally important.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            “Are desperately unhappy about things they can’t control” – I do think that’s a factor in why small perks at work arouse such passion, and also why the privacy/security of the LW’s personal items and space was such a hotbutton for people. Because at work, you’ve lost a lot of your personal freedom already so you cling to these really small things.

        3. fposte*

          I also think there’s some kind of injustice contagion, whereby an injustice in a letter flares up all our old injustices. It can be really hard to resist mapping a letter onto your own experience in the best of times, and then when one makes you all mad again about that effing Fergus at your old job, it’s tough to see around that lens.

          1. froodle*

            Injustice contagion is such a good way of putting that thing! I call it the landscape framed by froodle, the world is the world but it’s all seen through my framing and if something Not related to me reminds me of a thing that effected me, RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION ABOUNDS!!

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Inequities will snowball even if they seem unrelated to each other. I thought coworker’s reaction was that of a person who privately felt beaten by their own job/workplace.

        4. Bostonian*

          “Yep, I almost didn’t print this one because I thought it might be too small an issue.”

          LOL. Funny, I thought you gave it its own post because you KNEW it would be a hot topic.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I just read the post and the comment reply and the cow-irker is a twit. I’d go with the paper wall because I’m a horrible person.

              Yes, I’m crabby today.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            One of the things I had not expected to learn on this site was how deeply people become invested in any routine provision of free simple carbohydrates. Like, they could be hunkered down in the cube farm on Day 3 of the Zombie Apocalypse, clad in makeshift armor made from tax regulations and armed with staplers, and someone would say, “Wait, it’s Pretzel Thursday! Where are the pretzels?!!!!”

        5. Courageous cat*

          I think this is a natural thing that’s going to happen as the site and commentariat gets bigger and bigger. I feel like I’ve noticed it already over the course of just the past 2 years. People also get snarkier as a natural result too, I think.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Your last line is why I usually like blogs like this one–the window into how my obvious answer is other people’s obvious nonstarter.

        This reminds me a bit of Dave Barry’s worst rock song contest, which he casually tossed out as a topic and immediately the Miami Herald’s internal messaging almost broke under the onslaught of hardened reporters who are also impassioned song haters, and when it hit print it generated more mail than any other column by miles, because hating a song that keeps coming on the radio is a topic that can generate 10 pages of all caps. (Macarthur Park won.)

    8. Nanc*

      Picture it–small Oregon University, 1995, the dean of faculty and staff solicits feedback for what should be offered in on-campus snack and soda machines. At one point I let the poor lady restocking machines hide in my office because she was being bombarded for info and she just wanted to restock what we currently carried.
      There was a committee with two subcommittees. It was . . . interesting.

      1. Chilly Delta Life*

        This actually might be the most interesting thing I’ve read today. Would love to know more, like what did they break into subcommittees for exactly?

        1. Nanc*

          One subcommittee for beverages, one subcommittee for food. There were long meetings about cans versus plastic bottles on the beverage subcommittee. The minutes were interesting . . .
          The food subcommittee spent a couple of months arguing over what constituted healthy snacks.
          I believe the survey took well over a year and by that time the vending contract had expired so the university was in the process of soliciting bids from vending machine companies.
          I left that job before it was all settled. I don’t miss academia and the plethora of committee work.

    9. deesse877*

      My quick-and-dirty read is that most excessive-comments-about-trivialities respond to two things:

      1) Transgressions of the boundaries of the body, and anything that is a proxy or symbol for the body, like clothing, a personal cubicle or car
      2) Any scenario in which a woman is asked to take on a caretaking role (to a person or people of any gender), and declines to do so.

      These two main issues clearly go to some very primal fears and basic questions, about social interaction in general, and women’s roles in particular. The candy dish war had both main issues in very pure form.

      There is also a smaller but significant group of posters, for whom failures of personal respect between co-workers are much bigger problems than they are for the majority. I suspect that these folks may be cultural outliers in other ways as well, but I am not positive.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I think there was a kids-these-days / PC-culture subtext where somebody wasn’t “taking personal responsibility” and was trying to get other people to take it on for them – that seemed to be a flashpoint also (as seen in the “trigger warning” culture wars).

        But yes, another touchpoint was definitely the Sanctity of Your Stuff at work, the sense that somebody touching somebody else’s possession and handling their drawer was a huge violation. I remember a similar letter where somebody was suspected (kind of speciously, I thought) of throwing away somebody else’s mug, and there was a similar eruption of fury.

        1. smoke tree*

          One thing that I thought was interesting was how many commenters were heavily leaning on compassion for the coworker as a reason to come to a compromise. Obviously I’m not a very nice person because in this situation, I would be too annoyed to be compassionate, although I would still want to de-escalate the Candy Wars for the sake of my own sanity and reputation.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me too, because being the receptionist means that people think your desk is a supply closet. It is not.

            At OldExjob, I had to actually put a sticker on my stapler with a picture of Milton Waddams and the caption, “MINE!”

      2. Asenath*


        Our little group, which had seemed to get on quite well, moved from one end of our complex to another. The new area was cleaned and painted, but any renovations – like moving walls to change the size of the rooms – couldn’t be done. It took MONTHS to get the room allocation worked out, almost entirely because one person insisted that it was his right to have an office with a window. Being far lower in the hierarchy, I and one of my co-workers were moved to 5 different rooms, together when the space was largish, separately when it was more closet-sized. And we didn’t have any demands about windows – I did like the one room that had a window but was perhaps a little small for two. The window fanatic got that office in the end.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It delights me. Such a refreshing change from the actual terrible stuff that we hear about. I’ll fight about candy all day long…much better than trying to hijack employees internal organs!!!

    11. Roscoe*

      I was too. This seemed like a pretty simple letter on its face, and it was SO polarizing and people had very strong reactions on both sides.

    12. smoke tree*

      I think that question was just a perfect storm. It included so many commenter indignation flashpoints: food and dieting, personal space and privacy violations, personal responsibility, the line for reasonable requests to make of others in a shared space . . .

      Also, for me the major one was the fact that the coworker was so obviously ridiculous in her approach and expectations, and in that situation it’s really tempting to try to teach the person a lesson, even when the stakes are this low.

    13. Delphine*

      I wonder if it’d be easy to predict which letters will elicit that kind of response. I think any letter that focuses on boundary-violating behavior where the best advice is really to accommodate a bit of the behavior because it’s easier is going to create friction.

    14. TootsNYC*

      and cake. I used to frequent a message board that somehow had the most contentious discussion when cake was involved. I started putting (“warning: cake”) mentions on subject lines.

    15. TootsNYC*

      It reminds me, actually, of the story of the guy who shot his neighbor because the neighbor kept putting a mattress in the guy’s dumpster.

      And the widow said, “You’d shoot someone over a mattress!”
      But (while I don’t condone the shooting!), it wasn’t over a mattress.

      It was over respect.

      And that’s the case with the candy jar. It was about respect, that’s why the OP was so angry.

  13. Dish and the spoon*

    Are there effective ways to make our professional organizations more inclusive?

    Last week, the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting was held. Numerous people of color reported incidents of microaggressions, and a firestorm broke out after a woman of color was verbally attacked by a white man during a council meeting.

    ALA released a statement condemning the behaviors, and promising more working groups and studies.

    I’m interested in hearing if 1) the librarians on here have thoughts on what else our profession can do and 2) if commenters from other professions have ‘best practices’ for organizations trying to improve in this area.

    (I also ask that we not litigate what happened at the conference, or get into he-said/she said. Let’s concentrate on what we can do better, please.)

    1. Ashley*

      One thing I have been taught is to consider location. Minorities aren’t super welcome in some communities unfortunately and it can have a chilling effect on participation when you know the cops will be watching you when you drive through town.

    2. Sandy*

      Best practices:

      -Location, location, location: what part of town is the conference going to be held in? Is the location accessible by people with disabilities, invisible or otherwise? Are the bathrooms accessible for people with disabilities, invisible or otherwise?

      -Timing: check the dates of religious holidays and don’t hold conferences on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays.

      -Make a variety of food options available, including kosher, halal, and vegan.

      The biggest point: volunteer this information up front, in the conference invite. Nothing alienates people faster than having to ask whether the bathrooms are accessible, same-sex partners are invited to the reception, or kosher food is available. Show people that you’ve thought though the issues hat important to them beforehand.

      1. La Framboise*

        I wasn’t at Midwinter and just read this week what happened. If academia had taught me anything, it’s to plan for anything to happen and have your supporters ready to go beforehand. I think we’ll all have to understand that this dynamic exists, and be ready to speak up in a situation. A terrible learning lesson on preparedness.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      A lawyers’ organization I belong to has an inclusivity policy for its annual national convention: if you’re proposing a panel, you must provide a diverse list of participants and explain how the list follows the rules. Briefly, and for reasons that have been litigated literally for years in the organization itself, no more than half your panel participants can be straight, white, male lawyers. The problem addressed is that lawyers, even activist civil-rights lawyers, tend to be drawn from elite classes. They won’t hear and really understand what they need to, if they don’t sit back and listen once in a while.

      1. WOC*

        Yes. This.

        The above comments saying “make sure your location is safe for POC” are like saying “the white people need to do a better job making decisions for POC, and also maybe more hugs?” No. You will not get rid of the structural racism in your organization until POC are in leadership roles and have significant representation among your membership.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Yes, this. Recruiting more PoC for all areas of your industry; pushing employers / etc to build relationships with colleges with more PoC.

          I mean, does the ALA org have internships? Do you recruit for those at HBCUs? Do you reserve some slots for PoC?

          Also: Serious consequences for racism. At the least, removal from positions of authority in the org (committees, boards, etc). Can you expel the white man who did the attacking?

          Microaggressions are harder, but maybe some restorative justice techniques would be helpful. Also, mandating that your white members attend some effective diversity training might help. I hear ‘Cracking The Code’ helps people who are clueless but well meaning understand their microaggressions.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Also, I didn’t realize the size of this conference. You might look into what tech and geek conferences are doing around sexual harassment. Goobinging “effective conference harassment policies” gives several good resources from Ada, for example.

        2. hello*

          “You will not get rid of the structural racism in your organization until POC are in leadership roles and have significant representation among your membership.”

          This applies to every workplace on this whole blog, in my opinion. Advice applicable to all

    4. hello*

      I think these big conferences are also is a good time to examine the profession as a whole. Maybe that means more scholarships for librarian assistants of color to get their masters in library science, maybe it means that publishers need to promote POC to high positions (with publishing, a very white profession being also at ALA, I think that does not help the whiteness).

    5. Another Librarian*

      One of the challenges for professional organizations is what can the organization do when the members may behave in problematic ways. The leadership of ALA can set policy, but I don’t know how policy would help with behavior from members. I’m interested in what other people might suggest to combat these issues, especially because ALA is such a huge conference. It’s over 8000 people at the average midwinter and over 1500 at the summer conference. That is a huge number of people. So, I don’t have answers, but I am deeply curious what others will say.

    6. OhGee*

      Not a librarian, but friends with enough that I heard about this. I am a past organizer for a technical community conference that draws several hundred attendees. It’s a very white, male space, and we tried multiple things to build a more diverse, respectful space:

      * build a conference program that offers a diversity of speakers and ideas – this takes work, because if your space is particularly white and/or male, you will probably have to recruit speakers (including keynotes – speakers will be more interested in giving a talk if they can identify with one of your featured speakers!)
      * have a safe space policy/code of conduct etc (I see that ALA had this for this gathering)
      * enforce the safe space policy/code of conduct
      * no, really, enforce the safe space policy/code of conduct for EVERYONE – the organization for which I ran a conference took a ton of flack from past speakers and community members because it became clear the CoC *didn’t* apply to [white, male] leadership/luminaries of the community. (the fact that I was unable to move the needle on that is part of the reason I left). nobody respects a CoC if it’s toothless.
      * *require* registrants/speakers to assent to the CoC upon registration/acceptance of their talk – you will probably get pushback on this. It’s a great opportunity to explain *why* the CoC matters…and you are unlikely to lose more than a handful of attendees – more people will be thrilled to know they can expect to attend a safe, cared-for event.
      * this is the hardest: bystander training in your professional community. this takes a ton of work and can really bring out white fragility (I am white, btw). but I think building a culture in which those who are NOT being attacked see it as their duty to address microaggressions (and plain ol’ aggressions) as they’re happening is the only way to achieve long-term, positive change. the other side of this coin is that well-meaning white people (and I include myself here) need to learn to hear critique about their behavior without becoming defensive or upset. It can be hard to do, but as I’ve made a point to do so, I’ve felt my behaviors slowly changing for the better.
      The Geek Feminism wiki offers lots of guidance on healthy CoC policy/enforcement, too. I am glad ALA came out with a response that isn’t a total waste of time — I hope they can follow through, centering the voices of people who are most vulnerable to harassment in professional spaces.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 on GeekFeminism wiki, and also recommend the Ada project; GooBing “effective conference harassment policies Ada”

      2. Sammie*

        I love the idea of bystander training in some form. I’ve heard very mixed responses from diversity trainings – my anecdotal evidence is that it’s eye-opening to those who don’t have that much experience really truly engaging (AKA listening at least as much as you are talking) with a diverse group of people on a regular basis – but for everyone who IS the diversity so-to-speak it’s a bit… wishy washy. Teaching those of us with privilege practical scripts and actions that we can use to contribute to others’ wellbeing – without making it all about us and expecting pats on the back for regular decency – seems like the next step. And most of us have some measure of comparative good fortune we can take advantage of in some fashion. E.g. I’m LGBTQ and I’ve been harassed even in my super liberal city, but I’m also white and materially comfortable. I know that if I lose my temper in the face of bad behaviour I won’t likely be stereotyped (or double-stereotyped) for it the way black women tend to be. So, lose my temper I shall!

      3. Tourism*

        Lots of talk about white males, but you really want to see some non-inclusive conferences, you ought to attend some tourism industry conferences, especially AAHOA. It’s a rather interesting cultural thing.

        1. OhGee*

          I mean, I’m a white woman and was working in a very, very white, male technical community (less diverse than the mainstream tech community – about 95% white men), so that’s where I’m coming from. I’m sure other homogeneous business communities have their own issues that I know nothing about.

    7. former librarian*

      The woman of color in question is a bully and the white man who is being dragged as a racist was the only person brave enough to stand up to her. No one intervened because they all agreed with him, and no one is speaking up because they’re scared that she’ll tweet about them in a way that her followers will identify her critics, dox them, and jeopardize they’re employment. It’s incredible that he’s being called a racist when no one can identify anything racist that he actually SAID. Instead, he’s being pilloried online because he took umbrage with an individual who happens to be a woman of color.

      If their identities were reversed, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. And by the way, this behavior has been going on at council forum for years.

      This situation is disgusting. The “attacker” was bullied by her for months (which she denies – but it’s easily disproven if any librarians cared enough to check sources) and is widely understood to have several disabilities. It’s incredible that everyone is basically tone-policing a disabled person for not being sufficiently civil, while the “victim” is online complaining that her attacker wasn’t civil enough towards her. Everyone involved needs to grow up.

      1. Delphine*

        If their identities were reversed, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. And by the way, this behavior has been going on at council forum for years.

        Well, no kidding. If their identities were reversed, the power differential wouldn’t exist. I’m not saying you’re wrong, because I don’t know anything about the situation. But I hope you can recognize on some level that white men attacking women of color has significant historical significance and women of color attacking white men does not.

        1. former librarian*

          What power differential? She has an online mob attacking him for behavior that 1) white women in her twitter mentions admit has happened to them at this particular conference event (thus proving that there is nothing racist here) 2) that is not only normal for the space (a fact confirmed by WOC supporting him on listservs and speaking out anonymously behind the scenes for fear of retribution 3) that is in fact a known clinical presentation of his medical conditions.

          She has a platform that she has weaponized to have the professional association suspend a due process investigation and demonize him on her say-so. She is tone policing an autistic man, while calling everyone who tone polices *her* a racist, and anyone trying to point that out is being doxxed and harassed. Oh wait, I’m sorry, she doesn’t call them anything. She just points her twitter mob towards her target, and lets them do her dirty work so she can maintain plausible deniability and say that she isn’t harassing anyone.

          Who is the one with power, here?

        2. Ann O.*

          That seems like an incoherent distinction when we’re talking about a here-and-now interaction between two individuals. Unless you genuinely believe that it is okay for women of color to attack white men for any reason, including that they simply felt like it, because of historical oppressions (historical oppressions that are usually constructed from a US-centric POV).

          Personally, that is not my definition of an inclusive environment nor the goal I picture in my head when we talk about dismantling oppression.

      2. MeMeMe*

        Are there any accounts from others at the council meeting that day? I can only find a blog post by the librarian who was verbally attacked, and she doesn’t go into much detail about the specific situation.

        She also says that she and the man in question have no past history. What are your sources for saying she had been bullying him for months?

      3. Mobuy*

        I’ve been trying to find some information on this event, but all I can find is the alleged victim’s POV. Do you have a link to the other side? In my experience, it’s very rare that something like this happens and the fault is on only one side. But it’s common for someone whose handle is something like “Categorically Against Racism” to look for the next blog post. Not that what happened was okay, but it might be…overblown?

        1. former librarian*

          @mobuy I was there. The victim’s POV is not really disputed. What is missing is the context. Many on council have been frustrated with the victim for years because she uses her platform to twist, distort, and take our words in the space out of context. We beg the association to make the transcripts public, but our calls go unheeded, so the victim’s accounts go repeated in the echo chamber she has built. We are sick and tired of being dragged online as racists because we disagree with her on substantive policy matters of professional association governance.

          In my opinion, the victim was being performatively sweet to someone we all know she has a history with. Her “attacker” called her out, shaking, visibly distressed, and agitated. In another world, we’d see this for what it is: a victim standing up to their abuser. The “victim” everyone is rallying around is someone who bullies people behind closed doors, scares them off of standing up to her consistent mobilization of her online mob, then, in public, acts nice to them. It’s my opinion that like all abusers, her goal in doing so is to discredit her victims in front of witnesses. Abusers do this by making their victims look unstable – she does it by making herself look like a victim and by claiming her opponents are racist.

          She’s really doubled down on her claim that she has no history with her “attacker”, when the receipts are out there for anyone to find – it’s amazing that her followers all work as librarians, but that no one has bothered to actually research this.

          And I have to respectfully disagree that there is nothing to be gained by discussing what actually happened. This is a situation that gets to the heart of how social media can be manipulated into making EVERYTHING a conversation about racism, when this isn’t about racism, it’s about a culture of fear of call-out culture that a handful of cynical people are exploiting in order to gain power for themselves.

          We need to talk about this. It shouldn’t be a requirement of professional service for every white person to pound their chest in front of each other and proclaim, “I’m a racist because I’m white!” What does the word “racist” even mean if it’s been expanded to mean “all white people”? Why is everyone acting like it’s normal that her “attacker” has his name and image all over Twitter as a racist when no one has even accused him of saying ANYTHING racist? Am I seriously supposed to believe his speech magically became racist because he’s a white man speaking to a black woman? How does anyone think this is professional, appropriate, or doing anything to dismantle white supremacy?

          1. Mobuy*

            I agree with you. I am always skeptical of anyone who uses the internet mob to shame and humiliate people. Also, I rarely believe professional racial agitators. Thanks for your perspective.

            1. former librarian*

              If you would like to see her “history” with some of the individuals involved, go look at her agitation around #nohateala. The “attacker” posted a message to the Council listserv about that policy. She responded to it, then posted an incendiary blog post not two weeks later.

              She’s very clever. She maintains plausible deniability that she bullies and doxxes people by having her followers do it on her behalf. She could tell them to stop. She doesn’t, though.

              Similarly, as regards her tweets and blog posts, she has people go out and say things like, “just because you think she wrote about you doesn’t give you the right to call her out for incivility for discussing race.”

              We all know that she gives JUST enough information and says things behind closed doors to stir up racial animus and get people who disagree with her accused of racism. Everyone pretending otherwise is gaslighting.

              When she goes online and says things like “the people wanting more facts are gaslighting me” (paraphrased) she’s misrepresenting the situation. If he thinks she anonymously dragged him online and it gives him nightmares…why are we dismissing that fear when his fear is playing out right now in live time?

              The most frightening thing to me is the woman tweeting about how no one can say that anyone else isn’t a racist, because we don’t know what’s in their heart. Since she can’t point to anything in his words to prove he’s a racist, it makes real clear that what he is accused of is a THOUGHT CRIME. And the man tweeting about how being dragged online by name is just “part of being a white person,” I hope this mob comes for him next. These people don’t realize all their tweets sucking up to the “victim” the won’t help them if she comes for them.

              The online mob is FAR more unprofessional than anything that happened to the “victim” at this conference.

              No sane person can read the “attacker”’s post on the meeting room policy and conclude that he is a racist. It says a lot about the profession that his decision to post that put a target on his back. Make no mistake, he’s being singled out and punished because of his disagreement with the “victim” on that matter.

              His only crime was failing to modulate his voice when confronting a bully. He would have had the same issue if the “victim” were white.

      4. Dish and the spoon*

        Again, I don’t think there’s much to be gained by trying to hash out what happened. I think we can all agree that our profession needs to continue to work on diversity and inclusion, and would ask that we focus on what to do moving forward.

        1. former librarian*

          There can be no progress until everyone treats each other with respect, and that includes the “victim.” This individual is actively stalling our work on diversity and inclusion, by creating an environment of fear. The first step forward is for her to stop calling everyone who disagrees with or criticizing her a racist.

        2. Mobuy*

          There is not much to be gained by the facts?! Are you sure you are a librarian? By all means, let’s continue to harass a man who may have been abused (and certainly is now) because the R-WORD is so dang scary! If he was accused of being racist, screw the facts! Bring out the pitchforks!

          Look, I know you want to move forward. But you are throwing this man under the bus and pretending it didn’t happen. If he’s innocent or if it’s more complex than “white man bad,” then hashing out what happened is absolutely necessary. You cannot allow bullies to go unchecked, even if the bully is (gasp) a WOC. Also, if the bully is a white man, please don’t blame all white people for his actions. That’s unfair and uninclusive.

      5. Mellow*

        “No one intervened because they all agreed with him, and no one is speaking up because they’re scared that she’ll tweet about them..”


        So you interviewed all 30 council members who were present and that’s what they told you.


        1. former librarian*

          It’s weird that you’re taking issue with one part of my statement that’s obviously hyperbolic. I don’t believe you are engaging in good faith, but I’ll respond anyway for the folks following along.

          Of course there were other reasons no one interrupted. I’ve discussed one (the decision not to tone police someone who is broadly understood to have a disability). Another that I haven’t seen discussed is that the outburst was over nearly as quickly as it began.

          People are not being honest about why they didn’t interrupt. That’s my point, and you’re welcome to take it or leave it. I have spoken to many on council and I stand behind my opinion that most people on that body are not enamored of the “victim”’s behavior prior to this event. Significantly more than 30 people on Council would agree with the “attacker”’s remarks, if not the manner in which they were delivered.

          I doubt very much that you could even assemble 30 councilors who don’t have at least some sympathy for him. I guarantee a majority of people in that room agree with him. We’ll never know since many of them are making different statements publicly than they have privately.

    8. OhNo*

      As a (white) librarian, the #1 thing I wish white people in our profession would do is stop trying to be the Most Woke all the dang time. There are so many white librarians that will try to talk over or speak for people of color because they work with minority populations and think they know so much. I’ve never been to an ALA conference, but the library conferences I’ve been to are filled to the brim with performative wokeness that does nothing useful, but does make white people fall over themselves to heap praise on each other for being so accepting.

      Just because someone works in an urban branch and is more knowledgeable than the average white suburbanite doesn’t make them the Voice of POC. We need to learn when to sit down, shut up, and listen for a change.

      1. damngcoffee*

        Our profession is oftentimes insufferable. It’s definitely the overwhelming whiteness of the profession at the root of it, but I think it’s compounded by our need (as a group, generally) to ‘solve’ all the problems or to be ‘helpful.’ That need to be helpful shuts down so much actual discussion b/c it ends up shutting out any attempts at productive conversations.

          1. damngcoffee*

            Sorry, I wasn’t clear there, I guess. The “group” I was referring to in that sentence was librarians a a whole. Our profession centers around service, which is awesome, but can also lead to a need to help that overwhelms the need to take a step back and listen, I think.

      2. former librarian*

        This shouldn’t have to be said, but I’m going to say it. Not all white people are racist. That word means something, and I’m tired of this crowd’s attempts to redefine it.

        (By the way, I’m black.)

        1. OhNo*

          It literally didn’t need to be said, given that I never used the word ‘racist’ anywhere in my post.

    9. ThrowAway*

      Disclaimer: Am a white woman.

      I’m not familiar with this incident, but I worked for a similar organization for a long time. Librarianship is overwhelmingly white women. There were some decent attempts being made to encourage POC in leadership roles, but when the profession as a whole is 90% white, there’s only so much you can do. We would usually have one African-American board member, and when I left they were bringing in more young board members, partially as a way to increase racial diversity. But if only 10% or less of the population is nonwhite, and it’s a small profession to begin with, you’re limited in the number of leaders you can find.

      I think the only way to really change this is to increase the racial diversity of the profession as a whole. Which…might be hard. It’s a profession that requires a master’s, is very competitive, is not very well paid, and often requires people to move across the country to get a job, all barriers for many POC. But actions that help that (scholarships, activism to increase pay, dare I say removing the master’s requirement?) would help.

      You can police behavior better at conferences, but it’s not going to change the underlying racism and white bubble that many librarians are living in. You can require diversity on panels, but if you’re drawing from an extremely small pool to begin with, it may be counterproductive (i.e., white people will charge “reverse racism”). I guess at least ALA could at least require panel makeups that are representative of the profession as a whole, and get more aggressive when it comes to things like author panels where you have almost infinite people to choose from.

  14. mf*

    How do you deal with coworkers who are not team players? Who really don’t want to help you out with basic requests?

    There are several members of my team who… put out when I ask for small favors. And by small, I mean something like: “Next time you place an order for office supplies, can you order an extra box of file folders for me?”

      1. Millenial Lizard Person*

        Here I was trying to figure out if you mistyped “want me to put out for small favors”! The duck club returns ;)

      2. froodle*

        I was gonna say, them putting out when you ask for office supplies is maybe being too MUCH of a team player? Like, you just wanted file folders, gosh!

      1. mf*

        Well, mostly asking them to do their job. In the example I listed above, the person I asked manages our team’s Staples account. So I think that counts as asking them to do their job?

        1. Rainy*

          I don’t approach that stuff as a favor. I’m not allowed to access the Staples account, so I send a link to what I need with “Hey [Office Manager], could you get me 2 of these? Thanks!” I think it creates more problems when you’re very tentative about asking people to do their job.

    1. Queen of Cans and Jars*

      I usually just pour on the smiles and cheer because people like that seem to want to suck the joy out of everything, so it’s super annoying to them when you won’t comply. Early this week, we had a change to our phone system where this employee had to be back up once a week to the person who is primary on answering our (typically pretty quiet) phones. Her response involved something about being “blindsided” by the change. My response was a big smiley “Thanks so much for your help!”

    2. I should be working ...*

      Could it be a timing issue? When my group had an admin assistant for this sort of thing (until the last re-org removed the position :( ), they asked that we make these sort of requests around the time they make the order (once every two weeks). It was easier for them to remember the “odd” requests and meant they were less likely to forget the request when they put the order in. If you’re the 4th person in the last couple of days that has asked for something and the order happens two weeks from now, I could see frustration occurring.

      Maybe when asking for the favor, also ask if this is a good time to ask, or a good way to ask? Maybe they would rather have it in an email so they can look it up at a later date or have some other way to remember. They should really use their words but nobody is perfect.

      1. happy Friday*

        My suggestion is to create a shared document where people can add requests as they pop up, but the person ordering can check when convenient for them (e.g., right before placing an order).

    3. Don't you be that kind of barn owl*

      Our CPO is kind of like that. She can also decide whether of not you have to jump through 3 hoops for everything, depending on her mood. So I work her. Whenever I go through the office I’ll make a little joke, or compliment her on something or commiserate with her about something. It takes about 5 minutes and makes her easier to deal with when I need something.

      Just for the record, yes I do resent it and I have no respect for her.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      That’s a personality-type I’ve learned. The person who was like that here is finally gone and it’s delightful. I took over some of the duties they had and everyone is now not tip-toeing in asking for “favors” like you categorize them. It’s my job and I’m happy to do my job, I don’t have any patience for crotchety people though.

      Just bury them in smiles and drip honey, it makes them feel more dead inside I’ve learned >:D

  15. Mouse*

    I’m an EA. My boss, the CEO of the company, has somewhere around 10 direct reports. I am set up in our payroll system to approve all of their time-off requests, but I (understandably) don’t have the actual authority to do so – I have to collect approval from my boss (and 3 other executives that don’t want to do the approvals), then approve them in the system. This happens either by a printed page that the exec signs, or an email that they reply to with “okay” or “approved”, whichever they prefer.

    I occasionally have trouble getting my boss to respond to these requests in a timely manner, especially when he’s traveling. HR then gets annoyed with me because they aren’t approved in time for payroll. To compound the issue, we don’t enforce any kind of lead time for requests, so it’s very possible that a request could come in at 11am with approval necessary by noon that same day, with my boss (or me!) stuck in a meeting. I don’t expect that policy to change in the near future.

    I think it makes little sense to have a person approving time off requests without the actual authority to do so. However, I understand that if I didn’t do it, my boss wouldn’t either. For context, it’s not a difficult approval process (just click “Approve” or “Deny” in the automated email), but still probably not a realistic expectation for a busy CEO. Also for context, I have only been told to deny a request once in the year or so that I’ve been doing this. It seems that people are generally trusted to handle their own schedules. I don’t think my boss even looks at the requests I put in front of him to approve most of the time.

    Do you have any good tips or suggestions of ways this is usually handled? We’re a mid-sized, family-owned company that has had a lot of growth lately, so a lot of our processes are feeling some growing pains. My job has existed for only about a year, and I’ve never been an EA before, so I think everyone is still figuring out how these things work. Do other companies just enforce request lead-time? What about last-minute sick days? I know there has to be a functional way to do this, I just don’t know what it is.

    1. mf*

      Your boss needs a proxy he can delegate approval powers–ideally somebody who doesn’t travel, possibly someone in HR.

      1. mf*

        It also doesn’t make sense to have you be the ONLY person who approves in the system. What if you take a sick day or go on leave? There needs to be a secondary person who has access as well as a proxy for your boss who can grant approval.

      2. DivineMissL*

        I agree – I look at it as the “what if Boss got hit by a bus today” scenario – who would approve things? There should always be a backup.

      3. Mouse*

        A proxy makes so much sense!! HR (a one-person department) does have access to the system, but doesn’t have the authority to approve without boss’s permission, so when he’s out of the office we’re pretty much stuck. Maybe he can give her authority to approve or deny.

    2. The Rain in Spain*

      I second the proxy suggestion, though he may tell you that you ARE the proxy. Can you sit down with your boss and ask him to let you know how you should handle these requests? It’s strange that there’s no policy re lead time for requests, but HR really shouldn’t be coming down on you when you don’t have the actual authority to approve/deny. It may be that there are certain times of the year/holidays/etc where he wants to review them but otherwise he may give you the authority to approve most of these without running them by him.

      1. Mouse*

        Thank you! I’ve tried to talk to him about it, but unfortunately that leads to a whole separate issue where whenever I raise a concern with him, he tells me to “figure it out” and refuses to discuss further, so that’s not a great route for resolution.

        1. Natalie*

          Well… what if you just figured something out? If you told him you thought it would make the most sense to function as his proxy, and you are going to use this and that rules to decide what to approve, do you think he would have your back if there was any kind of issue?

          1. The Rain in Spain*

            Negative consent! “Boss, Johnny’s vacation request is below. Unless I hear from you before 4 pm on Friday, I am going to approve it. Thank you.”

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I agree that your boss needs a proxy. As his EA, I would expect that to be you in these circumstances; when he denied that one request, did you know the reasons for the denial? Do you think you know your boss well enough to make that call?

      It also sounds like your company needs a much more streamlined process. Did I read that correctly, that a person needs four approvals? And your boss is the final sign-off? Maybe, just to start, you can have the authority to approve leave if the three other execs sign off first?

      I would also say that if the approval process is this unwieldy, you do need longer request lead times.

      1. Mouse*

        Ah, I’m sorry if I worded it confusingly! No, I just follow the same process for each of those execs and their reports just like I do for my boss and his reports. So I approve the CEO’s reports’ requests, the CFO’s reports’ requests, etc.

    4. ISuckAtUserNames*

      I would try to get his blessing to approve them yourself, and talk about what type of time off requests he would generally want to approve (eg. over a certain length, during busy season, etc.). Anything routine that doesn’t fit those criteria you have authority to approve. If you ever feel like a request seems like something your boss would want to see outside of those parameters you can always bring up, but it would take some pressure off , day to day.

    5. Indie*

      When they are complaining *at* you, maybe phrase your responses as though they are OF COURSE complaining about Boss?
      “I remember you saying this last week about Boss’s approvals. He genuinely is truly offline, but yes it is frustrating when he is unavailable to approve this stuff. Do you want to schedule a meeting with him to discuss the issue of what to do when he is travelling? Or maybe you could drop him an email and see what he suggests?”
      Let them sort it out. Encourage them to sort it out!

      1. mf*

        YES. Let them take their complaints to him, not you. Management is often more willing to make changes when they have to field complaints directly (rather than through their EAs and staff).

    6. Marvelous Mrs. Manager*

      There may be some wisdom in understanding what value is added by the approval process. What goes in to the CEO’s decision to approve or deny a request? If there are simple rules for approving PTO, like making sure that no more than 2 people per team are off at a particular time, or she can’t approve more than 5 business days off in a row, then the EA could be a designated proxy for approving most PTO requests. If there are certain teams or times of year that would need higher approval, then the EA could escalate only those to the CEO. It may be specific to my company, but there are only rare instances that PTO requests aren’t approved, so it seems unwieldy to have every request escalated.

      1. Sam.*

        This was my thought, as well. What was the reasoning behind the one time the request was denied, I wonder? I imagine it was a pretty clear reason, since OP says it’s so unusual. If the company still wants the supervisor to put eyes on every request, even if there are clear rules OP could follow, perhaps they could settle on something like, “Unless you tell me that the request is denied, I will go ahead and approve it in the system at the end of the business tomorrow,” or whatever is reasonable for them.

    7. Nessun*

      I run into a similar situation with my boss (I have been an EA for years, and he is out of the office CONSTANTLY). I’d suggest having him select an individual that he trusts/has the right level of authority, to be his proxy in terms of the “OK do this” email – and then you can click the approve as his delegate whenever needed, based on either he or this individual giving written approval by email. And save the email approval.

    8. hello*

      Y’all might want to consider an internal deadline to turn in timesheets, so by 5pm the day before your deadline, or something similar

    9. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      My boss’ EA used to approve my time in the system as a proxy. I’m pretty sure she had authority to approve if my request if it was a run of the mill day or couple days off. I know she would run past my boss anything that was longer than a few days, around holidays, or if my request overlapped my boss’ already scheduled time off.

      In other words 90% of the requests fell under her authority and the other 10% she would get approval for. I think it generally worked from what I heard.

    10. Babs*

      EA here: Our company has HRMS payroll system that assumes big boss/approver are at their desks 24/7. My big boss is rarely at his desk or a real computer.
      I approve time off and timesheets (when necessary) for about 10 director level (each director oversees about 100 employees each). Each of these 10 directors get treated like adults, meaning they give their boss (my boss and the division director) a heads up early about time that they are taking off, usually by email with a copy to me. (Sick happens too by email or text or what ever.) I put their vacation/planned time off on a calendar that big boss can see so if he goes looking for a director then he knows why they aren’t answering. ***I think this is key. Big Boss could care less when people take vacation until the moment he is trying to get an answer to a problem or a big meeting comes up. Then he only cares if the director isn’t answering their emails or text messages. So I pre-empt the issue by listing his directors times off on his calendar so each day he can see across the top who is out that day/week.
      So by time the time off makes it into the system to be approved by me, big boss has already given the nod. I don’t have to wonder if its correct or not. If it’s a mistake or they didn’t actual take the time off because of business needs then payroll can fix it later.

      TLDR: I’m just there to click the button, so I do. I don’t have to worry about getting approval, that’s between my boss and his directors. I maintain a visual on Big Boss’s calendar of who is out of the office that day.

  16. Labradoodle Daddy*

    Who here has experience working as part of a group of contractors for a larger company? I’m experiencing a lot of frustrating crap at work and would love to vent/discuss

    1. I have questions*

      Did you mean independent contractor for a large company? Or, are you a general contractor for a larger company? Just trying to understand what you do!

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I work as a receptionist at a hedge fund. I work for a contracting company which provides admin staff for the hedge fund. We kind of feel trapped between a rock and a hard place bc contracting company sucks but we have very little power to do anything about it. The hedge fund facilities contact really only cares about getting butts in seats for as little money as possible. Contracting company wants to hold onto contract and thus covers up a lot of shady crap. Our team feels like we have no one we can really turn to for help who would care that we’re in this position.

        1. I have questions*

          Ah, been in similar situations, although never receptionist at a hedge fund. Are there other contracting companies out there that you can look into for your next role once this contract ends? If you don’t like the way this company handles their contracts, maybe it’s time to move on.

          I’ve found that in the past, a lot of this is client-driven (in this case, hedge fund company sets the budget for what they will pay contracting company) and of course, to win the business, the contracting company will agree to lower their rates which in turn means lower rates for all. I can guarantee you that there are companies out there who don’t play this game, who WILL decline projects/clients that don’t suit what they want to pay their staff/themselves.

          If you do accept a bad contract (I understand people have bills to pay), know that it is only for however long the duration of the contract is, and then you never ever have to deal with them again if you choose not to because that’s one of the best parts of contract work.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My mom does. And they unionized. They now make 62.5% more and have reps to deal with nonsense the head office tries to pull.

      I’m not sure how that got done. You’ll need to contact a labor union office to see how that works.

      Sadly without power of contracts and unions, you are crushed under the weight of fat cat execs who just want to crank out a service without acknowledging the humans involved.

  17. Architect's Resume*

    I am an architect preparing a resume for an internal job posting, and need some help formatting.

    Option 1: list responsibilities by project, nested under the firm (this is my current format)
    Pro – very clear about my roles and responsibilities, can show growth by having more/different responsibilities on more recent projects
    Con – I end up repeating some responsibilities that were done on multiple projects, multiple breaks/headers take up more space on the page
    Llama Designers / Anytown, USA / January 2015 – Present
    Teapots Inc Global Headquarters – Project Architect
    -Interior renovation of 5 floors, including workplace and specialties spaces – 200,000 sqft
    -Design development, Construction Documents, and DOB filing
    -Lead weekly coordination meetings with consultants and engineers
    -Responsible for drawing set and project manual
    Chocolate Factory Condos – Project Team
    -New 12 story mixed-use building, , including market rate and inclusionary units – 75,000 sqft, 110 units
    -Design development and construction documents through DOB filing
    -Attended meetings with engineers and other consultants to coordinate drawing set
    -Prepared condo lot plans for filing and sales
    -Prepared paperwork and drawings for 421-A and DOB filing

    Option 2: Listing responsibilities by firm, and list projects after.
    Pro – This takes up less space on the page, reduces redundant repetition
    Con – my roles have varied/grown while at this job, so I didn’t do all these things all the time, and different project types (interiors v full buildings) use different skills
    Llama Designers / Anytown, USA / January 2015 – Present
    -Programming diagrams in schematic and design development phases
    -Responsible for drawing set and project manual during Construction Documents
    -Run meetings with engineers and consultants to coordinate full drawing sets
    -Prepared drawings and paperwork for DOB filing
    -Prepared condo lot plans for filing and sales
    -Reviewed submittals and shop drawings
    -Attend on-site meeting and work with contractors in the field
    Projects include:
    Teapots Inc Global Headquarters – Project Architect – Interior renovation of 5 floors, including a workplace, and specialties spaces – 200,000 sqft
    Chocolate Factory Condos – Project Team – New 12 story mixed-use building, including market rate and inclusionary units – 75,000 sqft, 110 units

    TL/DR: Architects – list responsibilities by firm or by project?
    Any difference since this is will be for an internal opening?

    1. Looking looking*

      I have been doing option 2, coz I want to list many projects, but doing same thing every time

    2. CAA*

      As someone who reads resumes — not in architecture, but my field has some similarities with using skills repeatedly on different projects — I really prefer option 2.

      If there’s one particularly advanced skill that you only used on one project, and you feel like you might be inflating things too much with the generic list, you can add a short form of the project name as in “Prepared drawings and paperwork for DOB filing on Teapots HQ”. For lesser skills or skills that you’ve used twice or more, this is really not necessary.

    3. A CAD Monkey*

      Definitely Op2. It makes for a more concise resume. This way, the interviewer can, at a glance, see the skills you have acquired. Most interviewers I’ve found care more about what you can bring to them rather than what you have worked on in the past.

    4. Ranon*

      I could see it depending on how your firm is structured (and since you work there, you’ve got the benefit of knowing this!). Does work tend to be split up by project, project type, or job function? How is the position you’re applying to different from the one you currently hold? Do you need to show experience from previous jobs with different project types, different responsibilities, or both?

      The best format is the one that best conveys how your experience is relevant to the position you’re applying to- I’ve often done a hybrid and highlighted one or two of my most relevant projects and then followed with a more general list of skills & experience, or flipped the order and led with skills, added a project or two as specifics

    5. Jules the First*

      From someone who reads a ton of architect resumes (ten years sitting on the hiring committee for three starchitects) – neither! Do your best to codify your position on the team (project lead, project architect, package lead, team member, etc) and then tell me not what your responsibilities were but what you achieved. So you might say:
      Llama Architects
      Chocolate Condos – Project Team
      – Team lead for successful delivery of fully coordinated construction drawings set and project manual for 110-unit condo development. Site contact for chocolate contractor consucting quality checks and site supervision to ensure project was delivered on time.

      Project-based is best, but don’t be afraid to group projects where you had a similar role. It’s also ok not to put every single project on your resume – and for internal jobs, you can skip the description of the project and just give them the name and your role and achievement. Good luck with the new role!

      1. Llellayena*

        Thank you. I was trying to figure out how to word a response like this, but the last time I worked on my resume (Architecture) was right out of grad school. Everyone in a architecture company knows what types of duties you have if you’re on a team or team lead. But achievements may not be obvious. Like “Redesigned entire wing of building in one week after client changes. Client came back for another project.” (I’m exaggerating a bit…maybe)

        1. Jules the First*

          One of those starchitects used to reserve the right to completely change the design and make us start from scratch as long as we had seven days before the deadline.

          We did a six week concept study for a client once and yes, we did six completely different designs. Consecutively. Somehow I lasted seven years in that job…

  18. Tigger*

    Omg I am so sorry. I have been there before and it sucks. I just kept on applying to everything that sounded interesting to me and enrolled in a temp company and they found me some cool temp gigs. It gets better I promise.

  19. DC*

    So, I started just about a year ago at a place that seemed perfect. FANTASTIC benefits, lots of growth potential, etc. Small start-up esque location that in the last year has grown substantially and been putting more process and policies in place.

    Flash forward a year, and we’ve had a lot of people leave both voluntary and not, the growth potential for me looks to be drying up, it doesn’t look like my asked-for, deserved raise will be awarded, my boss may be leaving, and I’m feeling pigeonholed and stuck in a rut with no idea where to go from here. I’ve been working with burnout symptoms for almost 4 months now, as we are understaffed in my dept.

    How have peopled handled things like this before? How have you figured out what you want to be doing? How do you decide what is truly a red flag and just you panicking? How do you handle being both burned out and wanted to be able to take on work that would interest you?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      To me there’s a time dimension here. I would ride out maybe six months (?) of dysfunction to see if things would change, particularly if there was a sense that change might be coming (new hires, new leadership, new contracts etc) but any longer than that, I’d feel like this is the new status quo and I needed to act accordingly, by job searching. If you have asked for a raise you feel you deserve and been denied it without strong direction for what could do to get promoted/get that raise next year, they can’t be surprised that you started looking.

        1. Trinity Beeper*

          Also at a startup, have had (many) moments where things are looking bleak and burnout has become the norm.

          Sloan Kittering’s advice is excellent. I’d also take a hard look at your current duties and see if anything can be taken off your plate. Not reassigned to someone else, but just…put off. Even if it’s important, but it’s not urgent, consider finding a way to stop doing it. I’ve done that before and the company hasn’t grinded to a halt. It’s really helped with my happiness at work.

    2. Anonym*

      Not sure if this will be as helpful to you as it was to me, but you’re really allowed to just decide you’re too unhappy to continue. You don’t need to reach a quota of reasons or have external validation that your situation sucks enough to leave. You don’t need our confirmation on red flags to explore and look for something better. You not liking it is enough.

      I’ve been dealing with an increasingly intolerable situation for a year, and spent a lot of time trying to argue away my unhappiness. Just because someone else might be willing to tolerate it doesn’t mean I have to.

      As for how to figure out what you want next (because I absolutely feel you on the burned out and lost front), talking to people and — without pressing yourself to find an answer quickly — exploring what’s out there. Learn about roles that are close to your experience, then branch out to anything you’re curious about. Talk to people in your life about career changes they’ve made, how they got to those decisions. And, for the love of all that is good, take care of yourself. Give yourself breaks from trying to figure all this out. Make space to relax and seek comfort. This was the biggest thing for me that helped me out of what I can best describe as a work related depression. I was trying so hard all the time to solve the work problem AND get myself out of there. Cutting myself serious slack for about 6 weeks helped me get some energy and hope back, and I’ve been much better able to deal with my job search since then. And it moved me from desperate and seriously considering almost anything that would get me out of there (not a great thing mid-career) back to being selective in what I apply for.

      Best of luck, DC. Wishing you peace, clarity, and a happy transition sooner than later.

      1. Agent J*

        Just because someone else might be willing to tolerate it doesn’t mean I have to.

        So much THIS. I have been rationalizing staying at a job I don’t like with pretty good benefits and culture because my job just…sucks. But this makes me feel better that I don’t need a “good enough” reason to leave a job. If it’s not working for me, it’s not working for me. Thank you for saying this!

        1. Anonym*

          You’re welcome! Goodness knows how badly I needed to hear it. I hope you land someplace wonderful very soon.

      2. Quinoa*

        Really do take the time to look around at what else is available. I have a brand new career in a field that didn’t exist when I was in college.

      3. DC*

        I needed to here this- especially the line pulled out earlier. And your advice for figuring out what is next was super helpful. Thank you so much!

    3. Kes*

      If you’re not happy with the way things are going, I would start looking around. You don’t have to decide immediately if you are going to leave or not, but you’ll get a better idea of what’s out there and be in a better position if you do decide to leave, you might find something great that will make the decision to leave a no-brainer, and even if you ultimately decide to stay, it won’t hurt to have the additional knowledge.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Some companies are not equipped to deal with a big growth spurt and huge or even large sudden growth CAN sink a company. This happens often with small or new companies.
      You were there for 8 months before the burnout set in? That is an awfully short time to go from excited to burned out.
      Burnout does not happen for one reason, it happens for many reasons. Some of the reasons can seem silly as stand-alone reasons but grouped together those reasons paint a picture. “They took the candy dish away. Now I have to buy my own candy on top of buying my own toilet paper.” Wait. What? BYOTP? REALLY?

      You don’t say here, but one thing I would look at is the percentage of people who have left just in the time I had been there. And I would think about their value to the company, for example if the Chief Widget Designer quit Widgets Inc, I would consider that a medium to large concern. If the Assistant to the Assistant Widget Designer left, I would not think twice about that.

      In my own life, I have banked off my good bosses. If have I had a decent boss who was thinking of leaving, that would make me pause. Yeah, I would at least start looking around for myself. I suspect your boss might be an okay boss as your boss seems to have cued you in that she is looking for a new job. She might have deliberately tipped her hand in a big way. The risk here is that you find something before she does, but she thinks enough of you to let you loose if you want to go soon. Some bosses understand the bigger picture.

      Panicking. This is a great tool for life in general: Think back to other times you felt panicky about something. How accurate were you? Most of the time? Half the time? Never? I know I get a certain type of panic that says, “NO! Take care of this problem RIGHT NOW.” And I might drag my heels, the feeling comes back to me even harder, “RUN! JUMP! Salvage this situation right now!” When the feeling hits hard like that I am right about 90% of the time.

      Handling burnout and looking for work. Picture a day where you are at New Place and saying to yourself, “Thank goodness that I pushed through that burnout and bailed myself out of that hot mess.” Keep picturing that moment over and over in your head.

      1. DC*

        Thank you so much for this! I needed to check out on Friday, and it is really helpful to check back in to some really fantastic advice. Thank you! The good boss/cueing me in part is really when I started to think, since that conversation was coupled with “Here are major red flags where if I’m not here and you see them, get out as fast as you can.” I can’t imagine having that conversation otherwise.

  20. PX*

    I posted previously about falling out of love with my job. One of the things I resolved to do is have a (direct!) conversation with my manager about wanting more challenges and growth because I..dont feel like I have enough work to do and am actually getting pretty bored.

    Anyone have good scripts for that? I feel like I saw some floating around here recently but seem to have lost them now that I need them! Links to older posts/threads are good too!


    1. Combinatorialist*

      I think it can make it easier if you come armed with some suggestions about what you would like to do with the more challenges and growth. If your manager is busy, it is a much easier sell to be like “I would like to do X. Is that okay assuming my current responsibilities aren’t being neglected or is there something you would rather me be working on” than “I need more to do” without direction

      1. PX*

        Yup, I’ve been thinking about that and have some ideas in mind. I’m just really struggling with how to clearly communicate it without it coming across as…adversarial or ultimatum-y (even though it kind of is)?

        Basically I dont want the same response as the last time I (softly) approached the subject which was a ‘oh we’ll worry about that later/you’ll be fine’ kind of brush off.

        The other issue is the small team dilemma. Just got confirmation we are having a small re-org, and basically what I want is…to move up/departments – but these are things outside my bosses direct control so then I waffle over whether making the request is even worth it because I just..expect to be told no?

        (Can you tell I’m good at overthinking things?)

        1. Blue*

          Is your boss generally pretty reasonable and supportive? If so, I think the reorg is a great excuse to bring this up, even if your boss isn’t necessarily making the final decisions. I’m certainly no Alison, but I’d probably broach it by saying, “I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m looking to step up the level of challenge in my work and contribute more to the office, and this reorg seems like an obvious time to do that in a meaningful way. I know decisions probably haven’t been made yet, but I wanted to talk to you about whether you think it would be realistic for me to move into [type of position] and, if so, what, if anything, I might be able to do to facilitate that.” If the answer is no or “I have no control over that and I’m not willing to have a conversation with my boss about it,” I think you could say, “Ok, I understand. Once we know how the reorg shakes out, then, I’d like to set up a time for us to talk about additional projects or responsibilities I might be able to take on within my current role. Would you be open to that?” In that case, I think the key thing would be getting it on the calendar so that she can’t brush off the conversation.

          In short, it’s always worth asking [politely, obviously]. The answer may be no, but it will definitely be “no” if you never ask. If nothing else, you’ll have put your interest out there and made it clear that you’re serious about taking on new challenges. Good luck!

    2. LKW*

      I think you can frame it as “I’m thinking about my long term career goals. I wanted to discuss some areas I’d like to stretch myself. I’d like your thoughts about these ideas, as well as get some feedback about my professional growth.”

      Turn it around to “I want to grow, can you/will you help me do that?”

    3. Nessun*

      It might also be worthwhile to touch base with individuals you could support or learn from, and get their input on what you could do for them, so you can bring that to the discussion. “I’m interested in learning about X, and Jane has suggested that I could learn Y (piece of X) from her, in order to take that off her plate. This will assist my growth long-term, and also help me shift some work from Jane, who we know is also busy with Z.” I’ve always found the cooperative aspect goes very well with the proactive search for places to learn/grow.

  21. Chronicles of Kevin*

    We started the process of letting him go.
    …but let me backtrack a second:

    Basically HR had told me months ago that his references weren’t great. But she had told the interviewing managers (who were lukewarm about him) that he had great references so that had pushed him from the “maybe” pile to “Yes.”

    We wrote him up this week b/c a client complained he was rude to her. This has come up many times and we’ve always addressed it every single time with coaching, advice. etc. My manager would talk to him and I’d send follow up emails. Emails went ignored. In fact, during the conversation, I had printed out every singel email I sent him and read through them to identify the common complaints. he still had NOTHING to say, and ignored me.
    ch he royally messed up and I have every reason to believe he did it intentionally. B/c of that mess up, we took a core duty off of him. I made sure to explain to him that this isn’t a good thing b/c it puts a burden on his team members to pick up the slack and is a precursor to getting terminated.

    He insisted we couldn’t write him up b/c he did his job, but we told him that being nice to clients and colleagues is a HUGE part of hte job. I once was abruptly let go from a temp assignment and the owner of the office said that “I can work with lack of technical skills, but not a bad attitude.” That’s stuck with me for years.

    All in all, we spent an hour trying to get this message across that being nice to clients and respectful to his peers is a really important part of this job.

    He truly honestly didn’t believe he’s doing anything wrong. He actually has friends here, which shows that he can be reasonably pleasant with certain people that he chooses to be nice to.

    The reason why we did so much follow up is so that it doesn’t come back to us that we didn’t try hard enough to coach him or make him happy & engaged etc.

    We gave it our best shot to turn this around but unless he has some sort of personality transplant, he’s on his way out.

    1. Nessun*

      Ouch. Yeah, it’s great that he has the ability to make friends in his company, but he also has to be a good human to the clients of that company, or all the friends in the world won’t help him keep a job. Good on you for following up and documenting everything; I don’t envy you the headache of dealing with someone who doesn’t understand that “don’t be rude to clients” is a rule that is Carved In Stone. This will bite him more than once, but if he has to learn the lesson over and over…that’s on him. Show him the door.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Well I brought up friends here (not in his conversation) b/c it shows me he is perfectly capable of being a nice person….he just chooses to be a dick to us.

        TBH I’m not too bothered by him anymore, b/c I know in my head and heart we did our best and either he will do his best and turn things around or he will be fired; either outcome is desirable.

        My manager prefers to face these kind of things in the beginning and talk to the person and coach them…if that doesn’t work, then they escalate in to write ups and termination. Majority of the time, after some coaching, people tend to turn it around (I am one example). Other managers on other teams have either let the low performer perform so badly that they were fired and it was a huge shock or just let the toxic person stay until they quit on their own.

        You would think “Don’t be a rude to clients” is so obvious, and I used to think it was too, until I learned how nuanced it really is. This really isn’t a job where you just stay at your desk and crunch numbers, there is a huge focus on building relationships with clients. It’s taken me longer than I am proud to admit to really, fully absorb this. Someone with 10+ professional years of experience like his, I would really expect them to know how to act in an office with colleagues.

        I’m ngl, reading the emails out loud was a tiny bit satisfying even if he did ignore them. I kept my tone calm and friendly. The focus of the meeting was to relay the issues that have popped up and what the consequences will be.

    2. Sam.*

      Hang on, HR lied about his references…? Why on earth would they do that? As far as problem employee goes – basic customer service is a key part of any job that involves working with clients. I assume he’s been explicitly told that if he doesn’t learn to place nice, he’ll lose his job? If so, it sounds like you’ve done your due diligence in getting him to come around, and if he refuses to do so, then he needs to go. And unless there’s something going on with HR that I don’t understand, that’s something TPTB should look into, too, because wow.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yes, it appears that’s what happened. I was not involved in the interviewing/hiring process. When the problems started, I brought up HR’s comment to the interviewers in the context of “oh btw, this is what HR had told me, did you guys not catch this attitude in the interview?” This truly had never been relayed to them. (Also, I have no reason to believe that the interviews are not telling me the truth, please take my word for it that they’re not lying to me).

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Sorry I jumped the gun on my reply.

        I honestly don’t know why HR would do that, I’m baffled too as to why they said it to me but failed to tell it to the actual interviewers. Im told that HR has a tendency to try to get very much involved in our daily work when it’s not necessary, and pressures to hire people the interviewers are not thrilled with.

        And yes, employee has been explicitly told that he will lose his job if so much as another client complaint comes in. (We review all complaints so we can coach the person if necessary). I did the best I could.

      3. dramalama*

        It could just be how they framed it; I went back and read the original thread, and OP said that the in house recruiter warned her “that his flaw may be ‘doesn’t play well in the sandbox’ or something like that”. That still leaves room for “All his references say he’s great, when I pushed them the only bad thing they had to say was sometimes he doesn’t get along with everybody.” Optimism can cause people to wave away red flags on both sides of the hiring process.

        Disclaimer: Unless HR just straight-up lied, and I’m rationalizing a more flattering version of events out of ignorance.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          I can totally understand that! I try to stay positive and optimistic, b/c hey I was new too!
          But then when things get bad… start looking at the pattern.

          Tbh though I wouldn’t be surprised if the references really were great, b/c they’d be motivated to get rid of the person!

      4. Nervous Accountant*

        Btw I just noticed, sorry if I am using the wrong terminology. HR = in house recruiter. Our “HR” team consists of the in house recruiter, our controller and the office manager who assists in administrative/payroll issues. And a few part time people who assist in locating resumes etc.

        And you’re right it is such a basic part of the job. He think s of it as I’m doing XY and Z (consulting and tax returns) without realizing that AB&C are also a part of it. I was like this as well, that being warm and fuzzy shouldn’t be more important than having the hard skills, but I was coached on it and didnt act like this.

    3. DamitBobby*

      Whoa this caught my eye in your back track comments: “boundary pusher, and a little bit sexist” This sounds like a guy I worked with that I’ll call Ken. Ken had friends but when you looked closer I found out they were really “frenemies.” They were friends because it offered a life raft. When I complained to my boss about this guys blatant bad behavior my boss called us “oil and water.” It was really hurtful to have it turned around on me but it was better when I started to name it and distance myself.

      This guy was awesome at gas-lighting and he operated at Maslow’s hierarchy of a #2 – Safety. He could never quite reach higher than that. I described him as the story of the frog and the scorpion. He couldn’t resist either sinking himself or sinking you.

      I will never forget the lessons I learned from this guy. I get an icky feeling in my stomach just thinking about him. He eventually went back to his old job when his old boss returned to that company and “took” him with. I was really disappointed that my boss never had the balls to fire him. The lasting impact was that I never really look at my boss the same way for not dealing with the really bad apple. It was so clear and called for termination. I heard from the rumor mill he was searching around for a new job even though he bad mouthed our company so much while working for it.

  22. Amber Rose*

    It has been an absolutely nightmarish week, I’ve slept maybe 2 hours a night, my stomach hurts from stress. I’m taking a mental health/too tired to function day off work.

    I feel guilty. It’s so hard not to. :(

    Lately I just feel like I’m garbage at my job and I have no confidence. This is partly due to the 3 or 4 unrelated aspects of my job conflicting constantly. But also because the government keeps changing the rules and my boss/coworkers prefer to shoot the messenger.

    I wish I had a nice quiet desk job where I could just put my head down and work. But I don’t know how to find such a thing.

    1. Nita*

      I’m sorry. Hang in there. If you can’t change anything at work, can you stop caring about doing everything well? Like, if you can’t get five reports out on time, do three and say “sorry, the others aren’t done yet, but I’m aiming for Tuesday.” Sometimes, trying to do it all just wrecks your health.

    2. Trinity Beeper*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. Please take care of yourself today. Quiet desk jobs do exist!

    3. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      I’m so sorry things are so sucky. But mental health days are good! Try to just veg.

  23. Washi*

    Is it weird to announce in a meeting that someone internal has applied for a job? At our department meeting today, our director told us that “Jane” from another department had applied for an open internal position on our team and that she would be interviewed next week. I can’t think of a reason why we would all need to know, and if I were Jane, I wouldn’t be super happy about that. But maybe it’s normal practice and just not something I’ve run across?

    1. NicoleK*

      I’d appreciate the transparency (if Jane was okay with the info being disclosed and/or if that’s the culture at your work place).

    2. Plain Jane*

      Maybe not specifically revealing who the internal candidate is, but if I was covering the job I’d appreciate the heads up that they are interviewing.

    3. LKW*

      Either the process is expected to be that transparent OR (and this is my inner cynic speaking) this is your “speak now or forever hold your peace” moment.

      Maybe there’s an undercurrent of “she’s moving because she can’t get along in the department”. I have had conversations with folks that purposely did not give people bad reviews on paper because in doing so, the underperformer wouldn’t be eligible to transfer to other departments. The easiest way to get rid of a non-performer or bad fit was to make it clear that they had limited growth potential in that department but they may find success elsewhere in the organization.

      But if you have no explicit knowledge – you don’t have to go find it.

      1. ChachkisGalore*

        That’s where my mind went too (speak now). Though if I try to be less cynical, maybe they’re trying to give current employees an opportunity to register any concerns or support of Jane potentially joining the team?

        From Jane’s perspective, I get that maybe you wouldn’t want that info made public in case she doesn’t get the job, but as team member I strongly think it’s best to have as many peers or anyone who would be working closely with the person in on the hiring process. They might not hold anywhere near as much sway as the actual hiring manager, but I think its good to allow them to weigh in just in case they have any major concerns.

    4. A tester, not a developer*

      My leader approaches people on the team who he thinks may know Jane to get our opinions on whether or not she’d be a good fit. Depending on how well Jane is know, he may end up talking to everyone. But it’s never announced in a team meeting.

    5. Bostonian*

      I think internal transfers are a little different. At my company, you have to have a discussion with/inform your current manager if you’re applying to another area of the company. As a result, it’s not really a privacy issue. But it’s also quite common/part of the company culture to encourage people to move to other positions if it fits with their career goals. My company would rather keep its current talent in another department than lose them to another company.

    6. Greymalk*

      Our company has a policy of announcing that so that if anyone in our department has had previous interactions with the candidate, we can weigh in (usually those are positive comments on a person’s strengths, but once in a rare while it will be an opportunity to bring up a… missing stair situation… that a colleague had experienced and would not otherwise disclose except in the context of it affecting our department’s client relationships if this person had been hired…..)

      1. Greymalk*

        I should add that we are “encouraged to speak privately with the hiring manager if we have recommendations or comments about previous work with the candidate”, not bring it up in front of everyone….

    7. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I typically say that we have an internal candidate that’s applying and then if we hire that internal candidate, I refer to them as “Bob” until the paperwork is signed.

      It makes it easier to refer to the person in that interim when you are talking about them, yet keeps their identity under wraps until everything is solidified.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      That is your invitation to tell your director if you have any history with Jane — positive or negative. If it’s bad enough that you’ll quit if she joins the team, your director wants to know before making hiring decisions.
      Also, if one of you is qualified to do the job and wants it, apply now or you’ll miss the boat.

  24. Anonygoose*

    Has anyone done any online tutoring/teaching English with VIPKid, QKid, or any other similar companies? Are these companies a good way to make some extra money?

    1. Anonysand*

      Not personally, but I work with a former teacher/current stay-at-home mom who LOVES VIPKid. She’s been doing it for a couple of years and regularly posts online about how much she enjoys the flexibility and the work.

      1. Tegan*

        Same, no first-hand experience, but I have an old friend who taught in public elementary schools for ~7 years and this past year transitioned to being a stay-at-home mom and doing VIPKid on the side. She absolutely loves it – she’s ended up making a little bit more money than she expected and she loves the flexibility and the platform.

    2. Maggie May*

      My friend is doing VIPKid and seems to enjoy it. She’s been doing it for months as a bit of side change since she was in a bad car accident and couldn’t work anymore.

  25. wingmaster*

    I’m nervous about my first talk with my Director about my new “Compensation Talk,” and it’s not even until next Thursday! She has my boss and grand boss in this meeting and scheduled it for 15 minutes…that’s enough time to review and discuss right???

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      It’s enough time to discuss money and benefits maybe, but not enough to discuss the whys. Can you request at least 30 minutes? Or offer to send them a detailed email explaining your stance beforehand?

  26. Amylou*

    Ok this is a bit of a vent. What is it about office bathrooms and number two?? This week 4 out of 5 stalls in the bathroom had large traces in them at the end of the day when I went to the bathroom. Gross! I have nothing against #2 (I usually have to go mid-morning myself), but how hard is it to (1) put 2-3 sheets of toilet paper in the bowl before you go to prevent the worst or (2) use the toilet brush to remove any traces???? :(

        1. valentine*

          But if you stain the toilet brush, do you just return it to the holder or are you, say, repeatedly flushing in hopes of cleaning the brush? I…can’t do any of that because the smell of other people’s crap (and my own, if I get too close or think about it too long) makes me gag.

          I never heard of paper-first. Spread the good news, y’all.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I mean… it’s a toilet? I don’t know what people expect the inside of a toilet to look like. And I’ve never worked any place that had a brush for employees to use.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Right? I get that it’s a little gross, I’ve never heard of putting paper in the bowl first… Ours has a reasonably good flush that gets most of any….traces.

    2. LilySparrow*

      I have never heard of lining the toilet bowl to prevent poop from touching it. I think people don’t do it because it doesn’t occur to most people that having traces of poop in the toilet is a horrifying issue, or that lining the bowl is even a thing anyone does.

      Perhaps the water pressure in your building is inadequate?

      1. rebelipar*

        Agreed. It had never occurred to me before just now that other people might be grossed out by remnants of poop in a toilet. I mean, it’s a toilet. That’s its job. (I also don’t get the whole putting toilet paper on the seat before sitting down thing. What is on someone’s skin that they think seats are gross? What are they doing in there? But I am just really, really not a germaphobe at all. Maybe ironic being a biologist, but I have just accepted that everything is covered in a layer of germs always and nothing can be done to combat it outside of UV sterilization and laminar flow hoods.)

        A lot of work conflicts boil down to this, though. Just these deep-seated preferences that are unique to each individual, but they aren’t talked about so everyone thinks they are Correct and everyone else is Disgusting.

      2. SophieChotek*

        I have actually heard of people lining a toilet with extra TP to prevent this “evidence”…but honestly on sites devoted to people that suffer from IBS or consistent/frequent diahrrea (sorry), but not just “generally all the time” advice.

        But otherwise, yeah, water pressure should be good. And honestly even if it is kind of gross, I always wait to make sure a flush s effective before I exit…

        1. Splash back*

          I stick a few sheets of paper down because I really dislike it when you drop a big one and it splashes your arse.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I had never heard of this until last year, but I thought it was advice specific to the plastic portable toilets that don’t flush very well. I would never bother in a context where the toilet is plumbed in and reliably flushes!

          If it’s a huge mess, though, that’s different. Someone did that in our site toilet this week and it was horrible and baffling. I don’t understand the mentality that assumes other people will clean up your gross messes for you.

      3. General Ginger*

        I’ve never heard of this either. IDK, sounds like both a waste of tp and a clog potential.

    3. Cat Fan*

      We have no toilet brush. I have never thought to put toilet paper in the bowl first. Does that really work? I really don’t think you should dwell on it, most people can’t help that sort of thing.

      1. DAMitsDevon*

        People in my office did it (I didn’t, but apparently others did), but then we got an email from HR telling everyone to stop doing that, because whoever was kept putting too much paper in and clogged some of the toilets.

      2. Amylou*

        It does work! Only use 1 or 2 sheets where the poo falls – that amount doesn’t clog the toilet up and prevents the biggest smears.

        Really interesting what people think here btw! I guess the way I think about it is that I wouldn’t want to leave the toilet in a way I wouldn’t leave my own at home. Just because I don’t have to clean it, doesn’t mean I should leave it in a big mess.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Lol wut?

      You out TP in before you go to avoid any trace of pooh?

      That’s too much. It’s a trace of turd in a toilet. I’m not wasting more TP to avoid a possible smear to be avoided.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Are the toilets flushing properly?

      There has to be enough water in the tank and the valve has to open the full amount to allow for enough water pressure to “wash” the bowl.

      A place where I worked had a looong discussion and no action on this easily fixable problem. The audio cues were the sound of water running in the toilet for a long period of time AND the toilet did not sound like it had enough water to flush with once you pulled the lever. (It did not sound like other toilets, it was different.)

      There was a lot of finger pointing at that job until some wise person just fixed the darn toilet. Problem solved.

    6. GermanGirl*

      Here you go, Amylou. This is what someone put up in our office bathroom:
      The texts are: Wrong / almost right / totally right.
      I’m sure you can make an English or language agnostic version quite easily.

      That said, I think there was a letter on AAM a while ago where it was established in the comments that while it’s totally normal in some cultures like Germany and the Netherlands to expect people to use the brush after doing #2 even in public or office bathrooms, it’s somewhat unusual to expect this in the US except at home.

  27. I work on a Hellmouth*

    Welcome to the Hellmouth update. Strap in. It’s a doozy. In an attempt to cut down on length I have continued the new tradition of limiting it only to the most noteworthy/worst things to happen each day, but it’s still a novel.

    Monday: Before even clocking in for the day I discovered that someone on the property has been hunting the squirrels, leaving their tiny, squirrely mortal remains where they fell. At least three squirrel soldiers had been gunned down. After clocking in, I discovered there had been another rash of car break-ins on the property (and a hotwired ATV!). Among the items stolen were two rifles, a pistol, and A DUFFLE BAG FILLED WITH KNIVES. Some may remember a previous update where I detailed a resident following my car after I had left work (alone! in the dark!) and was on my way home, and very angrily confronted me at a red light because I hadn’t had a package for her in the office earlier that day. Well, that just happens to be the same person who THAT particular haul was stolen from. You can imagine how wonderful I felt when I connected those dots.

    That was the point where I decided to scrap Operation: Carefully and Meticulously Search for the Perfect Employment Opportunity in favor of Operation: Find Any Job as Long as it Pays the Minimum I Need to Pay Bills.

    Tuesday: The new leasing consultant, who also happens to secretly be the friend/former tenant of my boss (and who I am 99.99999% sure my boss wants to replace me with) started. Five minutes into working together she had told me that her credit card was stolen Monday and that (stand by for hellacious run on sentence meant to convey the pace and manic-but-chipper tone utilized) she was definitely going to catch them and she already had some pretty good ideas on how to find them and she thought maybe they lived at this place she moved out of in October and she had thought about calling the landlord but then thought maybe not because the landlord might be kind of TRASHY and might tip them off and she was going to GET THEM.

    Guys. She’s scary. I was relieved when my manager took her out for a two hour fancy “welcome lunch.” While they were out I discovered another hidden camera. This one is disguised as a desk fan! And you would think that would be the biggest Hellmouth happening of the day, but you would be wrong. That honor would go to having a resident call us to tell us that some man with a pittbull has been inhabiting the VACANT APARTMENT ABOVE HER FOR OVER TWO MONTHS.

    Did my boss contact the police? No. Did she tell anyone outside of the office? Noooooo. Instead she handed me a can of wasp spray and packed us all into the golf cart so we could go “check it out.” We did run into our courtesy officer on the way over—he likes to drive around the property with his lights on and occasionally whoop his siren—so at least he wound up coming with us. But the whole thing was just a world of no.

    The guy wasn’t there, and neither was the pittbull, but my boss opted not to change the locks on the apartment because she wants to “set a trap” and “catch him.” Which is, I am sure, a completely sane thing. In Bizarro World.

    Wednesday: We learned that the trap yielded no vagrants or dogs. My boss assigned me 10 hours worth of work with the admonishment that it MUST be completed by EoD. (I work 8 hour days and am not allowed to have overtime.) My boss then held a (pointlessly) two hour meeting, after which she assigned me a surprise mandatory (and lengthy) online class to be taken immediately after my assigned lunch hour. She stonily said nothing the several times I told her it was a class I had already taken, then announced that I would be taking the class with the new leasing agent (it kind of seemed like this was only so the new leasing consultant could watch me and make sure I wasn’t working on anything else while the class was going).

    At this point I realized I would only have 4.5 hours of active work time (not continuous) to complete the 10 hours worth of required work and began to scream internally. At the tail end of my lunch break I applied for a part-time cashier position at my local Whole Foods, thinking that I could at least quit the Hellmouth and, if I cut my budget to the bone, eek by while looking for something else. My application was rejected within half an hour. I cried at my desk, but somehow kept anyone from noticing. It was a very low point.

    Thursday: I had to perform all of the monthly closeout duties for the property on a very tight time limit. My boss seemed determined to keep that from happening WHILE simultaneously whipping me to finish them even more quickly. And piling more extraneous same day assignments on me. And also another hour long mandatory class.

    This was also the day that my new coworker gleefully told me about how she is “destroying” the woman she suspects stole her credit card. Her story involved reverse lookup searches, plans to drive by the person’s home that night to get pictures of their car tags, and how she already had a friend sign this person up for “thousands of medical lists.” “I’m going to teach this bitch a lesson” was the last thing she VERY GLEEFULLY said about it… unless you count the cackling that followed.

    Y’all. She’s terrifying.

    After that there was a yelling, swearing maintenance supervisor (who then demanded a maintenance employee’s apartment number so he could go and pound on the dude’s door during his lunch break), more car break-ins (they are now happening on property in broad daylight), my boss discovered a phone that was left in one of the cars that was broken into and then whisper-hissed to the leasing consultant that it happened and that he was NOT to tell me about it OR tell me that is why a group of sheriff deputies would be coming to her office… oh, and I got another impossible load of work for the next day, with instructions to make sure the new leasing consultant was with me as I completed it. Oh! And I found out that the file that mysteriously disappeared from my desk last week (and that I had desperately needed for an assignment that the boss gave me) was, in fact, in the office of my boss. She lied about it, which weirdly made me feel better—at least I’m not crazy and paranoid for thinking she took it, you know?

    Friday: At the time of this writing, we have not been open for long. Before my boss made it in, she called the maintenance supervisor and instructed him to grill me on why I hadn’t walked the move outs that turned in keys at close yesterday (this is not a reasonable thing). And McGruff the Crime Dog informed me that she found the credit card woman’s Facebook, had found her husband, that the woman is a hospice nurse, that no one will let her access their security footage without a police report, and that she was considering calling the woman’s husband and blackmailing him.

    Send. Help.

    1. I work on a Hellmouth*

      Oh! I’ve also learned that my boss is sending out crime notices to every single resident except the one she is targeting. She told the non-scary leasing consultant to delete his email from the system—and ordered him not to tell anyone about it. Fun.

      1. Tigger*

        Jesus. FYI if you live in a state where Total Wine is a thing, they are always hiring and they pay very very well for the work you do.

        1. MechanicalPencil*

          I saw a sign for my Target hiring. Their pay isn’t…great? The wording sort of confused me a smidge, though it could be the pounding headache.

          1. Tigger*

            Yeah I live where there are targets every 50 ft and it’s not great pay. I think it’s slightly over minimum wage for the state. I know the total I worked at part time was like $2 above the minimum for cashiers and it was a different pay bracket for full time. It’s not great pay but it’s good for retail and a quick pay check if you need a stop gap

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              A couple years ago Target raised their internal minimum wage to $12/hour. I had three housemates working there at the time.

                1. Gumby*

                  The Post Office here seems to need workers quite badly. I get about one post card per month or so about open positions, etc. No idea what their minimum wage is but it’s got to be more stable long-term than where you are…

    2. Bee's Knees*

      Dear Lord in Heaven. I think you may have actually, sometime shortly before your first day there or on it, been sucked into an alternate version of reality, and this is your window out to the real world. I’m sorry that it’s come to a point where you can’t take it anymore, but I’m glad you’re trying hard to get out. It stinks that your application didn’t pan out, but that’s probably the store your crazy pants boss shops at. Does she treat the other leasing consultants like that? I know you said something about a guy (that she’s going to suck the brains of) but are there other people besides that?

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Also, have you thought about calling the health inspector and/or fire marshall? Some of that… does not sound up to code.

      2. I work on a Hellmouth*

        She goes after one employee until they are gone (one way or another), then turns on a new employee.
        You know, the ever kind Detective Amy Santiago once asked if I would be willing to share my geographic location in case anyone had location specific advice/Hellmouth escape leads, but I said I was worried about corporate figuring out who I was. I am now scared of much worse things. If anyone is in the capital of a certain Deep South, boot-shaped state in the US and wants to hit me up, feel free to email my username with no spaces at gmail. Because HOLY CRAP.

        1. Grits McGee*

          Oh man, I grew up in that particular capital, and suddenly all of your experience are making a lot more sense. Good luck and godspeed, Hellmouth.

        2. Starfox*

          I used to live in a different city in your state – I spent 10 weeks working in a retail shop at the airport over the busy spring break season. This is the time they’d be hiring, I don’t think there’s many requirements beyond “don’t be a felon,” you have to be able to pass an FBI background check for a badge to go through security. At my airport the shops were all run by a company called The Paradies Shops, but I’m sure there are other vendors. Low pay but might get you through while you keep looking for something better.

          1. Starfox*

            Reading down it appears that you are in a different state than I thought but if you have a spring break season it might still be an option.

        3. Aphrodite*

          In California, the University of California university system uses CraigsList (Jobs Wanted: Admin/Office) to hire part-time and even some full-time help. Getting in on a part-time, temp basis can easily lead to full-time, fully-benefitted positions. You might also call temp agencies around your city to find out if any of them have contracts with the city or county or local schools. If so, that’s a great way to get in.

        4. Karen from Finance*

          Oh good. Really hoping someone can help. I can’t do that much from so far away but will keep an eye out online regardless.

          You’re in my thoughts, Hellmouth, hoping it turns around.

    3. CatCat*

      Ooooohhhh mmmmyyyyy gggggaaaaaawwwwwddddddd.

      Would it be a blessing if she fired you? Like just sllllooowww your work down so she’s just irritated enough to fire you. Do you have enough earnings to get decent unemployment benefits?

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Getting fired before I can line up SOMETHING and just give notice would be an absolute disaster for me. But I have to have something lined up. Otherwise I would just give notice today.

        1. Indie*

          Temp agencies got me out of a real bind when I was in a similar position.

          I don’t know if it’s the same in the states but education supply agencies are always crying out for scribes to help SEN students in class and in exams. You literally just need to be literate, have a clean criminal records check and not be drunk around the kids (Which has happened. True story).

          1. Move Over Thrawn - Florian Munteanu is BIGGER than you!*

            Another plug for temp agency work. Not as much of a sure thing as was years back, but still a good option. I’ve gotten several perm. jobs this way. Seriously, this isn’t really funny anymore, we can all see how badly you are struggling, and want you to be in a reasonably sane, SAFE environment. Definitely have my paws crossed for you.

            1. Pretty sure the police do not approve of trap-setting.

            2. Squirrels… trying hard to be sympathetic but I can’t stand the little suckers. They are very damaging.

        2. Ianthe*

          As much as I enjoy reading your updates, I’m absolutely freakin’ terrified for you! Hellmouth, I don’t have any jobs prospects for you, but would you be open to receiving funds (like via Venmo)? Would you consider quitting ASAP if you had a bit more cushion or would that still not be feasible?

          Maybe Alison can review your cover letter/resume to help your job search?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Just FYI since I’ve seen it mentioned a few times this week — I don’t offer that as a regular thing. I used to offer it once or twice a year for a few days each time, but haven’t in a few years (and have no plans to any time soon because of lack of time). Sorry about that!

            1. I work on a Hellmouth*

              No worries! I actually already follow all of your resume and cover letter advice in the past, and I’ve always done well job searching! I think right now it’s just combination of not many openings/possible Hellmouth curse, to be honest.

              1. I work on a Hellmouth*

                Uh, that “in the past” should have gone after “job searching”. Sorry, I’m pretty shaky at the moment, and that tends to garble my ability to string words together coherently.

                1. Data Miner*

                  Everyone here is rooting for you and really want to see you escape from this place. It sounds, from an outsider, that the mental struggles you’re dealing with at the Hellmouth are impacting how you are perceived by future employers (maybe not Whole Foods because that was online and Fate being a bitch). But any in person or phone interviews you’re having, you may be coming off not as soundly as if you were in a better mental state. Its sorta like how you have to first love yourself before others will love you. So although I get the money restrictions, you very well may not be successful getting another well paying job with this baggage holding you back. This is all to say that I think the stop-gap job in retail is a good idea short term.

          2. I work on a Hellmouth*

            Oh, I would feel like I was taking advantage of kind people on the internet. I’m able bodied and able to work, I just need to find a place to jump to.

            1. Stranger*

              If you’re worried about ‘taking advantage’, would it suit you better to sell longer Hellmouth anecdotes to the commenters who want to support you? Might be worth considering, to help you if more things go wrong. Best of luck!

      2. CleverName*

        This is actually a solid option, I think. You are in a very weird place, surrounded by very weird people.

        Also, Starbucks offers decent benefits if you work full-time. I enjoyed working at Starbucks.

        I think you need to get out. Fast. As fast as you can.

        1. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

          Trader Joe’s and Costco, if you have them, are also pretty good for pay and benefits

          1. Treecat*

            Yes, Trader Joe’s employees are the only grocery store employees I’ve ever met who tell me they love their jobs. Costco is also known for a decent working environment and relatively good pay.

            I hope you can get out soon, Hellmouth. :(

        2. Emily S.*

          I’ve also worked at Starbucks and can agree that the pay and benefits are good. You just have to be OK with smelling like coffee all the time. ;-)

    4. Shark Whisperer*

      My personal theory is that the squirrels were responsible for the break in. The three dead squirrels were the victims of squirrely gang violence.

    5. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

      Your updates are the only think I read in the Friday Open Thread, but, as much as I enjoy them, I would give them up for you to GTFO of that place. Sending good thoughts your way!

      On another note, every update that involves squirrels is extra crazy

      1. Hopeful Future Accountant*

        I come to these updates too. But I keep hoping when I come the update will say “I finally got out!”

        Good luck, Hellmouth! I’m rooting for you!

    6. ISuckAtUserNames*

      Screw Whole Foods, there have to be other options. Costco? Target? I work part time at Target as a second job and it’s not a bad gig. I’m not in the south but my store is always hiring, though I don’t think you can ever count on full time hours.

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Well, the local WF pays the (honestly, just under the) amount I would need to eek by if I cut my budget to the bone. The Target here definitely does not. Trader Joe’s might, though, so I need to check their on my lunch break.

        1. ISuckAtUserNames*

          Good luck! I also second (third?) the temp agency suggestion. Sign up with as many as you can find. It may not be glamorous work, but gotta be better than the hellmouth.

        2. ideasoflight*

          Costco generally pays pretty well I think! But yeah, this has taken a firm turn into GET OUT, even by this industry’s fucked up standards. Like… literally even getting out to another property short-term would probably be better than this? Property management is never not bees but like, even by leasing standards this is BAD.

          1. ideasoflight*

            Like… sorting this into two piles, the tenant-based stuff is… a lot but it’s not out of the specs of what I expect for that industry? The management stuff though is like… no, get out now. CAMERAS. This new coworker. No no no.

        3. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

          Do you have any HOA associations that manage properties (see link in name if it worked). It would be somewhat same work dealing with crazy HOA boards, but at least less likely to involve squirrel hit squads

        4. Damn it, Hardison!*

          As a former Trader Joe’s employee, I will say it was by far the best non-professional job I ever had. Nice managers, nice co workers, good pay and hours. Best of luck!

        5. Subscribing to all comments*

          try searching companies websites individually for open positions, (facilities management, contracting, customer service) — go for big industry (hotel, pharmacetucals, etc) or big employers (hospitals, universities)

    7. Nita*

      OMG. So much crazy in one place. You’d think there’s no crazy left over in the entire U.S. of A., because it’s all hanging out at the Hellmouth. Wishing you a quick escape, and no more hearing from the boss ever again.

    8. Bookwormish51*

      I, too, have relied on temp agencies in a pinch. It can be slow at the beginning, but if you get decent reviews, you’ll get more jobs. If you take the test at one agency and don’t do well enough, switch to another. But mostly just get out. Good luck.

    9. LKW*

      This is craziness. Obviously you need to get out but damn you could write the newest cable TV series based off of these folks.

    10. kittymommy*

      WTEF!!!!(That e= everloving). Hell if you are in north central FL I’ll try to get you a job here! These people are off their rockers and are we sure that the landlord isn’t the one stealing? Or the “security” guy?

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Alas, I am in Louisiana. But boy do I wish I was elsewhere…

        I don’t know if stealing is happening, but I DO know that my boss disappears on 4-6 hour shopping trips “getting supplies” (that we don’t need) “for the property.”

    11. revueller*

      if you have a paypal or ko-fi, i’d happily donate to give you more of a cushion while you job-search. if anything, i want to “tip” for these incredible updates, because holy crap.

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        You are so kind, but I would feel like I was taking advantage. Like I said above, I just need to find a place to jump to. Something HAS to come through soon.

        1. Data Miner*

          People set up Patron accounts for less value add than what you’re providing. If you had a blog or a podcast, people would donate for your your continued output. Don’t devalue what your posts have contributed to AAM readers, and consider setting something up :-)

          1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

            Well, I guess that it wouldn’t be like I was twisting anyone’s arm or holding them hostage. I guess I could either give more indepth treatments to the Hellmouth’s greatest hits, or tell some of the stories that get cut for time or credibility straining. I guess I could consider/look into it, even if it was just for blowing off steam/funsies on my end…

    12. Kendra*

      I think you should start a Patreon where you tell stories about the Hellmouth to help you eke along until you find something better, a lot of people here would probably be interested!

        1. [insert witty username here]*

          Ok for some reason I was thinking blog when you probably MEANT podcast (or similar)….

      1. Office Gumby*

        I second the Patreon account. People will pay to get all the Hellmouth updates you don’t post here. Don’t shy away from this idea, because you aren’t awkwardly accepting donations, you’re actively earning them as a non-fiction author.

        1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

          Enough people have brought this up/emailed me about it that I’m actively looking into setting one up. If nothing else, I could have a place to give full details to things like the Revenge Poop story, right?

    13. Parenthetically*

      Jeezy Creezy, Hellmouth!!

      Weird suggestion: look for entry level surveyors’ assistant jobs at engineering/surveying firms! My husband works for an engineering firm (we live in the South/Midwest) and their entry level is something like $17/hr for someone with a high school diploma or GED doing basic surveying work. On the job training, no experience required kind of thing, and the pay is decent enough that it might keep body and soul together longer than TJ’s or Costco!

      1. Parenthetically*

        Also I am dying for someone in journalism in The City Where You Live to find out about your stories and do a series of blind items… or a serious exposé!

    14. Four lights*

      Yikes! Good luck. Here’s another vote for temp agency. I also wonder if you might qualify for assistant manager positions. Also, I think some retail night work/inventory/unloading jobs pay more. And for retail jobs, I find the application process can sometimes be hit or miss. I’ve spent an hour what appeared to be psych evaluations that were total garbage.

    15. BadWolf*

      Instead she handed me a can of wasp spray and packed us all into the golf cart so we could go “check it out.”

      So…this wasp spray was the weapon of defense? Or plausible deniability (we heard there were wasps here!)? Or there were wasps as well as a potentional squatter?

      Maybe you could suggest that the fan spy cam be moved to squatter apartment. All innocent like.

      Is there a way you could be let go and acquire unemployment while you job search?

      Some additional job ideas (feel free to disregard):

      -Temp admin at an accounting firm (tax season!!)
      -Driving school bus (I know there’s driving training required, but at least around my parts, they are desperate for drivers)
      -Driving a big rig — also desperate in my area and doing on the job draining. If you can handle the Hellmouth, you can handle a semi, I think. But you mentioned elderly relatives so the schedule may not be compatible.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        The wasp spray was for defense.

        If I got let go for cause (which is what my boss seems to be trying to engineer), I would not be eligible for unemployment. So I would be dooooooooooooomed.

        All very creative suggestions, but driving and big rigs would possible be more dangerous for me than the Hellmouth, lol.

        1. kittymommy*

          When you are looking don’t forget about local and state governments. Mine is always hiring and everyone I know never seems to think about them. Also if they deal with any housing (low income or first time home buyers) your housing knowledge may come in handy.

        2. Hallowflame*

          I don’t know, based on your latest update, it sounds like she may be looking into setting you up for a poor performance dismissal (piles and piles of work with completely unreasonable deadlines, withholding materials necessary to complete assignments, etc. ), which could leave you eligible for unemployment.
          Or maybe both! It is the Hellmouth, after all…
          (Please take this assessment with a handful of salt. I’m only speaking from personal experience as the employee being let go in a neighboring state where the qualifications for unemployment may be a little different. I have no background in HR or hiring/firing.)

        3. Slartibartfast*

          Being let go for “poor performance” is not necessarily “for cause” in the eyes of unemployment. Burden of proof is on the employer. If the worst happens, file.

    16. Anonandon*

      OMG OMG OMG – you need to quit, now, today. Even if you can’t afford to. This is so nuts! Seriously! Can you apply for a cashier job at Target/Walmart/any large retailer? At least get a couple of bucks until you can land your next gig? What about temp work?
      Hang in there, Hellmouth. I’m sending good vibes your way.

    17. My Brain is Exploding*

      Try car rental agencies. You are used to working with crazy people. This will help. If you can upsell, you can make some good money.

      1. Back to Work. Work, Work, Work*

        My second job is as a Walmart-type store. I wrote “Walmart-type” because I hate Walmart, I’ve heard the horror stories about what it can be like to work at Walmart, and the retailer at which I work has a lot in common with Walmart Supercenters but is much better managed. That job has helped me keep body and soul together during layoffs and lulls between other employment. It’s a 24/7 store, so they and you can be flexible with schedules. And of course, there’s an employee discount on most items; even a 10% discount helps when money’s tight. Yes, you’d deal with customers. However, 99.9999 percent of them will be much better behaved than at the Hellmouth.

    18. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’m just really bemused as to how your boss has rigged up so many cameras. What do you do with them when you find them?

      Also, your skill in finding them makes me think that maybe a job at a security firm would suit you. Finding spying devices, noting hazards, spotting weirdly dangerous people…

        1. Bee's Knees*

          I got in trouble at the paper for doing that, cause I looked at the lady sitting across from me. She thought it was hilarious and about the third time she noticed me doing it, she spat out her diet coke.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      This reminds me of that old blog, Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds–but it’s the hellmouth version, obviously. I hope you get the hell out of there soon.

    20. Nerdy Library Clerk*


      Any Costcos in your area? I understand they pay well, at least by the standards of retail-type jobs, and offer benefits. (In fact, they may pay better than the job I currently have.) Granted, that still might not be enough.

      Temp agencies? I did data entry temping for a bit ages ago. It paid pretty well. And I’m sure higher level office temping pays even better.

      I’m not sure if you’re more likely to get fired or arrive for work one day and find a smoking ruin with WWIII happening on the grounds of what used to be the apartment complex.

    21. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      FACEPALM-Y UPDATE ON TODAY’S IMPOSSIBLE WORK ASSIGNMENTS: After killing myself to complete all of the work that absolutely had to be completed and handed off to my boss today today today… well, my boss was gone for 3 hours, came in for about 15 minutes, and then went home for the day. Never even asked for it. Just going to go laugh slightly hysterically in the corner, don’t mind me.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        Oh, dear. My sympathies. Are you also checked in to civil service? I mean, Large State University is right there.

    22. JustAskingForAFriend*

      You know where frequently needs help is assisted living facilities. I am fairly new to the whole thing but it sounds like you work at a housing community/apartments, yes? So what about working in marketing/sales for an assisted living facility? They have regulations that would protect you (as they do to protect their residents). Or what about being an ombudsman for the state, or working in some sort of office that works for renters rights and the like? When reviewing applications, I rely on the “career summary” and cover letter moreso than the resume and love when people point out things they work on that don’t have a place on the traditional resume format but speak volumes about what you’ve been through. Like, you could include something like, “Master of balancing community maintenance requests, resident move-ins and outs, and unique conflicts of working in low-income housing management.” I swear I’ve personally learned more waiting tables and working retail than the “professional” jobs I’ve worked and am in now!

    23. Not So NewReader*

      I see your determination not to accept “too much” help, whatever “too much” means to you.

      One of many life’s cruel ironies that I have found is that when we refuse to accept help too often, we end up painted into a corner where we have to accept help. I met my corner when my husband passed. Swallow your pride and say yes to people more often. If you do not learn to say yes more often your setting can get worse.

      Let the good people around you help you. You are smart. You are witty. You can write. I read your posts, and while it is entertaining somewhat, there is a large part of me saying, “OMG, this is a fellow human being working in a cesspool of a place.”

      See here’s the thing about accepting help, there is no need to feel shame/weakness/embarrassment because the tide will turn and then it will be your turn to pay it forward. Can I just say that opportunity to pay it forward can come up pretty fast! ;) Look at the world around you with fresh eyes and think.

    24. Is my boss here?*

      Temping is, well, temping, but back when I was between jobs I did it and once I established that I was reliable, I got enough work to stay afloat and keep a little $ ahead while looking for the Real Thing. A staff job is best, even part time, but if your situation is desperate enough to cry over a p/t cashier job, it may be an alternative.

    25. Jean (just Jean)*

      Total upvote for everything NotSo New Reader said. Sometimes we have to accept help. It doesn’t have to be forever and we will get to pay it forward and it’s okay if the “repayment” is not in the exact same format. There are a gazillion ways to lend a hand to or lift the spirits of another human being.

      Sometimes religious institutions offer short-term or interest-free loans to people in a tough place. If this feels comfortable to you, check it out. If not, ignore the suggestion. Ditto this one: If your personal logistics allow this flexibility, would you be willing to sign on as a live-in paid housekeeper, groundskeeper, personal assistant, or household manager? Are there any resorts or camps or estates or etc. (animal shelters? horse stables?) needing live-in workers? Again, not for forever, just long enough to help you get the H outta Hmouth and build a bridge towards your next sane & stable situation. They should have good security though or else be so far from your present location that none of your current associates would bother to visit or worse.

      Good luck. Stay in touch with all folks you know and like *away from work*. G-d forbid, but it might be wise to have caring local people know your expected schedule and location(s). Take care of yourself.

    26. Jersey's mom*

      Check out the local electric utility. They may be hiring now for seasonal eter reader employees. Also for their customer service departments. Not the greatest jobs, but sound’s better than what you’re going through.

      I (and many of my friends) are thinking of you and sending zen hugs.

  28. TheAssistant*

    Any advice for someone trying to transition from sales to another role? My girlfriend is stuck in a toxic environment doing group sales for a theater company, and she’s been so demoralized in a very long job search by her lack of offers. I think she’s probably not looking at the right industries/jobs that would have transferable skills, or she’s not recognizing her own transferable skills. So far she’s looked at theaters/arts (even in a major city, that’s a tiny and competitive job pool) and customer service in tech startups (slightly larger pool, but everyone wants to work in tech these days, plus her job is very analog). We’re both losing our minds.

    1. Some ideas*

      Is she interested in sales or biz development? If she wants to continue that path, she can try for biz dev coordinator roles in whatever industries interests her/with jobs available in the city you live in.

      What about banquet coordinator or something similar for a restaurant?

      1. TheAssistant*

        One of the biggest problems is she doesn’t want to be in a sales-y or biz dev role – which is super hard given her background is all interfacing between theaters and the public to sell things.

        1. SophieChotek*

          So what is she looking for? I get it can be heard given a specific background to get pigeon-holed into something you do not want to do.

          1. TheAssistant*

            I hear that. I think she has the opportunity with this next job to escape a pigeon-hole, and I worry that if she lands herself in the arts again that’s where she’ll stay, forever, and I don’t think she’ll like it.

            Every time I ask I get “I want to make decent money, work 9-5, have health insurance, and not work with the general public”. She doesn’t like sales for this reason – the tour groups and regular clients are usually fine, the random one-off groups are a nightmare for her. She doesn’t like events planning. She has a master’s degree in Arts Administration and thinks it’s some kind of qualification.

            I’m a pretty analytical thinker and I’ve always been able to pinpoint exactly what it is I want and don’t want from a particular job and my career, so this is honestly driving me nuts. What she wants is so many jobs, but also so few jobs, and I don’t know how to help when she complains she’s not getting anywhere in her search. Her cover letter and resume are great, and she interviews well. I think she’s looking in the wrong places, but I’m not sure what the right places are.

            1. SophieChotek*

              Could she not do the less customer-facing side of the Arts? Like….grant writing? EA? Office manager? I get her desires….I want that too, LOL, but get its too vague…and also have a background in the arts.

              Where are you located? There are 2 or 3 major networking/1 day seminar events in my area specifically for the performing arts. Could she attend that just get some ideas?

              For that matter, what about non-profit that give out grants? Like a state arts board or a local non-profit that focuses on the arts…

              Really randomly throwing some stuff out there with little thought…so apologize if this is all lame…

            2. ArtsAdmin*

              Ugh, as someone in arts admin, what she wants is so so normal. So many arts admin&management jobs, especially in smaller organizations, just require so much and give so little that “a 9-5 with benefits and enough pay that I can, I dunno, go on vacation every couple years” sounds like an absolute pipe dream when you’re inside it, and it can be really hard to go from feeling so demoralized with your career prospects to actually imagining what your transferable skills are.

              If she’s doing group sales at a theater, obviously she has sales experience. But she also probably coordinates between a lot of departments, develops or works on events, and works with schools/in education. Depending on the size of the organization she might also have experience in some parts of the marketing world, curriculum development, accounting, fundraising, or database building and management. She’s probably organized and has good people skills. My guess is she would do well in something like project management, which is obviously a job that exists in a huge range of settings. If she wants to continue to use her arts admin degree, she could look at the foundation/philanthropic arm of corporations, or at other grant-making organizations (state arts board, foundations, etc.), or at arts services organizations (ticketing systems like PatronManager are almost entirely remote work, but depending on where she is, there could be other arts-adjacent-but-with-money organizations available to her).

            3. Is my boss here?*

              A friend of mine has a background in arts administration, and it was her toehold into fundraising. She’s been doing that for over 20 years now and does well. She does some events, but not with the general public, and she’s mostly grantwriting and business mgmt. for nonprofits now.

    2. Another Librarian*

      One thing I have done with mature students who are getting ready to graduate is have them write down all their work related skills. All of them, ignoring the type of work they did. For example, if you work in a medical office scheduling appointments than you have experience in customer service, scheduling and dealing with sensitive information.

      And then look at that list and see what sort of jobs might apply for her skills. That seems to help people if they can disconnect their “duties” from their “job.”

    3. Sam.*

      This is a long shot, but are there any universities near you? I’ve known a couple of people from the theater world who transitioned over to various aspects of higher ed. One helps coordinate internships, among other things, and is the person who works with the various arts orgs in town to set up internship opps for students at the university. She had customer service skills, connections to the local arts world, and experience interfacing between different organizations, so it worked well for her.

      I worked in student affairs in higher ed for a long time, and one thing I recommended to students who had no idea what kind of work they wanted to do was to look at a wide range of job postings and make note of their gut reactions to certain responsibilities and tasks outlined. I know several of them found it helpful in articulating what kinds of work they did (or emphatically did not) find interesting, which then helped them narrow the fields they were looking at. If your gf hasn’t already tried something like that, it might be worth a go. Good luck to you both!

      1. San Juan Worm*

        The “transportation demand management” section of my organization regularly hires folks with sales backgrounds. The jobs involve encouraging people to commute differently — to try transit, carpool, vanpool and so on. Some TDM jobs involve working with HR departments at local companies to encourage them to offer transit/carpoool/vanpool benefits to employees. There are TDM jobs in most metro areas, commonly in the government and nonprofit sectors. But there are private companies in the TDM space, too, like vanpool and ride-sharing companies. Some larger employers in major metro areas even have on-staff TDM coordinators that help their employees with commute options. The jobs involve persuading people to commute differently, so sales skills are valuable.

  29. Bee's Knees*

    Y’all. There was a literal mob at work yesterday. There were no torches, no pitchforks, but there was a mob all the same.

    See, there was an issue with payroll. It was right when it left on Monday, but there was an issue when it was transmitted to the system that does the checks. No one got their overtime pay, or any other extras.

    It was so fun.

    Have you ever had the sudden realization that your head is attached to your body, and been profoundly thankful? It’s never something I’ve thought to be thankful for before.

    I had just walked in, and was booting up my email, just going about my morning. Suddenly, three supervisors were in my office. No one, then boom. I didn’t know they could move that fast. They asked if I knew what was going on, and I saw the emails rolling in.

    There’s about 175 people that didn’t get paid correctly. That’s a lot of mad. I don’t think the phone stopped ringing all day. When the supervisors came in, people were waiting. They did a really good job to deflect the maddest of the employees off of me, which I really appreciate.

    I only had one person be straight up rude to me, and she’s done it before, so it was not surprising, just offensive. Girlfriend needs an attitude check. Most people just wanted to know what was going on, and that they were going to get paid.

    We got it resolved fairly quickly, and I printed out info about what’s happening next. I posted them on every possible route to my office. Inside the plant, there’s a window in the supervisors’ office so they can see what’s going on, and I pressed one of the papers to the window so they could see. They all about came out of their seats reaching for it.

    Hopefully, everyone will be paid after today. We’re switching to a new timekeeping system in a couple of months, and someone said they worked at another plant that did, and no one got paid for two weeks. I told my boss if that happens, I won’t be here. I’ll be somewhere far, far away, in a wig and sunglasses, hiding

      1. No Tribble At All*

        I don’t mean this as blaming you, Bees. But I understand why there was a mob! What a mess.

        1. Bee's Knees*

          No, I got it. Payroll isn’t something to be messed with, at all. It was not a happy time. If it had been my fault, I would have locked myself in my office and been crying hysterically. Well, maybe not, but there would have been tears.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Glad to hear your bosses tried to help.
      Sorry you had to put up with it.

      Had payroll issues happen at my job; never fun. (Even just to be on the receiving end of it.)

    2. nonegiven*

      They did something similar at DH’s work. They changed from monthly to every two weeks and changed how the payroll is done. I think they are using a service, now. The first direct deposit was a week late. Nobody is happy.

      I looked up the statute, it said they have to be paid within 11 days of the end of the pay period and the employer has an additional 3 days to comply. It said days, not business days. They were within the 14 days by one day.

      They have issued a schedule for the pay periods and deposits. The pay periods used to vary from 20 working days to 23. Now it’s 10 days per pay period. They are taking out half of the monthly non tax deductions from each check and they’ll have one extra check this year, in August, that will only have taxes deducted. Nobody is happy.

      They issued a check for 3 days of last year on the old system in the middle of January and only took FICA out of it but they included that income and FICA deduction on his 2018 W2.

      They also changed from sick pay plus vacation to PTO in one bucket and changed how it accrues. They used to accrue 8 hours of sick pay per month and get all of their vacation days added in January. Now it’s all PTO and is accruing per paycheck. I’m not sure he is still getting what he had before. He was supposed to get 20 days vacation this year and accrue 12 days of sick pay. I still have not seen a check stub because they are now issuing them on the server or something.

    3. Bee's Knees*

      Late breaking update – It gets worse guys. I didn’t think it could, but it did. They overpaid people to a total of about $14k. Which now has to come back out. Monday is going to be so great.

    4. Hamburke*

      I messed up a payroll a couple weeks ago (I entered and closed it but didn’t submit it and then left early for the day) and boy was my phone ringing! So sorry you had to deal with it this week especially since it wasn’t your fault!

  30. Forkeater*

    Any tips for improving your attitude at work? I do have a very good job and my boss treats me well, but this is not the work I want to be doing. I’m looking, and also hopeful something internal will open up that suits me better – I want to put my best foot forward, attitude wise, while I wait for other opportunities to arise. I thought I was doing better this year, but this week my boss asked me to do something innocuous and I snarled at him. We talked about it later and I think we’re good but I don’t want it to happen again.

    I think it comes down to me not respecting my boss or his point of view, he’s highly overpaid and underworked, frequently misuses terminology that applies to my area of expertise, and despite this is sure to be at work all hours even when we’re closed for bad weather and can all easily work remotely. We’re very different people – however he doesn’t have a problem with me being different – gives me a lot of freedom to pursue projects that interest me, allows me flexibility in my hours, etc. – so he really doesn’t deserve my bad attitude.

    Sorry for the wall of text – all this is to say my job is good, just not right for me, and how can I be sure to stay positive as I look for opportunities elsewhere?

    1. The Rain in Spain*

      Remind yourself that this is temporary- it’s just a job, not a calling. Search for a new position and focus on finding the right fit. This is what kept me sane when I reached my limit, realized by boss didn’t really respect me or my qualifications, and there was no room for growth (despite what I had been promised when I accepted the role). It made a HUGE difference to know that I was going to get out, and I just treated it as a 40-hr/week job, rather than getting stressed/trying to more/etc.

      1. meh*

        I hate to say it, but “room for growth” is just something they say, not always guaranteed. What interviewer would say “actually we are looking for someone to do X and Y for the foreseeable future with no growth opportunities?” Even if they were hiring you for a month long gig and you’re leaving in 30 days, they wouldn’t state that.

        It’s like asking someone “how are you?” in greeting. You’re expecting that they say that they’re fine/good and keep it moving.

        1. The Rain in Spain*

          The distinction in my case is that they new I had the qualifications for the licensing exam and that I was going to take it (with their approval). The team was new and expanding, they could have done something if they wanted to, they just didn’t. And that’s okay, I eventually left. They just got a lot more of my time than I should’ve given them.

        2. Karen from Finance*

          I have had an interviewer be honest with me about that, actually. They went on and on about how the comprarny was so great nobody ever quit, and I pushed a bit on that point and the admitted “yes, that also means it’s rare that we get vacancies in higher level jobs, so if you are looking for career growth opportunities in the short term it might not be the right fit”. As someone in my lower 20’s I appreciated the honesty because it would have set be back a few years in my expected path.

      2. Emily S.*

        I second this, the part about the job being just a job. It is a means to an end. It can pay your bills, while you look for something better.

        Personally, I tend to identify as who I am outside of work. My job doesn’t define me. I think it helps me to have a positive view of who I am as a person, not an employee. I’m a happy person, because I get fulfillment from stuff outside of work.

        Obviously I’m only speaking for myself here — but I thought this perspective may be of interest.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      You need to get your attitude buttoned up ASAP especially if you’re looking for something internal as the first person getting called is going to be your boss to get his opinion. I might be overreaching here but I’d bet your boss picks up that you have zero respect for him and despite this, he still encourages your professional growth. Perhaps start thinking of your boss as your ally in your job search instead of a target for contempt.

      1. Forkeater*

        Thanks, I needed to hear this. I know my attitude needs to change like yesterday, I’m trying to find tools to help me change it.

        But your comment is helpful in making me think about my boss’s feelings. I want to be a “nice” person and don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings – maybe it will help me to improve my behavior if I concentrate on trying to make sure I’m careful of his feelings (even though he hides them very well).

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Happy to help. I certainly sympathize with you as I too, am still quick to snap at folks despite working on it for years and I’m not really much of a team player (thank goodness I’m in sales). The book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 really helped me out a lot.

          1. NACSACJACK*

            Thank you T.Boone. I need it too. Just got my worst rating ever because i snapped 5 months ago.

    3. INeedANap*

      I’ve found a few tools helpful in changing my perspective/attitude:

      One, whenever I think negatively, I forcibly redirect and change that thought. So, if I caught myself thinking Boss was overworked/underpaid, instead of indulging that, I will say: “Boss has been really supportive of me, and I appreciate him” if I can say it aloud. If I can’t speak aloud, I will open up a word document and type it out. Every. Single. Time. This is tedious, so tedious, and I found it was happening so often it was interfering with my work to redirect my thoughts! Which really highlighted how negative I had allowed my thinking to become and how much energy I was wasting.

      Two, you can sense when your mood is turning sour. I would bet that snarling at your boss didn’t come from nowhere; you had probably been feeling some low-level bitterness or resentment simmering all day. So identifying when your mood starts to turn, and finding a way to resolve it is important. Take a quick walk, look at a picture of kittens, whatever. But identify, acknowledge, and resolve those feelings as soon as they begin.

      Three, while a bad work environment can seep into your non-work life and poison it, so can a stressful non-work life seep into a work environment. What’s your life outside work look like? Are you practicing self-care? Are you happy and healthy generally? Could you de-stress outside of work more effectively to keep things from carrying over day to day?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Face every day with the question, “What great thing can I do today that would look wonderful on my resume or make for great interview conversation material?”
      Stop working for your boss and start working for that good-looking resume of yours.

  31. Millenial Lizard Person*

    People who do requirements documents, compliance / conformance specs– anything where your job is to ensure that something aligns with some other documentation: do you feel like your work is important? Do you find it fulfilling?

    I’ve recently transferred into a position that is turning out to be much more documentation than I thought. I’m not designing anything, and I don’t have the experience / background to really write the requirements. So I’m just emailing people back and forth to make sure they conform to other documents that are being written, and I feel like I’m doing make-work. How can I convince myself that documenting the state of other documents is important?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I truly believe there are personality types who get joy out of this work, like they derive personal satisfaction in making sure that i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed and everything is in good order. Bless those people. I am not one of them, I get satisfaction from the opportunity to be creative, so I’m just not a great fit for compliance oriented jobs. I’ve had several and I can usually just try to pay my dues / muster up enthusiasm about being diligent and not be a drain on the team – and get out of the role as quickly as possible.

    2. meh*

      I actually wouldn’t mind this. It sounds easy enough to have a checklist of requirements and make sure that whatever someone sends in matches these requirements, or am I missing something?

    3. Trojan Maker*

      Document Control Specialist here.
      -Document alignment is very important.
      -Do you have a primary regulatory body with publications your can reference or an overarching document control policy that spells out alignment requirements?

    4. Mockingjay*

      This is a large part of my job and I enjoy it (most days).

      What I have learned is to separate important docs from what I call “checkbox” documents. All are required, but some are more important in terms of content or visibility. Those are the ones to spend time on. I automate as much as possible: tracking system, templates, master requirements, central repository (sharepoint or share drive). I also mentor and teach people the “why” of these documents – how these fit into a bigger, overall picture of the project.

      A lot of our work used to be produced by separate teams: engineering, management, etc. We are now working new processes in which each document requires input from all teams, and map to other documents. This is a BIG change for the team. The end result is a clearer picture of the entire program. It’s taking a lot of training and cajoling to get there, in the meantime!

    5. Sleepytime Tea*

      I write business requirements documents as a large portion of my job. It is very important and… mostly fulfilling. There are days I tire of it. Sometimes I want to be doing the “actual” work. But if I’m just mindlessly throwing a document together I’m actually probably not doing a good job. I’m a business analyst. I am supposed to be investigating, analyzing risks and potential compliance issues, etc. I should be talking to people and asking the questions that they haven’t thought about yet. My value is not in gathering what people already know or think they know. My value is in digging in and finding root cause, teasing out what people need versus what they are asking for, etc. When I do a great job, I catch all sorts of things that prevent issues down the road and ensure that what the developer is creating meets people’s needs and exceeds them. When I do that, I definitely find fulfillment.

      There is some stuff that feels repetitive and boring, absolutely. But if really all you are doing is e-mailing people to ask them to make sure that their document matches someone else’s document… then it sounds like you might be missing something in the purpose of the process. I would start by trying to get an understanding of the “why” behind what you are doing.

    6. A tester, not a developer*

      As someone who often tries to piece together what was actually designed/tested/ implemented from a mish mash of conflicting documents, I find your job to be incredibly important.

      The only thing worse than non-conforming documents is when one is just missing because the person who was supposed to write it didn’t think it was that important. It’s cool that you know how this thing works backwards and forwards and that you think it was a ‘minor change’ but that doesn’t help me two years down the road when you’ve transferred to another team and I’m trying to wrap my head around why this thing is behaving weirdly, Wayne.

      …sorry, guess I needed to vent. :)

  32. Myrin*

    Hey guys, I’ve been wondering what you think of this social media post I cam across this morning.

    I feel like the first guy’s heart is in the right place but he’s being very dramatic and ignoring the fact that in most cases, it isn’t wise to trash-talk your (prospective) employer for everyone to see.
    I’m not sure about the second person, though – are they referring to to the thing where an employer can’t forbid employees to talk about working conditions? Because it seemed to me that that’s what the Slate article is talking about but no matter how long I’ll be reading this site, I’ll never get all your acronyms straight or be able to actually tell you what they mean written-out. I found “your right to complain about your job” to be strange phrasing but I’m not quite sure regarding the content (other than the fact that the article didn’t really seem to support this commenter’s position overly much? Or, at least, the poster seems to have left out some critical details.).

    1. Murphy*

      Yeah, if you’re going to complain about your job on social media your boss shouldn’t be able to find it/see it.

      1. ISuckAtUserNames*

        And maybe don’t call your job “fuck ass” when you haven’t even spent one day in it yet. Does it even fall into complaining about your job if you haven’t even started it yet? Can’t really blame the employer for being pissed off about that one.

    2. Indie*

      Social media firings are not because the boss doesnt expect you to never complain in any way. You are expected to show basic common sense and judgement though. No one wants to work with the social media drama vortex. Can you imagine managing someone who complains about their coworkers online?

    3. Lilysparrow*

      How can you have a complaint about working conditions when you haven’t started the job yet?

      I think saying “I don’t want this job” in public is really stupid. Social media isn’t some secret fourth dimension where nothing is real.

      She said on Twitter — not a friends-only FB post! Not a private text message! A public Tweet with her name on it – that she thinks it’s a “FA job” and indicated by her multiple thumbs-downs that she is unhappy about the very idea of working there.

      If she was sitting in a restaurant, or walking down the street, and her boss overheard her, it’s the same thing.

      Can you imagine trying to manage someone who shows up on Day 1 with that kind of attitude?

    4. Sleepytime Tea*

      You have a protected right to discuss your working conditions and complain about them, but that’s not what’s happening here. You do have a right to complain about your job and say you think it sucks on social media, and your boss has every right to see that and decide that they don’t want to employ someone with a bad attitude, poor judgment, etc. Especially in an at-will state like where I live.

  33. Not Maeby But Surely*

    People who have had the realization that 1) your manager doesn’t like you for some reason, and 2) that the employee’s culture fit within a team is just not going to improve, do you have any suggestions to make it easier/better to tolerate while you job hunt?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I guess this would depend, do you have a sense of whether your boss doesn’t like you *personally* or whether they’re not happy with your work? If it’s just a personality missmatch, it’s kind of on both of you to just be professional and there’s not as much you can do if your boss … isn’t doing that. TBH if you’re looking anyway, I might address it directly with them, as in “I get the sense you’re not very satisfied with my performance, is there anything I can be doing differently?”

      1. Not Maeby But Surely*

        Seems to be less performance related and more personality differences. I have never been told/warned/given feedback that my performance is below expectations, and I know I’m at least average in terms of production compared to the rest of the team. I have no problem working with personality differences; there are lots of them among my colleagues and bosses, but it seems like I’m being frozen out of communications and such. I gave the situation the benefit of the doubt for a long time, but there’s now been enough slights that it’s hard to think it’s *not* intentional.

        1. London Calling*

          I can identify 100% with your last sentence and whether it is or isn’t intentional, the effect of all the slights on you is the same (there’s a great deal on the net about the effects of ostracism at work). What I have done is a) start my CV b) print off a load of advice from AAM and other sites about planning a job hunt and working out what it is I want from my next job c) setting a date for the start of the job hunt and d) on a day to day basis sitting at my screen and thinking ‘Yup, a/holes. You keep laughing and having your mean girl whispering sessions. Good luck with finding someone as good as me to do this job, because you know what? you’ll be very, VERY lucky if you do.’ What really cheers me up is the thought of my manager’s face when I hand her the resignation letter.

    2. Anonny*

      I was in that situation up until very recently. My boss and grandiose didn’t like me at all because I’m reserved and they really aren’t; they couldn’t be professional about it, so I had to go.

      I got through it for a while by aligning my lunch and my breaks so that I would have as much time as possible free from my manager’s presence, by having headphones with calming music, and by enjoying the fact that I was getting praise for my work and friendship from people not in my team. I took a few long weekends and Wednesday holidays too, when the stress built up. Ultimately, I left without a job lined up, but I was lucky that I could do that.

  34. roisin54*

    This isn’t a question so much as venting some frustration.

    I work at a large public library located in a heavily trafficked part of my city. On Sunday, while I was at the public desk during my shift, someone not on staff got into the staff only area where they proceeded to go into offices with unlocked doors and root around for valuables. Including my office (which was only unlocked because one of my office-mates accidentally left it unlocked the previous day.) They broke into my desk but fortunately weren’t able to get anything of mine, although they did damage the locking mechanism. They did get away with a laptop that was in a manager’s office.

    Obviously I’m really freaked out by this even though they didn’t successfully steal anything from me. Someone was in my office that should not have been, and pawing through the things on and in my desk. And though the lock on my desk was fixed pretty quickly I’ve been carrying my purse with me everywhere now because I’m so scared someone will break into my desk again. Making matters worse is that I’ve heard nothing about what, if anything, library management plans to do about it. The police did take a report about the stolen laptop but didn’t really care, and security continues to be a joke here. People are always getting into the staff-only area because it’s ridiculously easy to do and everyone knows this but no one with the authority to actually do anything about it will. I should not feel so unsafe at my job.

    1. The Rain in Spain*

      I’m sorry you are dealing with this! It would make me feel unsafe as well. Can you bring it up with your manager/library management and ask them what steps they are taking to prevent this from happening again? Even if they aren’t forthcoming sometimes asking (and then following up at reasonable intervals) can help prod them to action.

    2. KR*

      This is an excellent opportunity to organize as a group. Consider seeing how your coworkers feel and pushing back as a group. If you can put together a list of incidents and security lapses (and proposed fixes – do you want key card locks on doors? This could be a great way to block off offices. You don’t have to remember to lock the office as it auto locks every time the door closes, and a key admin can disable/enable keys as nessecary when people stop working there or need access to different rooms). Do you need lockers instead of keeping valuables in your office? How often are you working alone? Pushing back as a group could stir your bosses into action. Try looking at other libraries of comparable size and use what has worked for them as evidence that what you’re asking can work, is reasonable, and in line with other similar budgets and towns.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Passcode doorknobs, too. That way you don’t have to worry about keys, and if someone shares their code with someone who shouldn’t be allowed back there, you can just change the code.

    3. Treecat*

      Ugh, commiseration here. I work at a university library but it is a large state research university and our main library + stacks are open to the public. We get a LOT of people trying to avoid being made to leave after closing, and while our facilities team is lovely, the building is HUGE and it’s easy for a determined person to hide. Someone stole our master facilities keys not too long ago, and while they were able to be recovered, I think it’s only a matter of time before the whole building needs to be re-keyed (which will doubtless cost tens of thousands of dollars, sigh).

      You should not feel so unsafe at your job. It sucks, and I’m sorry.

      1. roisin54*

        Oh man, it is a serious struggle to get people to leave at closing here, particularly on the weekends. We’ve had people argue with us about how they should be allowed to stay until the exact second we close, or how they should be allowed in “just to look around real quick” the minute after we close. And many people are just so shocked/pissed off that we have the gall to close at 5pm on weekends.

        Making things worse is that we have spaces that get rented out for private functions all the damn time, sometimes four or five per weekend in the warm weather months. I’ve found so much party detritus on our tables and shelves it’s ridiculous.

    4. BadWolf*

      Can you bring up privacy and data concerns? Stealing patron data? Security breach? Fines for stolen emails, phone numbers, etc? “I’m afraid for my personal safety and wallet” should be good reason, of course, but “data breach at local library” isn’t going to read well.

  35. Mimmy*

    Thanks to those who replied to my post last Friday about the conference I was attending. Aside from travel hiccups (which I’ll describe tomorrow) and now being sick, everything went well. I needn’t worry about being a newbie – there were a few others as well. Also, once my credits are approved by the certification program administrator, I should be able to sit for the exam!

    Which is where I could use some resources. Part of the exam will include question about design standards, and I have zero background in design, engineering, architecture, or any of that. Luckily, there is no expectation to memorize the standards, just know where to look up the information. However, the workshop on these standards I attended at the conference was still over my head. Part of it was not understanding the terminology used.

    Any links with basic information that might fill in the gaps would be much appreciated.


    1. Not So NewReader*

      Do you mean like features built into buildings to make the building accessible to all?

      Or looking at this from the opposite direction, can you give us 3-4 words that were not familiar and we can piece together what a good resource would be for those types of words?

      [This is a great question for fposte if she happens this way.]

      1. Mimmy*

        Hey NSNR!

        Yes, they’re the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. I have the book, which has a list of definitions in the beginning, but it’s still unclear. Words like egress, scoping requirements, circulation path, etc.

        I hope fposte sees this!

        1. Llellayena*

          Egress: way out of the building
          Scoping requirements: range of situations the following codes apply to (not 100% sure on this one though)
          Circulation path: the places people walk from one location to another

          If you’ve got more you’re unsure of, I’ll check back a couple times.

          1. Mimmy*

            Just thought of one question:

            One thing I see a lot are what look like ratios in the context of ramps and other slops. I know a ramp has to have a slope of 1:12…what does that mean exactly?

            Suffice it to say that once I get this certification, I don’t see myself specializing in architectural accessibility, lol.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              The format is rise:run. This is said out loud as “rise to run”. Rise is the height, run in the length. This is known as pitch. It’s also used with roofs and roads. Roofs and hills are described by their pitch. Us regular people think of it an incline. “That hill has a steep incline.” Another way of saying the same thing is “That hill has a steep pitch.” Technical people use numbers to describe how severe the steepness of the hill/roof is.

              In your example this 1:12 is read as “one to twelve pitch” which means for every 12 feet of run (length) there is 1 foot of rise(height).

              Picture a wheel chair ramp. It is twelve feet long. One end is at ground level. There end is 1 foot high. That is a 1:12 pitch.

              Ex. 2. Let’s pretend we have a very long ramp with the same pitch. It’s a 24 foot ramp with a 1:12 pitch. So for every 12 feet of length the ramp goes up 1 foot, then a 24 foot ramp would be 2 feet high at one end and ground level at the other end.

              Pitch is important because some pitches (inclines) are too difficult to navigate in a wheelchair or for people with other limitations.
              (One last example: My roof has a 7:12 pitch. Yes, very steep. I get scared when someone goes up to repair it. I had safety hooks installed on the peak of the roof so now repair people can hook their safety harness to a solid anchor.)

              1. Mimmy*

                Ah okay, that’s very helpful!!

                So, in your example, the roof has 7 feet of rise for every 12 feet?? O-O

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Yepper, you got it.
                  To me it’s scary. My house is one story but the roof goes up as high as a if it were a second floor, with THAT pitch. phew. It’s a slate roof, so the roof itself will last forever (almost). But I do need to have slates replaced periodically. That is why the worry about people going up there. Now I have what I call sky hooks. One at each end and one in the middle. The hooks were installed across the very peak of the roof. This gives roofers plenty to hook on to and they can reach the area where they need to work.

                  The house was built almost 200 years ago. I would love to know what they were thinking that they thought this roof was a good idea, it’s so tall and so steep.

                2. Mimmy*

                  NOBODY was thinking 200 years ago – that’s why getting older areas to be accessible can be a pain in the tuckus lol.

    2. Llellayena*

      Look up the Fair Housing Guidelines and the ICC/ANSI A117.1-2009. The ICCSAFE website has online versions of ANSI. That should cover most of the basics. There are more current editions of the ANSI codes, but 2009 is what most construction will be under in the near future. Good luck!

  36. BeanCat*

    I’m currently struggling with some health issues (doctors are sort of confused what’s wrong with me) which have required lots of half days or early-leave days…and I only get 12 sick/vacation days for the year. :/ I guess I’m just looking for commiseration because nothing I can do will change the PTO issue. It’s a butt-in-seat 8-5 job, and I almost sort of miss my dysfunctional WAH job with unlimited PTO right now.

      1. BeanCat*

        I’m under a year, unfortunately. I was trying to hold off on getting anything done until I’d hit the one year mark, but I couldn’t when everything flared up. Just a few more months!

    1. Tired*

      I’m in the same boat, except with 5 sick days per year. I’ve been skipping lunches to go have testing done to figure out what’s wrong. It’s a miserable situation to be in. You already feel like crap, and then you have to feel like crap all day long at work… I don’t have advice, but lots of commiseration.

      1. BeanCat*

        Ugh, I’m so sorry. My last job I actually had only five days as well..and I ended up having surgery. I just flat out wasn’t getting paid by the time the actual surgery came around.

        Thanks for the commiseration and I hope you get some answers and feel well soon!

    2. WellRed*

      Have you acknowledged to your boss that you know it’s an issue, you are working very hard to get things under control? I know it doesn’t help with the the lack of PTO etc, but if you are at all worried about the (God I hate this phrase) optics at your newish job, it might ease a few worries.

      1. BeanCat*

        I have; we’ve spoken. The good news is I have built a reputation for being really reliable in the first eight months of the year, so I think he’s willing to be more flexible even knowing that I don’t have solid answers. I still hate that I have to do it, but I’m reasonably confident I’ll still have a job.

    3. SJ*

      Won’t help with a paycheck necessarily but if you are eligible, check into FMLA…it will protect your job at least. Good luck…I hope you figure out what is wrong and get well!

      1. BeanCat*

        I won’t be eligible for a few more months – haven’t quiiiiite been there a year yet. Thank you for the well wishes!

  37. Jack Be Nimble*

    Just a gripe: one of my monthly tasks is uploading job descriptions to a central repository and make minor formatting changes. This month’s batch are just so bad that I’ve also been doing some fairly intensive copy editing for the sake of clarity. There are an unending number of acronyms used without being defined and unpunctuated paragraph-long run-ons. It’s taking me three times as long as it should because the job descriptions are virtually impossible to understand.

    1. Not-Always a Creative Writer*

      Ditto–I did that all day Wednesday, which didn’t even put a dent in the entire library. My team audits for accuracy in other data fields, but the job description field belongs to me. Huge job… huge amount of commiseration with you this week.

    2. irene adler*

      Speaking as a job hunter, thank you so much for your efforts!
      You are making my life a little easier-which I appreciate.

    3. Lupin Lady*

      That sounds like something you should take a record of to have in your back pocket at raise-time. “My job is minor formatting, but what I’m actually doing is significantly more”

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Please consider telling your boss what’s happening and see if s/he wants you to spend your time on this. If heavy copy editing is not what the boss wants you to do, you need to know NOW. Best of Luck.

  38. intelligent_zombie*

    I am trying to do a gut check – am I being too sensitive or expecting too little from people?

    We had a new director join our company less than 6 months ago. Everyone in our company is very approachable and very open to helping one another and communicating. The new director has been insisting people use specific subjects and exact wording when emailing them. Some members of staff have complained or simply ignore them. I agree with staff that it seems particularly fussy, but I also know that we all receive a TON of emails every day and the director may be using this system to keep track of things.

    I am also a director so I have standing to broach the conversation as a helpful, “this is out of our norm you might second think it,” but should I? What do people think? Is this too much for someone to expect from coworkers or is it a reasonable expectation?

    Part of my hesitation with having the conversation is that this director will rebut everything and it turns into a very long, drawn out conversation.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I hate that type of thing. I have had to do it, but that was when I was a new employee coming into a culture where that was expected. Annoying, and I actually got reprimanded more than once, but I knew that was part of the deal of joining a new workplace.

      This guy probably came from a place where such rigidity was expected and he’s now in a new gig and doesn’t feel the need to adjust or adapt. He might get better results if he asks for a compromise, but he has to do it with respect to the culture he joined: “Hey, it will be easier for me to keep track of your emails if you use TEAPOT PROJECT in the subject line, please try to use that wording” and leave it at that.

      I think he’s being unreasonably inflexible, though I think I understand the motivation. But if he wants to win over longstanding employees and colleagues, he will likely have to bend a bit.

    2. Amylou*

      It sounds like he’s using specific keywords to filter or search in his email. Maybe instead of simply demanding people use these specific words, he/you/anyone can explain to the employees who don’t like doing this why he would like this – along the lines of: I use the keywords for email filtering, so I can easily see all emails relating to project X and prioritise accordingly – that’s why I ask you to do this, I will find/get to your email faster that way, making our work easier for the both of us.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Agree with Amylou. I use consistent subject lines in my emails, especially to upper management. They get hundreds of emails and often have to search to find something after only a day or two. Also, key words can be used to autosort incoming emails into separate folders. I do this myself and it saves me SO much effort.

    3. Margery*

      I wish we had this system at work – the amount of emails I receive with no subject headings is one of my total pet hates.

    4. intelligent_zombie*

      I realized I had an important question around this that I don’t know the answer to – if someone isn’t conforming to his request, how does he respond?

      I think I might explore that first as maybe he’s not being as rigid as I’m concerned he is being. It sounds like he’s saying it as a “you must do this” but it might actually be a “it would help me if you did this” type of set up.

    5. Gumby*

      If I might email 40 people in my company and only one has this weird subject line requirement… I’m likely to forget from time to time even if I intend to try his method. So of he’s throwing a fit about people not complying 100% that is, perhaps, a problem.

      But I am much more concerned about “this director will rebut everything and it turns into a very long, drawn out conversation” because that’s not a good sign in anyone. Just because you are near the top of the hierarchy doesn’t mean the ability to take feedback is no longer required.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Try to find out what the goal is that he is reaching for, even if you think you already know the answer still ask him what he is aiming at. What I like about this question is people can get defensive fast and if you find out what his thoughts are first you may be able to direct him to a better/less annoying way to do that. He might feel like it’s a helpful conversation rather than a reprimand of any sort.

      OTH, if it looks like most people are ignoring him, then you might decide this is not something you need to address. Subordinates can some times bend their own boss into conforming just by making it too hard for him to do a particular thing.

  39. Not Using My Regular Username*

    Sigh. Advice, please, on how to deal with the excruciating situation of ‘Having a Crush on A Colleague And It Might Be Reciprocal A Bit’. It’s pathetic. I feel like a teenager despite being well into my 40s. Feel free to tell me to grow up…

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s not pathetic. It’s normal (and, yes, excruciating), and honestly it can make the day go faster. Just try not to make up reasons to visit your crush during the day. :) Picture this person picking their nose. Don’t go to lunch together if you think you might get moony. It will pass!

    2. NicoleK*

      If you do not plan to act on this crush then here’s what I suggest:
      1. Don’t tell anyone about the crush
      2. Don’t tell your crush about the crush
      3. Try to act normal around crush
      4. Don’t create situations to be alone with your crush
      5. Create a pros/cons list about crush

      Now, if you plan to act on your crush then check to see if your work place allows for interoffice dating

      1. Hamburke*

        +1 on the pros/cons list (especially the cons list)! But add things that make the crush “neutral” too.

    3. BRR*

      It’s not pathetic, it’s incredibly common. What helped me was actually envisioning what it would be like to date him. I knew enough about him that when I thought was out time together would be like and how we would handle certain events, I got over it reallllll fasttttt.

    4. J*

      Yeah, not pathetic at all! And super common. Definitely don’t act on/encourage it, and if you can, enjoy it for what it’s worth.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You know, for most of us if we stop something we have to start something else to fill the gaps.
      My suggestion is to ask yourself what you can fill up your day with. Perhaps you can start setting harder to reach goals that mean you have to focus all day long. Perhaps you can ask for a new task to do. I love a new task it makes the day fly by.
      Or maybe there is bigger picture stuff such as you are totally bored with the job and you should have left three years ago. Maybe you can start a job search if that is the case. That would keep me plenty busy.

      Last. Scare the crap out of yourself. Picture your job/home/life falling apart because someone found out that the two of you were actually involved.

    6. NotMyRealNameEither*

      I’m almost 40 and I am in the same situation.

      Although I am not sure if it reciprocal….sometimes I think yes, sometimes no.

      It has inspired me to be better at work though, and make sure I look my best every day!

      Of course, then sometimes I have a day like today when I say something totally stupid to her and then I spend the say feeling like a stupid idiot instead of focusing on my work….

    7. Indie*

      It might help to figure out what situations are feeding the crush as a way of getting control on the growth of the crush.
      It must be some particular kind of interaction because few people fall in love at first sight (although if there is a visual element you might want to realign the sight lines in the office).
      Is it fun conversation? Support with various problems? Has an affectionate friendship sprang up? Instant messaging? Do you spend lots of unstructured time together? (Most colleagues spend more time together than with loved ones, especially if there’s downtime). Do you overhear her being affectionate/awesome to others?
      You can probably reign all this stuff in or remove yourself from personal interactions at work.
      Someone who is professionally supportive can have a similar effect but that interaction is trickier to quit.
      If this crush is something you really want to pursue (after considering the pitfalls of dating a coworker) then try to make sure the feelings are only developed off the clock, on actual dates.
      It is too much pressure to go on a first date when you/your date is already seeing it as a big deal so halting the crush makes sense personally as well as professionally.
      I would take a step back as my first step.

  40. fromscratch*

    Curious about two things related to work travel:
    1) What % would you consider “minimal travel”
    2) What is “normal” for handling business travel expenses and reimbursements?

    I took a job in November and was told in the job description and interview process that there was very minimal travel involved. In the 4 weeks between my final interview and my start date, the process for our team changed so that we travel on site for at least 5 days of a customer’s 60-90 day project. We might have 3 or 4 projects in process at once. One coworker has traveled a few days every week for the last month. Had I known about this during the offer phase, I would have negotiated for significantly more money b/c being gone this much means I need to pay for some at-home support while I’m away.
    On the expense front, the company is only paying for our airfare and hotel up front – we are responsible for paying for everything else and then getting reimbursed – so hotel incidental holds, rental car, all transportation, all food we have to front the cost. I am out $400 from a recent trip and won’t be reimbursed until at least 2 weeks after my return.
    Is this normal? Do you have suggestions on how to phrase my struggle with being asked a)travel more than anticipated and b) to shell out this much of my own cash or credit card balance?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Hmm, this seems outside the norm to me. “Normal travel” may vary by industry, but I’d assume something like one or two trips a year (less than a week), maybe on top of one or two conferences a year. If your job has changed to include significant amount of travel, your company should really be making a corporate credit card available to you. If it’s new, they may just not be aware that this is an issue for you. Be aware, some people strongly prefer to use their own card so they can wrack up points and miles – but if that’s not you, they should be flexible. I would negotiate hard in my employee review for that raise if I were you. You can also be straight with your boss that it’s more travel than you expected and more than you would prefer. If this is a new policy, they may just be running into these things for the first time and perhaps you can raise them politely and get satisfaction.

    2. CatCat*

      1) Traveling every week in the month is definitely not minimal. I would consider minimal to be short-term travel every few months.

      2) Normal. I’m actually impressed with their 2-week turnaround time on reimbursements. Is there an option for a travel advance? I would inquire about that. “Boss, I am incurring a lot more travel expenses for reimbursement than I am comfortable with. When it’s less than $X, that’s okay, but when it’s more than $X, that imposes a burden on my finances. When it looks like travel expenses are going to be more than $X, would it be possible to get a travel advance?”

      On the overall travel issue, “Boss, when I was hired for this job, the travel was described as minimal. However, I have been traveling multiple times every month. Is that something you expect to continue long-term?” If it’s long-term, you can then either decide this isn’t the place for you or inquire further on the travel issue. “Hmmmmm, one of the reasons I accepted this job on the terms that I did is that travel was supposed to be minimal. Is there a path to reducing the amount I am expected to travel or revisit my compensation?”

    3. The Rain in Spain*

      I think there have been letters about work travel that have included some model language. If you have a good relationship with your manager, I would just sit down with him/her and explain the situation- with the recent process changes the job entails much more travel than you initially anticipated, which drastically increases your costs for ____ home support. Also, while you can afford to wait for reimbursement of travel expenses when they are limited, the more frequent travel and delays in reimbursement is making it really difficult for you. What solutions can we come up with for this? If you frame it as asking them for help sometimes that’s useful. Maybe the solution is to see if you can move to a per-diem, or a corporate card for travel expenses, etc.

    4. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Re: reimbursement, I would get a separate credit card and only put business expenses on that. Get one with good rewards. I would say waiting up to a month for reimbursement is reasonable. Agree with asking about an advance, though. My old organization had an option for that (I never used it).

      1. fromscratch*

        I’m paying down credit card debt after a year of underemployment & 3 months outright unemployment, so this is not an option right now. Also, unless I’m also going to be reimbursed for the interest, long reimbursement periods could mean I’m accruing interest on travel expenses and having to pay that out of pocket.

        1. Natalie*

          On a card that isn’t carrying a balance, interest doesn’t start accruing until after the payment due date, which will be anywhere from 3-8 weeks from the purchase date. So with a separate card, if you are being reimbursed in a timely fashion and then paying the bills in a timely fashion, there wouldn’t be any interest charges to pay.

          (Now, whether or not any individual person thinks they should have to do this, or could do this, is a totally separate question and really more a matter of personal choice.)

      2. WellRed*

        I disagree that fronting (also known as loaning) a company money for any length of time is reasonable. A month is ridiculous!

    5. ChachkisGalore*

      Very much agree on #1 – that this does not sound like what I would think of as minimal travel.

      For the expenses, though, this all sounds very “normal” based on my experience (approx 10yrs of admin experience where handling travel/expense reports for my professionals). The only thing that I’ve typically seen covered in advance is rental cars. The rest of it – food, hotel incidental hold and transportation costs I’ve never seen covered up front. I’m not even really sure how that would work unless they were giving you an actual travel per diem – like 75$ a day automatically paid out per day. I haven’t really seen that – even places with a general budget, like $50 for dinner wouldn’t pay those upfront because you wouldn’t be entitled to the excess if your meal was less than $50.

      The only thing you could do, I think, is ask if they can issue you a company credit card. My personal opinion is that any company with employees that travel even semi-regularly should have company credit card arrangements (rather than expecting employees to shell out their own cash to be reimbursed), but that’s just my opinion and there also valid reasons why companies don’t want to take the risk of issuing company CCs.

      1. CM*

        Same. If people are traveling every week then it sounds like frequent travel and the rental car expenses could rack up fast. Most rental cars I’ve had were on a company card whether or not I was tbe card holder so that might be worth talking about, especially since they’re sending you out so often.

    6. Alex*

      It is normal to pay for food and other on-the-spot expenses up front and then get reimbursed later. However, since the travel has greatly increased, I might say “I know that in the past, travel was minimal and so this probably wasn’t an issue, but since travel has now become very routine and frequent, is there a chance I can get issued a company credit card to avoid the spend/reimbursement cycle to make this easier?”

      I’d save the “I deserve more money due to all this travel” for your next performance review/raise conversation.

    7. Stephanie*

      1. It depends on your department. My department is a traveling one and I’m a “light” traveler by only traveling at 30%. But I know this isn’t most departments. I’d say light travel would be like 1-2x a year.
      2. I have a corporate credit card, so all expenses go on that and I have to file an expense report accounting for all the charges. But I work for a MegaCorp. But I have heard of other companies just reimbursing people. If you’ve got the available credit, I’d say put trips like that on a credit card since you know the money will be coming to you shortly. I personally wouldn’t tie up my cash if you can avoid it.

    8. Lucy*

      I do “minimal” travel – less than a week a year. Spouse did “some” travel which ended up being 100+ days a year. His NewJob should be more like a couple of days a month at most. I think that still counts as “minimal” and would be similar to your one week per 60-90-day project if you only had one project at a time.

      As for reimbursement, I agree with others that putting major expenses on the company credit card is normal (and this is a good reason for employers to use a travel agent) but daily incidentals would be reimbursed in the next pay cycle unless special arrangements were needed. Asking for an advance for longer trips ought to be unremarkable especially if they are likely to fall in the wrong part of the credit card cycle. But keep and record absolutely every receipt!

  41. MsChanandlerBong*

    I finally decided to start looking for a new job. I like the people I work with, but there is no room for advancement (there are only six of us, and I report directly to the company founder), I haven’t had a raise since I was hired (despite setting sales records and making huge gains in revenue and profit), and I am doing two or three jobs for the price of one (I was hired to edit and oversee freelancers; I am now running almost all HR functions, writing technical documentation for proprietary software, etc.). I am not afraid of hard work, but I am feeling taken advantage of. Every time there’s a new initiative/idea, it gets added to my to-do list, but my pay has not increased to reflect that. I grew up with parents who think $10 an hour is a high-paying job, so part of me wonders if I am being totally unrealistic by wanting more than $18 an hour. Then another part of me thinks I could make $60K elsewhere for what I do now, with less hassle.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Do it! I think everybody should start looking as soon as they get the sense they could make more elsewhere – there’s just so little incentive for companies to significantly increase salaries when they suspect you’ll stay for the same amount. You’ll either learn that you’re worth more or that you’re fairly paid, so it’s a win win for you to find out.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yeah, I think that’s the best thing to do. I understand it’s a small business and I may not make what I would with a big company, but there is a huge disparity.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        All of this! And remember that looking doesn’t commit you to anything, and looking with a current job you can stand is the best possible position to be in. You can take your time, only pursue things that look really good, and present yourself as a strong candidate in a position to say no.

        Go for it!

    2. The Rain in Spain*

      You can definitely make more elsewhere with all the duties you have. Are you able to sit down with the company founder and outline your accomplishments and ask for a raise? If you’re willing to look elsewhere it’s hard to see what the downside would be!

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        At the end of the year, he always asks for feedback about what would make the job better. I did say that I have taken on more and more responsibilities, produced good outcomes (e.g. I have made major changes to our recruiting and HR policies, resulting in reduced turnover/increased retention, a 41% reduction in late submissions, etc.), and so forth and would like a raise, especially considering that I have no benefits (the company offers $100 per month toward an insurance plan of your choice that you have to buy on the marketplace; my husband work offers comprehensive insurance, so I am covered through him). Haven’t heard anything about it. But it’s been 2.5 years at the same pay rate, so I don’t have much hope.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I have found in my career that some jobs just never offer raises, or they only ever offer very small COLA at the end of the year, nothing else. I feel so sorry for people who don’t realize how much more they are worth, or keep believing someday they will get that boost – when they could make 20K more somewhere else any time. Don’t be one of those people!!

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I am trying not to be! I mentioned in another post that I come from a family of people who think that $10/hour is an amazing pay rate, so I have a lot of issues around money and not wanting to be “selfish” and “greedy.” I can live on what I make, so I think I’d be okay with the pay if there wasn’t more and more and more work every week for no extra money. Also, one thing that annoys me is that payday is supposed to be on the first and fifteenth, but that doesn’t mean I get the money on the first and fifteenth. It means my boss sits down sometime on those days and runs payroll. In many cases, he doesn’t do it until late in the evening, so the direct deposit does not count for that day. Today is payday, but it’s Friday and he hasn’t run payroll yet (I can tell b/c we use ADP, and when I log in, I can see my new pay stub when he’s done it–the stub is not there yet). That means if he does it this evening, it won’t count as being done until Monday because Sat. and Sun. don’t count as business days, and then I won’t get the money in my bank account until Tuesday, which is the fifth of the month. Four days after “payday.”

              1. MsChanandlerBong*

                Yep. The law just states that if you pay semimonthly and have work periods that run from the first through 15th and 16th through last day of the month, you just have to pay wages sometime within the 10 days following the last day of the pay period. So if the pay period ends 1/31, then we can be paid any time between 2/1 and 2/10.

            1. Gumby*

              Just because you can live on your current salary doesn’t make it ok. If you are bringing more value to the company than they are paying you – that’s a problem regardless of what your expenses are.

              The money stories we learn in childhood affect us throughout our lives. I get that it might feel uncomfortable to earn significantly more than parents / family members / your social group. But earning more doesn’t mean you have to spend more or flaunt your excess. It can just sit there quietly providing peace of mind and a safety net. I like to keep 1 year’s worth of living expenses in a savings account (because job searches take time and emergencies happen). It allowed me to make a large cash gift to a family member when it was desperately needed without adding any stress to my own financial picture.

              Having that type of cushion, if you don’t have one now, might also reduce annoyance at later-than-expected paydays.

              And if you absolutely can’t silence the inner voice telling you that you shouldn’t ask for more, maybe commit to donating some percentage of your raise to a cause you care about to help make the asking easier.

    3. CatCat*

      You’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain by looking elsewhere. Especially if you’re being underpaid by over $20k.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yeah, I am going to look around. I volunteer for a large organization, and I would love to be employed by them. Since it’s so large, there would be way more opportunities to move up in the future, and they offer full medical/vision/dental, PTO, life insurance, STD and LTD, training and development opportunities, etc. My company offers no benefits other than $100 a month toward insurance if you buy a plan on the marketplace and a 401(k) with a match equivalent to about $40 a year. I would even be willing to take a pay cut to get my foot in the door with the big organization, as they offer many benefits and there is an established system for moving up and developing a career.

    4. Need a Beach*

      I work closely with people who do only one aspect of your duties (writing technical documentation for proprietary software) and they command twice the hourly rate you’ve listed here.

      You are being taken advantage of.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Thank you for confirming my thoughts! That part of my job is minimal, but I accepted my salary based on the duties of editing freelance submissions, light customer support (answering queries to make sure writers have the information they need to complete each assignment), and so forth. If I had known I would be hiring about 400 people per year (including writing job ads, screening applications, conducting telephone interviews, doing onboarding paperwork, etc.), resolving payroll errors, and so forth, I would have asked for more money.

  42. Anonymous Educator*

    If someone leaves your department and is eventually going to be replaced but the replacement process is likely going to take many months, is it weird for the remaining people to ask for extra money for the time in between for the extra load they’ll take on until the replacement is found? What do orgs usually do with that extra money they aren’t paying in salary and benefits to the person who’s left?

    1. School Inclusion Specialist*

      When I was in the non-profit world, it would be weird to ask. However, when I was working as a teacher, it wasn’t. I see from your username you’re an educator. If you have a union contract, there might be a requirement that if you teach an additional class then you get paid for that additional course or loss of a planning period (but the school may not pay unless you go through the grievance process).

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Yes; it would be very unusual for people to get an increase in salary while they take on extra duties when a position is unfilled. It’s not unheard of in certain situations, but that would not be normal in an office where you’re expected to pick up slack when people are out and perform other duties as assigned.

      The organization saves money while a position is not filled. Sometimes decisions are made to save money by not filling a position.

    3. CatCat*

      Yeah, it would be weird unless it’s higher level work. (Like you’re now doing a significant amount of Senior Teapot Painter work, but you’re a Junior Teapot Painter and being paid at that level. If you’re essentially an acting Senior Teapot Painter, I would inquire then about getting the commensurate pay.)

    4. Asenath*

      Spend it on something else, I strongly suspect. We rarely have someone hired and ready to go when a position becomes vacant, and the general idea seems to be that someone (whoever is in a similar role) will do anything that can’t possibly wait, but most of the work will pile up. And no one gets paid, since almost invariably, no one is hired on a temporary basis to do the work. They certainly don’t pay the people who take care of anything urgent.

    5. Ghost Town*

      Public university employee here:
      In a previous department, I filled in for some of the duties for someone who was below me in the hierarchy. I was an exempt employee covering the duties of a non-exempt employee. These duties were related to my functional area. I did not receive any temporary pay. Temp. pay wasn’t even really brought up. I was also fairly new to the world of work.

      In current department and position, I have actually gotten temp pay twice in the past almost-two-years. (1) essentially launching a new program. Since my primary role include recruitment, the new recruiting I did was not temp pay eligible, but I did get temp pay for the subsequent student affairs and services stuff I took on. (2) Position that is lateral to mine was taking a whole lot longer than anticipated to replace. Director was also new. Suddenly, I was the longest serving professional staff employee. I took on significant portions of open position for a period and received temporary pay for the the smaller subset of time during which the largest amount of my work-week was devoted to not-the-job-I-was-hired-for. I initiated the temp pay discussion this time. New director began to taking on more of the responsibilities as they were able. I imagine they did not receive temp pay, as it was covering duties of their direct report.

      In both instances, the temporary pay came after the additional work was started (or completed) and was a result of Directors advocating for me.

  43. Semi-Helpful Wife*

    Commenting for my husband’s sake! He is a software development with 15 years of experience in the field. He’s been at his current company for 7 years now and was more or less happy there until last year.

    The company merged with another and all of the perks (unlimited vacation days, stock options, etc) went away. The promotion he was promised has been pulled out. We’re grateful that he wasn’t in the group that was laid off last year, but work is becoming less pleasant.

    His question is how does he go about job searching without his employer finding out? Normally he would just reach out to the freezer dozen recruiters he’s connected with on LinkedIn, but he is worried that’s too noisy. I’m not familiar with the tech world (firmly in the legal field here). Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!!

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I know what it’s like. I had two very nasty things happen to me in the last year. I won’t detail them here, but friends and colleagues have advised me a) you’re at a point where you don’t need to work and b) you’re almost 68, you won’t be this age again.

      I informed my management that unless there was a change in my role, I will be leaving on a particular date. Oddly enough, some things have changed in the last two weeks, but we’ll see.

      I’ll either be working or sipping rum swizzles on the beach. But I couldn’t do that five years ago. I can do it now.

    2. Mockingjay*

      If he is connected with current coworkers and managers on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media, I advise that he quietly unfriend them. If they ask, “oh, just cutting back on social media these days.” Also check LinkedIn privacy settings. If he updates his profile, uncheck the option that posts profile updates.

      For recruiters, rather than connecting through LinkedIn, he should be able to make contact via their corporate website – email or phone. Do a quick search on the recruiting companies before contacting them; some are more professional than others. Look for ones that handle specifically IT services companies.

      I got Current Job through a recruiter who found me on LinkedIn. They handled all contacts with me very professionally.

    3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      On LinkedIn, you can turn off newsfeed updates for your profile changes, so if you go in and clean up your profile it won’t notify your connections.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Decent recruiters know to keep their mouths shut about who the candidates are. If he sends a message to them and includes the phrase “confidential search”, that will just reinforce the norm of discretion.

      If the recruiter is an internal one to his company of course, don’t reach out to them!

    5. Angelinha*

      If he’s already connected to the recruiters on LinkedIn, how would his employer have any idea that he’s contacting them? Even if he weren’t already connected to them and was making new connections, I doubt an employer would notice or think, “hey, Joe is suddenly connected with 10 recruiters, he must be job hunting.”

      1. Darren*

        I’ve been working for my tech company for 5 years now, I’ve probably had 2-3 recruiters added to my LinkedIn per year, nobody has made a comment, and most of them have also been added by a lot of the upper management anyway. None of these people having added recruiters has made any movement to leave that anyone is aware of. I expect it’s mostly building a stable of options for people to talk to once they decide to move on.

    6. ArtsTix*

      My husband is in Unix systems administration and all he has to do is update his LinkedIn profile – probably a dozen recruiters hit him up every time he does. He’s super happy with his current job but the last 2 times he’s moved, this was sufficient to find him the next place.

    1. Rebecca*

      Roasted pistachios, yogurt, carrots, hummus, apples and cheese sticks, that type of thing – keeps me out of regular snacks for the most part.

    2. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Freeze dried strawberries. It sounds weird, but I’m addicted. Other than that, cheese cubes (not sure if those count).

      1. kittymommy*

        I do freeze dried bananas (so yummy!!) although I think I’m developing an allergy to bananas. Ehh, I’ll still eat them until it really gets going. And bare naked Simply Banana chips. Also really good and no added sugar and not to hard.

        And hard boiled eggs.

    3. The Rain in Spain*

      String cheese or yogurt, graze snacks (individually packaged), nuts, frozen edamame, kale chips, roasted chickpeas
      cereal and soup for days I forget/don’t want to pack lunch

    4. CatCat*

      I keep a bowl full of fruit in my office. I also bring in hardboiled eggs and sometimes carrot sticks.

    5. Lady Kelvin*

      I make my own trail mix. Some granola cereal, mixed nuts and/or peanuts, dried cranberries (because I like them better than raisins), a bag of M&Ms. We buy all the pieces individually at Sam’s club and then build at home so the cost is a fraction of what buying the pre-mixed trail mix is. Another tasty addition is shelled sunflower seeds, when we can find them.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I do this too and then pack in single-serve containers. I like a simple mix of Cheerios, honey roasted peanuts, and mini chocolate chips or those little baking M&Ms. A banana or sliced up apple helps with sugar cravings (in theory; I have never found this to be true, but I do make myself eat the fruit before anything less healthy).

        I also like the combo of plain almonds and Goldfish crackers. Note that a serving of almonds is ~23-28 actual almonds, which is not many at all so you should definitely count them out. Do not accidentally eat 3x that many in one sitting, and definitely don’t do that for several days in a row, and really don’t ask how I know that. :-(

    6. Applesauced*

      I have a portion control problem (but really, is there someone out there that WON’T finish the bag of Trader Joe’s Sesame Sticks if given the opportunity?), so I got baby food containers and measure out single servings of trail mix, homemade granola, dried fruit, and nuts, and will leave a few cheese sticks, Siggi’s yogurts, cut veggies and hummus or guac, hardboiled eggs in the fridge, and for breakfast (which I eat at my desk so kiiiiinda fits your question I have Belvita bars, overnight oats, or chia pudding.

    7. JustaTech*

      Herbal tea (“you must have two cups of tea before a snack” is my personal rule to make sure I’m not just thirsty/bored).
      Trader Joe’s dried Mandarin slices. Yes, dried oranges. They’re weird, but they’re very strongly flavored which keeps me from mindlessly eating the whole bag.

    8. Other Duties as Assigned*

      This was a topic when I was at a conference of broadcast reporters years ago. The conference always brought in a speaker on some adjacent topic and one year it was “Healthy Eating in the Newsroom.” The organizers brought in a nutritionist from the university who proceeded to reject pretty much everything we all were doing while at work. On the banned list: coffee, soda, fast food, donuts, salty snacks, candy, etc., etc. In frustration, someone asked if she could recommend something that would be healthy, easy to eat on the go and would be ok to have around our broadcast equipment. She responded that there were a couple of cereals we could eat dry right out of the box: mini-wheats and grape nuts. All I could think of was how the great comedian George Miller referred to these: hay and little rocks.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        I love grapenuts (try adding them to yogurt so good) and I have tried eating them dry…don’t do that. I did go the hot cereal route and put in hot water and that isn’t bad. Also they are tiny and can get everywhere and are loud if eaten on the dryer side.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      crackers (take your pick). I’m more of a toddler, so animal crackers, goldfish crackers, graham crackers, etc. Sometimes end up with a package of diced fruit in the desk.

    10. Alex*

      I typically bring two pieces of fruit with me to work every day. I also keep a package of nuts at my desk, an emergency granola bar, and some emergency packets of oatmeal.

    11. Is my boss here?*

      almonds, pistachios, whole-wheat crackers, a piece of fruit brought fresh daily. may counteract the effect of the doughnut avalanche in that place.

  44. Lynne879*

    This might have been something asked in a AAM letter before, but how do you “dress up” to look older?

    I’m in my mid-20s but look like I’m in my early-20s. That might not sound like a big deal, but I do notice that I’m not taken as seriously when they think I’m younger than I really am. The dress code for the job I have right now is casual but for the future, how do I dress myself to “look older”? My go-to interview look is black slacks with a buttoned blouse, but I wonder if that isn’t “mature” enough. Do you guys have any tips?

    1. Almost Academic*

      I don’t know what it is, but adding a nice silk scarf has always “matured” my look for other folks. In general, accessories that are associated with older generations (brooches, pantyhose, etc.) can help to dress up a look but still keep it somewhat casual.

      1. Indie*

        Yep, silk scarves are rarely worn by the under 25s. Plus they cover a multitude of wardrobe sins. Look up how Audrey/Grace used to wear them. You need to know how to do a bias fold though.

        Otherwise look for anything ‘classic’ as opposed to ‘fashionable’ or ‘current’. Once people have lived through a few fashion cyces they stop caring and go for more expensive, but more permanent pieces. I think deliberately not reading women’s magazines is helpful.

    2. The Rain in Spain*

      I think your interview look sounds fine, maybe add a blazer/suit jacket. But I’ve *always* suited up for interviews (which in retrospect was probably a bit much in undergrad!). I think it depends on your industry and what’s typical there. What do more ‘mature’ people wear at your job/dream job?

      Generally I do think of these sorts of things, but it bothers me that this is what springs to mind and maybe I’m just thinking along the lines of more conservative rather than mature: dress in solids vs fun patterns more often, wear a cardigan/blazer, minimize accessories, if you wear makeup go for more ‘classic’ or subdued looks, opt for longer hemlines if you wear skirts/dresses. Stand/sit with good posture (she says as she’s hunched over her computer).

      For me when I felt I needed to step it up I changed the stores I typically shopped at- goodbye forever 21 and express, hello ann taylor and the limited (which isn’t to say that you can’t find work appropriate clothes at the former!). I don’t know, for some reason this question makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Wear work-appropriate clothes you like that aren’t see-though or super revealing and you should be fine! Particularly once you’re in a role, people will learn through interacting with you that you are competent and what not. Maybe suit up for your interviews if it’ll make you feel more confident.

    3. CatCat*

      Keep it professionally conservative. I think more conservative clothes will help. Wear a professional, simple (not unusual sleeves or detailing) black jacket with the slacks. Think dress type collared shirt in white or muted colors. I think a simple strand of pearls also adds a nice bit of mature polish.

      Make sure the clothes are well-tailored to fit you.

    4. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      As a fellow mid-20s who looks much younger, I usually go for the exact outfit you described, plus a dark-colored blazer, plus hair up and neat (i have very curly, unruly hair, so a bun works wonders) and some nice, neutral dangly earrings. Can’t speak for if this actually works or if it just makes me FEEL older, but it’s worth a try! Also, a really nice mauve lipstick.

    5. ANon.*

      For interviews, I would always dress up. But for work, personally, I think just being really put together will help make you appear older. This means smart accessories, clothes that are clean, not wrinkled or ripped, etc. Blazers are great even in a casual office, like with jeans, boots, and a silk blouse.

    6. fposte*

      In addition to what other people have said, there are black slacks and black slacks. Well tailored in wool is going to look different than off the rack in poly. I would definitely check with a tailor to see if there are opportunities to smooth fit that you haven’t realized.

      1. kittymommy*

        I was just going to say this. Having the slacks, blouses and blazers tailored to fit you will, surprisingly, do wonders. And as someone else said, changing wear you shop for clothes can also help (obviously depending on where you are currently shopping at).

    7. Seifer*

      I have that issue too–when I started working at my current job, a lot of people asked my friend that referred me, “is… how old is Seifer? You said you worked with her before, and you have to be at least 21 to work here, but uh, is she even 18?” I’m 27 this year. The cry-laugh emoji was invented for this situation, I swear.

      What helped me though, is that my first boss is 29 this month, and my current boss is 31, and they also look pretty young, but they’re the ones that are In Charge in an office full of Boomers, so I looked to them to see what they were doing differently. And honestly, one of the biggest things was that their clothes are well fitting and shirts are always tucked in. So I picked up a bunch of those Portifino shirts from Express and started tucking them into black skinny pants. Even though the skinny cut of my pants is not as formal, I find that a higher waist and the hidden clasp closure (instead of a button, like on jeans) makes it look more professional. If I really need it (vendor visit, client meeting, C-suite meeting), I also have a blazer to throw on. For an interview, I’d definitely do the blazer, but if it was in the summer, I’d still go without. But since then, I’m known around the office as “yeah Seifer, she gets shit done” instead of “Seifer with the tattoos” or “Seifer, she looks like she’s like, twelve.” …Actually, I still get “Seifer with the tattoos,” but that’s because I roll my sleeves up a lot.

      Oh, and shoes. I wear wedge booties almost exclusively. I like the ones that lace up, and I have a pair in black and in gray. I prefer for people not to literally be talking down to me, and I am just so, so short, so I feel like I need it. I do not wear stiletto heels, because while I can walk in them, after a few hours, I want to die, and my roommate says that that shows in my face. When you look uncomfortable, well, people think that you’re uncomfortable! That affects how you’re perceived too. The more comfortable you are, the more confident you look, and that goes a long way in looking more mature and competent.

      I apologize if this is super, super basic, but I figured, well, I didn’t know either when I started working at this job, and I had already had a business casual dress coded job before this job. Of course, at my last job, I was very whatever about it and wore v-necks and black jeggings with Vans and called that professional and was Offended when people would tell me, “well honey, you look like you’re 17.” You can’t tell, but I’m cringing at my past self. So I really hope this helps!

    8. Stephanie*

      I think the key is to err a bit conservatively. Or at the very least, make sure things fit, aren’t too sheer, are clean, and are of decent quality.

    9. Kiki*

      Tailoring and accessories are the first two that come to mind. An outfit that doesn’t fit makes the wearer look like they’re playing dress-up. Having accessories helps finish the look and also can help remove the “playing dress-up” vibe. You don’t need to go crazy with the amount or cost of the accessories— just adding a watch can make a great deal of difference.

    10. CW*

      I would consider buying one nice suit or a Blazer and two matching skirts to wear to your interviews. Adding a Blazer really ups the formality, especially since a white shirt and black pants can seem a little waiter like. I would also recommend sticking on the more formal side with jewelry so thinking of pearls or simple studs rather than anything dangly or more trendy. I don’t think any of it needs to be super expensive but that type of quiet, formal conservative look can really add a few years. Also recommend adding pantyhose and keeping your hair pulled back in a bun. If you wear glasses I would opt for glasses over contacts for these as well.

    11. La Framboise*

      And also, really nice shoes, doesn’t have to be brand but should look sharp. Either flats, heels, oxfords (if you like menswear look), or boots/booties. Also scarves and nice jewelry-i would take something incredibly stylish that you like over classic. And what everyone else has said about color, tailoring, and fit.

  45. Rebecca*

    I’ve been waiting for this! We have a lot of turnover in our office, and several of my coworkers are at their wit’s end with a newer hire from earlier last year. She’s just not progressing to where she needs to be, and it may be this isn’t a good fit for her skill set. Some of the concerns: she prints nearly every email she receives, hand writes notes and replies on the paper printout, then types and sends a reply to the email. Everything she does is slow, to the point where she takes hours or days to do tasks that should take a fraction of the time. When it was noticed she was opening attachments, saving them to a folder, then reattaching them to an email (instead of just dragging the attachment from one email to another), she flatly stated she wasn’t going to learn any of these “new fangled” things. She is also very sensitive, so if you try to say “oh hey, here’s an easier way to do this, let me show you” or “the next time before you proceed, please make sure you check with me like I asked you to”, she feels people are being mean to her. Any criticism, no matter how constructive, makes her anxious and upset.

    And since I’ve been reading this blog for a while now, I advised the coworker who was complaining to me (note, I am a peer, don’t work with this person, and it doesn’t affect my world one way or the other) to make sure they address this with the person training her and their manager, and to frame it that way – I’m finding Jane performs tasks with a lot of extra steps, that are not necessary, and has not been receptive to training and streamlining suggestions, can you step in and take a look? To be clear, this person’s behavior does affect others because she’s not available to help or pitch in with work that needs to be done. To complicate things, the person training her is a longtime friend…so their opinion is very skewed…and they don’t want to seem like they’re throwing their friend under the bus, so to speak.

    We’re about to get pretty busy again, so when push comes to shove, this person is going to have to step up or it’s going to be noticed, one way or the other. I’m curious to see how this shakes out.

    1. NicoleK*

      Well, if the manager is conflict avoidant….what will happen is slow coworker will continue to be slow, people will have to pick up her slack, and she’ll still be at the job 6 years from now. I have my own BEC slow coworker that I deal with on a regular basis.

        1. NicoleK*

          I feel sorry for your coworkers who have to work with her. I totally get it. It’s so frustrating when nothing gets addressed or there’s no accountability. Ever.

    2. Val Zephyr*

      Some of the stuff that you’re concerned about sounds inconsequential. Why does it matter how she attaches documents to emails as long as they get attached? And some people think better by hand writing their notes before typing them. What you perceive as her being “very sensitive” might just be her being annoyed about being told how to do very minor things that can be done in a dozen different ways. If you have legitimate concerns about the speed at which she completes assignments because it’s interfering with your own work, focus on that rather than criticizing the details of her workflow.

      1. Rebecca*

        It doesn’t interfere with my work. I don’t work on her team. But this does affect the others on her team, as in, they’re overwhelmed and handling 4x the amount of items she handles. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it takes her an entire day to do something the other team members (including one hired at the same time with less experience in our field) can handle in 2 hours or less. There are more streamlined and efficient ways to do things, and she refuses to do them, and that’s most of the reason her tasks take so long. For me, I’m staying out of it, and I referred the coworker who was complaining to this blog, and gave some of Alison’s tips to help her approach the trainer and manager.

      2. WellRed*

        If her workflow means it takes her hours to do that which should take minutes, it’s not inconsequential. I’d also guess these smaller things are just the tip of the iceberg. And spare me the adult who thinks constructive criticism is “mean.”

        1. Val Zephyr*

          My point is I don’t think this kind of criticism is constructive. It’s nitpicky. If this is just the tip of the iceberg, I think Rebecca should focus on the iceberg itself rather than her preferred method of attaching documents to emails.

          1. Rebecca*

            This is really the crux of it “she flatly stated she wasn’t going to learn any of these “new fangled” things” I don’t really care how she attaches anything to her emails. I don’t work with her. This was just an example – she refuses to learn new ways of doing things because…reasons?? This is how she’s always done things and no matter how long it takes, she wants to continue and not do things more efficiently.

            As said before – I am not affected by her work or lack of it, as she doesn’t work on my team. But I am sympathetic to the rest of her team. She needs to step up. That’s why I asked my coworker to present this to this person’s trainer and manager to address. It’s not useful to have the attitude to not learn new things!

      3. NicoleK*

        The “inconsequential” things add up. My BEC slow coworker takes 3 times as long to complete tasks. I’ll spare you the details of the things she does. Ultimately, the team picks up her slack because she can’t carry her own weight and will never be able to carry her own weight.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      She can be encouraged to find ways to increase her speed so she is carrying her share of the workload. It goes like this, “Jane, I understand some short cuts are not for you and it’s okay if you do not use a particular shortcut. However, the overarching idea is that we all have to find ways to increase our speed and productivity. So you will need to find ways to increase your productivity to match your peers. It’s fine not to use ours but then you must create your own.”

      When I have said this to people, the ones who are going to improve either actually DO create their own methods of doing things or they start to quietly ask their peers, “What was that tip about doing Xs faster?” However, some people are totally disconnected from their outputs and will not change. In a group where everyone was doing between 300-400 Xs per day, my person was doing 6. And she defended her low productivity to the bitter end. “But I am doing good!” noooo.

      I considered my phrasing that I used in my first paragraph here to be my last ditch effort to save a sinking ship. You know, it’s never ceased to amaze me the people who would let me help them and the people who would NOT let me help them. Some of the people that I thought would never, ever get it, finally got it after we chatted like this. There is just no way to know how something will play out until the person is told directly, “you must get your productivity up”.

    4. bunniferous*

      For some reason I never realized you could drag attachments from one email to another… just helped ME with productivity!

  46. Not a Real Giraffe*

    I know this question has been answered before but it never applied to me, so I scrolled past. Silly Giraffe.

    I am going to be a first-time manager; I will have one direct report. On top of all the nervousness of being a first-time manager, my main issue is that my direct-report-to-be is actually my closest friend at work. This is the person I talk to on IM throughout the day; we socialize outside of work; we follow each other on social media.

    I know the answer should be that I am going to have to pull back on our friendship if I’m to be an effective manager, but that’s also not quite the culture of my office. Lots of managers and direct reports here have incredibly close friendships.

    So, without severing my friendship entirely, any advice on how to tip-toe this fine line between friendship and management?

    1. School Inclusion Specialist*

      One of the first Ask a Manager podcasts was on this topic. If I remember correctly, the LW was the person who was going to be managed by the friend. I think it would still have helpful tips.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Keep your friend stuff strictly friend stuff, if that makes sense? When I’m having casual/friendly conversations with my direct reports, it’s got to be about non-work topics. So, sure, we could bond over Top Chef or whatever, but the professional piece stays professional.

    3. PWK*

      Have you thought about having a discussion with your supervisee/friend about this? I might explicitly tell them that I’m feeling weird about my new supervisory role and how our relationship will change. I’d also emphasize that we have to be careful about perceptions of favoritism at work.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Honestly, you can’t. If that’s the culture of your office, that’s hugely problematic. Reasons why:

      I know (from firsthand experience!) that it’s really easy to think that you’re both mature enough for this to go okay, but generally people think that right up until the moment it stops being true. And being a new manager is hard enough (and, frankly, full of failures — no way around that) without throwing in the challenges of managing a friend as well. You really do need to pull back on the friendship in order to do the job effectively.

      If you see other friend-managers in your office and think that’s a sign it’s okay, I guarantee it’s causing problems that you aren’t seeing. Your office may not care, but that’s a sign of dysfunction. So if nothing else, I would say to be really careful about not picking up dysfunctional thinking around this that you’ll carry forward to later jobs.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Sigh. You’re riiiiiiight. I read through the transcript of the podcast noted above and the “friendly but not friends” is my big takeaway, I think.

        We’re hoping to spend a day outlining the expectations of the role (because on top of everything else, this is a brand new position to the company), so part of that conversation is going to have to focus on how we relate and interact — and how that will change.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          I’ve worked in cuddly nonprofits where building personal relationships is encouraged, so I’ve been the employee who’s “friends” with the boss and also, the boss who’s “friends” with the employee. And I’ve also been in situations where someone who can’t walk that line turns it into a giant disaster.

          My advice would be that, in a boss/employee “friendship” the people both acknowledge the parameters of the other’s job, and that anything within those parameters is not personal. Ex: if I lose the TPS report and my boss’s boss is livid, boss is going to have to write me up, because that’s her job. And it’s my job to follow all of the other rules and regulations of my job, and directions my boss gives, even if I don’t like them. It’s my boss’s job to understand and respect that there are going to be some personal things that I can’t share with her, not because I don’t like her, but because I respect that she’s my boss and may have to make a business decision using that information. And in turn, we both respect that any personal information exchanged shouldn’t be used for personal gain. Usually, this works out- people build a relationship that’s based on knowing the acceptable parameters, trusting the other person to do their job correctly, and respecting that boundary appropriately.

          For the people where it didn’t work out, it failed when people started playing favorites or equating work with friendship. Giving someone plum assignments, or letting them escape consequences, or allowing them to do something blatantly against the rules under the guise of friendship, leveraging personal favors (I helped you move) in exchange for work things (so you have to go to this offsite meeting I don’t feel like), or oversharing information with each other and then using information that was shared in confidence to gain an edge against the other. Those were the situations where things ended badly.

          I hope this helps!

    5. CM*

      I don’t think it can work in the long term, because friendship requires equality and you moving into management will disrupt the balance of power. That said, the most harmonious approach is one where you respect each other as colleagues who have different roles and minimize the hierarchical parts of it. But even if you do that there will probably come a day when you have to choose between your responsibility to the org and your responsibility to your friend. Neither choice is wrong but you won’t be able to do both.

      1. Community mental health for the win!*

        My friend was promoted to my supervisor after working together for 3 years. First thing, we talked about the pitfalls of the new arrangement. I came right out and told her my weaknesses and what I saw as my strengths and we discussed how to talk about these things in the future. No longer my supervisor, but still my friend!

    6. ReallyReallyAnon*

      I wonder about this a lot, because there is a coworker I’d really like to date. We’re already pretty friendly but I haven’t screwed up the courage to suggest that we date (and I have no idea if she would be into that). In the back of my mind is that there is potentially a path where she would be my boss, OR I would be hers, depending on how things shook out. I could see it going either way (or neither way, totally possible).

      What happens if the person you are dating suddenly becomes your boss? Everyone says to “pull back on the friendship” so…do you break up? Because wow, that’s even more awkward….

      To be clear, dating is allowed in my workplace. Several marriages have been the result of intraoffice dating, actually!

      1. Jasnah*

        This is exactly why relationships and power differences shouldn’t mix. Your office shouldn’t allow you to manage each other if you’re dating.

    7. nym*

      I successfully navigated a former teammate becoming my boss a few years ago. What it ended up meaning was that we both pulled back a bit into manager-supervisee roles and stopped going out to lunch, and then a few years later when I was no longer working for her, we reestablished the friendship. For the four years I worked for her, I didn’t ask her to cat-sit, and we didn’t go out to lunch unless it was a team thing with everyone. Now we’re back to grabbing lunch one on one and having her babysit my cats when I leave town!

      So the pulling back is going to be important, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be deeper friends again in the future.

  47. Almost Academic*

    Tips for building better work habits?

    I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of being unproductive while at work / at my desk. I really need to do better at actually doing my work, but for some reason sitting down and just getting it done isn’t clicking. I’ve tried behavioral reinforcements, scheduling specific times in my calendars, prioritizing to-do lists the night before, and for some reason it just…doesn’t work? I like my job, so it’s not a lack of interest either. I just get easily sidetracked by other more immediately reinforcing things (like chatting with friends on the internet). I definitely don’t have ADD/ADHD. Folks with general delayed gratification / concentration / motivation issues, tips for how to just *get things done*? Or build up better work habits, when you haven’t had them for a while and switching jobs/location isn’t an option?

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Some kind of reward system has always worked for me. E.g., “I’ll look at Sara’s cat pics after I’ve worked on this report for half an hour” or “I’m not allowed to get tea until I’ve emailed out this request.” Working first thing in the morning also helps. If I can focus for the first hour or two, I find the rest of the day is way more productive.

    2. The Rain in Spain*

      I block my calendar with tasks I need to get done each day. Once I handle them I move the appointment to a follow-up date and it’s SO SATISFYING to watch my day ‘open up.’ Then once I’ve done everything I’m allowed to read some news/etc and then handle new issues as they arise. Or even start on the next day’s tasks :)

    3. Birch*

      I know this struggle. I think making to-do lists helps–and I mean ridiculously tiny tasks, like “respond to Jane’s email” and “write one paragraph on x” and “read this one document” (or “read one page of this document”). That combined with small Pomodoro sessions, like give yourself 10 mins to read the document and then take a break. There are ways to cheat, of course, so it’s not foolproof. Have you tried wesbite blockers?

    4. Overeducated*

      Do you have…enough to do? When I get unproductive, it’s usually because I am a little bored and underutilized, or I feel like the work I have to do is very unimportant. Getting some more or bigger tasks on my plate tends to help a lot.

      1. Lucy*

        I find there’s a sweet spot – too little or too much on my to-do list and my attention wanders.

      2. Almost Academic*

        I definitely have enough to do, but none of it is urgent. I think after a work life of *too much* to do at all times and all of it on urgent timetables, the slowdown might be impacting my motivation more than I think. Adding some tasks might make me more efficient anyways, thanks for the food for thought.

    5. Weegie*

      I experienced this for a while last year. The only thing that worked was DEADLINES! And external ones at that: self-imposed ones were not effective. Could you ask someone else to set some deadlines for various tasks? And then hold you to account?

    6. CMart*

      I’m a work in progress (hello! commenting from my desk), but it’s helped a little bit for me to have identified the underlying reasons behind my lack of productivity and to set some principle-based goals.

      Reasons for being a slacker:
      – Not enough work to do
      – Not many concrete deadlines
      – Very little oversight (lots of trust, “as long as the work gets done”)
      – The work is kind of boring
      – I know I’m moving on soon (changing departments in 6 months)
      – I’m honestly a pretty fast worker which exacerbates the first point
      – Kind of lazy
      – Don’t want to ask for more work to do, lest it mean I suddenly end up with zero downtime (the horror!)

      Principle-based goals:
      – Develop better work habits/focus (for when, someday, I have more/interesting work to do)
      – Be considered a good/great worker
      – Have concrete things to show for my work (not just having performed the transactional tasks)

      I truly WANT to be a better worker! But I also value getting to