open thread – February 15-16, 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.

{ 1,702 comments… read them below }

  1. dorothy_parker*

    Anyone have advice for dealing with a boss’ who’s moods rules how she interacts with her team? I’m on a small team and my manager clearly thinks of herself as direct when, in reality, she’s rude and condescending. Good example, my coworker went to join in a conversation our manager was having with a colleague not on our team. This coworker can overstep on office norms and involve herself when not asked. However, my boss handles this not by simply saying, “Joey, I’ve got this, you can refocus on what you’re working on.” And instead, throws her hand out and waves her away with a snippy, “you don’t need to be here”. This happens often with all of us and it’s frustrating because you never know how she’ll react to simply questions (sometimes you get long, condescending over-explainers, other times, she’ll be super nice and give a simple nod). She also gets superdefensive and is a crappy communicator so more than once, she has not handed projects off to me then suddenly asks me what their status is. She gets very rude if someone points out an error she made, no matter how legit. I like my job, love my company, but I don’t know how much longer I can stay in this role because of her.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      That sounds terrible. I wouldn’t want to put up with it either.
      And it’s something that I don’t think you can fix. The best you can do is find a way to ignore it or not let it bother you – if all the good things about the job outweigh this terrible one.

    2. Moonbeam Malone*

      Since she’s not a good communicator, documentation is always your friend. It’s not going to be a magic bullet that fixes everything, but if nothing else it helps your sanity to look back at your own notes and know the score beyond a doubt. Get things in writing from her when possible.

      As far as when she launches into the over-explainers, it might help to just take a step back and say, “This isn’t what /I/ need, but it’s what /she/ needs for whatever reason, so I will wait patiently and nod my head, and give her what she needs from me.” (The fact this is inconsistent might make it a little harder to deal with, though. I had a boss who was more consistent about this so it was easy to train myself to view his sorta-not-relevant-lectures as something he did for his own reassurance and shrug it off as part of his communication style.)

      I don’t know if this is a fixable situation for you long term. But shifting your perspective a little might help make it more bearable?

      1. Auntie Social*

        I would also time and date stamp whatever she gave me. So when she asks me for an update of something she gave me before lunch, I can say “Remember you gave it to me at 10:00 today, but so far I’ve done X.”

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      She’s your boss, so unless she’s being outright abusive (eg, yelling), your options are limited. Some possible methods:
      1) Be proactive on updates – tell her you’ll give a status of your projects X times / week (x usually = 1 or 2), then follow through. If she asks where a project is, say, ‘No big changes since the last status’ or ‘I’ll let you know in tomorrow’s status’.
      2) Practice not caring about her ‘snippiness’ . Deep breaths, pivot the conversation to next work topic or solution, focus on the work-relevant content, not the delivery method. This is hard and takes practice, I’m working on it with my new team lead right now.
      3) Dig into why you’re reacting so strongly. Listen to Alison’s interview on tone, etc (because the “you don’t need to be here” reaaaaaly depends on tone to be either brisk/cheerful or snippy). If your team does professional development, consider presenting it or asking for something like it to be presented.

      I’ve totally been told “you don’t need to be here” in a cheerful manner and walked on, happy to get out of Yet Another Meeting so that I can get on to work. But I can also understand how tone can make that snippy, so I don’t doubt you at all. But, if she’s short with a co-worker who has a history of over-stepping, is that really rude of her, or just setting a boundary again (and again and again)? If you can dig into why that bothered you some, it may help with not caring.

      In the end, you may not be compatible with her management style, but what you’re describing is pretty mild.

      1. irene adler*

        Just to add to #1: ask pointedly, “Are there any other projects I should be working on? Can you bring me up to speed on those, please?”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think Alison would say to get several of your coworkers together and go to HR. Have a couple examples lined up and be able to estimate the frequency of occurrence.

      Perhaps you can find a department to transfer to?

      Definitely set a time frame for how long you will tolerate this.

      1. Not A Manager*

        But what would they say to HR? “Our boss is sometimes snippy and she over-explains things?” The only thing I see here that would immediately impact productivity is her forgetting to assign projects.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        HR isn’t going to bother with complaints that sometimes a boss tells you to stop butting into conversations or is snapping on occasion.

        Unless she’s using things against you in reviews or abusive, you’re going to look like a high maintenance problem team rallying together and storming HR. Which will get you a few internal eyerolls and a “we’ll look into it” and their investigation will be nothing.

    5. Just Elle*

      “Other peoples feelings are not your your responsibility”
      Or whatever that quote is.
      I don’t think you can ‘fix’ her, but you can manage your own reaction and choose to let her rudeness/jerk behavior/mean comments roll off your back.

      Another tactic is ‘extreme ownership’. The point is to avoid putting her on the defensive by not accusing her of anything. Instead of “um, lady, you never even told me I needed to do this” you can try saying “Hm, I apologize but I don’t have any notes on that. Would you mind taking some time to help me get started?”
      I know what you’re thinking: you want her to know its not your fault. But you arguing that its not your fault isn’t going to change her mind anyway. Its just not the way her brain works. But sometimes taking responsibility switches their mindset into being kinder, “oh hey, now now, its not ALL your fault, maybe I could have done Y better.”
      It works like a less extreme version of this: If someone is yelling at you “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT” and you say “Yes, you’re right, its my fault, and I’m going to do xyz to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” The situation is automatically diffused. I mean seriously, what are they going to do? They can’t argue because you’re agreeing with them.

      1. LilySparrow*

        This is kind of the track I was going to suggest, but for my own sanity I avoid falsely taking on blame.

        Instead, I do — for want of a better word — the virtuous flipside of “forced teaming.” I place the problem (the unfinished project, the lack of instruction) outside of both of us, and act as if this external problem is something we are solving together.

        Boss: “You didn’t send this important document to the client!”
        You: (Thinking: What document? You never gave me any document for that client.) Out loud: “Oh, no! Which document is missing? How quickly can we finalize it?”

        Boss: “What is the status on Project X?”
        You: (Thinking: I asked you to give me access to Project X, but you never did.) Out loud: “Let me check my notes, I think it was on hold until the access got transferred from you to me. Do we have that set up yet?”

        The important part is to make the problem totally an objective external issue, not passing the blame onto another coworker. Passive-voice language helps with that.

        The downside of this approach is that it makes blamey bosses like you, because you help them save face. And having blamey bosses like you is a mixed blessing. But if you like the job for other reasons and are trying to ride out their tenure, advance past them, or transfer away from them, this kind of thing can help you get through the day.

        1. Just Elle*

          I like the idea of externalizing it. The extreme ownership concept comes in more for someone in a leadership roll, since it really IS all your fault at that point. But externalizing is probably a better option if you’re a report.

          I will say, its way way better to have a blamey boss like you than have them not like you. Because when something really does go wrong, you’ve built up a small reserve of goodwill. And because like it or not you still need to work with them and its exhausting to be at odds with your boss. And because your boss still does do your performance reviews, etc. Just don’t fall into the buddy-buddy trap where its you+boss against all coworkers. Thats not healthy either.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Have you tried talking to her about it? Talking to her in the moment that it happens isn’t a good idea, but I would set up a meeting and have a discussion. Don’t be accusatory, but more “this is how you are coming across”. I realize this is not an easy task, but I believe in starting with the source. You can’t change any behavior unless it’s addressed. You are all adults and should be treated as such, and a manager being rude and condescending IMO is a worse offense than if it’s coming from a co-worker. If a conversation doesn’t change anything, or things get worse, escalate it.

    7. JustAskingForAFriend*


      It has taken me a few YEARS to get to the point where I realize now that it is completely her issue and that for some reason, she thinks this is what managers “get to do” or “should do.” I think a lot of times it’s because they had a poor manager.

      It boils down to communication and what I’ve started doing is documenting everything. She’s not someone you can talk to, so that isn’t a valid option for me. I think it’s also a bit of control-freak when someone can’t hear about an error they made. Does she also not recognize your successes? Fuss when you don’t do something “her way” even though your way is also effective?

      What I can add is: Stay strong on what you are good at. Give yourself performance reviews so that way you are confident in what you’re doing well. I let horrible boss control my emotions too long and I lost a lot of confidence and now feel queasy any time something is wrong because I assume it’s my fault. And looking for a new job doesn’t hurt – maybe talk to a headhunter and be really specific about what you want. Since you’re currently getting a paycheck you have the ability to be choosy! Good luck :)

    8. Roses Angel*

      My boss is very similar. Everyone in my department double checks by emailing her to have everything in writing. Shes still a nightmare to deal with for other reasons.

    9. Clever Alias*

      If you love your job and your company, I think you owe it to yourself to try some of the suggestions here to see if you can make the situation tenable.

      But I also think its sometimes okay to admit defeat and realize Your Boss Is Not Going to Change and your sanity (and sometimes dignity) is not worth losing if you stick around. I’ve lost both of mine in a similar situation and am now trying to get our after 4+ years of trying.

    10. T*

      Yikes had a bad manager like this, there is no way to manage this type of boss because they shouldn’t be a manager. If you love the company move to another position and get as far from her as possible. My boss would do the same thing, she would “forget” to assign projects then blame me to the higher ups for not working on it. If you called her out it was a lose-lose situation, even if done calmly. I explained I couldn’t foresee which projects would be assigned to me, and if she gave me ample notice I would be able to give updates as needed. Nope, she was a total jackass, it was my fault no matter what. The company now has horrible Glassdoor reviews mostly from her. If your boss is engaged to the CEO run far, far away.

    11. LGC*


      So, I might be projecting, but there’s a couple of things going on:

      -At first, I was inclined to give your boss the benefit of the doubt with Joey (mostly because I have my own Joey). If you have an employee that regularly derails conversations, that’s…pretty frustrating! And while she didn’t handle it perfectly (to say the least), I can’t blame her for being a little frustrated.

      -But also, as you went on…it sounds like your boss is failing at her job. More accurately, there’s a lot of things that are going on:
      + She seems like she’s not delegating properly.
      + Obviously, she’s a bit mercurial, to say the least (I’ll admit I have that tendency myself and I’m working on reining it in).
      + And the biggest issue is that she isn’t able to admit where she’s made a mistake.
      + And also, this is where I’m projecting, but she might be swamped herself!

      Is this worth leaving the team/job over? Perhaps, especially since it sounds like you’re thinking about leaving. But it sounds like you don’t want to leave, and it doesn’t sound like her behavior is especially egregious (as in, she’s not yelling at you). So – as someone so artfully put it in a post a couple of days ago – Shamu her. Don’t react to her terrible behavior, but do react positively to her good behavior. If she drops the ball on something, ask for clarification, not a correction.

  2. groot*

    I have a question about managing in a matrix organisation.

    I’m responsible for a team of IT staff, which means hiring, firing,
    granting vacation, general management and development of their
    abilities. I am however not responsible for assigning day-to-day tasks
    or making sure they are completed in a timely fashion.

    I would like to start regular one-on-ones as I appreciate they are
    quite helpful in giving team members a chance to get my full attention
    regularly as well as checking in how their personal development is
    I’m however kind of stuck how to go about it time- and content-wise. A
    half hour per week per report seems overkill, I’m simply worried
    there wouldn’t be that much to talk about and if we cancel the
    meetings regularly for lack of topics, they might seem pointless. On the
    other hand, if I go with something like once per month, it will be more
    difficult to get into a routine and I’ll probably also lose out on a
    good chunk of the relationship-building effect.
    On the content side, I’m not sure which topics would be best to have a meaningful meeting.

    Do you have some advice on how to make one-on-ones an effective
    managing tool under these circumstances?


    1. Adminx2*

      Ask them what they feel would be most useful and empowering? Set up a series of start off meetings to get baselines and their input on cadence. Or split the difference with an hour every other week?

    2. ErgoBun*

      I have the exact same role as you. We are an agile shop and therefore the agile team determines the work of my direct reports, not me.

      I have one-on-ones with my team every other week. The length of time is dependent on the person: 30 minutes for those of my staff who are more straightforward, 45 minutes for those who tend to want to talk things through more. On the off weeks, I schedule a department meeting so we can have group conversations about our type of work, to be sure we’re all implementing our work in the same way on our separate agile teams.

      For the most part, I let my reports set the agenda of our one-on-ones. One of them sets a very detailed agenda, and the others tend to come with bullet points to talk about in the moment. We review how their agile projects are going from their perspectives, if they need anything manager-wise from me, and if I have anything to communicate from upper management.

      Sometimes there isn’t much to talk about. Sometimes they’re 5-10 minutes and we talk about TV for most of it. Sometimes we’re having in-depth discussions about office issues and development for an hour. It’s OK! Like you said, these are mostly for relationship development and giving your team unfettered individual access to you. It’s fine to let these go with the flow.

      1. groot*

        Thanks, that’s helpful!

        Reading your reply, I’m noticing that my question partly stems from the fact that my team is a little stumped at the moment what these meetings will be used for (my company isn’t big on management), whereas I know why I want them to happen. I guess I’ll give them some pointers which topics they could bring to the meeting, but in the meeting I’ll go “with the flow”.

        1. Darren*

          If your team isn’t sure about what things to talk about I would start by being a bit more active in setting the agenda then once you’ve had a few start transitioning the agenda to them (you’ll put on a topic or two, and they’ll put on the bulk) with looking to eventually phase out you needing to set the agenda at all.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Can you consider that some of your team members may not communicate most efficiently via one-on-one half-hour meetings? You just need to know what’s going on and give them a chance to communicate with you. Maybe some (not all) of your team might prefer to communicate via email or Slack or some other method? I do not have regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with my boss, but we communicate quite often, whether it’s impromptu conversations (which can be 30 seconds or 20 minutes) or via quick email messages.

      The key is communication, not necessarily meetings. Sometimes meetings are necessary, but they shouldn’t necessarily be the default.

      1. groot*

        That’s a good point. Part of the reason I’m setting these up is that it can be hard to get a moment of my time. I don’t want them to feel like they have an absentee manager and never get a chance to talk about important topics.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Well, not all of them will want primary communications to be via email, but many of them might prefer it. Good to get a sense from them on how they want to communicate with you regularly (you can still have in-person one-on-ones less frequently with those who prefer electronic communication).

        2. prussian blue*

          what if you set up regular ‘office hours’ for a block of your time?

          in my workflow, I have a half hour check in with my manager and I send her a weekly list of working on/just completed/challenge tasks so she knows what’s on my plate, even if check in gets cancelled.

      2. writerson*

        When I was on matrixed team and my poor manager had 20+ reports, he asked everyone to send him a “Friday Five” email. 5 things you accomplished in the past week, 5 things you were planning to work on in the next week, and then anything you needed his help/intervention/escalation for. He was very good about acknowledging/responding to these and would often instant message or make a quick call to talk things through, as needed.

        We each had formal 30-minute one-on-ones only monthly, but these impromptu conversations in between kept us all aware of what was going on, and I knew I could count on him if I needed something.

    4. Just Elle*

      We have a half hour meeting weekly, but the reportee is free to cancel if there’s nothing to discuss, and they do get cancelled about half the time. They don’t feel meaningless though! I appreciate not having my time wasted to stare at each other, and I appreciate having a standing time to bring up issues if I need to instead of making a big deal of finding time on their calendar.

    5. Coffee Bean*

      1-on-1 are great! It is awesome you want to start that up.

      30 min isn’t that long. For content you can create a loose schedule:
      1. Connect on how their projects are going. Are they on schedule? A question that an old manager used to ask me a lot that I really appreciated was “What can I do to remove roadblocks that are in your way?” That question really got me to think about the problems, instead of just giving the immediate “project is good” answer. Do they have any generic “how do I do this” questions? etc.
      2. What is in their pipeline for the next week/two weeks until you guys meet again?
      3. Let them know ahead of time that they can bring things to the meeting they want to talk about, for any topic. General work performance, Sally always heats up tuna in the microwave and screams to her husband about llamas all day, whatever, but the one on ones can be a two way street that you don’t need to plan everything for.
      4. For any remainder of the time you guys can catch up. See how the employee is doing and just chat, this will help build report between you two. Plus, if they failed to mention something that was pestering them yet they may be more inclined to bring it up now as you are showing them you are there to listen and not to just rush them out the door (but this could take time to build trust).

    6. A tester, not a developer*

      We have pretty much the same set up as ErgoBun describes. Staff who’ve come in from other companies seem to find it to be pretty standard.

    7. OperaArt*

      I work in a matrix organization, too. My administrative manager, equivalent to your role, has 1-on-1 meetings once a month. We each set our own agendas. Once a month works for my group because we have all been here for years (or decades in most cases).
      In your situation, I’d probably want to have meetings every two weeks initially, and then figure out what works best for each person.

    8. KeyboardJockey*

      Same position; I run 1-1s similarly to how ErgoBun describes. To add to this, my org is entirely remote and none of my team is even in my same state. I find it helps to remember that 1-1s are very much *not status meetings*: they’re relationship-building meetings. The former can be done on Slack. The latter really can’t be unless you’re a certain kind of person.

      Why is that important? Well, partly because you can’t know when something’s going wrong or someone is burned out unless you know what normal looks like for that person. You might feel like you’ve got nothing to talk about in 1-1s because you don’t have project work in common, but you’re building an important picture of how this person deals with stress, what they need from their coworkers, how they like to contribute to meetings, etc. One person’s dramatic meltdown is another’s sudden inability to be on time for meetings. You have to be able to recognize that.

      Some ways I do this:
      – I’ll make myself notes about things that the employee has mentioned being involved in outside of work, for instance, and spend the first ~5 minutes chit-chatting about those things.

      – I ask a _ton_ of questions, particularly when we’re talking about project work and they’re brief on details: “Oh, I haven’t used Express before; how did you choose it as a framework? How are you feeling about this partner meeting coming up? You haven’t been paired with this PM before; how’s working with her been?”

      – I make it a point to set up quick quarterly chats with the person’s coworkers to get their perspectives on how working with the person day-to-day is (this is encouraged at my organization, so it’s not weird to do, but I can see how you’d want to make sure you approach that the right way in some orgs that don’t emphasize feedback).

      1. groot*

        These are helpful, thanks! I’ve noticed already that there can be things going wrong without the employee telling you about it – because they think it’s not important or that they should cope or that you can’t help. I’m definitely noticing that relationships have become much more important, also for the last part you mentioned, to get outside feedback.

    9. LCS*

      I do a weekly half-hour forum with my full team (open agenda, anyone can – and does – add items) and then 2x monthly half-hour sessions individually. Agenda for individual sessions is
      – Admin updates – all training, safety requirements, etc. up to date? Lots of times this is an automatic 1 minute check-mark but it keeps us honest about not cancelling too frequently. And I like these meetings to happen regularly because then everyone gets used to me having a lot of quick, closed-door 1:1’s – that way if I need to deliver some constructive feedback it doesn’t feel like a weird anomaly “getting called to the principal’s office” thing. It’s just part of the regular routine.
      – Update on current & upcoming major projects
      – What can I make better for them / explain / remove roadblocks etc.
      – Give them a head’s up on anything I know is coming down the pipeline that may impact their job, with a chance to discuss and provide broader context on what we can expect and how we may need to react.

      And of course some time in there for personal connection – it’s rarely a 100% business-focused discussion.

    10. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’m in the position that your direct reports are in. I have a manager but day-to-day I’m part of a ‘scrum’ team working on a particular project that my manager isn’t directly involved in.
      We have a monthly one-to-one for an hour or so; I would prefer half an hour ‘every other week’ but he’s very busy and I don’t think those meetings would usually happen (probably end up being cancelled).
      As we’re doing Scrum the updates of what I’m working on day-to-day are covered in stand ups, reviews etc so the one to ones with my manager are more to talk about “bigger picture” topics like other things going on in the company, how the role is going (I’m relatively new — almost a year), HR-type issues, etc.
      My manager doesn’t go into the meeting with particular “topics” unless he has something specific to bring up — it’s mostly led by me. Perhaps you could consider having a more ‘open ended’ agenda as you may (or may not!) be surprised at things your reports bring up that for whatever reason they don’t talk about to their “matrix” supervisor.

    11. Emily K*

      I have a similar management charge with someone who is a subject matter expert in an area totally apart from my own work and skillset.

      She sends me a list every Monday with an overview of what she’s working on and how she’s prioritizing things, any questions or requests she has for me, and notes about things like upcoming vacation or medical appointments, conferences she’s interested in, etc. We have a standing meeting blocked off on Monday afternoons, and when she has meatier questions or discussion items, we use time, but I’d say 3/4 weeks we skip the meeting because there’s nothing we need to discuss. I just answer any quick questions in response to her email.

      It’s helpful to keep it blocked on our calendars every week even if we don’t use it very often, so that we’re making a conscious decision to skip it when it’s not needed, rather than just letting time slip by without realizing we haven’t met in a while.

      I also once asked her to track how she was spending her time for a couple of weeks and share it with me so I could get a sense for how the items on her project lists translated into time commitments filling her plate, which helps me to better manage her workload and set realistic deadlines despite not really understanding her work beyond a superficial level – I at least know how long things should take.

  3. Small but Fierce*

    TLDR: Most sources say that is considered job hopping if you have multiple stints of less than 2 years on your resume, but exceptions can be made for young professionals still figuring their career path out. At what point is it job hopping when you’re early (<7 years) in your career? Also, how badly is job hopping perceived when there is clear career and/or salary progression?

    Context: I graduated from undergrad in 2015, and here is what my chronological resume looks like:

    Fortune 500 company, full-time paid Teapot Intern* – 8 months
    Small company, Teapot and Kettle Coordinator – 1 year and 9 months
    Fortune 100 company, two roles (detailed below) – 1 year and 6 months (ongoing)
    – Subsidiary, Teapot Specialist – 10 months (20% raise)
    – Parent company, Equestrian Specialist – 8 months (5% raise, completely different function, started working from home 4 months in due to family’s cross-country move)

    *I keep my internship as real experience because the company is one of the highly desired employers (comparable to Google), but I understand that it shouldn’t count as a hop since it wasn’t permanent.

    While I’ve been underutilized and isolated in my current job, I’m concerned that I’m already setting a precedent for job hopping. It hasn’t hindered me so far as I have good reasons for all of my moves that I clearly explain in my cover letters.

    Would it mean terrible things for my resume if I were to jump again this soon? I have an interview for a promotion with a different Fortune 100 company that my spouse works at. I would be a Kettle Manager (external title) / Senior Kettle Analyst (internal title); it comes with a ~25% raise, off Fridays twice a month with my spouse, and face-to-face interaction. I’m not miserable enough that I’m desperate to leave, so I’m wondering if I’d be better off turning a potential offer down if it meant staying to give myself more longevity with my current company. What are your thoughts?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I so feel you on this. I’m determined not to cripple my career by staying at under-performing, under-paying jobs for two years just to avoid the stigma of “job hopping” – as if that is the biggest failure a resume can have. If you’re getting good job offers than the fear of job hopping must be over-rated. I think as long as you have longer stints mixed in, you are okay to leave a few jobs quicker. My current record is 2 years, 6 years, and probably 1.5 years – as long as my next job is at least 3 or 4 years, I feel like that’s fine.

    2. Beehoppy*

      I think it’s becoming more acceptable among younger people and in different industries. I think as long as you think can commit to staying at this new place for at least 3 years you should be fine.

    3. OtterB*

      I don’t see any benefit to staying in a job where you are underutilized. You should plan on staying with the new company longer, if at all possible, but the change now seems easily explainable in terms of wanting to get back to the Kettle and Teapot area.

    4. Not at all*

      Based on what you’ve listed, I don’t view you as a job hopper. 8 months is actually plenty of time for an internship, most people I know did summer internships that were 2-3 months in length. You were at Small Company for almost 2 years and have 2 titles at Fortune 100 company, also been there almost 2 years. I don’t think you’re jumping too soon especially since you said you would be leaving for a promotion.

      If it was more lateral, I would be asking “What is making you leave Equestrian Specialist role?”but it would be obvious to me that you are applying for this role to move up (but your interviewer might still ask this).

    5. Olive Hornby*

      This may be one of those “know your industry” things, but I wouldn’t consider this job-hopping. You’ve stayed in each role more than a year (except for the internship, of course), and it looks like each role has been of increasing seniority. To me, that suggests that you’re skilled and ambitious, not flighty or difficult to work with, which is the stereotype about job-hoppers.

      1. Auburn*

        This. If I’m interviewing someone who has moved a lot I am just trying to determine if they were being pulled towards better more interesting opportunities vs. being pushed out because they are hard to get along with or never satisfied or something. If it’s the former, it does make me think that I may have to work a little harder than usual to keep them growing and interested in whatever role they are getting hired for. So if I feel like it’s a job that isn’t likely to have those kinds of opportunities that may be a factor in a decision. But basically, if you have a narrative that makes sense to go along with all the moves, that’s what I would care about.

    6. Dawn*

      That doesn’t read as job-hopping to me; look at how it speaks to a story of your career progression. You went from an Intern to a small company to a Fortune 100 company. That makes complete sense in the overall timeline of your career.

      2 years is a completely reasonable time to look for a new job, and look at how the job you’re interviewing for would fit into your overall career story: it’s a raise, it’s a senior/manager title, and you’re looking into it because you were isolated and underutilized.

      “Job Hopping” is when someone has a brand new job every six months. What I get from what you’re written is normal career progression.

      1. WinethetimeKat*

        Watching all the comments closely in a job where what I am doing is not what was described. I have worked for three people in a row who eliminated the position and people are holding that against me. So unhappy

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Enh, they’re still a little short to me (not the internship, but 3 jobs under 2 years), but it does depend on the industry and market.

        SbF, I’d say you aren’t going to trigger ‘job hopping’ vibes yet, but your next stop needs to be more than 3 years. So research it VERY carefully before you jump – is the industry growing? Is the area / tech the new position is in hot / new or fading? Fortune 100s means it’s probably large enough to have good HR, and your wife can tell you about that, but individual managers are going to make / break your experience there. If your wife has a good network, maybe she can look for someone she knows who knows the hiring manager, and ask what they’re like.

        1. Small but Fierce (OP)*

          Feel free to correct me, but I thought internal moves weren’t necessarily considered separate jobs since they’re with the same employer? If you count them as separate, it was 3 jobs and 2 employers in 3 years.

          1. Not in US*

            I would look at the two roles in the one company as one job in terms of “job hopping” not two jobs. So you were at the first for a year and 9 months and the second for a year and 6 months. As long as you are taking a promotion to go to a different company – you’re fine. I also think it can be explained if you’re working from home and found that’s not for you.

            I would say you need to be with the next company for at least a full 2 years (ideally 3) and only switch jobs within it if it’s a promotion or there’s a restructure – aka no lateral moves if possible (toxic bosses, etc. change the mix).

    7. fposte*

      Nah, you’re fine (though you’re listing it here in a way that put the worst possible face on it–it took me a minute to figure out how benign it really was!). You have nearly two years at your first employer and nearly two years at your second, and you’re leaving for a good opportunity. Unless you’re in one of those Silicon Valley things where you’re expected to move every year you should probably aim to stay more like 3 years at the new job to demonstrate that you can get in deeper with a position, but you probably are doing that anyway.

    8. Natalie*

      Couple of things – what exactly counts as “job hopping” depends heavily on industry, and it’s also a bit of a”know it when I see it” thing. So I wouldn’t try and target any kind of hard and fast rule. If you left 4 jobs in a row at exactly the 2 year mark, that could also look kind of “job hoppy”. And yes, context matters. Your internship doesn’t “count” at all for job hopping because internships are time limited by design. Salary progression shouldn’t be on your resume, but career progression will be and that does change the impression quite a bit. Think about your resume as a story – a brief stint in a different division that didn’t work out is a logical part of the story. If every job you had was in a different industry and different function, that would be telling a quite different story.

      And, on a more philosophical level – let your needs and desires drive your career to the extent you can. Trying to read tea leaves of how your resume is going to look to an unknown employer at an unknown point in the future is an exercise in futility. If your resume gives the impression of someone who’s driven and wants to move up, yes, that will turn off some companies that expect people to stay for years before getting more responsibility. But that’s okay – the point isn’t to get chosen by every single job, it’s to get chosen by the places you actually want to work.

    9. Tigger*

      I see job hopping as switching fields many times/ having many lateral moves instead of promotions. From what you listed above all your moves have been for promotions so you don’t have to worry. Reasonable people won’t hold that against you. Also you have a cross country move in there so of course you will change companies because of that fact.

      You will be fine. Congrats :)

    10. Antilles*

      This seems all perfectly fine.
      1.) The internship is completely fine, since most people understand that internships are not intended to be permanent roles and they often have specific terms of work (similar to temporary or contract workers).
      2.) Besides that, you’ve worked for two companies in 3.5 years – perfectly fine. Moving around within the same company is rarely notable to interviewers, as companies change titles and roles all the time.

    11. Rose Tyler*

      I would keep pursuing the job you’re interested in because it seems like quite a nice bump in salary and perks, but I’d be really sure before accepting an offer I wanted to stay for at least a couple years. Your resume does verge on job hopping to me, not to the extent that I wouldn’t move you forward in a process if you met the qualifications, but I’d be sure to ask you some pretty specific questions about how the role I was hiring for fit your planned career path, or even point-blank ask what was behind the shorter stints at previous companies (so I’d have those answers prepared in your current interview process). If you get this job and then stay for less than 2 years again then I think you could start raising questions before even getting to interview stage. Just my opinion, and good luck!

    12. CatCat*

      I don’t think it’s job hopping if you are progressing up. Like if you had a bunch of lateral moves in a short time span, that might raise a concern to ask about (not necessarily take someone out of the running), but if you’re moving into higher roles, that’s not the same thing.

      1. Small but Fierce (OP)*

        Thank you all for your feedback! These comments are putting me at ease about pursuing this opportunity. Just some additional context in response:

        We moved across the country so that my husband could take a job with the company that he has been with his whole career. He has mentioned the desire to change companies or apply for a different role in his current company in the next couple of years, which could moving us to another state again. I don’t think I can necessarily commit to 3+ years as a result, so this could potentially be a shorter stay for me again. At least my current role has the flexibility to allow me to move if needed.

        I noted the salary progression for the readers’ benefit, but do not list it on my resume.

        Also, I appreciate the comments that said that I presented my history in a negative context and that I cannot predict the future. I’m very prone to anxiety and over-analyze everything, so I know that is something I need to work on. I’m glad my work history is not as bad as my brain interprets it.

        1. Not A Manager*

          You mention that you “clearly explain” the reasons for “all of your moves” in your cover letter. You might ask someone to take a look at that to be sure that you’re not magnifying it or sounding defensive. When I look at your job history, I see a prestigious internship and two employment stints of over a year, with clear growth and progression in your title changes. You CAN characterize your recent job as two separate ones, but do you have to?

          1. Small but Fierce (OP)*

            That’s a valid point! I usually run my cover letter by a couple of people before sending them. I also use my cover letters to demonstrate how my accomplishments led to the changes; I don’t really draw attention to the short duration, but try to highlight what I accomplished during that time.

            I currently characterize my “two job, one company” situation like this: When I joined Fortune 100 company, I quickly became the most senior member on my last team when we experienced unprecedented turnover (unsaid: due to toxic grand-boss). Within months of starting, I functioned as the team lead by assigning the work that came into our shared inbox, leading team meetings, and tracking all of our team’s projects to ensure we met our deliverables. When my manager transferred to corporate (unsaid: to escape toxic grand-boss), she asked me to join her due to my work performance in those difficult circumstances. She also knew it would give me more experience in “equestrian” work, which was a minor facet of my prior role that I wanted to develop.

            1. Just Elle*

              While this storyline is good, especially to discuss during an interview, it seems quite wordy for a cover letter. Most HR people only spend about 10-15 seconds looking at cover letters, and generally speaking they should not be a repeat of your resume. All those things you said should be bullet points on your resume.
              Aka, resume:
              -functioned as the team lead by assigning the work that came into our shared inbox, leading team meetings, and tracking all of our team’s projects to ensure we met our deliverables.
              -asked to join prior boss in new corporate role in recognition of my work performance in those difficult circumstances

              Then, on my cover letter, I’d say something like.
              “I excel in roles that demand adaptability and quick learning. In a previous job, I quickly became the most senior member on my team when we experienced unprecedented turnover. Within months of starting, I was given the responsibility of interim team lead, and after 3 months the company opted to allow me to continue in that capacity due to excellent performance.”

              1. Small but Fierce (OP)*

                Thank you for the feedback! I agree that my cover letters tend to be too long. When you say ” after 3 months the company opted to allow me to continue in that capacity due to excellent performance,” is that an accurate explanation when I’m currently in a different team, function, and (technically) organization?

                1. Just Elle*

                  I think that may have just been my lack of understanding of the situation. I assumed you maintained that job for a few months in an official capacity before the promotion. You could change it to “after 3 months the company offered me a position with increased responsibility, and again I had to pick up xyz quickly to be successful.”

                  The point is, on the resume anyway, for each bullet point to include what you did, and a measure of success. So ‘led a team’ the measure of success is ‘promoted’ or ‘even though it was supposed to be temporary they made you permanent team lead’ or whatever it is. Even better than your boss having a good opinion of you is hard metrics, like ‘responsible for a $1m project that came in on time, on budget” etc.

                  And then the point of the cover letter is specifically to discuss soft skills / personality traits not demonstrated on your resume – no repeats if possible.

          2. Just Elle*

            Yeah, I agree with this advice. If they’re worried about it they’ll ask.

            Also, I do keep separate jobs at the same company together, eg:
            Sea Lion Training Inc. 2010-2015
            Head sea lion feeder, 2012-2015
            -Bullet points
            Sea lion tank cleaner, 2010-2012
            -Bullet points

            No one will think internal promotions are job hopping.

            1. Small but Fierce (OP)*

              Perfect, that is what I currently do. I essentially mimic the new LinkedIn format for multiple jobs in the same company.

        2. Gerald*

          Yes, I think fposte’s comment is valid, and I have dealt with this by writing up shorter time periods more generically:
          Fortune 100 company [2017-current (or 2019)] – Teapot Specialist and Equestrian Specialist
          Small company [2015-2017] – Teapot and Kettle Coordinator
          Fortune 500 company [Jan-Aug 2014] – Teapot Intern

          I think people have more sympathy if you explain that you are moving for family reasons yet you are also working to have your own independent career. If you are interviewing at your spouse’s workplace then I would mention it as that company should have sympathy! I think it’s quite acceptable to move around these days, although expect that they might ask during the interview and I think it’s even more important to have solid references.

          I was told years ago that in my field it takes about 2 years to become competent, so anything less than that time is not an ideal investment for companies. If you have skills which allow you to feel competent right from the start, then companies won’t mind if you stay less time. I have started a new job in the past year and admit that I will probably only start to be competent after a year, so don’t plan on going elsewhere for at least 3 years because I will cause problems if I leave before then (the people are nice and would be happy for me, but it’s a good employer and I want to do well for them).

        3. Overeducated*

          I think it would be a little bit crazy to turn down a 25% raise and every other Friday off for the worry that you’ll be perceived as job-hopping for your next move. What about the worry that if you don’t take the job, by turning down that 25% bump now, your future jobs won’t build on that salary either? There’s a concrete thing you’d be missing out on, out of concern for a perception that may not even be an issue!

          On the other hand, if you do need the flexibility for full time remote work because you anticipate another upcoming move, that actually is a concrete reason to stay. So I’d weigh those specific factors against each other, but don’t just stay out of fear.

    13. Just Elle*

      I have a very similar resume and am an engineer. I do get questions from interviewers about why I’m looking to change again ‘so soon’, but all of their fears seem to be completely alleviated as soon as I show good reasons for leaving each. So I don’t think its enough to prevent you from getting the interview, just enough to make people worried about it and require explanation.

      In general I think of this as the balance:
      -at least one job every 2-3 should be a 3 year stint with increasing responsibility if possible. This shows that you can/will stick it out for the right company, and that there are companies in the world who actually liked and valued you as an employee (aka you weren’t forced to go to a different company for a promotion)
      -if I’m in a job where I’m not actually adding to my resume, then its time to leave even if time isnt up. Experience counts more than time.
      -if I have a company thats willing to hire me for a more senior roll and more money and culturally I’m 90% sure I’ll be a great fit.. I’d jump ship and then make my 3 year stint there.

      1. mliz*

        It makes me wonder, what about if you have gone as far up as you can without entering people management roles? (Which is something I don’t want, ever, because I’d be terrible at it.)

        1. Just Elle*

          I think that’s completely reasonable. As an engineer I know tonssss of people who would like to spend the rest of their life being individual contributors and would be horrified by people management. But you can still show increasing level of expertise/responsibility. For example, your resume progress from:
          -Assist others in teapot design
          -Independently design teapot lids
          -Responsible for overall teapot design
          -Owned final approval for teapot design
          -Owned entire teapot and coffee mug design library

          The goal isn’t to show ‘title increases’ its to show that your company continues to trust you with more and more things.

    14. Hi*

      Why would you NOT take a job with a significant increase and perks? When I review resumes “job hopping” to me is 3-4 months here, empty a few months, 6 months here, a gap, 3 months here. Obviously someone who quits and get fired all the time. Being gainfully employed since graduation 4 years ago is different.

    15. Hids*

      I’m in a similar situation. I graduated in 2013, but didn’t get a full-time job in my field until 2015. I stayed there for 1.5 years, when I left for another company in my field, but doing a different job. (My first was Not For Me.) I was laid off after 6 months, changed fields but continued to do similar work day-to-day, and have been at my current job for nearly two years—but for the last 8 months I’ve been in a role I wasn’t hired for. I recently switched to a role better for me, but I’d already started looking elsewhere before I learned I’d be moving, and now I have an offer for more money, more responsibility, and better benefits at a growing company where I’d be doing similar stuff. I worry about looking flighty, but I know I’ll be underutilized if I stay, and the move would be a better opportunity.

      There is a cohesive thread throughout—I started in a totally administrative role in fine art, moved to something more creative (writing-focused) within the industry, moved to a retail company where writing was a core piece of my job, and am now planning to leave for another retail company where I would be a straight copywriter. So… it all makes sense. But the bouncing around still concerns me.

      IDK if this helps, but I think if the move will be better for you, and you’re confident you’ll stick it out, it is worth it.

    16. Anoncersize*

      One thing is to be sure and format your promotions so they do not look like moving jobs. Your main header should be Parent company current role 3 years with the other roles and dates clearly outlined below them.

      Alsison has some posts on this

    17. MoopySwarpet*

      I think you should do the interview, get the offer, and then decide if it’s worth the “risk” of looking like a job hopper. The potential of the new position sounds to me like it would by far outweigh the risk of looking like you’ve job hopped. I think especially when one was an internal move and one was an internship.

      As a person who is heavily involved with our hiring process (super small company, old school owners), at this point in your resume, the general lack of overall experience would probably be “worse” than the short term stays. Meaning, if you had one teapot job for 3 years vs 2 teapot jobs totaling 3 years, I don’t think we’d treat that experience very differently.

      When I’m looking through resumes, I know the owners are not going to want to interview someone who has 6 short term jobs as much as they would want to interview someone who had 2 longer term jobs unless they hit most of the requirements.

      I think in your situation, though, I’d definitely go for the new job and try to stick that one out for a longer amount of time. I think it’s normal to take a few jobs before you find a good fit when you’re starting out for a variety of reasons that you can explain in the interview.

    18. Emily K*

      Echoing everyone else – I’ve hired for entry- and mid-level roles a few times. This is a pretty typical resume of a strong candidate with your level of experience.

      Not all employers may feel this way, but I hire in a high cost of living area, and I know that you have to get a couple rungs above entry level before you can even afford to live without roommates in this town. When I see people leaving less than two years in but it’s entry-level or within one-two rungs above entry-level, and they’re moving up a rung when they change jobs, I don’t think, “This person is flighty,” I think, “This person is tired of someone else’s dishes being in their sink and wants to earn more than $37,000 a year in one of the most expensive cities in the country.”

      If I’m hiring for a job that doesn’t pay great, it’s going to be pretty entry-level with a pretty quick onboarding time, and I usually expect something closer to 12-18 months tenure because I know people need to jump at any chance they can get to make better wages.

      Mid-level jobs pay better and take longer to master, so once you reach a project/program manager level I expect at least 2-3 years tenure as a general rule. At a senior level my company expects people to stay 3-5 years minimum.

      One short stay is sort of given as a freebie at any level, but when you’re being hired to do work that takes years to really come to fruition, it’s troubling if you have a pattern of leaving jobs before you have time to see a project all the way through and accomplish anything. But that means I’m only looking at whether your tenure in each past job was appropriate to the level of that job–not whether your tenure at your entry-level job was enough for a mid-level job, or your mid-level tenure was enough for a senior job.

    19. Qwerty*

      Would you want to stay at this new job for a few years? That should be your bar with the next couple jobs. Obviously life happens, like with your cross-country move, but having two shorter stints at the start of your career will be barely noticed if they are balanced out by one long job (5-7yr) or two medium (3-4yr). The two short stints probably won’t be much of a problem getting your next job, but how long you stay there will play a larger part in getting the job after that.

      The idea is that if you get to three jobs that are 1.5-2yrs (I’m not counting the internship), it can start to look like a pattern. Once you get that kind of pattern, you might get stuck in a cycle where employers think that you’ll leave in a year or two, so they only put you on projects that are shorter term or where they won’t be left in a rut if you leave, which of course can cause people to leave.

      Good luck with this interview! It sounds like a great promotion and I hope it is a place that you will be happy at!

      *Moving to a different team within the same company typically isn’t considered when evaluating job-hopping risk. Half the time that just due to re-orgs anyway and the employee doesn’t have much say in which team they get moved to.

    20. SavannahMiranda*

      You’ve been with your current company for 2 years and 2 months (albeit in 2 roles)?

      And you’re wondering if you should leave for a 25% raise now, versus a theoretical raise, or theoretical pats on the head for not leaving, or theoretical future opportunities?

      Take the interview! If you get an offer, you have a bird in the hand. Worth more than any theories in the bush.

      There are times to consider whether you’re being overactive in job moves, but I see people fret far too much about the dreaded moniker of ‘job hopper.’

      When a resume shows clear progression upwards, within a clear career path, with increasing responsibilities and titles, it’s not job hopping!

      Job hopping is when a person is all over the place, with disparate roles and titles, and no clear path or trajectory. Retail manager, to accounting assistant, to copywriter. That kind of thing.

      No. Your resume clearly shows what you want and where you’re going. And this potential role will move you BACK into the path you were previously on, so it’s shows a strength.

      Please! Take advantage of a 25% raise, a move back into the path you prefer, and face-to-face interactions!

      When someone wants to give you 25% more a year to get back on track with the career you prefer, you take it. You don’t turn the opportunity down out of theory.

      1. SavannahMiranda*

        By the way, I’ve moved 3 times in 6 years – so an average of 2 years per job.

        I’ve gained $30k in salary over those three moves – an average of $10k per job.

        Neither of the first two jobs would have promoted me to where I am now, or given me a $30k raise in the process.

        When it’s time to go, you go. And when a job pays 25% more, has working conditions you prefer, hews more closely to the career path you prefer to be on, and you have a strong resume of growth to growth, you throw your hat in the ring.

        As my first career mentor said – you get a yes, so that the no is up to you. (Put yourself in a position to get their yes, and only then do you decide whether your answer is a yes or a no.)

    21. Database Developer Dude*

      I transitioned away from the active duty Army in 2001…I’d been in for twelve and a half years since then. In the 18 years since then, I’ve had 10 employers, and don’t think until my latest I’ve ever made two years with any of them.

      I had one where I was technically with the company for three years, but almost a year and a half of that was a deployment with the Army Reserve, so that doesn’t count.

      I’m still getting nibbles, so I think as long as you’ve got a solid growth path on your resume, you’re fine.

  4. hermit crab*

    I started a new job a few months ago, and part of my role is to keep up to date on news, research, and policy developments in a particular area. I love this. But my question is:

    I need a system for tracking and saving all the stuff I review. Any suggestions? I would love some sort of centralized solution for categorizing and keeping notes on things.

    Currently everything is spread out across a combination of email folders, Pocket, Zotero, and my very falliable human memory. It’s a wide variety of formats – news articles, government reports, journal articles, press releases, online datasets, webinar recordings, etc. I’ve gone the Massive Clunky Spreadsheet route in the past and it always results in the process taking over the substance. This time around, I would love something that can live on or be synched up with Sharepoint or similar.

    I know there are lots of librarian/information management types around here so I’m hoping you have lots of recommendations. Thanks in advance!

    1. Dawn*

      Do you have Microsoft One Note? I used it a lot when I was a Research Analyst and it was fantastic for keeping things organized.

      1. hermit crab*

        How did you use it, exactly? I don’t have a good sense of its capabilities other than just, like, a digital version of a physical notebook.

        1. foolofgrace*

          I second One Note. In a sense it IS a digital version of a physical notebook, but you can store all kinds of data– websites, articles, citations, etc. Searchability is awesome. It helps to think of it as a college ruled theme book with tab dividers. If you read the intro stuff that pops up the first time you use it, you’ll get a sense of how versatile it can be.

          However, do back up your notebook every week. It used to occasionally crash and although it’s very stable now I would still make backups.

        1. School Inclusion Specialist*

          I’ve used both Evernote and OneNote and I currently use One Note
          I download articles and attach them to the notes. I love the to-do list feature. So I can have an article, related notes, and a follow-up list.

          1. Frances*

            Do you find you the search function to be robust enough? My evernote account currently has 2000+ notes in several notebooks, so without the tagging feature I’d be lost!

        2. Clever Name*

          I used Evernote for quite a while but I dropped it when they made folks pay for the functionality that had previously been free. I liked it so much I would have switched to the pay version, but I realized that the OneNote app for my phone did exactly the same thing and was free. I heavily use OneNote both at home and at Work.

    2. Mockingjay*

      SharePoint has an Announcement web part. We use it to post news articles, team announcements, etc. It’s cumulative, so you can scroll down through prior articles.

      SP also has all kinds of lists available. I use the lists for frequently referenced items.

      You can also post Quick Links on SharePoint, so users can click and go to another website – say a news org, or a directory within your org. We have a LOT of these. Very easy to use.

      These features should be out-of-the box SP features, that just require enabling and a little configuration by your IT staff.

    3. LadyofLasers*

      If they’re mostly in PDF form, Mendeley is fantastic for organizing and searching through references

      1. hermit crab*

        That’s where I’m running into issues. I like Zotero for citation management and wrangling large collections of actual files. But maybe half of my stuff doesn’t lend itself well to that format – they’re online news articles and websites that I want to bookmark, categorize, and make notes on. Is Mendeley useful for that?

        1. AnonyNurse*

          I love Mendeley. Even for links. It’s web based. You can access even PDFs anywhere. I occasionally get asked to do a little lit review for a colleague and I can just dump everything I find into a folder within Mendeley that I can then “share” with the person. No huge emails with lots of attachments that are then cluttering my computer.

          I would also encourage you to download/screenshot/turn to PDF any web-based articles that you really like or need. Cause things disappear.

          I use my personal email account for Mendeley so I never lose access to the things I find.

        2. MoopySwarpet*

          I think news articles and websites could be utilized as pdfs by using the print to pdf function. I find saving news articles (and recipes) this way especially useful in case they are later removed. You could add the link as a note to the pdf.

        3. LadyofLasers*

          Mendeley is most useful for actual files, and I primarily use it for published papers, or books chapters in PDF format. It’s biggest strength is automatically formatting bibliographies in word or Bibtex, but I also like that I can set it to watch folders and every time I save a new paper, Medeley will automatically add it to your data base. It also makes my references very searchable.

          I ‘ve never used it for websites, or newspaper articles, but Mendeley does include categories for them. You can annotate, and add notes to each item (although there isn’t a lot of room). There’s a browser extension to automatically add a new reference online.

          But from what you’ve said below, it sounds like you want to take a lot of notes, and don’t care as much about creating citations. If that’s the case Evernote or Onenote might be a better fit. I’ve tried both, and I found onenote to be glitchy compared to Evernote.

          But in my experience the most important thing is to pick 1 (or 2) platforms and fully commit to putting everything there. As you’re experiencing, when you save things in many places you never find them again.

    4. Honoria Glossop*

      Is this just to keep you organized? Or will it be shared with others? This sounds a little nuts, but I keep track of interesting articles on a personal subreddit (accessible only to me). It allows me to save links to literally anywhere, and I can access it anywhere with internet. I can add tags for categorization, and I leave a comment if I want to make notes or anything.

    5. Ixolite*

      Librarian here! Strategic intelligence is part of my job and I adore it. It’s so stimulating and fun.

      I organize my documents using Evernote and I have to handle many formats just like you. I like it because it lets you basically create a database of entries (notes) with a personalized tagging system. I use the Web Clipper extension for Chrome to add things to Evernote from the web and then, for anything that doesn’t come from the Internet (paper documents, PDFs, hearsay, etc.) I manually create a note (which takes 5 seconds basically). I find it about 200% more user-friendly than Zotero, although it doesn’t have the citation function so that’s something to keep in mind if you need it. The tags are the best part: I can tag whatever I collect according to the projects I’m working on and access it all super easily.

      I’d look into OneNote like someone already suggested – I think it basically does the same thing as Evernote and from what I know it connects to Sharepoint.

      1. Reba*

        I’m glad to read this. I use Evernote, but I strongly suspect I’m not using it to full potential. I’ll have to give tagging a try, as my project is starting to sprawl such that navigating notes and stacks is becoming a pain.

        Also I am fascinated by the sound of “strategic intelligence.”

      2. hermit crab*

        OK, you get me. :) This sounds really promising for me, thank you! I think the tagging capability is key, because my portfolio covers a bunch of overlapping projects and subtopics.

      3. OhNo*

        The folks I know that process of lot of info for their jobs – one in business intelligence and one in fundraising – both swear by Evernote for organizing their info.

      4. Observer*

        The tagging is the thing that keeps me with Evernote.

        I only have 3 notebooks, but a large number of tags. Because SOOOO often, I need to look for stuff in different ways. If each article shows up in only one place or context, then OneNote has some advantages over Evernote,. But, if you need to be able to find stuff in different ways, Evernote is much better.

        For instance, if order a computer, I’ll tag is as a purchase, that a computer, the vendor, and the department.

        If each research project is a discrete thing, that’s no big deal. But if you are researching stuff with multiple implications, it’s something to think about.

    6. n*

      I also do a lot of research for my job. I have a two-tiered system.

      For web-based articles, I use Instapaper. It strips the article of any ads and saves it to Instapaper, so even if the article is taken down/moved later, you still have a copy. You can add highlights, notes, create folders, and it has a full-text search feature. Very useful.

      For pdfs, I just use Google drive. With well-named folders and file names, it makes it pretty easy to keep track of things, and it also has a search feature. I also have a Chrome extension that allows me to mark up pdfs in the browser, so I just open it up from Google drive, read, make notes, and it syncs back to drive.

      But if you’re a fan of tagging systems, I’d second the Evernote recommendation using the web clipper to save any online articles. If you need to collaborate with folks at work, OneNote is really great for that. You can create shared notebooks, and also make certain pages private/password-protected while still keeping the whole notebook shared. And it integrates with Word and Outlook very well.

    7. Just Elle*

      Not sure if this applies here, but..
      I do a lot of benchmarking in my job, and we use a specific template. The valuable thing here is that I’m not just gathering knowledge to maybe-or-maybe-not use again, its turning info into actions.
      If I don’t see how the knowledge could be applicable to actually effect change right now, it just goes in a backlog file.

      Its an excel sheet, but you could use any other tool. The columns go:
      -Source (including hyperlink)
      -What they do
      -What we do
      -The gap between what they do and what we do
      -Action plan (which could include more research, follow up, etc – this column gets updated constantly)

  5. Getting so tired...*

    TL;DR – Tired of being the one to always say “no,” any ideas for managing this?

    I’m a mid-level product development scientist at a company. There are only a handful of scientists at the company and I’m one of the only ones working in product development. As a result, a lot of ideas that other individuals have end up getting filtered through me for evaluation. And I have to reject the majority of them for lack of scientific evidence (though I always do it carefully and tactfully). Most of the company seems to actually appreciate this, since strong science is something we’ve always stood for and other departments want to keep that reputation. Our marketing team recently told me how much they appreciate having me here and that the work I’m doing is invaluable to them.

    The problem is actually my own department and the department head, who despite being a scientist seems to not really care about maintaining a certain level of scientific standard. Previously we had another scientist in a higher position than me who was also evaluating ideas, which helped in sharing the burden a lot and since he had been here for decades, he had a lot of respect. But he recently retired, so it has turned to falling more and more on me. I’m getting more and more burnt out on having to always be the one to reject ideas and feeling like my department head isn’t supportive of it, especially when I have to carefully turn down their ideas or their friends’ ideas. For multiple reasons, leaving isn’t an option for me right now.

    Is anyone else the “no” person at their company? How do you manage the fatigue of always being the bearer of bad news?

    1. Adminx2*

      Can part of the rejection process include a few paragraphs on what they need to buff up their request and raise it to approval level if they resubmit?

        1. Observer*

          That’s often not true.

          So, you might say “In order for this to work, we would need to figure out how to deal with the fact that chocolate freezes at a higher temperature than water.” instead of “This won’t work because water freezes at a lower temperature than chocolate.” or instead of “Unicorns? Since when are they a thing?”, or even “There is no contemporary evidence that unicorns actually exist.” you might say “In order for this project to be viable, we would need to establish that unicorns, or something like them, exist outside of virtual reality.”

          1. OP*

            Observer, these are amazing answers! I am going to work on finding a way to phrase things like this! No matter how scientifically implausible they actually are.

    2. Auntie Social*

      Have you phrased it as “If it had rockets then it would work”, the “if you, then you” no? Or “I like this part”. There are lots of “yes” ways to say no and still be somewhat encouraging.
      I’m sorry you’re the only grown-up there, though. That gets tiring.

    3. wandering_beagle*

      I don’t work in this industry, so I apologize if this wouldn’t be an option — but would you be able to create a standard “idea intake form” with one of the requirements being that if someone is submitting an idea it has to have “x” number of studies supporting it? Or, if not a standard form, post a list of requirements (wherever that would be highly visible) for submitting an idea. My thought is that would cull the number of ideas you’re receiving that don’t have scientific evidence. And if someone submits their idea without evidence anyway, you can outright reject it and point to the requirements.

    4. Lora*

      I used to be, in Process Development – “No, you need to perform these experiments before I can start considering how to scale this up,” “No, we absolutely cannot use methylethyldeath as a starting material,” “No, a binding assay does not constitute proof of concept” etc.

      What I ended up doing was switching to Yes, But:
      Yes, but it will cost $40M extra in equipment, FTEs, contract labor etc to perform the necessary development and validation work
      Yes, but it will require an additional 2 years to perform the following experiments and we would need to bring an SME in house to ensure IP protection
      Yes, but here is the investment you would risk before you’d even know if this was a viable molecule, let alone be able to make a go/no-go decision on whether it is marketable

      Basically I just lay out for them what the investment of time and money would be to get them from (half-baked idea) to (viable thing worth throwing money at) and show them the risk analysis (i.e. your half-baked idea has a 99% chance of failing miserably) and ask if this is really something they would like to do, in the interests of their making a fully informed decision. The answer is rarely, yes move forward; the other side of it is, people will mostly stop bringing forward ideas because they don’t want to look stupid, and if you want people to be able to develop good ideas, you have to give them time and leeway to do that and get some feasibility data for you. If the idea-havers don’t have time or resources to develop a decent idea on their own, and leeway to be wrong sometimes, you just won’t get any new ideas after a while.

    5. KatieKat*

      I act as a sort of internal consultant at my company, and managers often come to me with ideas that are….not practical. They want to put something in place that’s burdensom, not maintainable, over-designed, etc. I take the approach of briefly explaining why we can’t do their idea, then asking questions to understand what they were trying to solve. From there I propose an alternative idea, or if the problem isn’t clear or isn’t clearly a problem, I suggest that they keep an eye on it for a while and come back if it changes.

      Not sure how applicable the second part is, but I know it can be hard to always have to say no to someone! Try to keep in the front of your mind that you’re there because the other folks don’t have your expertise, and that they should (and in most cases do!) value that expertise. A sane and normal person cares more about the right ideas getting done and the health of the business than about how many times they hear “no” from you, so long as you are polite and reasonable.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      This is funny — I was also going to post about having to be the “no” person at my organization. My role is also a control role, so I am often the one who has to say “you are doing that wrong” or “no you can’t do that.” The thing is that then everyone complains that I’m being mean, when actually I’m just doing my job. One thing that I do is that I never start an email with the word “No” — plus I always explain what the problem is — I don’t just say “you can’t do that”. But I’ll be eager to see what advice you get because I struggle with this too.

      1. Ashley*

        How do you cope with the negative nelly attitude the seems to accompany me on this? My coworkers have half baked ideas and I am always left with pointing out the flaws or holes in the plan. There are some ideas that are just bad and there is a reason things are done the way they are.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Add scientific evidence as a requirement for submitting an idea. I assume you have a form or something that has to be filled out? If they don’t fill out that section, reject as incomplete form vs. not scientifically supported. If they have to add research references, then there’s a good chance they’ll realize on their own it won’t work and won’t submit it at all.

      1. Alice*

        I disagree with this. It sounds to me that the workflow here is
        1. people who aren’t scientists propose ideas
        2. OP (the only scientist in product development) assesses whether the proposals are scientifically valid
        I can see how it’s frustrating for OP to spend a lot of time on it, but adding in step 1.5, in which the people who aren’t scientists learn enough about science, literature searching, and critical appraisal to “pre-review” their proposals, is a huge ask in terms of time and education.
        I think it’s better to try and change different aspects of the problem:
        – if someone is acting shirty when you say no, address that with your manager and the shirty person and her manager if necessary
        – if you wish the burden of screening these proposals could be shared more widely, pitch your manager on that
        – internally and to your unsupportive department head, can you reframe this from “shooting down some ideas” to “helping my colleagues sort through all their ideas to find the ones worth investigating”? And can you focus on the excellent internal “customer service” you provide by responding quickly, or by synthesizing and simplifying complex information?

        Good luck.

    8. designbot*

      I’d try giving a presentation at a team meeting, or distributing an FAQ, explaining the common pitfalls. Be super upbeat and like “hey, I don’t like having to say no so much! Let’s figure out how to get more of your ideas into the ‘yes’ pile.” And then pick say the top 3 things that you’ve seen disqualifying ideas in the past. Basically reframe your role from ‘the no guy’ into ‘the how-to-get-to-yes’ guy.

      1. designbot*

        reading some of your followup comments, I’d also maybe add an example of something that was a ‘yes’ and walk them through how the person/people submitting it demonstrated that it could work.

    9. Sam.*

      My approach is actually “no, but.” As in, “no, that’s not possible, but here’s a potential solution that might accomplish similar goals.” I’m responsible for weeding out the completely ridiculous and unrealistic ideas, but I don’t actually have any veto power, so while I do have to shut them down, it’s to my advantage to do it in a way that comes across as more helpful than stifling. My approach is typically to identify my specific “concerns” and the reasons they’re problematic, followed by, “but if your priority is X, you might consider Y as a solution. If it’s Z, I’d look into Q as a way to approach this.” I’ve had this kind of job at two orgs and have been one of two people in the position at both places, and in both instances I developed a reputation as the preferred reviewer because people understood why I said no but felt like they had some avenues for future thought (versus the total shutdown they got otherwise). May not apply exactly to your exact situation, but I think these kinds of strategies can help.

      I also wonder if the boss’s boss values scientific rigor the way most of the rest of the company does and, if so, whether they’re aware that there’s a disconnect.

    10. Nesprin*

      This seems like a case for early intervention and documentation. Its easier to poke holes in an experimental plan before starting than to redo it if not done to standard. Any chance you could start pre-trial plan reviews?
      Likewise, writing up (obvious) requirements all experiments must have a clearly spelled out hypothesis supported by evidence, 3+ biological replicates or nothing, statistical analysis blessed by person/according to standard book, and presentation format x documenting this process.

      1. Nesprin*

        To add to this, scientists are supposed to have thick skin and you saying no should not be a novel thing or an emotionally charged personal attack. They call it a thesis defense for a reason.

    11. OP*

      Thanks for all of this honest feedback. It makes me feel a little better to know that I’m not the only one in a role like this and it’s also helped me decide to work on reframing my answers to make sure I’m helping people see what it would take to get to a yes, so that it doesn’t feel to them (and hopefully to me too!) that I’m always the “no” person.

      A couple of you hit the problem on the head that most of the people sending these ideas through are non-scientists and they get frustrated when I turn something down, because whatever salesperson passing through told them that there is substantial scientific data showing unicorn glitter can cure blindness. So surely it must be true! And look, they even have a graph in a brochure showing it’s true! Part of this probably speaks to our greater problems with the product development process, but I’ve learned to accept that’s not going to change anytime soon. But I think I will talk to the department head about possibly setting up a submission process and perhaps panel of us to review these. Maybe if the answers are coming from a panel it would reduce the individual responsibility that I feel as well as helping standardize the level of science we’re looking for.

  6. BRR*

    I’m in an ongoing conflict with a coworker that I’m not sure how to handle. This person is a peer who has been hostile towards me for months. Her behavior includes throwing in antagonistic comments every time we interact and insinuating that my work/field is silly and adds no value.

    Her comments hit that sweet spot of being cutting while being subtle enough that she can deny there was ill intent. I’ve pushed back a few times but usually can’t form a professional response quick enough (or really at all since I can’t make my replies as subtle).

    I’m not sure what to do at this point and I’ve had it. My office culture is…something else, so if I push back harder I know she’ll go to our manager who will tell me that I need to cut it out (our manager LOVES her; he thinks she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread). I’ve thought about going to our manager, which I hate to do because we’re adults, but he’s conflict averse and already knows that she has an attitude problem. I would make an educated guess that even if he told her to stop, nothing would change.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is hard, of course it is, or you wouldn’t have the question and thus no easy answer. In a case like this I not only drop the rope, but lean forward a bit when I do it. i.e. I’d be a cordial stranger, if there is a cutting remark lean into it ‘oh you think Frog Wrangling is useless here at Amphibia; interesting, why is that?’ if she makes a nasty suggestion, ‘oh thanks for the insight, I’ll think about that.’ All done with good cheer. She lives to annoy you so being mildly pleased with the world when you interact with her takes all the fun out of it. It helps to withdraw as a participants and become an observer. Distance yourself psychologically and be secretly amused, allow a very slight smile to play on your lips when she behaves badly, perhaps a slight bit of pity or sympathy. If called on that it is ‘oh I feel badly that you seem to be having a tought time today.’ Feel superior. See her as pathetic. Don’t allow annoyance to show only pity or amusement — but very subtly. I have used this technique on a know it all who was always intrusive and sure of herself in putting people in their places. It worked well in two ways: it obviously was confusing to her and it made me feel good.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Sigh, this would not have worked with mine! Mine used to just tell me I was ugly. Telling them ‘oh you think I’m ugly; interesting, why is that?’ or ‘oh thanks for the insight, I’ll think about that’ would’ve made their day, and would’ve made them double down on the bullying in the hopes that I’d come back with more hilarious lines. But would definitely work great in a workplace!

          1. fposte*

            Nothing will work with everyone, but that’s pretty much what my bullies did, and greeting them before they greeted me and saying “Oh, cool!” to pretty much whatever they said still worked on them. Usually I was a total fail with bullying so I was pretty pleased.

      1. This Space For Rent*

        This is sound advise. I had a boss who delighted in upsetting staff and completely taking the wind out of people’s sails. I discovered when I stopped reacting emotionally, that this frustrated her immensely. The more batshit crazy she behaved, the more unflappable and cheerful I became. It served to actually draw attention to her bad behavior. I don’t know if this will work in your instance, BRR, but not allowing her nonsense to get to you is completely within your purview.

        1. LKW*

          I had a bat shit crazy boss and when he fired me he was so frustrated and angry because I did not react at all. No weeping, no defensiveness, no anger. I just smirked at him and when he asked if I was OK I said “I have other irons in the fire.” (I had already gotten a new job, in writing, they just couldn’t start me right away).

          It was awesome.

          1. Minocho*

            I was in a similar situation once. My boss looked physically ill as he was firing me, but my skip level stomped out of the room after telling me why I was fired (I was fired for not completing a coworker’s project – coworker was not disciplined for said project. It was obviously really about something else) because I joked with the HR lady and comforted my boss that I’d be fine. I personally believe he was annoyed that I didn’t break down.

      2. BRR*

        Thank you and everyone for your help! I think “oh I feel badly that you seem to be having a tough time today” will be very useful.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve done this. It takes the wind completely out of their sails and their snark falls flat. They don’t know what to do, LOL.

      4. the corner ficus*

        A friend of mine works in website development for small companies that can’t do it in-house. She has one client in particular who doesn’t understand a lick of the technical stuff behind her webpage so she gets really panicked and curt when something goes wrong. Her new coworker saw one her emails come through (ranting, borderline rude as usual) and instead of getting mad he actually laughed and said “I’m going to make this woman my best friend by the end of the month.”

        Long story short, she only wants Michael now. It’s always, “Just tell Michael. He knows everything about what I need.” Sometimes being crazy friendly is just crazy enough to work.

      5. Eccentric Smurf*

        This really works. In my experience,
        Polite/cordial indifference makes people like that soooo frustrated. There’s something oddly satisfying about watching them realize that they just don’t matter enough (to you) to warrant the kind of reaction they’re looking for. And the best part is, you’re not the one behaving inappropriately, so there’s not a darned thing they can say about it to management, teachers, etc.

    2. WK*

      Be unrelentingly cheerful/nice/kind to your coworker. It will drive her crazy. It will also lead anyone who witnesses your interactions to see that she is being crappy to you while you are being nothing but nice to her, which might help you if you ever do decide to go to your manager about it.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I was just going to comment this. I have a faculty member that I work with who is honestly just a complete and total b**ch. But she is “well respected” in her field and she doesn’t treat other faculty members like crap, just staff, so any time a staff member complains to our department head, it’s brushed off. So I’m just insufferably cheerful to her. It’s not in my nature, that’s not how I am as a person, but it drives her totally up the wall and I can tell and it makes my petty little heart so happy.

      2. ElspethGC*

        This often comes with a glorious payoff. I was incredibly patient when it came to interacting with someone who flip-flopped between wanting us to be best friends forever and wanting to bite my head off for breathing, and everyone recognised that. It killed me a little inside to not retort the way I wanted to, but we had to coexist somewhat peacefully, so it just wasn’t worth it.

        But it was *all* worth it when she started moaning about me to someone else (“Ugh, don’t go near Elspeth today, she’s being a complete b*tch, she’s snapping at me for no reason, I just don’t know why she gets like this.”) and this other girl, the nicest, sweetest human being, just turned around and went “No, Jane, I can guarantee she’s not being a b*tch to you, and I honestly can’t believe she’s put up with you for this long because *I* certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it if you treated me the way you treat her.”

        Ah, glorious vindication. It makes me feel all warm and happy inside every time I remember it.

        Admittedly we were all 17/18 at the time, but when someone is as immature as a coworker that does this, it’ll probably annoy them just as much as it annoyed my nemesis back then.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          I had a coworker like this too. I mostly took the high road unless she was insulting me in front of a group where I was obligated to say something. She spent a lot of time trash talking me behind my back too. A lot of the people we worked with saw what she was doing and sometimes would clue me in, or be like, “What that’s ridiculous she’s nice and helpful!” when she trashed me. But a few Bosses believed her, and it stayed a problem that stuck with me the whole time I worked there.

        2. WK*

          Yeah my advice is rooted in experience, I once had a coworker that was incredibly mean and nasty to me, to the point that I broke down in tears once. When I went to my boss about it, she said “you two just need to find a way to get along.” So I started being super nice to her, eventually my boss witnessed me very nicely go up to her and ask her for help with a task and her react nastily to me, she got a talking to, and the problem was (finally) solved.

    3. Adminx2*

      Play dumb. When she makes a comment, go blank, do the head tilt and say “I’m not sure what you mean?” and “Can you explain that? I don’t get it.” If she manages to explain you can just go “Huh, I guess that’s one way to look at it.” or “I never saw it like that but that’s cool.”
      Force her passive subtext into the open so it can be clear and easily dismissed.
      In a few people this MAY cause them to become more aggressive in other areas, if they really have it out for you or can’t stand their tactics being undermined. On the one hand it means they play their hand more obviously, but it can be even more annoying or even scary. Make your best judgement.

      1. ErgoBun*

        Yes, this! Call out her “subtlety” and make her explain it. Return rudeness to sender. Eventually she’ll either have to stop it or show her true colors. Bonus if you can get her to do this in front of your boss.

      2. LKW*

        This is exactly what I mean. When she says something subtle that could be misinterpreted call it out as innocently as you can muster “Jane, that’s an interesting comment. So I’m clear, you mean innocent scenario and not condescending and not innocent at all scenario? Right? I just want to make sure we understand one another.”

        Do it every time and people will begin to realize that she’s using inflammatory language and her innocent cover will be blown. If she challenges you and says “Why do you always assume the worst?” you simply say “I’m assuming the best, but just making sure that we’re communicating well.” or something to that effect.

      3. LaDeeDa*

        Yes! This was going to be my advice as well. I put passive aggressive and aggressive comments back on the person and make them explain. Play sweet and stupid. This keeps you from engaging in the back and forth, and points out to everyone exactly what that person is doing. People don’t like to be called out in this way, because it makes them EXPLAIN instead of you pointing out. It takes all ownership away from you.

    4. softcastle mccormick*

      Absolutely nothing to add except for how much I feel you on this. I’m in a similar work situation with a coworker who is inappropriate, has behavior and boundaries problems, but is absolutely beloved by our manager because she’s a chronic over-worker and is a genius at making herself look busy. She too is a “run to the manager” type to prevent any sort of word against her, and it infuriated me at first. Here’s how I’ve been dealing:
      1) Headphones. Just tune out the negativity unless it’s absolutely necessary to interact.
      2) Make other peers in the office. Note if other people feel similarly to you. Even if you don’t do anything about it, it’s good to know others feel your pain.
      3) Document and keep track of the comments in case it gets so bad a trip to HR or the manager is warranted.
      4) In that vein, don’t forget about HR. I know HR is never truly on your side, but they do have to take work abuse and inappropriate comments seriously, so if the line is ever crossed, make sure you have evidence.
      5)Just try your best to swallow and ignore it. This person knows what they’re doing with the subtle remarks, and you’re right to keep it professional. I know it sucks, but that’s the only way you can come out looking good.

      If your office culture is anything like mine, this behavior will be allowed to continue as long as the coworker remains valuable (output-wise) to the team. The best thing I ever did for myself was to slowly build up emotional resistance to these sorts of comments, and let my work and consistency speak for myself. It’s not difficult for the /right/ people to notice what’s actually going on. Is your boss relatively separated from your day-to-day office goings-on?

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I would just look at her and say “Wow”. Then walk away. She’s a bully and is looking for a reaction. Don’t give her one.

      I would also consider going to your manager, more as a record that you’re addressing the way she’s treating you in case your co-worker tries to get you into trouble. Document the comments, so you can show them how often it happens and what he’s saying. It may not change anything, but it gets you in front of it if it comes back on you.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Ahh a little gaslighter.
      You know, sincere and happy people do not speak in sentences loaded with ambiguity.
      This is a person who is not happy, perhaps she does not believe in her own power. For example, she can’t ask you to pass a copy of the X report over to her because why would you? No one else has ever treated her that way so why start now? Just a thought to hold in the back of your mind. I often chuckled at one job, I had thoughts like this every week about the behavior of a certain few. I realized that we are all fairly transparent one to the other. Just as I can see through some people’s actions, others can see through my actions.

      You can use that denial. Here’s how:

      You: “Gee, Cruella, it sounds like you think we don’t need a Frog Wrangler here.”
      Her: “Oh I never said that!”
      You: (Cheerily) Oh, good that clears that up. I am so glad that you understand how I help the effort here and you are on board with that. I am glad we had this talk and got that settled.” [Carry the expectation that the topic is forever closed. Or at least look like you expect the topic is forever closed.]

      It’s a set up. The pattern goes like this:
      You: “Person, it sounds like you are saying X.” ( You know they are going to deny it so you wait for that denial.)
      Person: “deny, deny, deny”
      You: Oh good, I am so glad we cleared this all up. So going forward we won’t have any mix-ups regarding Xs. This is great.

      Key part: You keep doing this. Over and over. Follow the pattern each time.

      You: “Person, it sounds like you think I ordered to many of A and not enough of B.”
      Person: “deny, deny, deny” (Because these folks are wonderfully predictable.)
      You: Oh, good. I kinda thought you remembered that we used 2 of A for every 1 of B, so we would need twice as many A’s. I am glad we got that squared away.

      Plan on doing this for the rest of your time working with her. But you will end up having to do it less and less.
      You do this long enough you get good at it.

      Me: “Boss, it sounds like you told my coworker you think I am an ass.”
      Boss: deny, deny, deny
      Me: “Oh good, I feel better now. [Not really.] I don’t like to let problems fester, I want to be sure you know that if something is wrong with my work, I want to know immediately so I can correct it immediately.” [The correction here is I am letting you know what you say does circle around to ME.]”

      OP, if you want to role play this here, post something and I will reply as if I am you.

      1. BRR*

        Thank you so much! This is all so incredibly helpful! I would like to take you up on the role play offer with a recent example. I made a small mistake with some data entry and she sent the correction with, “This was on the list you sent out so I’m not sure why it wasn’t entered this way?” I’m fine with the correction, we all make mistakes, but the only reply I wanted to send was “I’m more than happy to correct any mistakes that I’ve made but that second part isn’t necessary.”

        1. LKW*

          Ah, to these you reply “Oh I’m so glad you caught that error! I’m so glad that team members look out for one another here. I’ll be sure to let you know if I run into any problems.”

          Just act as if her intentions were good (they’re not); getting defensive is counterproductive in these situations.

          But if you run across one of her errors – oh you go to town (professionally) on that!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep, yep, yep.
            “Oh this is great, thank you. I am so glad you have my back, too. It’s super important for teammates to help each other. I will be sure to return the favor if I see anything. We can’t let each other fall down.”

            She will never show you another mistake for the rest of your life. ;)

    7. Annie Moose*

      What would happen if you just don’t react to it? I know that can be difficult, but it sounds like she’s doing this for the reaction–she wants to annoy and frustrate you. Denying her the satisfaction of a response could discourage her, because she isn’t getting anything out of it. It’s okay to not “win” every argument of this nature; you and I and any sensible person knows that the argument is stupid to begin with.

      (of course, if she’s just a generally nasty person, this might not do anything; she might derive satisfaction from being nasty even if you don’t react to it. But it might help you to know that she’s being absurd and her comments don’t matter. I mean, implying your field is useless? What kind of childish Mean Girls comment is that??)

      1. BRR*

        My reaction is all internal so it’s not feeding her. I don’t know if she’s insecure or want to supply fuel for her own sense of superiority.

        1. knitcrazybooknut*

          If your reaction isn’t feeding her, then her little burst of superiority is. If only for your own peace of mind, just learn to let it slide and be as professional about it as you can. I agree about returning the meanness to sender. My mom used to say pretty hurtful things under the guise of “Oh, that’s just a misunderstanding! You’re too sensitive/dramatic, etc. etc. forever”. When she would say something like that, I would pause, then say, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” with a bemused tone in my voice. My intent was to make her think about what she just said, and let her know I heard it. Her response was usually, “Well you know what I mean!” I think making your coworker repeat herself will at least tell her you understand what’s going on. My final solution with my mom was to stop being in contact with her (five blissful years of peace so far), but I know that’s not necessarily an option for you!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Unfortunately, BRR, with folks like this the response, “well you know what I mean” is the closest you will get to “winning”. If they backpedal in any way you have made your point.
            It’s good NOT to expect apologies or explanations. There won’t be any. The best you can hope for is there is no repeat of that particular conversation.

            I am sorry, knitcrazy, that your mom was so harsh. Congrats on rising above it.

        2. Indie*

          These people take the wind out of your sails initially with the oddity, but they very quickly become predictable and amusing.
          Plus they have a well of suppressed rage which is going to spill over in an embarrassing way one day. Get popcorn.

    8. ..Kat..*

      I have someone at my work doing this to me. I follow most of the advice about not engaging. The two problems for me are
      1. She is sweet to everyone else, so I have no one in my corner.
      2. This takes a lot of mental energy out of me and adds stress.

      I wish I could be as calm and unmoved on the inside as I am on the outside.

  7. NBG*

    Greetings all, happy Friday! I am an aspiring freelancer (writing, copyediting and digital communications). I have ideas for launching my own side business while working full-time. I was wondering what resources folks use for advice/counseling, mentoring, and giving a reality check to ideas and their viability. I am reading how-to books on freelancing, participating in online communities for freelance editors, and am planning on taking additional training on key skills. I was wondering if freelancers have gotten good mileage out of entities such as the Small Business Administration and locally-based small business centers? I live in the Washington DC Metro area and am curious if anyone can recommend organizations or government offices which support small businesses and freelancers. I am also Asian-American so curious if folks have found ethnic-based organizations for entrepreneurs helpful. Thanks for any insights!

    1. Beehoppy*

      Ooo-I’m in your same area and same boat (although not Asian-American). I currently do a little bit of work for clients I’ve gotten from personal referrals but am wanting to grow the business. Would love to see what resources people share. Not sure how we could connect, but am also looking to develop a support network of folks in a similar situation.

    2. AMA Long-time Lurker*

      OP, if you’re female identifying and on Facebook, see if you can get yourself an invite to THE BINDERS, a private writing resource group (based on the whole “binders full of women” debacle). There are a ton of specific pages based out of it where folks share information, opportunities, resources…it is my go-to as a writer.

    3. NBG*

      Thanks both! Argh I am a male so won’t be eligible for The Binders! Behoppy, I would be interested in connecting and being part of the support network.

      1. Formerly Arlington*

        My agency is looking for freelance copywriters. I’ll have to check out The Binders. Right now we use Media Bistro and it’s been hit or miss.

  8. Managing an Established Team*

    I’m looking for input from managers who were hired to manage an established team, and also input from those who are or have been on an established team and a new manager came in.

    I will be starting a new job the middle of next month and want to start off on the right foot and set myself and my team up for success. It’s the same highly regulated industry, same area of expertise as the job I have now. I was hired to manage a department and I’ll have about 10 people reporting to me in general. One person is called a team lead, and another person isn’t a supervisor or team lead, but he has a couple people that he supervises; together they supervise eight people in total.
    Some background: I was hired at my current job several years ago to manage an established team of two people, which grew to four the same day I started (added one more person awhile back also), and I really think I could have done a lot better. I did OK, but I feel like I just skated by.

    At my previous company I managed two people and I was there for many years, which meant that I had a lot of confidence and felt comfortable with everything about my job. Never did one-on-ones. It wasn’t a thing there at all. I’d never had them and didn’t know they existed, so didn’t know I should be doing them. But we were so small that career growth and things like that just seemed to happen naturally in the course of conversation. Next company, my boss did one-on-ones and they were awful. Over an hour every week and it was just her coming in with a stack of work to talk about. No career talk or anything like that at all; it was exhausting and we all dreaded it every week. At my current company, some managers do them and some don’t. My boss never did, but we always managed to touch base often and have good discussions. And that’s how I managed my team. No one wanted one-on-ones (I asked several times; yes I know I should have done them anyway).

    I came into my current company having not managed more than two people before, so it was really tough to move to managing more. It was a new company, new people, and I no longer had the security blanket of being at the company for almost 20 years; I was insecure. What made it awkward—and this is all on me—is that, according to my boss, the senior person had apparently been offered my job and turned it down due to burnout, which is why I was hired. In talking with this employee shortly after I came on board, he told me “I could never do what you do. Glad you’re dealing with all this!” Meaning, having to deal with making all the policy and process changes, etc. Several months later he told me that he was offered the job and, at that moment, was burned out and didn’t think he wanted the job, but it really seemed as though he was saying he regretted not taking it. That’s the vibe I got, and that made it awkward. (Actually that’s the vibe I got for most of my time here.) Also, since he and another person had worked together for a couple years, that other person tended to treat him as the boss for a while. And he, in turn, kept referring to my boss as his boss. There were times when a decision had to be made (a normal daily occurrence as part of our workload and much of it is subjective in nature) and if I didn’t agree, he’d sometimes go to my boss as the tie-breaker.

    A big part of this new job and the reason I was hired is to affect change. I’ve been warned already that I may run into a lot of people that are resistant, both within the department and the departments we serve.

    I have several weeks to prepare, so please share with me your best tips, horror stories, success stories and anything else you can think of. What worked best for you as a manager coming into a new company with an established team? What didn’t work? What do you regret doing or not doing and wish you’d done? How did you establish your authority and deal with people who may not want to make changes? What was the first thing you did as someone who needs to affect change? And as the team member with the new manager, what made your life more difficult? What made it easier? Is there something you wish your manage had done and didn’t? Or wish she hadn’t done?

    1. Artemesia*

      It is often a no win position to be hired to ‘effect change’ since the current management has obviously failed to do that. Why? Are they unwilling to be assertive with a difficult team? Have they not tried?

      I would want to sit down with the management and find out precisely how they want things to change and what they have already tried to bring that about. Are there productivity issues that can be quantified? What should things look like a year from now if you are successful? What have they told this team about these goals? How far are they ready to go if there is serious resistance? It is very common for cowardly managers to throw someone into an unsupported change agent role and let them be devoured by wolves. So find out what they want to see change and what they are willing to support to do it? Including willingness to let people go who refuse to go along.

      Then with the new team, I would briefly meet with the team and lay out the targets the management has set for the coming year and identify the issues that concern them and then tell them you will want their ideas on accomplishing this and will meet with each of them to get their input. Then sit down with each person and find out what they see as barriers to getting these things done? Once you have their ideas, you can then plan a meeting with the whole team to share the team’s vision and the management concerns and lay out your initial strategy to achieve these changes. In my experience, most teams know what needs done and someone in the group will come up with the same things you would want to try. So establishing some team ownership is the way to start. You don’t do the brainstorming as a team because of concerns that some very negative members will discourage others. Doing it one on one gets you concrete ideas you can add to your own concrete ideas before Fergus gets to say ‘we tried that in California 30 years ago and it didn’t work.’

      Nothing annoys a team like a newbie who knows it all; so getting their ideas and building on them as you add your own is a more graceful way to start.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Yes, this. Often when you’re hired to effect change, it’s because the company doesn’t have the resources or support to make the change themselves.

        “We need to buy new helmets for the llama jockeys, because OSHA” turns into “Oh but that’s not in the budget.”
        “Fergus is belligerent and hostile to staff and customers, and seldom shows up to work” turns into “Oh but we can’t write up Fergus, he’s been here forever and we’re heading into peak Llama Wrangling season.”
        “We are short four Llama Wranglers and we can’t run the Llama Derby without them because it is against the animal welfare code,” turns into, “Well no one is applying and the Llama Derby is our biggest profit source all year, so you’ll just have to make do.”

      2. Managing an Established Team*

        The most significant changes would mostly be to policies that affect other departments within the company. So if a customer-facing department is doing X, Y and Z, but really only X and Y are important, it’s figuring out how to get those people–the ones digging in their heels–on board with not having to do Z anymore, since Z is really just a CYA thing they’re doing and it’s total overkill. There may be a reason they’re also doing Z, but in the grand scheme of things, Z is just a time-waster. They’re doing Z as part of a daily task to CYA because something happened five years ago and they don’t want it to happen again.

        Other changes are changes in processes within my department. So if we’re doing three processes that all cover the same subject area, do we really need all three? Can we combine them to make it one streamlined process? Can we eliminate one of them, keep one as-is, and maybe tweak another one?

        I’ve been told that I may get a lot of “but we’ve always done it this way.”

    2. Lily Rowan*

      I think going in with a listening attitude is going to be really important — you want people at all levels to think you are taking their concerns seriously, even if you ultimately don’t agree with them. When I started my current middle-management job, in a much larger organization than I had worked in before, I had a ton of on-boarding meetings with people all over the place, up and down the ladder. They were mostly set up for me by my boss, but if no one else does it, I really recommend it. One question I asked everyone was, What could our team be doing better? It gave me a lot of good input and understanding about the different perspectives out there.

    3. Managing an Established Team*

      Just to add a little more context, it’s a new, younger CEO and change is being driven by her. Organization is conservative. They’re hiring a lot of new people to drive change.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you want people to listen you have to stop talking.
      I seriously recommend first checking to see if they have what they need to do their jobs. Most of the time you will find that they don’t have what they need. Surprisingly, much of what they need is probably fairly inexpensive and easy to obtain. Get it for them.

      Listen to their concerns. The place is too hot/too cold. They can’t use their PTO/ they don’t have PTO. Find out what they want. Do what you can. Of what you can NOT do, let them know you are working on or you can’t do it but have another idea or it’s coming but it will be a while.

      Explain the changes. “We are no longer doing X. We will be doing Y instead.” Then explain why this change is happening.

      Don’t hit them with 27 changes in one week. They have their regular work to do as well as the additional work of implementing the change.
      Allow them time to learn the change (new programming, new machine, whatever) take work off of them so they can actually get themselves up to speed with the change.
      Get involved with the change and get them involved. Where they can make choices, let them pick from the options.

      Sometimes you can cover more ground by agreeing with them then by acting cheery and detached. “Yeah, I do agree that new process XYZ seems to be encumbered and time consuming. Let’s see if we can come up with some ideas to make it easier for everyone.” Your agreement will gain your more inroads than if you try to make them cheer up about the new idea.

      Hang on to the idea that they do not HAVE to be cheerful about the changes. What you really need them to do is to adapt to the changes. If someone is doing the work in the new way but grumbling, I’d let the grumbling go in favor of the bigger picture that “hey, they are actually using the new method/machine/whatever.” Saying something like, “Yeah, I see that doing x is a bear. I really appreciate you putting in the extra effort here.”, can cover a lot of ground quickly.

    5. Overeducated*

      I posted earlier about being on a team with a new manager and going through massive change. I’m not going to lie, it was hard for a while, because it felt like being told everything we were doing was wrong and/or unnecessary. Frankly, half our team did quit or retire during that transition, and that’s probably the worse that can happen. But we’ve come out the other side, we’ve taken a “focus on essentials” approach to make the workload somewhat manageable for those of us who are left, and we generally see the value of those changes and have a lot of respect for the new manager.

      What made it work: authority and honesty. New manager didn’t try to make friends with us, didn’t try to make sure we were happy or had full buy-in for the changes, just leaned on her managerial authority and said “this is how it’s going to be.” But she asked us a ton of questions to understand how things worked first, let us ask a lot of questions and talk through potential issues with her, and clearly explained the reasoning for her decisions. I consider watching how she made those decisions, and what foundational questions she was asking about the work, to be one of the best learning opportunities I’ve had in my job. The authority is there for you to use, if you aren’t worrying too much about being liked.

      What I, and some of my coworkers, wish had been different: communication. My manager is honest, but not always transparent, in that she often doesn’t pass down information unless we have a clear need to know to get our work done, or unless we directly and specifically ask. Some things need to be kept close to the vest until they are ready to share more widely, but there are plenty of things that do no harm to tell us and make us feel more respected to be in the loop. I think this is more a result of being overwhelmed with work than any ill intent, but authority doesn’t require aloofness.

    6. Jellyfish*

      I’ve been on the employee side of this a few times. We always knew the new person was coming to make changes, but it still shook things up. Once it was done very poorly, and once it was done very well, so I have plenty to say here. :)

      Even though you’re coming in to do things differently, I’d suggest not changing anything for the first month to six weeks. Get to know your people and understand the processes there.
      If you know why a certain process is being done inefficiently for example (tradition? communication issues? redundancy in tasks? special circumstances?), it will be much easier for you explain how and why it needs to change.

      Seconding the others who said that listening is important too. It doesn’t have to be a marathon one-on-one session, but get to know what people like, dislike, and if you can, their long term goals. If one person is ambitious and wants to take on more, or another dislikes change because they’re comfortable with the current system and new tech is scary, that could give you insight into how to frame new things and what reactions to expect.

      Ask for suggestions too. This is just a personal quirk of mine, but when people directly ask for suggestions or feedback, my mind goes blank. If you ask about frustrations or complaints though, and then ask for possible solutions, I think you’ll get better responses. Even if you don’t implement their exact solution, it can help the employees feel like they’re a positive part of the changes. It’s something they have a hand in rather than something being imposed on them.

      Avoid saying things like, “We did it this way at X company.” You work at Y company now, and the Y employees don’t care what people do at X. Even if your ideas come from your previous experience, those ideas should be presented as ways to specifically improve work/efficiency/culture/profits/etc. at the current company.

      Give people measurable goals with realistic time frames. Vague announcements about “we need to communicate better with the chocolate department” won’t really help. Provide concrete descriptions of the result you want, and if necessary, the steps people should take to get there. “I’d like a report by Friday at 3:00 on what current projects and processes require collaboration with the chocolate department and the contact person for each.” Or whatever. Ha, I’m not great at industry non-specific hypotheticals.

      If someone doesn’t like the changes, don’t take it personally. Listen honestly to feedback, but remember that sometimes new things are just hard for people. Their comfortable routine has been disrupted, and they’re trying to figure out how to settle back in. Even when my new manager brought in excellent changes, people still grouched at first. Once we all saw how much more smoothly things went though, it was easier to accept and eventually embrace the new stuff.

      Best of luck and congrats on your new position! You got this!

      1. Managing an Established Team*

        Those are some great suggestions! I will try very hard to restrain myself from saying, “We did it this way at my last company.”

        Any horror stories you can tell me about the time it went poorly? I’d be really interested in hearing them, kind of as an illustration of what not to do.

        I’m also pretty nervous about the people management part of it. I mean, I’ve been doing it for a while, but I feel like I’m not doing it as well as I should. A big part of it is feeling insecure about the fact that I’m coming into an established team. And that’s how I’ve always felt at this company, too. I never really got past it 100%. (I really hate admitting that…)

        I’d love to mention the industry, but I’d out myself here, hence the change in screen name for today. Even though the new company is smaller than the current one, which is also small, one never knows who is reading!

        1. Jellyfish*

          Ha, no real horror stories. The manager he replaced was a horror story on an epic scale though, and that’s what caused the need for a change-bringer in the first place. The new manager was a good guy, but he handled a bad situation poorly. It doesn’t sound like you’re going into that, but there might be some parallels. Our little team was very close and used to protecting each other from our direct manager, so some of the interpersonal dynamics might be similar.

          I think the biggest problem was speed. The new manager literally started making changes on day one.
          There were pretty clear causes for some of the existing problems, but he didn’t take the time to learn what those were. People had developed certain patterns to protect themselves from the previous toxic manager, and when the new guy came in demanding changes, that really freaked people out. There was no way to tell at first if he was going to be toxic too. I think this made us more resistant to him than we would have been if he’d taken a few weeks for everyone to get to know each other.

          He made a whole bunch of fairly little changes right away too. I think he was trying to start small, but it felt like a power play. He asked for changes on how we addressed envelopes, for example. It was a completely reasonable adjustment, but it was a weird thing to do on his very first day. Like, at least learn my last name before you start giving orders?

          There’s a difficult balance between letting small things go for a time and going ahead and implementing easy changes though. Not sure how to solve that one. Some little changes might be easier if they’re based on employee complaints/feedback? Get some suggestions and then base some fixes at least partially on those maybe?

          A few of the processes were also done a certain way for good reason. He demanded new approaches immediately, and then had to go back make changes to the changes later. That didn’t make anyone look good.

          When I saw this done well, the new manager learned the whys behind things first. That way, he could say, “Hey, I know you’ve been doing A to account for B, but we’re going to do C now because of D & E, and we’ll address B in this other way.” Even when people pushed back, it was clear the new guy had thought things through and was trying to make a positive adjustment. His explanations and understanding got enough people on board that the we’ve-always-done-it-this-way complaints looked petty.

          The good manager also communicated really well. He struck a nice middle ground between using his legitimate authority and considering feedback. When he wanted something different, it wasn’t a request, but he was clear and patient in describing why the change mattered. If someone offered a good suggestion, he’d implement that too and give them credit for it.

          There’s the forward and backward framing I mentioned. The good manager didn’t ever bring up his past when making changes. He always framed it as, “Going forward, we’ll do it this way to improve these aspects of our company now.” The poorer manager would talk about back when he was at company X, which made him look a bit stuck in the past. It was like talking about an ex-partner in some ways. They shaped you and you learned from those experiences, but it’s usually best not to say so explicitly.

    7. Managing an Established Team*

      Thanks! There are some good suggestions here and some real food for thought. I’m glad I have three or so weeks to create a plan for the first couple weeks.

      1. TechWorker*

        I think communication is the absolute key. I was in a situation where my manager got a promotion and a new manager came into the middle role to be my direct manager. He basically.. didn’t talk to me.. and when he did it was super forced because we just didn’t really know each other. In hindsight I should have been way clearer about what I needed from him but he didn’t ask either and made some wrong assumptions – like, he managed the project for ~8 months and the plan was always for me to take over after. We would slip work and cut corners to scrape deadlines which stressed me out (and I’m still dealing with the consequences of). His reaction was basically that he didn’t expect anyone on the team to care and making deadlines was his responsibility, hence why he never updated me or explained why it was ok to cut corners.

      2. Katefish*

        One of the most toxic jobs I’ve ever been in was when a new manager was brought into a store to “clean it up.” He immediately brought over employees from his previous store and it led to an us v. them culture for months. I have years of experience, including as a manager in another company, and I still to this day don’t know what the “problem” was to clean up. One boss up was incredibly out of touch and probably didn’t realize the store needed working equipment to replace broken parts, not a new manager. I guess my takeaway would be, make sure the “you need to fix this” higher-ups know the actual causes of the problems prior to fixing them.

  9. Exploring Career Opportunities*

    Earlier in the week, we had a post on some careers that are more competitive like academia and acting/entertainment. But what are some industries that have less or no competition?

    1. FFHP*

      In my area (Gulf Coast), it’s pretty easy to get hired as a secondary math or science teacher, or a K-12 Special Education teacher. Also, we have growing maritime/shipbuilding and aviation/commercial jet manufacturing industries, so it’s easy to get a job in those fields.

    2. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Not that this means less or no competition, necessarily, but jobs in nursing seem to be plentiful.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Very much so!
        My sister got her CNA (a very underpaid position IMO) and got her tuition reimbursed and offers to pay for her continued schooling after 1 year. In looking at the plan she could have gotten all the way to RN and not paid a cent as long as she stayed for at least 3 or 6 months after each class ended.

      2. DataGirl*

        Healthcare is the fastest growing industry in my state, and probably across the US as the boomers get older/live longer. Pretty much any career in healthcare such as nurse, lab tech , radiology tech, equipment repair, etc is going to be a winner in terms of job security.

        1. Slartibartfast*

          Radiology and ultrasound is actually very hard to break into. Training programs are turning out graduates far faster than available jobs come open (I looked into both with a recent career change).

      3. Lissa*

        Healthcare in Canada, too – positions like nursing, HCA/RCA are in high demand. I work at a community college and the colleges can’t graduate classes fast enough to keep up with the demand of the aging population. Will be very interesting in a few years to see what happens.

      4. Hamburke*

        My mom is a retired nurse – the industry seems to go in waves of feast or famine. There was a shortage of nurses in the 90s but by the time I finished undergrad in 2000, nurses were a dime a dozen and couldn’t find work.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      K-12 education definitely has less competition. Even in the large, desirable, southern city where I live there is always a need for teachers and administrators (football coaches not so much.)

      1. Manders*

        It does vary a bit by subject–from what I’ve seen secondhand, schools seem to be having a hard time recruiting and retaining math and science teachers, and some language teachers are in high demand. History and English still seem pretty competitive.

        There are places where pretty much anyone can get hired if you’re willing to live overseas. A lot of my friends went into international teaching programs with no teaching experience at all.

        1. Minerva McGonagall*

          Totally agree it’s based on subject and location – math, science, special ed, reading is going to be in demand anywhere but teachers are highly needed in the urban and southern areas of the US. I live in the northeast, and my husband teaches music. Almost 200 people applied for his job, and it was one of maybe a handful that were posted that hiring cycle in our area.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Depends on the state! In Michigan, at least when my sister was seeking a job, the market was very competitive–there were tons of people with teaching degrees and not enough jobs. A lot of people she went to college with either had to go to charter schools or take long-term sub jobs, things like that. (this was a few years ago now–not sure if the market has improved)

        1. DataGirl*

          Michigander here. The other thing about teaching is you have to be willing to be paid shit. I have the qualifications, but could never live on the salary; thus I work in IT.

        2. Manders*

          Oh yeah, the city and state make a huuuuuge difference, along with the type of school. My husband has several advanced degrees but no M.Ed., which means he can teach at private schools but not public schools in our area. Private school openings are pretty competitive but if he did get his M.Ed. or if we moved to an area with different licensing laws, he’d be in the running for way more jobs.

      3. Liza*

        Same here in the UK. I frequently see schools with banners outside advertising for teaching staff. I don’t know much about how teacher training works over there, but here we have a problem with lots of NQTs dropping out after a couple of years because they can’t handle it. They saw an attractive career (guaranteed job, decent salary, paid to train) and didn’t have many other options, and didn’t realise how horrendous the job can be. So there’s not exactly competition but people still fail, just for different reasons, myself included.

        1. Asenath*

          In my area, it’s difficult to get a job teaching in an urban areas and easier, but not easy, in rural areas. It’s a bit easier to get teaching jobs with certain specialty areas, but in the urban areas it’s assumed all applicants will work as substitutes before being hired full time – that could be a couple of year of part time short term work. And as Liza said, many new teachers leave the field. They often find it too difficult and stressful. It’s not a field I’d generally recommend. Too much competition, too hard to get into, and too much chance of having to quit and find something different.

    4. Adminx2*

      Admin work? I mean it’s a weird time cause lots of places are trying to convince themselves admins are outre but there’s always new execs and businesses which need that help. Downsides are usually not easy career path to something else or high pay. Upsides are generally easy hours and connect with every level of a company.

      1. Manders*

        Total anecdata here, but my friend who’s currently job searching as an admin is having a really hard time. Part of it is the salary issue–she lives in an expensive area, and a lot of companies just don’t seem to be paying what she needs to make rent, so a lot of job openings just aren’t right for her–but it does seem like she’s competing with a lot of other people right now.

        I had a much easier time job hunting when I switched from admin to marketing. It helps that my accomplishments are quantifiable now. I accomplished a lot as an admin, but my first boss was the sort of guy who holds grudges when people quit, so I didn’t really end up with anything to prove how hard I’d worked. Now I’m in a metrics-driven field.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        I have found that if you have a little specialized admin/secretarial experience, like law (in-house or firm), or finance, it’s much easier to find good-paying admin jobs. This was a prime reason to temp, when I was starting out – even a few months experience in a highly corporate or specialized environment was good resume fodder. And the larger firms really like temp-to-perm, which makes the job hunting easier and lets you know if it’s a good fit.

    5. Meh*

      Truck driving. You get a Commercial Driver’s License and pass a drug test, you’ll get offers out the wazoo for 40-50k jobs with no experience. My brother got three offers the moment he got the license. Other blue collar jobs are also in demand.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Anything trade related is going to be extremely lucrative for the foreseeable future. There just seems to be a shortage of people who want to work as a plumber/electrician/joint fitter/etc.

      2. Exploring Career Opportunities*

        Did your brother get a CDL A or CDL B? Unfortunately for me, I’m not comfortable driving anything bigger than a crossover and if I really push it, I will manage a regular SUV. But even a Surburban has me going “Nope!”

        1. Meh*

          I don’t know the exact license but it was definitely to drive 18-wheelers. I could never do it myself. Sounds like it’s not what you’re looking for. Sorry about that!

      3. It's Pronounced Bruce*

        I’d put a big asterisk on this because, while there is a shortage of drivers, it’s partially because the benefits to being one and the overall compensation have been dwindling and the downsides growing. A lot of the people going into it are getting out again fast, too. It’s hard to get drivers nowadays for a reason.

    6. Lora*

      Biotech. Some companies, I swear they hire anyone with a STEM degree and a pulse. The downside is that you really have to live in either metro Boston or northern CA areas; it gets tougher elsewhere.

      1. City Girl*

        I grew up in NYC and both those areas would be somewhere that I would want to live in. I wish younger me would’ve known this, or would’ve taken an interest in science but I could barely pass high school chemistry…

    7. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      A lot of the so-called “tech” or “IT” roles have very low unemployment rates, combined with a lot of job vacancies. This would include software development, QA/Testing, UX/UI/Graphic Design, devOps, network/systems administration, database work of various types, and some types of project management and customer support. And most industries now have a strong tech component to them – retail, finance, health care, etc. So jobs are available in areas well beyond the west coast.

      That said, it’s also an area where you usually need a specific skillset (although some places will train from scratch, especially for support and some types of testing positions), and many employers expect the credential of a college degree of some sort (although where I am an AA or AS will often be sufficient).

      1. AMA Long-time Lurker*

        Just came here to second tech/IT/coding. There is ALWAYS need for programmers and data specialists, regardless of industry, so if you are tech savvy and able to teach yourself some Java or SQL, you have a much greater chance of job security. There’s also a higher likelihood that you can work jobs like these remotely. My friends in IT have never had major gaps in their resumes and are paid very well; they’re in such high demand.

      2. DataGirl*

        I agree that there are more tech jobs than people to fill them, but as an IT person my experience has been that most places are not willing to pay what the position is worth or what they are asking for (want 20 years experience, paying entry level wages). So you may end up looking a long time before you find something worthwhile.

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

          I think it depends on what kind level of finance we are talking about. If you’re talking about day-to-day banking operations–loan officers, tellers, even low to mid level management–its not all that competitive, at least in my area. If we’re talking auditors, high level management, and out into the higher finance world–investments, financial advising, stocks, etc.–then it definitely gets more competitive.

          1. City Girl*

            I was thinking “Wall Street” when I was reading the banking comment! But this makes sense when you’re talking about banking operations.

        2. ChachkisGalore*

          I’m sure it depends somewhat on location, but if you’re already in a finance heavy area – compliance depts are exploding and desperate for bodies. You used to need a JD, but its definitely moving away from that. For reference – I have a BA in psychology, about 5 years of admin experience and about 2 years of compliance specific experience and I’m contacted at least once a week (if not more) about mid level roles that pay close to or above 6 figures. Getting in to entry level roles at larger banks or firms is very easy with any sort of finance/economics degree, however a lot of places are open to anyone with any sort of experience in the finance industry. That’s how I got started – just being a receptionist at a smallish firm.

          Job prospects are pretty solid too. The trend in the US has been for more and more regulation. There’s some chance that could change given the current political climate, but globally that’s definitely not the case. Any US companies with international clients or investments often needs to follow those international regulations as well, so even if the US does roll back, there’s still the international regulations to be dealt with. There’s some chance the industry could move from in house to a more consultancy based model, but the SEC seems to be coming down negatively on that, and even if it does, well there were still be plenty of roles – just with consulting companies rather than with finance firms directly.

          1. Nita*

            Would you mind sharing what’s a good place to look for these jobs? I know someone with some finance background, who wants to switch fields and would IMO do great in compliance.

            1. ChachkisGalore*

              Recruiters! Look for recruiting agencies that specialize in Legal & Compliance or that have a dept. focused on Legal & Compliance (Robert Half and JW Michaels are the two that I can think of off the top of my head – I’m in NYC and they were great here, but I think they do have a presence beyond NYC).

              I also had some luck with Glassdoor and LinkedIn job postings – searching for Compliance Analyst, Associate or Officer roles. Also looking for AML or KYC related job titles (anti-money laundering or know your customer) – they’re a specific subset within compliance (usually – sometimes they’re their own dept). There’s various levels, but quite a few are entry level or early level.

              Also – word of mouth from anyone in financial institutions. What I’ve seen happen at both my last company and my current company – they post a compliance role (particularly entry level or if they’re looking for 1-3yrs of experience), they struggle to get candidates with compliance experience, so they’ll informally broaden their requirements to anyone with any sort of financial background. So if you can get someone in the company to forward your resume along you can be considered even if the recruiters or HR working on the role are still holding out for compliance specific experience.

              Not sure how experienced you friend is in general, but as long as they’re open to entry level/early level roles to get their foot in their door they can move up in salary/responsibility level pretty quickly, and as soon as you have something with the word compliance in your title on your resume/linkedin the recruiters will start showing up on their own.

    8. Ashley*

      The building trades are generally desperate. If you can pass a drug test and read a tape measure you are hired.

      1. Llellayena*

        Please be able to read that tape measure though! Reading architectural/structural drawings is a bonus! I’ve had projects where the people in the field couldn’t read the dimensions on the drawings (and not because they were unclear) and it’s makes you start thinking you don’t want to walk into the building when it’s done.

      2. Eccentric Smurf*

        Specialized types of construction are often willing to to hire entry level people without experience in that particular industry and then promote from within because they know people with that exact skillset are rare.

    9. CheeryO*

      My boyfriend is an electrical engineer in the controls/automation field, and recruiters are constantly reaching out to him.

    10. Manders*

      Caretaking jobs (senior care, mental health facilities, etc.) are pretty easy to come by. Unfortunately, it’s a brutally difficult field and workers are rarely ever paid what they deserve.

    11. n*

      The Pudding has a really awesome interactive about what jobs are most likely to be automated in the future. So, it gives some great data-backed information on what jobs are likely to have a lot of positions in the future (so less competitive) and which are not. They have an interactive tool that lets you select different jobs to see the likelihood of automation and the projected job growth. Might be of interest to you!

    12. Nita*

      Repair of building equipment. I’ve seen quite a few ads for boiler and HVAC repair jobs that pay very well, and this can’t be outsourced. I live in a big city, so there are plenty of large buildings with many mechanical systems that need maintenance.

    13. MinotJ*

      Medical Laboratory Tech (in the US). You need a specialized degree (AS or BS) that oddly few schools offer. Once you have it, you can get a job in any decent-sized metropolitan area, and with a year or two under your belt you can go almost wherever you want.

      1. Pilot in Training*

        I’m working on becoming a career pilot now. It is expensive, but it’s not that long a path. I started getting serious about a year and a half ago, and I’m already working on becoming an instructor. I should be done in about three months. After that I’ll teach for about a year and then I’ll have the requirements to start applying for airlines. Overall it’s taking me less time than it took me to get my bachelor’s degree.

  10. Elemeno P.*

    Does anyone else get a bit paranoid about things they do at work after reading some of the things on this blog? I know that the few times I have to cut my nail because it broke, or my lunch is more fragrant out of the microwave than expected, I immediately apologize to all of my cube mates and think about all the letters that could be written of my misdeeds.

        1. Elizabeth Proctor*

          IMO while popcorn has a strong scent it’s not offensive. It depends how open your kitchen is to peoples’ work spaces. But you CANNOT burn it. Rather take out a half-popped bag than be the person who burned popcorn.

          1. This Space For Rent*

            Someone burned popcorn on the floor below us and it filtered up via the vents just yesterday. It was godawful and we were legitimately concerned that something was on fire. Burnt food odors are the worst.

          2. The Original K.*

            One of my former colleagues burned popcorn and we teased her about it for days, which was about how long the smell lingered because there were no windows in the kitchen. (Really in jest, no one was seriously mad. And the whole thing was comical because she was frantically fanning, trying to get rid of the smell.)

            1. Anonymous co-irker*

              For the record don’t burn anything in the microwave at a fire alarm company… our place got evacuated and the popcorn owner still hasn’t fessed up.

          3. Autumnheart*

            I accidentally caused a whole 8-floor building to be evacuated due to burning a bag of popcorn. Worst thing was, it was only a week after someone else had done it on another floor, and I’d said, “Who’s dumb enough not to pay attention to their popcorn?” My karma was set in motion at that moment. Took me a good 4-5 years to own up to it.

          4. Narvo Flieboppen*

            I know I’m in the minority, but the smell of microwave popcorn turns my stomach. So I really don’t appreciate it when people make it down the hall and the whole floor reeks of it for hours later. Might be that they use a cheap/low quality brand of popcorn.

        2. Rey*

          One department in our building has a popcorn machine, and the C suite said that because everyone could smell it, they had to share with everyone. Now we have Popcorn Tuesday!

        3. Need a Beach*

          I worked with a woman who would immediately hurl at the smell of popcorn when she was pregnant. She had four kids, so there was a lot of no-popcorn time at that job.

        4. Kathenus*

          The problem with popcorn, for me, is that if I smell it I want it. So it’s torture when someone makes it in the office. That said, that’s my problem, not theirs. Just means I need to go to the movies that weekend, I guess, because there’s nothing like great, unhealthy, movie theater popcorn :)

        5. Hi*

          I guess. No one at my office would give a crap if you microwaved popcorn or clipped a nail and we were in an extremely luxury industry. I think a lot of people are just incredibly nit picky. If you never ate any of the “banned” office foods that have been mentioned here, you’d literally never eat. Maybe you could eat a banana silently in the stairwell hidden by a blanket.

        6. Friday Anon*

          My company has a strict “no popcorn or fish in the microwave” rule. Our entire building is an open plan (open staircases, open floors), so it’s really for the benefit of everyone. There are so many good options these days for pre-popped popcorn, so I don’t think of it as a big deal.

        7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Meh, just don’t burn it and you’ll be fine!

          Burned popcorn smell is the worst, though.

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

        I recently discovered what is worse than burnt mic. popcorn at work : almost burnt popcorn AND lemon floor cleaner scent mixed together. It’s excruciatingly horrific.

        1. Autumnheart*

          I’ve got another horrible smell combination for you, courtesy of a retail job back in the day. A Chinese food chain restaurant next to a nail salon.

    1. Dame Judi Brunch*

      Same! None of us are perfect, so I think minor infractions are forgiven.
      However, my coworker microwaved fish yesterday. We are in a mostly open office plan. I’m not over it yet.

      1. Hi*

        I just can’t understand this? People have to eat food and food has a scent! i think its also treading into weird territory. Maybe its their dinner leftovers and they cant afford to buy a new separate mail just to please you. This reminds me of the curry restaurant thing…

      2. Dame Judi Brunch*

        Of course food smells. Reheated fish is universally known to be a no-go in an office. The point is have courtesy for your captive fellow worker bees.
        She could have stayed in the lunch room too instead of bringing it into the work space.

        1. Hi*

          True, I think I’m thinking my office where the kitchen is literally IN the office and also its TINY and we’re packed in here like sardines. So we have become quite tolerant to smells…I wish my co worker didn’t love sardines so much.

    2. xarcady*

      I get paranoid, too. But . . . I also feel you shouldn’t have to apologize for living, i.e. doing perfectly normal, acceptable actions of daily life.

      For example, I drink tea. We have a coffee machine that has a spout for hot water which delivers the hot water very slowly. It takes me longer to stand there and get fill my mug with that hot water than it does for someone to swoop in, grab one of the coffee pots and fill their mug. And the coffee drinker can move away from the coffee machine with the coffee pot and let someone else get to the coffee maker, but tea or hot chocolate drinkers have to stand there, blocking access to the coffee pots, while they are getting their hot water.

      I always feel that I should apologize to a coffee drinker who is standing and waiting for me to finish filling my mug. But I’m really not doing anything wrong! The company has chosen this incredibly slow delivery method for hot water. I’m as much a victim of it as anyone else. So instead of apologizing for making them wait, I’ll make eye contact and make a remark about the weather, or the latest sportsball score, general office small talk. But it is an internal struggle not to apologize.

      It also depends on the number of people affected. Cut a nail once? That is maybe heard in the next cubicle over and seen by no one? Don’t say anything. Unexpectedly smelly food that is wafting its fragrance over 25 cubicles? Maybe nothing, because you won’t bring that in again, or maybe one general statement to the group at large, “Wow, this is more odiferous than I thought!”

      I think it is the repeated inconsideration that some people show to their fellow workers that really bothers people. If you are generally considerate of the people who work near you, the occasional blip probably doesn’t even register with your co-workers.

    3. only acting normal*

      I *loathe* being near someone cutting their nails, it makes my skin crawl. However, I have *zero* objection to someone fixing a broken nail at their desk (even the desk next to me – and we don’t have dividers never mind cubicles). It’s one nail in an emergency, not a full on manicure, go right ahead guilt free.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        So much yes. If someone does something once no biggie. If someone does it more than once and gets asked to stop and doesn’t, that’s where I lose respect.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      If you’re thinking enough about your co-workers to be concerned that you could be the subject of a letter to the blog, that tells me that you’re a considerate person with common courtesy for other humans and if anyone were to write in about something you’ve done, they’re the unreasonable one and someone who would complain about everything.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      Yup. The “coworker talks too much” is one I relate to except my coworkers are good about telling me to shut it when needed (and I listen).
      Recently the “sex noises” one freaked me out because I was doing a lot of sighing, moaning (in exasperation not pleasure), and whispered cursing because of a major issue.

    6. Inveterate Fish Microwaver*

      For what it’s worth, people at my office microwave fish in the staff lounge all the time. No one has ever commented. In my department, it’s pretty common to eat at your desk, too. I wouldn’t clip my nails there, but food? Meh. No one cares. This stuff really depends on your office culture- my firm has a pretty diverse set of employees, many of whom bring homecooked traditional foods, and no one ever seems to have a problem with that. For my part, I have strong aversions to certain “normal” North American foods (broccoli with cheese, cheetos, Smartfood popcorn), but I don’t complain when people eat those near me, either.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yes! I am now paranoid about applying makeup in the bathroom at the end of a day if I go out after work; because I read it on here that it’s inconsiderate of the colleagues who are just trying to pee.

      But I am also now paranoid about applying the makeup at my desk, because that’s inconsiderate of my colleagues that are trying to work.

      Right now I have a tw0-person office with a door and the officemate who leaves earlier than I do, so there’s a workaround.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Honestly, I think that everything can tick someone off some where.
      I think the most important thing to counter-balance feeling paranoid is to just strengthen one’s resolve to simply apologize for the action and then don’t do it again.

      Some of the strongest most impressive people I have met are the ones who are able to say, “Oh gosh. You’re right. That fish in the microwave is super smelly. I am sorry, I won’t do that again.” And it never happened again. They said this and followed up without meltdowns or losing entire parts of themselves. Instead, they were confident in the sincerity of their apology and they were committed to making a change.

      If you follow along with the stories you read here at least 50% of the time NO ONE has told the offender to stop. They have a thousand reasons for not telling the offender. The story drags on for days/weeks/months and finally the whole workplace is upset but no one will say anything. The offender is probably more embarrassed about the prolonged drama than being told directly not to do something.

      I have done enough supervising and training to see that most people are pretty awesome. Most people will respond in a positive manner when told to change what they are doing. It’s a one-on-one conversation, no need to involve five people. And you can talk in a tone that is explanatory. “We don’t microwave fish here because of the vents and the air circulation system. The smell just goes all over very quickly.” Explanations help the person to feel included, “here’s what we are doing and here is why”. It’s very easy to say, “Oh, okay. That makes sense. I won’t do it again.”

    9. Workaholic*

      I file my nails at work. Though i justify it because I’m in a cubicle, and do it while sitting on hold. I cringed a bit after reading about it here.

  11. Shelly*

    My office is reorganizing in the next month, and both my supervisor and I will have the chance to move up. She has mentioned several times in private conversations that she is paid less than others in the office with the same experience and responsibilities (and yes, she is a minority woman). Is there a direct way that I can include her salary negotiations in my own? I keep thinking of actors who have stood up for the salary of their female costars, but I don’t know how that would work in a professional setting if we aren’t in C-suites. Any ideas?

    1. Artemesia*

      I don’t think a subordinate can do that. She needs to fight her own battle on this. You could say something nice about her work with you in passing but it undercuts her to have a subordinate negotiate money on her behalf. Her manager can do it; you can’t.

      1. Sam.*

        Completely agree. This kind of thing only works if the person making demands has sway in that environment. Unless you’re a complete superstar and the company will do anything to keep and elevate you, this isn’t something you have the authority to do, unfortunately.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      No. You really can’t discuss your boss’s salary in your negotiations unless you’re part of a union. If you were her boss, you might have some standing to do it, but not as her report.
      You *might* be able to mention (once!) that you hope they’re taking this opportunity to review parity across gender and race, just in case, since disparities have a way of causing problems for the company.

      What you definitely can do is support her directly, if she’s ok with it:
      Agree with her that she should be getting the same as others with similar experience and responsibilities.
      Help her document what her pay should be.
      – be careful to use sources that your company won’t ding you for using – forbidding discussion of coworker salaries is iirc not legal in the US, but companies do it all the time anyway
      – There should be public sources for her role / area that she can bring in
      Review the stuff Alison has on negotiation with her.
      Role play negotiation with her.

    3. Shelly*

      Thanks everyone! I don’t have a lot of professional experience, and I’m grateful for you pointing me in the right direction instead of charging in and making things worse.

  12. Tigger*

    The post on Thursday got me thinking- what was the career/ degree that was your dream and what is your career now? Are they in a similar field?

      1. Tigger*

        Not meaning to pry, but what subject do you teach? I feel like art history and the history subject somewhat are parallel because nothing happens in a vacuum (granted I don’t know much about art history so I am sorry if that comes off too simplistic)

          1. knitter*

            That said, I do think my degree helps me be successful in special education. Studying art you have to keep in mind historical, political, religious, etc events/iconography/beliefs to be able to analyze. Similarly with special ed, to be successful, I have to weigh a number of different concepts/facts/skills when making a decision…and I also get roped in to chaperoning art field trips…

      2. Auntie Social*

        My daughter has an art history degree, and teaches history now. She shows kids that you can tell what countries had money by their art–kind of who was in charge of the world–and which were undergoing a big change. The Dutch had tulip mega money, so they had enough coin to pay for portraits, so–Rembrandt. Art is lovely, but art is also “show me the money!”

      3. Miley Hemsworth*

        I wanted to be a journalist, or an interior designer, I started college to be a history teacher.

        I am a bookkeeper.


    1. WeirdlyQualified*

      My dream was to be a staff scientist at a national observatory with a PhD. I got the PhD, but I’ve been a software developer for over two decades now in a variety of industries. The similarity is that scientists in my original field are always writing their own software so that part of my daily work is the same; the difference is that software developers are in much higher demand and rarely have to beg for a job (although being older and female is challenging for sure).

    2. Spreadsheets and Books*

      No. My undergrad is in creative writing. Writing novels has been my dream since I wrote my first story at 4 years old.

      Then I got a Master of Accounting because jobs in writing are not plentiful and do not tend to be lucrative. I work in finance now and I truly do like what I do.

      1. Bostonian*


        I wanted to be a novel writer and even got an English degree because I love reading and writing. I also went a more practical route, but really like what I do!

      2. Jenn*

        Do you recommend a Master of Accounting as the best step towards a second career in accounting? Someone I know decided to get a second bachelors in accounting for his second career as an accountant. Thanks!

        1. Spreadsheets and Books*

          Late, but yes. A second Bachelor’s is a pretty drawn out way to get the same benefits, and most MAcc programs will still prepare you for the CPA if you want to go that route. You can do a MAcc in a year or two in a pretty streamlined way, but I’d imaging another BA at a different school will take significantly longer.

    3. ChiliBaby*

      I got a degree in geology, thought I wanted to be a geologist, became one and hated it! But I specialized in mapping and now I work as a geospatial analyst for police departments, which is the best job I’ve ever had.

      1. Tigger*

        Oh wow that is super interesting! Is that like studying the soil and rocks found on shoes and car tires and matching it to an exact location?

      2. Aj*

        Same here! Geology major who switched to GIS. Once I realized geology wasnt going to pay the bills in my high COL area, I was able to pivot into the tech industry through geospatial analysis. I always loved the remote sensing and map making part of geology and was able to draw on some of that undergrad experience to make the switch.

    4. Natalie*

      I wanted to be a Nellie Bly-style globetrotting reporter. I’m an accountant now.

      They’re not at all close on the surface, but the reason I like both is basically identical – I’m nosy and I like to dabble. I’ve done accounting work in manufacturing, building trades, small business, real estate & insurance, and now a social services NFP. And I get to see so much about how a company functions from the finances, both high level and day to day, so it feeds my love of knowing everything that’s going on.

      1. Tigger*

        It is interesting that you are feeding your love of knowledge and knowing your surroundings into a totally different field!

      2. Alice*

        I always thought that forensic accounting must be such a badass career. There should be thriller tv series about it.

    5. Minerva McGonagall*

      All through elementary school I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then bounced around to journalist, writer, actor, high school teacher. I got a BA in History, an M.Ed., and ended up working in higher ed.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        It’s funny, a lot of my friends started out wanting to be vets because they loved animals. But then as they tried it out, they realized it’s helpful to love SCIENCE more than animals – they struggled being around animals that were suffering/in pain/unhappy so much of the time, didn’t like doing surgery on them, or putting them to sleep. Most of them ended up going into other fields, unless they also had a passion for science.

    6. Seifer*

      Ahaha. No. I dropped out of art school to become an engineer and now I work in construction. But I love my job now in a way that I don’t think I would’ve loved working being an illustrator.

    7. Need a Beach*

      I dreamed of being a veterinarian.

      In reality, I flunked out of freshman chemistry. I now have a grad degree in IT and work in industry.

      I’m good with it, because even if I’d done well in school, my heart could not take it. I cry at animal rescue videos on the regular.

    8. xarcady*

      Double major in English and Communications. I’m an editor for an educational publisher, not the professor of medieval English I once wanted to be. I like my job.

      Have also worked in libraries and taught English, as well as worked for a theater company and a industry trade association doing some marketing.

    9. AnotherAlison*

      When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist/greeting card writer. In early high school, I wanted to be a genetic engineer. This was in the early 90s when that was not something any regular guidance counselors knew anything about, and it turns out biology and chemistry were my least favorite sciences, so this wasn’t my dream after all and I went into mechanical engineering as my first college major in 1996. It’s 2019 and I’m a project manager in engineering and construction. So, yes and no?

      [I do write a sh*t-ton of proposals and make conceptual engineering drawings that we call “cartoons”. . .does that count as fulfilling my childhood dreams?]

    10. Meh*

      Thought I wanted to make animated movies/tv shows. Now I do video editing for a community college. So it’s sort of related, but far less stressful and I get paid better as well.

    11. Cookie Monster*

      I have a degree in guitar performance and I am a VP at a bank. I actually love my job and it is certainly more lucrative than what I would (most likely) be making playing music. Also, I teach guitar lessons out of the board room at work, 1 night a week, to any of our employees who are interested and thus we have the distinction of being (probably) the only financial institution that has a guitar department.

      1. Tigger*

        How did you get into the Finance field? My impression is that if you don’t have a degree it is very hard to get your foot in the door

        1. Auddish*

          Anecdotally – my best friend used to work for a major US bank. She applied as a teller while taking community college classes, and worked as a teller for a few years before being promoted to positions with increasing responsibility until she became the bank manager. The bank also paid for a chunk of her college classes while she climbed the ranks. I know most of the tellers she worked with didn’t have a degree, and a few of them still received promotions into relationship manager roles without college. Another friend also accepted a teller job at a bank for $25/hr based on his customer service experience with no degree.

    12. Jules the 3rd*

      Nope! Dream: POTUS or city manager Current career: Supply chain

      They are similar in that the appeal of both is ‘solving problems’, but the problems I chase now are very different from the ones I dreamed of chasing. I do write letters to my legislators every week, but my Congressman is on top of the issues I care about, and my Senators are opposed to them, so I’m planning to ramp up volunteering for a Senatorial campaign next year.

    13. A. Ham*

      The “you’ll never get a job, or make any money” Theater Major checking in :-)
      I am lucky enough to still work in the industry that I have been passionate about my whole life. And I do put an emphasis on “lucky”. I was not the most talented person in my graduating class, but am one of only 2 that is still in the business 12 years after graduation.
      I have worked on the admin/marketing side of the theater business for all of those 12 years. I have a steady paycheck in a job and industry that I love, AND I also still get to stretch my on-stage artistic muscles every once in a while with side projects at community theaters and such. It is not an easy industry to get into, no matter which side of the stage you are on. I am very fortunate.

      1. City Girl*

        My first internship was a marketing intern at my university’s theater dept! Congrats for being one of the “lucky” ones.

      2. Uta Hagen*

        Fellow theatre major here! Have worked in theatre my whole career as a director and teacher. I always tell my younger relatives that it’s not normal that I knew what I wanted to do when I was young, and never had another idea, but I love what I do.

      3. Submerged Tenths*

        Wow! Congratulations :-}
        I went back to school in my 50s to pursue the theater degree (BFA Costume Design) that I didn’t get when I should have. Now I make a living in printing –have for 30 plus years — and do volunteer/paid summer program at local theaters. What I do know is that anyone wanting to make a career in the arts must major in hustle, even if they have all the talent in the world. I am far too lazy.

      4. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

        Another theatre major here! I did a general theatre undergrad and then got my masters in Producing after realizing that my first love is getting the stuff onstage. I work in the performing arts industry now — not professional theatre, but very closely related — and I use my degree every day. It’s definitely easier to find a full-time, permanent job in arts admin than it is as a performer, where you’re more likely to be working on contract for multiple companies depending on casting.

        I’m also lucky, though, that I work with so many people who have followed their passions and made them a career. Some as part-time contracts with other jobs, some as full-time artists who put all the pieces together to make a living. I get the need to be practical, but I will defend to the death the importance of people who undertake the “impractical” cultural work of the arts.

    14. KayEss*

      I went through a few “dream” careers:

      – When I was in high school, I wanted very badly to be a 2D animator and work for Disney. Fortunately I realized that a) this was ridiculous, because it was 2004 and Disney was already clearly not making any more of the kind of traditional animated movies I dreamed of working on, and b) I wasn’t actually skilled enough to follow the highly-competitive educational track an animation career with anyone in the industry at all, much less Disney, requires. So I went to school to be an…
      – Illustrator (and/or graphic designer, it was a combined program). I was going to do amazing drawings for beloved children’s books! Then I found out that a) available illustration work is actually like 80% editorial and I’m not great at that and hate it, and b) you have to have about 300% more hustle than I am capable of mustering in order to make a living as a freelancer. So when I graduated, I started focusing on becoming a…
      – Concept artist for video games. Yeah, I know. I saved the one with the most competition and worst working conditions for last. I spent five years of misery making an attempt at (extremely unnecessary) grad school and other continuing art education while working a mediocre graphic and web design job. What I got was literally zero responses to applications, lukewarm-to-chilly reception of my portfolio at industry events, and a general rising panic over the increasing gap between me and my now-years of irrelevant experience at a dead-end job versus the fresh-faced kids coming out of game dev schools with completed projects under their belts. I felt like the entire industry was gaslighting me. I developed pretty severe depression that did not start to get better (despite treatment) until I had what amounted to a mental breakdown, quit my grad school program, and gave myself permission to wash my hands of the whole enterprise for one year, at which point I would re-evaluate. Which was really a personal face-saving measure, because in the cold, heavily-medicated light of day I could see that a) I wasn’t skilled enough to compete, and b) the working conditions that are normal in the industry–combined with the mental health issues that were now my reality–would either prevent me from ever being even moderately successful or literally kill me. And I never went back.

      That last one took a lot of grieving to get over. What helped a lot was those five years of experience at the “interim” job I’d held, which let me pivot into a career in web design work. (That I’m gradually transitioning into being development-focused, instead. Developers: paid WAY more than designers and required to deal with less BS. Who would have thought the janky HTML I taught myself with a GeoCities site back in middle school would wind up being my most profitable skill?) My job is still creative and uses the skills I went to school for and enjoyed then and now. I still draw, but on my own terms as a hobby. Overall I’ve been very lucky, especially considering I graduated at the tail end of the recession.

    15. wandering_beagle*

      Journalism degree – worked at various newspapers as a reporter and editor for about 5 years straight out of school. Definitely had a sense of loss when I realized I had to leave that dream behind because it was hindering my *other* personal goals of being financially stable, having a family, etc. I worked a couple jobs in municipal government after that, but have ended up as an IT project manager in the corporate world.

    16. slightly anon for this*

      My dream was, and still is, to do Japanese-English translation work but I had to leave university for health reasons.

      Now I’m on assistance and basically just play video games all day. I do play a lot of Persona & Final Fantasy though, so they are perhaps somewhat similar fields, ha.

    17. Bunny Girl*

      All growing up I wanted to be a zoologist, and then in high school I decided I wanted to do Special Effects Make-up. I went to trade school for it and then quickly realized I don’t have the personality to work in that field. So I bounced around a little bit and I started back to school a few years ago to work in fish and wildlife. I’m still working on my degree but it’s close to my childhood dream. LoL

      1. [insert witty username here]*

        If you don’t mind sharing, what was it more specifically that deterred you from the sfx makeup field?

        1. Bunny Girl*

          It’s insanely competitive for one. But also, you need to be able to work with a lot of people and be able to put yourself out there and that just isn’t me. I’m extremely introverted and I just don’t really enjoy being around people all that much. I’m not sure why I didn’t think that would be an issue going in, but it was and I just knew I didn’t want to turn my hobby into a career.

    18. KayEss*

      Oh, also my favorite secondhand story on this topic: one of my college dormmates started out in archaeology, quickly discovered that it’s a lot less Indiana Jones whip-cracking adventures and a lot more desperate grant writing and was understandably not interested in that, transitioned majors first into classics and then bounced through a few others, wound up graduating with a degree in philosophy and no idea what he was going to do with it… and is now somehow a reasonably successful lawyer.

      1. Adminx2*

        Yeah philosophers transition to lawyers really easy. Hilarious he went from arch to CLASSICS as if that was any less tedium!

    19. roisin54*

      I’m an English major who started out in college wanting to be a writer and is now a librarian, and even that changed. I originally wanted to work in academia but the job market when I finished grad school basically made that impossible (it was a high supply/low demand situation on the cusp of a recession.) So I eventually wound up in a public/research library hybrid as a specialist reference librarian.

      However, the writing skills come in handy. We answer a lot of questions via email and I’m also in charge of my department’s FB page. I’ve gotten many compliments on my FB posts, and my supervisors always note in my evaluations how well-written my responses to reference questions are. English degrees are not useless y’all!

    20. [insert witty username here]*

      TL;DR I was an education major in college, am now working as a project controller, and I’ve realized lately my dream job is to be a stay at home dog mom.

      I never really had a “dream” career. I was always interested in something with animals, but I knew I was too emotional to be a vet (not saying vets aren’t emotional – I just know that would be really hard for me personally to overcome). I was interested in something medical…. but also a little too grossed out to make it a profession. I always liked teaching, I loved my government classes in high school, and I loved working with our athletic trainer in HS, so on my college application (for the school I went to), it asked for “intended major” or “intended interest” or something like that, so I put elementary education, public policy, and athletic training. Apparently, in that order. Because when my acceptance came, it said “Congratulations! You have been accepted to your dream college’s school of education!” And since the elementary ed program at this school was kind of competitive to get into, I went with it! By senior year when I was student teaching, I knew it wasn’t for me, but also that I needed to graduate on time and it was way too late to change majors. So I have an elementary education degree 13 years out of school and have never (professionally) taught a day in my life. I’m now a project controller for a gov’t contractor. I NEVER wanted to get a business degree (I always thought it wouldn’t interest me or I wouldn’t be good at it), but now I so wish I had (don’t really have any desire to get an MBA though…. I think the school-ship has sailed, if you will)! I generally like my work and my job (it’s like putting a puzzle together and it just seems pretty common sense to me) but …. I definitely wouldn’t do it if I didn’t get paid and I don’t really get an fulfillment out of it, other than the satisfaction of doing a good job and being pretty good at what I do. *shrugs* Life could be MUCH worse.

    21. No Tribble At All*

      Dream career: found Starfleet
      Degree: Aerospace engineering
      Career now (4 years experience): spacecraft systems engineering & operations

      It’s weird though, I achieved my realistic goal (“Cool space industry job”) and have no idea what to do next. So far I’m basing it on which coworkers would be on my team, which I suppose is as good as any reason to pick a specialization?

    22. Sammie*

      Super rich and famous novelist (ahahaha) –> started studying to be a psychologist (with writing on the side) —> after much flapping about, am now an administrator with a love for data security and making processes work faster. I am remarkably happy with where I ended up.

    23. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      My manager and I were just talking about this, because it seems that most of the people I encounter are not working in the field they studied in college. She was a theater major, and has been in and IT Supervisory position for most of her career. I went to school to be a developer and I did that for 7 years. I’ve since moved on to being a Business Analyst and now a Project Manager, but have stayed in the IT field.

    24. ThatGirl*

      Communications/newswriting & editing — now a “digital communications specialist” in customer service for a household brand.

      So…. soooorrrt of related but not journalism at all.

    25. Middle Manager*

      Dream: Pastor or Psychologist
      Current Career: Government Bureaucrat (in mental health, so not entirely off in left field for my psychology degree)

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

      I majored in marketing, and had intentions of getting into copywriting and/or advertising. ( I love to write!)

      I currently have two jobs: I am full time loan officer, and a part time pastor. I never imagined myself doing either of these things. But, I do get to write as a pastor, which I love, and writing sermons is a lot of interesting to me than I think advertising or copywriting would have been.

    27. AnonyNurse*

      As a kid: statistician (??) and “marine psychologist.” I wanted to understand dolphins.
      High school: fell in love with theatre stage management
      College: started at a fancy theatre conservatory as a stage manager. Woke up one day in my third year and was just over it. Dropped out. Never looked back.
      Moved. Finished a degree in sociology. Bounced around.
      Got a degree in nursing seven years later.
      Bounced around.
      Got into public health. Finally found my place. Developing more data skills.
      Looking into PhDs in … epidemiology and biostats. Come full circle!
      Also, I’ve done some volunteer work with pinnipeds. Not quite cetaceans, but super fun and we def talked about their feelings. :)

    28. Crylo Ren*

      I wanted to be a librarian.
      I’ve been working in various areas of marketing (1/3 career in events marketing, 2/3 in digital marketing) and am working towards a graduate certificate in business analytics.

    29. Lilysparrow*

      My degree was in theater. Now I write fiction and freelance in digital content marketing.

      Mostly because I got fed up with spending so much time around other actors (God, they’re tiring) and wanted to eat food.

    30. CheeryO*

      As a kid/teen, I wanted to be a teacher and then a psychologist. I switched majors from psych to environmental engineering right before I started college, and even though it’s a lot more paper pushing and less stomping around the woods than I was picturing as an 18-year-old, it’s a pretty cool field and I’m definitely happy I made the switch. I would have been a terrible teacher and worse psychologist!

    31. Justin*

      Child dream – subway conductor (I’m a nerd from NYC, so)
      College major (and goal) – English (fiction writer)
      Actual career – English (as in the language) teacher originally, now employee trainer, going back to TESOL world whenever the next job occurs, also getting doctorate in education

      But I’m not publishing any novels or screenplays, most likely, unless it’s just for fun under a pseudonym.

    32. Manders*

      Career I thought I’d have up til college: Tenured humanities professor. Both my parents are tenured professors so it seemed like a reasonable option to me. Fortunately, my favorite teacher in undergrad was an adjunct professor who really got shafted by the school, so I realized I didn’t want that kind of life before I even had the chance to apply for grad schools.

      Career I have now: Digital marketing. It wasn’t talked about in college (we had no business program and the school refused to have any kind of business writing or marketing classes), which turned out all right, because my field is so new and changes so rapidly I don’t think a professor would have done a good job of teaching it. It turns out I really like having a metrics-driven job.

      Dream career: Full-time author. I probably could have tried harder for this, but I realized early on that I don’t really like being a copywriter to supplement my income and I don’t like the instability of freelancing in an expensive area. I still write on the side, but my day job gives me enough stability that I can write what I want instead of what I believe will sell. And I do think the skills I’m picking up now as a marketer will come in handy when I start self-publishing.

      1. Manders*

        Oh, I also went through a phase of wanting to be an editor at a publishing house. I graduated in 2011, when some people were actually paying to be allowed to intern in desirable areas, and moved to an area where most of the publishing companies are really small and niche labors of love. It sucked believing I’d “given up on my dream” for a few years but I really do not regret it now.

        My only real career regret is that I spent a few years too long in a crappy admin job. I did write a few novels on the company’s dime, since a lot of it was just sitting and waiting by the phone, but I developed some bad habits working for a boss who pitched fits and hired his kids.

        1. londonedit*

          Incredibly late responding, but editor at a publishing house is exactly what I do. I’m fortunate to have graduated in 2003, while there were still a good few small independent publishing companies around, and as a result of signing up with a temping agency I managed to get myself a job on the reception desk with a very small, but successful, publisher. Then they needed a new editorial assistant, and I was there and they knew me, so I threw my hat into the ring and got the job. Still in publishing 15 years later.

          When I was a child, I wanted to be either a writer or a scientist. Then I got to secondary school and realised I was rubbish at most of the sciences (and it all involved way too much maths for my liking). My two favourite subjects were art and English, and I figured that an English degree would be marginally more use than an art degree, and also figured out that working in publishing would be slightly more stable and lucrative than being a writer. So I do actually use my degree for something related!

    33. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I wanted to be an academic archaeologist, but realised that academia was not for me. So I work as a field archaeologist instead. It’s seriously underpaid and I don’t really have any advancement opportunities at the moment, but I am at least working in my dream field.

      1. DataGirl*

        I wanted to be an archaeologist, but I stupidly picked a college that didn’t have an archaeology major (just anthropology). So I studied history instead, which was totally useless, then got an LIS degree, which was also mostly useless. I still get sad when I read articles like about the WWII warship that was just found and wish I was out there in the world, doing things.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Did you not have any archaeology courses? Both my BA and MA are in anthropology. I never realised it could be a separate department until I came to the UK!

          In any case if you are still interested it might be worth looking for volunteer opportunities. I know a couple of people who got into a job that way, though it really is terribly underpaid. At least in the UK.

          1. DataGirl*

            They May have had a couple classes but I don’t remember taking any. I minored in Anthropology but I had more credits in history classes so it was easier to major in that. I often think of going back to school for another degree but I feel too old for a new career (40’s). And I have to confess I’m used to the money in IT now, it would be hard to take such a big pay cut.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Yeah, the pay cut would be pretty drastic! But I see lots of much older volunteers on community digs, and I’m mid-forties myself. So if you want to do a bit for fun it’s definitely a thing you can do.

    34. DataGirl*

      My degree is in Library Science and my goal was to be an academic librarian. But no one told me until I was graduating that I’d need a second Master’s for that, plus the field is incredibly competitive. So now I work in IT. I like IT, but I hate business. Lately I’ve been wondering a lot why I didn’t pick a career that allowed me to DO something, rather than sit in an office all day.

      1. Alice*

        If you want to get out of business, would library IT at a big university library system work? There would still be lots of office though….

    35. pony tailed wonder*

      I wanted to be a baker and it didn’t work out because I never really thought I was good enough to earn money at it. I watch the Food Network and realize that I was right to not pursue it, you really have to have artistic talent and great hand/eye coordination for decorating and I don’t have that.

      I also wanted to write Harlequin romance novels. I still aspire to do that and my SO and I have fun practicing romance in preparation for that.

      I work in a library and every time I tell people that they usually say that I have the perfect voice for that (???).

    36. CaddyGirl67*

      I really wanted to be an Astronaut… attempted multiple internships at NASA while I was in Engineering school. It’s not the same, but I’m happy in my role as a Director of Engineering. As a woman in the field, there aren’t too many people like me but I’m hoping to help influence the next generation.

    37. LCS*

      I have an honors history degree. I currently manage a maintenance team at an oil refinery (and got there via stints in finance and supply chain). Definitely a non-traditional career progression! That said, history was never the path to the “dream job” – I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up so it was more a case of “a degree opens doors, might as well spend 4 years doing something you enjoy, and then figure it out after that”.

    38. Child at Heart*

      9yo me: I want to be a writer! I have so many ideas and everyone tells me I write well!
      19yo me: Well my creative writing professor sucks. Alright, over to a plain English degree. They’re so versatile anyway; maybe I’ll be an admin assistant
      22yo me: Ugh it’s been 4 months since I graduated and nobody is hiring for anything! I’ll take a job as a lunchroom assistant in a local public elementary school. Hey, I really like being with kids. But I don’t really enjoy the standard way of teaching…
      23yo me: After much soul searching I wenr back to my roots and have looked into Montessori education. This feels right!
      24yo me: I have my Montessori certification, I adore my kids and coworkers, and I genuinely feel good about my job. Oh, there’s a weekly newsletter? I wanna write it! I have so many ideas and people tell me I’m really good at writing!

    39. Catleesi*

      Once I studied abroad during undergrad I really wanted to be a study abroad advisor, but went down a different path. I always thought about it though. So after 10 years I went back, got my master’s in a relevant field and now I’m working in study abroad.

      So, yes they are in a similar field. Pay isn’t great and it was hard to start from scratch, but it’s nice to love my job.

    40. Inveterate Fish Microwaver*

      Dream career in high school: professional singer-songwriter (lol)

      Dream career in undergrad: subject area librarian in [ethnic group] studies

      Actual career: corporate research librarian

      Honestly, I’m pretty happy about it. I’m still early career (2 years in) and I have no idea where life will take me. But for now this is really good! I have a decent salary (below standard, but I’m going to renegotiate later this year), benefits, and am working in the field I got my master’s in. By any reasonable standard, success!

    41. Aggretsuko*

      I never had a career dream, but I fell into reporting in college and loved it.

      Now I am an admin assistant.


    42. International Ed Anon*

      Dream – Successful Novelist (HA!)/Professor
      Reality – International Education Coordinator

      I knew I wanted to write when I was like 5 years old, and I pursued that through grad school with an MFA in Creative Writing. While I was doing that, though, I was falling into jobs at each university’s study abroad/international student office. When I graduated, even though I wanted to teach full-time, I applied to jobs in international ed and was hired before I even completed my degree. It’s a MUCH better job market, with a lot of room to grow.

      It turns out that everything I loved about teaching (guiding students to success, designing or finding unique learning activities), I love about international education. I teach part-time at the local CC, which scratches that front-of-the-classroom itch and summers are sort of slow enough that I’m not too tired to work on my writing when I get home. It turns out that I have no interest in pursuing tenure-track positions, which is probably for the best!

    43. DBA*

      Dream job of linguistics professor, master’s degree in linguistics, ended up in IT as a Business Intelligence Developer/Data Engineer with a master’s in computing. I love my job, I am playing with data but in a different way.

    44. Small but Fierce*

      I’m probably going to out myself since I have a censored version of what I do up this page, but I’m not that concerned. :)

      I dreamed of being a professional singer most of my life. I got degrees in Opera Performance (for fun) and Marketing (for practicality). Ironically, the latter is what helped me graduate with honors – advanced music theory isn’t for the weak. While I was able to get paid vocal work throughout college, it wasn’t enough for the kind of lifestyle I wanted.

      I’ve worked in marketing most of my career, and my current role deals more with project/product management. I’ve worked primarily for healthcare and engineering companies. I like the idea of doing marketing for a theater or music label, but the pay is more competitive in the industries I’ve found myself in. I get to enjoy going to the theater with my salary, but I still would much rather be in a musical than watch one. Luckily, there’s still community theater.

    45. Chutzpah*

      Haha yeah no.
      Dream job growing up: working with Jim Henson on the Muppets

      Degree: Masters in EDU (English, drama and speech)

      Job: international sugarcraft instructor

    46. Best cat in the world*

      I wanted to be a teacher, and then a forensic scientist, and then a research scientist.

      I’m now just over 6 months from qualifying as a paramedic (and that is coming up scarily fast!) and I love my job. I might look at going into training one day, and I definitely will get involved in any research I can, but that’s not my main goal. Interestingly, despite spending the first 20 or so years of my life wanting to be in a nice warm, safe job environment, my career goal now involves precarious positions and lots of different safety suits!!

    47. So Anon For This*

      Dream job: Biology professor
      Current job: Disabled SAHM

      I got my Ph.D., worked my tail off, and finally landed a sweet tenure-track position about a year before I became too disabled to work (chronic degenerative illness). It took awhile to adjust, to say the least. I still find AAM useful, however, because it has good interpersonal advice and I’m socially awkward.

    48. Away Team Redshirt*

      I dreamed of being a whale trainer.
      I have a degree in primatology
      I work as an informal trustee (finance)

      So, my education and the way I earn a living are connected by a very stretchy elastic band of experiences. Technically, humans are a type of primate that happens to have complex societies involving money so here I am? Though I’m not the next Dr. Jane Goodall, I enjoy my work very much.

    49. tealeaf*

      English literature major –> IT career (hated it) –> Technical writer (hate it less, but hate it). I’m tired and burnt out, and often too tired to work on my true passions (fiction and comics).

      (Btw, great discussion topic!)

    50. Mimmy*

      Dream career in the 2000s: Social worker working with people with disabilities or in a rehab setting

      Current career: Keyboarding instructor for blind & visually impaired adults who have a vocational goal (school or work).

      When I first started two years ago, my supervisor and some colleagues said I could use my social work skills while engaging with students. I scoffed at the idea at first, but I have connected well with our students and the social work skills do occasionally come in handy. Also similar is the fact that I’m working with people with disabilities as I had wanted. However, it is by no means where I want to stay.

      For the longest time, I felt ashamed that I couldn’t get a foothold in the social work field. However, I’ve slowly learned to accept that sometimes things take an unexpected turn. My core interests are the same but what I want to do have changed.

    51. Workaholic*

      At what age? I wanted to be a rollerskating waitress and a kindergarten teacher when i was 6 :)

      In high school i wanted to be a linguist, archaeologist, librarian, artist.

      Higher education: business, accounting, minor in anthropology. I work in an accounts payable roll. While it’s not my dream job – it feeds my anal retentive control freak tendencies, and I’ve lucked out and all my bosses have stepped back and let me run. I want to learn, do… they let me.

    52. Used to be a dancer*

      Dropped out of dance college when I got injured – though to be honest it was not the best year even before that point, the teachers were horrific (like, mean and confidence destroying) and I felt pretty out of place.

      Did a maths degree instead and now work in software. I still did a tonne of dance at uni and a some, though not as much as I would in a perfect world, now. Ive been working 4 years and I probably make 2-3 times what I would earn as a dancer or dance teacher, so… there are advantages too haha.

    53. AJ*

      Dream career since childhood: TV Writer (the prestige-drama kind)
      Current career: Same!

      I went to film school and spent over half a decade in crappy jobs trying to break out of PA and swimming-with-sharks assistant gigs, but I made it!

    54. FroschKugel*

      TL;DR Wanted to do law, ended up doing law, but in a different jurisdiction and different area.

      I decided in highschool that I wanted to be a judge. I can’t even remember why. But I went to law school and it went surprisingly well. And shortly before finishing school, I realised that I absolutely didn’t want to become a judge or even work in law. I hated my internships, the work environment, tedious legal arguments, everything.
      But I also didn’t know what else to do. So I moved abroad and did a totally unrelated masters degree. And then I never moved back. And decided that I’m actually quite good at that law thing. So I did a second law degree in this jurisdiction (and spent in total 11 years continously enrolled in one university or other) and am now a qualified solicitor in the UK. I work in a niche which does not exist in my home country (I mostly represent children and young people in prison – other countries do not send children to prison, so there would be no need for me) and am really enjoying my work.

    55. Katy*

      Childhood dream: Teacher
      Career goal until grad school: Philosophy professor
      Now I do: Digital marketing. And actually, I love it! I took a lot of writing-focused classes in college, and turns out there IS at least one field where they will pay you for good writing.

  13. KayEss*

    Is there a way to ask whether your employer has an EAP available without outing yourself to HR as needing therapy?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Did you check resources like the employee handbook or intranet site? Can you ask for those rather than specifically for the EAP? Also I think sometimes it’s in the insurance package – go back and look over those documents?

      1. KayEss*

        I don’t remember seeing it in the handbook, but I’ll check again. I kind of suspect they don’t have one, since it’s a relatively small company (not small-business small, but… small).

        The problem I’m having is we’re small enough and I’m friendly enough with the two HR people at my location that I’m uncomfortable about the lack of distance… if we were larger and I didn’t have daily “hello friendly human how is your day going” contact with them I’d feel okay just calling/emailing and asking about it because I’d feel more anonymous.

        1. Adminx2*

          That is tough but you can couch it perhaps in a bigger conversation? “Hey I was collecting my paperwork the other day and evaluating next years insurance options, do we have an EAP or plan to get one? I know a lot of places do that.”
          Tricky though, good luck!

        2. AMT27*

          Our EAP is part of the life insurance policy the company provides, its not an additional service they source/pay for. It includes therapy but also advice and help on a variety of topics including funeral planning, estate planning, divorce, travel emergencies – I’d ask broadly, do you have an EAP and what’s included?

    2. fork and spoon*

      Often, the EAP is a range of programs. At mine, it includes legal assistance and help finding childcare, as well as therapy. It should be simple enough to ask what the range of services are provided under EAP, without drilling down to therapy.

      1. n*

        Yup, second this. EAP is not just for therapy. It can be for a range of things, like those mentioned above, or even things just like, eating healthy, smoking cessation, eldercare, estate planning, general work-life balance stuff. So, HR probably won’t automatically assume it’s for therapy specifically.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Usually the mental/behavioral health part of the EAP is handled through your health insurance, so you can try contacting the insurance provider directly.

    4. Washi*

      I found out the details of my job’s EAP by using the “live chat” option on my insurance’s website. (Where you IM with either a humanoid bot or a very scripted human, can’t tell the difference tbh.)

      I think I was like – does my job’s EAP give me any free therapy sessions? And after some back and forth where I gave it some more information, it gave me a referral number to give along with my insurance so I got 3 free sessions!

    5. JustAskingForAFriend*

      Seconding what Countess Boochie Flagrante said. I recently started using my company’s EAP and I just called Blue Cross Blue Shield; they look up your employer and can tell you.

      I just called the number on the back of my insurance card. You should be able to determine access to this without anyone at your company needing to know.

      Also, for anyone else curious about EAPs, most also offer things like financial counseling, so it’s worth it to check into what you might have access to for things like paying off debt, saving for a house, etc. I was quite impressed with the variety of things our EAP offers.

    6. Not Me*

      I’m in HR, I wouldn’t assume someone asking about EAP is needing therapy (I also wouldn’t judge anyone who is in need of therapy either). There are so many different things someone could use EAP for, it would be silly and a waste of time to speculate on what they might use it for.

  14. Anonymous for this post*

    I had a shock at work this week. A man I dated for a few months a decade ago came to my office to meet with one of my colleagues about a project he’s apparently volunteering for. I excised him from my life may years ago because he was deceptive, which I discovered when he confessed that he had faked our being a couple because he liked the sex, pretty much verbatim, and hoped we could still see each other. It was the first time I’d ever been with someone who deliberately misled me, and I just about jumped out of my skin when I saw him in my workspace.

    Fortunately, he didn’t see me because his back was turned when I happened to walk past where he and my colleague were meeting. I heard them both say they were excited about whatever project he’s going to be volunteering for. While it’s probable that he’ll be doing something at a different location based on my colleague’s work focus, I’ve now had a couple days to calm down in case we end up meeting and can calmly say we met socially years ago if anyone asks

    I’m professional and this was all years ago, so I’ll be cordial and thank him for helping us out as I would with any of our organization’s volunteers. But holy moly, that was a close one in the moment. My colleague is a friendly, welcoming person who no doubt would have invited me into the conversation if he’d said hello. I can only imagine how awkward it would have been when she asked, “How do you know each other?”

    1. Kill ItWithFIre*

      I get why you would be leery of the situation and not keen on sharing what went down. But this isn’t your water to carry. He is just some random POS who happened through your life years ago, he is not your responsibility.

      If you do have to participate in conversations about him or talk to him, just constantly treat him or mentions of him like he farted/is a fart. Sounds wacky, but stick with me here!

      No one talks about it when there’s a fart, but the demeanor changes and people know something subtle is up. (It might work because there is the idea that women are often having multiple conversations at once – the actual words being said, the inflection of the words, the words NOT being said, the body language and the interpersonal interaction of the conversation) If you just think “wow that stinks, gag” when ever he comes up or you interact with him, all of your non-verbal “conversations” will be neutral or “ick”, indicating that you do not endorse him. Because he, like farts, is a thing that happens in life, but it means nothing to you in particular, and it’s not your job to address it.

      1. This Space For Rent*

        This is absolutely hilarious and even funnier when, all things considered, it is very accurate!!

      2. Anonymous for this post*

        This is funny! And I agree completely. It was many years ago and I’m not invested anymore. It was more of venting because in the moment it would have been awkward because I was so surprised. Yep, I’ll just say thanks for volunteering and keep it at that.

    2. Another anon*

      Besides being ready to give that calm answer, you can also be prepared to shut him down hard if he’s the sort who makes inappropriate comments/starts bragging about your past relationship when it comes up.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      I used to have two part time jobs. One was at a media station and the other one was at an adult video store. I worked at the video store in the early hours of the morning and then went to the station in the afternoon. I had just sold a video to a gentleman one morning and later that afternoon he came strolling into the station to chat with one of our account associates. Talk about remaining professional.

    4. caryatis*

      >I can only imagine how awkward it would have been when she asked, “How do you know each other?”

      “We dated a few months ago.”

      It’s the truth, and there’s no reason to hide it. Is there a part of you that feels ashamed over…dating?

      1. Anonymous for this post*

        No, not ashamed at all about dating, and it was a decade ago. Just very much don’t want to talk about dating this particular guy at work and having that become part of the rumor mill or inviting questions.

        1. Anonymous for this post*

          And to clarify, I’m ready now if we interact. It just would have been sticky in the moment because I was unprepared for it. There’s some uglier stuff that he did that I’m not posting here to keep from sharing too much identifying information.

        2. Agnodike*

          Your colleagues are going to be way less invested in this than you are. And if you have a gossipy coworker who pushes it, you just say “Oh, it was ages ago, who can remember?”

    5. Alianora*

      That’s an uncomfortable situation to be in, but yeah, there’s no reason for you to feel embarrassed — you did nothing wrong.

      I don’t really understand what “faked being a couple” means. Sounds like you *were* a couple, but he wasn’t emotionally invested?

      1. Anonymous for this post*

        He told me he loved me and later said he was only saying that to keep me around. He didn’t mean it.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          How painful this must have been at the time, but at least you didn’t stay with this character.

          There’s a poetic justice in your being cordial now (cool, calm, professional, emotion-free –all those adult skills that are sometimes very difficult to deploy): You can be totally proper while he–an accomplished deceiver–worries about whether or not you really mean it, underneath the surface. More important, you stay detached from this person and save your energies for something more life-affirming.

  15. FaintlyMacabre*


    And my boss-to-be apologized for the delay in hearing back- apparently it took a while to clear hiring me at an upper experience/pay level! No problemo, dude!

  16. TV Researcher*

    Yesterday, I got the results of my 21-month scan and the shadow that they were tracking from the last scan grew and therefore is not a shadow – though it is very small and very localized. So, I’m no longer NED (though technically I suppose I wasn’t three months ago either).

    I start immunotherapy on Thursday, and I’ll be doing that every three weeks for up to the next two years. My doctor seems optimistic, so I am too, but I am annoyed. I was getting so close to that two-year mark. I don’t yet know what the after effects of immunotherapy will be, so I’m not sure how this will affect my work.

    I was recently re-orged and my new boss works out of LA (while I’m in NYC), and I’m still figuring out what my new position entails, so this news isn’t going to help me figure things out. Though, I e-mailed him the above news yesterday (wasn’t in a space to chat about it on the phone yet), and he sent back a very nice e-mail. His boss also sent me a very nice e-mail telling me they’ll work around my appointments and make sure I don’t have too much on my plate. And they’ve just hired (prior to this news) a consultant to work with my boss and me (we were a department of two). My issue used to be that these two worked together at my boss’ prior gig, so they have a shorthand I just don’t have yet, so I was somewhat worried about my job. But, now I have a different issue to worry about, so that’s nice.

    Thanks for listening from a lurker

    1. MattKnifeNinja*

      Sorry you received such crap news.

      Crossing all my digits the new therapy works, and how nice to have a reasonable boss.

  17. Curious*

    I received a hit from a recruiter on LinkedIn yesterday for a job that I’m actually cautiously excited about, even though I’m not explicitly looking right now. We have a phone interview set up for next week, but I still feel like maybe recruiters cast a wide net and I’m not actually what they want.

    Do these things ever work out or am I wasting my time here?

    1. Just Elle*

      They do! I’ve gotten plenty of interviews / job offers this way.
      Although, I’ve also seen the classic bait and switch: “actually, you aren’t a fit for THIS roll but what would you think of this [way less desirable] one?”
      So, generally, before I agree to a phone call I ask for the job posting and ask myself “if I applied to this NOT through a recruiter, do I think the company would actually be interested in hiring me?”
      Basically, don’t think your odds of getting the job are somehow better because a recruiter promises to “vouch” for you.

      1. Curious*

        I do honestly think this position is a good fit. It calls on a lot of industry experience I already have (my field is rather industry-neutral, in that my role exists in some capacity in virtually every company) and I believe I was targeted in part because of where I currently work.

        I’m just kind of hesitant because this is a really big name, far more prominent than the Fortune 500 company I work at now, and it would be a dream company on a resume. Guess we’ll see how the phone screen goes.

        1. Just Elle*

          Then I think it’ll be great! Companies do pay recruiters to actually find them good candidates, so there are actually jobs out there filled all the time by recruiters.

          As someone who has worked at a few Big Names, just make sure you aren’t blinded by the prestige and the honor of the interview. Just like you would any other job, seriously evaluate if they still do live up to their reputation, and make sure that the culture is a good fit. Just because a company has a good reputation doesn’t mean they earned it because of good employee relationships (just look at the Steve Jobs and Elon Musk horror stories). And don’t think that the name alone somehow means the people who work there are higher caliber than you. They won’t offer you the job if you haven’t earned it!

    2. Proud University of Porridge Graduate*

      Worked for me! Ended up with a position at a company I like SO much better than the old one.

    3. Namast'ay in Bed*

      The fact that you received a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn, responded, and it amounted to anything at all sounds like a miracle – most of the time they reach out, I respond, and I never hear from them again. If you’ve gotten to a phone interview I’d say you’re doing pretty good!

    4. Small but Fierce*

      I know recruiters have a generally poor reputation, but most of the ones I’ve worked with have been great. I got my last two job offers through them. If it matters, they were both external; I’d imagine they feel more credible when they’re internal, but it still worked out for me. Good luck!

    5. AeroEngineer*

      I got my current job that way, and after this week where I was put on a new project that I really wanted, I love my new job so much! I went from a tiny company to a huge world wide one through this jump, and I also at the beginning was like… “really? they chose me out of everyone?”

      I just was like “well, lets see how the phone screening goes”, and I was impressed in the first round, and it ended up that they were impressed enough that the second round was just talking terms and salary. So don’t throw away the option yet :)

  18. Just Elle*

    I have a question regarding dress code: does it seem unprofessional for women to leave their blouses untucked?

    I work in a business casual company where men wear the standard dress pants and button up shirt, maybe a polo on Friday. I know no man would dream of leaving their button up untucked.

    But there’s not many women here, so its hard for me to judge the standards. I, quite frankly, despise the idea of tucking in my blouses. I think it highlights my stomach and looks weird, especially for silkier materials. Even more so, because it seems like these days all dress shirts are extra long to cover the bum, and tucking it in creates a bulge in my pants.

    I always wear a blazer or cardigan over my blouses, if that matters.

    1. Rey*

      I never tuck in any blouse, and if you’re wearing it with a blazer or cardigan, that sounds like it matches the professionalism of the others in your office. You should be fine.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t tuck anything in, and it seems to me that lots of tops these days are actually designed to be worn untucked.

    3. Natalie*

      IMO it’s fine as long as the shirt isn’t obviously designed to be tucked in (i.e. long, unpolished looking tails). Lots of women’s blouses and shells in particular are obviously not supposed to be tucked just based on length.

      1. LKW*

        Exactly, a shirt with an even hem, especially with small side vents is meant to be untucked. A shirt with a hem that curves (think oxford shirt tails), is designed to be tucked and is curved so that there is a minimum of bulky material at the waist.

        And while I don’t like the short front, long back t-shirts and sweaters (I think they call it a French Hem or something)- those are meant to be untucked as well

          1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

            High-low shirts have been a godsend for me actually…ever since puberty I’ve had a butt that would make Kim K jealous and you bet I’m covering that up at work with long shirts and cardigans

          2. Just Elle*

            Yes! Mullet shirts are the most confusing to me! Like do I tuck in just the front? Just the back? Run around with a flowing tail poking out below even my longest blazer like some kind of magical unicorn?

      2. LGC*


        I’m a dude. I tuck my shirts because most of my button down shirts have long tails. (You’ll see some men’s shirts that are designed to not be tucked in, and that’s the main difference.)

        I wouldn’t imagine it’s too different for women – you look at the tails and if they fall below your crotch or thereabouts (sorry!) you need to tuck it in.

        TL;DR we tuck in our shirts because they’re designed that way

    4. TooTiredToThink*

      Depends on the length. If its right at or just below the belt line; its not even designed to be tucked in.

      I’ve got a few blouses that are meant to be tucked in, but they aren’t meant to be flat tucked – they are meant to be pulled out slightly at the pant line. Those actually look pretty good on me. But the majority aren’t even designed to be tucked in.

    5. WK*

      If you’re wearing a blazer or cardigan you definitely don’t need to tuck in your blouse. At least that’s what What Not To Wear taught me. I think even without, a lot of women’s tops aren’t really designed to be tucked in and they do look weird.

    6. hermit crab*

      I never tuck in anything! I have the Loft “utility blouse” in a bunch of colors and usually wear them with an open-front cardigan – always untucked.

    7. Scribbles*

      I always wore dress pants with an untucked dress shirt (nothing worn over it). Dress clothes make me feel awkward to begin with, and having the shirt tucked in makes me feel more awkward and restricted (like I can’t move for fear of accidentally untucking part of my shirt). I’m skinny, so I always worried that having a bulge around my waist from the shirt would be noticeable and weird looking. The untucked shirt actually covers the bulge of my keys, wallet and cell phone in my pockets, so that’s nice.

    8. Adminx2*

      I would look horrible with tucked in shirts. My work uniform is almost completely shell top with blazers/pants or shell top with open button shirts/pants. All the shells go over the waistline stopping just before the outer edge of the hip for the best clean line.

    9. Just Elle*

      Thank you for all the replies! I feel so much better!

      Somewhat ironic that this is like, the ONE area where its easier / less strict to dress as a woman than a man?

      1. Natalie*

        Probably also sleeve / bottom length – even in business formal environments, women can wear half or three-quarter sleeves and/or skirts, men are pretty much restricted to long sleeves and long pants.

      2. LDN Layabout*

        I have membership to a sporting venue where the men have to wear a jacket and tie (and various other rules) and the women’s rules are so much less stringent it’s AMAZING.

      3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I actually think professional dress for women is far less strict… which makes it far harder to get right!

    10. The Ginger Ginger*

      I think you’re fine, especially if you’re wearing shells or camisoles or something similar and not a button down. Something about a button down seems to make people feel like it should be tucked in, but the nice blouses and shells women often wear under blazers don’t read the same way.

    11. cat socks*

      I never tuck in my tops. I work in a casual environment and wear skinny jeans and slim cut ponte knit pants, so my tops are on the longer side to cover my butt and front.

    12. The Rain In Spain*

      I am also a member of the untuck club. I do have a few shirts I like the look of better folded under, but I don’t even tuck those in- I wear a camisole underneath and fold them under that (sometimes pinning in place!). I used to HAVE to tuck throughout middle and high school as part of our uniform requirements and I refuse to tuck now! Some women I work with tuck in some shirts and leave others out- I think you’re probably fine! If my shirt has a long tail I do wear a longer sweater to cover it up, but I’ve seen people wear regular-length cardigans with those as well.

    13. SignalLost*

      If you want to get veeeeery technical, women’s tops with a straight hem should be tucked in; curved hems are designed to be work untucked. Straight hems are unflattering on pretty much everyone but it reduces the bulk under the waistband. Curved hems look generally flattering on most bodies.

      Sweaters, of course, do not follow this rule, because why not; nor do tee shirts. Long tops are simply too long to tuck in. But for button-downs and shells, that’s the guideline. That said, I think you’re going to look more professional if you dress in a flattering way, by which I mean you can tuck a curved-hem shirt in if you want and no longer be will know, but you probably shouldn’t leave a straight hem untucked – it’s just generally not a flattering line on anyone, particularly since they tend to be shorter to reduce bulk.

      1. Just Elle*

        Do you mean straight in the front or the back? I find a lot of shells are straight across the front, then have side slits, and the back comes down much further and has a curve. I always wonder if I’m meant to just tuck in the front, or the back, or ?

    14. ISuckAtUserNames*

      I think women’s blouses are tailored more with the intent to remain untucked more than men’s, so as long as it looks good, it’s fine.

    15. CheeryO*

      I think it depends on your proportions. I’m very long-waisted, so I typically do a little half-tuck in the front with my silky blouses to keep from looking like a walking torso. I believe that’s somewhat on-trend at the moment, along with higher-rise pants.

    16. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I tuck everything in at the moment, but that’s because I’m wearing high vis waterproof trousers over my clothes all day. ;-P

      In an office setting I’d never tuck anything in. A tucked in top is about the most unflattering, uncomfortable, ridiculous look possible on me. A top that hangs down approximately over the rear end skims over all the lumps and weirdly high waist lines I always seem to have.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I never tuck in a blouse, but most of mine have straight hems. I don’t like tucking and I can’t wear belts because they bother me (I have a hiatal hernia and I’m also not as skinny as I used to be).

    18. Someone Else*

      It depends. There are some blouses that I think were specifically designed to not bother being tucked, others that are very obviously designed with the intention that they would be tucked, and some that could go either way. So, basically, it depends on the shirt.

    19. Jemima Bond*

      I haven’t tucked a shirt/blouse/top/t-shirt in since 1989.
      Not even when wearing a skirt suit, heels and make up and giving evidence before the Crown Court.

  19. Sekhmet*

    I’ve been in my current job for about 5 years. It has normalized toxic behavior and dysfunctional management for me and I didn’t realize that not all workplaces were like this until I started reading AAM. Without rambling on the details of my workplace, I’ll just mention that I’ve commented many times on AAM to get advice and most readers had a resounding “WTF – get out of there quick!” response.

    In January I had a breakdown due to stress and was prescribed medication and therapy. I’d been applying for jobs here and there since May 2018 without any results, so I worked on my cover letter and resume and had 2 job interviews within a week or two of applying. The first job ghosted me after the initial interview (they asked to set up a follow-up interview but haven’t replied to my dates/times or follow-up emails), but the second one just wrapped days of interviews and have extended a job offer.

    The details:

    * 48% pay raise from my current job
    * Fully remote M-F position with mildly-flexible hours within set hours during the day
    * Computer, monitors, desk, chair, and accessories fully paid by the company
    * PTO – Waiting on more details for amount, plus some major holidays off
    * Fully paid health insurance for myself and my family
    * My potential boss seems AMAZING and incredibly caring, even through the interview process they were constantly checking to make sure I was comfortable and doing OK

    It sounds like a dream, right?

    The issue is I don’t feel excited about the work at ALL. I thought the position would be different when I applied for it, but after talking more with management and employees it sounds dull, frustrating, and the exact work I was trying to get away from but magnified ten-fold. My anxiety is shooting through the roof because I could potentially have a way out of my bad work situation, but I may be jumping into another career that feels like a dead-end.

    AAM readers, what would you do?

    1. hmm*

      The work is dull and frustrating, but will all the perks make up for it? i.e. “I find watching the teapot paint dry boring but I’m getting paid eleventy bajillion dollars for it annually so it’s not so boring after all!”

    2. OtterB*

      You said it’s “the exact work I was trying to get away from.” How sure are you that you want to get away from that type of work, vs. your current dysfunctional job making everything dull and frustrating?

      Can you talk to your potential boss about the possibility of including more of the type of work you like?

    3. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Take the new job. It sounds better than your old one, and if you do decide to leave you were at your old company for 5 years so you won’t look flighty.

    4. Ama*

      Do what you need to do for yourself, but I personally need to feel at least some kind of investment and engagement in my work or I am miserable.

      That said, if you would be more miserable staying where you are currently, I wouldn’t blame you for moving to something more structurally stable even if the work isn’t what you want. Let’s say you turn this job down and don’t get another good offer for a year — do you think you can make it that long, or do you need to go now and spend that year working in a better environment?

    5. TooTiredToThink*

      Take the job – re-learn normal behaviors and then you’ll be able to use the mild flex time to look for a new position that you are excited about and you’ll be more poised for success because you will have unlearned some of the things that are now ingrained.

    6. A person*

      Decide what is more important to you – getting out now for your health and getting extra money/flexibility and a supportive boss, or having work that you enjoy doing.

      If you decide against accepting, keep applying. There will be other opportunites, better or worse, I couldn’t tell you.

      If it was me, I’d take it and get out of the bad situation, for my health. If you decide the job ultimately isn’t for you, you can look for a new one in a few months. One short stay won’t make you look like a job hopper.

      There are lots of jobs out there, but only one you.

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I’m currently in a position where I knew taking the job the work was not likely to be exciting, wasn’t in an industry I wanted to be in, and had little to no relation to anything I have a passion for. I was not excited when they called with the offer, but I needed the money so I took it, with a churning in my gut.

      Let me tell you its turned out to be one of the worst decisions I have ever made and after two years of trying to make this work and getting to ever new levels of WTF-ery every week, and starting to get physically ill from the place, I am trying to get out. I have learned no new skills, never get any recognition, came in at too low a level but there is no way to move up, and half the time I am doing work at a level three steps down from where I would consider myself otherwise. My confidence is shot and I have zero life outside work because I am depressed. The only thing is that is pays decently but I absolutely hate the office, the people, and the work.

      If your gut is saying no, then take the time to find the RIGHT fit, especially if you are having these reservations now. Take that offer as a benchmark for what you could be worth to another employer, and see that you ARE wanted, but make sure you are are wanted by the RIGHT place.

      Good luck!

      1. Namast'ay in Bed*

        I am in no way trivializing or minimizing your experience – it sounds awful, and I’m really sorry you’re going through that. I just want to offer my experience, which is similar but had a different outcome:

        I took a job where I also knew the work was not likely to be exciting, wasn’t in an industry I wanted to be in, and had little to no relation to anything I have a passion for. I was not excited when they called with the offer, but I was unemployed so I took the job, also with apprehension.

        It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – it turns out that I really enjoy having a job that’s just a job. Being able to go to work, do my job, and come home feels amazing to me. Looking at my last job that I was crazy passionate about in an industry I’d long wanted to work in, it turns out that wrapping up my identity into my employment was crazy draining and unhealthy. It also helps that I’m paid much better and work for a company that treats its employees well, and I have a supportive boss and good coworkers.

        I think the big difference between my experience and Sprechen’s is that my company is a healthy environment – you should ask around and see what others have to say about the company, but getting a good vibe off your boss is super awesome – I was unsure about the job but had a good feeling about my boss when I interviewed with them. I also know that this is my unique experience, and I could see my current this-is-fine situation being considered awful to some, plus I wasn’t excited about the work but it also wasn’t something I was trying to get away from.

        My final feelings are – you are already miserable where you are, it seems like the worse thing that could happen with the new job is that you are miserable there, but with more money, great benefits, and an awesome boss. Good luck!

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          This is absolutely true and I was hoping your result would have been mine too! Alas it wasn’t (and that was with talking with numerous people who had worked there previously), although I suspect it could be due to a variety of very subtle reasons that aren’t applicable to this situation.

          Additionally, I would like to warn that it sounds easy to “just get a new job in a year if you are unhappy” but in reality it can still be challenging to spin up yet another new job search just when you got settled into a new environment. Two people gave me that counsel as well.

          I think it comes down to better the devil you know vs the one you dont :) and a bunch of other factors, but absolutely, the OP could be pleasantly surprised!

    8. Banana Bread*

      Honestly, your current situation sounds so nightmare-ish that it seems worth it to take this otherwise-fine new offer just to reset your expectations and give yourself some breathing room. Is there a period of time that you’d feel comfortable committing to this new job?

      I imagine doing it for a year or so, and then seriously searching for a new position more in line with your career goals would set you up really well. You’d have a higher salary history (and/or more savings), so you’d be negotiating from a comfortable position. A year or so is also short enough to be manageable, but long enough that you don’t look flaky. You can explain it down the line as “I left [current job] for [new offer] because I was interested in trying out more [new offer duties], but I realized after a few months that I’d much rather be doing [actual career interests].” It happens all the time, and I don’t think a good employer would hold it against you.

    9. Adminx2*

      Take the new job if only because it gives you breathing room to take care of yourself where you’ve been forced to take damage. In two years you’ll be ready for the next step whatever it is.

    10. Miley Hemsworth*

      As someone who left a horribly toxic work environment several years ago….

      Take the job. Even if the actual work is not exactly what you desire, getting out of the toxic environment and into a place that is normal — even better, caring and supportive — will make all the difference. You may even find you do not mind the actual work because the environment is so much better.

      Also, give yourself some time to adjust to working for reasonable people. I have read AAM for quite a while and I knew from others experience that “job PTSD” is a real thing, but I never imagined I would experience it myself! It has been 2 years since I left toxic hell and I am now working in a job I love for a boss who values me and my work. Yet I still notice that when I’ve made a mistake, my heart races and I am filled with dread thinking no explanation I give will be good enough, I am going to get berated or yelled at, etc. It still amazes me how being in that toxic workplace still affects me, but it does get better as time goes by. Be kind to yourself!!

    11. The Rain In Spain*

      I am in the camp of taking this job to get out of an untenable situation. You’ve made it 5 years in worse conditions, try to go into this with an open mind and see how it goes. As others have said, you may find the work is more interesting than you thought, and you can always job search after a year or so. The pay raise, remote position, PTO, and health insurance would be enough to keep me happy for at least that long- do you think that’ll hold true for you as well?

      Also, I once accepted a position I wasn’t very excited about and it turned out to be one of my absolute favorite jobs, the work was more interesting than I thought, and my boss and coworkers were absolutely amazing. I hope the same for you if you do accept it!

    12. Forkeater*

      I’ve been in a toxic job (that sent me to medication and therapy too) and now am in job in field I find to be a big yawn (that also pays better). I’d say get out – and bank all that extra money – set it aside to take a lot of time off down the road. It will take some time to recover from the toxic job and relearn what normal people are like, just treat this as a detox period.

    13. AnonyNurse*

      Take the job.

      Exhale. Give yourself time to heal. See it as pressing pause for a bit while you figure out what you want.

      You may find that the work is actually interesting if the environment isn’t hostile.

      And since you’ll be remote, heck, you can entertain yourself with other things if you’re super bored or whatever.

    14. Cartographical*

      I would absolutely take the job for a number of reasons but first and foremost, if I were in your situation, my general sense of what I wanted or needed or would be happy doing would be completely skewed by being in survival mode for so long. I would be flying blind and I’d have to rely on other input like my salary increase and better benefits and time off to guide me.

      One thing my therapist has been teaching me is learning to reassure myself that I can cope with uncertain outcomes. What if the work is boring and frustrating? Is boring, frustrating work a complete dealbreaker for you if you have a boss you can turn to and say, “wow, I’m bored and frustrated, here’s a few ideas I have to help me manage my work situation, do you have any input?” Are you okay with being bored if it means better conditions and more money? Is having to do something difficult and tedious less frustrating if you don’t have a toxic boss breathing down your neck and making you feel inferior for needing the time it takes to do it? Can you handle being bored and annoyed with your work for twelve months? Eighteen months? Even if this job is a “dead end” job, is it really a dead end if it opens up the rest of your life?

      I hope whatever choice you make brings you what you need but the job sounds like it’s got meta-potential — maybe not career potential but everything else potential.

    15. LilySparrow*

      I’ll take dull over toxic any day, especially well-compensated dull in the comfort of my own home.

      And I’ll choose frustrating work over frustrating bosses and co-workers any day, too. If the new job has good boundaries and reasonable expectations, then you only have to deal with the frustrating work during work hours. As opposed to the stress you’re under now, which is affecting your whole life.

      A comfy job is never a dead end unless you choose to make it one. You will be in a much better position to job-hunt for the work you like better, when you are rested, de-stressed, and not overwhelmed.

      1. Small but Fierce*

        As someone who went from toxicity to dull comfort in my home, I agree with this. I would caution that I currently work fully remote and find it very isolating, but I also moved to an area where I know no one except for a couple of my husband’s coworkers. I’m bored and underutilized, but I also have time for grad school and to apply for other opportunities when I want to.

        All that you described sounds like a great financial and lifestyle opportunity. Since you have a good track record in your current company, you can also leave fairly quickly if needed. My first job was incredibly toxic and I was so anxious to leave it, but it was the best thing that could have happened in the grand scheme of things.

      2. Jasnah*

        I totally agree. It’s far better to have a boring but comfortable job, with dull/frustrating work but decent coworkers, than a boring and uncomfortable job, with dull work and crap coworkers. Like LilySparrow says, it turns the dial down from “work is so bad I need meds and therapy” to “I need to vent over a glass of wine every so often.”

    16. Mobuy*

      Change is scary! I think it’s totally normal to feel anxious about change, even if you are getting away from something bad. I say take it, get away from the job you hate, and enjoy the good things about this new offer.

    17. Totally Minnie*

      Did you get a sense of what the structure of the new company is like? Is there a possibility that if you take this job, you can move up or over into something different after a while?

      Alternatively, do you think it would be worth it to be bored for 8 or 9 months while you use your newly increased salary to build up your savings account and keep looking for a job that feels more exciting?

      If your answer to those questions is no, then I wouldn’t take the job. But if you can say yes to either of them, it might be worth taking the job. Nothing says that you have to stay there forever, but the new perks could give you a nice mental reprieve from your last job, and you’d have a bit of a financial cushion while you keep searching.

      I’m worried that if you say no to this job and have to stay in the toxic job until you get another offer, it will further damage your health, and none of us here want that for you.

    18. Lupin Lady*

      OP, if you’re only just getting past a breakdown, it’s worth considering that in a better state of mind this work could be most interesting to you. It’s hard to be excited or positive about anything after 5 years in a toxic environment, and it seems like the healthiest thing would be to take this opportunity. Whatever you decide, good luck.

    19. Alianora*

      I would take it. It sounds like the work is no worse than your current job, and the benefits and work environment are much better.

      Look at it this way: what will happen if you stay in your current position for let’s say a year? It’s still a dead-end job AND you’ve had to put up with a toxic environment. What will happen if you switch and stay in the new job for a year? It’s a dead-end job, but you’ve had the time to recover and the job searching process will be much easier.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      Hmm. Maybe you can negotiate special projects into your hiring agreement to break the monotony. Since everything else sounds great about this job, why not think about ways the company can make the work appealing to you?
      The boss may already know that it is hard to find people who are willing to do the work. He maybe motivated to weave other things into the job to keep you interested.
      My thought here is that you are ready to turn down the offer. So this means you have nothing to lose by asking.

    21. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      I would take it. You had a breakdown because of your last job, so this can be a way to hear until you are ready to really go charging back into looking for work that you are passionate about. A meh job for awhile, that lets you re-learn normal work behavior, especially one that has some pretty nice perks, sounds like an overall win in your life.

    22. Hi*

      If you’re going to do work you don’t like you might as well be making 50% more working from home with insurance for your family while you look for the replacement! Take it!!

  20. Kirby*

    I have a kind of delicate question that I would love help on!
    There is a new coworker of mine who hasn’t been doing so well. He’s apparently explained to our boss and HR that he’s handling some personal difficulties, and I’ve been given guidance on how to work with this person (i.e. address them, and give feedback) so we can all get things done in a way that doesn’t make the new employee uncomfortable.
    The problem is, my new coworker has some anger issues. I’ve noticed that they often curse under their breath and slam things down on their desk. It’s under control when our boss is around, but I can’t always expect my boss to be around. As well, he’s also made some threatening moves, like intentionally brushing into me and slamming things on the desk when I come in, that make me concerned that he’s trying to set up a situation where he can portray himself as the victim and me as the aggressor.
    I’m sensitive and compassionate towards the new coworker’s struggles, but I also feel unsafe when I am alone around them. What’s the diplomatic way to tell my boss and HR that I’m compassionate and want to give them a chance to improve, but I think there’s a small but real chance that this person could get violent? Management here seems to be taking a very reasonable approach to the situation (I’ve been told that while the new employee is going through some things which we need to be considerate of, those aren’t an excuse for emotional outbursts, refusing to attend meetings, etc.), but I want to make sure I do everything right.

    1. Rey*

      In your last sentence, you specifically say that they have mentioned emotional outbursts, etc. so it sounds like they want you to report this information, and the sooner, the better. I would focus on looking at the bare facts of what happened (i.e., when Boss is not there, he frequently slams things on the desk and curses to himself) and then present how you feel about it (I am concerned that this person could be violent. I don’t feel safe working with him when Boss is not there.) Its nice that you want to be compassionate, and you could specifically say that, but you also need to act on this ASAP.

        1. A person*

          Agree, document so you have concrete examples you can refer to when you bring this up.

          Also are there any other witnesses to this behavior?

      1. Michelle*

        I agree. I think it’s very telling that he can control those things when the boss is around. Intentionally brushing into you and slamming things when you walk it is not OK. Having personal difficulties is not an excuse to be aggressive and threatening toward your coworkers.

        1. Kirby*

          He doesn’t fully control them. He’s on better behavior when our boss is present, but my boss is aware and going through the procedure.

          I understand that we all have different histories and issues, but there’s a difference between making reasonable accommodations for him and keeping the office a place where no one feels like someone else there might get aggressive. I suppose I’m trying to figure out the language to present that to HR to that’ll communicate how the situation seems to other people.

    2. Res Admin*

      I’ve had to deal with a similar situation. CW was difficult regardless, however she had a few (very difficult) personal situations that were coming into play which resulted in her being given a lot of leeway. Going to my boss made it worse because Boss (being a kind and reasonable person) tried to deal with it by having a meeting with the head of HR present. That resulted in the person having a full morning to literally make up a litany of grievances against me and play the martyr.

      When the situation got inevitably worse, I ended up going to the head of HR (who had known both of us for many years at this point), and explained that I did not feel comfortable sharing an office with this person and that judging by the language CW was using, I might be being set up for some type of retaliatory complaint. I was moved to a new office by the next morning (with apologies that it couldn’t happen sooner).

      I left a while later for a better opportunity within our organization and former CW has since been let go for cause.

      1. Res Admin*

        To be clear, I mention this because the situation was very similar with emotional outburst, anger, etc. only when we were alone together. CW was sugar sweet when there were other people present. When I went to HR, I had documented specific instances of unreasonable behavior from CW–so even if it was just my word against hers, I had a contemporaneous account of each situation with specific language used.

      2. Kirby*

        Thankfully, the coworker isn’t too great at controlling their outbursts, so there is a fair amount of documentation of incidents from me and other people. There haven’t been any incidents which boil down to my word vs. theirs — yet. They do seem to have legitimate difficulties, and I am sympathetic to that.

        This specific person’s general behavior makes me think they’re also not interested in the job. They’ve cited that they get very agitated when someone criticizes their work or professionalism, and they can’t work for the rest of the day. There have been repeat occasions where they don’t show up for meetings, or even work at all. My boss and HR are smart, kind, well intentioned and professional, but I get the impression that the new person is using some fairly legitimate issues as a shield against getting disciplinary action so they can continue to collect a paycheck for as long as they can. And of course, there’s also the fact that I’m genuinely worried that the new person will get aggressive. We have a white collar office job, and while people curse and all, slamming your coffee cup down and mumbling swear words is still very weird.

        I really like what you said to your HR about the fear of the other person trying to engineer a situation where they can attempt a claim of retaliation. Do you think that’s worth raising here?

        1. valentine*

          slamming things on the desk when I come in
          Do mention this, contrasted with him doing nothing when Boss is around. I wouldn’t share speculation on his motives or plans yet, so they don’t say it’s a personality conflict or similar BS.

          In your log, also note when anyone else was in the room or space.

      1. Adminx2*

        To add I do some vents and ONE TIME one of the authors we had got upset because the table he wanted was taken for something else and he immediately made a snarky remark and slammed his books on the table. Never done anything like that and comes across as totally gentle in the years I’d known them. He recovered quickly but I will never forget that instant switch to tantrum and never trust them again.

    3. Just Elle*

      I would just keep matter of fact / unemotional logs of what is happening, and bring it to their attention. Also explain, after you’re done recounting examples, that you feel unsafe. Those feelings are legitimate and its important they know that your gut is telling you this has crossed into something you can’t deal with. Some of the things you mentioned are categorically Not OK.
      The fact that they’re hiding it when your boss is around means 1) they know its not ok and are capable of controlling it, but choose not to and 2) your boss isn’t aware of the problem and needs to be made aware.
      While I understand wanting to accommodate someone who needs some extra support, the company’s duty is to protect employees first and foremost. They simply cannot be allowing behavior that could escalate and endanger those around them, or even generally create a hostile work environment.

      1. valentine*

        I would just keep matter of fact / unemotional logs of what is happening

        02/02 9am Joe brushed against me as we passed in the hallway.
        02/05 3pm Joe slammed his mug on his desk and said, “[Eff] this” under his breath.
        02/08 11am After reading Boss’ tracked changes, Joe said he cannot work for the rest of the day. (If there aren’t more things like this, maybe just mention it at another time.)

        You leave the emotions out and, after saying in person that you’re concerned he’ll escalate, push back if they move the goalpost to his intent, what’s in his heart, or his alleged personal goal.

        You: I’m concerned he’ll escalate.
        HR or Boss: I’m sure Joe was just having a bad day. He’s a good guy and he just needs time to get over Issues.
        You: Nevertheless, he brushed past me and I don’t feel safe when he slams things on his desk and mutters profanity.

        It’s possible they will turn it around on you and gaslight you that you’re choosing to feel unsafe, but you probably need to say it for the record.

        They are giving him way too much leeway and I wonder if what happened is he harmed someone because, even if a drunk driver kills your whole family, why would you milk the empathy to be violent at work and target a colleague?

        1. Kirby*

          Just to be clear, HR and my boss are doing their due diligence in listening to my reports and speaking to the new person. I am generally liked and I try to go out of my way to be polite and considerate to other people, given my own mental health history, I work very hard to not repeat my previous antisocial behavior. Management and HR are not doubting me or anything like that. No one has said anything to me, because, again, the powers that be are being professional here, but from language used and such, I get the impression that NewPerson is trying to defend their behavior, like storming out of the office after someone gives them feedback, as being part of a certain ADA covered condition. Which may be true, and I support the general notion of giving someone the tools to succeed if they’re facing difficulties in life. I am not a lawyer, nor am I an HR professional, but I doubt that things like slamming things on your desk, calling coworkers “f***er” under your breath, and refusing to work for the rest of the day, are reasonable accommodations.

          I guess that a concise summary of what I’m asking for, is what I can say to the powers that be get across that the new person’s behavior is dangerous and unsettling.

          1. Just Elle*

            I think what we’re trying to point out is that all you need to do, is make them aware of the dangerous/unsettling actions, and the fact that they make you feel uncomfortable. If they really are great, then that will be more than enough. If they aren’t, we’re trying to give you some tools to fight back.
            Because, like you’ve said, there is no excuse that make it ok to be using intimidating tactics and violent actions. He physically assaulted you (brushed you) on purpose. Any HR person worth their salt wouldn’t stand for that if they were made aware.

          2. Observer*

            As Just Elle says, if they are any good then giving them the full picture by giving them a full run down of the facts should be enough. If essentially giving them a log of his misbehavior gets some talk about ADA, personal circumstances etc. then your boss and HR are NOT being professional and are not doing their due diligence. Listening to your reports is not enough. If your reporting is accurate it’s high time some action was taken.

    4. anon today*

      I’m with most of the other commenters here: describe what has happened and explain that you feel unsafe as a result. I’ve been through this kind of situation, and if you don’t say something now, there’s a good chance it could get worse. Nobody wants to accuse a struggling coworker of being dangerous…but if he’s already deliberately touching you (!!! ALARM BELLS) and swearing and slamming things around when the boss isn’t watching, it’s unlikely to get better on its own. Like others have said here, document everything, too.

    5. Observer*

      Skip explaining that he might get violent. Instead document everything, and just present the facts. Highlight the fact that he has already “brushed” into you.

      The other stuff is bad enough for any reasonable boss to be concerned about. But that is just way over the top. Your typical 10 year old knows better.

      1. Kirby*

        Thankfully my boss is reasonable. They believe me and encourage me to document and report to HR. The flip side of that reasonable nature is that they’re trying to give the new person opportunities, and TBH with the new person’s conduct I worry that they’re giving too many opportunities. I can understand to a degree things like being unfocused or a bit emotional at work, especially with a new job, after a move, because of whatever personal life circumstances, but not the intentional contact or mumbling under their breath around me. It seems like a very immature child’s way of trying to express displeasure with someone. I suppose I am asking more about how I should document, because this stuff is deeply unsettling.

        1. Observer*

          Giving too many “chances” is, in fact, NOT reasonable.

          Stick to very specific and clear language. NO softening whatsoever.

          Also, the fact that he’s touched you already should be a major red flag. There is no law on the books (at least on a Federal level, and almost certainly on a state level) that requires accommodations that put others at risk.

          So ask them what is being done to protect you? If they give you some story about “process” and “confidentiality” point out that as the victim you have a legitimate need to know what is being done to protect you and a right to expect a safe workplace – which is something you do NOT have as long as they are not taking action.

          If he “brushes” up against you again, or touches you in any other way, after this, let your boss know that you will be working from home until they can provide you with a reasonable guarantee that this won’t happen again. And “trust us” doesn’t cut it.

          1. Kirby*

            So what can I do to get the company to act on this? I’m almost 100% sure that he’s claiming his behavior is caused by an ADA covered disability and threatening to sue, so he can stay on the payroll as long as possible. Everyone has encouraged me to keep documenting, but it’s also been “unfortunately, we can’t just fire him” for the last few weeks. You’d think the near daily meetings between him and his boss or him and HR would have come to something by now…

  21. TheTallestOneEver*

    For resumes or end of year performance reviews, what’s the best way to document unnecessary spending that I’ve identified and eliminated?

    Less than a month ago, we re-orged and now I’m responsible for reviewing and approving invoices related to the services that now report to me. In less than 30 days, I’ve already identified costs for things that aren’t necessary (ex. ads in the yellow pages for offices that no longer exist, subscription services for people who retired years ago, recurring bills we’re still paying for services that we asked to have terminated, etc.). My previous roles were more program/project management, where I was given a bucket of money to do something specific. This new role is more operational, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to track and communicate these savings as part of my professional accomplishments.


    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Oh, I did this once, on my resume I summed up all the costs I had saved and included it as a bullet. “Saved the company over $100,000 a year by identifying redundant costs” is a great bullet. Don’t list each one though. You can discuss specific examples in interviews.

  22. Sloan Kittering*

    Anybody working out of a WeWork space and want to discuss the weirdness? My company has a real office that I go to every day, but it is located within a WeWork in NYC. I find it a good mix of fun, weird, frustrating, and bizarre.

    1. hmm*

      I don’t work out of a WeWork space but I had an accountant who had one of those spaces and I’ve actually hosted events at different WeWork spaces. I LOVE the space, I find them well-designed, modern and wished that my current office could utilize one of those spaces but it’s not feasible. Also, complimentary nitro cold brew on tap is a major win in my book.

      What do you find frustrating about it?

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        It is aesthetically appealing (for a certain style, anyway – industrial modern, fine) but I also find the type of thing Hermit Crab mentions below – it’s got a real college dorm vibe going. Sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying. Our is also weirdly understaffed but that may be specific to the one I go to.

    2. DAMitsDevon*

      I’m also at a WeWork space in NYC that my team got moved to last month, because we supposedly can’t fit everyone in the organization into the main office. The amenities are nicer, but the open office plan is kind of annoying. I’m definitely taking advantage of the occasional free food they have though.

    3. Hillary*

      I was on a conference call with someone who was working out of a collaboration space last week because his home internet wasn’t set up yet. It was awful – all I could hear from his line was a loud sales meeting and an even louder dog.

      It didn’t predispose me to like them.

    4. hermit crab*

      Me! My office is being renovated so we are temporarily in a suite within a WeWork space. The actual, physical space is fabulous (granted, I have a high tolerance for noise and open offices don’t bother me much) but I find the overall vibe kind of hilarious. With all the events and amenities and stuff, it’s more “summer camp” or “college dorm” than “office.”

      I went on an orientation tour the first day I was here, and there were all these bro types sitting on couches with headphones and laptops – I kinda wondered whether they were actual workers or, like, getting ready for a stock-photo shoot.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        hilarious yes! summer camp vibe, yes. The beer comes out at 11 AM some days, but my office is not really that kind of freewheeling fun place. Also, visitors to ours frequently accuse the entire thing of being staged and staffed with attractive multicultural millennial models lol.

        1. hermit crab*

          Ha, exactly! Overall, I feel like there is a general “style over substance” thing going on. Like, everything is beautiful but we are all fighting over laptop docking stations in our suite because the electrical (?) system can’t support every workstation having a monitor. The conference call infrastructure in the meeting rooms is TERRIBLE. And there is never enough toilet paper in the bathrooms. But that sweet, sweet fruit water…!

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            YES!! The building is, as some have said, visually striking – visitors often literally say “wow” when they walk in – but it’s like a skeleton crew within the building, and things are set up … oddly. They don’t quite have the basics down. Style over substance is a good way to put it.

          2. Observer*

            That’s all pretty bad, especially considering the prices they charge.

            This sounds messed up for beginning to end – Poor planning / lack of understanding of the needs of the customers (inadequate electrical work!) poor implementation (Poor conference calling? In a place effectively designed for remote work? Seriously!?) and execution (how do the keep on having TP shortages. There is no city in the US that I can think of where TP is in short supply!)

    5. Rainy days*

      My brother interviewed for a job that would have provided world-wide WeWork access as one of the “perks”–I told him that sounded more like a punishment!

    6. lapgiraffe*

      I went to one for a meeting with a potential client once, they were a two to three person startup working on their brick and mortar retail from wework, and the meeting was just one of them and two of us, so he didn’t book a room or anything. Instead we sat at some communal table that had swings for chairs, like playground swings bolted into the ceiling. Very attractive ones with strong cables so I wasn’t worried about it too much, but they were just a hair too high and I couldn’t fully put my feet on the ground (and I don’t feel that short, 5’6), so I spent the entire proposal sliding off this stupid swing chair. Like not overtly, which was actually worse, I just couldn’t actually sit and my thighs were shaking by the end from what was basically a 23 minute assisted squat, it was beyond uncomfortable, I honestly wish I would have just stood up.

      Also, my boss at the time was a very old school 60 year old white man in a suit he probably bought in the early 90s, so him sitting in this swing chair amidst the hip young diverse crowd was hilarious and awkward in so many ways. The reality was that we were both so uncomfortable that we struggled with the entire presentation and walked out laughing and shrugging off the weird experience, but it worked out because this retailer went out of business within a year and the little business we got was paid in full, so no great loss.

      I believe WeWork is probably great for a lot of people and companies, but it was funny for me that my one experience was a living parody of it – the young hip milennials trying to disrupt the old standard with VC money, all style no substance and 2 years later nothing to show for it, no major ramifications, and somehow they’re all off in other roles planning their next great con…I mean, idea!

  23. Proud University of Porridge Graduate*

    A year ago I was promoted to director of my department. It’s a pretty niche area, and while I’m good at my job, I don’t have much business knowledge or experience outside my small sphere. Recently my company started to make the news. A lot. We’re a tech company and are very close to being The Next Big Thing. My problem is that now I have a lot of sales people contacting me wanting to talk about what their company can do for us or recruiters asking about job postings. Very very few of these are related to me at all. So how do I respond to everyone else? Or do I? It feels rude to leave people hanging, but I don’t know enough about the needs of other departments to pass any of the contacts on and I don’t really have time to open a conversation about who might benefit from whatever they’re offering.

      1. KarenK*

        Exactly this. Just because someone has contacted you (i.e., cold-called you) does not mean you have to respond.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      They are the ones being rude, and they know it. ‘Leaving them hanging’ is the expected response.

      As for passing info on – you are not obligated to do their work for them. Also, if your coworkers need services, they will find the services themselves.

        1. Hi*

          of course its rude to email someone who never gave you their email or call someone who never gave you their number.

    2. The Rain In Spain*

      For most services, if I’m feeling really nice/am not swamped I’ll forward an email to the applicable department and let them follow up. Otherwise I ignore them.

      For recruiters, I ask HR what their preference is (once) and then respond accordingly.

    3. Jonah*

      I manage the digital department in a business that recently became publicly traded, and now I’m constantly bombarded with this kind of thing, too. If I have to talk directly to someone (i.e. I answer the phone when they call or they stop by the office unexpectedly, which is the worst), I try to nip it in the bud and avoid giving them any information that could indicate we’re a good lead.

      My (and my coworkers’) philosophy is that if someone in my agency needs some kind of service, they’ll be able to successfully navigate locating a vendor on their own. I typically don’t respond at all to cold emails or cold calls that leave me messages, and if someone won’t leave me alone, a simple, “We’re really not interested, but thanks for reaching out,” usually does the trick. I do have a vendor from a particular “streamlining” company who will not leave me alone because he knows I have a sizable budget for his type of service, but that we believe in doing this particular thing by hand.

      The thing to remember here is that sales reps and recruiters are very used to being blown off, rejected, and receiving all kinds of legitimately rude behavior, so it shouldn’t be an emotional thing on their end to get a negative or no response. And you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about it either, especially if the cold calls are making it difficult for you to accomplish your actual job.

    4. DataGirl*

      My first IT boss told me he hangs up on solicitors. They are already wasting his time, he feels no obligation to give them more of it. I don’t go so far as to just hang up without saying anything, but a quick ‘NoThanksBYE’ followed by hanging up works well.

    5. coffeeforone*

      They want something FROM you, not FOR you. Trust your judgement (you didn’t make it this far accidentally!). If you are worried you’ll accidentally let the opportunity of a lifetime slide by, maybe you could keep a running list of who has reached out to you and circulate it to your higher ups? That way if someone says, “oh, that company would be key for [thing you know nothing about]!”, you can pass it off, but you’re also not spending any time giving these strangers leads they don’t deserve. Leave em the hell hanging otherwise!

    6. noahwynn*

      For calls, I’ll just say “thank you, but I’m not interested” and then hang up. For email I will generally respond to the first one with “thanks for reaching out, but we’re not interested at this time” and if they reply I don’t and just let it drop. I don’t pass on contacts or forward emails. It’s not rude to say no thanks.

    7. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I was a temp receptionist at a tech startup for five minutes. We had one phone number. The vendors/recruiters would call down the list of contacts they had. So I’d get a call at 11:30 asking if the Director of Marketing was interested in buying industrial-grade teapots. Then I’d get a call at 11:35 asking if the Director of Engineering was interested in buying industrial-grade teapots. Then I’d get a call at 11:37 asking if the Office Manager was interested in buying industrial-grade teapots. Then I’d get a call at 11:42 asking if the CEO was interested in buying industrial-grade teapots. You’d think they’d realize they’d dialed the same number 4 times and been shot down by the same person 4 times, but they’d keep calling.

      Basically, if they’re calling you, they’re also calling other people in the company.

    8. Hi*

      Oh i block these people or occasionally write back “Remove me from your list, I didn’t sign up! Thanks”

      They’re just spam who got your info off linked in? IGNORE.

  24. AVP*

    I am usually a nice, friendly person who is a good conversationalist with strangers and friends alike – and I have a decent job, know my job and the industry pretty well, have been in it for a decade. But I ~~cannot~~ have a networking conversation to save my life!

    Any time I’m in such a situation, I freeze up, get really shy and introverted, and just generally cannot carry a back-and-forth. I worry that I’m “bragging” too much about my own work and not asking enough questions about the other persons, or vice versa, and generally just not adding anything. I think I psyche myself out about having to seem impressive or interesting and just come off as dull or manic. Any tips for combatting this?

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      1) Practice with a friend
      2) Consciously think through what feels like a good back and forth – you speaking for X minutes, then asking a question and listening. Then memorize an elevator pitch about your job / accomplishments that is x – 1 minutes, and use that as an intro.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Practice with a friend or sympathetic colleague until you feel more comfortable asking questions. Try to re-frame it in your mind as information-gathering (you want to find out what they do, how they got into it, what they like/don’t like about it, and what advice they might have for YOU) as opposed to a purely transactional interaction that is inherently unequal (I’m asking this person to help me find a job/switch careers, and I have nothing to offer in return).

      Why do you feel you are bragging too much about your work? Are you feeling like you’re in “job interview mode”? Perhaps you can say something like “I’ve done this kind of work (examples ABC) in the past/most recently–how do you see that aligning with the type of work done in your industry/field?” This might help you get past the feeling like you’re “bragging” on your accomplishments.

      Perhaps setting up your expectations of the other person ahead of time can make you more comfortable with the process. (Can I pick your brain about XYZ? I’m interested in learning more about how your field/org does ABC; would you be willing to talk with me about that? I’ve been thinking about making a change in my career into X and wanted to get your advice/talk to someone knowledgeable about that. Would you be open to a short conversation? So-and-So suggested I reach out to you to ask about blah blah blah–would you be willing to meet?) Generally, I find, people like to talk about their work, whether they love it or hate it. And, as long as you’re being mindful about the amount of time you’re asking for, it’s usually not a problem.

      TL;DR: Networking can feel extremely weird, but it can become more comfortable with practice and framing.

      Now, the scenarios above are all for generally individual formal networking requests, and you may be referring to much more casual conversations during conferences, professional meetings, etc. If so, ask people to talk about their latest project (they’ll have something to say about it), then ask follow up questions (how’d you manage that? Did you have to deal with sourcing the flux capacitors on that issue?). You can always then interject your own experiences in a similar or different arena and indicate you’d like to do more of whatever it is and how might you train/explore resources?

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Don’t think of networking as a separate thing! You are just having regular conversations, getting to know people. Just be your normal self.

      Maybe this is just me, but I’ve never actually built my network through Networking(tm) — I’ve gotten to know people professionally, and those people are my network.

    4. AliceW*

      I use networking conversations to find out how others do things in different organizations? I always have a list of at least 5 questions about how their company has handled a particular issue or project etc. I use it as a information gathering tool so I can bring back other perspectives and perhaps better ways of doing things to my own company. I never talk about myself unless they ask me questions. Then we usually can have an easy back and forth either commiserating over similar work issues or we can brainstorm about how the industry can tackle an particular issue better. I don’t do much small talk and I am generally not interested in striking up a friendship. It’s work.

  25. Please help me; I'm indecisive*

    Is it worth it to leave a dream job for a pay bump + advancement?

    I’m <5 years out from graduate school, but have a few professional jobs under my belt. My job right now is 85% teapot engineering, with 15% teapot design. This blend of work is perfect for me, and it's what I want to do long-term. Going into work every day makes me happy, and it truly doesn't *feel* like work, even on the worst days. My dilemma is that a former supervisor at a competing firm now wants to hire me back on.

    – The new role would be a promotion in terms of title and pay: from Teapot Engineer to Lead Teapot Engineer, and pay would increase by ~$15k.
    – New Firm was a huge fan of my work when I was there, and I know I would be good at the work. I only left because I was on a contract position that they weren't able to renew for budget reasons.
    – Current Firm has uncertain prospects of advancement. The promotion policies are that when Lead Teapot Engineer roles open, everyone else who's at least minimally qualified get to apply. I'd probably have to compete with another Teapot Engineer on my team who's been with the firm for longer. Although my supervisors have told me discreetly that I'm a top candidate for promotion, nothing is guaranteed.
    – I have no dependents, but my parents will be retiring in 2 years, and I'm concerned about being able to contribute to them financially. They theoretically have saved enough to get by, but I still worry.
    – I have a lot of student loans ($100k+). The loan payments are manageable on my current (pretty comfortable) salary, and I'm set to pay it all off in < 10 years, but more money would always be nice.

    – I want to mostly do teapot engineering. The duties of the new role would be more like 35% teapot engineering, 35% teapot design, 30% teapot marketing. I've done a little bit of teapot marketing in the past, but I mostly find it boring.
    – Current Firm has a LOT of teapot engineers, who I work closely with, and who provide me tons of mentorship.
    – Current Firm invests more heavily in professional training opportunities. If I add it up, I'm getting about $5k/year of specialized Teapot Engineering training as a standard thing, and I can always ask for more.
    – New Firm is notoriously old-fashioned when it comes to their engineering mindset and processes. It takes forever to get things approved at New Firm, and some projects end up dying in development because of it, whereas Current Firm is always doing really cool things in teapot engineering.
    – Current Firm has better opportunities to collaborate with other engineer teams, and will occasionally allow extended work on short-term projects outside of the Teapot department, which I'm very interested in.
    – This sounds petty, but the environment at new firm is just worse. New firm has less of a team-based approach, which I hate because I'm very social. New firm's other division (Teapot Support) have just gone through a round of layoffs, and morale is super low. They also have an open floor plan desk arrangement, whereas I currently have a closed office which I love.
    – I have previously worked with, and get along great with the main teammates I'd work with at New Firm, but I just don't "click" as well with New Firm's culture.
    – The idea of leaving Current Firm and going to New Firm indefinitely makes me want to cry.

    The commute, hours, and benefits (including remote working) for both firms are similar enough.

    Thoughts? How unhappy would you be willing to be for an additional $15k/year and a slight promotion? Would it be worth it if it took you a little farther away from your long-term career goals?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Oh man, this is such a personal decision. It’s like, “should I marry this man that I respect and get along with but the sex is not the best”? Everybody’s answer is specific to what they value and nobody else’s answer would apply to you. That said, some factors to consider: 1. The known security of liking your coworkers / boss – how important is that to your happiness? (Also knowing that this could change anyway, even if you stayed). 2. How likely is it that you could get a similar offer later if you wanted? Is this your “one chance”? 3. How likely is it you could get back to where you are now if you do something else for a while and realize it’s not for you?

      1. Please help me; I'm indecisive*

        I think it’s really important for me to be in a work environment where I like my coworkers. I really didn’t get along with a person I had to work closely with at my last job, and it was a big factor in me jumping ship.

        I also think I am a really good candidate for other Lead Teapot Engineer positions, as 2 other firms have also tried to headhunt me this year. The only issue is that other firms in this field suffer from the same structural issues as potential New Firm. Current Firm is really a standout in our industry in terms of culture/innovation, even though it is smaller.

        It would also be very hard to return to Current Firm, even though they like me a lot here. This is because Current Firm has really high retention, as people tend to love it here to the point of turning down advancement opportunities elsewhere.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Option 3, look for a different new job.

      It sounds like you don’t want the new job and don’t like the firm, but there are “cons” at your current job, too. On the other hand, if you make $100,000, it will take you 3 x 5% raises to get a $15,000 raise.

      1. valentine*

        It sounds like you don’t want the new job and don’t like the firm
        Yes. Leave your parents out of it. What would the promotion do for you? Don’t leave just for the promotion or just for the money, without them being part of a goal you’re headed to. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul.

        Find a job that has what you like of the current one, plus advancement.

    3. CatCat*

      This sounds petty, but the environment at new firm is just worse. New firm has less of a team-based approach, which I hate because I’m very social. New firm’s other division (Teapot Support) have just gone through a round of layoffs, and morale is super low. They also have an open floor plan desk arrangement, whereas I currently have a closed office which I love.

      This is not petty at all. For me, this could be a deciding factor. It doesn’t sound like a place where you’d show up to work everyday and be happy.

    4. Dawn*

      “The idea of leaving Current Firm and going to New Firm indefinitely makes me want to cry.”
      “Current Firm has a LOT of teapot engineers, who I work closely with, and who provide me tons of mentorship.”
      “whereas Current Firm is always doing really cool things in teapot engineering.”

      Don’t do it. The only thing that I’m seeing in you writing in that’s a plus for New Firm is that you will get more money. Everything else is either uncertain (you MIGHT get a promotion) or a flat negative.

      I am really not reading excitement at all from your post, and that’s a big red flag that you won’t enjoy the new job at all.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah and it depends on the individual how much money $15K really is. To go to a place you’re pretty sure you’re going to hate, that would not be enough for me – but double my current salary would be, as I could always work there for a year or two to make bank and then run.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        “– The idea of leaving Current Firm and going to New Firm indefinitely makes me want to cry.”

        What Dawn said. If you’re doing ok financially, it’s not worth the emotional hit.

        If you’d said Current Firm had no advancement opportunities, or you were financially struggling now, that would be different.

        But do look at / talk with your boss about what opportunities there are if no Lead Engineer slots open up within X years (3? 5?). Can you start a new teapot line? Take 10 – 20% of your time to specialize in something obscure? (insert your dream here)

    5. Joy*

      Based on how you talk about it, I wouldn’t take the new job. The money and potential for more money seem to be the only real pros with a lot of job happiness cons, but you say you’re okay for money right now. I’d decline, spend the next year seriously talking to your current management about internal opportunities for advancement and applying to other positions that look like a good fit.

    6. Hope*

      It doesn’t really sound like you want to work at new firm; it sounds more like you’re trying to talk yourself into working there because it’s more $$. If it were me, the office vs. open floor plan would be enough to keep me in current firm. Extra money is nice, but so is work that you enjoy with people you do well with.

      And if leaving makes you want to cry, that’s your answer right there. If you don’t actually *need* the money, stay.

    7. College Career Counselor*

      For me, this is the part that sticks out: “– The idea of leaving Current Firm and going to New Firm indefinitely makes me want to cry.”

      This does not bode well for your long-term happiness, along with the other culture stuff you mentioned. As I tell my students, “the best job in the world doesn’t stay that way for long, if you hate the work, the people, or the environment.”

      1. Aggretsuko*

        “makes me want to cry” rules out the job for me based on THAT alone. Do you want to be crying all the time?

    8. Bostonian*

      Ask for a raise!

      Or stick it out until the next promotion cycle; it sounds like your supervisors value your work, so you could potentially be getting more money soon. (And if you do get the promotion, can try to negotiate for more.)

    9. LPUK*

      I listened to a news item today that said Gallup had done workplace survey that said many people would be willing to halve their pay to work at something they feel passionate, so on that basis alone, a 15% increase to go the other way doesn’t sound like near.y enough, unless you are absolutely destitute. From your description however, all I need to know is that the thought of it makes you cry. Don’t do it.

    10. Forkeater*

      I’m thinking about taking a 15% pay cut to go back to work I much prefer – so yeah, money can’t buy happiness. If money is the only plus, can you have a discussion with your boss? I got a “senior” title and a raise here by opening a casual conversation about how my job duties align more closely with the senior title than what was my actual title. Granted I feel I was very lucky – but you and your current firm seem so well aligned you might be lucky too.

    11. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I think the office of your own plus wanting to cry when you think of leaving your current company are clear signs that this is not the right transition for you.

    12. The Ginger Ginger*

      I think you should try to negotiate a raise at your current place. Even if you can’t get 15k worth of a bump, would you feel good about an increase of 5k? Is the money the only pro on the list for new company? And how badly do you need that money?

    13. Not So NewReader*

      The line about going to new firm makes you want to cry, seals it for me.
      Do not do this. Vow to make choices in work and in life where you always feel that you are going toward something that is better. I know i have looked at houses and wanted to cry. I did not buy any of those houses. That wanting to cry is happening for a reason, okay probably more than one reason. Pay attention to it. Put yourself where you think you have the best chance of success.

      In looking at your financial reasons to make the move, I don’t see a strong, strong reason. I’d like to caution you about supporting your parents, please discuss this with an attorney. Giving money to the folks on a regular basis could have legal implications if not handled carefully and with fore-thought.
      You are in a position now that you know your college debt will be paid in less than a decade. This stands as good reason not to rock the current boat. Plus, once that debt is paid off that could become money for your parents, should you work out a plan for helping them.

      In short I don’t see a strong (enduring) reason here for taking this new job. Your old boss likes you and that is flattering. But we do not have to accept offers from everyone who flatters us. We have to look to see how their offer meshes with us/our goals/our lives. The icing on the cake, you can already feel the tears associated with the new job. This to me makes it abundantly clear: do not do this.

      On a different day, you may see something else. The difference will be striking, none of what you say here will apply to the next place. And you will have a confidence about your decision that you do not have now.

    14. Not A Manager*

      “The idea of leaving Current Firm and going to New Firm indefinitely makes me want to cry.”

      Don’t do it.

    15. gecko*

      Stay where you are. You like it, you have a comfortable salary, and you get mentorship. I don’t think you should look to be promoted away from your career goals. You’re satisfied now; this new position just doesn’t seem to be enough of a step up to pull at your ambition.

    16. Khlovia*

      “…makes me want to cry.”

      Don’t make yourself cry, please.

      You will be driving to work every morning blinded by tears in your eyes. You are going to wreck your car and spend six months in the hospital. That extra $15K/yr won’t come near to compensating you for that.

      If you were starving in a garret from which you were about to be evicted, then the $15K would be the paramount, indeed the only, factor. But it doesn’t sound as though that is the case here. Don’t talk yourself into thinking that this is the only chance you will ever get for the rest of your life to bump up your salary.

      Tears provide useful information. Pay attention.

  26. Anonymous Educator*

    I’m not the hiring manager, but I’m currently involved in the hiring process for a position at my workplace. One of the candidates sent in a résumé with two jobs listed at the top (that took up about half the space on one page), and then “filled” in the rest with a couple of educational degrees. The weird thing about it is there is well over a decade gap between the last degree and the start of the first of the two jobs listed. I guess if the candidate had had four or five jobs listed and couldn’t fit more, it would make more sense, but the two jobs filled only the top half of one page. Is this a thing? Are people doing this because they think they shouldn’t list what experience they’ve had that isn’t directly related to the job they’re applying for? Everyone on our hiring committee is baffled by this (we may ask the candidate about it later), but I’m just curious what folks here on AaM think.

    For my own résumé, I list pretty much all my post–higher ed jobs (even if they’re not directly related to the position I’m applying for) in reverse chronological order. For some of the older jobs, I have only one short bullet point instead of a whole list of responsibilities and accomplishments, but I still list them.

    1. Jimming*

      People should focus on listing relevant work experience, yes, but gaps like that should be addressed in a cover letter. It also sounds like they don’t have a clear or well-formatted resume based on your description.

    2. Natalie*

      My husband has a slightly similar resume to that (although the gap between the two jobs isn’t remotely as significant) because he’s only listing his relevant experience. A resume is supposed to be a marketing document, not an exhaustive list of every place you’ve worked. For him, including the job that was supposed to be his career position, until he left for health reasons, and then the gap when he wasn’t working at all, doesn’t add anything to the career story he’s trying to tell.

      In comparison, I have all of my post-college jobs because they have a clear progression in responsibility. But, after this job, I’ll probably drop one in particular because I had very little to do there and thus have little to say. But it’s right in the middle of my list, so there will be a gap.

    3. WellRed*

      How long has the candidate been at the jobs listed?
      I graduated 19 years ago, but have been at my current job almost 14 years. Do I really have to list the handful of jobs I held in that five year gap at this point?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’m not talking about a 5-year gap. It’s more like a 15-year gap. And this candidate has not been at any position for 14 years.

    4. JG Wave*

      Is it possible the candidate really doesn’t have other work experience? It might make sense to me if, say, they had a child after finishing their last degree and worked as a stay-at-home parent for a number of years, or had a family health emergency and lived off a different source of income. And if they had only had retail positions or similar, 10-15 years previously, I can see choosing to leave those off the resume entirely.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I mean, it could be any number of legitimate things, but that would be presumably something you’d mention in the cover letter (or email that accompanied the résumé)?

        1. Doug Judy*

          Not necessarily. As a woman I’m always afraid of how a potential employer will take the fact I am also a mother. Some don’t care but some still think “oh, she might be as reliable” because kids. Which is dumb, but I’m very wary of mentioning this until I’ve already started a new job.

          They could have put something vague but again who knows. If they are a strong candidate otherwise, it couldn’t hurt to interview them.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            No, we probably are going to interview the candidate. I just wonder if it’s even worth putting dates on the degrees at all if that highlights the huge gap between the last degree and the first job.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            That’s what one of my colleagues speculated semi-jokingly, but it very well could be true!

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Given the follow-up questions people are asking, I guess I was unclear in my initial description.

      The chronology is basically finished last degree in mid-90s. First job listed after that is 2010. And then there are only two jobs listed from 2010 to present.

      Like what happened in the late 90s and the entire aughts?

      1. WellRed*

        Well now I am thinking incarcerated or institutionalized but that’s probably worst case scenario. Or, too many L&O: SVU reruns.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’m imagining a big career change or an extended period of unemployment for some reason (tried and failed a grad degree? Cared for family? Health problem?) and they just didn’t think to explain it, hoping that you would not notice.

      3. Autumnheart*

        Maybe they’re an older candidate, who graduated in the ’90s and only listed their last 10 years of employment, because of the questionable relevance of jobs held longer ago than that?

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          But if you’re trying to hide your age, why would you list the year you earned your degree?

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            I don’t think it’s hiding your age so much as leaving out the irrelevant years. I do this on my CV. I have the years listed for my degrees (seems very strange to leave those out) but I only have the last 10 years or so of jobs listed, because until I went back to school in 2001 I worked in a totally different and irrelevant field, and then I spent three years doing a graduate degree. I’m not trying to hide anything but I don’t think an archaeology company cares about my experience answering phones at an insurance company in another country. Not least because I am outside digging holes and never even in the office, let alone speaking to customers.

      4. Jule*

        You’ve already said you know it could be many reasonable things. If this person has the right experience, isn’t it possible to ask them in person instead of casting suspicion on them now?

    6. BRR*

      My initial guesses are they’re trying to hide something or that a lot of people are bad at writing resumes (or a combination).

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, that’s what I’m guessing, too. I just wasn’t sure if this was a thing. You know how bad job-seeking advice always come up to be debunked here. I didn’t know if maybe this candidate was part of some trend of just leaving huge gaps of jobs that aren’t directly related to the one you’re applying to.

    7. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I see you’re in education…is this a role that has direct access to children?

      When I started hiring swim instructors, I had to take a training on how to identify a problem worker who’s been “pass the trash”ed out of several jobs. Weird gaps without an explanation was one, ex: they got fired for being inappropriate with a child and just took it off their resume. Another was references that didn’t quite line up with the resume, ex: based on the job description/duration of employment, you’d expect them to have a good reference from a particular job they had for 3 years, but they instead provided a reference from their 6-week summer job 10 years ago.

      Now obviously, plenty of people have gaps in their employment history for non-nefarious reasons, but it’s a red flag that you should pay close attention to the reasoning they give, the way they answer questions, and the general gut feeling they give you while you’re asking their questions.