open thread – April 26-27, 2019

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 2,104 comments… read them below }

  1. Rulesfor*

    I’m in the process of interviewing for jobs right now, and I’m worried about my references. I haven’t told my current workplace that I’m looking yet, so I can’t use my supervisor, and unfortunately, my previous reference is from another program in the same agency, and they do talk. Those are my two best professional references. I can use coworkers, but if they want a supervisor, they’ll have to go four years back and into internships, which doesn’t seem helpful. What should I do?

    1. LaDeeDa*

      Can you ask the reference to be please not let anyone know, as you haven’t shared this with your boss? References should know that’s how it works, I am always shocked when people report that a reference blabbed.

      I have a former peer on my reference list- and asked them to talk about my innovation, how I was as a team player. Companies may ask for a supervisor, but they would learn a lot from asking peers!

      I would be honest with the recruiter/hiring manager and tell them that you haven’t shared your job hunt with your current manager, and that other than the two you had mentioned the next one would be from 4 yrs ago. Hopefully, they understand, if someone is less than 10 years into their career or who have only worked a couple of places they won’t have many references.

      Good luck on your interview!!

      1. Rulesfor*

        Thank you! Unfortunately, from wast I know of my previous supervisor and this agency as a whole, it would absolutely get back to my current supervisor. I’ll do what I can with that in play!

        1. Not A Mage*

          Is there anyone from one of your previous jobs that was in a management/supervisor position, that would be willing to give you a reference? Someone thought well of you? Even if they weren’t technically your boss? Anyone that you took instructions from?

      2. Call me St. Vincent*

        I had this situation and told them that I would give my references at the offer stage and that the offer could be contingent.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Same boat here! Been at current job 6 1/2 years and they don’t know I’m looking. My 2 levels up boss left our company about 1 1/2 years ago so in theory I could use him but he was promoted to one of our sister companies so technically he still works for the same larger corp and I wouldn’t feel comfortable using him. Plus the only way I could get a hold of him is by using his company contact info (he hasn’t responded to LinkedIn messages). Boss at OldJob retired so my contact info for him is no good and he hasn’t updated LinkedIn sine he left 6 years ago.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, I would go with two co-workers you trust and then the supervisor from four years back. Four years ago isn’t that long ago. Sure, it’s not ideal, but it can work.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        100% this, especially since you’ve said the same-agency references would definitely talk to your boss.

      2. Luisa*

        I’m currently in the same boat and this is what I did. (First interviews of the job search are next week, so we’ll see how it all pans out.)

    4. theletter*

      the last time I had to give references, I was in a little bit of a pinch, so I asked the choir director that I had been singing with for the past 10+ years. Not ideal but it worked.

      1. ectotherm*

        Also in a similar boat – I’ve been at my current job in my current position for over twenty years and the only supervisor I’ve had is the owner of the company. The culture here is such that the handful of senior (peer) coworkers who could even somewhat speak to my work would also rat me out to the boss in a heartbeat which would almost certainly lead to my immediate firing.

    5. C*

      I sympathize. I’ve been with my company for 16+ years and my most recent 5-ish years of supervisors are still with the company. And aren’t the best work references because they didn’t really understand what I did. I asked the most recent manager who is no longer with the company (still 6 or so years ago), a current coworker on another team who really is in the best position to judge my work, and a former project manager I worked with on a couple projects for 2+ years.

    6. DataGirl*

      One of my references is from my volunteer work with Girl Scouts- a previous co-leader of our troop. Probably not ideal based on the advice I’ve read on this site but I don’t have many choices and she can speak to my leadership and organizational skills.

      1. MsChaos*

        Being a GS leader always made a big impact on anyone I interviewed with, so don’t leave it off. It was even better when I started training adults to be leaders and supervised scout-led events that were requirements for older girls trying to qualify for certain achievement levels. Not only are you held to a high standard of conduct in that organization, the stated goals are super clear and the org is highly data-driven and results oriented, so it’s highly respected (in general).

    7. Public Sector Manager*

      There is no problem with telling a prospective employer that you will give references when they are ready to make you a job offer. We just finished hiring for our agency and had 4 candidates out of 12 ask that we not contact their current supervisor or references at their current agency unless we were going to extend a job offer. It’s a normal part of business and good employers will be respectful of a candidate not wanting to disclose a job hunt unless there is a serious offer on the table.

      I had the reverse situation recently too. I was looking to make a move to another agency and they wanted all my references in advance (supervisor, peers, and team members) with the application. This agency was using a recruiter. I applied and included an attachment for the recruiter that references would be provided at the time of the hiring interview or job offer. The recruiter didn’t even bat an eye at my request. It didn’t impact my ability to get a phone screening interview or a hiring interview. Unfortunately, a family emergency caused me to withdraw my application.

      But I wouldn’t be worried about not listing references from the beginning. In fact, I would consider it a red flag if a prospective employer insisted on all your recommendations before even showing their hand of whether they want to make you an offer (or were seriously contemplating it).

  2. AnonymooToday*

    Advice please!
    Our HR liaision is being very inappropriate. I applied for my managers’ position, and I knew it was a long shot since my manager never gave me feedback on things that will keep me from advancing, but I still wanted the shot. I interviewed for it, not my best interview because it was first internal one.

    This week our HR liasion came to me twice, the first time was all about the leadership courses I should take through our online system, while I’m thinking, does this mean I got the position (it’s management), then in the next breath how I really need to get an intern, and going on about that. Which means I guess I didn’t get it because I wouldn’t need an intern if I was going to be managing a small team.

    Today they came in, and wanted to give me “motherly” advice and I should apply for every job opening there this here (this was literally the only other job here I would want), and then come tell them and they can help me prepare for the interview. And you know, they want to tell me something but they can’t. So 99% certain I did not get the job now.

    I really don’t appreciate finding out this way or their “help” (Heck, I just turned down a tenure track position, I know how to interview, just had an off one). I’ll be bringing it up when I get my “official” rejection, hopefully from the hiring manager since we’re in the same department. But I feel like I should also report this to actual HR. It feels like a huge overstep and boundary violation. Does anyone else agree?

    And advice on how to do it, should I ask for a meeting with someone in HR or just email them about what happened?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      TBH, I’m not sure what you would be reporting here. It sounds like you acknowledge that the interview didn’t go great, and I think they meant it kindly when they said they wanted to help you do better next time. They seem to be rooting for you and want to promote you, which is a good sign. I must be missing the subtext.

      1. TheTallestOneEver*

        Yeah, I’m struggling to find the problem here as well. It sounds like your HR liaison is trying to be your advocate here. The leadership courses not only provide you with training, but also help put you on management’s radar as someone who’s interested in advancement. Getting direct reports give you management experience with your current employer.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yup, offering up the intern is the way to give OP the people management experience she probably lacks right now that puts her behind the other candidates for the position.

          1. AnonymooToday*

            I forgot to add, none of things they suggested are actually probably possible. We can’t just ask for interns where I work, that’s not how it works at all. And the leadership things they are suggesting are all day long courses for supervisors that you need permission for, which I’m not sure I would be able to get. Yes I know this is help, and not that I won’t look into them, but I’ve been here years longer than them, so 90% chance I can’t do any of them because of the culture of our place, and they should know that by now.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Maybe there’s an intern proposal you know nothing about, I’d take that offer seriously and ask how to implement it, since it’s new. Worst that can happen this person backpeddles and feels sheepish.

            2. only acting normal*

              Sounds more like you have a supervisor problem (won’t help you train for progression) than an HR person problem (encouraging you to get the experience to progress).
              You’ve been there years longer – are you 100% sure the culture is not slowly shifting? I’ve seen attitudes to this kind of progression/training thing shift back and fore where I work over the years – depends on the senior leadership of the day usually, though access to it is allowed or blocked by middle management.

              Or is it mainly that she telegraphed that you didn’t get the job, and really you should have heard that direct from the hiring manager?

            3. Memyselfandi*

              I think you are feeling the after-effects of a not great interview and the uncertainty of not knowing the full context of these comments. Once you know yes or no for the position and gained some distance you may see this very differently.

      2. Peachkins*

        I don’t see any problem with them offering assistance for next time, so I’m with you on that. I think another part of the OP’s issue, however, is the fact that no one has officially said whether or not OP got the job. OP is assuming at this point that they didn’t based on the fact that this help is being offered.

        The only thing I would consider telling HR is that I didn’t appreciate being given the advice they did when I still hadn’t been notified about whether or not I got the job for which I interviewed.

    2. Mediamaven*

      I’m confused. You had a not so good interview, which you acknowledge, and they’ve offered to help prep you for the next one. I’d take them up on it and give a gracious thank you! Am I missing something?

    3. facepalm*

      You acknowledge the role was a long shot but put the blame everywhere but on your poor interview (the manager’s fault for not giving you feedback, the fact that it was an internal interview and you hadn’t had one before). The HR liaison seems to be wanting to be genuinely helpful, offering you advice on a path to advancement (available online leadership courses, a possible intern for management experience). This reads as you feel the HR person is beneath you when in fact she’s trying to point out ways to earn the qualifications that could land you a management position. The entire tone in this comment is not that of someone I would want to manage other people, honestly.

    4. LaDeeDa*

      I am not really sure what has you bothered. You said you weren’t given feedback on what kind of development you would need to advance, and that you felt the position was a long shot. HR has given you some suggested development classes (I would take a look and see if they focus on where skill/area/competency or if they are general leadership), they’ve advised you to get an intern- which will give you an opportunity to use the new skills you are learning in the classes, and then will be able to speak to it in future opportunities- which they have offered to give you coaching on. That sounds like exactly what they should be doing for you!

      Was it their delivery, or that you feel like you should have officially been rejected first?

    5. WellRed*

      I’d be more inclined to let the hiring manager know about this. As in internal interviewee, you should have been told directly you didn’t get the job. Also, did the HR person actually use the word “motherly” cause that’s wrong on so many levels.

      1. AnonymooToday*

        Yes they did.
        I should’ve provided more context. Yes I know they are just trying to help, but I don’t even know if this person is involved in the hiring process. There’s been problems with other people and discretion, I no longer respond to their “just jokes”. Maybe if I didn’t already have a negative view of this person as an HR professional I’d be more receptive. I work in government, there are very defined rules around hiring, and especially internal candidates. I didn’t appreciate being told I didn’t get the job from this person, internal candidates are told by the hiring manager, who has been my manager for the last four months and would’ve handled it better. If I had been putting all my cards on this job, I would’ve been devastated, and I know the manager would’ve delivered it better.
        If they wanted to help, they should’ve waited until after I was told, it was inappropriate that they inserted themselves into the process when they aren’t involved in these parts. As someone else said it who knows them, they wanted to feel like the hero, and that is very much like what it felt like. It wasn’t a back and forth about my career, it was telling me what to do like a juvenile, without asking me anything about my career. I just feel disrespected by the entire thing. I know on paper it doesn’t sound like it, but I promise it was inappropriate.

        1. Arctic*

          Even with that being the case what outcome do you want from reporting this? This person isn’t going to be fired or reprimanded for providing advice.

          1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            AnonymooToday, I understand your disappointment over not getting the job and your frustration over the hiring manager not informing you directly. However, this does justify your complaints about the person who is HELPING you. This HR person is actively working to (1) develop your leadership skills, (2) give you personnel management experience, and (3) assist you in interview preparation. To any reasonable third party, you should be thanking this person.

        2. LaDeeDa*

          Is the official process that the hiring manager notifies the person? Because usually, it is HR or recruiting that does it. At any rate, I would examine what you hope to get out of complaining. I would also pause for a second and think about why the HR person had that conversation with you, is there a possibility that the hiring manager asked them to give you this feedback and to help with defining some development opportunities?

        3. Lily in NYC*

          I really think you need to let this go and not report it. Considering that most of us here don’t think they acted with malicious intent, I think complaining about it will only backfire on you. Also, from some of your responses here, it’s clear you are complaining about them to other coworkers, which is not great.

        4. The Rafters*

          I work in gov too; lack of discretion and confidentiality in the hiring process is a BIG DEAL here on everyone’s part. HR is in on everything we do, but does not notify anyone if they are hired or rejected. The lead person who conducts each interview signs / sends rejection letters. I likely wouldn’t report it HR person, especially because you said yourself the interview didn’t go well. It might come across as sour grapes and you may use points you don’t want to lose. But I would probably speak with the HR person directly and tell them that the timing of what they did was not okay.

          1. kittymommy*

            Interesting. I also work in government and the only ones that do the notification for any candidate or any job is HR. The guiding force is to put all candidates whether internal or external on the same playing field and no candidate gets different treatment than the others.

        5. Qwerty*

          Sounds like there’s a communication problem with the hiring manager. The hiring manager hasn’t been giving you the feedback that you need to advance your career and hasn’t given you the feedback/result of your interview. Starting to sound like a pattern and my read is that your manager was probably supposed to have already talked to you about this. HR person saw that your manager was failing you and tried to give you the feedback that you should have been getting all along. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve seen major communication fails between hiring managers and HR, so there’s a good chance she thought you already knew. Or maybe you are still in the running but this process is taking a long time so she thought you’d continue applying to internal positions in the mean time.

        6. CM*

          You know it was a long shot, but you were hoping it would work, which is natural. It sounds to me like you’re disappointed that you didn’t get the job and maybe feel like they’re rubbing salt in the wound by being condescending, or acting like they feel sorry for you, or treating you like you did so completely terribly that you need extra help. You would have preferred that it had been a more businesslike transaction where they told you directly that the answer was no without throwing in what feels like pity.

          One option is to pretend it doesn’t bother you by accepting the offer of help, saying thanks or whatever and letting it go. That way, you’re showing you’re tough enough to weather someone else’s misplaced pity without letting it hurt your ego.

          Another option is to say to this person, in the moment, “It sounds like I didn’t get the job from what you’re saying. To be honest with you, I would have felt better receiving a formal rejection than just finding out casually like this. Now I feel kind of awkward.” That’s gently letting the know that it’s not doing you a favour to approach it this way, even if they have good intentions.

      2. Peachkins*

        This isn’t a bad idea. Give them a heads up that HR is going to people with advice for their next interview before they’ve received official notification about the job.

    6. ATX Language Learner*

      I agree with everyone else. Perhaps accept the help they are offering? Sounds like they are genuinely wanting to help and offer you a chance to advance in the future.

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      I’m not sure if I’m missing something here? What she’s doing sounds reasonable, and arguably part of an HR role to help employees develop and progress (depending on company).

      Assume the best intentions, and take advantage of any assistance that will help next time (if, indeed, you haven’t been successful).

    8. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Make sure that whatever you do, you’re not doing out of a bruised ego. It’s patronizing, but not a boundary violation as you’ve described it here. Careful not to ring a bell you can’t unring by reaching out to HR while feelings are raw.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        It may or may not actually be patronizing, actually – it sounds like the person was trying to offer meaningful advice.

        1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          And to reply to myself again, by “ring a bell you can’t unring,” I mean in terms of your own reputation and perceived professionalism. Protect that and make sure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot.

          1. AnonymooToday*

            Thanks, definite sound advice I’ve given to others. I probably won’t end up telling HR, but definitely telling the hiring manager.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              Yes, I think expressing your concern to the hiring manager is probably the safer bet given your feelings toward this particular HR rep. And you probably want to wait to have the conversation until you’re less upset so that your manager doesn’t misinterpret what you say as being hostile – that can sink you down the line.

            2. Jadelyn*

              Again, though, I’d like to ask – what exactly are you going to tell the hiring manager?

              Because literally the only thing I can see in this situation that is even the slightest bit out of kilter is the fact that the hiring manager hadn’t already told you whether or not you got the job BEFORE the HR rep came to talk to you. So if you’re mentioning that to the hiring manager, sure – but even if you’re complaining about the HR rep slightly bungling an attempt to be helpful to someone outside of HR, you’re still complaining about something that there’s really no reason to complain about.

              Said with all good intent, and I add that because it can be hard to tell tone via text – but it honestly sounds to me more like you’re feeling kind of raw because you had a less than stellar interview and probably missed out on something you wanted, and you’re sort of lashing out because of it.

              1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

                I actually disagree here – the hiring manager has standing to know if insider info is being shared before the process is finalized. That could easily put the hiring manager in an awkward spot if they change their mind, etc.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  On the other hand, the HR rep (unless I missed this in my reading of the OP) didn’t actually tell OP that they did or didn’t get the job. OP got the sense that this was some kind of “hinting” that they hadn’t gotten the job, but no “insider info” was actually shared.

                  Even so, to me, this still falls under the “was not executed perfectly, but still very normal and reasonable overall”.

                2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

                  If someone went to an internal applicant for one of my positions to tell them “you know, I want to tell you something but I can’t,” after telling the candidate to let them know when they’d applied to other jobs, I’d be pissed. You only say something like that when you know you’re speaking out of school.

            3. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

              That’s a good plan, especially because of this bit here: “And you know, they want to tell me something but they can’t.” If I read your comment correctly, the person was insinuating that they know you didn’t get the job? I agree that that’s 110% something to dispassionately mention to the hiring manager because that was theirs to share with you, not HR’s. Who knows what other inside baseball this person is sharing with candidates.

              For what it’s worth, this would piss me off, too, so I don’t think you’re off base to be annoyed by these interactions – you just don’t want to make your irritation a matter of official record until and unless you’re sure something could be accomplished that way.

              1. T. Boone Pickens*

                Is there a chance that hiring manager and HR rep got their wires crossed/hiring manager forgot for when they were supposed to communicate with you? For example, hiring manager was supposed to tell you on Monday and HR rep was supposed to pop over on Tuesday to help ‘pump you back up’?

                1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

                  I guess, but I’m pretty sure “[a]nd you know, they want to tell me something but they can’t” means the person knows they’re acting on confidential information.

            4. Jaydee*

              It sounds like this is not the first time this HR person has done some unusual things, and while they aren’t outrageous, they do strike me as odd. I think going to the hiring manager now, before you know the outcome, is the best bet. But keep it very low key. Say something like, “I just wanted to let you know I had a couple of strange interactions with Sansa from HR and I wasn’t sure how to interpret them. [Insert descriptions of no more than a couple sentences – basically what you described in your original post]. I was surprised by this because I just had my interview and I was under the impression that any updates on that process would come through you, so her comments were unexpected and I felt like maybe you should know.”

              I think the goal is to convey that these conversations seemed odd, you’re not sure what to make of them, you’re not really trying to interpret them one way or the other (even if you are), but you feel like the hiring manager should know and would be in a better position to do or not do something in response.

    9. kittymommy*

      I’m as confused as others. I mean I don’t like the use of the word “motherly” but everything else seems like HR related tasks. At least where I’m at these are all thing that they would do. Likewise, even employees that aren’t managers/leadership are encouraged to take the online leadership courses (if they want) for their future growth with the organization. Honestly,. it sounds like they are trying to help you get this or a future promotion.

    10. Arctic*

      It seems like she’s trying to be helpful here. Advising you to take leadership courses and get management experience by managing an intern. And offering to help interview is huge. It’s not like it’s a career services. You would be getting interview tips from someone who has a really good idea of what the Hiring Manger is actually looking for.
      I think you would alienate someone who is in your corner here by reporting them.

    11. Jadelyn*

      What’s the boundary violation here? Genuinely asking. It’s entirely reasonable for someone in HR to know the outcome of internal interviews and potential hires, and to reach out to someone internal who is clearly interested in advancement with guidance and offers of training/help/resources so that the person can be a more competitive candidate next time. In fact, that’s a thing that *good* employers and HR will do, making sure that their staff have support in moving forward in their careers.

      It sounds like maybe it was awkwardly done, but I really don’t see where there was any boundary violation.

    12. LKW*

      You don’t know that what they want to tell you is that you didn’t get the job -that’s your assumption. The HR person could be telling you that there better opportunities – and that’s why you should apply – that the department is going to get reorged – and that’s why you should apply to other roles -that someone thought you’d make a great management trainee in another department -and that’s why you should apply.

      You’ve decided this person is behaving unprofessionally – but you’ve given no evidence other than “they should know how things work”. Maybe they know how to actually get things to work (like getting an intern or professional development) and you’re just in a shitty department.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like this one HR person is the concern. Can you talk to anyone else in HR to see if they think the advice of this HR person is solid?
      I could be mis-reading. But if I am getting this right, I think I would ask why I was told to take management courses when I am not yet in management.

      Generally speaking, I have noticed a reluctance (understandable, though) for people to take courses. But it’s not an insult to be told to do this or that to beef up some advantages later on. Try to separate the message from the delivery person. If anyone else had said this to you, how would you react? What would be your next layer of questions?
      One thing I thought of to say, “Oh, the hiring manager usually tells people if they got the job or not. Are you saying, I did not get it this time?”
      I’d also want to know WHO sent her to talk to you and why. I would try to figure that out. Maybe I am cynical, but I tend to think that these conversations don’t happen in a vacuum. Someone, some where knows this is happening. Who would that person be?
      Conversely if NO one knows she spoke with you then this might mean that there is someone who would be very interested that she took it upon herself to have this conversation with you.
      I call this working it back- there is someone who sent her OR there is someone concerned that she is acting on her own. I’d try to figure out who that someone is.

      I don’t think you have to report her. It sounds like your company has a procedure where the hiring manager notifies people of their status? If that is the case then she has stepped on toes. She should not be cuing you in that you did not get the job this time. That fact stands on its own. In the process of finding out your status you can mention that Jane let you know you probably did not get the job. Then let those chips fall where they may.

      1. ArtK*

        Waiting until you’re *in* management to take management training is not a great idea. Much better to prepare for the job that you want, rather than getting the job (maybe) and *then* preparing.

    14. learnedthehardway*

      Honestly, in your shoes, I would be grateful for the support and assistance of the HR Manager. They may not be able to tell you where your candidacy is at, yet, but they’ve given you concrete steps to take to get to where you want to go.

      You already know you didn’t do your best job in the interview and that you were a stretch candidate, at best, so I don’t see why you’re offended. The HR person may even believe you were already formally rejected for the role – sometimes, miscommunications happen – and is trying to HELP you.

    15. disagree with most comments*

      I disagree with most of the other commentators. I would also find this “hlep” annoying and patronizing. Especially since in some of comments, it seems like this HR liaison is NOT involved in the hiring. If they came to you AFTER you had been rejected and offered actual help that’d be one thing. To me this reads as they found out BEFORE YOU that you were going to be rejected and they wanted to “let you down easy” (which side note I HATE that phrase), and offer “advice”. I would probably let the hiring manager that it seems like this person is inserting themselves where they shouldn’t. You said you work in government and I guarantee this person has likely done this kind of thing before and been reprimanded for it. Hence the weird hinting around with you.

      1. valentine*

        It could be the liaison is just being weird, especially with the “motherly” nonsense. They may just have Thoughts and Feelings about the prospective promotion. Ride it out. Don’t act on anything they said. Reassess when you get the news.

    16. Darren*

      The first two bits seem pretty standard from HR wanting to encourage internal development, mentoring other people/managing one or more interns both help build a lot of the experience you need for a management role and you can do both of those while still in an individual contributor position. Similarly internal leadership courses would be another solid recommendation if they are available you definitely should be taking them prior to transitioning into a management position (in fact you should have already done them before applying unless you didn’t know about them).

      The second time they came by really sounds like they might be getting a little overly helpful but in general the intentions are good. You did badly at an internal interview since it was your first one, suggestions for doing more of them if there is anything else you want to do, and offering to help you prepare for an internal interview so you know what you need to be doing for next time. Even if there is nothing interesting in alternative roles I’d take them up on the advice on how to prepare in future.

    17. ArtK*

      Your upset is misplaced. I don’t think that the HR person was inappropriate at all. Your boss isn’t preparing you for the next step and HR is trying to coach you into that. It’s not as personal as what a manager *should* be doing, because HR doesn’t know you personally. Taking personal offense isn’t helping you here.

      Leadership classes and managing an intern are exactly the kind of thing you should be doing to prepare for a management position.

  3. career switch?*

    I’d appreciate any opinions on a possible career switch – from accounting to teaching high school (there’s currently a job opening that I’d most likely qualify for).

    I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with my current work situation and have considered teaching for some time. I enjoy teaching (have only done it at the elementary level in a small setting in the past – not public school) and am passionate about this particular subject. The situation at work seems hopeless – had the same issues about a year ago, spoke to grandboss, things improved for a time yet, alas, here we are again.

    The pros of switching : shorter commute (5 min vs 55 min) and a schedule that more closely matches that of my (school-aged) children’s.>>This is a significant factor in my decision. I’m not willing to sacrifice time with my kids for a job that makes me miserable.

    The biggest con is pay cut – the starting salary is 35% less than my current salary (doable for my family, given a few adjustments, but still significant).

    I’m worried that my eagerness to leave the current situation is causing me to view teaching through rose-colored glasses.

    Can anyone provide some insight into teaching that’ll help as I consider a possible switch? Thanks in advance!

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      I’m in the UK so if you’re in the US or elsewhere, it may be quite a different profession… my dad was a teacher (highschool English) for almost his entire career and… I basically never saw him. If he wasn’t at the school, he was marking, lesson planning, etc – or running after school clubs, or detentions, or extra study classes for exams. Of note, he was head of department though as well. He retired a few years ago. I did my degree in English and briefly considered teaching. My dad said that 10 or 15 years ago he would have said it’s a great profession but with the way it is now he “wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole”.

      Class sizes are growing, with number of support staff shrinking. Schools are notoriously underfunded and it’s not uncommon for teachers to buy materials/equipment they need out of pocket.

      The people I know who went into teaching in recent years mostly quit within a few years, partly because of the high stress and long hours (etc) and have ended up in more general office/etc jobs and happier for it.

      Of note, this is based on the UK school system and in state schools. I imagine it is quite different for private schools, and may be different in different locations/countries. But at least from the side of teaching I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem to be one for a good work/life balance.

      1. curly sue*

        A close friend of mine teaches in the private system in the UK and their descriptions of their workload is very similar — very long days, little support, high pressure, and working through weekends just to keep up.

      2. career switch?*

        Still reading through the comments but just want to thank everyone for their insight – you’ve definitely given me a lot to think about. One thing I think we can all agree on is that teachers are severely underpaid and deserve more! The salary issue is less about how “high” my current salary is and more about how underpaid teachers are. Thanks again!

    2. Emmie*

      If you’ve dreamed of teaching for some time, I recommend trying for this position. You do not need to make a choice about whether you would take the job. You just need to choose to apply. Choose to interview if you are called for it. Depending upon your area, teaching jobs may be hard to obtain, and you may need to apply for multiple positions before you are offered one.
      Do you have the required certification for the position? If not, get it. Some Career and Technical Educational (CTE) positions and certifications are designed exactly for people like you – people who have a professional career.
      There’s a larger conversation happening now regarding certifications in the states, and particularly about CTE / attracting professionals to positions. This gives you an opportunity, if you’re interested, to be on the forefront of this movement.
      You could benefit from asking yourself what specifically about teaching appeals to you, and what about your current job you despise. Teaching kids is hard work, but so is being miserable at your job. Good luck whatever you decide!

      1. Snarktini*

        “You only have to make one choice at a time” is great advice. I almost always forget this, and find myself not taking small exploratory steps because I’m thinking too far ahead to the final outcome. It’s only one choice, and making it doesn’t commit you to any permanent course of action.

        1. Emmie*

          I like the way you phrased that! You’re right about committing to a permanent course of action. Even taking an accepted job isn’t permanent.

    3. Minerva McGonagall*

      Are you certified to teach that particular area/subject? You mention that you’ve taught elementary school before, but often you need a different certification to teach high school. Public schools, funded by the state, will require you to be certified in that area you’re hired to teach in. There are some ways around that (emergency cert, some states will allow those with bachelors degrees to sub), so please check with your state’s DOE if you don’t have the certification listed in the job requirement.

      Think also about the additional benefits you’ll get-state retirement plans for teachers are (in my state in the northeast) highly enviable. You’ll get to match your kids’ school schedules. If there’s snow, you’ll get a snow day/delay/etc. You’ll be “off” in summer-that’s in quotes because you’ll likely have things to complete over the summer, whether it’s professional development, new plans, etc.

      Also consider the potential for out of school work. My husband is a teacher and spends a significant amount of time outside of school on emails to parents, planning lessons, preparing for events, participating in school/union/community events.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        It’s worth looking, but our CC system uses a lot of adjunct instructors, which doesn’t provide full-time employment.

      2. A Teacher*

        I’m an adjunct as well as a CTE teacher. Our junior college relies heavily on adjuncts as well and the pay is okay but not what I can support myself on.

    4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      While I’m not a teacher, I have several friends who are, and… the hours are brutal. As well as the not-great salary, it’s also normal and expected that you’ll end up buying some amount of classroom supplies out-of-pocket. And at the high school level, you’ll have challenges that aren’t present in elementary school (having to enforce dress code; very angry parents; high pressure extra-curriculars; teenagers in general; etc.). It can also be a lot harder to get a teaching job than you think; depends on where you are, but, often the unions are pretty strong, and if you’re not already in the union it can be hard to get hired.

      I’m not saying don’t do it, just, go in with your eyes open.

      1. Hope*

        Former teacher here, and I’m seconding all of this. Teaching is great, but even if you have a great passion for it, the odds of burnout are EXTREMELY high. I only lasted a few years. I still loved teaching, but it’s incredibly demanding of your time and there is so much to being a teacher that *isn’t* teaching. You will be working more hours. You won’t be able to leave for lunch (odds are you will be working/monitoring students during your lunch, so it won’t even be a break), you will not be able to even take a bathroom break when you want, and you will likely need a doctor’s note whenever you’re out sick. High school teachers also usually have to be adviser to *at least* one club or sport, and there are going to be other responsibilities that are expected of you on top of that; one year, I had morning bus duty; another, I had ticket sales duty for various sports games (which meant I was there until halftime of all of those games, forfeiting my evenings).

        Also, if you’re in the US and haven’t explicitly studied education and obtained a teaching license, you likely aren’t certified to teach. There are provisional certifications, but those are based on if the school needs a position filled that they can’t otherwise fill, AND you still have to go through the work/classes to get certified within 2-3 years–which you’ll have to do while teaching. And once you get that certification, you’ll spend your “summers off” working to take classes that will keep your certification current. Classes that you’ll almost always have to pay for yourself.

        I don’t want to discourage you, but if you’re already balking at the salary cut and don’t want to give up time with your kids…teaching is not going to be better than your current job.

        1. Parenthetically*

          The certification varies so widely state to state and even district to district, though, that I wouldn’t personally want to give advice one way or another apart from “check to make sure you’re classroom-ready.”

          For instance, my district growing up accepted masters-level degrees and higher in lieu of a teaching degree, teacher certification, or licensure, which is how I ended up with THE MOST SHITE English teacher EVER my senior year. The county where I currently live requires in-state certification (which is onerous) on top of a degree in the specialist sub-field of education you’re desiring to teach in — and then once you start teaching you have a limited number of years to obtain a masters in your field. It’s bananas.

        2. Junior High Teacher*

          My hours are 7:15-3:15. During the track/NAL season (both of which I coach) I get done at 4:00 on practice days. My kids get done at 3:30. I am with my kids a TON more than if I worked 8-5! I really don’t know many teachers who work brutal hours.

          1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

            Most of the teachers I know spend hours a day on lesson planning and marking, in addition to teaching and supervising extracurricular activities.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              That sounds more like high school teaching. I have a number of cousins and friends who teach elementary school, and I’m jealous of their hours. They don’t have to deal with after-school activities, nor do they work at all in the summer. The lowest-paid one makes over 90K. Not a bad gig.

              1. DataGirl*

                I’m guessing from your name you are in New York… in my midwestern state teaching jobs vary from about 20K (inner city) to 40K in the suburbs. My sister is a middle school teacher in a different midwestern state and makes about 55K because she has her Master’s plus her teaching certificate; she’s at the highest end of the pay scale.

                I looked into teaching, it would be easy enough to get the certifications required in my state, but ultimately I could not make the salary work. And I have heard so many horror stories from my sister about nightmare students (she was beat up once by a boy in her class) but nothing is done because the parents threaten to sue the district. It’s a pretty rough field.

                1. Lepidoptera*

                  I could tell horror stories for DAYS about violent students, since I live near some of the most poorly-rated districts in the NE. One of my colleagues had a chunk of flesh bitten out of her cheek by a student while trying to break up a gang fight in the cafeteria.

                2. Junior High Teacher*

                  Lepidoptera, that is indeed a horrible story! I do feel lucky that I have been in really good schools, both charter and public, with supportive administrations and better-than-average parents. By which I mean they only rarely escalate to my principal and have never threatened to sue me, apparently!

              2. Kentucky*

                Kentucky here our average high school teacher salary starts at $30 -$35K. Your $90K is way above average

                1. Thursday Next*

                  90k isn’t starting salary, though—mid-50s is. Adjusting for COL, I think new teachers in Kentucky are probably doing better than new teachers here.

                2. Clisby*

                  Cost of living makes a huge difference. Maybe 15 years ago, my husband and I were talking about his nephew’s upcoming marriage (to a young woman who planned to be a public school teacher in a poor county in Ohio.) I said something like, “Well, that’ll be good for them – I know teachers don’t make much, but they get pretty good benefits.” My husband looked at me like I had grown a second head, and said, “Teaching is one of the best-paying jobs you can get in this county.” At that time, you could easily have bought a small-but-decent 2 or 3 bedroom house for $50,000 or less, so yeah – the entry-level teacher making around $22,000 a year was middle class from the start.

            2. Junior High Teacher*

              I spend my prep period (45 minutes a day) and my hour or so after school doing these things. However, I agree that the first two or three years was probably a bit more than that, since I didn’t have lesson plans from previous years to pull from AND I didn’t have kids, so I didn’t worry about putting in more hours.

          2. Managing*

            This. Maybe I’m not the best teacher ever, but I’m on my game for our school hours and attend evening events when I can bring my kid. I hate the culture of “I work so many hours outside of school”. Like, just don’t do that? If it isn’t possible to get all work done during the day, then either your administration needs to provide more time to get what they want or you need to work more efficiently.

    5. Lepidoptera*

      My family and friends are leaving teaching in droves (as did I). Bureaucracy, red tape, and standardized testing is making it very hard to actually teach these days. I’d suggest talking to nearby teachers who have no reason to lie to you (i.e., no one you’d report to) and get their candid take on your local districts.

      If you’re switching from accounting, would this be math teaching? Because if you’re looking for a shorter work day, you do not want to teach a language. They spend half the night grading.

      1. curly sue*

        Ditto for social sciences / humanities — all kinds of projects and term papers to be graded, and essay exams that are illegible half the time because students are writing quickly under stress.

    6. Anona*

      If you decide to switch, I’d recommend also having an exit plan just in case teaching isn’t for you.

      I taught for 3 years. It’s such a hard job. I was miserable. Classroom management (i.e. behavior problems) were the biggest challenge. I’m not sure how that would be for high school. If you’re able to before making the switch, could you take a day off or two, and substitute teach? Obviously it won’t be an exact match, but it might give you a better sense of the job. I also have another acquaintance who tried teaching this year. He left after 1 month. I think the stats are that less than 50% of people who start teaching stay for 5 years or more.

      But some people love it! If you do decide to try it, I definitely recommend doing whatever you need to do to make sure you still keep industry contacts/skills so just in case you decide to leave, you can.

      1. Gene Parmesan*

        The substitute teaching idea is not bad at all. Perhaps she could even stay in her own job and, depending on how generous their vacation policy is, use vacation days to test it out. (I’m speaking from my own perspective here, accumulating 1.75 vacation days per month and always having a bunch built up.) It’s not the same as having your own classroom, but would help test the waters and build relationships with schools that could lead into a job.

        I taught high school for 2 years and left because of the challenges. It’s been over 10 years and I’ve never regretted leaving.

      2. Policy Wonk*

        Agree with this. I thought about switching to teaching for many of the reasons the OP stated. Decided to try it out by teaching Sunday School at my church, to see if I liked teaching. A little over an hour a week actual teaching time, a smaller class than I would have in the local public schools, no homework to grade, and pretty well-behaved kids. I could not believe how exhausting it is!

        I recommend that you find some way to try this out before you leave your job, because I learned that I could not do this all day every day. Ten years in I am still at my government job, but I also still teach Sunday School because I like the interaction with the kids. Teachers are real unsung heroes!

    7. Reader*

      I obviously don’t know your background, but you you’ve taught in an elementary setting before. My question is whether or not that was a formal setting (i.e. going in everyday and teaching full days, lessons plans, etc.) or in an informal setting (i.e. subbing occasionally, helping out for a few hours hear and there, etc.)
      I ask this as someone who is currently in the midst of working on my Masters for a similar career change (marketing to elementary teaching), and spend a significant amount of time in both formal and informal settings right now.

      If it is the former, I think that you have the experience to understand what goes into teaching and are making an informed decision. There may be a bit of a rose-color glasses aspect, but not as much considering your past provides you with hands-on experience of what to expect.

      If it’s the latter, I think that you may want to really look into the amount of work it takes to become a full time teacher before making the decision. It’s not as easy as thinking “I’ll come up with a lesson on long division and hand out a worksheet.” Most lessons require pre-tests, post tests, exit tickets, etc. There is significantly more work than most people realize when it comes to being a full time teacher.

      So if your prior experience is more or less informal, I wouldn’t go in thinking “this is just going to be 8 hours a day of what I previously experienced.” Hope this helps a bit!

    8. urban teacher*

      As a long term special education teacher, I have taught in every level. High school teachers have huge paperwork demands, New teachers tend to have long hours because they aren’t able to know how to streamline yet. I found the salary to be fine. I’m switching careers and worry about making less than I am. Depending on administration, behavior can be an issue.
      Standardized testing has become overwhelming. In some states, kids take tests more than 6 times a year. Some states make pay attached to the tests.

      1. TL -*

        Yeah my friend is a high school math teacher and her first few years she was always taking grading and lesson plans home.

        Now she’s been teaching for 7 ish years and if she’s bringing stuff home it’s because she was not being efficient with her time (usually she was sick but every once in a great while she just had an unproductive week)

    9. Lucette Kensack*

      Cons to teaching: Almost entirely inflexible schedule, very limited sick time or days off (other than breaks scheduled by the school), physically demanding, very little authority beyond your classroom (that is, aside from a union if you have one, you’ll have very little ability to influence the overall practices of your school).

      (I’m only offering cons here because it sounds like you want to hear the bad side that you may be ignoring.)

    10. Former Retail Manager*

      My advice is don’t do it. I have a co-worker who did the same thing….left accounting to teach in public schools. She has been gone for 5 years now and has taught at all levels (elementary – high school). Guess what? She just applied to come back. Why? Because it’s a thankless job, with crap pay, crap benefits (in comparison to most accounting positions), and she worked more hours as a teacher than she ever did in accounting (we don’t have busy season — not public accounting). She is routinely working 50-55 hours a week, minimum. Mind you, some of that time is at home, so her kids can play on the floor while she grades papers, but she still isn’t actually spending time with them. Parents want to blame all of their child’s issues on her and the bureaucratic red tape in public schools might actually exceed that of Government. Her hands were really tied, even when trying to help underperforming students.

      She admitted that she expected to experience a great deal of personal fulfillment from the career change and said it never materialized, although she is glad that she gave it a try, so no regrets there. For what it’s worth, I know multiple teachers, not just my old co-worker, and they all feel similarly about the position. The only difference is that they cannot transition to another career because teaching is what their degree is in vs. accounting degree w/ alternate teacher cert. They all feel overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, and beat down by the modern public school system that values test scores more than actual teaching.

      If you really feel that you need to pursue this, then follow your heart I suppose, but please go in with your eyes wide open. Talk to current teachers at the school you’ll be teaching at to find out what it’s really like…..the pros AND the cons. Oh, and with all the teacher workdays, your summer vacay is really only about 5 weeks, at least in my area.

      1. Teacher*

        Agree 1000% Plus, during your summers you will be attending classes and prepping for the upcoming year. Be prepared to have your classroom set up ready to go only to be told one week before school starts that you will be in a different room on the other side of the campus and that you will be teaching something completely different from what you planned for. Nothing like that last minute rush to get ready for the upcoming year.

      2. Managing*

        By contrast, I work in a private school (for the same salary as public), work 35-40 hours a week most weeks (sometimes less), have my benefits fully paid for by the school (and have such low copays that my IVF, pregnancy, and baby delivery costs were $100 out of pocket total), have had zero behavior problems, and my vacations, weekends, maternity leave were all mine (no obligation to do anything work related). Teaching doesn’t have to be this awful job.

        1. Former Retail Manager*

          I have heard similar things from other private school teachers, but “the catch” if you will, is that in my area these positions pay about $15k- $20k a year less than public schools and they’re difficult to get because teachers rarely leave. And even then, I’ve heard that you really need to know someone/have an in. If there isn’t such a pay disparity in OP’s area, I would definitely look into private schools, although I’ve heard that they have their own challenges (helicopter parents, attempts to buy grades, easy access to drugs because the kids are wealthy, etc. — more so at the high school level, than the lower grades). Even with all the challenges though, I’ve still heard mostly positive about private in comparison to public which is mostly negative. Glad that you have found the heaven of teaching. :) Not having kids with behavioral issues is HUGE and seems to enable you to actually teach.

    11. Breakfast Cupcakes*

      Talk to a few teachers at the school (no new teachers must have been there more than 2 years) and ask what their hours and what they do look like, most people have no idea what a high school teacher has to do.

      -Know going in that the hours of school are not your hours, and the hours they set are also not including your planning hours and other needs (detention rounds, parent teacher conferences, after school help, extracurricular activity that you chaperone and usually lead these are all mandatory that you do but are not paid for). Also that you are working a lot of the break days so you will not be on the same off schedule as your kids, and teachers can not call in sick like other people you have to have a trained sub to call in. Vacations are limited to your schools break schedule.
      – That 35% pay cut will likely be much more because know that teachers cover out of their own pocket expenses that are not covered by the school (paper for printing, pens, pencils, calculators, room decorations, really anything after Christmas break teachers cover because the room expense is used up by then). You will also end up covering lunches and buying clothing for kids who forget their lunch money or don’t have adequate things.

    12. Parenthetically*

      It’s so hard to provide insight into “teaching” as a general principle, because so much of teaching depends on what state you’re in, what district you’re in, and even what school within that district you’re in!

      At the state level: how’s funding? Any recent strikes? Who are your senators/reps/governor? What’s their attitude toward school funding? Is that likely to change in the next few years? How’s the economy?

      At the district level: how’s teacher pay overall? Any hiring freezes or payscale freezes in recent years? How’s funding for extracurriculars that aren’t sports? Who’s on the board? Do they have an adversarial relationship with teachers and school administration? Do they talk a big game and then not back it up with concrete actions to support teachers?

      At the school level: who’s the principal? Does she have a good relationship with her staff? What’s the org structure and how does it work for grievances? What are the school’s disciplinary policies and philosophy — i.e. are we talking meditation rooms, on-staff counselors, restorative discipline? or zero-tolerance-policy expulsions/suspensions, “strictness,” punitive discipline? Is it a magnet school or similar? What are teacher schedules like day to day? Do they have ACTUAL planning periods or are those taken up with meetings? How many kids with IEPs/504s/SDIs are in an average class, and what resources and support staff would you have available for those kids? Do teachers there feel supported and backed up by administration? Are there mentors for new teachers?

      That’s honestly all off the top of my head. I’ve been teaching for over a decade and my mother retired last year after 40 years in the classroom. Obviously my instinct is to say “do it!” but there’s SO MUCH to consider.

      Best of luck!

      1. Luisa*

        This is an outstanding comment with so much good food for thought. OP, please take the time to look into these things!

      2. Teacher*

        About planning periods— the school I retired from cannot get subs. Thus, teachers spend their planning periods covering for absent teachers. Moral is incredibly low, discipline is nonexistent. This leads to a lot of stress and teachers calling in sick, which means that often, teachers do not get a planning period. And the cycle continues…

    13. Rainy days*

      I’m a former public school teacher; it’s a super hard job and was ultimately not for me. Many people leave after only a few years (I left after four). At the same time, many people find very fulfilling long-term careers in schools.

      Quite frankly, I think you are not asking enough questions yet; you don’t enough to know whether this could be for you.

      Some questions I would recommend asking others and yourself are:
      – How much do you like spending time with people? You won’t get a single minute of alone time at work. Some thrive on the constant interaction, but I’m pretty introverted so it exhausted me.

      – How much do you like forging your own path vs. being told what to do with clear guidelines? Certain subjects have textbooks and closely proscribed curricula; in others, you will be expected to create your entire curriculum from scratch. Very different types of people thrive in each situation.

      – How well do you withstand criticism and failure? Honestly, this is probably the most important requirement for being a teacher. You will not be able to create the perfect solution for every single student of the 150 you will teach each day, and you will constantly be criticized by parents and the media for it. You need to be okay with working hard and doing your best, but not solving every problem. Perfectionists need not apply.

      – School-specific: How supportive is the principle? How supportive are the teachers of each other? You can thrive for a lot longer when your boss and colleagues have your back.

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        This! You are absolutely right about tolerating criticism and failure (as well as chaos and ambiguity). With a lot of work, trial and error and reflection, you will probably find a teaching style that works for most students, but there will still be kids for whom it doesn’t. Unfortunately, the pressure to find that perfect solution is immense and you will have to find a way to balance not giving up on a kid (ever) with drawing boundaries that will keep you moving forward for the other 149 students who need you.

        You mentioned having passion for your subject area, which is great! That being said, you might want to reflect on whether your passion is also for making your subject area make sense for those who don’t like or understand it. Passion is great, but often people are passionate about a subject find it really self-evident, especially at the introductory levels and they don’t always see the areas that might cause legitimate struggle. There are few things worse than a teacher who says, by word or action, “but this is so easy!”

        Classroom management is a huge challenge. The least dramatic challenge is just getting a group of teens to listen quietly while you explain. Unfortunately, if you can’t get you class to that point, you can’t teach effectively (or at least without doing a pretty major switch to how you are presenting the material). There are also many more dramatic examples of management challenges that other posters have mentioned.

        Most parents I have worked with are lovely, but every year you will get the extremes of completely disengaged (umm, your child is in crisis here, please don’t ghost me or tell me it doesn’t matter), to scary snowplow. I had a parent my second year (they do tend to pick on the new teachers too!) who complained to the principal that sometimes while I was teaching I Clenched My Jaw and she could not possibly imagine what could happen in a grade 11 class that would make someone Clench Their Jaw!!!

        Last, the hours: I have to be in school between 8:20 and 3:25. Most days I actually leave at between 5 and 5:30. After 9 years, I don’t usually take things home, but at the start of my career I stayed to the same time and did 2-3 hours at home. Many of my colleagues with kids struggle a bit because they have to leave early enough to do childcare pick-up, so they lose planing and marking time there, but find it hard to get the work done at home and be attentive parents. As a side note to that, in teaching you are never, ever done. The challenge is accepting being done enough to keep your class moving.

    14. mirror universe you*

      I came here to post pretty much the opposite question – current teacher, considering a career change into accounting or some kind of auditing/compliance work.

      Teaching is exhausting. I’ve taught math and assorted technical electives at the middle and high school level for around a decade now. I’m mostly feeling overwhelmed by having to care about the problems of over 150 students a term, many of whom have difficulties in their lives that are far beyond “not getting the hang of this logarithm thing”.

      In my career, I’ve had to try to find ways for students in day treatment at the psych ward to keep up with their classes so they don’t “lose a year of math” while in intensive mental health treatment, I’ve had students who didn’t know where they were sleeping that night still show up and take exams, I’ve had students get so upset they lose the ability to speak and still try to keep asking their questions in writing because they know they need to get some math task done so they can graduate, I’ve had to comfort upset gay kids in the hallway on my prep period because they just learned that they couldn’t give blood by being rejected during a school blood drive, I’ve had to keep a class of students past the bell because some other kid not in my class went down the hallway punching out classroom windows and now there’s blood and glass on the floor of my classroom, and I’ve had a lot of students and parents tell me long stories about all of the times prior to my class when they couldn’t figure out some mathematical things and lost confidence, and had to convince them that they can do math and I will help them get there. I feel like my job is less to know math and more to be some kind of math-themed Care Bear. At the same time, I have frustrated students and parents of kids who are ready for more advanced work and want interesting challenge projects, but I don’t always have time to deal with finding good ones and talking to them about their questions because I have some other kid who’s trying to graduate and is still struggling with percentages.

      If you were always in the “accelerated” or “honors”” track classes as a kid, or went to a magnet school that picked the “good” kids from across the district, or went to a private school that didn’t take “difficult” kids, school as a general thing is very different than what you’re probably thinking about from your own experience.

      Also, trying to keep a classroom full of kids all pointed in the direction you have in mind is a skill that takes years to master and nothing you try your first year will work reliably. I recommend taking improv comedy classes.

      1. Archangels girl*

        I’m quitting after 18 years. Longer but identical trajectory. Hugs to you and all dedicated teachers out there. Hardest job I’ve ever done. Started teaching age 34. Before that was exec assistant at country’s largest university and will weep tears of joy and relief if I can get a crack at that again.

        But to the OP you’re right, it WAS nice to have same school breaks as my own kids although you will still need before and after care.

      2. Former Retail Manager*

        I am not a teacher, but know quite a few public school teachers, and they all have similar stories to yours and also find it emotionally exhausting, so many sympathies from me. I am in audit/compliance for a Government agency and have been here for 9 years (after going to school during my former retail manager career). I LOVE it. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad days, but they pale in comparison to what you’ve described above. If you work for the Govt, the bureaucratic red tape is still there, so that won’t be a big adjustment for you. What you choose to do will really dictate whether you work primarily independently or more as part of a team (at least for part of the time).

        Since you’ve been teaching for ten years, I assume you’re at least in your 30’s. Here’s my $0.02 for transitioning to accounting:
        — You’ll have to get a Bachelor’s of accounting, at a minimum, which is probably going to take you at least 2.5 years, assuming you go full time. Although there are online options, some of which are good, I don’t suggest them. Go to a traditional school. Also, if you can manage to get the 150 hours required by most states to sit for the CPA exam, I definitely would. CPA is the gold standard in accounting and basically ensures that you’ll always be able to get a job somewhere.
        — Do not try to work in public accounting. Although they likely wouldn’t want you because of your age (sorry, that is the harsh reality), it’s a brutal environment. During busy season (mid-January to mid-April) you are looking at 60-70 hour weeks minimum. There is a possibility that if you were hired in public accounting for audit, you may escape busy season, but many firms utilize an “all hands on deck” policy during that time and will have you working on tax stuff even if it’s not what you normally do. Also, in public accounting, they may hire you with a Bachelor’s, but you will have a set time limit to obtain your CPA certification (usually 2 years to take and pass all 4 parts).
        — After you start taking classes, be open to what you are and are not good at. You mention audit, but you may actually hate the class/work and be much better at financial accounting or tax. Be open to changing your path depending upon your skillset.
        — If you are able to (this may be a stretch) once you’ve finished a couple of semesters, look into potentially interning over the summer. Because of your teaching schedule this may not be possible, but consider small firms or even offices with only one or two CPA’s. The sooner you can get some hands-on experience you can list on your resume, the better off you’ll be, and it will also enable you to start getting a feel for the types of accounting you like best. (Note: At a small firm, you likely won’t get much exposure to audit because small firms typically don’t do audits…too much risk)

        Best of luck to you. And all the respect for the Herculean effort you seem to have put in, as do so many teachers, over the last 10 years.

    15. Maya Elena*

      If you’re going to be teaching math, be aware that – at least in the state where I went to school and my mom teaches – curricula and textbooks change every few years, usually not for the better; and the math you learned 15+ years ago (my guess) is much more sensible and recognizable as “algebra” and “geometry” than whatever versions of it are taught today. You might find that you’re going to be not so much teaching math and problem-solving as “facilitating differentiating learning”, “group work”, “social justice in math”, or whatever other curricular fad comes down the pipeline from above.

      1. Alternative Person*

        It’s the same in languages. The teaching fads drive me up the wall. There’s sometimes nuggets of usefulness buried in there but I swear some of the people who come up with this stuff haven’t been near a classroom in decades.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          My high school bought into one of these newfangled foreign language curricula when I was starting language classes. The new curricula said that vocabulary was more important than grammar, and taught grammar minimally. WELL, when we all got up to the AP level everyone barely passed, because it turns out grammar is actually important in language learning. They threw out the curriculum a few years after I graduated, but the damage was done.

      2. Polymer Phil*

        My old middle school had walls between classrooms that looked like office cubicle walls: fabric-covered modular panels. I found out later that a few years before my time, they had been through a failed experiment with “open classrooms” where the walls between rooms were torn down.

    16. boredatwork*

      There’s something about teachers and accountants…

      I have a co-worker who’s spouse went back to school to get a teaching degree and now teaches. He constantly complains that she is too stressed, works too many hours, and is not making nearly enough money for the stress she’s under. She teaches at a “good” school, is there primarily so their children can attend that “good” school.

      I on the other hand, am still an accountant, I am paid very well. Occasionally, I will have to stay late for work or work a weekend day, but the VAST majority of the time, I work 8-4pm. Have limitless freedom for appointments, sick days, spontaneous childcare issues…

      Can you try getting a different accounting job? The grass really is greener sometimes.

    17. Bertha*

      It sounds to me like you don’t like your *job,* your “work situation,” so the question I would ask is.. do you like your field? Do you think you could like it more elsewhere? There are frustrations in every job unique to the situation and culture that are vastly improved just by going somewhere else.

      That said, I know from prior experience obsessing over whether or not I should apply to a job by going way ahead in my mind about the position.. even if you’d likely qualify, that doesn’t mean you’ll be hired. The whole point could be moot. You could always apply, learn more, and then decide later.

      1. After-school program*

        Yeah, I now hire teachers for an after-school program, and I would not hire someone with such thin qualifications. Teaching is more than knowing the subject; you need to understand adolescent development and cognitive psychology, curriculum development, lesson planning, how to break down and explain a complex topic ten different ways, what mechanisms are involved in transferring, acquiring, and retaining knowledge both theoretically and practically, and that’s not even getting into the social-work aspect of teaching.

    18. Junior High Teacher*

      As a teacher, I’m there for my own kids after school, during the summers, and during breaks. There are definitely teachers who spend a lot of extra time at school, but I don’t. I teach ELA in a junior high, and sometimes kids don’t get their essays back for 10 days, but that’s my tradeoff. Honestly, I think there are some teachers who spend a ton of time because they a) are super committed and willing to give up family time, b) have unreasonable administration, c) are bad at time management, or d) are martyrs.

      Also, it’s good that you’ve looked into the pay. What about the benefits? I have a pension (almost unheard of in the US) that contributes 18% of my salary and a 1.5% 401K. My health insurance is good, I have dental and vision insurance, life insurance, etc. If you had, say, a 4% 401K match in accounting, you might find that although you have less cash at the end of the day, you have more money total. Also, because we teachers DO have summers off, I find that I am well compensated for working 10 months a year.

      I have definitely been lucky in my schools, students, parents, and administration. However, when teachers talk about how underpaid they are, how they work so many extra hours, how picked on they are…I honestly don’t recognize that job. That’s not the job I have. I am a good teacher who loves both her job and her students, and I think my pay and benefits are totally reasonable.

      (FYI: teacher in Utah with a master’s degree and 13 years experience. $64K)

    19. Kesnit*

      I’m not a teacher – I am the child of two retired public school teachers. (Mom taught elementary school. Dad taught high school.)

      I agree with what a lot of other people have already written. Mom bought a lot of her supplies because the school could not. (Dad taught a hard science, so there weren’t a lot of supplies necessary.) The work day does not start or end when the bell rings. Both of my parents had strong support networks with the other teachers at their schools, which helped a lot. (What pushed Mom to retire was when her long-term co-workers started retiring, she lost a lot of her support.) If you can talk to a teacher at the school where you are applying, ask about the culture and the support network.

      Teaching is a profession you have to love. If you don’t, you will not survive for long.

    20. A Teacher*

      I did this– full time athletic trainer (health care to high school teacher) I’m also a vocational education teacher, which if you are teaching business ed and getting a provisional certificate, you are. It is a big change and there is constant mandates that are both unfunded and unrealistic. People “think” that because they went to school they know how to do your job and the fun one is when you get told you’re getting paid for 12 months–you get paid for your contractual year, its just spread out over 12 months. Grading is time consuming and there is a lot of lesson planning, scaffolding, accounting for different learning styles, and modifying and creating new projects and worksheets. Classroom management, especially your first few years is hard and sometimes the expectations are overwhelming. You also have to learn to really pick your battles–like I can no longer give a “0” in my non-dual credit courses, the lowest my students can get is a “40%” so if they sleep in class and don’t do the work, they get a 40% for breathing. Aligning curriculum and backwards planning are now a thing too–and there’s never enough time. Ever. As far as the paycut, also plan on having to buy a lot of your supplies and be ready to have to supply your students with things. Pens, dry erase markers, paper, clorox wipes, kleenex, etc… not a lot at once but over a year it adds up. I spend more than 1000 a year on my classroom. 200 of it is reimbursed.

      That said, I truly like my job most of the time. My students learn a lot and I get to really teach kids a practical skill that they will use in the real world. We cover a ton of career topics and this blog is helpful for some of what I cover. I don’t have a curriculum and no one really understands what vocational education is–which is good and bad–but I get to design and teach kids things I think they really need to know. I have a standard teaching license too (Illinois) but only use my voc license for now. Voc Ed in the US gets a different funding source so I have a lot of equipment to use for my classroom. It is fun to watch high school kids grow and evolve too–some of them you become very attached to and try to mentor. I keep in contact with a lot of my students. Most days, I really love my job, even in challenging years like this where my last hour class is a struggle to manage.

      1. A Teacher*

        Will add teacher with 9 years in public high school, coach the speech program and have two Masters or (Masters + 30) on our contract schedule. I make about 55,000 a year, coaching is about 6,000 of that. I live in Illinois-not Chicagoland

    21. Double A*

      Ha, I’m in the opposite position– I’m a teacher and considering a career shift, but that is because my job is being eliminated and I just had a baby and starting up a new classroom teaching job at this moment in my life seems exhausting.

      Not sure what state you’re in, but the certification requirements for teaching aren’t nothing. You’ll probably have to go back to school, so you’d need to be prepared to pay for that, and if you’re considering elementary school, social studies, or English those jobs can be very hard to get. (I have 9 years of experience, am highly recommended, and just interviewed for an English job and didn’t get it). They always need math, science, and Special Education teachers.

      Teaching is an extremely time consuming job, and the first year is VERY hard. You will be working 50-60 hour weeks. So while your time off will line up with your kids, your daily schedule might mean you actually see them less. I’m not sure why you think your commute would be shorter… is there something that makes you think you would for sure get a job at a specific school?

      That said, teaching is also really rewarding, but you have to love the idea of managing a classroom, not just teaching your subject. Do you like managing? Because as a teacher you manage 20-30 immature people directly, every day, except you can’t fire them. It requires you to think creatively and really win your kids over. If that’s the kind of challenge that sounds rewarding for you, then I’d say see if you can do some observation in a classroom for a newer teacher. Do your research.

    22. teacher librarian*

      20 years a teacher .What everyone said and a little more.
      See if you can talk to one of the teachers who has been at the school to get a sense of the culture.
      There will be faculty meetings, prep, grading, report cards, parent teacher conferences, professional development, curriculum development, subject team meetings etc. All on your own time. Supplies and certification on your own dime.
      And don’t get me started about the time consuming waste of time filing sub plans if you do plan on taking a school day off for illness or a family emergency.
      If there is one quality a teacher needs, it is stamina.
      On the other hand, I did love it only recently switched to teaching In a University.

    23. T2sLastChance*

      You need to be prepared for the state testing that comes with teaching in a public school. Your students will have to test, test, test and you will be held accountable for those test scores. I love teaching. But, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of testing that would take up my daily instruction. Because make no mistake about it, we are absolutely teaching to test. (In the US).

    24. I'd Rather Not Say*

      Two points – I received a teaching certificate (grade 6-12 US) after graduation from college. I had an LAS bachelor’s degree, so teaching seemed like a logical direction. I worked with some extra curricular activities at a high school for a couple years, hoping to apply when there was an opening, and in the meantime was also working in an office job. I found I liked what I was doing at the office job (technology related) and grew less interested in teaching. I never ended up teaching.

      As others have said, see if you can get some experience in the classroom, or with students before you make the switch. Maybe the school’s business club is looking for an advisor.

      My father was a CPA and ran a small firm. Though accounting wasn’t for me, I saw how varied it is. Have you considered a change of scenery/specialization? If you work at a large firm, maybe a smaller one would be more satisfying (or the reverse). If you do only taxes or payroll, maybe auditing, or forensics is more to your interest.

      In any case, good luck to you!

    25. Samwise*

      You’re going to spend substantial amounts of time outside of work hours grading student work, planning classes/creating assignments/getting materials together for class activities, meeting with parents, meeting with students. Do not discount the hours you will spend working at home.

      You may enjoy all of these activities! but they are indeed time consuming.

    26. Christine*

      I started my career working in an office (office manager and then marketing coordinator). After 8 years in that role, I got burnt out and decided to try teaching. After spending 6-8 months getting my alternative certification and taking the applicable tests for the subject areas I wanted, I got a teaching job. I only lasted 1 year before going back into a corporate setting.

      The stress level was unbelievable. I was fortunate that for the assignment I was given (self-contained special ed class), there was not a lot of extra hours. My kids were very severe, and could not walk or talk, so grading was more of a creative writing assignment for me. That was no true for any other teacher in the school. They were routinely working 4-5 hours after school every day grading papers, going to trainings, department meeting, open houses, science fairs, other events, etc. It really is unbelievable. Everyone I knew was extremely stressed out. After 1 year, I was going to be switched to a regular education class (something you don’t have a lot of control over in public school…being switched to where you are needed or not having enough enrollment at the school, so you end up reassigned). Because of this, I decided to quit, and I haven’t looked back.

      The discipline in schools is at an all time low. Kids are not held accountable for anything, and it is the teacher who is looked at as “not able to manage a classroom”. State testing is a nightmare and a beast of a problem all on its own. Really, I could go on and on about why it is horrible to be a teacher in the American public school system.

      At the same time, my husband started teaching high school english (in public school). He only lasted 2 months before he had enough and quit. Previously my mother taught in public school, but she ended up quitting after she ended up in the hospital with chest pains. She now teaches at a private school that she likes and the experience there is much better.

      If you can find a private school with pay comparable to public, I would go that route if you are set on trying out teaching.

      I will say, that if you decide to try it, and you don’t like it (like what I did), I didn’t have too much of a hard time re-entering the industry I was previously working in since I had a good network. So having a backup plan is probably a good idea.

    27. Teacher*

      I have been teaching for over thirty years. I now teach in a private school which I love. I taught at a public high school for twenty-six years. Do not become a teacher. I cannot stress this strongly enough. Do. Not. Do. It.

      It has become horrendous. Teachers are treated terribly by everyone: their students, the parents, the administrators, the school board, and society in general. Teachers are blamed for everything. Students misbehave without any consequences. You will not have any free time because you will be spending every second prepping for lessons, grading, attending classes and workshops, coaching, tutoring, meeting with parents, responding in a timely manner to emails from both parents and students, and worrying about Susie who is suicidal, Bob who is being bullied, Sansa who is rude and obnoxious, Fergus who will not be quiet and who insists on cursing you out, Paula who refuses to put away her phone, etc., etc., etc.

      On top of which you get to worry about whether or not some deranged individual will walk in a shoot up the place.

      1. WannaAlp*

        …on top of which, you get “jokes” from acquaintances and relatives about how much holiday you have.

    28. Middle School Teacher*

      Well, to put things in perspective, I teach middle school, I co-run student council, I advise our GSA, I lead our trip to Europe, I teach full time (120 students – in humanities, which means way more marking than other subjects), I have a student teacher, I am doing graduate classes, and I am not the busiest at school at all.

      I’m also still at school at 6:15pm on a Friday night with a student because his mom is late picking him up after our dance. And I’m waiting for the DJ to finish packing up.

      None of this is unusual for a teacher.

    29. Hamburke*

      My sister has small kids, a full-time job and teaches one class a semester at a nearby university (either an evening class or a Saturday class). If you can find something similar, it might help you decide if you want to switch.

  4. Peaches*

    I’ve posted the past several weeks about my new coworker. At first, her biggest problem was constantly asking to borrow personal property (first my iPad, and more recently my keyboard and mouse). As time went on, it was clear that the bigger issue was her know-it-all attitude (constantly questioning training, completely changing processes without checking with anyone first, etc.) As I mentioned previously, she was even dismissed from a training session at our corporate office for being overly confrontational and essentially interrogating some higher ups at corporate about their training methods.

    Anyway, after pretty much frustrating all of the salespeople in our office over the past couple of weeks (the salespeople will be who she is primarily working with), and royally screwing up a project for one of them (which was completely due to her not following directions and trying to do said project her own way), she sent me the following email yesterday:

    Hey Peaches, if there’s anything else I am not doing and should be, or am doing and shouldn’t be I would really appreciate it if you could let me know. I feel like I’m always doing something wrong but no one is really telling me what to do so I’m just winging it.

    I really do want to do a good job and make everyone happy so if you have any more advice or help to offer I am all ears, anytime!

    But thank you so much for your help so far

    Since she was specifically asking for feedback, I decided to be honest with her and sent her the following email back:

    I understand that you want to do a good job, I definitely see that!

    I would just recommend being a little more receptive to the instructions you’ve been given. I’m sorry if you don’t feel like you have been adequately trained and are “winging it”. However to be honest, I feel like sometimes you are given direction, but are quick to pushback and do things your own way, even when others may have more experience to be able to guide you in the right direction. I’m always happy to answer any questions you might have, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to help you find it!

    I think it’s important to just try to listen and learn as best you can for now before jumping in and trying to do things your own way. A few times, I’ve overheard you tell some of the salespeople, “oh, actually we’re going to do X this way now” without asking me first, and to be honest, it just comes across a bit like you’re discrediting the way that we’ve done things in the past. I’m more than happy to hear your thoughts/ideas on how you think a process could be improved, but I think you sometimes immediately try to fix things without inquiring first why we’ve done something a certain way in the past, that may not make sense to you without asking.

    The other piece of advice I would give is this: It’s okay to not know everything! I know you want to come across as smart and capable. But occasionally, I think it comes across as you trying to seem like an expert in something that you’ve just learned. You’re not expected to know everything at this point, which again is why I would suggest just doing things like QC and building count/measures the way that you’ve been taught before trying to make any changes. That way, once you’ve had the experience and gained more knowledge in (job), you’ll have the all the background information to know if something does need to be changed down the road.

    I don’t mean to come across as overly brusque, but I truly want you to succeed in this position, so I want to be honest with you. I can see that you are motivated and smart, but I think my main piece of advice would just be to listen and learn as a new employee.

    Hope this helps.


    She responded with the following:

    I’m very sorry for coming off that way. It was never my intent.
    In trying not to bother you or add extra work to your plate I guess I just made myself look bad and frustrated you.

    Your opinion of me and my performance weighs heavily on my success here so I’m very disappointed in myself for having made such a negative impression, with you and everyone.

    I appreciate your honesty and the feedback and will absolutely try to improve and put everything you’ve said into practice if given the opportunity.

    Her response indicates that she’s taking my feedback seriously, so we’ll see if she makes improvements in the coming days. Either way, I’m glad I spoke up!

    1. Peaches*

      Sorry, meant to change “QC and building count/measure” to “X and Y”. I know you guys don’t know what that means. :)

      1. irene adler*

        I have some idea- I work in QC and it’s all about defined procedures that must be adhered to. Can’t get creative.

        Gotta say, I would just adore working with you . Always liked having co-workers, bosses, who gave it to me straight. And were supportive too! Hope co-worker will recognize this and appreciate it (and you!).

        Hope there’s follow-through on her part.

        1. Peaches*

          Thank you so much. :) That really means a lot. I really do try my best to balance being supportive, and also giving direct feedback.

          Also, yes, you are spot on about QC – there are certainly defined procedures that you can’t stray from!

          1. irene adler*

            Some people just gotta “improve” things- but they don’t understand that doing so creates a whole list of problems.

    2. Kathenus*

      Peaches – I just want to say that I applaud you for responding to her request for feedback, and for the way that you phrased it. It was clear without being harsh, and constructive but supportive of wanting her to succeed. I have to say I’m also impressed with your coworker’s response. Hopefully she’ll be able to take it in and use it to improve, versus letting it overwhelm her. Very nicely handled, I’ll definitely keep your response in mind when I’m in a situation of giving (or getting!) feedback in the future.

      1. Peaches*

        Thank you so much, I appreciate that. :)

        I’m hopeful that she’ll take my feedback to heart.

    3. CatCat*

      Thanks for this latest update. Your email was amazing.

      Her behavior definitely did not reflect someone who wanted this job, but it looks like she did not realize that and your email may have gotten through to her on that front. I hope you keep updating us.

      Again, exceptional message to her on your part.

    4. LaDeeDa*

      That is great!! It seems to indicate she is finally open to feedback and direction! *fingers crossed* Keep us posted!

    5. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Your e-mail was very kind, and very clear. You did a great job communicating the issues with her, and I didn’t find you brusque at all, good job!

        1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

          Well done you! From your previous description I would have thought this person was going to be a disaster, but it sounds like she does care and really did not see how she was coming across. I thought your tone was spot on–being incredibly positive and supportive while managing to point out the problems. I think I’d love to work with you!

    6. SOAS*

      I followed loosely.. good to see that she is taking it! criticism can be pretty hard pill to swallow but half the struggle is actually realizing you’re doing something wrong and reaching out for help. I really love how you worded this!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I love what you said, but I also am impressed with her response.
      I am hoping this clears the air and things are different at work now. She has the potential to be a pretty cool cohort, I hope she keeps going in this direction.

  5. Anon anony*

    I had an interview and at the end, I asked questions. Before it wrapped, they said to contact them if I had any more questions. This usually means I didn’t get the job, in my experience. Is this always the case? Can you still get the job?

    They’ve also re-posted the job- even though they first advertised it in January.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Nope, it just means “please contact me if you have any more questions”. I full understand the inclination to assign meaning to everything in an interview, but there’s nothing to be read from this.

      As for the re-posting, that could mean many things – maybe you didn’t get the job, maybe they’re looking for multiple people for that position, maybe the listing expired in their system and they had to reload it, there’s just no one straight answer that will tell you exactly what that means.

      How long has it been since your interview?

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Oh yea that is way too early to tell if you’ve been successful or not. I totally get wanting to read the tea leaves for answers, but you’re definitely at the wait-and-see part of interviewing.

          Good luck, hope it turns out well!

          1. Anon anony*

            Thank you! I hope so too! I just really liked everyone and need to get out of current toxic job.

    2. Kathenus*

      In my experience, all that means is to contact them if you have any more questions. I say this to everyone I interview, to make sure they know I don’t mind hearing from them if something occurs to them afterwards. So I can’t speak to your hiring manager, but I think you may be reading too much into that statement. I think it means exactly what it says. Good luck with the rest of the process.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same – I always tell candidates (whether or not we will be moving forward with them) that if they have additional questions after they leave to please let us know as it’s important to me that they get any information they need about the company or job to make a decision – it’s pretty much always to my benefit that they get any information they need rather than deciding a month in that the job’s not for them.

    3. lnelson in Tysons*

      They are probably looking for a purple unicorn.

      Seriously though, maybe there is something very specific that they are looking for and you don’t have it. A soft skill, more years in teapot painting vs teapot packaging. Whose knows.
      I was on many many interview where I thought that I would be a great fit and thought that I could work well with those interviewing me, but didn’t get the job, only one place gave me constructive feed back. It was a lack of experience in one area (and I didn’t have it).
      Good luck in your job searching. It is a pain.

    4. Catleesi*

      That’s definitely not the case. When I’ve been conducting interviews I often say that – because if they do have questions they should feel free to reach out. Take what they said at face value and don’t read too much into it.

    5. Anne of Green Gables*

      I tell all candidates to contact me if they think of any questions after the interview. All. It has no bearing on who I will hire. Most of the time, I don’t know that yet anyway. (Meaning I don’t decide until all interviews have concluded and I’ve conferred with the rest of the hiring committee.)

      1. Someone On-Line*

        In the hiring committees I’ve been on we’ve always wrapped up with that phrase. Sometimes you’ll think of something after the interview. Plus it gives an opening for the candidate to send a thank-you letter or some other form of contact and the opportunity to make another good impression upon us.

    6. Anona*

      When we interview, we always end asking people to contact us if they have more questions. That’s all that it means. Even if you don’t get the job, don’t read into that– it’s probably something they say to literally everyone!

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I kind of think the opposite. If you bombed the interview, and they didn’t want to have anything to do with you any more, I doubt they’d invite you to contact them (which is what contacting them with more questions would be).

    8. Fortitude Jones*

      That doesn’t always mean that. The job I just got, at the end of every interview I had (four of them), they all said the same thing. It really just depends.

    9. Jadelyn*

      Re the “contact if you have more questions”, I’m joining the chorus of folks saying I end *all* screenings and interviews that way. Literally all of them. It means absolutely nothing re candidacy.

      Re the re-posting, a lot of places have a policy of continuous re-posting until the position is filled. At my org, if I let a job posting expire before we have someone *actually working* in the position, I get scolded. Even if we have someone in the final stages of background check, something could always happen and we have to go back to recruiting, so we keep it posted to keep the applicant pool fresh in case we need it. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything about your candidacy.

    10. OhNo*

      Just to add to your anecdata collection, I was recently hired to a job after hearing that phrase at the end of both of the interviews I was called in for.

      Honestly, I think it’s just a stock phrase that a lot of interviewers use. The tone it’s said it can give you a little nuance, sometimes, but mostly it’s just a common phrase.

    11. dealing with dragons*

      In my view it means exactly that. Sometimes I ask more about the benefits package (mostly like 401k matching, types of insurance, etc not like how much the salary range is). Sometimes I use it to clarify things also, like “hey I mentioned I did this, here’s a link” etc.

      And reposting might not be bad – if it’s from january I know as an applicant I wouldn’t apply to a posting that old. they might not have talked to HR yet or it was an automated process.

    12. Pommette!*

      My previous workplace had very standardized protocols for interviews/hiring. I got to see some of the materials when my boss was hiring someone new. This was one of the questions they had to ask at the end of every interview. It was in bold letters to make sure that it didn’t get dropped.

  6. unwilling social media manager*

    I have recently been given the task of starting a social media presence for our extremely small company. Zero background in this but I am the youngest on the team sooo. I started by creating a facebook page, then more recently a twitter, and now an instagram. We also have a website and a newsletter, and we engage on some industry blogs too. This could easily be a full time job but it’s not my actual full time job. At this point it’s enough that I want to use a managing site like hootsuite to handle some of the tasks. Does anyone else have a recc for dashboard/platforms they’ve liked? I especially find it hard to be responsive on each of the channels (eg, following back on twitter, replying quickly to comments on FB, etc etc), which I’m not sure hootsuite will help me with.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Hootsuite is great for scheduling content, but it won’t help you with the other things you’ve laid out. Typically it’s a good idea to follow the 70-30 rule for posting – 70% should be industry related content, only 30% should be about your specific company. Something I’ve used to gather content in the past is feedly – find/create some lists that are relevant to your company/industry, that way you can find good content all in one place, schedule it all in feedly, and boom, you’ve got content scheduled for the week.

      You are spot on that this could/should be someone’s full time job – social media can be an amazing source of success for a company, but it needs to be done well, not just tacked on the side of someone else’s duties.

      1. unwilling social media manager*

        Yes, the content is one thing, but I worry that if I just get it scheduled to auto-feed, I will fail at the interaction part because it’s running out of sight out of mind. Meaning I won’t be responding to comments fast enough, etc. But I would like a site that will show me all the updates / notifications in one place – ideally let me respond from that same platform – rather than logging into each stupid site one at a time and responding to whatever has happened since the last time I checked (I do try to touch each site once per day).

    2. Lilysparrow*

      I am new to Hootsuite, and I really like it for batch-scheduling planned content. I have not yet figured out how to use it for real-time interaction, but I believe that is a function.

      Right now, I just make time once a day to visit the platforms directly and check for messages & comments, and 1-2 x per week to do followbacks, invite page likes etc, all at once.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I use Hootsuite to reply to Facebook and Twitter comments, but it has its limits. You can set up streams to monitor posts, hashtags, tagged comments/posts, etc. What’s best about it is the ability to assign posts or messages to yourself or others, and use tags to sort them.

        1. unwilling social media manager*

          Yeah even if I could just log in and see where all the comments/likes/whatever are, across many platforms, that would help – even if I then have to log into that platform to actually engage. It would still save me a lot of logging in just to check things. Thanks!

    3. Aezy*

      We use Buffer, but I’ve used Hootsuite in the past which is also useful for cross-posting and centralised management. There are lots out there to have a look through – if you’re hoping to grow via content marketing specifically then it’s worth getting to grips with Hubspot or something similar since that can really help with marketing and sales analytics too.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about being extremely responsive – YMMV but as long as you’re checking in and replying once a day or so people shouldn’t feel too abandoned! Also definitely worth tracking how much time you’re spending on tasks related to social media management – if you’re not keen to continue running it long term then demonstrating how long it takes out of your day might help make the case for a new role.

      1. unwilling social media manager*

        Hehehe I think that’s my issue – I was fine doing it once per day when it was just facebook. Now that it’s multiple sites in multiple places, even once per day is beginning to feel like a lot – and right now it’s all still growing so everything is fairly quiet! I can’t imagine if we actually start getting a lot of interaction!

        1. Jenny F. Scientist*

          How much does your work want you to be available/responsive? Is it possible to set one or more of the sites with a header/profile message to contact X (email, FB, whatever) for a faster response, and then concentrate on that one/ only check the others on Fridays or whatever?

          Your work may have no idea how much time and effort it takes to run multiple platforms and to be responsive; maybe you can do as Aezy suggests and track it, then bring a change proposal to them.

    4. Meh*

      Lots of social media is image heavy and I HIGHLY recommend Canva. It’s a free website that has pre-made image templates for all of the major social media sites and it can really help speed along creating images for your site, especially if you have no graphic design experience (I do and I still use it since it makes slapping together designs so much quicker). I use Hootsuite and have been pleased with them for scheduling content all at once at the beginning of the week and just letting it run. Granted I don’t really check for messages more than once a day, but it makes the process a bit easier.

      1. unwilling social media manager*

        Yes many people have recommended canva to me for producing content! But I don’t think it helps manage my interactions across sites. Does it?

      2. De-Archivist*


        I part-time manage and create content for my org. I use Hootsuite and Canva all the time.

        OP, the first thing I do in the morning is boot up my computer, check my messages, and check my email. Next, I check my content on social media platforms and make my replies. I basically just added social media to my morning routine. I have certain days that content goes live at 3pm.

        FB especially really urges you to make extremely quick replies to messages and post a ton of content, and while I see some value in that, your average viewer likely doesn’t want to spammed with content from your org 24/7 and probably does expect an immediate reply. Once-per-day is plenty to respond to messages.

        1. unwilling social media manager*

          Yeah, I think once a day for each site is sufficient as a minimum, I’m just finding that I’d rather be able to do it all from one place.

    5. Fact & Fiction*

      Is your company B2C or B2B? I’m partially responsible for social media for my B2B company, and we get by far the most engagement/followers on LinkedIn.

      1. unwilling social media manager*

        Linked In is the only one we already had is managed by someone else. So that’s one less problem for me.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Well, do you HAVE to be on every platform? For small companies, and especially if this is tacked on to your other duties, I’d say start with just 2 platforms.
      Choosing which ones depends on the type of company. Facebook and Instagram and maybe Pinterest is suited to B2C and NGOs, while LinkedIn is more specifically for B2B. Twitter can be either. And of course YouTube.

      Hootsuite is very good for scheduling. It’s a great place to start and it’s free for the basic. Sprout Social and Sprinklr are some others.

      And I would push back if you are expected to handle all this by yourself. It really is a full-time job and should have a solid content strategy behind it, not just something whereby a person throws up a few posts.

      1. unwilling social media manager*

        Haha yes they’ve suggested a youtube and I told them they’d need to hire someone to do that, and we don’t have a pinterest so at least we are not literally on every single thing haha. In theory, I could check each of our three accounts once a day in like five minutes, it just wouldn’t be doing very much for us.

    7. Samwise*

      I encourage you to talk with your manager about the time commitment needed to be responsive. They may have no idea how much time it takes to do a good job at “have a social media presence”. Get some real facts on this — how much time are you spending on finding things to post, how much time are you spending on writing things, how much time are you spending on actually posting items and doing techy trouble-shooting, how much time are you spending responding to comments/queries/ etc. Include your time (and note the specific tasks you’re doing) on the website, newsletter, and blogs. Keep track for a couple of weeks, then sit down with your manager and your report.

      You need to figure out if you are able to do a reasonably good job at running the co’s social media presence along with doing whatever else your job requires. Give some thought to whether you enjoy doing it, would you be happy continuing to do it, would you be happy for it to take up more of your work time.

    8. 867-5309*

      Is the company B2B or B2C?

      You might not need all of those profiles and further, might not need to be posting much at all. I’m CMO of a tech start-up and we don’t use a platform to manage our channels because it’s not necessary. In my experience, people post far too often because that’s the “advice.”

      Even if you get a solution to help manage it, you might still being doing far more than you need to. Feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn. I’d be happy to help you create a mini-plan to make it as easy as possible for you to do the project.

  7. DB Cooper*

    Greetings all! I posted in one of these threads a few weeks back and got some good advice, so I’m back for more.

    Tl;dr: Two questions:

    1) How long is too long and how much is too much before you should just “nope” your way out of a toxic, soul-crushing work environment with nothing new waiting for you?

    2) Any tips/experiences that may help me figure out what I *really* want to do and how to get there from retail?

    If you want more detail…

    I hate my job (retail manager), don’t like my company (the horrible culture is consistent across the business according to Glassdoor and other sites), and don’t even respect my manager at this point (many reasons, starting with she’s a self-absorbed micromanager who belittles direct reports and makes disparaging comments to/about us and our teams — think calling team members “the r-word”).

    Between the company falling apart (basic infrastructure fails weekly), threats caused by company-wide poor results (meetings that start with presenters commenting that some of us in the room won’t be here in Q3, a corporate memo literally promising cuts/closings if results don’t improve) and knowing I’m not suited for this work anyway (thanks Myers-Briggs!)… I’m so done. Finished.

    At this point I feel like I’m killing myself just solely for the paycheck. And the pay is good, but not worth what I deal with when I’m there. Not even my team (who I like) can make it enjoyable anymore, and I don’t feel good about being there just for the money. Plus, as we downsize I hate the idea of keeping a spot from someone who may actually want to be there.

    I went through the interview process with another retail job and it didn’t work out, which was actually kind of a relief, so I know I want to do something else. Just not sure what. I don’t want to manage/lead at this stage and I’d like to use the bachelors degree that I’ve done absolutely nothing with up to this point. But I’m so beat down at the end of the day I’m too depressed to eat, let alone job hunt or think about my next steps. My family is supportive, suggesting I just walk away right now to detox before trying something new. We could certainly afford it, but the idea of another resume gap (thanks, 2009 recession) is majorly stressing to me. I don’t know how best to escape, and could use any advice.

    1. Artemesia*

      If it were me I would first work, perhaps with a therapist, on strategies to compartmentalize and reduce stress. If you could do this then you would have the energy to job search effectively. It really is better to look for a job from the platform of having one. Only you know ultimately if it is possible for you to stick it out that long. Highly personal decision. But first see if you can come up with a plan to cope better. If that doesn’t work then consider walking away.

      1. Dreamboat Annie*

        I second the recommendation to work with a therapist. Also, do you have any vacation time built up?

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          I third it. Therapy got me through the stress of job hunting before I landed the job I’m about to leave, and I’m back in it again to help me cope with the transition into a new position.

          1. DB Cooper*

            Is there anything specific you’d look for when searching for a therapist during a job hunt? I like the idea, because I definitely need to talk to someone but frequently force myself to bottle it up. Not to mention the fact that it’s going to be really an adjustment to pivot away from some of the psychological tactics/abuse that goes on where I’m at… I don’t wanna land something new and then be the newbie talking about how horrible my old job was all the time! :-)

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              I actually sought my therapist out prior to my job search because, as it turns out, I have OCD and was in the middle of an OCD-induced breakdown (I had no clue that was what was happening – I thought it was all job stress), but she does cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on helping the patient find new ways to behave by changing thought patterns. It sounds like you may need to find someone who specializes in that as well because when you’re in a seemingly hopeless job situation, it can lead you to thinking you’ll never get out, which will then lead to you not even trying to job hunt because you think, “Well, what’s the point?” She helped me deal with my OCD and my job search – she even distributed my resume to some of her former clients who were potentially hiring – and I found a new job within five months of seeing her. She’s also going to assist me with the transition I’m about to take on by taking a promotion to another company – apparently, change is very difficult for my OCD brain to handle, so she wants to tackle this head-on before I get overwhelmed in my new role.

            2. Fortitude Jones*

              I typed up this nice, long response, and it appears to have not posted :(

              Anyway, look for someone who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a short-term therapy technique that can help people find new ways to behave by changing their thought patterns. Engaging with CBT can help people reduce stress, cope with complicated relationships, deal with grief, and face many other common life challenges – I totally copied and pasted this definition just because others can explain it better than I can :)

              1. Anonymatic YoYo*

                Thank you for posting this – I will go look into this now. Very glad DB Cooper asked this question today because man, what a day I had. But all of that above rings true to me about not wanting o search, feeling like I’ll never get out etc. I’m already in career coaching but I’ve been wondering lately if I need therapy too in order to deal with some PTSD from a former boss and whatever the hell is holding me back. I’ve had CBT in the past to deal with thoughts about not being good enough in school and I followed a career path where people tell you repeatedly you aren’t good enough even if its false. Maybe I need a top up since its been a good 20 years at least since the last sessions!

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Yes, it definitely sounds like you could benefit from going back. I just started my sessions up again after a four month break, and it has helped tremendously. My OCD is in check now (knock on wood), but I still have those lingering feelings of doubt and sadness, especially since I’m about to change jobs again, so therapy is essential to get back on track.

        2. DB Cooper*

          I have three weeks of vacation/sick time — my whole allotment for the year. I lose what’s left when I quit, and can’t take any after giving notice. Wish I could take some now, but manager doesn’t approve time off if you’re missing sales numbers. She also sets her own blackout periods as she likes, so we are about to start a two week period where no one gets any time off anyway…

      2. DB Cooper*

        The therapist idea is a good one… in fact, I think I get a certain number of phone sessions as part of my benefits. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first person calling in search of a plan to escape this place, haha.

        I’ve toyed with leaving for a long time, and most of my colleagues who were a sounding board/support system have already jumped. The last two are on the verge of flat walking out. And I just really hate the feeling of talking about it to other friends/family who aren’t dealing with it because it makes me feel like such a negative person.

    2. LaDeeDa*

      Oh wow! I can hear the burnout in your words. If you can afford to leave, do it. It isn’t worth it. I find gaps to be so much less problematic than people think – “I am so fortunate I was able to take some time off to have some fun/take a class/care for a family member/travel/volunteer for a cause I felt strongly about.” And do one of those things!

      I don’t know what your degree is in or if those jobs are plentiful in your area. If you want to break into a new field, the best thing you can do is take any job at a company who does what you want, once you are in then you will be gaining exposure to the work, even if it is from the desk of an admin or a coordinator. Also, be honest in your cover letter “I am excited to have the opportunity to work for X company, my degree and passion are in the field of Y…. ”

      Good luck!

      1. DB Cooper*

        I actually tried to not show my burnout and edited/slimmed down my post a lot, believe it or not… that’s the point I’m at, and you’re right. It’s not worth it. Degree is in Communication, which was great when the university told me “You can do anything with it!” Now so great, as I’ve seen the real world reaction of “Anyone could do that without a degree!” Originally got it with a desire to do PR or Marketing.

        There is actually one specific industry I’ve always wanted to get involved in (which is also slimming down, ironically), and I’ve got a couple of feelers out to folks I know in that field. I need to get stronger at cover letters, most definitely.

        1. LaDeeDa*

          Communication degrees can be tricky because often they give a good overview of all the things, but don’t focus enough on one area to make a person an expert – marketing, social media, speech writing, etc. We hire a lot of communication degreed people to work on our internal and external comms teams- and often there are junior positions. One of the internal comms people I work with has a BA in Communications, she writes my internal website postings and some announcement type emails for me and my team. She is great and I have exposed her to curriculum writing. With her level of interest and my need, I spoke to her manager to ask if I could let work on a small project. I have content from 3 different previous classes and I want them combined into one– she is loving it, and my team is sponsoring her now to take an e-learning development class. Her knowledge in communications/writing and the design knowledge she has from that is working out great- what she can now develop is understanding some theories behind curriculum design and adult learning.

          My point is– Anything you can do to get your foot in the door and also to pick the area you want to work in.
          Good luck!

          1. DB Cooper*

            Comm degrees *are* so tricky! Mine is actually Corporate Communication, and I got some experience a decade ago doing email marketing, social media, print materials, etc. I actually built a website/blog 8-9 years ago the last time I was between jobs, and it developed a small following online (I don’t remember hits, but 3k Twitter followers and lots of Facebook engagement). It’s was a TON of time invested, but it was fun because it was my interests and totally in my wheelhouse. I got started at this job though and it died pretty quickly once I got busy with working. One of the things that bugs me the most right now is knowing that I have the skills and drive and could absolutely build something like that again if I wasn’t so exhausted outside of work. This time I’d try to leverage that kind of a project into a communication-related job someplace.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              My degree was in Communications, but on the Global Journalism track at my university, so I completely understand your frustration. I too got the, “You can do anything with this degree! Everyone needs writers!” spiel. Then I graduated at the height of the recession (2009), and every job posting I found wanted people with very specific skills that I just didn’t have – apparently, no one needed writers, lol.

              I’m actually working in business development as a proposal manager, and I think your Corporate Comm degree would be a fantastic fit in this field. Proposal writer jobs are plentiful right now, especially if you’re willing to move, and I’ve even seen and applied to several fully remote proposal jobs as well (my new job is fully remote, and I’ll be working in the software industry). Look into this if you really want to write again – I love this career. I’m kind of bummed I didn’t know this was a thing until two years ago. I could have been much further along on this path if I’d known anything about it, lol. J-school, and Comm programs in general, really don’t do a good enough job at helping graduates figure out what to do after they’re done the program and don’t necessarily want to be journalists.

    3. CatCat*

      If you can afford it, quitting a place that is having such a negative impact on your health is a good idea, imo. With my encouragement, my spouse quit his soul crushing job a couple of years ago. It was negatively impacting his health and our relationship. I had gotten a new job with big raise so we could afford to live on my salary alone. Worth it.

      He ended up going back to school and then getting “just a job” job in a non-toxic environment. Much lower pay and not ultimately what he wants to do, which he is still working on studying, but such a mental RELIEF to work someplace that wasn’t leaving him depressed.

      So if it’s financially feasible, get out, and get your health back.

      1. Windchime*

        I went through a thing at work a couple of years ago and in retrospect, I should have left that job at least a year before I did. It was toxic and my mental and physical health were shot while I was there. I took an 8 week FMLA leave and saw a therapist many times during that leave; I can’t tell you how helpful it was to me to hear someone say, “Oh, yep–you’re right, that’s toxic.” She helped me understand that leaving was not a bad thing, and I did leave shortly after. It took me about 18 months to fully regain my physical and mental health back.

        If you can afford it, I would seriously think about just leaving. It’s not worth ruining your health over.

        1. DB Cooper*

          You know something I never mentioned before that is probably pretty relevant? You mentioned finding out that leaving isn’t a bad thing… I’ve never actually left a job voluntarily. In my life, I mean. I’ve always been the one riding the ship down into the abyss.

          And it’s definitely so good to have someone who agrees that certain circumstances really are unhealthy. Too often I find my peers expecting less and less from the corporate overlords, and meanwhile I’m just over here asking myself why I’m going to keep pouring my effort into a place that can’t or won’t support me with things like a functioning network or reasonable air conditioning.

        2. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

          Yes, I was coming here to say this. Nothing is more important than your health. Since your family will be supportive about it, embrace the support and leave. Give yourself time, and permission, to figure out what you want to do.

      2. DB Cooper*

        Your spouse is very lucky to have someone so supportive! As a guy who has that now, and didn’t have that the last time I was in a situation I should’ve walked away from, I know how much easier it makes things to have someone who is in my corner and supporting my goals/health/growth. As much as I let it impact my health & wellbeing, I’ve watched too many colleagues in my role lose relationships and entire families by pouring themselves completely into their job, and that’s a risk I’m simply not willing to take.

    4. Qwerty*

      I think you need to get out quickly, even if it is to another retail job or a some other pay-the-bills job that isn’t your career goal. Right now you don’t have much idea what you want to do and are too exhausted/drained by your current job to spend the time to figure it out and execute a plan to get there. Find a job that will give you a little more sanity while you figure things out. If this turns out to be a short term job, it’ll be easy to explain in interviews that the company was downsizing and struggling so you took a job quickly in case the store closed. Even if your location was never on the chopping block, so many retail stores have closed lately that interviewers will understand.

      Once you have breathing space, then figure out a plan. When you are able to eat and sleep, your brain will start to function better and you can explore what fields your degree applies to.

    5. Manders*

      Oof, these questions are going to be difficult for anyone else to answer because so much depends on your personal situation.

      For #1, it sounds like you’ve got a supportive family–are you talking about emotional support only, or are they a potential financial safety net? What’s the job market like in your area? How long do you think you could last on your savings, and is that a realistic amount of time to find a better job? Does your job give you health insurance or any other benefit you really need to have?

      For #2, I’d focus less on personality tests like Myers-Briggs–they can be useful for some people who are looking for a direction, but the career advice sections tend to be written by people who don’t have firsthand knowledge of the careers they’re trying to describe. Focus on what you find fulfilling in a job (not necessarily what you love–every job had unloveable tasks). I’ve written out a bit of my personal process below, in case you find it helpful.

      When I was feeling stuck with a dead-end reception job, I started focusing on the kinds of tasks I could tolerate and the kinds of results that motivated me. My conclusions: I could do repetitive, boring tasks just fine, but only if I was allowed to listen to music or a podcast while I was doing it. I hated being customer-facing. I hated being chained to a phone. I loved results that were quantifiable. So I found an entry-level marketing position that let me try a little bit of everything, and kept refining my likes and dislikes from there: I don’t actually want to write copy daily. I like finding inefficiencies in systems and fixing them. I don’t like television and radio marketing. I like SEO. Then I moved on to a more advanced marketing position that lets me do more of what I like.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Thanks for sharing your process! I think that kind of reflection would probably be a good idea for just about everyone.

      2. DB Cooper*

        My family is a HUGE emotional support. I didn’t have them during my employment gap in 2009, so I know as much as I worry otherwise, I can emotionally handle an employment gap much better now than I did during the recession.

        I have the equivalent of seven months net income totally liquid, just sitting in the bank. (I’ve been planning for the eventuality that it’s time to move on.) Could definitely live on less than that though, but need to do a more detailed budget to see how far I could stretch it. Nine or ten months if I cut to the bone? I’d definitely have something by then, even if retail again. Health insurance is important to me, and I know next to nothing about getting it on my own, as it’s always been part of my compensation package.

        I’ve done Myers-Briggs and the STRONG assessment and they both point to my own intuition that I’m not built for this kind of work. I’m an introvert by nature, and, honestly, you sound EXACTLY like me. I hate the phone and customer facing work and I’m totally into operations (find inefficiency, build a system to fix inefficiency, then hand it to the next guy and move on).

      3. alannaofdoom*

        This is great advice! When you want to switch industries (or make any big move, honestly) it’s really useful to identify what elements of a job you excel in, and what you’d like to avoid.

        DB, your retail management background means you have a TON of experience and skills that will serve you well in numerous (and varied!) roles and industries. I’m just throwing out a few binary options here to help you start thinking about what kind of role (and/or industry) you want; with the understanding that every person and every job is gonna have plenty of overlap, and that these options are not necessarily mutually exclusive, I find that beginning from a binary choice helps identify an initial direction:

        – Are you more comfortable working with data/numbers? Or do you prefer more verbal or visual projects that don’t incorporate much math?
        – Are you comfortable predicting/forecasting what will happen next? Or do you prefer putting together detailed analysis of what *has* happened?
        – Are you more comfortable with tactics (think detail-oriented, granular, “I know what the goal is and I can figure out the steps to get us there)? Or are you more of a strategic thinker (generally bigger-picture, “our overarching goals should be [xyz]”)?
        – Do you thrive in a structured role where you do the same well-defined tasks/projects on a set schedule? Or do you prefer a less structured role where you take on varying projects as they arise?

      4. Dragon Egg*

        Thank you for sharing this. I’m a challenging work situation myself and an thinking through what to do, and especially what to do differently in my next job search, and I found your suggestions extremely helpful.

        OP, not sure what else to add but wishing you the best of luck moving forward!

    6. Aud*

      I was a bank teller in a very toxic environment for over a year (if you’re in the US, you’ve seen them in the news quite a bit in recent years). Threats of losing your job for low sales came up not just daily but every few hours. I couldn’t afford to leave without having something lined up so I focused on the customers and coworkers I enjoyed to get me through the day with enough energy to job search when I got home. I don’t know of that’s an option for you, but if it isn’t and you can afford to leave without having a replacement job lined up I say leave.

      If you need income in the meantime you can also check out coffee shops or catering gigs. I worked catering at a convention center fresh out if college, and the pay was decent enough that on about 15 hours a week I could afford my share of rent in a (very modest) shared apartment. That could help bridge the gap between positions while giving you enough energy to find something new.

    7. Llellayena*

      If you don’t need the money, I’d recommend quitting. It’s tough to have to show enthusiasm/find time to job hunt when you’re beat down by a full-time, energy/soul draining job. If you are really opposed to a resume gap and don’t need the full time money, perhaps non-management part-time retail would work? Use the down time to recover, pursue therapy etc. then focus on figuring out exactly what you want to do with that degree. Is there a career field you want to aim for? What entry positions are possible? Can you get informational interviews (the real kind, not the I’m-really-looking-for-a-job kind) that can help you find the beginning of the path. Once that’s sorted (might take a few months), start looking and applying for those jobs. You’ll have fresher energy and a clearer outlook which will show in interviewing. Follow other advice from this site for the job hunt (I’m not going to risk repeating it wrong!). Good luck!

    8. Psyche*

      For #1: Ask yourself which would be more stressful and soul crushing: unemployment or working this job. It sounds like unemployment, while not stress free, would be preferable. That is your sign it is time to quit. As for your resume, there are things you can do to fill the gap. Since you want to switch fields anyway it will be easier to explain away. You can volunteer or take some classes so that you have something to put on your resume and it may even help you make the switch.

      1. DB Cooper*

        That’s an amazing way of breaking it down that really speaks to me. Thank you.

        Every day before I walk in to work, I wish away the day — which I’ve always sworn since I was young that I’d never do. Even on the worst day of NOT being there, I’m almost certain I’d never wish time away. Seems like a sign, huh?

        I’d never even thought of it that way. Again, I thank you.

        1. Sally Bowles*

          Oh my gosh. You nailed exactly what I’ve been doing but hadn’t put a name to. I’ve been wishing away entire swaths of time trying to get through my own toxic job. Every morning when I wake up, I have to give myself pep talks. “You can do this, you just have to get through the next 12 hours, then you’ll be back home with your husband and dog.” You’ve given me a lot to think about. Good luck to you.

    9. LKW*

      There is no set time – especially if it’s toxic and you don’t plan on using them as a reference. The only thing you have to manage are your bills. If you feel you can get by -do what you need to do.

      Start investigating temp services – office jobs and the like. Practice your typing skills (you’re customer service skills and phone skills should be pretty good coming out of retail). There are tons of jobs out there that no one even thinks about.

      Depending on your education and background – is there an industry that you’d like more? Automotive? Construction? Library? And while you may not like the sales side of retail – they do have office jobs because all of the merchandise needs to be conceived, created, and all that fun stuff.
      Consider taking a civil service exam to get your foot in the door of federal/state jobs like Postal Worker – fresh air, pension (and papercuts).

      I guess – you don’t like sales – but what interests you?

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      From reading all those comments & your followup, and seeing that you’re able to afford it but worried about resume gap, I’d say get out but first talk to a temp agency. They’re *totally* used to people who temp as a way to figure out what they want to do next. Tell them you are interested in temp-to-perm, tell them you will need occasional gaps because you’ll be concurrently searching for full-time roles. Tell them you want to take advantage of any software-training programs they have available, and tell them you want out of retail. You should be able to get out of the toxic work place with something to put on your resume immediately! “May 2019 – current. JollyGoodTempAgency Inc. Long-term assignments in x, y, and z.”
      Good luck!

    11. CJ*

      It may help to put your two weeks notice in writing today (just for your own benefit, not to send in until you are ready) to help start to mentally show yourself that this job will have an end date. Once you start getting yourself in the mind frame of “these will not be my problems soon”, your remaining time at toxic job can get a lot more manageable until you feel ready to actually turn in that notice.

      I don’t have much advice on how to find your ideal job, except to remind you that your next step might not be perfect and that’s okay! You may not have a clear path and work may not be the most fulfilling thing in your life, and that’s okay too. What’s NOT okay is coming home routinely unable to eat or enjoy life outside of work due to the stress of your job. It sounds like a resume gap could be worth the trade off for your own improved mental health. I hope you are able to get out from under the toxic cloud and breathe easier soon.

      1. DB Cooper*

        I’m definitely going to put my notice in writing again to have handy… A couple of months ago I actually kept three envelopes in my desk in preparation for any time my boss would slip in to “visit” in case things went south. One for a cordial “I appreciate the opportunity” three week notice. One for a “due to the current environment” notice giving her 1-2 weeks depending on the day of the week I handed it to her. One for a “here’s my keys, lady, I’m out.”

        Writing the letter would definitely feel good. I already get through some days anyway simply by functioning as if I’m setting the place up for the next sucker in this role, instead of trying to do all the work to turn it around myself.

    12. Frankie*

      Oh man, as someone who was/is always afraid of job gaps, given your safety net I would quit.

      My last burnout situation isn’t as extreme as what you described–I don’t think I really recovered from it until months into my next job. And while I had that job I didn’t get much else done in my life, I would go home and veg so much and I feel like I sort of lost some personal time there, too. Not to mention the health impacts.

      If you can afford it, take some time. I would look into temp work and focus on using those jobs as a way to explore other types of work to find what you like. Or part time gigs, whatever you end up finding. I grew my understanding of what I’m good at and like to do over several years in a few different jobs.

      As someone above said, don’t think too hard about the personality tests. Finding actual job tasks/skills/motivations is going to be better information for you.

    13. Beta*

      Considering they are planning for an upcoming layoff, maybe you want to negotiate a severance package. They might say it’s not company policy for voluntary quitting, but if you pull the FMLA card and say working on your own health… they will most probably work out a severance package as keeping the job open for 3 months with guaranteed job after that will not work in their favor. You can ask for medical benefits for 3-6 months and a severance package (2-3 weeks for every year worked is common).

      1. DB Cooper*

        Honestly, one of the things that have kept me from leaving already is the possibility of severance. Of course, they prefer to find ways to fire people for performance to save money, and there’s nothing imminent, only threats. And right now I really find myself struggling with stubbornly (and miserably) hanging on in hopes they’ll pay me to go away. Just the character implications of what it would say about me to refuse to leave an unhealthy situation I’m not fully invested in unless they give me some money on the way out the door, if that makes sense.

        The FMLA thing is an interesting angle, I’ve just never seen anyone get it approved without a major fight.

        1. Beta*

          Lookup FinancialSamurai blog. He wrote a book on how to negotiate a severence, there are also many posts on his site on how people negotiated their severence packages.

          1. DB Cooper*

            Thank you! I will look into that tonight for some inspiration. With layoffs on the horizon and my boss so open about how disappointed she is in me as a “former high-impact player,” maybe she would welcome the chance to be rid of me, and I’d be better off letter her know I’m open to it.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        How would you frame/start that conversation? I know I wouldn’t even know where to start.

    14. wondHRland*

      If you have vacation time available, schedule it, and then use it to recharge and begin the job hunt. reflect on what you want to do, and what is important to you in your next role (i.e. stability, flexibility, vacation, culture, etc). write these things down to remind you and cement them in your brain. that way, as you’re interviewing companies (note, you’re interviewing them as much as they are you), you’re assessing them based on what you value. After the interview, take that list and score each opportunity/ make some notes about what you learned (good, bad, other), so that you can retain that information as you make decisions aobut offers.

      1. DB Cooper*

        Vacation requested… vacation denied, “due to our upcoming request blackouts, which you should already be aware of.”

        I’m definitely putting your reflection prompts to use though. Thank you. Barring (more) disaster, I should have one day off later this week, and I’m going to start two lists while I’m out of the grind and in a good headspace — what I’m looking for in any temp/short-term role I’d take immediately after I’m free from this company, and one for the longer term. I’ve never been a good long-term planner, so even thinking about it and writing it down will be a big help. Thank you so much.

  8. finicky*

    I’m sure this has come up many times before, so please feel free to just redirect me if it has, but I’m interested in what both interviewees and interviewers feel are good and bad interview questions.

    If you’re being interviewed, what questions do you dread being asked (I can’t stand “What’s your biggest weakness?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”)? What questions do you like being asked or wish you were asked more often? What questions do you like to ask of the people interviewing you?

    If you’re an interviewer, what are your go-to questions that actually elicit useful information? Are there questions that you’re required to ask as part of your hiring process that you hate having to ask, or that you see colleagues asking that you think are just dumb? What questions do you like to be asked by candidates?

    1. k8isgreat*

      Ugh, the five year question. Last time I got that I just honestly said I didn’t have one and life throws way too many curve balls to try and plan that far ahead. I got the job, so there’s that.

      1. Dragoning*

        I think it’s especially garbage to younger people. I’m still pretty new to the workforce! I have no idea what options are even available yet, let alone which I’d like to pursue!

        1. LaDeeDa*

          I have posted this a few times in the comments section– this is my stock answer to the 5 yr or career path question- and each time I have personally used it people get so excited about it…
          “I am more interested in finding the right culture and team than defining a strict career path. I think that when you find the right fit opportunities and development which I might never have thought of present themselves!”

          1. Zephy*

            That’s a really good answer to the 5 year question. Especially in the last few years, I’ve found it hard to even imagine what life will be like in 5 months – I honestly can’t think that far ahead.

          2. Amethyst*

            NICE! My answer has always been “stability”, especially within the last 7 years. I come from a background rife with instability, so to have that in my life would be fantastic. Prior to that, I think my 5 year plan answer was “to grow; learn everything I can _about industry_, & hopefully I can stay here for as long as possible. I can’t guarantee that; life has a funny way of wrecking your plans.” (Interviewers usually half-smiled in knowing agreement here, which was great.)

        2. Tau*

          I sympathise! My answer to the five year question for my first job was something along the lines of: “Honestly, since I’m just starting out, I really don’t know enough about the industry and the directions my career could go in to be able to answer that question. My main goal right now is to learn about all the different aspects of the job to get a better picture of what’s possible. You could say my one-year goal is to know where I want to be in five years!” It seemed to make a fairly good impression.

      2. Kittymommy*

        I had a friend tell me they were interviewing some guy at his work for an entry level job (retail o think) and this was asked. The guy said “not in jail I hope”. I mean, yeah, but maybe not for an interview.

      1. Aud*

        It’s a terrible question, but I focus on how what I like about my hobbies relates to my work style. “In my free time I like to cook or knit. Both activities offer a challenge and require a combination of technical skill as well as creativity and/or problem solving.”

        Quick, shows some personality, ties back to what any interviewer actually cares about.

        1. Dragoning*

          I have actually been hired on the strength of my hobbies before.

          Probably not by very good interviewers.

        2. Iris Eyes*

          Knitting also trains you to be able to spot inconsistencies and error in large data sets, and regularly confronts you with risk/benefit analysis when something does go wrong.

          1. Aud*

            Oh this is brilliant, just yesterday I had to unravel 3700 stitches because I misread a pattern (I’m making my first sweater and went with a fair isle design, because I’m ambitious to a fault) and when the unravelling was done, my stitches were twisted. I basically had to knit backwards for a row so it would look right, and I had to be able to spot at a glance that it was wrong. I’m job hunting this summer and am so using this, thanks!

            1. Iris Eyes*

              Nice! And see knowing that you didn’t have to frog another row but came up with a solution that fixed the problem more efficiently.

              Good luck with your project! And the job hunt :)

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        My team asked a variation on this – basically “Tell us about your career path.” It worked great with hiring our AVP (our grand-boss). We were part of the interview process on the last two candidates; let’s say we work in llama breeding and veterinary regulatory oversight.

        One described her pathway around alpaca research, then into llama handling, then leading a division that did llama breeding, and talked about how her role was starting to get loaded with things like llama feed budgeting and all kinds of additional roles that she wasn’t interested in. And she knew she didn’t know a lot about the nuts-and-bolts of the regulatory oversight but did have to follow those rules herself and felt she could learn.

        The second candidate had worked in llama breeding and regulatory oversight for years. Her description of her career progress was she would get a call from someone she knew who would tell her about the disaster their llama ranch was in with regulatory issues and how they needed help, and she would come in and clean house and set up the regs and processes, and then get kind of complacent. Then a few years after she changed jobs, someone else would call her about a similar problem at their ranch, and off she’d go and happily dive in and fix problems.

        And there wasn’t any “but you know, I’m getting bored with all of the putting-out-of-fires work” or “but now I’d like to settle in” and our llama regulatory division was solid (needing some reorg/streamlining, but very well-oiled in general and quite engaged) and not a disaster, and her interviewing with people from the C-suite down should have conveyed that, or at least the level immediately above us would definitely have done so.

        We worried her response meant we’d be doing this all over again in a few years, or that she might change things for the sake of change. So us underlings filled out the impressions sheet and noted that concern, and the first candidate was hired. And she’s been great, and stands up for us, and tries to make changes only when it seems like there’s a real reason.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          That should be “tell us about your career path to this point, including how this position would fit into it.” Not a “5 years” question.

          1. Dragoning*

            I’m 26–half of my “career path” s far has been in retail! And a lot of the other stuff on my resume is unpaid work. I still don’t have a good answer for this question!

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              You could reframe it as discussing the tools you picked up along the way, perhaps. Things that might feel awkward to put on a CV or not really stand out. Mention how you became the go-to person to send tough customers to and how you managed to talk down the majority while making them feel good, or how you picked up dealing with a complex inventory system and were frequently the one who saw the discrepancies and worked out the problems.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          Yeah, I always answer this question like your first candidate did. I don’t really talk about personal stuff I do outside of work unless I’m specifically asked, “What do you like to do for fun outside of work to alleviate stress?” My soon-t0-be grandboss asked me during our interview, “What are you currently reading?” I told him some cheesy romance novel, and it ended up with us discussing my own professional writing (I’m a published fiction writer), comparative literature, and films. At that point, I think he was just interviewing me for general fit seeing as though my direct manager sent him and my HR rep a glowing review about me and wanted to know how soon I could start! LOL.

      3. Tau*

        I think this may be more valuable if your CV raises any sorts of questions. For instance, in my case I got a PhD and then went and got an entry-level job in a not-super-related area. “Tell me about yourself…” allows me to explain that and smooth over any concerns that one day I’ll jump ship for academia. I’d imagine it can play a similar role if your work history has any other unusual features (many short-term stays, field switches, a recent gap where you weren’t working, etc.) Basically, it lets you create a narrative around your professional past that will let your interviewers see where (and that) this new job would fit, in case your CV doesn’t do that already.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Basically, it lets you create a narrative around your professional past that will let your interviewers see where (and that) this new job would fit, in case your CV doesn’t do that already.

          This. When you look at my resume, for example, the positions I’ve held don’t appear to correlate much (I’ve changed fields three times now). However, whenever I’m asked this question (and it’s usually the first thing everyone asks), I get to explain that I’m a writer first and foremost and though I’ve changed fields a few times, the through line between these careers have been intensive writing requirements. Then, my experience suddenly makes sense and fits together.

    2. Nessun*

      I never got the hang of the “five years” question – I tend towards a head-cocked-to-the-side “uh…still working?” Honestly, every great opportunity I’ve had was organic and sudden (weird combination, I know), so I don’t plan for these things, I just look out for them. No answer I’ve ever given or could give at any point in my career would have been accurate, so I just really don’t like that question.

      1. Sarah Simpson*

        I always say that by then I want to be really great at this job by then and finding other ways to contribute to the success of the organization. It sounds cheesy, but so far I’ve gotten the jobs. I also am in a position where I can add that I’ve really found my niche and will continue to look for ways to make things better. I can let them know I’m not looking for the next step up necessarily, but also won’t just settle in and coast.

    3. Sherm*

      As interviewee and interviewer, I do hate “What’s your biggest weakness?” Many otherwise honest people will simply lie. Plenty of others will have blinders on and are not aware of their real weaknesses. Somethings are just not possible: Sorry, you can’t fly to the moon by flapping your arms. Sorry, you (usually) can’t find out someone’s biggest weakness by asking them.

      I actually like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” We all have a direction — let’s see if that direction aligns with the company’s needs/goals.

      Although I completely see the value in asking “Tell me a time when…” questions, I would dread them, because I would totally blank on the spot, and then 5 minutes after the interview, I would come up with a perfect example.

      I appreciate the ubiquitous “Tell me about yourself” at the start of the interview. It gives me time to take a breath, reduce my heart rate from 120 bpm, and warm into the interview.

      1. I Just Work Here*

        I like to phrase the five year question as more of a “Where do you see yourself at the company in the future?” or “How does this job at this company fit into your future goals?” That questions usually helps weed out the people with wildly inappropriate thoughts. You aren’t going to be president of the company in five years. Sorry, you just aren’t. If you don’t know, that’s fine! I’d would rather hire someone with no direction than someone who is going to be bugging me in six months about promotions and pay raises.

        I really like when candidates ask me what I like about my job and what I like about working for my company.
        I also really like when people ask about what the day to day looks like for that role, and then repeats it back to me later in a way that shows they don’t have insane expectations about what the role itself is.

      2. Windchime*

        For the “biggest weakness” question, I answer that honestly with something that really is a weakness but not a fatal one. So something like, “Well, I am acquainted with [programming language] but not as proficient as I’d like to be”. Or “I wish I knew a little more about running SQL traces; I’ve had a little experience but not as much as I might like.” But only if [programming language] or SQL traces aren’t *required expert level* for the job. I mostly think people are just looking for an honest assessment that the candidate realizes they aren’t perfect.

    4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      The weakness question is the worst. What are you honestly expecting a candidate to say here – like “Well I’m both stupid and lazy, so it’s hard to decide”?? A completely transparent “I”m too much of a perfectionist”? The answers will always be pretty useless to this question.

      Personally, I hate “Tell me about the worst job you’ve ever had.” Because, well… I *have* had a pretty awful job, one where I’m fairly sure the working conditions were straight-up illegal and the general atmosphere reminded me of a cult, but I can’t exactly say that in an interview, now can I? Not without sounding like I’m ‘badmouthing a past employer’. Which makes me sound unprofessional. But the alternative is to lie. I don’t like either of those options.

      Questions I like being asked are ones that are relevant to the position/my experience – “tell me about a time you XXX”, or “how would you resolve XXX issue.”

      I’ve only been on the interviewer side while at the extremely toxic job. We were required to ask candidates how they would manage a team of x number of poor performers, y number of middling performers, and z number of high performers, and then condescendingly explain ‘well what we *actually* do is…’. I hated it because it was irrelevant and felt like a veiled threat to fire anyone who wasn’t immediately successful.

      1. IL JimP*

        I like asking the weakness question a little differently. “If I asked your last manager, what would she say were a few things you need to work on to improve?”

        I’m looking to see if they can be a little self-reflective but also looking to see what they’re actually doing to work on those things.

        For example: “my manager would say I need to work on my organizational skills because sometimes I get too caught up with all my tasks and get overwhelmed. What I’ve been doing to work on that is I took a class on organizational management, shadowed a person on my team that is really good at it and implemented feedback from my manager.”

        1. Just Another Manic Millie*

          [quote]I like asking the weakness question a little differently. “If I asked your last manager, what would she say were a few things you need to work on to improve?”[/quote]
          If I were asked this, I would suspect a trap, so I would smile and say, “Gee, when I gave her two weeks notice, she became very upset and asked if there was any way I could change my mind and continue to work there. When I said no, it was as if all the air went out of her balloon. So I don’t know what improvements she thought I needed.”

      2. Marvel*

        You know, I actually DO use “I’m too much of a perfectionist”–but only because it actually is my biggest flaw, for several reasons: 1) I’m very hard on myself and I need frequent positive feedback from others in order to feel like I’m doing a good job, 2) I am excessively detail-oriented and sometimes get hung up on details that don’t really matter, losing sight of the big picture in the process, which leads to wasting time or prioritizing poorly, and 3) this is an example of #2 right now because there is no third thing, but it would sound so much neater if there were, so I can’t stop trying to think of one even though that’s totally unnecessary.

        I usually introduce it with a joking “this will sound like a cop-out, but hear me out,” and then explain it just that way followed by a brief summary of what I’ve done to mitigate some of these issues. I feel like I’ve gotten positive responses. But maybe I sound totally out of touch? I don’t know.

    5. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I hate the 5 year question to, so I started asking people how they see the job they’re interviewing for fitting into their career development. There’s not really a “right” answer as far as I’m concerned. I’m curious about how people see their careers developing and can use the answer to highlight additional things we can offer to advance people’s goals.

    6. Q without U*

      As an interviewer, one of my go-to questions is, “What are your most favorite and least favorite job duties?”, for their current position or the position on their resume most closely related to what they’re applying for. We get so much good information from this, and it often leads us to elaborate on parts of the job we might not have fully discussed yet.

      1. Data Analyst*

        Yes, love this one. Gets a much more candid and useful answer than strength/weakness.

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

      I’d LOVE to be asked about perks. Which would be something nice to have, which ones would be dealbeakers or which one is the one perk that would make me consider leaving my current job. For example, a nice discount at a local gym or coffee capsules would be appreciated, and I would love to be able to work from home at least one day.

    8. Jadelyn*

      I particularly like the “tell me about a time when” type of interview questions (as an interviewer). Not only the response, but the way they approach the response, whether they have something prepared for that specific scenario or not, how thoughtful their response is, all of that nets me useful information. Even if the response is “I’ve never run across that exact scenario, but I’ve run across something similar where XYZ/hypothetically, I’d do ABC, because…” that tells me something about how flexible they are at making connections between related-ish scenarios and/or problem-solving on the fly.

      I find the “greatest strengths/weaknesses” questions to be both the most annoying as a candidate, and the most useless as an interviewer. Too many people have been coached to “find a weakness that’s actually a strength and present it that way” and will respond with some variation on “I’d say I work too hard/care too much/etc”, or use that question to swing back into the hard sell.

    9. S-Mart*

      For manager-level interviews only: I like to ask how their management changes for particularly high performers and for particularly low performers. I’ve found so many candidates have no idea how to answer at least half of the question. I’m not looking for any secret right answer, but I’ve found more wrong (or non) answers than I ever expected to.

    10. Pinky Lady*

      I just got asked in an interview: How do you like to be managed, and how do you manage (or plan to manage) others?

      Might be my favorite I’ve ever been asked.

    11. ManageHer*

      One of my favorite questions to ask as an interview, especially for entry-level folks, is “Tell me about your favorite project you’ve ever worked on”.

      Even people who aren’t great interviewers often light up when talking about something they loved working on. Quite often with entry-level candidates the favorite project won’t be on their resume, but will be highly relevant to the job. Other times it becomes clear that the parameters of the job I’m hiring for cannot accommodate something that’s important to the candidate (example: We’re hiring for customer service and their favorite project was data entry because they hate talking to customers.)

      I always follow it up by asking the reverse “And what’s your least-favorite project you’ve ever worked on?”.

      It’s not uncommon to hear a least-favorite project that actually makes up 70% of the job we’re hiring for. Or badmouthing managers. I’ve had candidates tell me that they didn’t enjoy a project because they were smarter than the person who assigned it. On the other hand, I sometimes hear that a candidate for a customer-facing position hates data entry because they want to be on the phone with customers, or maybe they just need clear context on how their work affects customers in order to enjoy it.

      Like any good interview question, there isn’t really a “right” answer to these. But it’s so easy to tell which candidates will actually enjoy the work when you ask these.

      1. S-Mart*

        I ask the first one, and generally get good mileage out of it. Not as much as I expected when I started asking it, but enough to continue using it. I never thought to ask your follow-up, I should consider adding it to my list.

    12. CMart*

      I’ve never been asked something along the lines of “is there anything not on your resume that you think makes you a strong candidate” (other than “anything else you’d like us to know” which is usually way too general and too late in the interview to mean the same thing) but I would honestly have loved that as an entry level/early career job seeker.

      A lot of things I think I’m quite good at and make me a valuable employee are incredibly hard to get across on a resume – interpersonal skills, being able to pinpoint where confusion is coming from between people or systems and clarify it in understandable ways, seeing the “big picture” underlying small transactional tasks etc…

    13. InfoSec SemiPro*

      I’m mostly focused on “Can this person be managed well in our environment?” when I’m interviewing someone – other people do the technical interviews.

      In addition to the “tell me a story when…” questions around skills for dealing with building trust quickly and learning quickly, I like to ask about what candidates have most enjoyed or thrived from in previous environments, and what most frustrated or hampered them. I like to ask what motivates them, what makes them feel appreciated, when have they done their best work previously.

      My roles have a lot of flexibility and personal discretion, but the environment is (predictably) pretty fast changing and can be chaotic. Some people, who have lovely skills and are great humans, will not be well supported under those conditions. Some people enjoy public positive feedback, some don’t like that spotlight and prefer more personal kudos – I can do either, but I like knowing. I like getting a look at the candidate’s self awareness – have they thought about what drives their own productivity or are we going to do some experimenting? If the candidate is really motivated by things I can’t provide, that may not be the best hire. If a candidate is motivated by the same things as my other staff, that might set up scarcity of what “choice projects” means, and cause friction where I don’t need any. (I like being able to give everyone work they think of as “the best project” or at least “really good work” … which means my team needs to have a variety of perspectives of what “the really good work” is.)

      This is useful for figuring out what the training plan is to get a new staff member to full productivity – and figuring out if the team has appropriate training resources available. I have made the choice to hire candidate A over B because the resources A needed to get up to speed were more available right then than what B would need.

    14. Mellow cello*

      The question I always ask when I’m being interviewed is what the negatives are of a position / workplace. Firstly, because it’s important information I want in order to make a decision about accepting a job offer! But also because it gives me a feel for whether the staff / organisation are honest and realistic.

      The best job I ever had was very upfront about negatives of the position / workplace. None of issues were dealbreakers, they were very common in the industry, they didn’t try to sugarcoat or hide things and they had strategies to minimise their negative effect. It reflected my overall great experience when I worked there – forthright, straightforward and supportive.

      On the other hand, asking about negatives helped me dodge a huge bullet by declining a position at a prestigious organisation that just felt odd during the interview process. They clinched it with their answer that there was nothing negative about their workplace and that they all loved it there and loved each other and pushed out people who didn’t feel the same way and didn’t fit in. I’ve never been so relieved to withdraw my candidacy!

    15. Echo*

      The questions I use to get at people’s actual weaknesses are “what’s an area where you’d like to grow/develop/learn more in this role?” and questions about work environments/tasks they do and don’t prefer. That will give you a sense of whether someone would be frustrated with being in a job that has a lot of client interaction, a lot of independent/self-directed work, a lot of writing, etc.

      But none of these are gotchas! In general, a thing that frustrates me about interviewing is that bad interviewers have trained candidates to think they need to get the “right” answer to questions. There are some wrong answers (“I want to develop [main competency needed in role] because I’ve never used it before” or “I struggle in environments where I’m supporting other people’s projects rather than leading my own”) but no specific right one. I’m interviewing to get an idea of what working with this person would be like, and whether they’d be happy in our environment. It’s actually completely fine to have weaknesses and the interview really should be an opportunity to figure out if your mix of skills is compatible with what the role needs. (At this point, I’d probably proactively bring up my own weaknesses in a hypothetical interview because any environment that asks me to use those skill areas all the time would be bad for me!)

      But unfortunately as one of today’s letters exemplifies, a lot of interviewers really do think there’s a ‘right answer’ and are just trying to catch candidates out on missing a gotcha answer. I hate it! It leads to so much unnecessary anxiety for candidates and the idea that candidates are in a subordinate/supplicating position to their interviewer. Ugh.

      1. Echo*

        I meant to say “I struggle in environments where I’m supporting other people’s projects rather than leading my own” is a bad answer because the specific job I interview for is a junior position that does project support – this isn’t a bad answer generally.

    16. Baby Helicopter*

      I think the “five year” question can be more relevant in some positions than in others, generally if the field is one that commonly requires specific certifications that require a certain number of years/hours of practical experience. For instance, I work for a small consulting firm and we have recently been interviewing for a junior position that would ideally be filled by someone with an educational background in engineering. Many people with engineering degrees choose to (or, depending on their discipline, have to) pursue a Professional Engineer (PE) certification. Many do not, as it’s not required for many technical positions that sold with engineering backgrounds get hired into. It takes a minimum of five years of working under a Professional Engineer (in addition to other things) to be eligible to take the Professional Engineer exam. However, we don’t have a PE on staff. We’ve been using the five year question as a way to gauge whether the candidates are going to be more driven toward getting that certification in the near future (in which case they may not be a good fit for the position since we can’t offer the mentorship that would require) or if they are looking more for a broad experience in the overall field we consult in, which we can. It has seemed to give us a better impression of what the candidate is looking for as far as professional development than just asking “so you gonna get your PE?” But this is a pretty specific example and certainly doesn’t cover how ubiquitous that question seems to be in general.

    17. Policy Wonk*

      My favorite question to ask, after all the usual questions about work experience relevant to the job is this: If I hire you, what can you do for me? Why you over the other applicants? I have gotten some very interesting answers that tell me a lot about the applicants.

    18. Existentialista*

      As someone being interviewed, I’ve had great success with the question, “Hiring Manager, in the first 3-6 months, how will this position help you to fulfill YOUR goals?” You should see the way people beam when asked this.

      As someone interviewing others, we’ve uncovered some red flags for otherwise attractive candidates by asking one of these two: “Tell us about a time when you faced frustration in your job, and how you handled it?” or “Tell us about a time when you had to work with someone you personally disliked?”

    19. Kat in VA*

      I wish that in my line of work (executive assistant), interviewers would spend more time telling me the executive(s’) style of working and less about the job itself. The admin functions of the job tend to be the same (scheduling, reporting, travel, events, etc.) but the executive is the wild card.

      I wish that interviewers would let me know what kind of person they are – do they function autonomously and handle their stuff or do they use you as an emotional tampon when they’re flipping out? Are they laid-back or do they pace nervously like a puppy looking for a place to pee when they’re waiting on you to do something? Do they text over the weekend, email at 02:00AM, yell when they’re pissed off?

      I know most of these answers will never, ever be given by interviewers (and the more obnoxious the exec, the more veiled the commentary of their management style is). But well-worn tropes like “fast paced”, “demanding”, and “high energy” are really just “run you into the ground”, “asshole”, and “drama queen” cloaked in corporate-speak.

      (Sorry, I was highly annoyed at something I discovered WRT compensation on Friday and clearly I’m still sore about it)

  9. Toxic waste*

    There was talk from HR that my coworker and I might be let go once the new software program is up and running. (There is no need for two people.) Coworker has been with the company for 15 years, I’ve only been there for a year. Coworker is well-known and very liked, I’m quiet and I don’t think they like me much. I have more degrees and technical experience, coworker doesn’t.

    My (new) boss mentioned that they wanted to get rid of someone, but she “fought for us”, but then she’ll say that they still need to cut someone because they need money for something else. I don’t know if it’s us, but it’s very stressful. It just feels like it’s a constant threat.

    Any advice?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’d recommend job hunting, just in case you do end up on the chopping block. Can’t hurt to be prepared!

      And if you’re worried about how the short length of your stay might appear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling the truth, that you’ve heard your position might be eliminated once a new software system is implemented, no one will hold that against you.

      I think having a plan in place will help eliminate some stress. I know it’s no fun working with a sword of damacles over you, but knowing you aren’t just passively waiting for something to happen (or not!) can be a great relief.

    2. lindsay*

      Start job hunting. It’s really inappropriate that your boss is making you feel unsure but maybe she is trying to give you fair warning. It sounds like if they do get rid of someone, unless your colleague volunteers, it’s going to be you. Best to be prepared.

    3. CatCat*

      Plan to leave. Work on making that plan happen. Get your resume polished up, your references in order, and tap into your professional network. I was working in a stressful place and just knowing, “Yep, I’m definitely leaving” and working on the plan to do that helped relieve some of the stress.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      For all you know, both you and your co-worker could both be let go. Definitely start looking for a job now.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Start job hunting, but also look into whether there’s other projects in that dept that you could work on.

    6. Anono-me*

      Seconding the recommendation to start job hunting.
      It sounds to me like the boss is trying to give you a heads up without violating any company secrets she is expected to keep right now. (Actually it sounds like you both should be starting to job hunt if she’s telling you both this, maybe the PTB don’t I think they even need one person to run this new program and are planning on getting by with a couple hours a day from someone else.)

      1. Kat in VA*

        This. So so so much this. She’s all but telling you that you’ll be out of a job soon, possibly both of you, but backtracking with the “fought for you” comment so she has plausible deniability.

        Job hunt, now.

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      Start job searching immediately, if you haven’t already. In my experience, the incumbent almost always prevails, especially if they are well-liked and you either aren’t liked or an unknown entity to the decision makers. I think your boss might be walking a fine line of trying to tip you off to start looking without breaching her duty of confidentiality if she knows that you’ll likely be let go. Best of luck and much sympathy. These situations suck, but apply to at least one job a day, more if you have the time, and before you know it you’ll be moving on to something better.

    8. Rusty Shackelford*

      Your degrees and technical experience won’t matter if a) Coworker can do the job without those qualifications, and b) they aren’t needed anywhere else in the organization. I’d start looking.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Get your resume polished up and start job hunting. Also, if you can afford to do so, start putting aside a little more money in your savings to help tide you over IF you do happen to get let go before you find another job.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It sounds to me like your manager is fishing for a volunteer — ie if an employee is near retirement or starting up a business or moving to follow a spouse’s transfer. Or if an employee simply wants a long stretch of time off with a good layoff plan….once in a while companies will offer increased layoff packages to voluntary departures.
      It can’t *hurt* to get started on a job hunt — you’ve been there a year, your company is talking about layoffs, so why not call a recruiter or three and see what is out there. You can also ask about internal transfers given the rumors.
      GOOD LUCK!

    10. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

      I don’t think your boss is threatening you–I think she’s being kind enough to give you a head’s up. You and your coworker might both be let go, but it seems highly likely that you will be. I would thank her, tell her you think you will dust off your resume and ask if you may use her as a reference.

  10. Anon for this*

    There was recently an opening for a management position in my department. I applied for it, as did a coworker, Jane, but an external candidate ended up getting the job. The person who got the job isn’t starting for several weeks, so in the meantime, Jane and I were asked to fill in for the new manager (normally, just one person would do this, but since we are in our busy season right now, we need two people).

    This type of thing is often considered kind of an audition for management, so there are pretty clear implications about how this will play into the next management opening. Jane has always been really full of herself, but she has taken it up a notch now that she’s officially an interim manager. I’m not sure how, exactly, she’s doing this, but she is making sure everyone in the company knows of her new/temporary management status.

    I went into this knowing that it would be, in some sense, a competition between Jane and me, but I figured I would simply do a good job and let my work speak for itself. Jane is making this very difficult. She is really good at inserting herself into everything. If I am working on something or handling a problem, she will swoop in, take over, and get the credit for it. She is truly a master at this. One time, I was working on something and I went to a meeting and when I got out of the meeting, she had taken over. Another time, I was working on something and she went to a meeting and told everyone that she was in charge of it, and then people started calling her about it instead of me. She has publicly announced that she is going to make our team finish a project (which is hopelessly behind schedule) by the end of the busy season. I’ve helped them with this project far more than she has, and they’ll continue to need my help to finish it, but she has now positioned herself to get all the credit for it.

    Our desks are right next to each other, and people will walk past me, completely ignoring me, to ask her about something that I have been working on. Sometimes, people will ask me to relay a message to her about something that I am working on but she has told them she is in charge of it. One time, our boss came in, asking for an update on a crisis I was handling, while she was in the bathroom, and I gave him an update, but half an hour later, he called Jane to ask her about it, even though the only information she knew was what I told her about it. Everyone either ignores me or treats me like I’m her assistant.

    I don’t know what to do because I can’t compete with her ability to get attention. I am an introvert and I don’t even particularly like attention, but I can’t stand watching her take all of the credit for everything while my potential for advancement slips away. Her ploy seems really obvious to me, but it’s clear that everyone is buying into it and thinks she’s awesome and I’m worthless. I really don’t think it has anything to do with my performance or competence because I am generally highly regarded in my regular job, but it feels as though people think I have suddenly become an idiot who can’t be trusted to do anything. If I say anything, it will look like I’m just jealous of her awesomeness, and I’m the one who’s trying to look important and take all the credit. Am I just not cut out for management?

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Quit giving Jane any more information that she needs to know and speak up if she says something incorrectly.

      1. M*

        OP is formally job sharing, if they freeze Jane out of information about projects that formally they’re both leading, it’s going be really, really easy for Jane to spin as a major problem with OP’s management style and team-playership.

        Definitely speak up, though, that side of things is necessary advice.

    2. lindsay*

      Oh my goodness this sounds incredibly frustrating! The one good thing here is that neither of you got this job, so while she may be trying to position herself to be management down the road, it won’t be now, so you still have time to show how valuable you are!

      Do you have a good relationship with grand-boss? This might be a good time to ask for a sit-down, explain what you’ve been working on, and ask how you can better position yourself to be a leader in the future. I think behind the scenes one-on-one will really help.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Or maybe there is no external candidate, and at the end of the time he or Jane will actually get the job.

        1. Anon for this*

          There is an external candidate; we’ve met him. He has legit reasons for the delayed start date, and he has already bought a house here, so I am pretty confident this is a temporary situation and he’ll start in a few weeks as planned.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Yup. If you feel uncomfortable stopping a meeting or conversation to address it, try to pull her aside immediately after for a “what the hell…” conversation. By not saying anything, you’re making this easy for Jane who isn’t seeing any negative repercussion. Even if she doesn’t respond ideally, there’s at least some friction for her actions compared to before.
        Confrontation isn’t fun, but having hard conversations with people is a part of management, both in guiding subordinates and standing up for your team among other managers (more like this scenario). Think of it as good practice for future management.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Jane sucks.

      I’d recommend bringing this up to your boss. Not in a complainy, Jane-is-a-big-wad type of way (though she certainly is), but in a “this is affecting my ability to do my job successfully, how can we address this” kind of way. Bring up all of the examples you laid out, being sure to do it objectively and free of emotional description.

      Sorry you have to deal with this, hopefully it will be resolved when the new manager starts, but it is absolutely worth bringing up to your boss now, since this may lay the groundwork for your success down the road.

      1. Anon for this*

        I’ve thought about bringing it up to my manager, but I’m worried that I’m just going to look petty. I asked for this opportunity and he gave it to me, and I’m afraid it’s not going to look good if I complain to him about it in any way, especially when I’m asking for management responsibilities and I can’t even handle a dispute with a peer. Also, he is extremely busy with a special project outside of our department, and it’s very hard to get his time or attention at all right now, even for something as simple as approving some routine reports I submitted last week, so I don’t think he’d be happy to spend his time on this. Plus, I known she would just say she’s trying to help and just make sure that everything is taken care of, because she’s so responsible.

        I went to another coworker this week (someone I consider a work friend, and who has also been victim to Jane’s credit-stealing, so I thought he would be sympathetic) and asked for his insight on why everyone is acting like she’s in charge and I’m her assistant, and he was extremely snippy with me (which is very unlike him) and acted like I was being ridiculous. A few days later, he went to her and asked about something I was working on. He was looking directly at her with his back turned to me, and I said, “Well, actually, I was working on that…” and he turned around and rolled his eyes and said, “Oh, God, this again? I was asking both of you. How am I supposed to know who was working on it? I’m getting really tired of this crap.” This is someone I thought would be on my side because he knows how she works, and he’s acting like I’m crazy, so I’m afraid of how I will sound to someone who doesn’t see what she’s doing and just thinks she has a lot of gumption.

        1. ket*

          I’m really sorry to hear about this, Anon, and I’m going to disagree with a lot of other coworkers and call you out on something I see in myself, because I see it in myself. If it doesn’t apply to you, throw away this internet comment!

          You see a lot of this very clearly, and other parts not clearly. Bringing this to your manager will seem petty, and it will make him think you can’t handle management. Jane will look good, and you’ll look like you can’t share your toys.

          While Jane is probably not ready for management (as other posts say), she’s doing the work of getting visibility for her projects, getting visibility for herself, getting people to talk to her, etc. You’re not! You’re “letting good work speak for itself”. Ah! That’s me! Trying to just do good work & not do the schmooze. What a fail, for me personally. The feeling of betrayal I felt when I didn’t even get acknowledged from the stage by the guy MCing the event I almost single-handedly put on… and then I didn’t get the permanent version of the job either……. ugh. Part of the job of managing is advocating and representing your group, your division, your employees, your work. And you’re not doing that. You are not showing that you can do that. In the fight for corporate resources, you’d be the manager who couldn’t get their employees the recognition award or a larger slice of the bonus pool. I’m trying to be harsh here, because you are representing Jane’s actions as underhanded credit-stealing — and while they might be that, they also show a strength that she has that you don’t, frankly, because you think it’s a bad thing.

          I urge you to reconsider your feelings, your story, about what Jane is doing. Is it annoying? F*** yeah. But she’s also doing something that you’re unable to do, and you’re upset because you feel like she’s not fighting fair. Where are these feelings coming from? Why do you think there are rules to how this should be done?

          A number of other commenters suggest saying, as you did, “Well, actually, I’m working on that…” And you’ll get the response that you did: eye-rolling followed by omg she’s so petty. No. You cannot say “Actually…”. You cannot say, “Give me back my project! I was playing with it first! This isn’t faaaaair!” You need to take control without asking or explaining. You need to enlarge your presence, get comfortable just stating things and talking over people for a moment if necessary. Don’t ‘explain’ that you’re really in charge, really. No one believes an explanation like that, on some primal level. Primate level. Mammalian level. This truly is a mammalian dominance standoff, and Jane is winning not with her intellect but by her signaling that she’s in charge. You need to start taking up that space instead. Instead of, “Well, actually…..” you walk over confidently and sit on Jane’s desk (ha!) and say, “I was talking with the vendor from Acme about ten minutes ago and we’re going to….”

          If you want to get Machiavellian, you start saying things like, “Jane, that’s so sweet that you’re helping out on this project! We’re going to move forward to…” “Jane, I really appreciate you pitching in! The next step is to….” “Jane, thanks so much for your help — Shantal will be taking over that part so that you can go back to your own projects. Now, ….” “You’re such a team player, Jane. It’s time to ….”

          This is really uncomfortable, Anon, and it’s a replay of junior high dominance wars. Go watch Heathers and Mean Girls and then read about Habits 1, 2, and 4 in particular in “How Women Rise” by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith.

      2. Anon for this*

        Oh, also, I’m also getting paid management salary while I’m in this temporary role, so I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the (temporary) promotion and raise. There has been talk of having two managers for every busy season from now on, and once the new manager is here, there will only be one temporary spot. Are they going to pick me for it after I’ve shown that I can’t work together with another manager and had to ask our boss to intervene?

    4. Bostonian*

      First of all, I think your company screwed up by putting 2 people “in charge” without a clear delineation of duties and responsibilities. That would be confusing and inefficient in most cases, even without the added layer of one of the people wanting to be in charge of anything.

      When it comes up, do as much record-setting as possible. For example, if someone asks you to relay info to Jane for something you’re working on: “Actually, that’s something that I’m working on. Thanks for the info.”

      I would try setting a clear line in the sand with Jane, too. Not in a “stop trying to control everything” way, but more of a “let’s be clear who’s taking care of what to prevent confusion and make sure we’re not duplicating efforts” way. Can you sit her down and say, “You handle A, B, C, and I’ll handle X, Y, Z”? (Based on what you’ve explained about Jane, I’m not hopeful she will stick to the plan. If it wouldn’t look adversarial to summarize the plan in an email and cc anyone who would need to know, that might make her stick to the plan.)

      Don’t let this shake your confidence about your potential for management! Keep in mind that what Jane is doing is performative, it’s not actually good management. She should want to split the duties with you in a way that makes sense for everyone.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Coming to management with both a problem and a proposed solution is always ideal. I think it would be a great idea for Anon to try and divvy up responsibilities with Jane like you proposed. Then, Anon could have a convo with boss asking for backup if/when Jane tries to encroach.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Totally agree on all points. Company made a mistake, two people in one role only works if the assignments to each are clear. Since that’s not currently the case (due to Jane’s proactive swooping-in), then clarification needs to happen ASAP. And it will reflect well on OP to be the one to speak up about it. Particularly emphasize the confusion about “I had been working on X and suddenly* I found that all X things were directed to Jane, which limits my ability to complete the work effectively” (* or similar phrasing implying this just happened magically and not as a result of manipulation).

        It’s not a difference between introverts and extroverts, it’s a difference between someone playing by the rules and someone ‘adjusting’ the rules to benefit primarily themselves. Making the boundaries clear will help with the situation and make it more obvious if she keeps encroaching on your turf.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, this. Frame it as “this is inefficient and we need to have a clear division of labor” and get her to agree to it, and then fill in your boss on what the plan is. And then call on it ASAP each time she moves in on your agreed-upon stuff.

      4. Pjm*

        Omg! I worked with Jane for 15 years. Seriously I could have written this same issue about my coworker. I did all the hard work while Ms. Bossy Pants took the credit and inserted herself into everything, whether it concerned her or not. She was the ultimate control freak. Looking back, I think I gave her way too much information. I wish I had said “I got it handled, thanks” rather than give her info she could use for manipulation purposes later. You must assert yourself! I was quiet too and answered her questions. You can still be professional and keep quiet whenever possible. Don’t give her any ammunition to work with if you can help it. And in meetings, you have to speak up and confront her immediately. I would say, “it sounds like you are trying to take cover my project which I am handling just fine, thanks. I’ll let you know if I need help.” Good luck!

      5. NoName*

        I work with a teammate who has similar tendencies, though they are not quite so brazen about it and don’t outright claim ownership of things that aren’t theirs. But they definitely insert themselves into everything and love being in the spotlight, and exclude people frequently and intentionally. And they demand and get a lot of resources that could be going to other projects owned by teammates.

        First, I think you have to call her on it. She does this right now because it works. Start adding barriers to her methods. “That’s my project, Jane, you can direct people to me for that.” “Jane, I was just working on that, it’s inefficient for two people to tackle it, I’m going to finish it.” I would even do it in meetings, honestly (politely, of course), even though it feels awful. You could even approach it directly with her privately, not because she’ll give you a straight answer, but to let her know she’s not going to keep getting away with it. If others mention Jane owning something you own, say “Oh, that’s a miscommunication, I’m actually handling that.”

        Do NOT try to out manipulate her–she has been doing this a long time and you will not outsmart her.

        Second, sit down with her and a manager and talk about inefficiencies and confusion. Cite projects you manage that people are going to Jane about, state that you’re not sure how the confusion is happening. Ask for clear delineations because the “up for grabs” approach is causing confusion (to others) and inefficiency. Give clear examples of the misunderstandings–and you can cite the bathroom example, because that’s pretty egregious. “I was working on this, went to the bathroom, and Jane started working on it. This seems inefficient.” And if your manager says it’s just being helpful, clarify that it’s really not–it’s more helpful to ask if someone even needs your help, it’s not so helpful to just take over something that’s in process without you knowing.”

        And honestly…is there a way you can bring this up more directly with your manager? This depends on your relationship, and it takes capital, but can you say something like, “I’m seeing a pattern here and it’s a barrier to my work, but I’m not sure if I’m misinterpreting something.”

        But to be honest, some of this won’t go away unless Jane goes away. People like that don’t really change their stripes, and their influence only lessens under the eye of a watchful manager, in my experience. I have learned to keep certain things closer to my vest than I would like to because, and only because, of this teammate. Is it possible that Jane will be your manager at some point? I would look into leaving if that happens. I also worked for a boss who worked us really hard and then took all the credit, and it’s demoralizing and not great for your career because your accomplishments don’t really get wider attention. There’s a bit more division between me and this teammate now and my job got a lot better.

        If you’re not already doing it, be very specific with your manager about what you are accomplishing, in case she’s snowing over your manager, too. If you don’t have a 1:1, set one up, and spend a fair amount of that time going over what you’ve accomplished in the last week.

        And then every time Jane takes credit for something you did, bring it up with your manager. “I noticed again that…” etc. etc. Make it about the work and clarity, not about painting Jane as a villain. But don’t let it pass by in silence, because then there’s no motivation to change her tactics. She won’t likely change, but she might realize the limits to what she can get away with and it will make your life a bit easier.

        But I love my job and this teammate is the main reason I would leave, if it came to that. You might be better off elsewhere.

    5. Autumnheart*

      The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Sad but true.

      Since this problem may well have an end date, when the actual manager starts and the two of you go back to a non-management role, then Jane may not have an opportunity to drive the narrative this way, and might even sabotage herself by trying to act like a manager when she isn’t.

      But you’ve been given a clear and resounding message on how your office culture operates. You work with a credit-stealer and ladder-climber, and it’s working for her. Even your boss is treating her like more of an authority on your work than you are. So! You could seek out some coaching or advice on how to be more of a horn-tooter for your own accomplishments, you could satisfy yourself with being seen as competent and reliable but not leadership material, you could wait for Jane to promote herself out of your immediate space so that you’re no longer being compared unfavorably to her, or you could leave and find a new job where you’re not dealing with a Jane.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      There’s also some authority in being the one doing the work assignments – the project that you’ve been working on, send regular note to the relevant people (your boss + other exec stakeholders) with tasks and progress. Start the first one with ‘here’s what the team and I have done so far (2 – 3 sentences)’ and end with ‘I will let you know continued progress.’

      Make sure you own your projects in the documentation, and that you present project updates. Practice at home, ‘Actually, I’ll be presenting updates on X project, since I’ve been managing that to date’ (cheerful tone and smile!) and ‘Thank you for the introduction Jane. The team and I have done X, Y etc’ .

      You do have to practice this kind of presentation, and owning the work. Be sincerely cheerful, appreciate Jane for what she does do, but demonstrate what you have done, both in writing and verbally.

    7. Super Dee Duper Anon*

      Oh – I totally feel you. I’ve never been in this exact situation, but when I started working I was a bit naive and just very straightforward – assuming everyone else is as well. Had to learn the hard way that I needed to look out for and protect myself first and no matter what.

      I would do whatever you can to keep Jane out of the loop on the stuff you are working on. I’m sure that’s not completely possible, but if there’s anything you can do – speak more quietly on the phone or try to speak to people in person or by email (so Jane doesn’t overhear), make sure paperwork is covered up on your desk if you step away, make sure your computer is locked when you step away. From there, be prepared (and start practicing) speaking up in person. Just friendly, matter of fact “oh, actually I’m handling that”. This might feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it.

      Another thing you can try – though this would depend Jane’s personality and your relationship – is trying to speak to her directly. I’ve had success being very matter of fact and saying something like “Hey Jane – I already started working on X”. With someone particularly prickly I’d add on some flattery – “Oh Jane, I already started X. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate currently, so I’ve got X”. Another route I’ve gone is to plead potential confusion or inconvenience, like “Hey Jane, I’m working on X. I don’t want to there to be any external confusion, so please send people to me about X” or “Hey Jane, I since I’m already working on X please send anybody with questions about it to me. I wouldn’t want you to be inconvenienced over projects I’m working on”. You could even try addressing the overall pattern with Jane if you see an opportunity to do so like “Hey Jane, you’ve started working on tasks that I had already started working on a couple of times now. Can we come up with a better way to divide up the work so that we don’t duplicate efforts?”.

      People are going to Jane because she’s making it very easy for them to do so (or she’s actively funneling them to herself), so start doing the same by being very vocal about what you’re working on. I definitely don’t think this means you’re not cut out for management, but I would take this as an opportunity to work on your assertiveness skills. If you are going to manage you’re going to need to be to advocate for your direct reports as well as deal directly with problem reports.

    8. NW Mossy*

      I can see absolutely why Jane didn’t get the job – she’s not ready. Someone who’s ready to be a manager openly acknowledges the contributions of others and recognizes that companies exist and thrive through the collective effort of many people, rather than the dominating effort of one. But enough about Jane – let’s talk about you, and how you can support yourself in getting into a management role in the future.

      One potential path is to hijack a bit of Jane’s game, because she has figured out one key point – relationships matter, especially at the managerial level. Her spotlight-stealing approach to doing it generally wouldn’t be a good fit for someone like you who leans toward letting your work speak, but there are other options! One counter-intuitive approach is to ask for small favors of colleagues and be appreciative for the help you receive. People love to feel needed and respected for their professional expertise, so it’s a good way to open the door to building a good working relationship. Once they’ve done a favor for you, they’ll think of you as someone to call on for help in return. Over time, this starts to get you on people’s mental list of good employees, rather than a good employee that gets forgotten about.

      Another approach is to consciously redirect your focus away from Jane (who is not a good role model for management) and onto leaders you like and respect. Watch how they work and behave, and look for ways you can integrate similar tactics into your day-to-day. It might mean how they treat people, how they deal with crisis, ask questions, or any number of things, but it gives you something concrete to build on to prepare yourself to make the leap.

      Also, remember that you’re getting a new boss soon. Invest in your relationship with this person. Show them what you bring to the table, and look for ways to help them further their priorities. Tell them about your aspirations and ask for their help in developing you towards them. They’re potentially a good ally for you, so cultivate that!

    9. CM*

      Ugh. It sucks because the temporary nature of the assignment means Jane currently has little incentive to cooperate with you. She doesn’t have to build something that lasts — just something that makes her look good right now.

      The fact that Jane’s a shitty work partner SHOULD have bearing on her ability to get promoted, so my advice would be to draw as much attention as possible to the fact that you are trying to create a harmonious relationship with her and she’s salting it. So, have joint project meetings where you explicitly call out the roles and who’s responsible for what in front of witnesses. If she tries to take over the meeting, call that out, too. “Jane, I feel like you’re trying to chair the meeting right now. I’m happy for you to chair meetings you call, but in a meeting I call, I expect to be the chair.” Again, in front of other people.

      If she realizes people can see her selfishness and starts cooperating, great. If not, then everybody is constantly witnessing that she’s incapable of team work.

  11. an anonymoose today*

    I work in marketing for one of the larger, more well-known agencies. They have a lot of global clients. The nature of the work means I get shifted from one client to another once the project ends.

    I really, really like my job. The money is great, the flexibility is amazing, I work with ambitious people who challenge me, the office culture is so inclusive (it’s the only company I’ve ever felt safe being queer in).

    The issue I have is that some clients I have no problem with but others I have moral or ethical issues with. Think clients on Wall Street or Big Oil. I feel so guilty working for clients who I think are horrible or who have done things that have negatively impacted the world. It really does weigh on my soul, and I feel like I’ll look difficult if I ask to switch to a different client for an ethical or political reason like disagreeing with Wall Street or Big Oil practices.

    I feel like I’m selling out by enjoying my job and working for clients who are pretty terrible, and I’ve had some of my activist friends accuse me of such. I think maybe I’ve ingested too much of the social media furor of “don’t support bad companies or you’re a bad person!” and that’s weighing me down, but I also genuinely don’t like the business practices of these companies.

    What do I do?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I mean, this is real. Everyone has to grapple with this. In my nonprofit career I had to decide how to deal with our corporate partners who were doing harm and also wanting us to help them whitewash it. Don’t dismiss the moral implications of your work, but I don’t think that means you have to quit a job you enjoy and that pays well. You could morally decide that through your work you’re going to help the companies do better, or that you will use the money you’re earning on the job to support the causes you believe in.

      1. lindsay*

        I work for a nonprofit too and we have had discussions about “do we take this person’s money.” I think there are often gray areas, but if you find that you are often taking money from companies that are the antithesis of your mission you need to reevaluate if your nonprofit is living the mission or not. I’d ask, if our clients found out we took this money how would they feel?

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          For us, it came down to – if we don’t take this money and use it for good, while acknowledging the issues with its source, what would that money be used for? Would the planet benefit from the way we plan to use this money (yes!). Where I draw the line is about how much attribution / fawning we might do over the donor. I will use dirty money for good things and sleep like a baby, but I won’t throw an awards banquet and celebrate how incredibly awesome a company is that gives .000000000000001% of their profits to something they hope will raise their profile with consumers.

    2. 1234*

      Think about it this way, are the specific people you work with on Wall St or Big Oil the ones personally contributing to harm/being unethical? They’re making a living the same way you are making a living. Don’t lump the clients with their company’s poor choices.

      1. Grace*

        This. So much this.

        My father works at an oil refinery as an analytical chemist and is pretty in-demand when it comes to conferences in his particular area. (Let’s just say that he’s planning to go into consulting some time in the next few years, and probably won’t be short on clients.) And yes, his company have got themselves into some shit over the years. Does that make him part of Big Oil? I mean, sure, probably, according to some people, including the people who accused me a few years ago of profiting from the destruction of our planet because the main wage-earner in our household was my father.

        But his main focus is reducing pollutants in fuel, particularly jet fuel, and keeping levels of pollutants and toxins below harmful levels, and working to detect even the minutest amounts and find ways to filter them out. He’s 100% behind the electric car movement, but also fully acknowledges that fuel is going to be around for a long time yet, particularly in planes, so we might as well do our best to make it as least-bad as possible. I strongly suspect that he and his lab and the conferences he attends have done more for the environment than the random slacktivist who decided to troll a teenage girl about her parents’ careers.

    3. lindsay*

      Sorry but I agree with your friends. I’m in marketing/PR for a nonprofit, and there’s a reason I don’t work for a bank or a hedge fund- I wouldn’t feel good about it. I think if you are making a living off the money of bad people, well, you’re not so great yourself. I think you should look for a job with a company that better aligns with your morals.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I don’t think someone’s a bad person, but I do think … I mean, your work is the greatest investment of your waking life, in terms of sheer volume at least. It is literally your legacy. You probably spend more waking hours on your career than you do with your spouse or kids, if you work full time. So it is important to me that that effort be for something that is not actively harming others / the planet. However, everybody has their own way to living in the world and I can respect that.

      2. an anonymoose today*

        I don’t think a comment has ever made me sob so much.

        I guess thanks for the reply, but I’m having some unhealthy thoughts right now and I think that’s enough for this thread. I regret asking this question.

        1. SR*

          Hi, I’ve never actually commented before, since lurking is my jam, but I wanted to reply. I hope you are feeling ebtter. Be kind to yourself, and understand that not everyone can be in a job that feels 100% aligned with your personal ethics. It’s a bit of a different scenario, but in my career as a lawyer I have defended people and companies who have acted in ways I personally found abhorrent, even with the enjoyment I do find in the work (arguing in court, etc.). But there was room, in these ever-grey scenarios, to conduct myself with integrity, to do the right thing, and to bring things to a fair resolution. It may be a surprise to those determined to place things in “good” and “bad” categories, but Wall Street and Big Oil companies (most, in my experience, anyway) are still interested in doing beneficial things. Most big banks, for example, want to be more green, to promote and encourage diversity, etc. Perhaps you could learn about this side of your clients, and perhaps there’s room to build on these things in your role. Living in a headspace where you say, “Oh, that’s an evil client that can only do evil things, nothing I could do for them could possibly be good” will, in my view, leave you in a bad place. Be well.

          1. Anon for This*

            I definitely agree with this. While there are people who just don’t care, a lot of times there are multiple, complex forces at work. For instance, in my experience, landlords aren’t sitting there cackling as they swim in money while they evict people. They’ve come to a point where they’ve tried to work with people, often over multiple months are simply at a point where they can’t afford to continue on with a particular tenant.

            That doesn’t mean you should be blind to the impact of the companies you support–but seeing everything as black and white isn’t always accurate either.

          2. Natalie*

            Be kind to yourself, and understand that not everyone can be in a job that feels 100% aligned with your personal ethics.

            I’d stretch this out even more and say virtually no one has a job that’s 100% aligned with their personal ethics. Can you imagine the odds of that? I don’t think it’s really achievable unless your personal ethics are basically nonexistent.

            We all have personal lines, and the rest of it you kind of have to take on a case by case basis. I wish there was an easier answer but I really don’t think there is.

          3. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

            I am a lawyer too and I was going to say that very few things are as black and white as some of the commenters are implying. Are these clients doing some things that you find admirable? Or are there some people who work at some of those places who you find interesting or admirable? Maybe in looking for and stressing those aspects of their workplaces you can even help them to do better. And, honestly, in nonprofit organizations who have the most admirable missions in the world one can find thieves, embezzlers and just plain assholes. Nothing is black and white. Take care of yourself.

          4. Clisby*

            Maybe I’m way off base, but to me, the job of a lawyer is to represent a client, to make sure the client is treated fairly under the law. The client can be the worst piece of shit on the planet, and he/she/company still should have decent legal representation.

            I live in Charleston, SC, where Dylann Roof slaughtered 9 people in a church. He was still entitled to (and got) good lawyers.

            His lawyers weren’t endorsing him or his behavior. They were standing up for the rule of law. Everybody, no matter how despicable, gets a fair trial.

          5. Pommette!*

            I’ll premise this with a caveat: I really think that many corporate social responsibility efforts put forth by banks and resource extraction companies are genuinely superficial fig leaves that only detract from the fact that at their core, those companies do harmful work. It’s possible (probable?) that this will be the case for many of the organisations that the OP works for. It’s not inappropriate to be intellectually honest about the overall effect of the companies you work with on the world.

            That said, I 100% agree with the core argument of your post (“be kind to yourself”). We live in a pretty messed up world, and there is no way to act in consistently virtuous ways. No matter where we work, in the end it is not possible to live, and eat, and house ourselves, without becoming implicated in/bolstering economic and political systems that harm people and the planet. The best we can do is try to act as well as we can as we navigate complicated and compromising situations.

            Anonymoose: I’m in a situation that is pretty much the opposite from the one you describe. I took an “ethical” job (non-profit/academic sector, dealing with a social justice cause that I care passionately about). The fact is that it’s exhausting work that eats up all of my free time, and that it is generally not fun work. The constant exhaustion and the nature of the work grind me down, and make it harder for me to be a good person. I neglect the people I love and often can’t be present when they need me. I have failed friends and relatives in ways that I can never make up for. I don’t volunteer anymore. I don’t engage in advocacy outside of my work. I get paid with money that has been donated to help people who are deeply disadvantaged, and I often feel guilty about that. Because my field is precarious, I’m also not generous with my money. I don’t donate a big percentage of my income; instead I hoard what I can because to cushion the inevitable lean times. The precarity has warped me in other ways, too: I now sometimes look at what I used to see as work that mattered, as just “income”. I feel like a sellout, and like a bad person, most of the time.

            I took my job because I cared about the mission, but also because I did not want to feel the way that Anonymoose describes feeling; I did not want to receive “dirty” money. Years later I now understand that there is no such thing as clean money in our economic system. I get paid with money that ultimately comes from donations from people working for oil and other companies, or even from genuinely bad companies trying to whitewash themselves. I spend money on lots of things that were produced unethically, or on things that are inherently harmful. Since we are on that topic: I buy gas from petroleum companies.

            I think that there is no “good” path in this world, just more or less bad ones. They all involve tradeoffs. In the end, we all have to figure out what the best way is for each of us (as idiosyncratic people with our own specific personalities, skills, social situations, needs, and weaknesses) to be as good as we can in the world as actually it is. That means being honest about the bad. But in the end it really may be that for you, Anonymoose, the better way to be a good person is to work with bad companies, in ways that make you feel invigorated, and to use your energy and money in ways you think are ethical.

        2. SR*

          I would also add that if you struggle with feeling like you are not doing enough “good” — I certainly do sometimes — you can use your professional skills outside of work. I sit on a charitable board for a community organization, and otherwise do volunteer and advocacy work. You might consider this.

        3. Orphan Brown*

          I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I realize that comment was harsh. I speak from personal experience when I say that in the end you have to do what you can stomach. How can you look at yourself in the mirror and be proud?

          I left a job in marketing after I worked on a project helping internal employees to feel better about their work because their product was shown to be killing people and they were feeling demoralized. I then met someone whose family member had been killed by said product. I quit soon after and am now in a “social good” field using my relevant skills. I am not making as much money.

          It’s a tough decision and I think about going back to my old field, but I would 100% vet their client list and then ask them if they have any guiding principles for how they take on new clients.

          Good luck with it all and I hope you can find some mental peace with it, whatever you decide.

        4. Meh*

          Ignore the “moral paragons.” Look, chances are you’re going to have to associate with people who are less than savory (intentionally or not) no matter what. If you’re doing a good job, people from all walks of life (including unsavory ones) will want to work with you. Don’t hold yourself responsible for what other people do. Should a toilet paper company be ashamed that they sell toilet paper to prisons for murderers and rapists to use?
          Granted, if you decide that you want to work somewhere else because you personally don’t like the clients/work/whatever, that’s your choice. But don’t do it out of guilt from your activist friends because matter how “pure” you try to be, it’ll never be enough. If your friends are giving you crap for having a good job that you enjoy because they don’t like who you work with, that’s their problem, not yours.
          Long story short, make a choice, but make it YOUR choice, based on what makes YOU happy, not what makes your activist friends happy. Take care of yourself.

        5. lindsay*

          I’m sorry my comment hurt you – I think you’re actually doing the absolute right thing by even thinking about this and asking the question shows that you ARE a good person, and I should have highlighted that in my original comment. I do think that we have to make choices in life, and if you’re able to work your way towards aligning your career with your personal morals you should do that. Certainly you need to make a living and keep a roof over your head! There are also other ways people find to do things that make them feel good even if their jobs don’t. Maybe you can spend time volunteering with an organization that helps with eviction prevention to balance out a little bit of the big banks, or with an environmental group to help balance out big oil. It’s certainly not your job to fix all they do wrong, but it might help you feel better! Again, I’m sorry for making you feel so bad about yourself- it wasn’t my intention.

        6. PegLeg*

          I work at a company that most socially conscious people would think is doing great work, but at the end of the day, it is still a business and revenue still drives every decision. There have been many articles recently about Planned Parenthood providing lousy maternity and health benefits for their employees. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we are all just trying to make a living, and there is no perfect company. If you are enjoying your work and work environment, that is worth a lot. Having a socially conscious mindset does not have to be a vow of poverty, and doesn’t mean you have to jump ship every time your workplace does something you disagree with. You can offset the “bad” by donations, volunteering, bringing awareness to causes you care about, but you also can earn a living. NONE OF THAT MAKES YOU A BAD PERSON! The fact that you are even engaging this line of thinking proves otherwise! :)

        7. Kat in VA*

          Ah jeez. My parent company makes missiles, rockets, and bombs. That doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me a person whose salary is dependent upon a parent company that makes missiles, rockets, and bombs.

          Lindsay’s comment was harsh and shitty – and undeserved.

        8. ten-four*

          Well hold on – your company has lots of clients and there’s a small subset you do not want to work on for ethical reasons, yes? Many people in this situation ask that they not be assigned to individual clients, and depending on your status in the company you can make that anywhere on the scale from “I’d prefer not to but I will if there are no other options” to “absolutely not; I refuse.”

          Some anecdata on this:
          – My husband is currently at a consultancy and refuses to work with 2 companies that are big clients of theirs. He’s in a class of seniority that the company is working hard to keep (people at his level keep quitting) so he doesn’t have to work on those clients.
          – In my very first job out of college I worked on a lot of accounts, and I noted that I’d really prefer to be on X rather than Y. I didn’t refuse X, but I was put on Y and not on X.

          And for what it’s worth, later on at a consultancy I worked for a Deeply Hated retailer on a branch of work that was in itself Very Good. A lot of folks in my circle profoundly disagreed with my choice to do that work, but I still believe it was the right thing to do.

          I agree with folks that there are plenty of shades of gray in work, but I think you can square the circle at your current job rather than quitting and going on a Quest for a Morally Pure Company.

      3. Anon today and tomorrow*

        I think you’re being unnecessarily cruel by calling OP a bad person for taking a job. They’re not the ones making decisions at a hedge fund. I think anyone already worried about the moral implications shows they’re not a bad person.

        I think there’s this sense in non-profit work that they’re morally better than corporations, but there’s some bad people in nonprofits.

        Plus, it’s a big privilege to be able to choose to work for a company that aligns with your morals. By your comment, do you think everyone trying to survive on paychecks working at Chick-fil-a are bad people because it’s a homophobic company? When they just need a job to keep the lights on or put food on the table?

        It’s not a black and white issue and this work somewhere that aligns with your morals mentality is harmful to so many people. Most people don’t have that choice.

        1. lindsay*

          I agree that asking that question shows they aren’t a bad person. I should’ve couched my earlier response better. Of course we all have to work and make a living, but by asking the question OP is saying they do have some control over where they work. I’d work at Chick-fil-A if I had literally no other choice, but as a person with a lot of fast food eating options I’ve never been to a Chick-fil-A because I don’t agree with their homophobia. That said, we all pick and choose. I know Amazon isn’t the greatest at taking care of their customers and I still shop there. We all have to decide where we draw our lines. For me, my job, where I spend so much time and energy is a place I would do that.

        2. Pommette!*

          That’s a misleading comparison. Doing line or cashier work at Chick-fil-a isn’t the same thing as designing ad campaigns for the same company. The people doing the former have fewer and worse options, and the impact that their work has on the company’s profitability is much, much less direct and much, much less important.

          I agree that it’s not a black and white issue, and that it’s not one that we can all navigate with the same (or sometimes any) freedom. Lots of good people work for bad companies. But yeah, the impact and implications of our work matter, and are things that everyone should think about seriously! The questions that Anonymoose is asking herself are important and worth considering.

      4. asher*

        This is harsh, but you’re not wrong. I don’t think I could do work I didn’t feel matched my ethics. Seems like dirty money to me.

      5. Susie Q*

        I also enjoy a bit of moral grandstanding.

        Not everyone has the option or ability to work for an organization that highly aligns with personal morals. The vast majority of people just need a job with decent benefits and pay. It’s great that you’ve been able to find a job that aligns with your morals but it’s not easy for everyone. So maybe get off your high horse and show some empathy to people just trying to survive.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Options include:

      – Quit.
      – Tithe to charities that you feel would offset your participation in Wall Street and Big Oil.
      – Live frugally while maxxing out your bonus/overtime income so that you can quit and/or tithe more.
      – Engage in some kind of low-key but effective sabotage on the Wall Street and Big Oil accounts.
      – Network like a demon and look for a job where you won’t be working for those types of clients.
      – Generate your own book of business and start your own agency.

      Some of these are not mutually exclusive.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        – use what you’ve learned working on these high profile accounts to turn around and boost accounts that need your expertise (like nonprofits) – the pro bono model of corporate lawyers.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Speaking of corporate lawyers, it can also be a good idea to avoid lifestyle creep: getting used to the kind of income that comes with doing work for Wall Street and Big Oil, and then donning one’s own “golden handcuffs” by increasing one’s lifestyle expenses to match. It’s a tale as old as time that young people enter law school wanting to save the earth and the orphans and subvert the dominant paradigm, but their Biglaw salaries tempt them to buy upscale houses and cars and club memberships that don’t allow them to devote time, money, or expertise to the causes they believe in.

      2. mobuy*

        “– Engage in some kind of low-key but effective sabotage on the Wall Street and Big Oil accounts.”

        Yeah, because that wouldn’t make you a bad, unethical person at all. Hypocrite.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          The world is screaming toward climate apocalypse due to the actions of Wall Street and Big Oil and the government status quo that supports them, but, no, direct action promoting human rights over property interests isn’t for everybody. To each their own.

          1. mobuy*

            an anonymoose wrote in trying to feel better and more ethical. You suggest she sabotages companies. I don’t think criminal and unethical actions are the right way to feel more ethical. If you do, well, I guess we can agree to disagree.

      3. mechabear*

        Legitimate question, what would ” low-key but effective sabotage on the Wall Street and Big Oil accounts” even look like?

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          I’m not in advertising, but things that come to my mind are:

          – Add delays and expense to the projects: work slowly, “require” extensions of time, even blow a deadline here and there, if it will adversely affect the client’s schedule and can be done without hurting one’s own reputation or pay.
          – Submit less than top-notch work, work that fails to meet the specs exactly so it needs to be modified, work that legal will take extra time to approve (say, due to intellectual property issues), or work that can “inadvertently” deliver a secondary message, again with the same caveat about reputation/pay.
          – Overbill (by padding your hours, overcharging for materials and travel, etc.).
          – Cause or allow to happen an “accidental” catastrophic loss of materials or data that hasn’t been backed up.
          – Leak documents to competition, media, etc.
          – Whistleblow to EPA, SEC, DoJ, etc.

          Direct action is risky. Obviously, you can get disciplined, fired, sued, or charged, and maybe you’ll never be able to work in that industry again. Following this comment with a link to the CIA’s (formerly OSS) manual for sabotage during the Second World War.

    5. Iris Eyes*

      With corporations morality most often comes in shades of gray.

      If you don’t have any option but to do what you are assigned then maybe see if there is a silver lining to the company. Think about what the entire world would be without them. Yes there are lots of problems with Big Oil but would we be where we are now without them? In a nation where rural areas are dying oil and gas jobs and royalties often provide the best income opportunities. What have their dirty oil profits enabled them to do in the R&D departments, how has that benefited you?

      Wall Street has some absolutely terrible practices BUT the stock market is one of the primary ways for individuals have to change their economic situation. Because of the infrastructure that Wall Street provides people can buy themselves an income that has nothing to do with their employers enabling them to take control of their lives in important ways. The debt that Wall Street facilitates has been leveraged for lots of good for companies you do believe in.

      Just like humans, maybe we shouldn’t judge them entirely by the worst they do, but see the good they are capable of and push them toward that.

    6. anon for this*

      [Going anon because I think someone could link my real identity to my usual handle and I don’t want my company linked to it.]

      This is something I have some mixed feelings about in regards to my own work. I’m a property manager (not the hellmouth person, FWIW). That means that sometimes, I do evictions, have to tell people that we’re not renewing their lease, etc.

      The reality is that a lot of that is systematic—a person legitimately can’t afford their rent, even at the cheaper complexes that we manage. There are also bigger questions in play. It makes sense that landlords will be leery about renting to people who have committed serious crimes, because they want their property to be safe for all occupants. But on a social level, that means that anyone with a felony tends to only be able to rent from a few really rough properties, with other people who have similar records. And that isn’t likely to be all that conducive to helping people make different decisions in the future.

      On the flip side, the problem is that (especially in the more affordable range), there isn’t actually a huge profit margin, and 1-2 units that aren’t able to pay rent can mean the property is going to have trouble paying their bills. And other tenants should have a place that’s quiet, safe, and comfortable. So, it’s kind of hard to see any other way to run an apartment complex.

      For me, where I’m at is considering a few things:

      1. What are my ‘hard lines’? For me, I won’t work for any customer who wants to do things illegally. (There are a lot of illegal things that happen all the time in property management and that are pretty common and accepted.) We do our best to do everything by the book.

      2. Given that this job WILL be done by someone, is it better for me to do it than for someone else to do it? For me, this is a big one. I’m incredibly imperfect, but I at least believe that things like unconscious bias exist and can *try* to reduce the effect, as well as encouraging our landlords to accept aid vouchers (e.g. Section 8).

      3. What can I do to make the world better? For me, that means that since taking this job, I try to support housing support organizations in my community. I also think that sometimes, we can get too focused on the big picture and not enough on small things, like trying to be patient and courteous to others.

      In your own example, I can’t solve it for you, but it might help you to think through similar things. For instance, are there some customers you’re just not willing to work for (e.g. cigarette companies), but others that are more borderline that you would be willing to do work for? Are there opportunities in working for these clients to do some actual good? Are there ways that you can try and make the world a better place?

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        “is it better for me to do it than for someone else to do it?” – this is real. I have friends who started in the enviro field and ended up working for big corporations helping them skirt regulations or stay JUST on the legal side. But they feel that if they left, they would be replaced by someone who would do worse, and they’d rather try to be a moral voice. There are many different ways to make peace with your work, but you still have to earnestly put in mental time to figure out your boundaries and make that peace. You can’t skip it.

        1. Anon for This*

          I also personally believe that if there’s a time when I find it doesn’t bother me any more, that’s my sign to get out. You have to find some balance between silencing your morality and letting it eat you alive, and that’s not always an easy balancing act.

      2. Anonforthis*

        I hear you. I work in HR, which means that sometimes I have to do things that suck, like firing people. I’m very fortunate that I now work for a company that is very ethical and involved in an industry I morally support (biotech/medical). I have worked in other places where I’ve been asked to do things that I didn’t agree with and thought were wrong (for example, firing a pregnant employee on a pretext because the company didn’t want to pay for her leave). In those cases, I would explain to my manager why I didn’t agree with the course of action being proposed, and ask if there was some kind of alternative. If there wasn’t, I’d ask to be recused from that particular action. It was only ever a problem once, and I left that company shortly afterwards.

    7. Plain Jane*

      I know the bell has been rung, but if your activist friends know about your clients because you told them, realize you don’t have to share that with them going forward.

    8. Public Defender*

      I changed the name to better explain where I am coming from.

      Yes, I am a Public Defender. When I went to law school, that was the one job I thought I could never do “because you get these horrible clients and you can’t turn them away.” After interning for 3 semesters with a prosecutor’s office, I got a better perception of defendants. Yes, some of them do really horrible things; most do not.

      After I passed the bar, I got a fellowship with a Public Defender’s Office. I figured I would use that short-term job to see if I could really do the job. About a week after I started, I talked to a friend of mine’s mother, who is a paralegal for a firm that does insurance defense. She said “I suspect your clients and mine are like this.” (crossing her fingers). I chuckled and said “they may be slimeballs. But they are my slimeballs, and they are still human beings, and they still have rights.”

      That is the mindset I carry into my work. Yes, my clients (like yours) have done some really bad things. But that isn’t the end-all, be-all. Wall Street/Big Oil are not a faceless, amorphous “they.” There are people there, who are trying to do what they can.

      I don’t get to pick my clients; you don’t get to pick yours. But what both of us can do is stand up and do the best job we can – even for people/entities we don’t personally like. Take it as a point of pride that you can still be professional, regardless of the circumstance.

    9. Gloucesterina*

      I think you need a network of mentors (or mentors + therapist), if you don’t already have one, to support you in thinking through these questions. I don’t think an internet forum can do the necessary intellectual and/or therapeutic work involved.

    10. Natalie*

      I don’t think there’s one right answer to this question. It’s something people continually grapple with throughout their careers. What I can promise you is that there’s no purely perfect option for you out there – even the seemingly safe nonprofit world comes with compromises. I work for a reproductive health org that has a lot of leftist cred, but we still have to do things that don’t match up with radical principles because we exist in society as it currently is.

      If you decide these particular companies are your lines in the sand, that’s okay. You may end up making some sacrifices to live that principle, and that’s to be expected. But it’s also okay if you decide these particular clients are not your hill to die on. Everyone, including your activist friends and Loud People on Twitter, routinely makes choices like this. (As though the giant social media companies where most of this slactivism happens are paragons of virtue. Pfft.)

      And if your friends can’t have a conversation with you, even a difficult one, without being mean, maybe they are crappy friends?

    11. drogon's kitchen table*

      I totally get this. I’m an information professional and I used to work in the pharma. After years, I started feeling sick over it so I left…for a job in advertising (ha!) Sometimes I end up doing research for a client/prospect that feels icky. I guess it’s different for me because I cover all clients and new business pitches so I get to move on to something more pleasant quickly, rather than being stuck on an account long term.

      Anyway, as for the friends, I think it’s fair to thank them for their input and say that you’re not interested in discussing it further. It’s unreasonable for friends to treat you that way. As for your personal feelings, perhaps you could look at volunteering to help people impacted by the practices of the offending companies. It might look bad to go the actual activist route, but if you’re working with a big oil client, volunteer with an environmental group, etc.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      It’s interesting to look at socially responsible investing. If you read enough, you start realizing that it’s impossible to find a company that behaves in a totally socially responsible manner.
      Investors are advised to pick the actions/causes that they support the most and invest their dollars in companies who are aligned with the investor’s own values.

      For the moment, stay off the social media that is lecturing people on how bad they are. This is not helping you and you need space in your brain to sort your own thoughts on things. But then actually do that, actually sort out your thoughts. What does social responsibility look like to you? Is in environmental? Is it the human side? What do you place the highest value on?

      As far as your activist friends, why not ask them for suggestions of good employers? Throw the ball back at them. One thing about activism that I think that needs to change, is that it takes very little talent to say what is wrong. The real talent is in figuring out how to fix it. So ask your activist friends to make viable suggestions on what you should do. Tell them you will listen to well-thought out ideas on potential solutions to your quandary.

      Your friends will either start bringing you good suggestions OR they may stop trying to preach at you if they know you are going to expect them to DO something.

      I have had my own mini-version of where you are with your job. For me, it eventually worked into a bigger deal where I could not live with myself and I had to get out. For your own satisfaction, looking around for what you might do next could be wise, in anticipation that one day you might say, “ENOUGH! Done here!”

    13. Yoda*

      OP, Get rid of those friends or stop discussing work with them! If you enjoy the work, continue doing it with enjoyment! Analyze what’s good about your work and what’s bad! If you enjoy the kind of work you are doing, no point in feeling bad that you have to work with some clients whose politics or ethics you don’t agree with. Just because you work with them, doesn’t mean your politics or ethics are bad. Maybe when you are in a position to choose your own clients, then choose who fits within your ethics.

      And please stop caring about the opinions of others, who moral-policed you. If they see which companies make products they eat, clothes they wear and products they use… they’ll find most of these corporate companies whose products we consume everyday needs are all violating some basic human right or other.

    14. NoOneInvitesTheSafetyOfficerToParties*

      I work with a lot of clients with mental illness. Many of my clients also have substance abuse disorders, and addiction can turn the kindest, sweetest, most generous people into selfish human beings desperate for their next fix at no matter the cost to relationships, society, or even innocent lives.

      But clients should not be defined just by their problems, or the damage they may be creating. People are influenced by many interpersonal relationships, and sometimes, just being a stone in the pond – that little ripple – is enough to foster positive change. If someone like you, who cares, never make any contact with the people in these companies and avoided them to keep your morals utterly pure, how can anyone expect the people at these companies to change themselves, and then change company policies?

      1. Pommette!*

        Anonymoose’s dilemma might differ from yours, though, in two small but important ways:

        1-Her clients are corporations, not people. Lots of genuinely harmful corporations employ kind, thoughtful, well-meaning employees. By law, pubic corporations’ decision-making is ultimately driven by the duty to make as much money as possible for investors. That’s it, and if often means acting in ways that harm people or the environment. Employees don’t have the power to change that, no matter how good or well-intentioned they are.

        2- It’s not about working with clients who she feels are “bad” or with clients she knows to have acted in ways that have caused harm to others. It’s about whether or not her work will enable those clients to act in harmful ways – ie about whether or not her work will itself cause harm.

        In either case, like you, I have a lot of sympathy for the OP. She is dealing with a complicated dilemma for which will not be a single obvious “good” solution.

    15. Lynn Whitehat*

      I get it. My day job is in security software. Everyone wants secure systems, even the bad guys. I’m also active enough in local politics to be called “an activist” in the local newspaper, so I guess I am one. There are few bright lines, few obvious “good guys” and “bad guys”.

      1) I would never tell someone they need to quit their job. We all have to make our own choices between what we know how to do, what pays the bills, and what we can live with.

      2) There are few absolutes. Almost everything is owned by terrible people! Yet we all have to eat, and mostly that means we have to work.

      3) I have found peace by deciding that I am making the world better by making it more secure. Some of our customers are just THE WORST, but on the whole I think I am doing more good by keeping everyone safe(r) than harm because the “bad guys” are secure too. Is marketing like that for you?

      4) A lot of people who want to do good are hamstrung by lack of $$$. As long as I have this remunerative job, I have money to contribute to good causes. I find peace in that.

      Good luck.

    16. quirkypants*

      I haven’t read the rest of that thread but I ended up leaving agency life because I couldn’t with good conscious talk about working for a client I thought was doing shitty things in the world.

      I didn’t concern myself with what my friends thought, I concerned myself with my own opinions and what I was comfortable with. Only you can make that call. The fact that you’re asking this question tells me something isn’t sitting right. Is it your friends or your career? Or something else?

      You gotta dig deep either way, once you decide you don’t need to quit or ditch your friends asap but something is going to have to give. Take your time as you decide what that is.

      Good luck

    17. PetticoatsandPincushions*

      I have a relative who is a huge environmentalist, and recently took a job working with an oil company. People are so confused! But his position is essentially harm reduction- making sure what does get done is done in the safest way and with the smallest possible environmental footprint. So yes, the company itself may not align with his moral values, but his job is really to keep in check what is, at least for the forseeable future, something that’s not going away any time soon. Can you find that moral value for yourself in your work by figuring out a way to support the things you value in a company or reduce the harm caused by what you don’t?

    18. BelleMorte*

      I hope you are feeling better today. People all work in companies that have grey areas, nothing is completely innocent or immune to negative areas. I work in government, and while I feel good about contributing to civil service, people have commented when I work for a party in power that they don’t like and feel I should quit rather than support their administration. Obviously this doesn’t make sense, and someone needs to do these jobs!

      Then people who complain about wall street, banks, big oil, big pharma.. are they immune to the damages as consumers? Do they drive internal combustion vehicles, do they use technological devices, or live in homes that have been created as a result of resource extraction? Do they eat only locally/self grown food? All of this supports big oil, big pharma, wall streets, banks, as much as we don’t like it, the reality is people depend on those companies. Could they be run a bit more ethically, sure, but it doesn’t stop people from purchasing their services while complaining about the people that work there.

      No one is morally immune to the negative side of consumerism. While you may feel bad about it, it’s not something that is limited to you. Like others have said, try to limit your interactions, look at other potential jobs or fields if that appeals to you, but every job has a negative side that contributes to the world we live in.

  12. Leah*

    So I made a small but major mistake, and now I don’t know what to do.

    I applied to an internal job opportunity in my company yesterday, but when I got home to read my cover letter to my mom I noticed I submitted it with the title of the job slightly incorrect. The job is called “IT Specialist” and I wrote down, both in the title of the file and twice in my cover letter, “IT Support”. I spent three days writing this cover letter… I have no idea how I let this detail pass through the cracks and now I’m mortified. I blame my ADHD, especially because I was anxious about writing a darn good cover letter for this really amazing job, which I think I achieved, but now I’m worried that no matter how good the cover letter is it’ll be overlooked because of this mistake. It’s a small one, granted – the job is basically that of a specialized IT support, which is why I made this mistake and I know it – but I’m worried what the hiring manager will interpret when, of all the things I got wrong, I went and missed the JOB TITLE. I’m mad at myself for screwing up something so simple. I tried going to the portal to try and replace the cover letter file, but my only option is to review my application, not edit it in any way.

    Am I overthinking this or do you guys agree that this is this going to harm me in the hiring process? I have direct contact with the hiring manager via Skype for Business, and I even messaged him on monday just to let him know I was throwing my hat in the ring, and he seemed excited about my interested in the job and told me he looked forward to reviewing my application. Should I message him today to apologize for the mistake and send him the correct cover letter before he gets a chance to read the wrong one?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Ooh, tough call. If it were me I probably would send the corrected copy, apologizing ONCE without making a huge deal of it, because there’s a good chance this is an error they would actually notice (as opposed to one they might not, and you’d be calling more attention to the error by pointing it out).

    2. JokersandRogues*

      I think you’re overthinking a bit. It’s possible they’ll notice but I really doubt it weighs heavily at all . It’s possible they won’t even notice. I wouldn’t apologize and re-send; it just calls overt attention to something really minor.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I agree, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Especially since it’s an internal application, you aren’t an unknown entity where something minor like that would make them throw your candidacy out. Plus it’s possible that if they even do notice the inconsistency, the two titles are close enough that they might think someone told you a different title or that different people are calling something else.

        When I applied for my current job, it was called the chocolate tea services manager – the recruiter called it that, my offer letter listed it as that, etc, and yet everyone at the company actually calls it a chocolate tea sets manager. It’s the same thing, just different people called it something different, it happens.

        I can totally understand your concerns, and you sound pretty early in your career (no judgement, I would totally have freaked out over something like this too), but you’ll learn that for the most part, job applications aren’t the SATs, where they tell you that if you fill out a bubble just a little bit wrong you’ll ruin everything. (Some places ARE like that, but they usually have bigger problems that go hand in hand with rigid applications.)

        1. curly sue*

          I did something very similar last year! I’m an adjunct and have to reapply for my own classes every year, with a CV and cover letter for each one. This past year we changed a pile of course numbers around and I ended up sending in cover letters for the right class names but the wrong course codes – not the old ones, not the new ones, but some unholy mish-mash of the two that I’d somehow managed to miss while proofreading.

          I did email the admin who was handling applications with a ‘mea culpa’ and she shrugged it off completely (I didn’t resubmit or correct anything, and yes, I got the courses). I think there’s a lot more leeway for internal candidates and known quantities than for someone new, and I wouldn’t go out of your way to do anything about it now.

        2. Leah*

          No judgement taken! I’m not super early in my career, per se – I’ve been working IT for almost seven years now – but I am relatively young (mid 20s) and I’ve trying almost desperately for the past two and a half years or so to relocate and/or to move up the ladder professionally. I posted in a Friday Open Thread a while ago about how my job is way below what I feel my current professional level is, and that to get to my office I have to power through several hours of commute every day. A relocation would not only mean a huge improvement in my life style but it would also mean a huge improvement in my parent’s, because I could send them enough money to pay their rent (our local currency is very devalued right now) and help them buy a car (my dad’s knees are Bad with a capital B and a car would help him and my mom SO MUCH). So for these reasons, plus several others, this is a huge opportunity for me, and I wanted it all to be perfect so I could have a good shot at it – I know I’m at a slight (big) disadvantage for not having some of the requirements they listed, and obviously because I live in a different continent.

          But I’m glad I posted here before I bit the bullet and message the manager; I’m gonna follow everyone’s advice and wait. I’m going to let my boss know that I applied as soon as he’s back from vacations next monday and see where it goes. And keep reading AAM to prepare for an eventual interview! Fingers crossed!

          Thank you all so much :)

          1. A Simple Narwhal*

            Good luck with everything! It’s easy to get panicky about small things when you see a potential job as the key to fixing everything in your life, and I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there, done that, felt silly in hindsight. Not to devalue what this job could mean, it certainly sounds like it would make a huge difference for you, but even the tiniest mistake feels massive if it means it could jeopardize YOUR ONE AND ONLY SHOT AT TRUE HAPPINESS. ;-)

            Good luck, I’m rooting for you!

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        I agree with JnR, you’re over thinking. Don’t re-send, ‘Specialist’ to ‘Support’ is pretty minor. Now, if you’d sent ‘Specieist’ or ‘Sapper’, then you’d want to correct / resend.

      3. Mellow*

        I understand your angst, but one solace here is that you made the same error consistently. If I were doing the hiring, and I even noticed it, I’d rather see a consistent error throughout the application than a correct job title alongside an incorrect title; too wonky. I might think “Wait – was it called that and it got changed somehow?” or something along those lines. It may even be called that colloquially within the department to which you’ve applied, and that colloquialism somehow got back to you – is another logic of forgiveness here.

        I’d say that if you don’t get interviewed, that it’s something else and not that. On that note, please update us if you do get the position. It’d be nice to hear of your victory!

        1. Leah*

          I will! I have a good feeling about this job, and I hope it’s not just wishful thinking :) I read my cover letter to two other people yesterday, and both said it’s pretty darn amazing, so I’m glad! Gonna look at some flats for rent around the UK throughout the week to keep the positive energy around the job flowing lol

    3. Lilysparrow*

      Leave it. There’s no upside.

      If they care, the damage is already done. The apology won’t help, it will just be awkward.

      If they didn’t notice, it would make them notice.

      If they don’t care, it just makes you look out of touch with their priorities because you are making a thing of it.

      Keep applying and put it out of your mind. If they call it can be a nice surprise.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        I’d think differently, by the way, if it were a substantial error like a typo that misrepresented your years of experience, something like that.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I defer to the majority! I just though the job title sounded significantly different – like the difference between “assistant” and “manager” – and that it would be noticeable to the hiring manager. Those in the field may know better esp if those titles are basically interchangeable.

          1. Leah*

            Usually an IT specialist is like a higher level of IT support. It kinda implies that you do support, but you also don’t do just that, and that you’re also at a higher level of support; it’s like the difference between a supervisor and a manager, I guess. In both cases you’re in charge of people, but the roles have different levels of responsibilities and weight to them.

    4. MissGirl*

      My vote is keep it quiet. If you mention it, you risk calling out attention to it and making it a bigger deal than it is. And it’s not a big deal. I sat on an interview with a candidate who walked in and immediately apologized for something he’d done wrong in his application materials. It shifted the tone of the interview, and he actually hadn’t done anything wrong.

      In my senior year of college while I was job hunting, I hastily added in a line to my resume before going to a networking event. At the event I noticed a glaring error in the first line of my resume (“a editor” versus “an editor”). I met someone who knew someone hiring an ASSISTANT EDITOR. She asked for my resume, which I handed over but I told her I’d send her an updated one that night without mentioning the error.

      She sent it off to her contact before I could send her a fixed one. I immediately wrote the job off, but they contacted me a few months later for an interview. When I sat across from then, I noticed the damning resume. I handed over a correct one and simply said, “Here’s an updated version.” I got the job!!

      *Final note. The woman I met at the event went on and on about typos in resumes, and how if she sees one she immediately discards it.

    5. PegLeg*

      I would leave it as is and not call attention to it. In the same way you overlooked it numerous times, I would bet they also read it as what they expect it to say instead of getting caught up in that tiny of a detail. The hiring manager was excited you are applying, that alone says to me you will probably be starting with a leg up. Also take this as a lesson in the future to send application materials to someone for proofreading before submitting! :)

      1. Leah*

        I actually did have people proofread it, I sent it to my sister and my best friend! But I’m pretty sure I didn’t go further than “I’m applying for a job that’s so-and-so”, so they wouldn’t catch the job title error either. My best friend, who’s from England (my first language isn’t English) said it was really good, and suggested a few minor grammatical changes, and my sister said she loved it and that she’d hire me lol. Fingers crossed the hiring manager at least interviews me!

  13. K8 M*

    I have a coworker who comes in every single morning and asks “Is it nap time yet?” It’s so irritating to me. I am senior to him by far, but I’m not his boss. I’ve tried not responding, and responding in a way that indicates I’m not interested- but he’s not taking hints. Is it OK to just tell him to stop? How?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      “You know, you say that to me every day, I’m not sure how you think I’m going to respond differently. Can I ask you to stop?” But I’d probably just shrug it off if it were me TBH. This sounds like a super short interaction. “Haha I wish!” – go back to work.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, one of my coworkers ALWAYS on Thursday morning says “Happy Friday eve!” and on Friday morning “Happy Friday!” in this weird peppy voice and honestly I find it super irritating but she’s great otherwise so I just say “Haha yeah!” or whatever and then we move on. It’s not worth upsetting her over what is like a ten second interaction at most.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I mentally substitute these types of exchanges for “I acknowledge you, fellow human!”

        2. K8 M*

          It would be less irritating if it were a variation on a theme even. It’s the constant repetition that really grates my gears.

          1. Squeeble*

            Is he saying it to you directly, or is it more of a general statement to the room? Because especially if it’s the latter, I think you can just politely ignore it or pretend you didn’t hear it.

            I have a colleague who nearly always responds to “how are you?” with a weary “I’m here.” Sigh.

    2. Kasia*

      I have a coworker who, when asked “how are you?” responds with ” F and D! Fine and dandy!” Every.single.time. It drove me bonkers.

      The only thing that helped was leaving that office. You have my sympathies

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I’m that coworker but I at least switch it up between “Is it nap time?” “Is it 5 o’clock?” “Is it Friday?” “I don’t wanna” “I need a nap” etc…

      1. Mellow*

        I can relate! I’m the “Sure is gonna be a hot/cold/windy/rainy one today!” coworker. Fair warning.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      It’s his version of “I acknowledge you, fellow human with whom I have a genial relationship” – so if there isn’t anything problematic I’d tend to see it in those terms and see it as a quirk… if it’s really too irritating, then you could ask nicely not to say it, but it does run the risk of alienating him.

      If relationship otherwise is good? I’d let it go.

    5. Aud*

      I have a coworker who asks, “Why is it not Friday yet?” At 8:15 on Monday. I started using the silly response, “Because we are unfortunately doomed to experience time in a linnear manner.” I used that response every single time, and after a few weeks she stopped asking. I think it was goofy enough that it stood out as repetitive and SHE got bored with the interaction.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      I can’t imagine making a crack like that to a senior colleague first thing in the morning. After a long meeting, a stressful deadline, working overtime, sure. But walking in the door? Not a good look.

      I’ve had jobs where the senior people would have responded with something like, “If you’d rather be napping than working, I’m sure that can be arranged.” Or flat-out, “No, it’s time to get some work done, Wakeen.”

      I probably wouldn’t be quite that sour myself. But it might get to that point if it was irritating enough.

    7. Angwyshaunce*

      That sounds annoying, but it could be worse. We have a co-worker who literally takes a 2 hour nap in his car every day.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      “Nope, you missed it! Naptime ended at 5:30am.”

      Otherwise, I don’t think I’d bother unless this was happening in a customer/client-facing area.

    9. LunaLena*

      “Uh oh, someone’s got a case of the Mondays!”

      Whenever I have a co-worker like that, I just mentally substitute that Office Space scene, which usually leads to remembering something else I found amusing, and so on down the rabbit hole until I eventually forget what even started that train of thought.

    10. Garland not Andrews*

      Possibly, the next time just say “Dude, that horse is soooo dead it’s rotting, can you leave off already?” Said in totally eye rolling tone of voice. You are putting on him the fact that he is being annoying and ridiculous in a totally childish (bratty little brother) way.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d be hard pressed not to say “Once was funny”… and let it hang there in the air while he senses the awkward ness.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      “Coirker, we are all tired. I find that mention of rest/naps only makes me more tired. Stop dwelling on naps.”
      “Yes, it’s time for your nap. Go home take your nap and stop asking us that.”
      “Not for me. *I* am here to work.”
      ” You say that every day. I will not be answering that question any more.”

  14. Fake it til you Make it*

    How do you work through a last month or two of your employment when you’re totally burned out, have put in notice, and the workplace is super toxic? I work in a human services field, and am in a situation that is really not good (of no fault of my own according to just about everyone).

    1. Kathenus*

      You remember that how you finish out your time there will reflect on you as a professional, not just now but potentially in the future via references, contact between people at current job and others in the field, and your own sense of wanting to do well in your work regardless of the circumstances. You don’t want the reputation of being that person who checked out during their notice period, because that’s the last impression people there have of you and it could come back to haunt you later. And, every day especially when it gets tough, you remember that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and that you’re almost on to something better. Good luck.

    2. Utoh!*

      Can you call in sick a couple of days, or take some PTO so you aren’t there as much during your last couple of months? I’m curious why you gave them so much notice instead of just two weeks? Can you leave sooner especially due to the toxic environment?

      1. Fake it til you Make it*

        Because of my position, I have to give a larger chunk of time. I also have to complete the notice period to get my sick time/PTO out/Insurance payouts. :(

    3. Anona*

      Can you give yourself little rewards? Things like creating a paper chain at home with each of your days left, and taking one off. Or treating yourself to lunch once a week or getting really yummy lunch ingredients if you bring your lunch. Or planning really good self care days for the weekends. Or listening to a really fun new podcast on the way to/from work. If you have any sick days left, taking one for a mental health day, or scheduling a few doctor’s appointments through the end of your time there, to give you a good break. Same with vacation days– planning and spreading out a few between now and the end of your work.

      You just have to get through it! You’re almost there!

    4. Hillary*

      it’s ok to slack. finish your minimum requirements, focus on your clients if you have them, but also give yourself space to breathe.

      1. Finally Back In A 'Proper Job'*

        Man – I’ve been there! I had to give three months notice in a work environment that caused mental and physical health problems I am still dealing with a year later!

        I agree with Kathenus. I was soooooo close to just walking TF outta there on more than one occasion but I really wanted to leave with dignity, knowing I had done the right thing. I did a few things:

        – I focussed on the positive impact I could make for those within the company who weren’t monsters. E.G. If I finish project X well, then so-and-so will find Y better. Those little things were like my little ‘legacy’.
        – I made a list of everything I had to finish or handover and just forced myself to work systematically through it. Every time I crossed something off, I felt amazing!
        – I was VERY public about not taking on ANYTHING over an above what I had on that list.
        – I worked only the exact hours I had to (and occasionally took a longer lunch break than I should have).
        – I made sure I spent as much time as I could with the not-monster people and actively avoided (to the point of almost rudeness) the monsters.
        – Like Anona suggests, I scheduled in weekly treats (massage, yummy meal, seeing a friend etc).

        In the end, the time passed quickly enough.

        My biggest advice is though to make sure you take as much time as finances allow after you finally get out. I had 2 months and it wasn’t enough. Focus completely on you, your health and your mental health. Tonnes of healthy eating, time in nature, mindfulness etc!

        Well done for getting out of there and good luck!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One thing that helped me when I was in a bad job…when I was at my most frustrated, I would stop the stressful task and do something that would prevent stress in the future. (ie pick something that’s important but not time-critical, on an Urgent Important Matrix/Eisenhower Decision Grid.) I got this from a co-worker who’d say “I don’t want to do my job so I’m going to do my job instead.”
        One Important-but-not-time-critical thing to do is to pause your frustrating task and write up the task. That way if a manager interrupts you, you can point out that you’re putting 15-20 minutes into documentation for their new hire and that you’ll be right back on their deadline after your procedures are on paper. Best parts? You can write up how it’s SUPPOSED to go….and maybe include workarounds when someone forgets/ignores a step. And every time you do it, you’ll be reminding yourself that you have only a fixed amount of time left before it’s not your responsibility any longer.
        Congrats & good luck!

    5. Accountant (Aspiring to be)*

      I am one week away from finishing my two-month notice period at a pretty toxic job and the thing that has kept me going is reminding myself EVERY TIME something bad happens that my days there are numbered. (Literally numbered – I wrote a countdown of all the work days in my calendar. It’s probably been a little weird sometimes when a colleague has been like “not long now eh?” and I’ve been like “after today I’m working another 22 days!” so I’ve tried to stop responding that way … but it’s really hard not to be gleeful.) Sometimes it’s been after huge, upheaving decisions from above that have left everyone else reeling; sometimes it’s just been a rude customer on the phone or something else mundane. But probably every single day I’ve told myself at least once, “just x days left!”

      I also relished zoning out in meetings when the topic moved to something that wouldn’t concern me. And deleting emails about things that will happen after I’ve left.

      Also envisioning the After. I’m both moving and trying to break into a new field (have the degree but got an exciting unrelated job that was great … until it sucked) so I’m giving myself time to daydream about the things I hope I get to work on, the towns I might live in, looking at flats for sale (I did this for fun before I decided to move so I guess that’s just spending time on a pre-existing guilty pleasure though). Hopefully this will also get me through my upcoming unemployment, however long it lasts!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Change your focus.
      Have daily goals of things you want to wrap up before you leave.

      You now work for your resume and your interviews of the future. Do things that would be great on a resume or for use in an interview. “Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult cohort.” Challenge yourself to act in a exemplary manner, such that you could use it in an interview in years to come.

      Put things in a peaceful place as much as possible. Set it up so that if you run into people years from now you are not dying on the inside. “Jane, we most certainly had our ups and downs. But I want you to know that I wish you the best in the future.” Find a high road and take it, because not too much matters any more as you are outta there.

      Also start thinking about how much you have learned about yourself and about human nature. Very few people walk away from a human service job UNchanged. Think about how you have changed for the better. Toxic people DO sharpen us in many ways. I currently have a boss who apologizes for making extra work. Honestly, I breeze right through the extra work like it’s nothing. Because it is nothing compared to where I have been, old me would not have been as able to walk right through that extra work. My toxic work place strengthened me in ways I never anticipated.

    7. Teapot Magic*

      Every single day, Look at yourself in the mirror and give a flying kiss (‘Mwah! I’m so freaking awesome I have the courage to get out of this place! I’m so proud of me!’). . Take a bathroom break on the hour and do a one minute dance …. These will bring joy to your heart. Ride on that wave the whole day.

      In the evening, Get a nice treat, rewarding you for getting out of that toxic place! Massage, chocolate, flower, dinner, cake, whatever you like – a small portion of it. Go for a run or exercise! Build on those endorphins!

      Save the best reward for the final day or day after your last day!

  15. Mirabellaninani*

    I’m soon to be leaving my job to take a short career break while we wait for a nursery place for my daughter to become available.
    I work as a trust fundraiser for a medical research charity in London, England. I enjoy fundraising but am toying with the idea of a complete career change.
    What I’d love to do is be part of the fight against climate change. There are some environmental charities in London but it’s a small sector. What I’m also considering is working for a private company – maybe an environmental tech startup seeking funding? I have strong experience in converting scientific detail into proposals for a lay audience. I feel like this could translate well into an account management/sales role.
    Any advice/thoughts on the type of role or company where I may be able to transfer my skills would be hugely appreciated.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      With all the attention that climate change is getting, there’s probably a surprising range of opportunities for “converting scientific detail … for a lay audience”. I know there have been some ‘science writer’ discussions here (google google): check the July 13 open thread, and though I can’t find it, I think one of our sci writers wrote extensively about how to get into the field. There’s freelance and corporate opportunities.

      Corporations to look into: tech companies, esp any tech manufacturing ones like Nokia, IBM, etc. London’s a little hard for that, most manufacturing in that geographic area is over in Ireland, but there’s a MTA – Manufacturing Technologies Association there that might have some good info. I know GlaxoSmithKline’s got offices in London.

      Good luck

    2. Overeducated*

      Maybe something like technical writing for a company making products you believe contribute to solutions could be another option? It seems like there are more openings for that than in general science writing (based, anecdotally, on what technical writers I know tell me).

  16. k8isgreat*

    So, every time there is a questions about dog friendly workplaces Alison asks the community not to discuss the benefits/downsides of dog friendly places since it derails the discussion. But can we do that here? Honestly, I am not in favor. I don’t have terribly strong feelings about it, but I’m not a dog person in general and would rather not spend my day surrounded by dogs. It’s a not a deal breaker for me, but it’s also not a perk. I think I’m way in the minority on this topic and would love to here what other people have to say.

    Alison, please let me know if this is not appropriate.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Same! I love my pup more than anything, so there’s no way I could have him in my office and still be productive. I’d always be wanting to play with or pet him, not to mention keeping an eye on him in case he wanders off or needs to go out. Plus, he’s at the stage where he alert barks to every noise so spending all day in an office would be torture for him.

        1. Sharrbe*

          This is why I’m in support of cat-friendly workplaces. Yes, they will try to sit on your keyboard for an hour, but then will then ignore you and sleep for the remaining seven. Win-win.

          1. Mellow*

            I’m an academic librarian and have been begging for a department cat or two. Of course the university administration would never go for it, but I think I am going to start putting up photos of cats around our office in places where they’d likely be (and doing what they’d likly be doing – sleeping!).

            Or – maybe I’ve just been single for too long. :D

            1. MayLou*

              I’d be so in favour of an office cat! We used to have a cat but she died 15 months ago, and we can’t get a new one (the dog would eat it) so I am cat-bereft. I love my dog but he is an absolute nuisance and one of the reasons I’m excited about starting an office-based job next week (!!! Next week!) after three years of freelancing from home is that he won’t be there to nudge nudge nudge nudge nudge me and beg for walks every ten minutes. Instead he’ll be having a wonderful time at dog nursery or out with his dog walker. Everyone wins!

        2. Slartibartfast*

          I have taken mine to work, at a veterinary clinic, when she’s in need of care. She’s obnoxious to the point I’ve considered sedation. There is no way I would bring her to a regular office. She loves everything and everyone, and will NOT be ignored!

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            That’s my pup too! He feels he is entitled to everyone’s attention at all times and gets frantic if someone ignores him (don’t worry, we’re working on it. He’s still a puppy).

    1. Grapey*

      I love dogs and wouldn’t mind company of dogs while I work (not possible since we’re in a laboratory but hypothetically…), but I also value humans over dogs being a perk. Meaning if someone were hired that was really allergic/fearful, I’d accept that the dogs would go away and wouldn’t try to fight to keep the dogs over a single individual like I’ve seen be argued in comments before.

      That said if I did work in a dog friendly place, I would also like to see some segregation of areas so there are sections of the floor for example where dogs would not be allowed. Sometimes even the best behaved dogs can be noisy and distracting when you’re in super focus mode.

      1. vw*

        Yes! Limit the dogs to certain areas or times and don’t penalize people who don’t want to be around dogs. Not everyone likes dogs, and I certainly don’t expect them to.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m not a dog person either, and I’m not particularly in favor of a dog-friendly workplace only because it’s one of those things that seems hard to have without impacting those who do not take part. But if you have a corporate culture that emphasizes and values responsibility and conscientiousness, like we do here, I think I would be OK with it.

    3. K8 M*

      I have a dog, and have worked in both dog friendly and non dog friendly offices. I’m not in favor, and I would never bring my dog in to the office. She’s fine at home, and I don’t need the distractions.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’m not sure how different this is than baby or child friendly workplaces. You can like children and not want them as a distraction to your day. And can also like your (children) (dogs) but not want to deal with the questionable obedience or supervision of other people’s.

      I guess the main issue is that workplaces are not friendly to outside commitments versus an inherent goodness/badness of having kids or pets around…

      1. Denise*

        I agree that not wanting children or dogs at work isn’t necessarily reflective of a person’s liking of either; but I also think the main difference is that people have a more substantial reason for potentially bringing babies or children to work, whereas there’s no reason to have a pet at work, as they typically don’t require supervision during the day.

        I’ve worked in a place that had both babies (via a small preschool integrated into the office environment) and dogs, and eventually the dogs had to leave the office. Honestly, the kids were much, much less disruptive. They also made less of a mess, and didn’t completely destroy the leftover cake in the kitchen…

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      I would get fired for playing with dogs all day and not working so for the benefit of my bank account I also have to say no. I want a dog desperately but with our travel schedule and working hours it isn’t fair to the dog.

      1. whistle*

        Yes! This is how I feel, except that I have a dog. I love dogs, and dogs in the office would just be too distracting to me. It would be very hard to not pet and play with them all day long.

        And my dog would be super annoying an office all day long, so I wouldn’t be able to bring her, and then I’d feel bad about not bringing her. And I would come home smelling of dogs, so she would be jealous…

      2. Melissa*

        I’d be the person with 15 dogs visiting my office, because I’d leave an open dish of the good treats at the door.

    6. Llamalawyer*

      I am with you. I am not a dog person, either. I am allergic, and honestly scared of some dogs. I despise being jumped all over and being licked by a strange dog. You also run into the policing of dog behavior as some owners (like parents of children) are in denial or ignore their pets’ behaviors. I believe our building has a no animals rule (other than service dogs, of course) so I don’t have to worry about this.

        1. Caterpie*

          I LOATHE the crotch sniffing thing, especially when the owner is completely oblivious to it or just stands there laughing.

        2. JaneB*

          We have a no animals rule but someone has an exception because the dog is so CUTE and she’s so nice and hard working. It’s quite acceptable for a dog (actually it’s cute, quiet & well behaved most of the time to be fair, it’s not even a very smelly/sheddy dog, being part poodle) but I fundamentally dislike having a dog at work. It’s not fair on anyone entering the building not expecting it etc plus I’m sick of my colleague being a few minutes late to thusvor that because the dog had to pee, or assuming the dog is welcome at social events like say a birthday cake or coffee morning. It doesn’t feel at all fair and I considered a horrible meanie who doesn’t appreciate colleague for even hinting that I’d rather the dog stayed out of the office, away from coffee events etc.

    7. vw*

      I have a dog friendly workplace and I like it overall. Here are my thoughts:
      Dogs are definitely a distraction. They woof, they’re playful, they whine, people pet them, they need to be walked, etc. I think it really depends on the dog.
      We’re a remote first company, so people aren’t required to be in the office… ever. I’d like to see a day that’s the “dog day” so if you don’t want to be around woofers, don’t come in on Thursday (or whatever).
      We’re in the Midwest and the people I work with are “Midwest Nice” so I’m worried they won’t tell me if my dog is annoying.
      You need dog free areas for customer calls, etc.

      Overall, I think it should be limited a bit. I don’t want to work in an office where there’s always dogs running around, because I’m there to… work.

      1. k8isgreat*

        I love the idea of a dog day. I think I could be OK with dogs at work on like Fridays only. But every day is just too much.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I was just thinking every day might be better than every so often! Because at a past job, people did sometimes bring dogs in on Fridays, and like half the staff would end up sitting on the floor playing with the dogs, which was super annoying to me. Both distracting because of noise, but also, didn’t any of them have work to do?? I was thinking if the dog was there all the time, it wouldn’t be such a novelty.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          When I worked in a dog-friendly office I would bring my bud in maybe once every two weeks and then occasionally on request. It was very helpful if my partner was traveling (we don’t have a walker) or if we had plans to take the dog somewhere after work. Every day would have done me in. My dog is an excellent office doggy as he’s very gentle and friendly but super attached to me, he sleeps most of the day, and he’s pretty quiet. However, he also a dog– he needs to be walked, he gets whiny when he’s bored (every office day, he would start getting fussy at about 5:15pm), and it was my responsibility to keep an eye on him at all times. So I’m a dog person who is pro-dog-friendly office who also thinks every day is just too dang much.

    8. Catleesi*

      I also don’t feel super strongly about it, but would probably not prefer it. I don’t dislike dogs but I’m definitely not a “dog person”. Also, it would probably make me feel a little irritated that I couldn’t bring my (very social and not scared of new surroundings) cat to work.

      1. Grace*

        Yep. I have had cats that would love to socialise with new people, and would be very happy napping in a cardboard box under a desk lamp! Much less disruptive, yet generally not considered acceptable. I would be just a teensy bit bitter if I was in a workplace surrounded by dogs yet couldn’t bring a cat that is smaller and quieter and has just as much separation anxiety as a dog.

        1. Dragoning*

          Yes! Why don’t we hear about cat-friendly workplaces? Still have the allergy issues, but less noise and distraction, typically.

          Cats need changing environments and stimulation, too.

          1. vw*

            Litterboxes! Given the state of our office kitchen, I’d hate to see the state of an office litterbox.

            1. Catleesi*

              It would have to be the same as with dogs – the owner would need to take care of it in order for it to work. Like…not letting your dog pee all over the floor and leaving it locked in your office all day.

              That being said, I can’t imagine cat friendly offices becoming very common given that most cats wouldn’t care for it, and that people that aren’t cat people can be pretty outspoken and negative about cats.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            A store near by has a cat.
            There’s a big sign on the door, “Don’t let the cat out.”
            I can’t see that as working out, some day someone will mess up. Then the cat is gone.
            The cat used to hang out by the door a lot, so you had to “fight” your way in and “fight” your way out. No one came over to move the cat so you could leave without hassles.

          3. All Hail Queen Sally*

            I work (part time) in a cat friendly place. A shelter in my city loans cats out to businesses (mine is a yarn store) to help with socialization and exposure (of the cat) to the public. I can’t remember how long they have been doing this but I bet we’ve placed over 50 cats so far. Other places keep the cat in the cage (a huge thing about 4 ft wide and 5 ft tall) but as we are not so busy, we let ours run free. Yarn and cats–it’s a dream job!

      2. Lalaith*

        Oh yes, I would SO much prefer a cat-friendly workplace (never mind that trying to bring my actual cats to work… or anywhere really… would be mildly disastrous). Or an office cat, who I would gladly contribute to the care of. But cats can have any of the same drawbacks dogs do, so pet-free workplaces are probably the best way to go.

        1. Ewesername*

          We actually have an office cat. She can be distracting when she’s in the mood, but most of the time she’s happy sitting on the corner of someone’s desk or in her chair. (Yes, she has her own chair. It’s easier than constantly chasing her off ours).
          We tell people before they come in for interviews that she’s in the building and considered an employee. It’s up to them if it’s a deal breaker or not. We have a few people who aren’t crazy about cats and she generally leaves them alone. (But she is a cat, so… sometimes she’ll go see them anyway…)

          1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

            One workplace animal that is something of a mascot is one thing. There is a famous bar in Lake Worth, Florida that has a black cat named Speedbump. You can read all about him online. I LOVE cats but I wouldn’t bring my cat or my dog to work, nor would I want anyone else to. Far too much of a distraction.

    9. Newbie*

      I have a dog and it would be a huge perk for me to be able to bring her into the office. As in, such a big perk that a company that allowed me to do it would earn my undying loyalty. They could pay me well below market rate and I wouldn’t leave. I’d love to be able to spend time with coworkers’ dogs as well.

      That being said – my dog is very well-behaved (I know everyone says that about their dogs, but people often comment on how weirdly quiet and non-obtrusive mine is). I would NOT like to work in an office that lets badly behaved dogs continue to come in, as I think it would be very distracting. So I would really only be in favour of a strict policy dictating acceptable behaviour, which is well enforced.

      Also of note, I live in the U.K., and dog-friendly public spaces are much more common here than in North America. Dogs are usually allowed into pubs, cafes, etc.

    10. Nessun*

      I’m not a dog person (not afraid, but just never had one or bonded with one anyone else has owned). I’d rather not see it introduced in a workplace; the potential for mess and distraction does not compute for me at all.

    11. Joielle*

      I love dogs and have one myself but they are admittedly, on average, loud and at least somewhat gross. Barking, whining, slobbery toys, shedding, licking things, potential for peeing indoors. I’d much rather have a “no dogs” workplace than try to police which specific dogs are ok and which ones aren’t. So much potential for drama, when you could just… not.

      1. Liz*

        I’m a dog lover too although I don’t have one of my own. That being said, I think, like people, all dogs are different. Some are perfect, quiet, and give you no trouble at all. Others are loud, and obnoxious. And there are also dog owners who let theirs do whatever they want, whether its disruptive or not. So I’d definitely wouldn’t be too thrilled if my job became dog friendly. Mainly because its so unpredictable. You;d have people who are “good” owners, and others who think its ok to do whatever they please

    12. Ann Perkins*

      I have a dog and would generally not be in favor of a dog friendly office unless it were very, very limited. Like, one day a week only and you’re confined to a certain area. I’m sure it goes smoothly in some places but it seems to invite so many potential issues with allergies, fears, distractions, and dividing the office into dog lovers and non-dog lovers.

    13. Ruth (UK)*

      I have a mild fear of dogs. It doesn’t get in the way of my life (like, I won’t run in fear if I see a dog off the lead or anything. Most people wouldn’t even notice I’m afraid, and I think I come across as more uninterested from a stranger’s perspective. Though sometimes when a certain dog has approached me, it’s become clear that I’m stressed/nervous [I tend to freeze]).

      But I would 100% not work in a place where dogs being commonly about in the office was a regular occurrence, and if my current job became ‘dog friendly’ I would look to leave. I can put up with feeling a little wary or on edge when a dog crosses paths with me in the park/street (or even if they’re brought in on occasion, as my co-worker did one time). I am not willing to be around them all day every/most days.

      1. Tau*

        This is basically me as well. I’m not phobic or anything, but I’m nervous around dogs in a way that I would not be willing to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

      2. TechWorker*


        I’m not as scared as I used to be but no part of me enjoys being around dogs and I’d consider it a major downside/consider quitting.

    14. LCL*

      I would love it here. But only if we talked about rules and procedures beforehand. I would see it as a perk. OTOH, if I ran into a situation such as described earlier this month, of a very neglectful owner, it might be detrimental to my career. So put me down as total dog lover but ambivalent about dogs at work.

    15. Anona*

      I’m a dog person, but a few years ago when a few staff members brought their dogs to work, it was challenging.
      Some of the dogs got rowdy (running around with each other), just not conducive to doing work. So some kind of policy for when a dog’s behavior isn’t good is important.

      The idea of a dog day (suggested by vw) sounds great.

      1. It's Business Time*

        I think I would like to work in a dog friendly place, but like other commentators it would have to be regulated and that can get really difficult. I would however love to work in an office that has an office cat!

    16. Woof.*

      We have a dog friendly workplace! I’m not a dog owner but I like dogs, so it’s fun to have a little pat and play once in a while.
      The one thing that has bothered me is when our boss brings his dog and then LEAVES THE DOG IN THE OFFICE WHILE HE GOES OUT FOR APPOINTMENTS. Not like, coffee runs, but dentist appointments and tennis clinics. No one else does this besides him. :-|

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Nooooooo, that is NOT cool. I think I left my dog in the office without me twice, for 15 minutes each time so I could run an errand, and that still wasn’t cool. Luckily I had co-workers who loved watching my dog and he sat by the window waiting for me the whole time anyway.

      2. vw*

        Oh no! My dog freaks out if I go to the bathroom (which is outside our office within the building).

    17. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve worked in dog-friendly workplaces, and I’m not a huge fan. It can be fun. It can actually be nice having calm dogs sitting around or walking around. But the minute it comes even close to “Hey, hey, hey. Don’t do that” territory, then everyone in the office essentially took on a second job.

    18. Environmental Compliance*

      I’m an animal person in general, but I personally don’t want 95% of them at work. Either they’re distracting or you have allergy/other medical risks involved.

      I had a previous job that had a childcare facility onsite – I knew some other staff that would go visit their kiddos at lunch. That would be also quite awesome as like a kennel or doggy day care, or something like that. I’d very much enjoy a lunch break petting dogs, and they could have a little attached park or whatnot. Put picnic tables in and it’d be great. Separate areas, can still visit the animal, they get attention during most of the day, everyone wins.

    19. Hillary*

      I don’t like it. I’m not a dog person in general. My last company was somewhat dog friendly. A couple people brought their small dogs occasionally. And one of them made it through three closed doors to almost escape from the building. I stopped him, but I didn’t even know whose dog it was.

    20. Fiddlesticks*

      I’m not particularly a dog person, and don’t usually like having them in the office (MOSTLY because their owners seem to think that distracting, noisy and/or destructive canine behavior is “cute”), but I’d 100% prefer dogs in my office any day over children.

      Come to think of it, a lot of the folks who think their dog’s misbehavior is cute also feel that way about their children’s misbehavior…

    21. Zephy*

      I used to work at an animal shelter, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to have dogs (or cats, for that matter) in their offices. Usually they were foster animals, but sometimes people brought in their own pets from home – I’m not sure if they were bringing them in for vet care (we had a clinic on-site that provided basic services like vaccines, spay/neuter, and dental cleanings – employees got a discount), to keep an eye on them due to illness or injury, or just because. Most of the people that did this were managers, too, because only managers really had offices they could close off and protect their personal/foster animals from the germs inherent to a building that houses several hundred dogs and cats.

    22. Person from the Resume*

      I agree. I don’t have a dog because it would be inconvenient for me and not the best situation for the dog. (I don’t have a fenced in yard that I could put a doggy door in.) So clearly I’m not a huge dog person because I know people in 900 square foot 5th floor apartments in the city who have a dog.

      I’m against it because there are ways it can go wrong. The one allergic/dog-phobic person can “ruin it for everyone.” That person gets blame and hate, and for the employees drawn in by the perk of bringing their dog into work, they are rightfully disappointed in losing the perk that may have been a factor in their decision to accept the job there.

      Also as people are dumb and bad dog parents there will be unruly/untrained dogs brought into the office that should not be and management is unlikely to act swiftly to tell that dog owner that that dog must stay at home.

      It’s a situation asking for trouble, I think.

    23. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I love dogs, but I am not down with a dog-friendly office. My bigger dog is 11, so she’s super laid back and sedate, but she will, given half a chance, distract everyone she can reach by politely shoving her head under their hand so they can pet her without being inconvenienced, give everyone the best kisses she can manage (after loading up her bloodhoundy jowls at the water bowl so she doesn’t run out), and make sure everyone has an even coating of lovely red fur. (Plus she’s also dog-reactive; other dogs are the only thing that knock her out of sedate mode.) Besides, she’s retired, so she doesn’t have to go to work anymore. (But I can’t get her to quit coming into the office every day. ;) )

      And the little one (who is still 50 pounds) is a whippet mix, so she has two settings: hyperactive bouncing off the walls, or asleep. (And even when she’s asleep, she chases bunnies and blows raspberries at everyone. She’s currently hogging half my chair, kicking me in the kidneys and “thpp thpp thpp”.)

      1. Liz*

        Laughing at this because I used to watch a friend’s dogs, and one was a 30 lb or so whippet mix. same kicking of the kidneys and other body parts when I’d try and shift her on the bed. like “HOW DARE you try and move me mover 2 inches so you can stretch your legs out?”

    24. Not a Dog Person*

      Another not-dog person here. I find dogs at work distracting and tough on my allergies. Occasionally, one of my coworkers will bring theirs in, or the therapy dogs will come through for a visit – that’s fine, but please, not all the time. I like dogs, but I don’t really understand the passionate love that some folks have for them, enough to want to bring them to work. I mean, I love my kids, but I don’t want to bring them to work either…

    25. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I’m with you. I’m not a dog person and quite honestly do not get the appeal at all. I have a cat and I like him precisely because he does not require too much from me and I can go about my life without drastically altering plans to care for him.

      Adding extra noises and smells and the potential schedule upsets that a dog-friendly workplace entails sounds like my version of a nightmare office. If I found out a company I was considering was dog friendly, I wouldn’t take the job.

    26. fposte*

      I’ve worked in offices with a dog, but I’ve never worked in a multiple-dog situation. They were always owner-attached dogs, not generally wandering dogs, and one didn’t really like other people much so she wasn’t a petting distraction. The main problem was the barking at the delivery people.

    27. Lilysparrow*

      I like dogs, but I think it would be very distracting if it were an everyday, everywhere thing. There need to be clear, planned limits. And a nuisance policy that can be invoked when specific individual dogs are no longer welcome – or when specific owners are no longer allowed to participate.

      In my town, we don’t have an ordinance that specifies what kinds of pets you can have. I found this confusing until a city worker explained that we have a nuisance law instead. The reasoning is that there are no “protected classes” of animals. If it’s a nuisance to your neighbors, it has to go.

      So I think workplaces should keep a wide latitude on barring nuisance dogs without having to rules-lawyer the criteria (Excessive noise, aggression, damage from roughhousing, multiple accidents, stinkiness, etc.)

    28. I’m going to nope right here*

      I would HATE it! I get mildly sniffly, nothing too serious, but while I like the idea of pets and have had my own in the past, I don’t want to be around someone’s pets all day any more than I want to be around their kids, partner/spouse. I would probably search for a different job if I had to work with dogs every day.

    29. blackcat*

      I LOVE dogs. Do not own one because my lifestyle does not allow for it, but man, I love dogs! So much.
      I am also, super duper allergic to them. And I have asthma. I do fine petting a dog in the street, or playing with one outside. But I struggle in the homes of dog owners, and it would be completely untenable for me to work in a place where dogs were allowed anywhere near places I would work (including conference rooms and the like).

      I get why people want dogs around when they work. If I wasn’t so allergic I’d love it! But, also, my experience with a lot of dog lovers is that they tell me to take an allergy pill (I already do, daily!) and belittle my allergies. In reality, prolonged exposure to dogs can send me to the hospital.

      I think dog-friendly workplaces need to advertise that clearly so that people like me could NOPE right out of there. I probably couldn’t even get through an interview. And if you’re a dog-friendly workplace, you need to accept that you’ll rule out people who would otherwise be a good fit due to allergies/fear of dogs/etc. Maybe the perk to some other people is worth it to the company, but maybe not.

    30. Rachel*

      I work in a tiny office with 2 dogs. I’m indifferent to dogs, but these are fine because they are little couch potatoes. They have a regular spot where they curl up and sleep the entire day. Clearly this wouldn’t work if we had anyone with allergies or fear of dogs, but that is not the case here. If there were anyone with a problem – e.g., allergies or fear – then that should trump the dog owners and there should be no resentment expressed or shown by the dog lovers.

    31. Ada*

      I’m at a dog-friendly workplace, and tbh, I’d prefer not to be. We had one carpet ruined bc the owner would never walk the dog. Took corporate ages to replace it, so the office reeked for quite a while. Didn’t take long for the new carpet to be soiled. And on top of that, I was bitten once (thankfully not badly – it went for my calf and I was luckily wearing jeans that day). And before anyone asks, no I wasn’t doing anything to provoke the dog. It came up behind me while I was standing completely still waiting for a document to finish printing.

    32. NotaPirate*

      I wish there was an in between option. Like i dont want my dogs in the office and having to be distracting to me during the day. But id love to have them at lunch or take a 15 min walk break with them. I guess my in between would be a doggy daycare on site. Where you could drop them off and then sign them out for walks or lunch. Then people could watch dogs playing on their lunches too!

      1. Carbovore*

        Omg, I would love this and have sometimes wished it was an option.

        I work on a college campus so at least during the hours I am away from my dog, I do get to see lots of students walking their pups around campus and it’s kind of a nice little uplift without commitment! lol

    33. Carbovore*

      I am a dog-lover and I’m not in favor. Ideally, I’d love to work from home and be with my furry family member all the time (home is comforting and normal for her) but the few times I’ve brought her to work for just a visit, I glommed on quickly that it was very anxiety-inducing for my dog, which then definitely made me anxious for her.

      Secondly, I also rationally know that I would be absolutely distracted and a great deal of my day would be spent tending to an uncomfortable dog. And! I work in an open office and I just think it would be really rude to subject my coworkers to the added distraction as well. (It’s hard enough working in an open office!!!) Plus, there were a few times our dept head brought in her puppies and it was completely maddening–I was SO annoyed with her because the least she could have done was keep them in her office! (She has the luxury of having an office with a door! Why not take advantage?) Instead, she seemed to revel in having her puppies run all over, peeing on the carpet, and in general being an incredible nuisance. I had wished that day that I’d called out!

      Similarly, I’m allergic to cats and I know if I had to work in a cat-friendly office, it would be awful. I would never want to subject my coworkers to allergens at work just because I enjoy having my dog around.

    34. Dankar*

      We’re sort of dog-friendly in the summer, when work is very light. I work with academics who clear out for 3 or so months, so if I bring my dog in, it’s just me and her in the office (or even the entire building!) It lets me stay late if I need to, which I think is the major perk for my employer.

      That said, I have brought my dog in on days when she’s been vaccinated and needs to be watched. Those days she’s woozy, so I set up a gate and let her sleep under my desk with the heater. I also brought my mother’s dog in once when I was flying him back home to her. My office is <10 minutes away from the airport, so I came in to do some paperwork for a few hours, then left early with pup in tow.

      I would NEVER bring her in regularly. It's too distracting for me and coworkers, and it's really not fair to her. She prefers daycare over chewing an antler in the corner while I type. At least when she's at home, she can sleep in the bed.

    35. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’d like to see more of a trend of “the office dog” where a specific dog (probably belonging to the business owner for a small business) goes to work every day and not a bunch of random dogs. Dogs don’t always get along with each other, and you basically need a doggie HR to deal with telling people not to bring in the disruptive ones again, dealing with the dog versus dog conflicts, and enforcing standards of dog behavior.

      On the other hand, when I worked in a 3 person law office, we’d have a specific, single dog in there most days and it was really nice to have him around. We knew which one of us was officially in charge of him, but all three of us were dog people and knew how to deal with minor dog behavior moments. It also helped that this was a small and open enough physical space that the dog was always going to be fairly near the person who was supposed to be keeping an eye on him. It wouldn’t have worked with a puppy, or a poorly-trained adult dog, but if the office has someone with enough slack in their time to have their job include walking the dog every few hours (ideally, the person who owns the dog, but if the entire small group is “dog people” it’s possible someone else wouldn’t mind this as a work duty – I’d be fine getting to walk someone else’s dog every day “on the clock” as long as the dog was well behaved) and it’s an older dog that takes naps, it can work out. I think the difference here is that everyone can get into a routine. Dogs like routines, and a lot of them go into “demo mode” in new situations and are extra ridiculous until they settle down.

    36. Jen RO*

      I don’t hate dogs, but I am very indifferent to them. I am not allergic (I think!), but I would not want to feel forced to interact with them, lest the owner think I am ignoring Fluffy because I am a horrible person. So, to me, a dog-friendly workplace would be more of a con than a pro.

    37. Beth*

      Between allergies and a residual phobia (I was mauled by a dog when I was 8), I would be entirely unable to work in a “dog-friendly” place,