open thread – June 14-15, 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 do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,935 comments… read them below }

  1. Eillah*

    AAM commentariat, I need advice. I think one of my closets friends/roommate is making a big mistake by accepting a new job, but I’m not sure I have the standing to tell her.

    Some background: I live in Greenwich CT and currently earn 58k a year. My commute takes up 3 hours of my day, 15 hours of my working week. My monthly train expenses (Metro North and MTA) come to roughly $500/mo. My salary jumped up from 41k a year, and during that time I had to borrow money from my family just to make ends meet. As a result, I am very familiar with the cost (both financial and emotional) this kind of commute takes on someone based on what they’re earning.

    My roommate, who used to work at a 9-5 that was 10 minutes from our apartment, just accepted a job on Wall Street, where I also work. I know exactly how long her commute will take and how much time it will take out of her week. I know how early she will have to wake up for this job.

    She accepted this job at 45k a year, on Wall Street, having previously made about 41k a year. Frankly… I don’t think she’s really thought this all through, and I think she’s leaning on bad instincts/bad advice. She says that if she finds a better job she’ll bail on the one she just accepted. She works in compliance for nonprofits, which means she will have to do BG checks for any job that wants to hire her. If she bails on this job after a short amount of time, she still HAS to disclose it in BG checks. If a company that wants to hire her finds out she’s bailing (again, a hypothetical), that could seriously affect her ability to get a good job in the future. There’s also the problem that she’s either losing money or just coming close to breaking even, having accepted a job at the same rate she’s being paid now with an additional 500/mo going just to train tickets (and that’s nothing to say of the sheer fucking exhaustion that commute brings about, and the fact that you’re basically sacrificing 15hrs a working week of free/gym/groceries/life time).

    Do I have any standing to talk to her about this? I do have a tendency to be overly opinionated and a know it all, but I really, really don’t think she’s thought this through and I think this decision has a very high likelihood of biting her in the ass. What do I do?

      1. Kat in VA*

        FYI, probably too late for you to see this, but we’re all adults AND we get to use the f-bomb here (within reason, of course)


    1. FD*

      I think you can share your experience once, something like, “Hey, this is what happened when I was doing this…”

      But then drop it. As long as she pays her share of the rent, it’s not really your business.

      1. Minocho*

        I think this is the best way to go about it. Also, if you both work in the same area now, you may be able to find a place with a better balance of housing + commute costs?

        1. Eillah*

          Other part of the rub (where I come in) I have a second, part time job as a barre instructor in Connecticut. There is the option of splitting up as roommates (which would suck), but unfortunately I at least need a point halfway between the city and CT. Lots of complicating factors.

          1. CatMom*

            I live in Brooklyn and I was actually going to suggest the same thing.
            I know it would suck if she left and you stayed, but thinking in terms of advice here :(

            I don’t know how much rent and expenses are in CT, but there are still a lot of super reasonable apartments in Brooklyn and Queens (or even Staten Island, actually) from which you could get to Wall St in 30-60 min, and a monthly metrocard is like 1/4 the price of your current train expenses. Obviously that creates a conflict with your barre teaching, but there are new barre studios opening up all the time in Manhattan (one literally just opened up the floor below my office), and there are also a LOT of side hustles available in the city (like way more than anywhere else I’ve ever lived). I know it’s easy for a stranger on the internet to tell you to pick up and move, but if you’re both going to be spending $500 and 60 hours a month traveling to work, you might do a little serious research before deciding it’s totally out of the question.

            1. Eillah*

              I am contracted to a specific studio and cannot change studios. Moving to Brooklyn or Staten Island would make my situation infinitely more exhausting.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I realize relocation may be the worst or most disfavored option, but it’s worth taking a look at East Harlem (near the 125th MNR station) and Long Island City. There’s likely barre instructor opportunities there, too. But I’m sympathetic—the MNR commute is not fun unless you can pull some mental jiu-jitsu to convince yourself that it’s fun.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        I agree, you can share your experience once.

        A short term at a job (under 1 year) isn’t a big problem, done once, especially if there’s a compelling story behind it like ‘the pay wasn’t enough to cover the commute or living closer.’ You can even get away with that twice according to Alison, but the third job needs to be a stay of over two years, and three for preference. So, unless Roommate’s got a short term already, don’t mention it as a potential issue.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Correction here: Twice if they’re far apart and there’s a really solid history to counteract it. And after that you need a stay of preferably 3+ years. In a lot of fields, a bunch of two-year stays would still be a concern.

            1. Former Employee*

              Consulting is completely different. You would only have to explain if you left before the end of the contract.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              …And every year if you are temporary/contract (they often let you go to avoid the “permatemp” problem.)

            2. Clisby*

              I don’t know whether it’s still the norm, but when I worked in journalism nobody would blink at someone switching jobs every two years. It wasn’t exactly *expected*, but it wasn’t at all unusual.

      3. OhGee*

        Agree. This (the often negative effect of a long commute) is also a lesson some people need to learn on their own.

    2. Hiring In Remote Areas*

      Offer your experience as “this is my experience and I want you to be aware of what I had gone through previously before you make any decisions” rather than “I think you are making a big mistake.”

      Is her current job Toxic Hellhole – Must Get Out Now and this Wall St 45K/yr job is a better option even with all the negatives you mentioned?

      Is there any chance of her moving into NYC if she does accept this offer, making the commute less expensive/long?

      1. Eillah*

        She just left her toxic hellhole job, she’s in her first week of not having a regular 9-5. I’m really happy for her in that regard, she’s seemed much happier since having time to focus just on herself.

      2. cmcinnyc*

        NYC on 45K a year is going to mean a commute from somewhere–you can’t live in the neighborhood on that. Maybe Staten Island and take the ferry to Lower Manhattan? Otherwise it’s outer boroughs and a long commute unless she gets hella lucky. I’ve always had good luck with real estate so I’ll send some her way if she goes this route. (Oh, and she’ll probably need roommates.)

        1. Upstater-ish*

          I live in the Albany NY area and 45 k would just barely make it. I can’t see that in any commuting distance to NYC

        2. CatMom*

          Oh, you exaggerate. I live near Prospect Park and getting to Wall St would be like 35 min on an average day. I make more than $45K but my partner doesn’t and relatively easily affords our rent and expenses, which we split.

    3. LaurenB*

      You have no idea what she has in savings, or promised support from her family, or anything else. She could be sitting on a trust fund that you don’t know about.

      1. Eillah*

        I know for a fact she doesn’t/isn’t, we’re both pretty open in that regard (she’s also explicitly told me so). Besides the uncle who occasionally sends money, she’s on her own (which is another complicating factor, both that she doesn’t have a solid advice network AND on the flip side, that she needs something to support her ASAP. Which adds another layer of guilt to what I’m feeling).

        1. Noo Yawker*

          Eillah, I am going to give you the blunt advice that others here are too polite to give. You need to butt out. Your roommate is an adult and is able to put on her big girl pants and decide what works for *her* in terms of commute, etc. Plenty of people live in Greenwich and work on Wall Street (’em trains leave Grand Central Station full for a reason). Jobs on Wall Street are usually well-compensated. If she’s ever looking to move on from the non-profit world, she’ll also make good contacts on Wall Street. And again, these are her pros and cons to weigh, not yours.

    4. Fiona*

      If she already accepted the job and isn’t asking for your advice, I think you just have to stay out of it and let her learn from her own mistakes. Everyone has a different threshold for commutes, etc. I assume if you’re close friends/roommates, she already knows the toll that the commute has taken on you and you’ve discussed that stress in passing.

      If she was asking your advice prior to taking the job, I’d absolutely tell her everything you said and encourage her NOT to take this job. But it seems like what’s done is done. I’d stay out of it.

      1. Eillah*

        She took the job kind of abruptly, after a recruiter (who didn’t remember her name/experience) told her not to hold her breath on another job she was waiting to hear back from (better salary, 20min commute).

      2. Anita Brayke*

        Get her into books or audiobooks from the library. She might enjoy the commute!

        1. Kat in VA*

          This. I live in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia) and my commute on average is 1.5 hours in, 1.5 hours out. I drive that commute every day, five days a week.

          However, I also have three daughters and my husband at home, as well as a job with four super demanding execs to handle on a daily basis.

          My commute is literally the *only* time I get any headspace to myself.

          One person’s hellish commute is another person’s blissful alone time with their book, their podcast, their ridiculously loud aggressive music, their stupid fast car and chain smoking (ok that’s just me but you see my point).

    5. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      I focus a lot less on the consequences of leaving this job early, that really speculative and if it’s one odd thing in a background check, it’s very unlikely to result in revocation of a background check contingent offer.

      Instead, focus on offering help and insight. Say “hey this will be a big change for you, if you ever want to get into the nitty gritty of how I made this work, even some of the financial details, I’d be happy to answer some questions and offer insight. I came across a lot of challenges that I would love to help you avoid.” Personal financial stuff is tricky, so I wouldn’t assume you know the ins and outs of her budget. If she wants to hear about it, tell her how this worked and didn’t FOR YOU, given her enough credit to be able to apply that to her own situation. If she doesn’t be a supportive friend and let he make her own mistakes.

    6. animaniactoo*

      So, the thing is that she may think that all of those things are a worthwhile trade-off for the foot in the door/experience.

      The key you should be focused on is not “Wow, I think this is a bad move for you”, but rather: “Hey, not sure if you’ve done any research or given any thought to this, but just so you have this to factor into your decisions here’s the experience I had when I was in that position, in terms of some of the serious drawbacks to it.” and then you can follow up with something like “It was rough and I’m glad I survived it, but it was chancy there for awhile.”

    7. Fortitude Jones*

      Ask her if she’s thought it through. If she says yes and/or gets defensive, leave it alone – it’s her career and her life. She’s most likely already considered the pros and cons and determined this is an acceptable risk for her.

      1. Eillah*

        I love her dearly but…. she doesn’t have the best judgement, and tends to listen to the (very bad) advice of some close family friends.

        1. animaniactoo*

          You can’t save her from herself. You have to remember what is in your control and that everyone gets to make their own choices. The most you can say is “Hmmm. I think that’s bad advice, and here’s what I think you should consider when you’re looking at this.” Not to replace her judgment or the other judgment with your own, but rather to give her a push towards the other factors and then let her live by what she feels is right for her – even if it’s a train wreck that you can see coming.

          If you see a train wreck coming however, and it’s likely to impact you because she’s your roommate – start figuring out what to do about you in the event that it crashes. So that you won’t just be stuck with “Ugh. Am now screwed/feel like I have to pick up slack for her/help her/etc.” If you know you’ll be okay because you know what you can/will do, you’ll likely feel less invested in how her choices go for her even though you care about her as a person and don’t want to see her crash.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            All of this. Eillah, I know it’s hard watching someone you know and care about make stupid (to you) life choices – believe me, most of the people in my life get the side-eye from me on a regular basis. But adults are gonna do what they wanna do, so sometimes it’s best to just sit back, let the person take their L, and then be there to console them after their disastrous plans fall through. And hey – every now again, when you let go of what is absolutely, 100% right (to you), things turn out for the best in the long run, which you couldn’t have necessarily predicted in the beginning.

              1. boo bot*

                I think Fortitude Jones’ point is really important: sometimes people we care about make bad choices, and as long as no one is going to end up dead, seriously injured, or in jail, you have to step back and let them do it.

                This might turn out to be rough for her, but it’s a reversible decision – if it doesn’t work out, she’ll pick herself up and figure out the next thing. Trusting your loved ones to be resilient can be really hard, but it’s also a way to show them real respect.

                And, you really don’t know how this will turn out! It sounds like you’re a little further along in your career than she is, and so the trade-offs that look bad to you might be more worth it for her. After all, you made that same commute on an even lower salary, and it ultimately helped you get where you are now – she might be making the same calculation, and deciding it’s worth it. As long as she’s able to keep up with your shared expenses, let her do what she’s going to do.

                Besides, if you keep quiet now, you’ll never have to fight the urge to say “I told you so”!

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Trusting your loved ones to be resilient can be really hard, but it’s also a way to show them real respect.

                  Oh, I like this. Respecting people is all about not treating them like brain-dead ninnies or coddling them. If she makes a mistake, it’s hers to make and, ultimately, to solve. Resilience and tenacity builds character.

                2. boo bot*

                  “Respecting people is all about not treating them like brain-dead ninnies”

                  I want to get that stitched on a pillow!

            1. Noo Yawker*

              There’s zero about a commute from Greenwich, CT, to Wall Street that screams “stupid life choices.” Nothing. At. All. This is a commute that thousands of people make every day.

              I suspect the LW’s real concern is that she fears her roommate will decide she likes living in Brooklyn or wherever more than commuting, and that roommate may eventually decide to break the lease.

              1. Wake Up! !*

                Not to mention, “stupid life choices” appears to be code for “life choices that are functionally identical to the ones I am currently making, which are smart.” This is so silly. So, so silly.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          You’re her friend, not her mother when she was thirteen. You can’t make this decision for her. Offer your experience and then let it go.

        3. Sunflower*

          I think you just answered your own questions there. The positive is that while a short stint won’t be great, this likely isn’t going to be a life changing decision and one she can easily get herself out of with minimal damage. I agree to tell her your experience then drop it.

    8. Kiki*

      I think bringing up your concerns about the commute is totally fair, especially since you know first-hand how difficult it is. That being said, you can only relate your experience and then you have to drop it.

      On the background check aspect, if your roommate has never job-hopped or quickly left a job before, I don’t think leaving this job quickly will be a deal-breaker, especially if she explains the commute situation. The goal of background checks for compliance jobs isn’t usually to pass judgement on the duration of employment at past jobs, it’s to look for risk and potential conflicting interests. You mentioned in a comment that she does need a job ASAP for financial reasons, so this may actually be her best option right now.

      1. Overeducated*

        I agree with this – at worst it’ll be awkward if she leaves quickly, but probably not career destroying, there’s nothing illegal about it and it would be easy to answer any questions about why if it’s so directly related to commute.

    9. Cruciatus*

      I really don’t see why you can’t say something as this is a friend. I would. Just something like, “I know you’ll make the best decision for yourself, but I just wanted to let you know my experience with the commute is X and money for the commute is Y and the time I spent commuting is a really drag. I just wanted you to figure those things in to your decision since you’ve had an easy, inexpensive commute up until now.” And then if she chooses to take it anyway, just be happy for her and hope it all works out!

      So I think you have standing to speak your piece but then you’ve gotta let it go.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I understand your concern and know what it’s like when someone makes a decision that’s just awful, just the way you’ve laid everything out here, just an awful decision all around. Yikes yikes yikes.

      However the sad thing is, most people have to learn by their own mistakes. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate and trust you, it just means she has to see for herself that you’re not exaggerating or trying to protect her from her great escape from the toxic place she’s fleeing.

      I’m also screaming inside at how little NYC and LA jobs pay, coming from another high AF CL area myself. I will never ever grasp the difference. It’s scary to think about making 45k with that commute.

      1. Overeducated*

        Sometimes it’s what you have to do :/ My spouse makes not that much more, with a 1.5 hour car commute, in a HCOL area. His payscale is set at a national standard level, and thanks to my job he’s what his field calls “geographically restricted,” i.e. not able to move for a job paying the same thing in a much cheaper area. You just have to negotiate as much flexibility as possible and plan your exit strategy so you don’t have to do it forever.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s the stunted part of me that also doesn’t grasp the concept of restricted/niche jobs but the logical part of me know they’re important exist. It’s part of the blissful ignorance of being someone who can work in any city or town because everyone needs accounting or business management and my partner is in sales/marketing so again, just sailing on the wind.

          1. Overeducated*

            That must be nice…we’re both very specialized (because we met in grad school, haha) and we definitely envy couples we know where one person has an “employable anywhere” type job! But we were a bit too deep in at that point to abandon our planned careers entirely and we liked each other too much to look for more practical partners…so we try to muddle through.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      You can offer your experience with the costs and time involved. But beyond that… well, she’s an adult and I assume capable of making her own choice.

      1. A Day at the Zoo*

        Just another thought from someone who commuted for years on Metro North on and off over the past 20 years. The train time can be enjoyable. Before I had kids, dogs, and a house, I used the time to knit, read, etc. After life had different complications, the time became more precious. She will need to figure out how to keep her non-commute/non-essential expenses down (lunch in the Wall Street area, as I am sure you are aware, can easily run to $15 a day). It may not be as bad for her as you found it — everyone has different tolerance levels.

        1. pancakes*

          I work in the Wall St. area and spend around $10/day for lunch. I wonder how many of you with these ridiculously long commutes are relying on this sort of distortion to justify it. It’s fine to not want to live in NYC, of course, and you don’t have to exaggerate the expense to feel that way!

            1. boo bot*

              Yeah, it’s the difference between fancy or not-fancy coffee, or super-hungry and regular hungry, or just where you happen to go. There’s plenty of ways to spend $15 on lunch in the Financial District!

              There’s plenty of ways to avoid paying $15 for lunch, as well, but I don’t think people who say NY has expensive tendencies are just making stuff up. Also, it’s a lot cheaper to work and eat here if you do live here – easier to bring your own lunch on a 30 minute subway ride than on a 90 minute train ride, for one.

          1. A Day at the Zoo*

            And I did say, could easily run to — not that all lunches run to that. For the record, I am a born and raised NYC person and always lived in this area and commuted to NYC a good chunk of my long working life. My point is that for some people, the commute is not that bad, but that there are things to consider.

        2. Eillah*

          How long was your commute? Three hours every day is….. bruuuuuutal. It also really sucks after a while when you realize how much off time you’re losing with the commute (time to shower, get your groceries, go see your friends, go to the gym…. living, basically). She’s never done a commute like this before and I don’t think she has a clear picture of how big a change it is and how much impact it can make on her. Bluaargh.

          1. A Day at the Zoo*

            My commutes to NYC have ranged from 40 minutes to 2.5 hours. My personal tolerance varied based on my life circumstances. It really is an individual thing. You can give your roommate your perspective, but ultimately, she has to figure this out.

          2. Cat*

            This is really specific to you personally. I had a 2.5 hour commute for years and it didn’t need really bother me. I used my train time to work in the morning and it was my decompression/reading time at night. Now I drive 1 hour R/T and I really miss going through a novel a week on the train alone and never having to deal with other drivers. I’m sure your friend understands google maps well enough to have figured out the commute will be long.

            Honestly, you’re describing a lot of things that you personally would hate, not things that are objectively bad. Yes, it seems like she’ll just about break even financially, but there are many many other reasons to take a job. Waiting on another job a recruiter has told you is a long shot (which could be due to insider info that has nothing to do w your friend) is not a good idea. Regardless of all of this, if they already accepted, its too late and your advice will not be helpful at this point. Keep out of this one.

            1. Eillah*

              Considering that her motivation for LEAVING her last job was being paid too little for what she was doing, I think my points that accepting a job where you are earning less money and losing 15 hours of the week (that you formerly had and used to their fullest potential) are valid.

              1. Deanna*

                Still her choice. You’re getting overinvested here! Back off and let her live. Yes, she may be making a mistake. You can’t prevent that. She’ll learn. Let her.

                You kinda seem to be posting in poor faith here. If what you really wanted was support and validation rather than advice, just say so. Don’t get ratty with people who are just answering the questions YOU asked.

              2. SunnyD*

                You’re focusing too much on being objectively ‘right’ rather than what you can (and should) control – ie yourself. Being right isn’t as important as treating her like an adult… Even if you turn out to be right on this one.

              3. Cat*

                What on earth are you talking about? You literally wrote above that her job was a toxic hell hole. For many people that would be a huge trigger for the depression you mentioned she has.

            2. Noo Yawker*

              And you know what? If Dream Job from recruiter suddenly comes through, maybe roommate leaves the second choice job with little notice. Her career will continue, and the world will revolve around its axis.

    12. RUKiddingMe*

      She’s your roommate yeah? Is she able with the new job to pay her share? If so, then no you really need to not involve yourself.

      Caveat: you could ask her if she has plans to move to NYC because that would directly affect you and as much notice as possible would be good.

      1. Eillah*

        She is, but she’ll basically have no money left over afterwards. If my math is right, she’s actually losing money (and time) by taking this job. Combine this with the depression she’s been feeling for about a year now and…. I’m not hopeful for her future.

        1. CheeryO*

          I really don’t think there’s any way to bring any of that up without sounding condescending. Maybe changing up her routine will be good for her depression, you never know.

          1. Aud*

            The long commute could also earmark time for her to read or pursue (sedentary, portable) hobbies she hasn’t felt she had time for. To that effect it might even be helpful, though I’m not discrediting the strain a long daily commute could have in general.

    13. LGC*

      You’re her friend, not her coworker – so that’s how you need to approach it, I think. Let’s say she was dating a person that you thought was bad for her – for example, they vote in a way you don’t like. You shouldn’t tell her to dump her SO just because their politics are bad (at least in my opinion), but you can certainly voice concerns if she asks for them. She’s a grown woman, and she can make her own mistakes if she wants.

      Also, things might be different for her. She may not dislike commuting as much as you. She might have a more flexible schedule with this employer. The job might be better in other ways for her. She might really hate driving – you didn’t say whether it was 10 minutes walking or driving.

      1. Eillah*

        She loves driving. 10 minute walk, probably a 5 min drive from our apartment. She’s never had to do a commute this long (and even if you like it [which is rare] it wears you down; it can’t not).

        1. LGC*

          I’m a NJ Transit commuter (almost 10 years), and my commute isn’t that much shorter. So I do have personal experience with long commutes! (In fact, aside from costs – my commuting costs are around $300 monthly – I’m in a similar situation to you and your roommate.)

          The fact it was a 10 minute walk makes this somewhat worse – but you also said the old job was toxic, right? And she already quit? In her case, at least in the near term, an effective pay cut and long commute might be worth it. Especially if she’s out of work currently.

          1. Eillah*

            As a native New Jerseyan– my condolences for having to deal with NJ transit/Penn every day :(

          2. Michaela Westen*

            I once had a job 9 blocks from where I lived, on a beautiful tree-lined street in a building full of vintage charm. I walked and browsed around on my way home, and that was nice.
            It was one of the worst jobs I ever had because the owner was so toxic. Walking to work was nothing compared to the stress of that job. I happily do a 1/2 hour commute by train now to a much better job.

    14. Anona*

      You can share with her one time your concern, and your experience (cost of commute, having to borrow from family, etc). After that, let it go. It’s ultimately her decision.

    15. pancakes*

      I don’t see how anyone here can answer as to whether you have “standing” to tell her this because we don’t know how close you are or what sort of friendship you have.

      I live & work in NYC and have never understood this sort of commute. Why don’t you two rent an apt. here together? Or with other roommates? A 30-day unlimited metrocard is $127.

      1. Eillah*

        I have another part time job in Greenwich, so I can’t move to the city. She has a car and doesn’t want to move into the city.

        1. pancakes*

          I’m having a hard time understanding why someone would want to work here knowing they don’t want to live here. If it was a particularly appealing job or paid very well, sure, but the job you’re describing isn’t either of those things. If I were either of you I’d concentrate on looking for work closer to home. Stamford, New Haven, anywhere in CT really. I grew up there & have family there, and have one step-cousin who makes the big commute from a shoreline town, but he’s an investment banker & making a crap-ton of money.

          1. Eillah*

            …Seriously? It’s…. very common, particularly in the outer NYC metro area. NYC isn’t cheap to live in (she says, living in f’ing Greenwich….). Some people like getting the city and the country. We have been looking closer to home but the reality for us is that the opportunities are mainly in the city.

            1. Over 60 & Forever Young*

              Hi Eillah! Yep, add me in as a native New Yawker who knows about the commute, it is very common to commute from the outer NY metro area! I was born and raised in Staten Island (still live here), and used to ferry it T/F when I worked in Manhattan – both downtown at Wall Street firms, and also in midtown. I once had a boss who lived in Greenwich (like you) and he did the MetroNorth journey. I’ve had coworkers who commuted from Westchester, Long Island, Suffolk County, Pennsylvania, you name it. We would share our journey experiences and commiserate. But it’s true, most of the jobs are in Manhattan; now some expanding to Brooklyn and Jersey City as well. *My employer offered a program called WageWorks – you set up your own account through the employer and could purchase your commuter tickets/passes each month, at a savings. Added bonus: the cost was deducted from your paychecks *pre-tax*! So you were taxed at a slightly lower income. It was great. Maybe your friend’s new employer offers something similar. Best of luck to her and thanks for being a good friend! Wishing you both success!

              1. CB*

                +1 to WageWorks or equivalent transit pre-tax benefit! I don’t live in the NYC area, but it’s super helpful for stretching out my nonprofit salary.

          2. BRR*

            It’s incredibly common to commute into New York for work. I live in Central NJ and was a bridge and tunnel person until recently. NYC is where the jobs are but there is literally not enough housing for all of the jobs in the city. Plus many industries can only be found in the city. It’s rare for a position to open up in my field in any suburb. My rent is also $1,400/month for a two-bed, two-bath apt with in unit laundry. If you take out commuting costs and car costs and move that money to rent, I still wouldn’t get anything comparable. Plus my spouse has a job out here.

            1. Thomas Merton*

              Yeah, my mother commuted from Phillipsburg, NJ (on the Pennsy border), to NYC for years. I took that bus myself a few times and there were folks commuting from Allentown, PA, to jobs in NYC (one guy went all the way to Brooklyn). NYC salaries + Allentown cost-of-living > 5 hour daily total commute.

          3. Kimmybear*

            People commute from New Haven to Manhattan because there are better jobs in NYC in some fields. Greenwich is an hour closer. And besides, commuting on 95 or the Merritt is not easy and finding jobs near MetroNorth stations really limits you. I live outside DC now and it’s the same problem.

        2. voluptuousfire*

          There are barre studios in Manhattan. There’s one on I think 15th or 16th and 6th?

          I get where you’re coming from but a move to NYC would definitely be a better idea. I live in the outer boroughs and take the express bus and mine is still pricey but half of what you pay.

          1. Eillah*

            So no, a move to the city is NOT the better idea (I went to college in the city and spent an addition 4 years in the city afterwards and frankly got sick of it after a while, so not only do I know what exactly a move BACK to the city would entail, I also know I don’t want to do it).

            1. Fulana del Tal*

              But lower Westchester ( or the Bronx) is a lot closer. While the commuting costs will probably be the same you could cut your commute to an hour. And there are barre studios here.

              I know several people who moved out to Orange County and Connecticut and then complain about the commute. It’s the trade off. Somewhere cheaper versus shorter commute.

              1. Eillah*

                I’m contracted to a specific studio in Greenwich for a year; so that can’t really change. Hopefully we could find something nice in lower Westchester but…. that’s kind of like finding a needle in a haystack.

        3. cmcinnyc*

          We have barre classes in NYC, so you could teach here. But moving to NYC is a giant hassle, NYC is a giant hassle, and for me, TOTALLY WORTH IT. But if you don’t want to be here, not worth it.

          1. Eillah*

            I’m contracted to work in a specific studio in Greenwich. I can’t move studios until 5/2020 (or, I could, but I’d owe about 2k in training fees).

    16. BRR*

      I might have missed this so my apologies if I did but what’s your goal? I get expressing your concerns, but then what? My concern is that you tell her you don’t think the job she already accepted is a good idea (for very valid reasons) but there’s nothing she can do.

      1. Eillah*

        I guess it’s to help her? To at least give her a clearer perspective to make a fully formed decision? That’s a good question, and one that I don’t have a great answer to…

        1. BRR*

          Sorry if that sounded harsh! If she was thinking over whether to accept the offer, I would likely have different thoughts. If her only option is to back out after accepting an offer, that’s not wonderful (although not as bad as starting the job then quitting).

          I 100% get that you’re doing this out of concern and the salary and commute make this a really unappealing job, but maybe there’s another way to express it that I’m not quite sure how to do. If I’m reading this right, she can’t really change course so it stinks to be told that this is not a great idea.

          1. Eillah*

            No no not harsh at all! An important question to ask myself for sure, and I appreciate it. She accepted the job kind of abruptly, so there really wasn’t a time when I could be like “oh, well, here’s my experiences” as the nice way of saying “BETCH DON’T DO IT!!!!!!!!!”

            1. Aud*

              I agree with everyone else and say share your experience once! If you an include some “here are tricks I picked up to make the commute more bearable” suggestions that will help warn her in a way that isn’t just telling her it’s a bad idea.

              1. Cat*

                I actually disagree with this pretty strongly. She’s not working and already accepted a job. Going back on that now because your friend wouldn’t want your commute is a very bad idea. There’s nothing to gain from this.

                1. Eillah*

                  She’s been “not working” for four days. It’s not quite at critical urgency yet.

                2. Cat*

                  She already accepted the job. Is critical urgency when she’s burned through all of her savings? You’ve already told us she makes very little money for a very expensive area and has little to no family support or nest egg.

                  You’ve obviously decided the right move is for her to consult you and pull out of a job she’s already accepted. It’s not a good decision, and commute time+ no pay increase are really poor reasons to go back on an acceptance, which can seriously damage your professional reputation. The fact that she has no current job to fall back on makes this potential damage even worse.

                  Number of days unemployed isn’t really relevant. Job hunting when youre not employed is generally best to be avoided. She could get another offer tomorrow or six months from now. You have no idea. You also said yourself further up in this thread that most of the jobs in your area are in the city, and you’re not willing to move, so she’s very very likely to have a long commute or a long job hunt either way.

                  You’re focused on giving her the advice that you know is right (but is actually a subjective opinion based on a fairly condescending assumption that she didn’t think things through). Focus on being a supportive friend.

                3. Eillah*

                  Cat, you’re being rude and assigning intentions to me that aren’t actually accurate. Knock it off.

                4. Cat*

                  I’m not. I’m just disagreeing with the statement that it’s a good idea to try to give this person advice, and pointing out the indisputable fact that you don’t know if her financial situation will become critically urgent before she gets another job offer.

                  I’m not assigning you any intentions. If I had to guess I’d say you very badly want to stop her from making a choice that you strongly believe is wrong. Maybe I’m misguided? What I’m pointing out is that you asked for advice, and are now focusing your attention on proving why you’re right and arguing with people who disagree with your POV, and that your friend is likely to shut down when she senses that you’re approaching this from the perspective that she didn’t think things through and generally can’t be trusted to make good choices, no matter how true this is. Your intentions are different from the way you focus your energy, and in this case I think they’re misaligned.

                5. Wake Up! !*

                  Totally agreed with Cat. Sometimes people who want advice really just want external validation that they’re right. OP probably has the best of intentions here, but she would still be in the wrong to try to manage her friend’s life to this degree.

    17. LawBee*

      Her finances, her business. It becomes your business when she can’t make rent, but until then, stay out of it.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          She is in charge of her own well-being. Even as a friend, this is not your place.

          As others upthread have expressed, to say once “Oof, that commute is a killer, have you done all the math on this?” Is fine for a friend to say.

          To expect to be consulted, or to have input on her long-term plans and career trajectory in general, is not okay.

          If she wanted you to mentor her, she would already have invited you to do so. You wouldn’t need to ask if this was appropriate.

          She took the job without consulting you first because she doesn’t consider you a mentor or seek your advice.

          That’s not comfortable to think about, but that was her choice, and it is rightfully her call.

          1. Eillah*

            I’m not expecting a consultation. I think you’re putting too much personal feeling into my intentions for bringing this up.

            1. Lilysparrow*

              You’re arguing pretty hard here, for someone who doesn’t have personal feeling involved.

              You may hate being wrong, and want to spare your friend from being wrong, but it’s not actually the worst thing in the world. Learning how to cope with & recover from being wrong is an incredibly valuable life skill. And once a person gains it, they become nearly unstoppable.

    18. a*

      I think you can certainly share your experiences, but you should be open to listening to what she expects to get out of the job. Some people find commuting time to be useful – it’s forced inactivity, and lots of people don’t get that any other way. You might find it annoying and exhausting, but she might find it a good time to read or listen to podcasts or nap.

      You will probably need to shelve your thoughts that she hasn’t thought this through – even if that’s true, it’s not going to be particularly helpful to say it. You can express concern, based on your experiences.

    19. Akcipitrokulo*

      As a friend, yes – say “can I share with you some experiences I had that might be relevant” (in your own words) and then spell out the financial and emotional issues.

      DON’T give advice!

      Give information. Then let her make informed choice.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*


        “Don’t give advice” …. yeah… what I *should* have said is “Giving advice is often counter productive.”

    20. Ms. Anne Thrope*

      How on earth are there WS jobs that pay only 45k?!? That’s halfway decent in Scranton but not awesome.

      1. Eillah*

        Should have been clearer; Wall Street is the physical location, the job is as a compliance specialist for a nonprofit.

      2. Frustrated In DC*

        My first NYC job I worked in Lower Manhattan, just off Wall Street and my salary was $40K a year. It is a thing.

    21. Koala dreams*

      Since she already accepted the job, what’s the point of telling her now? Wouldn’t an employer that look down on short term jobs be even more negative about someone quitting one day or one week into the job, compared to someone who quit after one month or ten months? Let it go.

          1. Koala dreams*

            I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but I really don’t get it. How is it useful advice to her to essentially tell her that the decision she made earlier was wrong, and anything she does to fix it now will destroy her future? That’s just rubbing salt in the wound.

              1. Cat*

                Not really. It’s probably worse to go back on an acceptance now than quit quickly citing that the job was not as expected or another legitimate issue.

                You’re letting your own views of her judgement and feelings about this job really cloud your judgement. No matter how fast she accepted, she accepted.

    22. tacocat*

      I also live in FC and I wouldn’t DREAM of that commute without an offer that’s basically double what I’m making. I say you can mention it once, but she’s an adult and sometimes people just need to learn by doing.

    23. Delphine*

      You sound like a good friend with your friend’s best interests at heart, but it sounds like this is a done deal. All you can do is share your experience and then step back. It can be really tough watching people you care about make these types of mistakes, but it’s also not something you can control.

      Perhaps you could brainstorm ideas for when it does bite her in the ass–what would be the advice you’d give her then?

    24. KR*

      Sympathies. I have a friend who I really think could branch out from the work she’s doing (think stuck in fast food but has so much potential and is so unhappy) and it’s so hard to not say anything but I have to remind myself that she didn’t ask me for advice. It’s a bit different because y’all are roommates so how she’s making her money and her quality of life kind of affect you. I think however you say it, the overall message should be that you care about her and you want her to be happy.

    25. Tinker*

      I guess maybe you have different boundaries with your friend than I do with any of mine, but my shoulders are becoming one with my ears reading this thing.

      That second-to-last paragraph reads like the sort of planning one would expect from the person making the decision to accept the job — it’s really… surprising, let’s say… to see some other person independently deciding to make that analysis, and I’d be really taken aback to have a friend share that with me. Both that they thought they should be analyzing my life decisions in that level of detail, and then that they thought I needed to be told what their conclusion was.

      Additionally, maybe I’m a bit more tightly-wound about having an income than some folks, but if I had gotten to the point of quitting a toxic job apparently having not yet accepted an offer, I would be stressed as all hell and SUPER not appreciative of critiques that I’d then accepted a new job too quickly. Especially if the critique of the speed carried any sort of implication of “too soon to have asked me what I thought”.

      I think that peers who talk about their careers can by all means share information about what a given commute is like, but the rest of it — like, the bits where it doesn’t seem like a conversation between peers, for instance — wow, no, I definitely would not advise that.

      (And it is definitely in part a me thing, but if someone was that much up in my business with “I’m doing this because I care about your well-being” we would be So Incredibly Done.)

      1. Eillah*

        I think you’re reading more into my intentions than are there, and I’ll leave it at that to be polite.

          1. Lucy Too*

            There is no dilemma! Roommate has already accepted the job. If she now rejects the job, she has zero income and limited prospects. Roommate needs the job, has accepted the job. Elliah has no dilemma! Unless she is willing to pay Roommate’s expenses … there is no choice. It’s either unemployment with no income whatsoever, or a job that covers expenses AND gives a whole 15 extra hours of zone-out time. It doesn’t have to last forever. E clearly hates the commute but others here have clearly stated they developed coping strategies.

            I’m Team Tinker on this one.

          2. Cat*

            I really don’t see any snark here? Tinker and others are trying to shed light on how they think the friend might feel knowing someone theyre close to had judged not only their decision but their overall ability to run their own life this way, and also reacting to the fact that the choice has essentially been made. I really don’t see it as snaky and don’t think it was intended that way. You can disagree with someone without ill intent, which is one of the reasons I think the discussion here is so awesome. Personally that’s what I see from tinker here.

      2. Hepzibah Pflurge*

        I have to agree with you, Tinker. Knowing that someone close to me was, without my request, examining, weighing, and ultimately judging my life choices would be uncomfortable, to say the least, even though it seems Eillah’s heart is in the right place. Eillah, it may not seem intrusive to YOU to offer help/advice when you haven’t been asked, but personal boundaries are, well, personal to each of us. Add in the element of career and money decisions, and it potentially gets even squiffier to me.

        I’ve been the well-meaning person in the past who just wanted to help someone I care about by sharing the benefit of lessons I’ve learned the hard way, but (not surprisingly) it never ended well. My good intentions did not outweigh the fact that my life/values/opinions/experiences are not necessarily as relevant as they would seem to the other party – or even wanted.

          1. Former Employee*

            I am now officially confused. Didn’t you say that your friend already accepted the new job and quit her old job?

            If so, what would she do for a job if she backed out of the one she just accepted?

            While you are concerned for her well being, what would happen if she had no job for months and couldn’t pay her share of the rent? Are you willing/able to subsidize her?

          2. biobotb*

            But you are not her. How these factors affect her will be different than how they affect you.

            1. Eillah*

              She’s one of my best friends, I’m pretty sure I have an idea of how this is going to affect her. Jesus, you’re all acting like I think I’m her doctor and life coach.

              1. Eillah*

                The crux of my question is “do I have a right to say anything” but sure, bring in your own personal BS and make me seem like I’m a condescending bitch. Suuuuper helpful!

                1. Cat*

                  You’re taking this advice really, really personally, but people are just trying to help. You asked for advice, so people are offering their perspectives. No one is accusing you of being a bad person or a bad friend. You’re obviously very loyal and care about this person a lot. But giving unasked for advice rarely works out as the giver hopes, and people’s answers here reflect that. Good luck.

                2. Eillilillallah*


                  Then no, you don’t. There you go. You have ZERO right to say anything. Butt the hell out.

                  Happy now?

                3. Gravy Trainer*

                  No one here has to do anything to make you seem like a condescending bitch. You’re doing that all by yourself. That’s kinda the whole point.

                  If you genuinely believe that’s unfair, read your responses here when you are calmer and have a bit of distance, and maybe you’ll see how your own position, comments and behavior are causing that. Then you can work on how you come across to people who only have the words you write to judge you by.

              2. Well...*

                I mean… that’s kind of how you aren’t coming off here to a lot of people, even if it isn’t intended.

    26. Clementine*

      You can encourage your friend, in a low-key way, to thoughtfully look for another job, now that she has one. Maybe she can earn a few hundred per month doing part-time gigs on the weekend.
      Wait and see if the disaster you fear actually materializes.
      Lots of people do worse commutes for years.
      But don’t catastrophize the situation. It is not ideal, but it’s not life-ending.

    27. OhBehave*

      You’ve described her as a close friend. I think you can absolutely share what you have learned. Based on your other comments, she doesn’t make the best decisions and doesn’t have a familial support system. She quit her toxic job quickly. She may have felt she couldn’t take it any more.
      You can start out by telling her you respect her decision but that you feel you must share what you learned. No one can truly know what this means to lose 15 hours a week on a commute until they get that experience. Everyone is different in how they would handle this time suck. Control this “I do have a tendency to be overly opinionated and a know it all” as much as possible in your convo with her.
      She may well have to follow through on this job while continuing to job hunt. I’m not sure what the reality is of her getting a raise in a nonprofit. It would be great if WFH is possible at least one day a week.
      Good luck and let us know how it went!

    28. in the air*

      Respectfully, it might be worth thinking about how you’ve responded to advice given here that deviates from the path you personally want to take, in a situation where you’ve specifically sought out advice, and in regards to a decision that isn’t particularly consequential (i.e. should I give my friend and roommate advice about something). Do you have reason to believe your roommate might respond better to unsolicited advice about a significant life decision she’s made?

  2. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

    So I kinda manage some guy who is terrible at his job – he struggles with out basic processes, makes frequent mistakes that he should be able to catch and he also slacks off. I say kinda because while we have the same line manager, when my line manager is out I deputise for her. It’s been 8 months since I raised his performance as a concern, and 6 months since I’ve started to give him significant support to try and overcome his issues. My manager is at long last going to be putting him on a PIP, this will be an informal one then after it’ll be formal if he still can’t meet the targets leading to possible firing. This will take months (maybe a year) as I work for a govt body that is notoriously bad at this sort of thing – ie with appeals and unions. I’m so fed up of how this is all being handled that I’m looking for other roles even though I love everything else about my role. Also of note is that my line manager is resigning (I’m going to be applying for the role but I know it’s not guaranteed). Also he knows he’s a bad fit and has admitted openly that he’s looking for other roles.

    Bascially do I:
    a) Stay and hope he finds another job and leaves soon?
    b) Stay and hope I get my managers old position where I will have more control of the situation?
    c) Focus on getting out even though it means leaving a role and department I love?
    d) Something else?

    1. SRF*

      Personally, I would just stop supporting this guy. It sounds like you’re really invested in helping him succeed, and he’s not as invested as you are. Everything else, follow your gut. If you like your job and/or want the line manager job- apply! There’s no reason not to. You can also start looking for opportunities elsewhere, or do both. But don’t hinge what you’re going to do on this particular guy.

      FWIW-I understand having a slacker coworker, as well. It’s SO frustrating and easy to get caught up in their crap.

      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        Well part of the problem is that both my boss and grandboss keep telling me to be supportive. They seem to think that with enough support they will magically get better at their job. In practice it means that they aren’t actually seeing any consequences of their poor work.

        They seem to think that it’s a capability issue, but I think it’s conduct. I think he can do this stuff but he just doesn’t want to. He’s never apologetic for his mistakes, and has brazely lied to me in the past. Again all this was reported to my manager and I was told to just be supportive and understanding.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Supportive can be defined as “I understand that but I believe you are capable of doing better and I expect to see that from you.”

          Then you can say to your bosses: “I have been supportive. I have encouraged him, I have given him tools to succeed, pointed him towards where help lies, attempted to help him set up [X, Y, and Z] for a regular work flow to improve his output. There is not much more support I can do without actually doing his job for him, which I cannot do, and I can’t be more invested in him succeeding than he appears to be.

          I would understand if he was working his hardest at it and still failing, but that is not the situation and it feels really demoralizing when you tell me to just keep being supportive while he is not pulling his end of this.”

          1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

            Ah I really like this script! As I am feeling so demoralized by all this, as when he makes a mistake it falls back on me in the end!

            1. Zombeyonce*

              I also recommend dropping the “I can’t be more invested in him succeeding at his job than him” line Alison used in another letter this week. It’s a really great one.

              Also, love your username. I used to have a shirt that said “Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department. Welcome!”

        2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          How are you supposed to support him if it’s a capability issue? Hey, we hired this guy. He can’t really do the job, so you need to make sure his work gets done.

          1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

            I know right?

            Although I did sit on the panel where we interviewed him, but it was my first even interview/recruitment as a manager.

            I could kick myself now, but at the time I saw his job history and it was a lot of short stays ie 6-8months so he looked like a job hopper but he interviewed well (seemingly because he is a very good liar!!)

          2. boo bot*

            I feel like at this point it kind of doesn’t even matter if it’s capability or choice – if he can’t do the work, then they need someone who can, and if he won’t do the work, then they need someone who will.

            It speaks better of him as a person if he’s trying and failing, but in terms of filling the job, there’s really no functional difference.

        3. C*

          There’s “supportive” and there’s “doing his work for him.” Supportive, to me, means being available to answer questions, even maybe checking in with him to see if he has questions. SEnding him resources you think might help him (eg. “Hey, I found this excel shortcut online, and thought it might be helpful in compiling the TPS report”) and so on. It doesn’t mean picking up his slack or doing his job for him. Can you start shifting away from doing his work and more towards more passive support?

      2. Minocho*

        Yeah, giving yourself permission to not invest any more emotional energy in him – if he is a bad fit, that is not your problem – especially since your manager knows he has performance issues – you do what you can of your own work, but the shortfalls will fall on his shoulders until he carries his fair share.

        This advice is easy to give, and not always so easy to follow – I am a terrible hypocrite right now. :)

    2. animaniactoo*

      Job hunt because job hunts take awhile and don’t leave unless the opportunity is really really good while you wait for this to pan out.

      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        This is good advice – there are a lot of things I like about my job so I’d rather not jump unless it was into something good!

    3. ThinMint*

      My inclination is B and C.

      I have a situation similar to this that made me want to start looking. Just giving myself that permission in my mind and starting to receive notifications on Glassdoor of open things made me feel better. I didn’t feel so stuck or aggravated by the situation at hand. So yes, start looking casually if you aren’t ready to fully commit to C.

      1. The other Louis*

        I think this is great advice. It could also give you standing with your boss and grandboss to draw some line between “supporting” and “doing his job” (it sounds as though that line is getting crossed. Being aware that you don’t *have* to stay in a crummy situation is so liberating–even if you do choose to stay!

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They tell you to support him but that shouldn’t mean that you’re doing his work or carrying this burden. He’s not going to be let go, given all the hoops but in the end, you’re going to be letting some inept person run you out of your job. Is there a way to break that emotional connection and just focus on your job? Otherwise then you’d most certainly need to work on getting out of the department but if you just go to another department, you’re still going to run into these creatures that find themselves in jobs they rarely get fired from. It’s such a no-win situation given the rules you have to play by to work in that structure =(

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      I lean towards a with a side of d: do what you can to not let his performance affect you.

      It sounds like b is not realistic – the external requirements (govt job, rules, unions) are the problem more than your manager.

      c: Depends on what ‘getting out’ looks like – don’t take any job that looks less than ideal, because every job has some drawback. A slacker co-worker is a relatively minor drawback.

      1. Abby*

        Job searching (especially interviewing!) can be full of useful information when you’re frustrated about something at current gig.

        Either you see that everything you consider has drawbacks that are worse than whatever your current annoyance is, or you see that your current frustration is actually a pretty bad level of dysfunctionality and you’d be able to do better.

  3. Hella Frustrated*

    I am the head our nonprofits communications department. I’ve been in this role about 3 years and this is my first job out of school. I haven’t had very much guidance at all which in some ways has been great and given me room to experiment, but not great in other ways like when a boundary needs to be drawn but I’m not sure how to do it. Which leads me to my question. There is one new-ish person to our org who is the head of one of our programs who has taken a mile when I’ve given an inch. At first I gave them a little more leeway since they were getting the lay of the land but now it’s come to a point of disrespecting my time and not trusting my skillset. Which has become very frustrating over the course of the past few months and has inhibited my ability to complete our tasks.

    I guess my main question is how much input can I allow this person to have when we’re creating the items that pertain to their department? With everyone else we have a preliminary meeting to flesh out the idea and then my team runs with it until we have a rough draft to show to make sure we’re still on the same page about the direction and everything is usually hunk dory or we make minor changes. It’s gotten to the point where this person is trying to dictate what I prioritize when I have many other programs to promote and they don’t understand the time constraints or manpower need to do some of the things they’re requesting. It doesn’t help that they are decades older than me. When I initially started my boss told me that the program heads can dictate how they want their programs to be portrayed, but after these issues Boss has come around to the notion that my team and I know how best to craft the stories we’re telling and the information we’re putting out and the program directors need to defer to us with the style of the information we’re putting out. So I guess I’m having trouble asserting and putting my foot down because even when I do they try to weasel around it. I’m sorry this is such a rant. I’m basically at the end of my rope. How can I be open to the input of the department heads without losing my authority and having the power to decline their ideas that I don’t want to pursue?

    1. Minocho*

      It sounds like this PARTICULAR dept head is the issue, and your working relationship with the others is working well? If this dynamic is becoming increasingly a problem across the board, that’s one thing. If this particular department head is the crux of the issue, that’s another.

      I have some experience as a software development contractor, where I wasn’t allowed to say “No” (per management), but was still expected to steer projects for clients. I would clearly outline the costs of decisions, and as changes increased the difficulty or development time, their bill would increase – things would occasionally get out of control, but would rapidly right itself when the bill got big enough.

      You’re not really billing them – instead, you only have so much time and energy, and you have your own standards to meet as well. The department head trying to reprioritize his desires over other departments is an easier thing to push back against. For the design clashes, there may have to be push to meet company wide standards and enforce a style guide – think about why you disagree with what they want, and look for patterns – this can help you create your style guide if you don’t have one. I would think consistency would be a big part of creating a recognizable brand.

      1. Hella Frustrated*

        Thanks for your response! Yes, everything has been going smoothly with the other department heads. It’s this particular person who is a problem. I’m actually right now developing an brand guide that I aim to finish by this time last month that I hope will alleviate some of these issues. One of my main frustrations is that this person will continually deny me access to their program’s events that I need to get high quality pictures of and then take it upon themself to take cell phone pictures when I have a whole team of people whose job it is to take photos of our events. Or they’ll disagree with me about a social media post that I’ve already posted (which I’ve started to refuse to edit). This person is also very difficult to communicate with in the sense that all of our in person communications will be fine and we’ll end our meetings on the same page. But the follow ups are completely out of left field and totally different that what we talked about.

        1. Minocho*

          Can you create a work order document that is filled out during the productive meetings, and get a sign off there? Use their aversion to in person conflict to get reasonable agreements documented and agreed to? Then amendments require delays, etc.?

          Or maybe you can short circuit the wildly divergent follow ups with immediate email followups of the meetings:

          Dear Bob,

          Per our last meeting, we agreed that:

          1. The lions shall not be housed in the same area as the fattened cattle
          2. The lions shall be housed in an area that prevents the visitors from entering the lions’ area, and the lions from entering the visitors’ area.

          I am proceeding as we agreed above. Please let me know if I have misunderstood any of the above action items.

          1. Hella Frustrated*

            Yes! I’ve started recapping all our meetings in emails just to have some sort of record which has definitely been helpful when things get skewed.

        2. animaniactoo*

          Go to your boss immediately about her refusal to allow you to send someone to take professional photos and supplying you with cell phone photos instead.

          That is the kind of thing that you need somebody with more weight/authority to tell her is unacceptable and she MUST work with your department on this aspect.

          I have $5 that says the reason she doesn’t want people from your team there is because she’s doing something she doesn’t want people outside of her dept to be aware of – either something she’s been told not to do, or just knows it’s not quite kosher even if it is (hopefully) effective.

          1. Busy*

            I second this. Maybe it isn’t, but my experience has been that people who try to keep other people out of things are hiding something 100% of the time and 100% of the time what they are hiding is in fact nefarious.

            1. Hella Frustrated*

              Yes, it’s been really sketchy from my perspective. Like they want the media stuff to happen, but don’t want to let us in to do it, and sort of wants the subsequent projects done on their own terms. Which… is not going to work for me.

        3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Is there anything about their events that would mean they’d be worried about photographs and confidentiality? In a lot of non-profit work related to children or to groups with a lot of social stigma attached, photographs are often taken to carefully not reveal the identities of the clients. If they’re the only department working with such groups and your comms photographers aren’t used to thinking about that when choosing shots, it would make sense for them to want to provide their own event photographer who understood the need to frame shots in those ways. In that case, it’d be a case of trying to work with them to get one of your photographers trained in how to photograph that kind of event so you can get high-quality photos that work for that department.

          I suppose there could also be issues if it’s more on the donor-wooing rather than the client-services side and one or more of their particular donors does not like to be photographed. I’ve had situations where I convinced a certain reasonably high-profile person in a specific area of expertise to come to a non-profit event to present on their own dime, but they do not like to be photographed and wanted no photography at their presentation. I had the most obnoxious fight with our photography team about the whole thing. (Their presentation was technical and not particularly photogenic. “Engineer stands on stage talking” more or less sums up the visual here.)

          1. Hella Frustrated*

            Nope, the events are mainly internal and everyone has release forms. It’s actually worse because at the events that are public, they include other kids in the background which my team knows not to do.

          2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            This was sort of a problem I had when I worked in aquatics. Someone in Communications would want to take pictures, but they wouldn’t make sure we had photo releases of all of the people in the photos. *Even children* who they were legally bound to do so.

            Then on top of that, we had concerns about the appearances of safety. A photo where the lifeguard is in the background mid-blink looks like the lifeguard is asleep, which is terrible advertising, for example, but marketing wouldn’t look for things like that before publishing the photo. But other managers would spot it, and the lifeguards would get in trouble for it, “Why are you asleep in this photo, there are kids in the pool!” It was bizarre.

    2. Krickets*

      Whew!!! Nonprofit Comm is a good way to get experience in the comms field but also a challenging one for many reasons. I’m sure other more experienced commenters would give better advice, but I’ve been in your position before and it really sucks–especially when they’re trying to reorganize/reprioritize your tasks for you to finish what they want.

      Some thoughts that come to mind:
      -Do you trust yourself to be objective when hearing new ideas and are able to weigh them for its own merits?
      -I think if you have several templated responses such as, “Thanks for bringing up this idea. However, I am currently working on x, y, and z to meet the deadline for our fundraiser” or “Thank you for the idea. I’m not sure in what capacity I can work it out in the moment because of our priorities for this press rollout, but I’ll note it down” or “Our team is actually going in the direction of x at the moment per our boss Jerry, so we’re doing the best we can to adapt the stories/images/assets in time for what we’re putting out” OR >>> “You have a good point, but unfortunately we already have several concepts in motion for the campaign that have been developed and are in the final stages of execution. Sorry, but I don’t think we will be able to pursue this for now.”

      Don’t let them run in you into the ground. It’s kinda nice that it seems like your boss is giving you autonomy by deferring to y’all about the style of comms, but it’s also *seems* like boss needs to step in and say something? Anyway, I wish you all the luck in the world because it’s not easy in a nonprofit. :)

      1. Hella Frustrated*

        I’ve really tried to be good about analyzing exactly why I will or will not want to proceed with an idea or what tweaks an be made to make it viable because I’d really hate to be the person to ditch an idea just because of it’s source.
        Thanks for the templates, those will be really helpful.
        It’s weird because my boss seems to be on my side when we talk (and I know their needs to be some amount of diplomacy involved), but I think we’re just all at loss without there being distinct guidelines on who has the final say on these things.

    3. ragazza*

      Seems like this may come under the dreaded “responsibility without authority” problem. Can you/have you talked to your boss about this issue? Using AAM terminology, something like “I’m having trouble prioritizing my work since Program Head wants me to make more changes, etc., on their stuff than is usual, and it is cutting into the time I can spend on other things I need to do. How would you suggest I handle this with/communicate this to them?” This is something your manager should help you with, and then he/she is also aware of the issue. It is difficult when you are younger and ESPECIALLY when it’s your first job, so it’s helpful to be able to point to someone with more authority who has given YOU authority.

      1. Hella Frustrated*

        I’ve let my boss know these issues basically since they first started to creep up. At this point it’s getting a little troublesome because my boss is planning to step down by the end of the year so I really think having something I can point to and say ‘no, I have the final say on this’ would be great.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Yup – it is long past the time for Hella Frustrated’s boss to get involved here, especially since it’s one person acting up. The manager may have more context for why this department head’s behaving this way and may have more standing to address the issue.

    4. animaniactoo*

      You have to limit the weasel’s ability to find somebody to give them a tidbit.

      Note that you’re dealing with somebody who is likely always going to feel the way they do and try to operate this way, so do not focus on trying to change them.

      Work with the rest of your team/your boss to stop them being able to cut you out and trying to go around you. Make sure that any additional requests from her directly to them are funneled back to you for discussion/approval/rejection.

      If she has a problem with that, let her have a problem with that – but politely and firmly. “My team has many priorities. We do not have the manpower to focus as many resources as you would like on this.” “I understand that you would like it done differently, however what you want is not consistent with what the org presents and my team is in charge of making sure that it is consistent and therefore we need to do it this way.”

      She tries to draw you into an experience debate? “I respect your experience, however I have successfully been leading the way our team handles this for 3 years now. We are, of course, open to hearing about your experience but the final choice about this is ours, based on our own experience.” This is what you say the first time. After that, you say “Yes, you’ve mentioned that before and we’re always open to hearing your input, however it is my team’s responsibility to decide how to handle this.” – Note, you want to stress this every time. She may have the experience, you have the responsibility.

      If you do all of this and there continues to be an issue that you can’t handle more or less gracefully, that’s when it’s time to push it up to your boss. And, in fact, now might be a good time to sit down with your boss and outline these plans for dealing with her and asking if they have any issues or suggestions for your plans.

      1. Hella Frustrated*

        Note that you’re dealing with somebody who is likely always going to feel the way they do and try to operate this way, so do not focus on trying to change them.

        That’s a really good point. We’re actually at a good point in our org’s history to lay down guidelines and rules in a way that won’t completely upend things. I’m planning to talk with my boss soon (basically whenever there’s time in their schedule for me) on on what guidelines should be implemented, especially with regards to who has the final say. And I’m planning on having an org wide talk on new ground rules (even though this director is really the only one who needs hear it).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Have you spoken to your boss about this?
      I would be tempted to ask the boss about standardizing on your photos and ask about how many revisions you need to accept from this person.

      The revision thing slays me. Some people are not decisive and this is what indecision looks like. They torture themselves far more than they torture us most times. Can you work with an idea that you allow 24 hours after a plan is made for revisions? After that 24 hour period you cannot accept more revisions because the ball is in motion.
      It might be helpful to think of indecisive family members and what ways you use to help them to land on a decision. His inability to make decisions is his problem but it does not have to be your problem.

      You might find ways to guide him by suggesting, “The last time we had something similar to this X situation, you really like solution ABC. I think ABC would work well again here also.” I find that people do not mind being reminded of what they have liked in the past. It gives the new project more of a familiar feel to them.

      As far as the photos maybe you can get a big boss to put their foot down and end that forever. Or maybe you can hold a cell photo up next to one of your photos and show him the actual differences. This may be time consuming, but it might be a wise investment because:
      1) It’s a chance for you to show your knowledge in a subtle way.
      2) It’s a chance for him to talk about the differences in the pics, it may come out that he has certain things he prefers in photos. It could even be that you are already doing those things.
      3) You might gain some points in your favor by putting in the time to bring him up to speed to what you are doing. Sometimes issues have nothing to do with the immediate problem. Perhaps he just does not see the need for some aspects of your work.
      4)I have found that it’s a useful tool later on to be able to say, “Gee, would you like us to talk about this and I can show you?” Usually the person wants to learn more but the higher issue is the sheer amount of time it takes to run through stuff. So they cave in and say, “No, I believe you. Let’s go with what you are saying.”

      Going the opposite way, does he have a good friend who works well with you? Perhaps that good friend can chat with him. You can ask the friend by saying, “Perhaps you can help Bob. He seems to have a lot of changes on plans and he seems determined to use his own pictures. I was wondering if you could talk to him a bit about these things…” Or you could ask them if they have ideas on how best to help Bob arrive at ideas he is comfortable with.

      1. Hella Frustrated*

        Yes, my boss knows the problems and seems to agree with me that I’m doing what I can but I don’t know what their conversations with this other director are like.

        I think maybe a side by side comparison would be good. It’s just so frustrating to have a team full of specialists (which most nonprofits don’t have!) and be blocked out and sent grainy poorly framed photos.

        Most other people I talked with have had similar problems with this person. I just have it a lot more often because I’m one of the only people who work with all of our programs

    6. LKW*

      Some of this stuff you might be able to alleviate if you can work with your boss to establish standards and policies. For example, if anyone wants pictures of events to be published in any social or print media, a formal request for a photographer must be submitted. Photographer will be selected only by the communication team. No photos will be accepted from cell phones or non-approved sources without approval of your boss. If she makes no requests, she gets no pictures.

      But she sounds like she’s too big for her britches.

      1. Hella Frustrated*

        Yes, I’m actually pulling together guidelines as my current project over the next month or so and I think this would be excellent to add. Thanks!

        I think I was just too loose this year with this director being new and no one else needing boundaries like this…

      2. MissBliss*

        I agree– make it a rule that cell phone photos are not accepted and explain how to request HQ photos. Of course, you’ll have the ability to accept photos on a case-by-case basis, but the difficult person is not saying “one of our staff took this great photo on her phone!” and sending them to you. DP is saying “I took these photos at the event.” They planned for that, when they should be planning to follow procedures.

      3. June First*

        The guidelines should help, especially since you’re also working on a branding guide. In my nonprofit, we have seasonal employees and I just sent out my “Flyer and News Release FAQs” since another manager “forgot” to tell new staff that I need to approve flyers before distribution. The FAQs are basically a list of what info I need and the expectations for the project.

        I try to use a “Hey–this is the fun part of my job!” tactic, or sometimes “Let me take that off your plate”.
        I do tell people I need at least 24 hours’ notice for some projects, or sometimes longer. Working with an agency that provides crisis services, I’ve had case manager say, “I NEED 200 BROCHURES BY 2PM AND YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO IT!” Sometimes coworkers are so used to triaging crises, they forget that most projects require notice.
        Not sure how applicable this is, but thought I’d offer.

  4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    So I’m currently seeking a commenting commando to attack this article with stealth and style. Must have laser focus and ninja noun knowledge to compete in this cutting edge commenting environment. High school diploma or equivalent required. BS preferred. 10 + years commenting on online forums, Jedi level persuasion abilities a plus.
    Or if not, at least anyone who saw this in their news feed yesterday!

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Full disclosure: So did I! I could not get sucked into seeing real world examples of this abomination.

    1. Sashay, Blue Stay*

      If you were able to get past para 1… “More than ever, it seems, hiring managers are looking for extremists: You can’t just be willing to do the job. You must evince an all-consuming horniness for menial corporate tasks.”

      Be aroused by menial takes? Nope. I’m cool

      1. SunnyD*

        That was my favorite line too. It perfectly encapsulated how inappropriate and ludicrous those job listings are.

    2. Kira*

      I just finished job searching and they are so ridiculous. I guess it gives you an insight into company culture, and exactly how out of touch the person writing the job listing may be? The worst is tech jobs where in addition to all this, they want 7 years experience in something that has existed for 5.

      1. Narvo Flieboppen*

        It’s not just tech jobs where the listings are ridiculous.

        I attempted to apply for what is considered an entry-level position in, say, llama tracking services (outbound). The job description specifies “Bachelor’s degree or 5+ years of work experience in the field”. Okay, I don’t have the degree, but I have 15 years experience in the field, and specifically in outbound llama tracking.

        The first question in the automated application process: Do you have a Master’s degree? When I answer no, I get dumped out of the application for failing to meet the minimum requirements.

        I go back to the add, verify I didn’t misread it, and then contact the job poster to let her know about the issue. Her response: “I know the ad says Bachelor’s or work equivalent, but we’re only interested in candidates who want to excel in the field and that means having a Master’s degree. If you don’t have it, we’re not interested.” She hung up on me when I asked why not just put that in as a requirement in the job listing.

        Bright side, I definitely know I don’t want to be working for that company and I can safely ignore any future postings from them.

        1. Inexperienced Llama Wranglers Anonymous*

          I keep running to the opposite, must have a bachelors and 2 years of experience in our industry, or a PhD in lieu of experience. I have a PhD and 2 years of supporting their industry from an adjacent one.

          Open application, do you have 2 years of experience in our industry (with no box to explain answers)? No… Kthxbai. Or worse, it lets me fill out the application and sends an automated rejection within 5 min. I prefer the ones that kick me out before wasting my time.

    3. Yuan Zai*

      From the article: ‘Older, more experienced professionals are generally turned off by employers looking for extremists, as are parents. “You’re going to get mostly young men,” Siegel says.’

      This is a feature for these organizations, not a bug.

      1. The Grammarian*

        Yeah, agreed. They’re trying to filter people out. It’s terrible. They are also filtering out people who are searching for jobs by using common keywords for their desired positions, not “Customer Service Care Bear” or whatever.

        1. alphabet soup*

          My favorite: a customer service role advertised as “Chief Happiness Engineer.”


          1. MarsJenkar*

            An image comes to mind of a mad scientist building a machine that forcibly makes people happy via brainwashing…


          2. Zephy*

            My personal favorite is when they rebrand a receptionist position as “Director of First Impressions.” FOH unless you’re ready to back up that “director” title with a “director” salary.

        2. Double A*

          And when you’re looking for actual ninja positions these postings really kludge up your search, smh.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, as a 50 something woman, I would have no interest in ads like these. To me it reads like they think their company is a big joke.
        And basically there are no hard facts about the job itself. If they don’t know what they are looking for then I sure as heck am not going to know what they are looking for.
        I do pick up a “no oldsters need apply” vibe from these ads.

        1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

          This oldster is tempted to show up for an interview in an actual ninja outfit or Aladdin Sane facepaint. “But – you said…”

        2. Windchime*

          Yeah, I get the “no oldsters” vibe, too. And I’m cool with that, because a job as a Stealth SQL Ninja probably means I would also be expected to engage in Nerf battles or beer pong tournaments. No thanks.

      3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        The next generation of old boys net work…wow. I thought it was just juvenile. I see now. It’s insidious. And I stand 100% behind that statement.

      4. Busy*

        Yes. They also like to exploit the high-achieving insecure type who like validation from outside sources. See: All characters in How to Get Away With Murder lol.

    4. Ella P.*

      Director of First Impressions at a Real Estate firm… with exciting job posting to match, peppered with exclamation points!!!

      witch please, it’s a receptionist job and you don’t offer benefits… next!

      1. Zephy*

        Willing to bet that “director of first impressions” is a combo receptionist/greeter/HR/finance/office manager/EA.

        1. EinJungerLudendorff*

          At minimum wage of course.
          After all, they only do first impressions. Everyone can fake it for five minutes!

        2. Kat in VA*

          Kind of off topic, but I’m seeing more and more job postings for my job (EA) that are just that – answer calls for the company (not just your exec), order supplies and keep the kitchen clean (operations/office manager responsibilities), handle budgets (this one keeps cropping up and it’s multiple budgets now), AP/AR (isn’t that for…well…AP/AR in Accounting/Finance?), HR onboarding duties, and various other additional job functionnsn that would normally warrant a full time person in and of themselves.

          I get that sometimes an EA can wear all these hats in a very small company, but these are much larger companies that are condensing the hell out of several jobs and then pasting “Executive Assistant” on top of it.

          Of course, they want to pay the princely sum of $50k per year for this rat-king of a position.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Dear Employers,

      1. Do hire from within if you’re able. You likely already have knowledgeable talent.

      2. TELL ME WHAT THE JOB IS. “You are a passionate ninja rockstar” means nothing to me. What will I be doing all day?

      3. Stop looking for a unicorn and make one. Hire good people and train them!

      4. All this means nothing if the pay and benefits are shit.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. I assume all the hype is there because there really isn’t any pay and benefits to talk about.

        1. thinkofanamelater*

          Ugh. If I have to pay decent salaries, I won’t be able to buy a third yacht.

        2. Busy*

          Yeah they kind of have the ring to them of those job ads where you end up selling meat door to door.

        3. blaise zamboni*

          Yup. The article ends with this point too, which is…saddening:

          “Siegel sees plenty of resistance to offering things applicants might actually want—namely, money and flexibility. In a survey ZipRecruiter conducted last year, he says, most employers said they were focusing all their recruiting efforts on job listings themselves. “Instead of doing things like lowering the skills required or improving the pay, it was all about how much they were spending on more job boards or more recruiting solutions,” Siegel says. “There was a real resistance to responding to the market that was telling you that if you want to get good talent, you have to improve your offer.”

          In other words, few people seem to want to do the duties of a rock star if they’re not going to get paid like one.”

      2. Jaydee*

        “Stop looking for a unicorn and make one. Hire good people and train them!”

        YES!!! A unicorn doesn’t exist in the wild. If you try to find one, you’ll end up with a narwhal or rhinoceros. They are probably fine, but not really what you were going for, and there’s no easy way to make them more unicorn-like. Your best is to get a regular horse and train it to wear a unicorn costume.

        Also, recognize when you’ve created a lavender pegacorn with a glittery rainbow tail and mane (the employee who has taken on a dozen different roles over 20+ years at the organization, for example) and don’t expect to replace them with another lavender pegacorn with a glittery rainbow tail and mane. Probably you will need two or three horses. If you’re lucky, you might have a candidate or another employee who is a particularly glittery horse or a grey pegasus or a unicorn with a rainbow horn (all of which are excellent and probably meet many of your actual needs, but just maybe not 100% of what the previous employee did).

      3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        If I was a “rockstar” of any kind, I wouldn’t need to be job hunting. Companies would be seeking me out.

    6. Zennish*

      …You want me to be a “rock star”? Bono makes 115 Million a year, what are you offering?

    7. Mellow*

      Bah – reminds me of how everything now is a “journey”: customer experience journey, credit journey, home buying journey, etc. How about a “we’ll lower your interest rate significantly because you’ve paid on your bill on time for years and years” journey?

    8. Curmudgeon in California*


      Yeah, job postings have gone from mildly annoying to outrageously ridiculous.

      Everybody wants a unicorn, but is only willing to pay peanuts.

      Plus, I’ve lost track of how many places brag about their “Modern Open Office” like it’s a feature, not a organizational bug. These clueless recruiters seem to think it’s a great selling point for a job, whereas for most people it’s a serious downcheck.

      1. Inexperienced Llama Wranglers Anonymous*

        I just got an itinerary for an all day interview next month and it is NINE 45 min interviews. Anyone have advice on how to keep energy up as an introvert for that long (I’m used to a decent amount of meetings, but generally find 5 or so to be my daily energy limit)?

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          I’ve done it. I suppose they take you out to lunch at some point, so that’s not a break? You’re kind of trapped. All I can say is, make sure you take care of your bio needs, so you’re not ALSO drained by hunger or something.

  5. She's One Crazy Diamond*

    At my organization, there are these special assignments for professional development called rotations where you temporarily work in another position, usually at a higher level than your regular work, and once the assignment ends you return to your regular position. I recently applied for one, and if I was selected, was wondering how I would list it on my resume.

    1. Just Elle*

      I just list it like I would any other job, but put (Rotation) to help explain the shorter timeline.

      The Best Company Ever, 2010-Present
      Sunshine Provision Expert, 2019-Present
      Manager of Candy Distribution (Rotation), 2018-2019
      Wishes Granter, 2010-2018

      1. Garland not Andrews*

        Another term commonly used in government for this situation is “Detail”.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      how temporarily? If it’s < 6months, I'd probably list it as a bullet point in the existing job, with something like : 3 months cross-training in llama grooming.

        1. Just Elle*

          I think 6 months is enough time to list it separately along with bullet points for what you learned. But maybe think more along the lines of 2 bullet points instead of 4.

    3. Transplanty*

      Call it a secondment. That’s how I usually see it.

      Secondment is defined as the opportunity to work temporarily in a different firm or department to the one you are already working in.

    4. Canadian Jessie*

      In Canadian Federal Government, we call them Acting assignments. So I’d list it as

      Trade policy Advisor (CO-01) – Sept. 2014-current
      Senior Trade policy Advisor (CO-02 Acting assignment) Jan. to June 2019

      (CO denotes a level)

  6. Success story in speaking up to HR*

    I wanted to share a success story from a time I spoke up to HR about my old boss when I was leaving the company during an exit interview that made a huge change in how he interacted with employees after I left.

    I was the executive assistant for a very successful man in the city I live in. He was a great guy but had some quirks. He was a big hunter, which is popular where I live, and pretty much constantly talked about it in an oversharing I don’t want to hear this manner. I’m an animal lover and hearing this was awful. When I first started, after about 2 weeks I was calling around to staffing agencies because I didn’t think it was going to work out. I would cry on my way home because I couldn’t believe anyone would just openly speak about that kind of stuff with zero regard to how other people feel.

    Eventually I learned to tune it out, but it still very much bothered me. He even went on a hunting trip to Africa and showed me photos of animals he killed (AWFUL!!). He was not the type of guy you could go to and say this bothers me can you please stop talking about it, he was an older, conservative, very traditional kind of guy with the mentality that he can do what he wants because he’s “the boss.” Speaking up would have also dramatically changed our relationship, which was a good one. Since it’s popular where we live and popular in the industry, in meetings it would even be discussed. So annoying.

    I had been at the company for just under 2 years when my old manager contacted me offering me a position with the company I was previously at. I did miss working there as well as working for someone who was flexible and didn’t speak about hunting, so I took it.

    During my exit interview, HR asked me how it was working with boss man, so I was very candid about everything. He wasn’t approachable, had awful mood swings and spoke down to people, and constantly talked about hunting in a way that is offensive. I went into detail about things he said (which I won’t repeat here because they make me very sad). They said they would talk to him and remind him of the zero-retaliation policy.

    I recently had a chit chat with a woman I worked with while I was there who still works with him and she says he’s totally changed since I left. Never speaks of hunting. Never has mood swings or speaks down to people. Happy ending

    1. SuperAnon*

      So maybe there’s a bit of a lesson there: some situations *might* benefit from a trip to HR.

    2. Moray*

      It sounds like there were plenty of issues with his management style, but he can’t really be blamed for talking about hunting specifically if he had no idea that there was anyone who didn’t want to hear about it.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Exactly. If he gave the impression that he wasn’t going to be receptive to anything that fell outside of his own worldview, OP or anyone else who had an issue with him but said nothing can’t really be blamed for not saying anything. She had no way of knowing if he would retaliate at her someway.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Nah, if you are a person who trophy hunts, you KNOW there are people who are bothered by it.

    3. HeatherB*

      I’m glad you got out of there. I would NEVER be able to work for/with someone who hunted endangered animals – especially from Africa. And to see photos!!!

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Argh, I would have lost my mind at being shown pics of the murder safaris he went on. That’s so wildly out of touch and archaic.

      I’m glad that HR took this seriously and things were fixed! I’m always pro-tell HR but know that a lot of departments are pretty worthless and make things even worse. So glad this has a happy ending and nobody is subjected to that kind of horror again.

      1. Minocho*

        I want to go on a petting safari, though. That would be cool. The problem is I want to both pet a tiger and keep both of my hands.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ha me too. Remember that video where the cheetah leaped into the safari vehicle? If that were me, I would have been in trouble, haha. “Awww KITTY!!!” *chomp*

          1. such a letdown*

            I have petted cheetahs and I hate to burst your bubble, but their fur is wiry and coarse :-(

            1. Kat in VA*

              Honestly I wouldn’t care. I! am! petting! a! cheetah! is all that would be screaming through my brain cells.

        2. Former Employee*

          You might get away with it if it were a lion rather than a tiger. Lions have been known to bond with humans and are generally considered to be somewhat mellow for being big cats.

          From what I’ve heard, tigers aren’t much for bonding. I think that the only warm interactions they have are between a female and her cubs.

        3. TechWorker*

          Lol this is my bfs dream. We did manage to do an ‘experience’ at a zoo where you fed tigers bits of meat through the netting of their enclosure.. even that was pretty intense. Less cuddly though.

    5. Beth*

      My first job out of grad school, I worked for a REALLY awful manager. I’ll call her Mandy.

      It was a place with a one-year contract at a time for everyone in our type of work; at the end of any given year, if they liked how well you had done, they would ask if you would accept another contract for the following year. In my exit interview, when I was asked about the next year, I replied “I might consider returning, but not if Mandy is also returning . . .” and then laid out exact details of exactly why I would not even consider working with her ever again (incompetencem, and using her underling’s work to cover up her incompetnece, was the least of it).

      I brought up some information I had gleaned over the year: that I was the third person to fill my role in three years, which meant next year would be the fourth in four years, and the person who had filled my role the previous year had left mid-contract after a big showdown of “Either fire her and let me do her job officially, or I will leave.” He had not been given Mandy’s job, on the grounds of it being “his word against hers”; this was one of my reasons for speaking up. With me, it was now two people’s words against hers, and the second one had nothing to lose.

      Last I heard, she had left that field entirely and was no longer pretending to the work that she hadn’t been competent to do, so yay! Whoever followed me ultimately ended up better off. For my part, I found better work in a better place.

    6. Artemis*

      I’m a hunter and this really bums me out. When guys like this talk about hunting (of any kind) with zero sensitivity for other perspectives — and with what sounds like very little respect for the lives he took — it just paints all of us with the worst brush. I’m really sorry that you had that experience, and it’s awesome that you were able to create that change for others working with him!

      1. SunnyD*

        The hunters I’ve known have been very thoughtful, and focused on feeding their families and herd culling so they don’t all starve.

        And from my view, better lives for animals than factory farming, which is so awful they made it illegal to photo or film inside. But sadly not my skillset, and illegal to pay a hunter for meat.

  7. Eleanor Shellstrop*

    I had my annual review this week and got a 10.5k raise! They offered 5.5k and I asked and I got it! I was pretty underpaid to begin with and now I feel like I’m adequately paid for my position and it feels awesome.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        username checks out. Well done, Eleanor. Are you gonna blow it at the bar or are you gonna donate it to a charity in Chidi’s name?

    1. The Grammarian*

      Congratulations! Hearing these kinds of success stories gives me hope for myself and for other women in the future. I can’t wait until Alison hosts that open thread.

    2. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      And hopefully you don’t have to sell fake medicine to old folks to earn it!

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      That’s a fantastic raise! Congrats! The most I’ve gotten without leaving a company is 10%, but it was tied to a promotion. To get that much to continue to do your current job? That’s awesome!

  8. Sunday Morning Fever*

    The saga continues with our new(ish) associate. The one who likes to tell me he agrees with what I tell him to do or tells me that he was thinking of doing the same thing (after the fact), which I think is caused by the fact that he refuses to admit when he doesn’t know something.

    I did have a conversation with him about a particular scenario. I told him that I didn’t expect him to know everything and I got the impression he felt he had to respond immediately if I asked a question or requested more information. He did not have to respond immediately. I said I expected him to find the answer and he could ask me if he wasn’t sure how to find the answer. (He said I hit the nail on the head… great.)

    Then this week.

    He alphabetized a list and the items that started with “the” were alphabetized under the letter T. (He is 35+ years old)

    I edited an email he sent to clients. He said, it looked great (again, I’d rather him tell me he understood the edits, rather than tell me it looks great, but moving on.) But he had one change in regard to grammar that he learned from his old boss. At the time I said he could use whatever version he wanted or adjust the sentence to take out the offending phrase. Except, I’m pretty sure he took his lesson in grammar out of context. Because I checked with my Grammar Nazi friends and they all said what I had written was correct.

    But now… Now, I feel like I just have to accept the fact that I’m not capable of managing this person’s growth and he will always be what he is.

    1. SuperAnon*

      I have a coworker who constantly says, “That’s what *I* thought!” when I answer their question or make a suggestion.

      Well — if you thought it, why didn’t you say it first? Or answer your own question? BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T KNOW.

      1. CAA*

        I’d be so tempted to start answering all her questions with “what do *you* think?” and waiting for an “I don’t know” before responding.

    2. Auntie Social*

      Re the “The” filing: Our criminal-defense law firm had a temp come for one of the name partners who was in trial. So basically she had to answer phones and help with correspondence from other people in the department. She said she was pooped from reorg’ing the filing because it had been a mess! This partner was meticulous, mess wasn’t even in his vocabulary, and temp was never told to reorganize anything. Turns out she had filed everything under P ( People vs Client) or S (State v Client), making two enormous files. We explained that’s not how you file in criminal law, and told her to put it back ASAP. She sulked for the rest of the week.

      1. Nessun*

        Reminds me of the old Are You Being Served episode where the secretary to the CEO files everything under “A” – A Letter, An Invoice, A Pink Slip…

      2. cmcinnyc*

        Oh… my… wow… Did it at no point occur to her, wait… this can’t be… EVERYTHING under P or S? She never noticed the FILING NUMBERS? oh man oh man oh man

        1. Lance*

          Better yet, to ask someone before doing a huge file reorg like that. Presumably people other than her still have to look through those files.

      3. Canadian Jessie*

        My mom had an employee that filed everything under first names, instead of last. And would argue til she was blue in the face that it was supposed to be done that way. And would not accept any proof otherwise. Mom made her refile everything “the wrong way” (by last name) and the employee told everyone who would listen how backwards my mom was :P

        1. Lady Olenna RIP*

          Our school librarian filed art print samples by Michelangelo under A for Angelo. And then argued about it with the art teacher.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Agreed and I posted pretty much the same on the prior open thread, with more specific approach suggestions. OP needs manage him and stop quitely fuming that DR is not picking up on their preferences with their current passive methods.

        OP you have the power to address this and should stop abdicating your responsibilities with this “oh well DR will never change attitude” when you actually have most of the power.

      2. Sunday Morning Fever*

        I appreciate the insight and while I agree that it’s better to say something than fume — what I’m fuming about is not the issue of behavior or experience that needs to be taught or refined. It’s a lack of common sense that I don’t believe I can teach. For every item that is filed under T because it starts with “The” that I might correct or advise, there is another right around the corner. This isn’t an issue with just his professional behavior, it’s an issue I have with his personality and lack of awareness. And I honestly believe that not only would it be detrimental to the work he does do well, but actually unprofessional of me to micromanage his personality.

        So I will fume and attempt to figure out the best way for me to manage my way around it, unless it does involve his work or his interactions with other people.

        1. BethDH*

          I remember thinking when you posted before that he was younger than 35 — stuff like “don’t file using ‘the'” are things most people start to absorb even if they haven’t done filing themselves (because they have to use filing systems that others have created). Same with learning whether your grammatical situation is a matter of taste or is functionally wrong.
          You *might* be able to encourage him to take a minute to think things through as a general practice, because it sounds like the message he needs is not to be thinking “Can I show that I’m right?” but rather, “What is the effect on clients/coworkers/company of what I’m doing?”
          I definitely was that person about wanting to be technically right even if I was situationally wrong for a long time. Again, though, I think most of us grow out of that so he may be hopeless.

        2. Lana Kane*

          I understand your point. As a supervisor, a lack of common sense is extremely difficult to train around. It means that even when the person finally learns the specifics of their job, they will still likely make mistakes or errors in judgment that their peers wouldn’t. It feels like constantly putting out tiny fires, when really, the answer is not to keep playing with matches.

        3. Ms. FS*

          I just came here to say something about “common sense” or the lack thereof because I’ve just experienced my boss telling me and other directors in our org that we need to use our ‘common sense’. The idea of common sense differs by organization, sector, person, boss, etc. It is not so common in my mind. Case in point – in my last job I worked with and communicated with outside stakeholders in very high positions and would rarely tell my boss about it unless it affected her or the organization. This was my job as a senior director. In my new job, my boss wants me to cc her on these same types of communications, edits my emails, and wants to know what was said and how it was said if over phone conversations. When I failed to cc her on a fairly benign email the other day, she said I lacked common sense. That’s untrue – I don’t lack common sense, I lacked an understanding of how she prefers things to be. There is a difference.

          So I use this example OP to suggest that you remove judgement words from your vocabulary and focus on specific behaviors to provide feedback to this person. He may not improve – in which case he lacks the skills to adapt to your feedback. But framing it from a common sense perspective I think is not helpful and is pretty subjective.

          1. Former Employee*

            This sounds completely different to me. The example you gave is a preference. The fact that your boss sees their preference as being equivalent to the common sense approach doesn’t make it so.

            The example that OP gave was unequivocally one where using common sense equated to doing something the right way. The idea being that even if you never filed things yourself, if you are a 35+ year old individual, you should know that you do not file by “T” when the first word is “The”. As someone else pointed out, you would know that because by the time you are over 35 you would have looked things up and realized that is not how filing works.

            You also don’t put someone on hold and then go on break; talk to clients about the details of your [fill in the blank with something extremely personal]; or eat garlic before a big meeting.

            1. SunnyD*

              Not eat garlic before a big meeting? Preference (and based on your own ethnic/cultural rhythms – some cuisines just do garlic).

              Knowing how to alphabetize when responsible for filing? Basic requirement. Not really common sense so much as basic knowledge one expects of adults (non-dyslexic ones), especially for this job.

    3. Close Bracket*

      “again, I’d rather him tell me he understood the edits”

      Did you ask him flat out in so many words whether he understood the edits?

      Fergus: “This looks great!”
      SMF: “Did you understand all the edits?”

      “At the time I said he could use whatever version he wanted or adjust the sentence to take out the offending phrase … they all said what I had written was correct.”

      This really read like, “he could use whatever version he wanted as long as he acknowledged that I was correct.” Don’t set someone up to fail with you like that. If he can use whatever version he wants, he can use whatever version he wants without you going to other people for validation that you were right and then using that to build up your grievance with him.

      “I just have to accept the fact that I’m not capable of managing this person’s growth”

      Sounds like that’s the best path forward.

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        No, I said he could use whatever version he wanted and I meant it… I didn’t know if I was right or wrong, so I asked friends of mine who would know. They said I was correct. So he corrected my grammar and I confirmed (for my own future knowledge) that it didn’t need to be corrected.

        1. Jasnah*

          This sounds like you gave corrections you weren’t sure were accurate? And let him make the choice on whether or not to use your corrections? So he chose not to use your corrections, and then you went back and confirmed you were right, and now you’re mad?

          Why not just tell him what to do and what not to do, rather than presenting false choices and getting frustrated when he doesn’t read your mind?

    4. Quinalla*

      Ugh, the not being able to admit you don’t know something is so annoying and off-putting. My son (5) is very quick to say “That’s what I was going to say, Mom!” when he clearly doesn’t know but thinks he should know after I tell him something. I’m very much trying to break him of what has become a habit. I’ve definitely run into this sort at work too, though honestly they don’t last long in my field because pretending you know more than you do gets you in over your head so fast you either figure it out and stop or fail so spectacularly that you are done with that company at least.

    5. LGC*


      Like, just – wow. This dude is my age. And he has a professional job. And he doesn’t know how to alphabetize.

      So anyway, I apologize that you (or whoever was in charge) hired a full grown Fergus. I feel like…since you know he has no common sense, you might have to treat him like he has no sense and explain WHY you’re treating him like that. It’ll feel patronizing, but he’s clearly incompetent in certain ways. And honestly, it’ll be kinder for him to know straight up that you have these concerns.

      Also, pick your battles. Like, putting everything with “The” together is a battle worth fighting since that can have downstream effects. But the email might not be, if his suggested grammar isn’t terribly wrong. (You did the right thing in letting him use his discretion.)

      For what it’s worth, I…agree that you’re not handling this perfectly, but also you’re human and honestly I want to fire this guy now. At this point, it might be easier for you to just bring up your concerns in a one on one meeting – I can imagine that in the moment, you’re so irritated with Fergus that you can’t give the “correct” response.

  9. Hiring In Remote Areas*

    Any advice on hiring in remote areas (45+ min drive from nearest major city)?

    Bonus points if you’ve done it for part time/freelance roles that have sporadic scheduling. Just curious because this is one of our work challenges. Pay is standard so that’s not one of the issues.

    Right now, our solution is to give current employees an extra hour of pay to cover Remote Location but there are some that are so remote that nobody would go because the gas it takes to get there isn’t worth the $ they would be making.

    1. Just Elle*

      What about offering standard IRS reimbursement rate for mileage for commuting to the job?
      “Beginning January 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be: 58 cents per mile for business miles driven”

      As someone who grew up in very, very rural area I do kind of laugh at the commuting woes. I think there’s ways to advertise to people who want to live in areas like that – but might have to recruit nationally. But the pay/part time nature makes me lean more toward just reimbursing people for their commute.

      1. Jen Mahrtini*

        This will help attract people, but needs to be treated as taxable income if it’s for a normal commute.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          Yes, exactly. It’s a nice thing to offer, but the IRS says that commuting miles are not business miles, so you need to find out how to handle this so that your employees don’t face tax penalties.

          1. Just Elle*

            It sounds to me like the long commute is not a usual commute, more of a “you get stuck on the rotation so its your time to go to the far away place” thing. If that’s the case I think it would qualify. If not, I’d just plus up the reimbursement to equivalent after-tax amounts.

            1. Hiring In Remote Areas*

              It’s tricky. It’s more of a “We have a llama that needs to be groomed at Remote Location with no real schedule – sometimes once a month, sometimes once every 3 months, sometimes twice in one month. No llama groomers want to go to Remote Location. Boss offers a ‘bonus’ and still nobody wants to go because it doesn’t make sense financially/llama needs to be groomed on a Friday afternoon in heavy traffic so a 1 hour trip can double. Boss ends up cancelling llama grooming in Remote Location.”

              1. Kathleen_A*

                Yes, it is tricky. I’m not saying it’s not doable, but it’s something that will need some research, that’s for sure.

              2. Gumby*

                I am not sure there is a way to find people who want to take jobs that will result in them losing money.

                I see two possible solutions: pay enough that people don’t lose money on taking those jobs (so pay for commute time) or stop taking llama grooming jobs in Remote Location – just accept that it is no longer in your service area.

                If you were meaning to ask how to hire someone who already lives in Remote Location for an extremely part time and not at all predictable position – your best bet is to look for someone who might be looking for just a teeny extra side-job and train them from scratch. It is unlikely that there are a plethora of experienced llama groomers already living in Remote Location just waiting for you to have the right recruiting trick to hire them. If there were, they would already be grooming the llamas and no one would hire you to do it.

              3. SunnyD*

                I always got paid for my non-commute travel time, and was reimbursed for travel costs (gas, tolls, mileage/wear on my car).

                If what you’re asking is how to get people to both do a difficult unpopular task, AND have them swallow company business expenses … the answer is you don’t, ethically and as good business practice.

                If what you’re asking is how to recruit already-local people, do research in the community. Ask local government. Look for employment groups. Look for 4H (or non-llama equivalent). Look for high schools (students or teachers), community colleges. Call the gardening club. Advertise on local Craigslist. Be careful about asking churches or other religious orgs unless it’s kosher for your org.

      2. Hiring In Remote Areas*

        What are some ways to advertise to people who live in areas like that?

        Company is trying to cut down on “travel expenses” – last year the company spent well into the low 6 figures paying employees travel $. Boss gets told “you need to hire people who live in Remote Area to do sporadic job” but Boss ends up just “bribing” current team members to go.

        In order to even be part of Company, all team members must attend orientation in Large City and orientation is paid at a lower rate than Sporadic Actual Job.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Maybe focus on growing someone local more than on finding someone with existing qualifications?

          Does the remote area have a high school? Can you partner with teachers at the high school to do local internships? Maybe hire one of the high school teachers for the summer / part time in school year, and have them oversee interns as part of a class?

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Could you offer a “hard to fill location” signing bonus to offset the hassle of the orientation/training in another city at that lower rate?

          If the area has some kind of community hub, advertise there (consider having something you can tack to a bulletin board promoting the job). Specifics will vary with the area, but there may be such a bulletin board at the local post office, grocery store, hardware store, feed store, grange hall, church, school, town hall, or other place that people tend to go regularly. (The area may not have all of those things if it’s very rural, but probably has at least one of those things. I once lived in a town with a store that sold hardware, commercial logging equipment, and liquor rather than having those three things in separate stores.)

          Find out what you can about the economics of the area – do most people there already have work? Is that work seasonal? If so, is your sporadic work during the busy time or the slow time for that seasonal work? What about the training/orientation you’re trying to get people to go to? You are not going to get a lot of people who will take on a sporadic seasonal job during, say, commercial fishing season in a fishing town unless it pays better than fishing because everyone already is working that time of year.

        3. That Would be a Good Band Name*

          I’m not in recruiting, but I live in an area like this. The best way to advertise for locals here is to find a local paper to place an ad. Indeed with specific mention of the area is also good as people who are looking for work are always jumping all over anything that is close. I drive 45 minutes to the closest city for work and a job close to where I live is the dream but generally in my area you have to be related to the right person to get anything that comes open.

          If the area works like it does here, orientation in Large City wouldn’t be a deal breaker. Most people I know travel to other cities (anywhere from 45-90 minutes) at least weekly to shop, go to the movies, etc. Several are like me and drive 45+ minutes daily for work.

          1. That Would be a Good Band Name*

            I forgot to mention facebook. Search for (Remote area) jobs or (Remote Area) Help Wanted or even the for sale (yard sale) groups that are all over facebook. I know a recruiter who does all of her advertising on fb for our small area and a local farm only advertises through there.

      3. Beth*

        The company might be able to use the standard mileage reimbursement as a basis for calculating a remote location work bonus — just be certain to have the amount of the bonus end up as the AFTER-tax amount, not the pre-tax. It’s an easy calculation to do; other firms (including my current one) use it when they want employee bonuses to be after-tax amounts.

        1. Hiring In Remote Areas*

          We use the pre-tax amount for the bonuses. The bonus is not large – at most it is equal to an hour of pay.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Can the workers work remotely? Or do they have to actually physically travel to that remote area?

      1. Hiring In Remote Areas*

        The job requires you to physically travel to that remote area. If it involved working remotely, I would pick up those shifts (and I’m sure others would too!)

    3. Midge*

      Would it make sense to reimburse for travel time *and* to expect lower hours on site? I guess that could go either way. But as someone who was laid off because her position moved an hour away, making it impossible to balance home and work life (would basically not be able to see my toddler while he was awake 5 days a week…), I know that total time away from home can be a huge concern for some people.

      I also agree with the commenter who suggested trying to hire more locally to the remote areas. As someone who lives 45+ minutes from a minor (not even major) city, I can tell you that the job markets out here can really suck. Even for those with a lot of education and skills, we don’t have a lot of choices, and often have to wait a long time for an decent opening. It’s different from living in or near a big city and having the ability to choose from dozens of employers/positions. You might be pleasantly surprised at the talent and workforce you find if you advertise in those more remote areas. So many people living there because of family (in my case, spouse’s career) who are just looking for a decent job.

      1. Hiring In Remote Areas*

        What are some ways to advertise our job opening to someone like you? Or, where do you look when you are job searching? Craigslist ads will yield responses such as “I don’t live in Remote City but if you’re ever hiring in Major City, I’d love to work for you!”

        The shifts are short as it is – which also ties into the “nobody wants to drive there from major city” so there’s no way to get less hours on site.

        1. Aphrodite*

          I’d see if there is a local newspaper, perhaps a weekly. Of if there are any community/neighborhood websites. Are there community centers where you can put fliers? Or local community leaders you can contact and ask them to spread the word and inform you of places where you might be able to advertise. What kind of sources where the community comes together for events and meetings exist there?

          1. Jaid*

            I’ve seen placemats in diners that advertise businesses. You probably could try there, too.

    4. MoopySwarpet*

      Could you have them clock in at the regular office and pay them mileage and time to go to the remote area? I would think if the start/end points are at the main office, the travel between the office and remote areas would be considered business travel vs commute.

      Offer PTO for those hours of commute plus a bit extra to cover gas?

      Can the company offer company vehicles to remote workers?

      IRS publication 463 has all of the rules for travel and car expenses. It looks to me (at a glance) that mileage can’t be reimbursed from home to the main place of employment, but can (maybe) be for travel to the remote location since the main location is the employer. This is the 2018 version so the amount listed is wrong, but I don’t think the main details have changed for this year.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        IIRC, if their main place of work, where they get their supplies, where they get their timecards signed, etc is the main office, then having them always “clock in” at the main office then drive to $remote_site would be allowable for reimbursement for mileage, especially if the $remote_site shifts are on a rotation.

        It looks like
        a) Everyone shows up at main office, signs/clocks in
        b) People doing remote/field work that day pick up their assignments & equipment
        c) People doing field work drive to $remote_site on the clock and get paid for mileage
        d) Field/$remote_site people come back to the main office, file reports/timecards/mileage, drop off equipment
        e) Everybody signs/clocks out at the main office.

        That lets them rotate the $remote_site work, pay people for the hassle, and be able to switch people out as they need to, and still be able to have the mileage on the clock.

        Note: IANAL, IANACPA, YMMV, check with your company tax advisor.

    5. KR*

      We have job sites in extremely remote areas. We either hire local or hire someone who works remotely & is “based” where they live and pay them for their travel to the job site.

    6. WS*

      I live in a remote area (45 minutes each way to get groceries) and there’s a lot of people who have several small jobs to keep them going, plus a lot of female farmers who work lots of one-off or low hours jobs during school time to bring in a bit of extra income to the farm. Searching locally (usually a local newspaper or Facebook group) might be a good way to go. Do they have advance warning, even just a day or so, of when they’re going to be needed? Can the job be done in school hours?

    7. Reliquary*

      I have an inkling that many years ago, I used to be exactly this type of llama groomer.

      I would (almost) always take the sporadic Remote Location work because in return, I got an explicit commitment that doing this thankless (and barely remunerative) work would put me first in line to choose the type of llamas I would be grooming and the schedule of said grooming during our peak periods of work in Urban Hub.

  10. le sigh*

    Major Gift Officers – I am starting a new MGO role which is a step up for me, I’ve always been a jack of all trades generalist in development. Plus I’m moving somewhere where the budget is no joke nearly 30 times larger than my old job.
    What do you wish you had known when you started an MGO job?

    1. anon for this*

      Not a MGO myself, but I work in prospect development and can share a couple insights.

      -Your job isn’t to convince people who don’t want to give that they should give. Your job is to align the donor’s passions with what your organization does. Someone with lower capacity who loves your org will be a better prospect than a billionaire who’s gone to an event or two but is lukewarm about your cause.
      -On a related note, giving is engagement. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking someone has to be schmoozed into making a gift. People who have philanthropic inclination want to give their money away, and they’re looking to you for advice on how to do it most effectively at your organization.
      -If you have them, leverage your partners in the annual fund and planned giving in developing holistic, donor-centric strategies. A rising tide lifts all boats and only deepens the donor’s engagement.
      -If you can, invest in a polished wardrobe, whatever that means to your constituency. I work in higher ed where the rule is business dress for donor visits, and I used to work for a nonprofit where the rule was sheath dresses and artful jewelry. It sounds shallow, but appearances matter in this field. You don’t have to go full designer by any means, but paying attention to fit and neatness goes a long way.

    2. MissBliss*

      Congratulations! I would love to hear more about your journey to becoming an MGO, which is where I think I’d like to end up. I’ve been in development for 4 years sort of doing the jack of all trades thing, but I’m now at an organization that is large enough that people specialize (and the major gifts are actually pretty major). How long have you been in fundraising?

      1. le sigh*

        I’ve been in fundraising for about 5 years but I also spent two years on the grantmaking side. It’s been a little trial and error to find my way here. The places I’ve worked in fundraising until now have never been large enough for a separate major gifts portfolio, individual giving at all was always an afterthought to be honest.
        I had an event planning background from college, both volunteer and work study which helped when I was looking for jobs. Over time I did what I could to move away from that and into more individual giving. Getting this job was mostly luck that someone was willing to take a chance on potential, I have had measurable successes in several areas that translate to major gifts and understanding philanthropy which I think was important.
        good luck!!

    3. Mels*

      Congratulations! I’m a second-in-command in the development shop of a larger local nonprofit, with an emphasis on major gifts. First, “anon for this” has good insights. A few other random notes:

      – Don’t get sucked back into the non-major gifts work. SO many MGOs go astray this way. Major gifts takes focus, thoughtfulness and time to gain traction.

      – Your job is to build the relationship between the person and the org, not to be their personal friend. But be friendly and personable. It can be a tough balance but it’s critical.

      – Too many fundraisers are actually afraid to ask. Get comfortable with using clear language to ask people to give. “You are so passionate about this work. Would you be open to me sharing some ideas about how your support can have an impact here?” … “A gift of $xx could do yyy – would you be willing to consider that?”

      – Create a menu of how people can give and what that means. For example:
      $1k could purchase books for student for one semester
      $10k would allow us to send five kids to summer camp
      $100k would fund this veterinarian for our shelter
      $1M would create an endowment to support families with babies in the NICU
      Having these tools at your finger tips makes the giving conversation easier.

      – Form strong relationships with non-fundraising peers. They are your partners; use them to help cultivate and steward your donors.

      – Know that major gift fundraising is hard. We influence behavior but we don’t control our prospects. We hear a lot of “no,” get a lot of no response, etc between the peaks. You have to be able to stay focused and optimistic in the in-betweens, and sustain your activity, or you’ll just be miserable and not gain the traction you need.

      That said, if you can do all this and a million other things I didn’t list ;) it can be super rewarding and a very fruitful career path. Good luck!!!!!

  11. BlueWolf*

    A friend of mine is looking to get back into an office job after several years of working service industry-type jobs (Uber, restaurants, etc.). He has previous office experience between internships and a couple years at an office job just after college, but it has now been about 3-4 years since he has worked in an office. Does anyone have suggestions for how he should format his resume to have the best chance of getting an interview? If he can actually talk to a hiring manager, I think he will be hired no problem because he is smart and a good communicator. He thinks it’s better to only list his related professional experience and skills and not list his recent jobs at all (and therefore have a several year gap on his resume) because he thinks no one will even call him if they see his recent experience is Uber and restaurants. However, I think it would be better to have a section for related experience and one for other experience, so that they can see he has been (and currently is) working. Thoughts?

    1. Murphy*

      I think it’s better to list what he’s been doing. My resume is…not the greatest in terms of relevant employment. I’ve only had one person treat it as a problem (and they were horrible in general) but everyone else has either not asked about it, or if it came up I was able to communicate what skills I did pick up in those situations.

    2. Just Elle*

      I structured my resume into two sections:
      Relevant Experience:
      Other Experience:

      This allows me to show the full history and not have weird gaps, but the most relevant ones will be highlighted first.

      I’m also not a lover of objective statements, but in this case it could be a good way to explain why he’s looking for a field change. “Excellent communicator looking to transfer customer-facing experience into a career development opportunity.” (or whatever)

      1. BlueWolf*

        Thanks all. This is exactly what I was thinking. Highlight the relevant experience first and then the other experience section is there for context to explain the “gap”. I think he’s just feeling insecure about it because it’s been such a long time and his last office job was not a good environment, so I think his understanding of how the professional work world works is skewed.

        1. Just Elle*

          In this case, I think any job is better than no job. And if he has a big huge blank spot on his resume it will read like he had no job.

          If he can, it would be helpful if he could get himself mentally on the offensive instead of the defensive by rehearsing explanations of how each ‘not-relevant’ job has been a learning opportunity that translates into an office environment.

    3. Alice*

      I think he should list it and explain in his cover letter what transferable skills he has demonstrated in those jobs. The cover letter is more important than the resume.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah breaking it down into relevant experience and other experience is the way to go.

      He’s in a real ugly spot right now because honestly, he won’t get many call backs because of him being out of the game and in the contract business for awhile. This is where he needs to make sure he’s sending out awesome cover letters to get his foot in the door.

      I know that the resumes that have come through with that kind of job history tend to be very low on the call back list. However they are completely pitched out if they appear to be without work for 3-4 years without heavy experience and we’re in a real crunch.

  12. workerbee2*

    I work on a small team as a high-level individual contributor (I have a manger title but no one reports to me). Earlier this year, my department got a new boss, my grandboss, Abigail. I e-mailed Abigail on Monday. It was about two sentences long, with the second stating that I wanted to work from home on Wednesday. Her response (also via e-mail): “Love it!” That’s it.
    Wednesday rolls around, and Abigail is furious. She sent me a task at 9 PM Tuesday that had a hard deadline of 8 AM Wednesday. My typical in-office hours are 7-3:30. We have some flexibility on start time, and the rest of the team’s schedule is more like 8-4:30. I was working offline (at home, as outlined in my email from Monday) and didn’t think to check my e-mail until about 9 AM. I had a lot of work-related reading to do, and e-mail is extremely distracting when I’m trying to read. Abigail sends me an angry email about how I caused all sorts of problems for her by not being available that could have been avoided with better communication (a.k.a. better communication from me).
    She’s clearly livid by the tone of her e-mail, so I called my manager, Samantha, to ask her what I should do. I felt like I needed to defend myself but couldn’t figure out how to do that without coming across as defensive and making things worse. I outlined everything that happened, including reading her the relevant e-mails, and Samantha says, “Abigail’s way out of line here. You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t respond, and I’ll talk to her about it in my one-on-one with her on Friday afternoon.” She went on to say that it’s not reasonable or consistent with company culture to expect me to be tethered to my e-mail 24/7, and that if something that urgent with that tight of a turnaround time arises, it warrants a call or text and not just an e-mail.
    I’ve been an anxious mess since Wednesday morning, because I don’t like not meeting expectations and angering Abigail any more than she does. She and I have had an on-and-off contentious relationship since she started here, but things have been so much better recently that I was finally starting to relax. None of our problems have centered around the work, but more around her implementing rules that are not the norm for other teams in the office, such as strictly enforcing the company’s 8.5-hour butts-in-seats policy by having security give her the records of when we swipe in and out of the building. (We’re all salaried and consistently meet all work-related goals.)
    I comply with all of Abigail’s demands, but I can’t seem to build any lasting rapport with her. It’s like trying to climb a blank wall. I’ll feel like I’m making progress, then something like this happens and I’m back to square one. She never gives me any benefit of the doubt, despite the fact that my work quality is good and Samantha has never had any problems with me in the several years I’ve been employed here. (And not because she’s overly permissive. She did “manage out” one subpar employee a few years ago.)
    Is there anything I can do here besides look for another job? I’d rather not have to do that because I like the work, the pay is decent, and the benefits are good. In addition, Abigail is really smart and knowledgeable in her field. I could learn so much from her if we could stop having these interpersonal issues, which bleed into the work (my engagement, productivity, etc.) because I’m not a robot.

    1. LaurenB*

      Did you forward your original email to her (showing that she approved the Wed work from home)?

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Won’t help with the adversarial relationship werkerbee2 describes – that would only escalate.

        1. workerbee2*

          Yep, that’s exactly why I didn’t do it, no matter how badly I wanted to. I have a general need to be “right,” so showing restraint here was a big personal victory for me in working against that.

      2. workerbee2*

        I wanted to, but didn’t. I was worried at how that would come across, especially via e-mail where it can be harder to decipher tone and when she was already ticked off and even more likely to view it in the worst possible light. I’m fully prepared to politely defend my actions should she confront me about it in person.

        1. Frustrated In DC*

          Man, I would have.

          Per my email…going forward…copied Samantha so we are all on the same page…please confirm (blah blah corporate buzzwords/attaching emails/etc.) .

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I would have too and said something like, “Hi Abigail. Maybe I misunderstood, but per the email chain below, I was under the impression I had permission to work from home Wednesday. Going forward, should I send you follow-up reminders a day in advance of any work from home days?”

            My last manager used to regularly forget when I’d WFH or come in late after a dentist appointment, so I got into the habit of forwarding her email reminders the day before and texting her the morning of so she wouldn’t be blowing up my phone or email asking where I am.

    2. Officious Intermeddler*

      I don’t think you can change someone who manages like that. I had a boss who did that kind of thing once, and when I got some distance, it became clear that her unreasonable last-minute requests (way outside of business hours with insane turnarounds) were due to her own chronic disorganization and lack of time management. She constantly shifted the burden of dealing with that kind of work to subordinates and then came down hard when the work couldn’t be done (or done to her liking) in that kind of timeframe.

      I came to the conclusion that she would have to change how she handled her workflow, and I just didn’t have that kind of control as a subordinate. Good luck.

      1. workerbee2*

        This is the first time the last-minute thing has come up. The timing was an unfortunate coincidence. The issue is more that Abigail basically accused me of believing that I had the ultimate authority to decide I could work from home when SHE’S THE BOSS, meaning that she either forgot that she told me I could, or that she didn’t really read the e-mail I sent her. She wants to come up with a more concrete process so that she has calendar reminders with everyone’s work from home days. I actually think that’s a good idea, but so that she remembers and doesn’t go off on me for not showing up for work. I fail to see how her not remembering is my fault, and that’s the thing with her – nothing is ever her fault.

        1. Officious Intermeddler*

          If she were a well-organized worker, or even a reasonable boss, she’d either 1. remember that you asked for time off or 2. at least check her sent folder before she went ballistic. She’s bad.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            well, now wait – Alison often says that managers don’t often remember details of who’s working / off when, and that’s just reasonable. Not remembering isn’t the sign that she’s bad.

            The signs that she’s bad are
            1) *emailing* a tight turn-around request with no call or text notification and
            2) going ballistic when the problem is her own.

            I agree with Officious Intermeddler, that you can’t change someone who manages like that. It sounds like she ‘goes ballistic’ regularly; even if this is the first time she’s screwed up on a deadline issue, the anger issues are clear from werkerbee2’s description.

            Werkerbee2: Trust your manager, this is not on you. Unfortunately, you don’t have status enough to push back effectively. Your manager might. HR might, if you can document a pattern that rises to the level of bullying.

            Talk to your manager about the pattern you have seen. Ask:
            1) Are there changes to your work that you could do to satisfy Abigail better?
            2) How much control over your work / career / promotions / raises does Abigail have?

            Document all your unpleasant interactions with Abigail, including:
            Time, Date
            Context (eg: In meeting re: Topic with attendees A, B, C)
            Wording as closely as possible to the original, along with why they’re concerning (eg, She said X in a disparaging / sarcastic tone) (tone is so hard to capture….)
            You probably won’t be able to use them, but it can be reassuring to have the details written down.

            1. workerbee2*

              The thing that’s so insidious about her is that she comes off as really, really nice (if she’s not your boss). She also goes in the other direction at times, giving effusive praise for things that are basic parts of my job. She even does little thoughtful things sometimes, like buying all of us daffodils from American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days. It’s not ALL bad, but the bad parts are so, so very bad.

              1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

                Most bad bosses are not bad/horrible ALL the time (otherwise only the desperate would work for them). I would say “insidious” is exactly the right word.

                Also–is she the “kiss up, kick down” type? From your descriptions she sounds like she may be.

                Ultimately, I don’t see her changing. She may, and hopefully Samantha can help with some of the interference, but I’d be updating my resume and starting some general looking. If you know Samantha is tired, she’s probably looking, too. If she leaves you may be stuck with Abagail with no one to run interference–is she the type that might then immediately implement all those things she’s tried to that Samantha pushed back on (8-5 butts in seats, etc.)? If so, could you live with that?

                Good luck–let us know how it turns out.

              2. Sam Sepiol*

                Yeah, sounds similar to abusive partners. They do nice things to give plausible deniability about the shit. I’m glad you’ve seen through it

                1. Ms. FS*

                  Wow, this sounds just like my boss. She is absurdly sharp and gets really upset over little tiny things and then will turn around and buy us all little plants and say what a great job somebody did for something random. Before she was my boss, she once got crazy angry when my coworker said something she didn’t like in a stakeholder conference call (it wasn’t inappropriate at all what my coworker said), and she motioned at her neck in the ‘cut it’ motion, and stomped around the room like a child. It was super distracting and really hard to focus because we were also presenting at the same time. That was a bad day. But then she’s be nice and ask how you are really doing, and you feel like things are going ok again? It actually reminds me of emotional abuse a little.

        2. CupcakeCounter*

          I send all of my WFH and time off requests as a meeting invite so that my boss has it on her calendar as well

          1. workerbee2*

            That’s the process we’re going to move to. We just never needed that before because Samantha was our only boss, she was good at keeping track of her 3 reports on her end without reminders, and she has a very laissez-faire management style.

            It’s unfortunate that the need for such a process became clearly elucidated because there were consequences for Abigail not remembering, but I don’t feel that not intuiting that she would need additional reminders is my fault to the extent that she seems to believe.

        3. Kat in VA*

          The turnaround thing is ridiculous. Email sent at 9:00PM at night with a hard deadline of 8:00AM the next morning?

    3. DC*

      If you have a good relationship with Samantha, and she supports you, which it seems she does, it may be worth mentioning to her that you’re unclear how to build a consistently good relationship with Abigail, and that the changes she has been making/putting on you are making you less happy at the company and questioning things long-term. Let Samantha realize that she needs to protect her high performers so she doesn’t lose them because of a overbearing grand-boss.

      1. workerbee2*

        Unfortunately, Abigail is managing Samantha with the same iron fist that she’s using with the rest of us. Abigail has completely usurped authority for managing Samantha’s reports, leaving Samantha with essentially no power. Samantha says she’s going to start pushing back harder against Abigail because she no longer cares what Abigail thinks of her, so it’s starting to seem inevitable that Samantha will leave if things continue on the path that they’re on.

        1. workerbee2*

          Oh, and Abigail’s boss is the CEO, so none of us really have the authority to bring to her boss’s attention just how terrible of a manger she is.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Nah, Samantha totally has standing to take it to the CEO. Also, if there’s anyone who is HR, they are supposed to be outside of regular lines of supervision and should be a good person for Samantha to talk to.

        2. Venus*

          Well, that answers my question:
          Does Abigail treat everyone this way, or just you?

          It sounds like this is standard for Abigail, in which case I would stay for now because Samantha sounds like a supportive and effective boss (which is much more important), and I would do my best to avoid Abigail. Depending upon how things go with Samantha’s pushing back, it sounds like it might be time to see what other jobs are out there…

        3. Autumnheart*

          Is her name actually Abigail? I only ask because we had a similarly out-of-step director a few years ago that had a similar approach to existing team culture, and employees with a documented history of being high-performing. And yeah, she’s smart and knowledgeable in her field, and won some sort of recognition award on Twitter a few years ago, but she was a terrible manager. She got the boot a couple years ago during a restructuring, thankfully.

          1. Autumnheart*

            (Who was actually named Abigail, hence why I was wondering if this could genuinely be the same person! That would really be a small world.)

            1. workerbee2*

              No, it’s not, but I didn’t know that my “Abigail” had a personality twin out there. I was hoping she was one of a kind, haha.

    4. ragazza*

      Sounds like Abigail is the kind of boss who likes to keep employees off-balance. Unfortunately, she’s probably not going to change. She definitely was way out of line. If there’s an emergency and something needs to be done on a tight deadline after hours, they should be calling/texting you, not assuming you read your work email at 9 PM AT NIGHT.

      1. workerbee2*

        The task was simple, straightforward, and quick, just extremely urgent (proofreading and making copies of a PowerPoint for an early-morning meeting). She (incorrectly) assumed that I would be in and working at 7, which would ordinarily give me plenty of time to get it done.

        And just going through the process of typing this out is showing me how unreasonable she’s being to be so angry that she didn’t have copies of a PowerPoint ready. It was a presentation to her peers and boss (the CEO) so I get how she would feel pressure for everything to be perfect, but this was not exactly life or death.

        1. ragazza*

          Oh, I see. I read a ton of academic articles about communication with remote/wfh employees and it’s so important. She should be looking at this as a learning experience about the necessity of clear communication.

          1. workerbee2*

            She’s pretty well honed in on this being a communication issue, but she thinks I’m the only one with the problem.

    5. LizB*

      I just want to name that Abigail is the problem here, not you. Sending something via email at 9pm with a due date of 8am the following day is absolutely unreasonable (except for some very specific offices/fields where 24/7 email checking is required). I don’t have any actionable advice, but I don’t think you should measure your success by whether you have rapport with Abigail or whether she’s mad at you, because she’s a bad manager in some very fundamental ways and always making her happy is not a realistic goal.

      1. workerbee2*

        Thank you for this. This is pretty much the conclusion I’ve come to (with Samantha’s help, who told me to do my best to let it roll off my back, which she knows is hard for me). I was wondering if it’s just bad “fit” even if I’m not at fault, but I really don’t know who would be successful working under her.

        I’m going to do my best to follow all of her “rules,” but try to grow thicker skin around not being able to please her. It’s hard because I’ve been in this department for 8 years under 3 other managers who were all huge fans of me and my work (praise, promotions, etc.), so I’ve become accustomed to my boss being happy with me. I’m really not a chronic people-pleaser (anyone who doesn’t affect my livelihood can go ahead and hate me if they’re determined to), but not being able to intuit what Abigail wants from me has me shook. I appreciate getting an outside opinion that this path has only one frustrating outcome.

        1. LKW*

          I wonder what the CEO would think of this. I mean, were you aware that this meeting was happening and was there any communication that this was an “all hands on deck” day? Was there any request earlier to have this done?
          Is this something that could have been done in an hour? If it was five slides – maybe, but 30 slides – no.
          Why wasn’t she prepared before 9 pm? Why wasn’t she managing her time effectively.
          Why didn’t she reach out and say “Hey, I just sent you an urgent request” to confirm that you received it.

          If someone came to me and said “I sent something at 9 pm for an 8 am delivery” and they didn’t actually speak to the person to confirm it was in hand – I’d tell the Abigail in that story that she screwed up. She waited until 11 hours before the deadline. She didn’t confirm availability. She put unrealistic expectations on team members.

          1. workerbee2*

            It was a big meeting for Abigail, but the rest of the team was wholly unaffected by it. It was not an “all hands on deck” type of situation. The situation was only urgent because Abigail wasn’t prepared.

            I could have done the work quickly. If I had been there it wouldn’t have been a problem. She sent a follow up after the initial request – also via email.

            I have an update from Samantha that Abigail is sticking to her “this is a miscommunication and workerbee2 should have known better” story and is not shouldering any of the blame. Samantha has all but given up. She said that she’s just going to have to get used to the idea that Abigail is the boss and she can do what she wants and if Samantha doesn’t like it, she can leave. Time to dust off my resume unless I want to be stuck with Abigail with no one to run interference for me.

    6. sunshyne84*

      She sounds like a nightmare. You definitely need to talk to someone over her so they can let her know what the norms are. Asking the guards for your swipe records?!

      1. workerbee2*

        Her boss is the CEO and he only visits the office rarely (it’s a big deal when he’s here despite the fact that I work out our main office) so I doubt he even knows what the norms are. I’m wondering if Samantha could gain any traction by discussing it with one of Abigail’s peers.

        Samantha plans to have a “this is not how we treat our reports here” discussion with Abigail today. I expect that’ll go over like a lead balloon but I know Samantha needs to feel like she’s at least trying.

    7. Yorick*

      I think it’s totally reasonable that you didn’t see the email until 9AM and her response was inappropriate. But if I were Abigail, I would have assumed you’d see it at 7 and do the task by 8 – even if I were completely aware you would be working from home.

      1. montescristo1985*

        I think if you give someone a task due within a one-hour time frame that warrants a call. IMO, boss should have called at 7am (expected start time) to make sure OP got the email and was working on it. Lots of people limit the times they check email during the day, and anything less than 24hours notice really needs some other form of communication.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yeah, at first, I was with Yorick (and still kind of am). If you’re working from home and your normal start time is 7, why didn’t you see the email before 9? Checking email is the first thing I do when I log onto my laptop (I work from home full-time now too). But you’re also correct that if this was an urgent request, Abigail should have picked up a phone the night before and called to make sure workerbee did in fact see the email.

          1. valentine*

            I would be severely annoyed if someone called to ensure I’d do my job, but I check email first thing, regardless of location.

            workerbee2, Abigail sounds like a mercurial goalpost-mover (agree with the daffodils smell like an abuser above). There are two things that may be in her favor, though: If you would have checked email at 7:00 or sometime before 8:00 in-office and that “Love it!” is more likely to be “skimmed, saw positive words, replied in kind” than “read carefully or, at the very least, approved WFH request”. In future, you can check email first, send WFH requests separately, and double-check ambiguous permission. Curious why Samantha the one to ask, and perhaps she can establish methods for communicating short deadlines and for communicating availability whilst WFH.

      2. workerbee2*

        I agree that, in hindsight, I could/should have checked my email earlier. However, being assigned work this urgent and time-sensitive is EXTREMELY aberrant for me, especially at that hour. I am almost entirely responsible for managing my own workload and receive very few “assignments.” There was no reason to believe in the moment that there was something I should have been doing other than what I was doing, which was reading research articles.

    8. Lisa Simpson*

      It sounds like the problem wasn’t you working offsite on Wednesday. Because had you gone to work on Wednesday, and assuming you ran into Abigail who verbally asked you to task, the earliest you could have heard the request would be 7am Wednesday (assuming Abigail gets to work the same time you do and asks you on the elevator).

      Abigail sent you the request at 9pm, and didn’t ask for read receipt. She didn’t follow up with you or leave you a voice mail.

      Also sending it at 9pm, she should have assumed the earliest you could see it was 7:20 (allowing you time to get logged in and read your emails), so was it a task that could be done in 40 minutes?

      I wonder why she didn’t sent the task request to multiple people – sounds like she is blaming you for something she didn’t execute well.

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed, it isn’t an offsite issue, its the expectation that urgent things sent by email will get done. That’s not reasonable for most work cultures and sounds like it is out of the norm for yours too. This is on Abigail, she should have followed up with a text/IM/phone call to make sure you got this urgent request. What if you were just running late that day because of traffic or something? This is her screw up, not yours.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      So. many. problems here.

      This is a boss who will constantly move the target. You will never hit the target. Ever.

      “I comply with all of Abigail’s demands, but I can’t seem to build any lasting rapport with her. It’s like trying to climb a blank wall. I’ll feel like I’m making progress, then something like this happens and I’m back to square one.” This is what she wants you to think/feel. She wants you on edge permanently.

      There are some bosses out there who believe that the way to keep people in line is to keep them beaten down. Abigail must be one of these bosses. If a person is not begging daily to be able to keep their job for one more day, then the Abigails of the world are NOT happy. And the Abigails believe they have failed in some manner.

      She may be smart in her arena but she has NO people smarts. My opinion, but a person with no sense of people is a person of limited smarts, they are not very well rounded. I understand that you think she has something to offer and she probably does have something to offer. But she is never, ever in a thousand years going to give it to you or anyone else. If your reason for staying on is to learn from her, this is not a solid reason for staying there. She won’t teach you.

      She probably also believes that she has no management ability. Clock watchers typically lack some or many management skills and they use their clock watching to control others. Since she has ripped much of Samantha’s authority from Samantha, I kind of think I am on the right track in saying Abigail privately knows she can’t manage people.

      Going forward, when you will not be at work, CC Samantha with the request. Additionally, when you get an answer tell Abigail you will send her a reminder before that day. When you send that reminder email, hit the reply button on the email where she originally granted your request.

      1. workerbee2*

        It’s an interesting take that she might be feeling inadequate or ill-equipped to manage people. She came from an academic setting (she was a university professor, so I LOL’ed at the “she’s not going to teach you” comment) so I don’t think she has ever had to manage anyone that wasn’t a grad student before.

        I do what I can to empathize with her (internally, to myself) because it makes coming into work and getting through the day more tolerable. Like, I’ll tell myself, “I’m sure this situation was really stressful for her and having communication issues with me added to it.” But I also need to realize that I can’t be responsible for someone else’s feelings, especially someone who doesn’t own their feelings and goes looking for external sources of blame for them.

    10. Det. Charles Boyle*

      I think you’ll have to start looking for another job. I worked for a similar manager and the nit-pickiness about non-work-related matters was just too much. I work for a much more relaxed person now and it’s worlds better. That type of person strongly believes their way is the RIGHT WAY and cannot change. You’re just better off going somewhere else.

      1. workerbee2*

        I’d been managed almost solely by Samantha for several years, and she has a very laissez-faire management style. I’m trying to figure out if I need to adjust to Abigail’s authoritarian management style, which is so jarring after several years of “do whatever you want, just get your work done well and on time,” or if Abigail is totally unreasonable. It’s probably both, which is muddying the waters. I think I’m going to put some feelers out into my network of previous bosses and see if they know of any opportunities. It’s a huge bummer that the job I really liked turned into the job I dread coming in to when the work itself hasn’t changed.

    11. mf*

      I had a boss just like this. She was disorganized, forgetful, and had very poor time management skills. She would wait till the last minute to complete her part of the project or to communicate what she needed from me, thereby making it really difficult to do she has asked in the timeframe she needed. (Yes, I did get those emails at 9 PM asking if I could do xyz task by 8 AM the next morning–and I was an hourly employee who didn’t check email off the clock!) And when the task didn’t get done by the time she wanted it done, she would call me into her office for a scolding, as if I were the one who wasn’t living up to expectations.

      The thing I finally realized is that she was ashamed of her disorganization and poor time management. She didn’t want anyone (especially people senior to her) to see that she didn’t have it together. So she would turnaround and blame me instead of admitting her own culpability.

      Her behavior is driven by fear–fear that she’ll lose her job due to her own insecurities and incompetency. There are some things you can do to try to hold her to reasonable timeline (making sure to follow up with her so you get what you need when you need it), but ultimately, you can’t change or please a boss like this.

  13. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    Yesterday was my boss’s (who I loved) last day. He resigned, but I’m not sure it was fully his decision. He’s been checked out for a while and was remote for the past week, so I haven’t spoken to him in a while. Now that it’s official, I want to text him but have no idea what to say. Idk. TGIF.

    1. Just Elle*

      “Thanks for being a good boss, we will miss you!”

      You don’t need to write a book.

    2. competitive knives*

      When I had a colleague resign unexpectedly, I just texted them the kind of message I would have put in their leaving card, like “It was a pleasure to work with you, and I hope whatever you do next is excellent to you. I hope we can stay in touch, these are my contact details/personal email etc”.

    3. Ptarmigan*

      Definitely do text him. My former boss left in a similar way and felt very hurt when some of his former employees/coworkers didn’t reach out to him.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      When I left my last place, my reports were quick to reach out and give me their contact information. I left because the ownership was trash but our “team” was blissfully wonderful. I’m still friends with them.

      So he’s probably checked out because it’s draining and he is detaching from the organization, either on his terms or not. So it’s absolutely okay and thoughtful to reach out and say “It was great working with you. I hope we can keep in touch.” If you’re into social media, nows the time to perhaps friend request him or such. He was your boss, he may be cool to keep in touch with if he ever has a spot to fill that you’d work well in or such. Also for reference purposes, so it’s totally cool to reach out.

      Short and simple is best.

  14. MusicWithRocksInIt*

    Back to work after maternity leave. I’m not sure many people know that I’m pumping, and I work in a large open area. Should I tell people when I’m going off to pump? It feels awkward, but I also don’t want people to just think I’m disappearing all the time. Or am I not giving people enough credit?

    1. Emi.*

      I think they will figure it out at some point. You could mention that you pump if it comes up in conversation, eg as part of responding to “How is it being back to work?” or whatever, but I think getting up and saying “Bye, everyone, gonna go pump now!” would be weird.

    2. Mindy St Claire*

      Do you share calendars? As long as your calendar says you are “busy” they will assume you are just that! (and you are)

    3. AGirlHasNoScreenName*

      I’m presuming you’d be pumping at fairly regular/semi-predictable intervals? If so, there’s nothing untowards about letting key people know that, for the next few months, you’ll generally be unavailable for those times. Since I’m assuming they know why you were out, most of them should be able to put two and two together and respect that.

    4. M. Albertine*

      Are you just concerned that people would be wondering where you are? Would putting a sign at your desk like “Back at 2:30” (or whatever) work? You don’t necessarily have to tell people you are pumping, as that is your accommodation, but letting people know when they can get a hold of you should alleviate most work-related concerns anyone might have.

    5. Interplanet Janet*

      I wouldn’t make grand announcement or anything. Has the company set up a place for you to do it? If so, heading that way and doing it on the regular would clue most people in, I think.

      I like the idea of setting up a calendar appointment, too, both for indicating in a professional way when you’ll be tied up, and for keeping yourself on a regular schedule. It’s so easy to forget and you’ll have much better output if you’re regular with it!

      Congratulations on your baby and on being back to work.

    6. Ann Perkins*

      It really depends on your comfort level and the office culture. If you’re generally known as being dependable and available when needed, I don’t think people will think you’re slacking off. But if you’re comfortable with it, mentioning it to people you work with the most can help avoid that perception. I pump for #2 right now and with my first it took a while for some people to realize why my door was shut a few times per day when it used to always be open. Most people won’t figure it out on their own unless they’ve pumped or seen a partner pump, IME.

    7. PolicyWonk*

      I am currently pumping, and I actually try to say “I have to go pump.” when that’s the case. I think it normalizes it, which can help others continue to normalize things like that. (I had a colleague who, before he went on paternity leave thanked me for being so open about saying I have to do baby things). My intern boss was very clear what she was doing, and I think it just highlighted working mom=awesome. But, you have to be able to read your office. Relatedly, when a relatively senior guy wrote in an e-mail with many recipients “I will have to miss this meeting to attend a preschool ceremony” I wrote him a personal e-mail thanking him, because it’s all part of making this accepted.

    8. indigo64*

      Fellow pumping mom here! I’ve been pumping at work for almost six months. My advice is to be matter-of-fact about it. I block off time on my calendar, and while I think everyone already knows why I’m shutting my door, if anyone asks I just say “oh, I’m pumping until 10, I’ll let you know when I’m done” , in the same tone as “I’m going to lunch” – it’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal.

      Congratulations on the little one and returning to work! The first month is the hardest- after that you’ll find a good routine and feel more comfortable.

    9. Yuan Zai*

      On the one hand, it’s none of their business. I agree that if your main concern is letting people know that you’ll be gone at X time and return at Y time, you can just use your calendar or a note to let them know. One of my colleagues recently bought a small plastic sign at an office supplies store, the “will be back at” sign with an image of a clock and movable hand, because he’s a lot less consistent in his away from his desk times than the rest of us and it’s been very helpful for everyone. You can easily communicate clear time expectations without going into details.

      On the other hand, assuming you work with decent people who won’t treat you badly for being a human being who does human things, there’s no reason not to be direct about what you’re doing, if you want to. You’re not obligated to tell people anything you don’t want to, so if you don’t want to tell people, don’t, but you don’t need to be secretive about it, either. I’m actually glad that a few of my colleagues have been very direct and matter-of-fact about the time they have set aside for pumping because it helps normalize it for everyone.

    10. Overeducated*

      Just disappear. Anyone who’s confused will figure it out sooner or later, or ask you. But sometimes people are uncomfortable even hearing mentions of it (which I think is a little precious, but it happens) so I wouldn’t bring it up more than you need to.

    11. Frankie*

      I think it depends on your relationship with them. I have recurring (private) time marked off on my shared calendar–and when it comes up organically I have no trouble mentioning I’m pumping briefly–but I don’t make a big deal out of it. I want to strike a balance between neutralizing it and keeping a level of my own privacy.

      Ppl know you’re a new mom and someone would have to be pretty dense not to get it, even if you’re not doing it at regular intervals and more ad-hoc. I would try to put the optics out of your mind the way you might if you had any other medical need that interrupted your work day. Sometimes worrying about optics is enhanced by your own discomfort or guilt with taking time out of the work day. But it’s a medical need like any other.

    12. Andy*

      I pumped at work for a couple of diff kids at a couple of diff jobs over a span of ten years. The context dictated the level of comfort I had sharing, but even then I got surprised. I was at a place I had pegged for ‘unfriendly’ but then a big ol manly man manager found out i pumped at was like ‘here’s this key to the empty vp office you should use it whenevs’ and that was a REVELATION. and then i was working for a woman person who was all ‘i’m a very caring person but also ew that’s gross you’re gross don’t tell me things ew’ and THAT was a REVELATION. but a diff kind.
      so, in the end, what I learned is that pumping is a total slog, parenthood is a mixed bag regardless of pumping or anything, people will surprise you in wonderful and horrible ways, my pump said ‘george costanza’ over and over again, and also that pumping moms can change culture by being open about what’s going on. If you’re comfortable, go for it. Put something like ‘Baby Food Production Time’ on the calendar. otherwise, ‘Conference Call’ works as well.

      1. Quinalla*

        I had a similar experience with pumping at work about 4 and 8 years ago now. Some people’s reactions surprised me in a good way and some did not. I was matter of fact about it as possible, but yeah, I had to wash pump parts in our break room sink sometimes and yeah, I stored breastmilk in the shared refrigerator, though I did put all those precious bottles in a small cooler mostly for convenience but also cause I knew people might get weirded out seeing it, but everyone knew what was in it. But yeah, I had some great conversations with my (male) boss about pumps – his wife pumped for their kids in previous years and he thought my new pump was really slick and cool compared to her monster – but we are engineers, so geeking out over a pump is kind of our thing.

        So no, you don’t have to say anything a lot of the time, but when you do, just be matter of fact. And if you are ok with it, maybe say something when you maybe don’t need to so you can help normalize it. I sometimes intentionally walk to the restroom with a tampon out in plain sight because I’m tired of having to hide period stuff, its ridiculous, but most of us do this to some extent. So I’m trying to push that one a little more than I really need to because I can and I don’t care if it weirds people out, they need to get over it :)

    13. Corny Wallace*

      You shouldn’t say anything. It’s nobody’s business what you are going to do. (You may wish to put it on your calendar, or leave a note on your desk saying “back at 12”, so people know when you will return. But why you left – NOTB).

    14. June First*

      Outlook calendar, definitely. I did that for Kid B and not Kid A. I was much more assertive the second time around.
      If you want a cutesy sign, “Mom business” is a euphemism that seems to work. Otherwise, “Room in use, come back in 20 min”.

      My pump sounded like a broken TARDIS.

  15. Booksalot*

    The most logical route for my commute, the highway, has been undergoing bridge construction for over a year. My follow-up option, a rural route, was completely shut down three weeks ago to replace two tiny bridges over creeks, and won’t reopen until spring 2021. (Bridges are apparently my nemesis.)

    My remaining options are to fight my way through the highway construction, or take a meandering third route that is also rural, very hilly, and will be treacherous once the New England winter arrives. My travel time has gone from a tolerable 45 minutes to 75 minutes or more, depending on traffic. I can’t imagine how long it will take in bad weather.

    I am going nuts, guys. I spend a large portion of the day grinding my teeth into powder from the stress of commuting. I can no longer shop at the good grocery near my work, because everything perishable is ruined by the time I get home. I can no longer schedule doctor or car appointments after work, because I struggle to get there before everything closes. I’m already burning through PTO like crazy for “life stuff”.

    I’m frustrated with myself for being so easily rattled by something so innocuous—everyone deals with traffic! But I would never have taken a job this far away to begin with, so I’ve shoehorned myself into a deal breaker by accident. I like my boss, I like my work, and I don’t want to leave, but I’m not sure I can do this for a year and a half. Remote work is not allowed, and moving house is not feasible.

    Thank you for letting me complain.

    1. Eillah*

      As someone who also has a bastard of a commute, podcasts and audiobooks can help (I realize these are obvious suggestions and thus probably not super helpful…). If you like musicals maybe full cast recordings? My sympathies, I know how exhausting it can be :/

      1. valentine*

        If you haven’t already, asking for an exception to working from home during this is worth it, especially for the winter. Lay out the horrid impact. It’ll be impossible in snow because leaving early then will probably be worse. Are there closer offices you could work out of or be seconded to?

        75 minutes sounds like a short time to kill perishables. Can you order your groceries? Do you know anyone closer to work who’d let you stay with them during your work week? (I don’t suppose there’s anyone who would just up and switch homes for a bit.) Look into B&Bs (see if your employer will pay) or corporate housing as well.

    2. Ms. Meow*

      Any chance you can move your start/finish time earlier? I’ve found that if I can leave my house by 6am instead of 7am, I can shave 25% off my commute time.

      1. KR*

        This!! And construction is so much less stressful when it’s super early when there isn’t traffic imo

    3. Just Elle*

      No, this is completely logical. Dont be frustrated it rattles you because it does totally suck. I once had to give up an apartment I ADORED and pay an early exit fee because I just Could Not with the traffic (through I-95 which was under traffic). I decided it was the commute or my heart health.

      Can you explain the situation and work with your boss on temporary solutions? Maybe working 4-10 hour days? A bank of 10 or so work-from-home days when weather is particularly bad?

      If you’re up for a raise soon, you could ask for a non-traditional benefit: some additional “absent with permission” days for life stuff? Maybe they can pay for a hotel room once a week just so you save yourself a commute one day?

      Also there’s other things you can do to help, although they will cost you money. Things like using the Prime Now or similar grocery delivery service, or hiring a house cleaner, or upping your eating-out-for-lunch budget. I know they all suck to spend money on, but your sanity is worth it.

      I also second, third, and fourth podcasts/audiobooks. They really do help commute time feel more “value added”.

    4. Hope*

      Can you take a cooler with you to help keep the perishable stuff cool for long enough to get home? Maybe try scheduling appointments in the AM, so at least you skip the worst of the morning traffic when you do drive in to work?

      Hopefully the highway construction will ease with time? Sometimes it’s worse at the beginning, when not everyone who *can* take an alternate route realizes the construction is happening.

      Long commutes suck, especially when you have no control over just how long they are.

      1. Nanc*

        Second the cooler. For a few years I lived over an hour from the nearest grocery store. A good cooler will keep frozen/cold stuff fine for several hours.

        1. Qwerty*

          If you don’t have a super good cooler and need to keep thing frozen, trying nesting a cooler bag in a larger cooler. I’ve been able to transport ice cream frozen for an hour+ drive by putting the frozen item in a small cooler bag with a freezer pack, then putting that bag with another freezer pack or bag of ice in my large cooler bag. The extra insulation helps.

        2. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Third the cooler in the trunk.

          And commiserations on your commute changes. :-(

      2. Delta Delta*

        I have a YETI cooler bag that will keep stuff unbelievably cold for a long time. It was a lifesaver last summer when my fridge died (dead fridge! In July! Yay!).

        And it looks like OP lives in New England, where we only actually have summer for twelve minutes. Before she knows it, unfortunately, the universe will be our cooler again.

        1. The Phleb*

          Now now…don’t exaggerate! Summer lasts at least 13 minutes here in New England, Delta Delta!

      3. Cartographical*

        The cooler is a good idea and the mini fridge kind that you plug in to your car while driving are a godsend.

        The long commute is definitely hard on the health, especially a high-stress commute. If you can’t move your work start time, is there a partway point you can stop at? We are in an area where driving 3-5 hours for even minor things is pretty normal (anything under 2 hours is a short trip) and our two seasons are Winter and Construction. Sometimes, we leave early to avoid some of the rush and bother, then take a break at a donut shop in a one-light town for 30-60 minutes while we do emails or some work or even go for a walk, then carry on at whatever point the traffic requires. On another route, the only option is a little lay-by with a horror movie bathroom but there’s usually two of us so it’s still worth the stop.

        Good luck and, if you’re feeling it’s impacting your health, please check with your doctor re: blood pressure & DVT (a family member ended up with this from his commute!). Also, a good seat cushion/back support and making sure your seat/wheel are ideally aligned can reduce exhaustion and chronic pain conditions.

    5. RandomU...*

      I’m not a fan of long commutes, but before throwing the baby out with the bathwater so to speak I’d give yourself time to find alternate solutions or at least things to make it not as horrible.

      1- Podcasts, audiobooks or some other way to find enjoyment from the time. I like audio books over podcasts, but make it something you enjoy and don’t let yourself listen to at other times. It’s how I trick myself into looking forward to my monthly work travel that I drive for. I found a book series that I loved and would not let myself listen to it outside of those car trips.
      2- Cooler or equivalent for the grocery shopping. You can find reasonable travel plug in fridges (also coolers, but fridges stay much colder than a cooler does) on amazon for shockingly reasonable prices.
      3- Appointments, I basically have two sets of most service providers so that I have one near home but a work close equivalent. Not always feasible, but for some things it’s possible. Then you only have to worry about short distances to get to appointments.
      4- Really evaluate what a year and a half means in the big picture. Is this a job that you can find an equivalent for closer? What’s the potential for your career by staying?

      I can sympathize with you, because I got to commute through a 4 year extravaganza of a huge interstate project. Just when it finished we bought a house in a different area… a year later, guess what was announced… Yep… another long multi year hootenanny of an interstate redesign.

      I’ve been in the middle of construction hell for 8 years! (Thankfully the last one is winding down, and we’ve promised all of our friends we won’t move near them since construction follows us!)

      1. Minocho*

        I have not heard hootenanny in a while. I really wanted to thank you for that. I’m a Yankee living in Houston. I accidently spoke about the “pop machine” twice within the last week, and am getting (gently) teased about it.


    6. blink14*

      I am also in New England, and construction season is full on. One section of utilities work on a major city street I take has caused my commute to increase by a good 10 minutes every morning right now. I feel some of your pain!

      This won’t help your commute directly, but could you bring a cooler or coolers with you to put perishable grocery items in? You could potentially freeze ice packs at work if there’s a freezer, and space, but if you brought in a cooler in to your office so it at least maintained room temperature, all of those cold items packed together, would likely still stay fresh (maybe opt of out things like milk or yogurt at this store).

      Can you adjust your work times at all? If not temporarily, maybe on a day to day basis, so you could schedule a doctor’s appointment earlier in the day or first thing in the morning, and work around it. Does anyone else in your office have a similar commuting issue? Maybe banding together will help push for changes, if it’s only during the construction period.

      1. Dwight*

        Electrical pelletier coolers. They have ones that are designed to work with the 12v adapters in the cars. They won’t keep frozen stuff frozen, but they’ll keep perishable stuff cold.

    7. Coffee Owlccountant*

      Chiming in with sympathy for a bastard commute – mine is into downtown Chicago from the suburbs and it’s exhausting and stressful and I wish I had some good solutions for you! They just started highway construction over here too and I’m similarly GAHHH!

      If you have a good relationship with your boss, maybe have a frank discussion about whether there is any room at all to shift your schedule earlier or later? If it’s at all feasible, I’ve found that an earlier or later start time can really help soothe the pain.

    8. Kathleen_A*

      This will only help the minor problem of perishable produce, but…you could have a good icebox in your car. It may not help with frozen food, but it will absolutely help with things like mayonnaise and fresh meat. For tips, google “transporting fresh food for a long drive.” (It’s actually possible to safely transport frozen food, too – ice box technology has come a long way – but that’s a bit different.)

      But I do hear you. As we say around here, Indiana has two seasons: winter and road construction season. Road construction season isn’t too bad for me this year, but last year my commute changed from 45 minutes to 1-1.5 hours – and I have a boss who is herself a morning person, which wouldn’t be a problem except that she’s also deeply suspicious of anything that gets one of her reports to work late. Trying to consistently get here on time was so, so, sooooooo stressful. I had to develop a zen-like “Whatever will be, will be” attitude which is not my usual thing.

      I also listed to lots of audiobooks. This didn’t help much in the morning, with the specter of Morning Person Boss looming over me, but it did help in the evenings.

        1. Roy G. Biv*

          We have those same seasons in Michigan. Do the mosquitoes also claim 3 of the 4 seasons?

    9. Hiring Mgr*

      You’ll probably get used to it, even though it sounds frustrating. I live in one of the most densely populated cities in the US, and we currently have three major bridge closings related to subway expansion…. It’s a nightmare but now that it’s been a few months it’s become the new normal.

    10. Dust Bunny*

      Ha ha 45 in the morning and 75 in the evening is my commute even when there isn’t construction. For the past 14 years. (Large city. I don’t get paid enough to live closer.)

      I arranged to come in and leave a little early (I can’t do it really early because my job is semi-service based, but half an hour makes a big difference in traffic); carry a large cooler and good ice packs if I’m shopping, and schedule appointments for as early in the day as possible, and then make up at least some of that time at the end of the work day. So I might get in three hours late but only need two hours of PTO, for example.

      And I listen to a lot of music.

    11. Veryanon*

      You’re definitely not alone. Traffic is NOT innocuous.
      In a previous job, my office used to be located in downtown Philadelphia, which was bad enough to commute to from where I lived. Then the company moved its headquarters to New Jersey, which was even further from my home (and like you, there were a number of reasons why I couldn’t move closer). I was spending 3+ hours on the road every day. Working remotely was not an option (not because my job wouldn’t allow it, but just because the SVP was a traditional “butts in seats” type of person). I tried everything I could think of to make the commute more bearable, but ultimately had to leave that job, which I really liked, because my health just couldn’t take it anymore.

    12. canary*

      Could you arrange to work from home a few days a week until the construction is over? I have a long commute, and because there are many people who work here in the same boat (office located in a small town outside a regional city) my office has a standard work-from-home day for people who want it/whose work allows it.

    13. Corny Wallace*

      Possible New Option:
      Change your work hours. Go early enough that the highway construction is not so bad.

      1. Lisa Simpson*

        This0 Ask your boss for earlier start/end time. Even if you can only do it for 1 or 2 days a week (say come in early on Wednesdays) – you can leave early enough to make your appointments.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yes, if work from home really isn’t allowed (and I’d push back on that for winter personally – and try to get a group together for it), then see if you can come in/leave 30-60 minutes early. I try to do this and it save so much commute time!

        Construction is messing up my commute right now too (25 minutes is now 35-60 minutes!) but there are tons of alternate routes I can take, so I’ve just started using waze for all commuting to find the best route of the day. Has really helped a lot, but doesn’t sound like something that will help the OP unfortunately :(

    14. Curmudgeon in California*

      For the shopping, get a good cooler for your trunk, plus reusable ice packs. Bring it to work on shopping days. Put the ice packs in the office freezer until you leave, then use the cooler for the perishables.Try a few runs with non-perishables plus a thermometer in the cooler to gauge how much ice you’ll need.

      Background: where I live it gets over 100 F in the summer. Without a cooler my stuff would be trashed in even a short trip home. I can get away without ice packs if it’s only 15 – 20 minutes, up to a couple hours if I bring well frozen ice packs.

  16. Mindy St Claire*

    My boss is so obsessed with getting his promotion that I had to go to HR and tell them that he is creating a hostile work environment and that if he doesn’t get it, I would not feel safe coming to work. They are being supportive (as they can be) but I am still scared. For context, I work for the police as a civilian and my boss is a cop. He hasn’t been promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant and he feels it is a huge personal injustice and that the system is stacked against him and that there is a conspiracy to keep him from the promotion and that the whole system is set up as a series of mind games meant to destroy him specifically. He has talked about it non-stop for the past 2 months and his promotional exam is today. He has derailed entire meetings with reporters and senior leadership and research partners to talk about the unfairness of the process until the other party gives up and leaves. I am just trying to keep my head down and hope it gets it so that this can all be over.

    1. Lepidoptera*

      If he’s telling the press and his bosses it’s unfair and that it’s a conspiracy, any assessor worth their salt won’t promote him.
      Imagine having a person with that reaction to a completely normal work process in a higher position of power, makes one shudder.
      I’m sorry you have to work with someone who is thrown into such a terrible state when things don’t go oh so smoothly for them. :(

      1. Alice*

        Even without the promotion, this guy is already in a position of power. A sergeant is a supervisory rank, no? And even a patrol officer is a pretty powerful position relative to a member of the community.
        Good luck Mindy — I don’t have any advice.

        1. Watry*

          First level supervisory, yes. (Also a police civilian employee.) I wouldn’t want a sgt. who reacted like this to be in my chain of command at all, even considering how little my lieutenant impacts my day-to-day.

      2. Venus*

        There’s a guy here who is apparently upset that he hasn’t been promoted, and all I can think is “You’re widely known as an asshole, and yet you wonder what is keeping you from a promotion?! I barely know you, and yet I can answer that for you!” although for obvious reasons I haven’t said a word (mostly because I avoid him because he’s an asshole, but I also wouldn’t want to be the person to explain his problem because it would focus his deep dislike of non-traditional lifestyles on me)

    2. Hallowflame*

      This kind of obsessive paranoia is disturbing from a LEO, and he’s demonstrably letting it interfere with his duties. He needs to be referred for a psych eval to determine his fitness for duty, but hopefully his performance on the promotion exam will get the right attention.

    3. Camellia*

      “…would not feel safe coming in to work?” As in, he has a weapon and he may start using it? To me this is the most alarming thing in your comment, if you do mean it literally. What will you do if he does not get this promotion? Will you quite your job? What did HR say about it?

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Honestly this made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. With this kind of attitude and paranoia I really don’t think he should be in the police force at all. What did HR say?

  17. What’s with Today, today?*

    TL:DR I’m on a board of a non-profit that’s replacing an ED. The outgoing ED had an excellent reference until she began her two weeks notice. Everything since has been so far outside professional norms she’s badly damaged her reputation.

    I posted two weeks ago I’m on the board of a Chamber of Commerce. Our ED resigned for work-life balance (that’s on her, she’s a workaholic. We tried unsuccessfully to get her to pull back even offered to hire more staff to help which she declined) and a new opportunity (and it is a great one, but won’t improve her work-life balance, it’s in events)!

    She gave the standard two weeks notice.

    Since that time, she has:

    Told us the salary range we’ve chosen for the new ED we hire was a “Slap in the Face.” Her current salary is the top end of the range. (we would have to hire a rockstar to get to that number). When she was hired the organization was struggling, and we hired her under market value and then adjusted her salary by several tens of thousands after her first year. She didn’t get a raise last year b/c of some performance issues that came to light, but did get a large bonus. We are also a larger org now. We researched market value for an org like our size and know this is the right range. We also offered her a lot to stay, and offered AGAIN to hire another staffer, she declined.

    On her last day, last Friday, we gave her a nice reception. she begged to have access to the building so she could remove a few more personal items. Our board chair agreed (without telling the rest of the board). On Monday, she failed to return the key. She still hasn’t, despite numerous requests. We got the locks changed. She also has fired of furious emails about her email & social media access being removed! Like, she’s furious! She’s confronted board members, sent nasty emails, went to the Chairman’s boss at his job! It’s beyond the pale and way beyond professional norms. We are headed into decease & desist territory.

    Three years of good work 100% erased in 14 days.

    1. Officious Intermeddler*

      If she has rubbed you the wrong way, she definitely didn’t exit gracefully, but at least with respect to the salary comment, it sounds like she gave her opinion and you’re free to reject it. That alone doesn’t sound like a great reason to change one’s opinion of her. She is the one who just tested the market by looking for a new job, and she might have better insight than you think into what’s fair compensation. I think sometimes boards get hung up on what comparable organizations outside of an area pay instead of appreciating what locally-competitive roles pay, but that’s just my two cents.

      NB: “cease” and desist, unless, you know, you think she’s a dead woman.

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        Her opinion wasn’t asked. She called me (and only me) at 9 p.m. to let me know that it was ”a slap in the face.” As for my typo, so Sorry, I am typing on my phone. I’m married to an attorney, I’m aware of the term, but appreciate your snark.

        1. Officious Intermeddler*

          The typo made my day, actually! Seriously though, that additional detail–calling only you, late at night, changes my opinion. That’s some bridge-burning behavior there. Yikes. You’re well shot of her.

            1. Kat in VA*

              Between “decease and desist” and “well shot of her”, I’m having a blast with the typos today.

              (Meaning they’re making me laugh like crazy, not in a superior “I am so much better at the Spelling And The Grammar than you” way but in the “these typos/autocorrects so beautifully complement each other than I can’t stop laughing” way.)

        2. Venus*

          There’s a *huge* difference between saying ‘slap in the face’ and doing so at 9pm on a personal call. Doing so at work is kinda ‘whatever’, but making the effort to interrupt your personal time… definitely moves it more into ‘bridge burning’ zone (it shouldn’t be the only factor, but it’s definitely negative).

    2. Myrin*

      I’m always so fascinated by this. Like, it does seem like there might have been some signs – you mention performance problems last year – but you say that in general, her work has been good and from your surprise in this comment, I also gather that she was pleasant to be around and thelike?
      I always wonder what’s up with people like that – have they always been secretly awful? Have they not always been secretly awful but suddenly something snapped? Anything else? Humans work in mysterious ways.

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        The situation has reminded me of the person that breaks up with you, then gets mad that you’re moving on.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I wonder if she was not-so-secretly awful to the staff, but the Board never saw it until now…

        1. What's with Today, today?*

          We’ve definitely been hearing things we were totally in the dark about.

        2. Beedzer*

          Lily Rowan – you are on the money. I was also a board member with an outgoing CEO who acted in a similar fashion. She invented tall tales about board members that were, frankly, actionable. (E.g., told people that board members charged dog-sitting services back to the non-profit.) We found out after she left that she’d been treating the staff horribly the entire time. She would deprive them of items like plastic forks in the kitchen and then say “the Board doesn’t want you to have these – they cost too much.” Staff was not allowed to eat with us – if donuts and bagels were brought in for breakfast, for example, the staff was NOT to eat. Please, OP, check in with your staff and encourage open discussion. The behavior you saw may be only the tip of the iceberg! Good luck.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Echoing similar things as what Beedzer is saying here. BTDT.

            This outburst did not happen in a vacuum. She may have other issues, she may have at-home issues or whatever. Not an excuse, but just to say, be prepared to find out much more as you go along.

            Changing the locks was very good.

            As a board get on the same page as to what you will say to the public. Generally sticking with barebones truth is enough. “She left for greener pastures/had a better offer/etc.”

            Also be prepared for this person to ask you for a reference within the next few years. Apparently they only remember the good parts and forget the rest?

            Trust your eyes and ears. What you thought you knew and liked was just a show, it was not real.

          2. What’s with Today, today?*

            We are doing just that, and you’re so right. As an example, we throw a huge community in festival annually; it’s a huge undertaking. The staff member that heads this up has always had a committee of board and community members to help her plan and get it done . Ex-ED relayed to the board two months ago that the staff member had asked not to have a committee this year because the committee was a “headache.” We found out this week that was 100% not true. Not only did the staffer want her committee she had been told by the ED that she couldn’t have a committee.

    3. Not Gary, Gareth*

      I really just had to jump in and say I love your username. Damn the man, save Empire! :)

  18. Cover letter length*

    What are your thoughts on a 3-page resume (instead of 2-page) when you are mid-career, seeking managerial/director positions, and have a lot of relevant accomplishments and certifications to list? It would be unlikely to turn away a strong candidate because of a 3-pager, right?

    1. Catsaber*

      If your three pages contains relevant information and is communicated clearly and concisely, then that’s fine. I don’t think it’s a big deal, and I’m certainly not going to turn someone away for a longer-than-average resume, especially for a higher-level position.

      The issue is not the amount of pages, but that longer resumes tend to be full of rambling prose and useless information. Giving people a guideline helps them edit and narrow it down. If your writing is otherwise great, then three pages is not a big deal.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I could easily fill three pages with my work experiences, but I don’t. As time goes on, I still list some older jobs (if they’re relevant) but just knock bullet points off of them and keep all the bullet points for my more recent gigs. If the older jobs aren’t directly relevant, sometimes I’ll take those older jobs off completely.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it really depends on whom the candidate is up against. I certainly wouldn’t give someone bonus points for presenting a 3-page résumé mid-career, but it’s not disqualifying, either. If that’s one of the top three or four in terms of qualifications, I’d probably give that candidate a shot.

    3. fposte*

      Maybe, but I’d wonder about their ability to meet expectations and communicate effectively. For a start, how much space are those certifications taking up?

      FWIW, some places still prefer a one-page resume, so I wouldn’t assume this would be just a teeny little overage.

    4. Mr. Tyzik*

      I would recommend streamlining to 2 pages. When I was looking I found that I couldn’t summarize a 20 year career in one page, but more than two pages was pushing it. Go with your most recent working accomplishments and cull from there.

      Yes, someone could turn away an applicant for a 3 page resume depending on how many resumes are received.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        +1. Three pages is too long. Pick only the most relevant accomplishments/certifications to highlight.

    5. Resume length (not cover letter length, oops!)*

      I think part of the problem is that the job descriptions nowadays list 2 pages of duties/responsibilities/requirements. I have specific accomplishments in nearly all of them, but there is no way I can fit that on only 2 pages of a resume. So how do I demonstrate my experience in the overwhelming list of job requirements if a 2-page resume only covers half of them?

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I think some of that goes without saying. Like, you don’t have to name every single thing you’ve done if your career progression is straightforward enough and the person reading your materials could guess that you know how to handle matted fur and also regular grooming because you’ve had a Llama Groomer position. (I’m looking right now at a two-page job description in my office and one of the requirements is fundraising experience. Since all of my experience is in fundraising, I don’t have to belabor that point.)

        You can also highlight some things in a cover letter if they are especially important for the job you’re applying for.

      2. Anona*

        You should address some in resume and the others in the cover letter. The cover letter is a great place to address a bunch of requirements.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I say go for it. I’m mid-career on my second career (I was a small business owner before I went to law school in my early 30s). Between academic credentials, first career, second career, and accomplishments in volunteer positions over the past 25 years, my resume works out to 3 pages.

      Make sure (as I’m sure you will) that it’s organized logically, is evenly spaced, and isn’t over-crowded. In my view, my somewhat sparse 3 pages is better than cramming everything relevant into 2 pages.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Yes, I should. Even with my first several jobs removed from my resume, I have well over 10 years’ relevant work and volunteer history when I apply for professional jobs.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            How effective has the resume been for you (i.e. application to interview ratio)?

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              I don’t apply to a lot of jobs because I’m mostly self-employed, but I think the ratio is successful. My egregious 3-page resume landed me a short-term consulting contract last year, and I have an interview for a similar but more permanent gig later this week.

    7. Qwerty*

      A good limit I’ve heard is a page per decade of work experience listed. (For industry jobs, it might be different for academia/research type jobs). Note this is for years in relevant jobs, not overall experience.

      To your last question, you have a bit of confirmation bias. While people don’t typically say “This candidate is great but I don’t X so I’m rejecting them”, what happens is that X obscures the candidates strength.

      You want to make efficient use of the hiring manager’s time. Do you really need all of the info in those three pages? Can you combine sections, such multiple positions in one company? Reduce the bullet points in older or less relevant jobs? Consider creating multiple versions of your resume that are more tailored to the positions you are applying to (ex: Manager-focussed resume and director-focused resume).

      I’ve received very few resumes that are 3+ pages which display a strong candidate. The few good ones are generally for someone who has been in the industry for 30+ yrs. Generally longer resumes have a lot of information that I don’t need, which has the hiring committee wondering about their general communication skills (Will their emails get to the point quickly? Will they be long winded in meetings? typically the interview confirms these concerns).

    8. JobHunter*

      As a research scientist, I have 20+ years of work experience listed on a 4- or 5-page CV (depends on the position to which I am applying). I just chose my most relevant KSA, certifications, and publications. I have seen longer CVs from people with shorter careers. I still get nibbles from industry. I think it depends on the expectations for the position.

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Too long. No one will read it all. Tons of what you include will be missed. It’ll look like you can’t be concise/figure out what’s most important. Stick to two.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I never felt the length of the resume is a reason to exclude a candidate.
      However, what you’re listing on that 3-pager better be VERY relevant to the positions you’re applying for. Because if it isn’t, then it just reads like fluff and filler.

      I’m not sure what all you’re listing, but if you have a lot of very specific certifications and/or published works and such, it might make sense to list those on LinkedIn or make a separate website and then include a link on your resume to the full curriculum vitae. I keep my portfolio and writing samples organized that way.

    11. Hiring Mgr*

      Fwiw, as someone who hires alot for my current team I couldn’t care less how many pages a resume is. I’m not hiring editors, so it’s not relevant to me if they keep their resume concise. Plus, in some countries it’s very common to have many pages, photos, family status, etc.. so not sure where you’re located.

      That said, it does seem to be important to keep that in mind..

      1. Mavis*

        If I start skimming and don’t find anything relevant quickly, I don’t spend much time longer looking.

    12. Boomerang Girl*

      I moved to a 3 page resume at age 38, when I switched careers. It definitely did not hurt me, and helped because I was able to show business value created in each job. However, I would not advise going to 3 pages just to share a laundry list of responsibilities.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Much the same with me. Two pages fits most but not all situations in my view (and experience).

  19. DC Cliche*

    I was quite close with a colleague (she was a bit of a mentor and offered a glowing recommendation) at my last job. She lives about two hours away and knows I was/am interested in moving to her city. The last time we spoke, she suggested we get coffee/brunch when I’m house-hunting, and mentioned to include her husband, who is a contractor and can talk about homes that need to be rehabbed.

    Well, I’m going house-hunting next week, and her husband was recently diagnosed with an aggressive Stage iv cancer. She hasn’t mentioned it, a coworker has. I want to send a note and offer to meet up but obviously no pressure whatsoever. And would want to say something kind–it feels strange to gloss over completely. But not sure how to phrase it, especially since my information is (confirmed but) secondhand. Thoughts?

    1. fposte*

      “I’ve heard Bob’s ill; I’m sorry to hear that. I’m going to be in town next week and would love to see you, but I totally understand if that’s not going to work for you.”

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Colleague, I am going to be in City on Date. You had previously mentioned getting together for coffee, but I recently heard that Contractor might not be well. I was sorry to hear that and wish the best for you and for him. If you are available I would love to see you, but of course I understand if you cannot make that work this time.


    3. SuperAnon*

      I would keep it very brief: Hi, I’ll be in the area, please call if you’d like to grab coffee, no pressure, best regards.

      Really short. She didn’t tell you about the diagnosis so I wouldn’t bring it up.

    4. OtterB*

      I would send a note that you are house-hunting next week and would love to get together as you had discussed, but you’d heard her husband has significant health issues and understand if she’s not available. Then close with something like “wishing all the best for both of you.”

    5. Zephy*

      I would phrase it as “I’ll be in the area next week, just confirming that the offer to get together over coffee still stands?” and let her be the one to bring up her husband.

  20. Amber Rose*

    Do you need a particular reason to fire someone? Can you not just be like, “hey, it’s not working out, your work is not great, bye” even after X number of years?

    We finally got rid of crazy dude and now he’s challenging it and we have to prove we gave him all this stuff like employee handbooks and rules and stuff, even though he didn’t technically break any rules, he just went off his rocker and accused people of sabotaging him, plus something about Germans. He also came back and asked people for references, some of whom are afraid that if they say no he might become violent so I mean. What the heck.

    Vacation in two weeks. Just two more weeks. Two…

        1. A. Lovelace*

          Have you spoken with Labour Relations and HR? They should be your friends at times like these. It’s quite reasonable to fire someone in the government, but often managers are too lazy to document things properly and it backfires on them…
          (not saying this about you at all, just that the ‘you can’t fire anyone’ point of view is often perpetuated by people who were too lazy to do the paperwork properly)

          1. Amber Rose*

            We’re a tiny company. We have nothing of the sort. We aren’t government, but dude went to the government to complain we shouldn’t have fired him.

        2. Canadian HR Lady*

          INAL, but If you were contacted by Service Canada, it probably has to do with an EI application on his part. If he’s applied for EI through Service Canada and the Record of Employment says that he was dismissed they investigate to see if the claim should be approved.

          1. Joy*

            Yup. Try googling “Employment Insurance (EI) and fired for misconduct” and look at that page to see how they define misconduct and what it means. He won’t qualify for EI if he was fired for misconduct.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Legally (well, might depend on what country you’re in) you don’t need a good reason, as long as you aren’t firing them for an illegal reason (discrimination based on a protected class). That said, sometimes certain organizations have their own internal rules about what kinds of justifications and motions you have to go through to fire someone. I worked one place that clearly had to fire an employee, but it took six months, because HR insisted she be given a PIP and that her manager document everything that entire time before they could actually fire her.

    2. Undine*

      (I am not a lawyer or in HR) In the U.S., every state except Montana has at-will employment. You can fire someone for many things, including being too attractive. It gets trickier if he claims you fired him because of a protected characteristic, such as race, religion, or age.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      In the US, yes. Work is generally considered “at will” and both employer and employee can terminate the working agreement at any time, and generally for any reason (except for illegal forms of discrimination), regardless of how long they’ve worked there. Unless he had a contract, which is rarer in the US, but does happen in certain fields such as academia, government, unions, and executives such CEO, CFO, etc.

      However, if he was let go and there was no direct fireable cause, he may be (and I say should be) eligible for unemployment benefits. I don’t know why companies fight the unemployment benefits. It’s generally an easier way to “let people go” without them fighting the layoff or firing. Plus, if company is not paying a severance, it gives people a cushion.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Oooohh, maybe that’s what’s happening. I thought it was weird that the government was calling us. I didn’t think about EI.

        I feel like threatening people is just cause for firing, but whatever.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          I feel like threatening people is just cause for firing, but whatever.

          It absolutely is at every place I’ve worked.

          1. Argye*

            I actually had to fight to fire someone who was not only threatening people, but throwing things at people. But only certain people who didn’t belong, you know, non-white males (her words, not mine). Then she showed up the day after being fired and continued work, and complained that the copies of the reference manuals for Microsoft weren’t hers, but an exact duplicate that I had replaced to mess with her head. She had to be escorted out of my lab.
            Good times. I was 25 in my first managerial job. She was an inherited lab assistant who had been there 3 years longer than I had.

    4. Moocowcat*

      Oh boy, that’s not fun.
      Generally speaking, employers probably can terminate employment without cause for any reason.*
      More specifically, contact an employment lawyer.

    5. Sabrina Spellman*

      There has to be a reason he was let go, right? Was he on a PIP? Were there disciplinary actions against him? Is there a paper trail of some kind?

      1. WellRed*

        Not necessarily, unless the company has a procedure or he works for the government. Not every company has a big formal procedure. Not being good at a job is reason to let someone go. having coworkers be afraid of someone is also good reason.

    6. Meißner Porcelain Teapot*

      Okay, having worked in Canada before, my first question would be: did he have a written contract? If so, look up the wording. There should be something in there about employee needing to conduct themselves professionally at all times and harassment and such being fireable offenses. These are the things you will want to forward to Service Canada, because he’s probably applying for EI. If you do not have such clauses in your contracts or if you don’t have contracts, then you really should have an employee handbook, if only to CYA. I know “handbook” sounds like it needs to be some all-encompassing 500-page hardcover book, but it really doesn’t need to be. It’s just an overview of the written and unwritten rules of employment and every company should have one. Also, if you have documented incidents of his behavior (and how you addressed it) forward that as well.

      Generally, I am staunchly against firing without any warning, unless in cases that put your company or its employees in immediate physical harm or legal trouble. What comes across as unprofessional conduct in one company, might have been normal (but toxic) culture in another. You never know where that employee came from, so it’s usually worth it giving at least one warning, unless you have legitimate reason to believe that your employee is going to cause physical harm to someone in your company the moment you do that (i.e. if employee constantly talks about how many guns they have at home and talks about how much they want to just light the office up on some days, that would be a good time to fire them without warning and get a restraining order). But such cases are rare and in general, I would recommend the following approach:

      1) Upon first incident, document incident in writing (“employee X said/did problematic thing Y on date AA/BB/CC, witnessed and reported by employee Z”). Talk to employee X and explain why this is not ok, pointing to the relevant section of their contract / the employee handbook.

      2) Upon second incident, document again in writing. Talk to employee X and explain in clear, but calm terms that this is their second violation and you need them to take this seriously or else you will have to fire them.

      3) Upon third incident, document in writing. If the problem is with their performance, put them on a 3-month PIP with clear goals and coaching. If they don’t meet the goals, fire them. If the problem is with conduct, fire them right away.

      That way, if employee decides to challenge their termination, you’ll have documented that you pointed out the problem and its severity and the fault lies with employee, not you.

  21. Ye old*

    What is the best way to approach a job interview when you lack a skill but really want to learn it?
    I am currently interviewing for some jobs that require project management experience – I lack it, even though a person of my age really should have in my industry (bad career planning, I know). I am eager to learn if the company is willing to let me learn though… Should I be honest about this during interviews? Or is it a bad idea to admit a lack of knowledge?

    1. ThinMint*

      I think you have to admit it. From the project managers I’ve worked with, my sense is that the skill/certification is A Thing and not one you can learn or say you have without having done some very specific training. In other cases, I think you can talk about your other experience and how it might transfer but I don’t know if that’s the case with project management.

    2. Mr. Tyzik*

      PM work is HARD. Don’t say you have the skills if you don’t have them. Admit what you don’t have. It’ll be easier than getting fired later for not having those skills.

      The PM work could be a deal breaker.

    3. M. Albertine*

      You definitely have to admit it as a weakness, and look for companies/positions that would be willing to train you. I was in a similar boat: at this stage in my accounting career, I really should have had some supervisory experience, but my career path did not wind that way. So I took a job at a start-up company, so as it grows, so does my role and is soon to include subordinates.

    4. PSB*

      I agree with what the others have said. PM work is pretty specific. I’ve managed projects in previous roles and have a PMP certification but just recently moved to a full time Project Manager role. Even if the job is like my previous ones and includes some PM work alongside non-PM duties, definitely don’t claim it if you’ve never done it. That’s doubly true if they’re looking for more formal PM experience. Most people seriously underestimate the complexity of managing projects well and think of it as just scheduling work and making sure it gets done. In reality there’s a whole different set of thought processes to project management to proactively avoid problems (hopefully).

      All that said, definitely look out for opportunities to develop those skills. People who are really good at it are all too rare.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      Agreed that you should not try to hide this lack of experience. Is there anything you’ve done that uses PM skills? I think if there is any past experience you can use to demonstrate that you have the capability to be a PM, that is helpful to bring to the discussion. There is such a wide variety of what PMs due from role to role that lack of experience would be a dealbreaker in some and not as much in others. I’ve seen PM ads for jobs that sound like our project controls staff (cost analysis, primavera scheduling), but my job is more soft skills. . .client coordination, partner coordination, team management. (Still a lot of spreadsheets, though.) Soft skills are easier to translate from non-PM experience.

    6. alphabet soup*

      Are you talking about Project Management experience (with a capital PM) or just project management experience?

      As others have stated PM work is hard and definitely requires experience. But I’ve also seen a lot of jobs use the lowercase term to just refer to a candidate’s ability to schedule things and get stuff done independently. If it’s the latter, I think admitting your inexperience but talking about transferable skills would work.

    7. IV*

      10+ year career PM here. There is definitely a big difference between pm and PM. The former is like “I handled a part of this project all by myself and managed my schedule and coordinated between groups and communicated a lot.” The latter is about accountability and responsibility for budget / scheduling and risk mitigation and is a title and a career path and a certification category. You can have elements of the former without having the title or the letters behind your name, and you can have an interest in developing those skills that may be a value add to your employer.

      Also, the former can absolutely lead to the latter if you have the interest and skillset. That’s how I developed my career from teapot documentation to senior program manager for global teapot deployment.

      But you can’t go after the role if you haven’t done it, you know? Just like I don’t go after jobs for teapot developer or marketer or quality assurance.

  22. Digital Ninja*

    This Atlantic story made me chuckle: “America’s Job Listings Have Gone Off the Deep End: What even is a data-obsessed, project-juggling digital ninja?” I will post the link in the next comment

      1. Booksalot*

        OMG my sides. “You must evince an all-consuming horniness for menial corporate tasks.”

    1. Alfonzo Mango*

      This paragraph stood out to me as most important:

      Siegel points out that the hypercharged language is also poorly suited to the digital nature of most modern job searching, where 70 percent of résumés submitted via online job listings or uploaded to job boards are going to be screened by algorithms looking for keywords. “When you say ‘coding ninja,’ you’re not going to match against ‘java developer.’ If you say ‘spreadsheet guru,’ you’re going to miss the people with ‘Excel expertise.’”

    2. Alfonzo Mango*

      I also love this line:
      “Siegel says he understands that employers are trying to stand out by being cutesy. ”

      This seems like a backspin- instead of perspective candidates demonstrating gumption, we have employers trying to gimmick their way to employees!

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, does any candidate reading such language think “I want to apply to that job!”? I’m guessing it’s more “I need a job, so I guess I’ll apply to that, even though… what is up with the language in that job posting?”

      1. L.S. Cooper*

        That’s definitely how I feel when I apply to these. “Ugh, oh boy, this will be a nightmare, but I need to get my foot in the door in this industry, so I guess I can give it a shot…”

      2. Lana Kane*

        It’s the workplace version of Steve Buscemi on 30 Rock – “How do you do, fellow kids?”

      3. Fortitude Jones*

        Whenever I saw those kinds of ads the last time I was searching, I rolled my eyes and kept scrolling. It’s juvenile and says absolutely nothing about what the job will be like.

    4. Hallowflame*

      My policy as a job seeker is if I can’t understand what job the employer is trying to hire for from the ad and can’t glean the basic skills they’re interested in, the employer is not serious enough for me to bother with them. Caveat: I work in accounting where creativity is generally not a job requirement. This rule may not apply in creative fields.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I feel the same way–I just want to know what I’ll be doing. I especially need to know if there is financial work so I can self-select out. They’re making it really hard for someone with a disability to either apply or not apply (maybe that’s deliberate *flames flames on the side of my face*).

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        I work in a creative position, and I still wouldn’t apply to one of those ads. They’re too try hard.

    5. Lepidoptera*

      Please stop trying to use ‘internet-speak’ to attract employees in the job duties sections.
      It doesn’t make us think you’re a great place to work, it makes us think you have way too much hyper energy directed at the wrong things.

    6. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I laughed out loud at this line: “More than ever, it seems, hiring managers are looking for extremists: You can’t just be willing to do the job. You must evince an all-consuming horniness for menial corporate tasks.”

      I’m very lucky that my field (corporate finance) still sticks largely to run of the mill, buttoned up job posts. It made my recent job search extremely easy.

    7. Zephy*

      Someone else also linked to the article further up, and the article makes a good point – this kind of BS skews the age and gender of the average applicant. Specifically, skews young and male. It’s the old boys’ club reinventing itself.

    8. Fiona*

      I LOVED this article and I hate hate hate hate all that cutesy, trying-to-be-hip job description nonsense. I despise seeing companies advertising for a “rockstar” (and why is it always one word? Isn’t “rock star” two words??).

      Also, I know people feel mixed about this, but I hate seeing a requirement for a “sense of humor.” To me, that’s always a red flag that they hired someone in the past who didn’t put up with toxicity and now they’re trying to screen for people who will “go with the flow” and laugh off stuff and not put up a fuss. There’s no reason to advertise for a sense of humor – you’ll meet someone for an interview and that will give you a sense if they’ll be a good fit, personality-wise.

      ANYWAY. End of rant.

  23. Nonnie*

    I wrote in last week’s open thread about a problem I was having with a crush on a coworker, and I have an update.

    First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who commented, I really truly appreciate that you took time out of your day to give me advice, it means a lot. 

    As for the update – last Friday, I’m reading the comments, and am super relieved, because people are saying it’s not in my head, and they’re right, it’s not ok for him to treat me like that. Well then, internet friends. Then.

    Do you want to know what will throw cold water all over your crush on someone inappropriate? I’m talking Antarctic levels? If they tell you they love you.

    Friday afternoon, dude stops by my office to ask about a project I’m working on. I give him an update, and mention that we will all be having lunch on Monday. He asks what we will be having. I answer. He then busts out an “I love you” and I didn’t get a chance to respond to that cause my brain went “What the beeeeeeeeeeeeep” which was both a censored cuss word and the sound of my brain crashing and rebooting, because you what now?

    In no world is it even remotely ok for you, a married man, to tell me, a single female who is not related to you, that you love me, ESPECIALLY at work. I understand it was out of the fact you were excited about lunch, and I had a guy propose to me one time cause he liked the cupcakes I’d made, but that was a vastly different circumstance, and actually quite funny.

    I was mad all weekend about it, which doubly irritated me, both that it happened and that it ruined my weekend a little cause I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I was mad the whole time. Come Monday, he wasn’t at work, because his wife and kids (Three of them!) were sick. I’m not glad they were sick, but whew was I relieved for myself. 

    He was back yesterday, and I think the kids whose names I still don’t know have been wearing him out. I’ve also been super busy with the above mentioned project, so he hasn’t had time to talk to me much. 

    If something like this happens again, I am going to go plunk myself down in the HR lady’s office, and we are going to have a talk about how he makes me uncomfortable. 

    Thanks for listening to my rant, and again to everyone who sympathized with me last week. It made me feel less alone, and I can’t express what that meant to me.

    1. annakarina1*

      That is so creepy and wrong and inappropriate. This guy really needs to learn some boundaries, and I hope he doesn’t bother you further.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Wait. Was “I love you” in response to lunch plans? Like, “Oh, you picked my favorite restaurant? I love you!” Not a declaration of his true romantic feelings? If that’s the case, I don’t really find this HR-worthy.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I’m not entirely clear on tone here. And if it’s the “We’re having lobster? I *love* you” case, I think it’s something for you, Nonnie, to address in the moment: “Bob, sometimes your remarks sound flirty, and that makes me uncomfortable. Could you dial that back?”

      2. Frank Doyle*

        Yeah, unless this was a sincere, earnest expression of love, I don’t think this is a big deal. I think it only SEEMS like a big deal because you have feelings for him, so the “importance” of every little thing he does is magnified for you.

      3. CupcakeCounter*

        Without all of the other things this guy has said and done, I’d agree with that stance. However, all the stuff Nonnie mentioned last week (like the if you and I were married examples) easily make this a lot more loaded.
        Monitoring at an arms length is a good idea simply because this particular example could be read in a variety of ways.
        Limit interactions as much as possible and respond with cool professionalism (without going into cold territory). Try to determine if things feel a little different now that the crush has cooled or if they are even more creepy now.

        1. alphabet soup*

          Agreed. I think given last week’s comment thread, this would also strike me as creepy/sad AF. Definitely trust your gut on this, Nonnie.

      4. Nonnie*

        Yeah, it was mostly in response to the food, it was just super jarring to hear, especially coming from him given what else has gone on.

      5. Anne (with an “e”)*

        I completely agree. What was his tone? What *exactly* was the context? It sounds to me like he was joking around. “Oh, we are going to eat caviar and filet mignon at Chez Pierre. I’m so psyched! I love you.” That isn’t a declaration of love. Nor is it a betrayal of his wife and kids. It’s a turn of phrase that means, “I really like what you did there. Good job!”

        Obviously, I wasn’t there, so I could be reading this wrong. But, — the way this reads — it sounds like no big deal. I reiterate— I don’t believe it was a declaration of love. I do think he’s flirting with you though.

        My advice— talk to the guy before you go to HR. Call out his behavior in the moment. Tell him you think it’s inappropriate and that it’s making you uncomfortable. I bet it will stop.

        Please keep us updated and best wishes.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Side note: I keep thinking you might be one of my close friends, incognito, because y’all both have an awesome comic writing style.

      1. Nonnie*

        Thanks! I don’t know if I know you, since I’m, you know, anon, but we can be internet friends either way!

    4. Mr. Shark*

      It’s obviously inappropriate, and since you didn’t have a real chance to react when he said it, you should make it very clear that it is inappropriate and not reciprocated in any way. Give him a chance to dial it all back and get back in the professional-only mode.

      If he doesn’t do that, definitely go to HR.

    5. Lora*


      Like, “hey, did you remember to put the financial table in the presentation on slide 4 instead of slide 6? Thanks, love you!”? Or what?

      Have known people who accidentally say “okay, love you, bye” during work calls, but it was sort of autopilot. You know, you talk on the phone to your partner and end every call with “love you” and one day you’re only on your first cup of coffee and someone calls you and asks for the TPS report and you say, “sure thing, I’ll send it right out, thanks, love you.” Then you hang up and realize what you just said and try not to actually die of shame, and debate for multiple awkward hours whether you should call them back and apologize or just pretend it never happened.

      Or was it a serious, “the way you worded that marketing projection…darling….it was like rose petals caressed my eyeballs while Larry Page whispered NPVs in my ears…I love you, alive girl.”

      1. Nonnie*

        Lol. I did have an IT guy tell me he loved me by accident one day. He didn’t hang up immediately, and I swear I could HEAR him dying over the phone.

        It was in response to the food, but there was a weird pause, like, “Oh I’m excited, that will be good. … I love you.” Not entirely sure what happened after that, my brain had shorted out.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The IT guy is a good example for comparison. Differences in people, differences in situations. In the IT example, you can see yourself that he slipped up, it was a genuine mistake.
          In the current example, you are seeing red, flashing lights.

          It’s good to use comparisons like this to help measure how much is awry and figure out how much we want to do to address the matter.
          I think you are on the right track here to demand an end to this behavior.

    6. Kat in VA*

      Oof. In light of your last post, no, not really appropriate.

      Then again, I have a director who has a habit of saying “And THIS is why I heart you” but he means it in a “You’re really great” kind of way, not that he’s actually in love with me. (There is zero flirtation or attraction between us – we get on like a house on fire but in a friendly, ribbing, our-senses-of-humor-are-aligned-in-a-terrible-way manner.)

      Context is everything, and the context on this one is kind of…murky.

  24. Non-profit board question*

    I would like to volunteer on the Board of a non-profit as a way to gain more experience in my field of choice, give back to my community, and boost my resume. What are your tips for A) finding a board to join; and B) making the most of the experience?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      A lot of nonprofits have specific giving suggestions – Boards are typically the source of much major donor cultivation – so this is a good place to start. Does the nonprofit have a “give or get” amount for their board members / how much are you comfortable donating. If you are not looking to donate or fundraise, you will want to focus on smaller boards that need board members to fill other roles in the org. Just my two cents.

      1. Venus*

        That is extremely interesting to know! I have thought about being a board member for a couple charities where I have volunteered for years, but I have absolutely no interest in fundraising.

        Do you mind sharing: What other roles do board members fill? Are there any skills which would be helpful, or does it depend upon the charity? I could ask them directly, so I’m not expecting an answer if it’s complicated.

        1. Mimmy*

          That’s my situation as well, but I have a feeling that many non profits do at least encourage their board members to do some level of fundraising.

        2. paperpusher*

          I was on a board of a very small advocacy group in a very small city. Basically, I showed up to a meeting because I knew people and had already been involved with the organization, and someone decided that since I was a woman with a professional job I’d make a great secretary. I loved it and all the only requirement was being a good writer. Fundraising wasn’t a requirement at all, beyond helping out at the casual fundraising events. But this wasn’t really wasn’t a typical board of directors experience and it was very low-key in terms of expectations compared to other orgs.

          My impression is that if you have accounting experience, there are lots of boards looking for treasurers. Finding someone with the knowledge, interest and free time is pretty hard.

        3. Two Dog Night*

          It depends on the organization. IMO, smaller non-profits are more likely to have boards that dive in and do things; the boards at larger organizations are more likely to concentrate on strategy and the big picture… but I’m sure there are exceptions to that all over the place.

          If you’re on a board, you’re generally going to be expected to donate to the organization and be willing to reach out to your contacts and ask for things. If you’re brought on for a specific purpose–e.g. you have an accounting background, and they need a treasurer–you can probably avoid a lot of the fundraising, but in general, fundraising is part of a board member’s obligation.

          I’d suggest looking at small local charities–see if you have any connections with current board members, and see if you can meet and pick their brains. If you don’t have a connection, volunteer there as a way to meet people.

        4. hermit crab*

          I’m on the board of a local advocacy organization. Our board includes: the president, the VP, the secretary, the treasurer, someone in charge of membership, and several someones in charge of particular advocacy issue areas (committee chairs, essentially). It’s 100% made up of members who have demonstrated a certain level of commitment/active engagement/volunteerism with the organization. That said, most of our income is from membership dues and grants, so we don’t have a big focus on fundraising overall.

        5. Venus*

          These have all been quite useful, thank you! I might at some point volunteer for a board, and will put my name forward with an honest assessment of my capabilities (I hate fundraising, but can help out in a lot of other ways). If I’m honest from the start, then it should work out well :)

        6. Argye*

          The phrase is “Give, Get, or Get Out.” Give money, get money (fundraising), or get off the Board. There is sometimes some leeway if you have professional interest in the work of the NP, but that is unusual in my experience.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Find a NP whose values/ vision/ mission you agree with and can get on board with supporting, then find out what criteria they have for their Board members before you apply.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      In my experience, boards are usually filled by active volunteers/donors, so you should probably find one or two organizations you really want to get involved with, and start volunteering. It would be unusual (though not impossible by any means) to apply for a board position without ever having been involved with the organization before.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      United Way organizations do matchmaking between orgs and potential board members, I think — you could look at the United Way in your area.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Your city may have an office or a city-affiliated agency that connects businesspeople with board of directors opportunities. The org that comes to my mind is the Arts and Business Council of Philadelphia and their “Business on Board” program.

      If you don’t have that kind of city-nonprofit partnership where you are, maybe check the website BoardSource (dot org), which lists opportunities by region.

      There’s also good, old-fashioned networking. Ask your business colleagues where they or their spouses volunteer, which orgs they donate to, or which orgs they actually know are looking for board members.

      Then, as others have noted, it’s almost universally a requirement, especially for smaller nonprofits, that board members must raise money for the org. (The only board member exceptions might be the lawyer or accountant who is providing in-kind services.) If fundraising is not your gig, TBH it’s a lot nicer to volunteer for the org’s program rather than seek a seat on the board.

      Source: nonprofit law is about 25% of my bread and butter and I’ve served on boards for years.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Every Board is different in terms of how they are filled. For example, I’m on a non-profit Board that fills all voting BoD positions with people elected by the membership at our AGM. There are plenty of non-voting volunteer roles that report to the Board, and we’re certainly able to find tasks that a volunteer could do that would help the Board, but the Board itself is not something that a person could just volunteer to join.

      From the comments here, I gather that other orgs have other ways their Board is filled, but for us it would seem like a deeply weird thing to volunteer to join and be a sign that you didn’t really know much about our org and how we run things (which is a red flag if you’re asking to be put in charge of something for us, since we want people to have some experience with how we run things before giving them a position with the authority to go all bull-in-china-shop and create headaches for us later – we are certainly happy to teach people how we do things, but that would involve taking lower-level volunteer positions with a clear supervisor to help train you in org norms before giving you a role with a large amount of decision-making authority).

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Since it’s come up elsewhere in the thread, I’ll note that direct fundraising is not an expectation for our board members, but many hours of volunteer work for the org is. Our org gets most of its money at specific fundraising events the org puts on rather than through soliciting donations more generally, so board members often have a major role in one or more of those events.

    7. June First*

      I have worked with nonprofits with vastly different expectations of board members. I also serve on boards for service organizations. For me, it’s finding out about the time expectations ahead of time. How many meetings per month, when do they meet? Am I going to be expected to fundraise for a different event every month? Is the board position more budget-focused? How long are the terms?
      As far as making the most of it, talk with the director and other staff about how they can best use your expertise. They might be noncommittal, but don’t be afraid to suggest ideas within reason. Do you really like to build raffle baskets? Or listen to a podcast while stuffing envelopes? Or something more specific to the org?

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Rural areas are sometimes just happy to have a warm body.
      More populated areas can be competitive.

      Generally, it’s a good idea to have some type of knowledge or skill a board may be interested in.

      I am on a NPO board in a rural area. I got here because a board member knew me and asked me if I was interested. I had met the board member in another group where I was able to make some contributions that were noticeable. If you cannot think of any other practical way to get closer to the board, start volunteering for the NPO now. This will give you a chance to hear scuttlebutt and if you hear there is an opening on the board you can ask, “How does one throw their hat in the ring for that opening?”

      Not to scare you but the work can be a full time job. There is so much to read and so much to do just as a board member. (thanks, government regs) In an added layer, we are small. Therefore, when something goes wrong board members jump in with sleeves rolled up and work boots on. Literally.
      Assume they do not have time to train you and diligently read everything you are given to read.
      Allow about a year to get into the swing of things.
      Remember they are tired of doing the easy, mind-dulling tasks that come up. Volunteer when they ask for a board member to volunteer for something. This gives you experience and it also gets you their appreciation.

      Don’t ever let on that you are trying to boost your resume. Your resume will get a boost on its own. If you take your time and be tactful you may even get some help from board members, but this is a slow road, not an expressway.
      Your better bet is to make your focus that you want to give back to your community and you want to learn more about your field of choice.

    9. Julia*

      I got my first board position in my mid 20s. I found the listing on It was a super small non profit, so they were willing to have someone who didn’t have board experience. I met with the Executive Director and treated it like an interview where I got to learn as much about the company as possible to see if it’d be a good fit for me. I served for 3 years and was the treasurer. It was a great learning experience!

  25. Boba tea*

    How do you express gratitude or appreciate employees in federal/state agency where there isnt budget and monetary rewards have restrictions yet they are sought after? A sticky note with thank you can only last so long. From my research, lots of articles ask for days off, all paid vacation, treats etc which are very limited in public sector works cause of rules and budgets and strict work schedule

    1. fposte*

      Is this “Thank you, I appreciate your work and you’re a great team member” or is this “Thank you, I know you’re paid crap and are trying to leave and I can’t get you a raise and would like to find something that will make you stay”?

      I think you’re out of luck on the latter–there’s nothing you personally can do to fix that. If it’s the former, I don’t think you need to work yourself into a lather about it. People don’t generally work for the government without understanding the limitations. Bring in the occasional box of donuts, give them regular feedback that includes recognition and discussion of growth opportunities, rep them to your bosses when they’ve been excellent and thank them publicly when the occasion provides.

    2. Hapless Bureaucrat*

      It depends a lot on the latitude your position descriptions and contracts give you. If you’re trying to reward consistent excellent work in a way that you’d otherwise give someone a raise, look at what kind of flexibility or responsibility your employees values. If you have the discretion to let employees flex time or work from home, that’s an option. Getting time to work on a pet project that’s not the highest departmental priority can be great. Are there opportunities to be sponsored into leadership programs or other professional development?
      In positions where work schedules and job tasks are very narrow, of course, a lot of these won’t apply.

      In terms of one-time kinds of rewards, team lunches after a busy period can be good (if your own budget allows you to pay for employees, even better), as can recognition of the project at all-hands or other large meetings, in newsletters, wherever your unit/section/division/etc communicates with itself. (If it doesn’t, what a great opportunity to start something.)

    3. The Grammarian*

      I think writing a card or an email expressing gratitude and appreciation goes pretty far, and it’s free (and it could also be used later as supporting evidence in favor of a raise, when there’s budget for it). Team lunch after a team success, if there’s budget for the lunch, is also nice. I prefer the emails/cards. I reread them when times are tough at work.

      1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

        This just reminded that one time after a particularly grueling and tedious task our head big boss wrote individual note cards to the team members and left them on our desks. It was really quite nice.

    4. CheeryO*

      I mean, you don’t, really. And that’s okay. I like my state government job because it’s stable, pays fairly well, and has great benefits and work/life balance. I don’t expect my boss to express appreciation beyond giving positive feedback when it’s warranted. We have donuts at staff meetings sometimes. We do lunches occasionally (maybe once per year), but they’re not really a treat since you have to worry about rushing back or charging time.

    5. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      It’s not as good as tangible perks, but I’m one of those employees and a verbal “thank you” or other words of appreciation sure are nice.

    6. Middle Manager*

      In my state government role, I try to support my employees with professional development opportunities as much as possible- trainings, conferences, etc, that are free or we are allowed to cover the cost. I also take my (small) team out to lunch and pay a few times a year. I do small gifts for my team at the holidays and occasional other treats, like pastry in the morning. But anything other than approved conferences/trainings comes out of my own pocket, which not every supervisor can do. Definitely more limited than the private sector.

    7. Robyn*

      While I’d love a raise or more vacation days, I know that’s not happening in public service, and I knew that coming in.

      My state government job does fairly regular (like twice per year) potluck-style employee appreciation events where management pays out of their pockets for the lunch entree and then all the represented employees contribute sides/desserts/drinks (it’s not monitored if you contributed or not). It’s usually an hour or two of time set aside to be social with one another, for our leadership to thank us for our hard work, and sometimes with outdoor games or trivia (totally optional of course). Our managers also allow us to code our time in attendance at the potluck as work time, since it’s a work event. It’s definitely a recognition of our whole team’s work rather than recognition of individuals, but most of us still enjoy the break from our day-to-day work and the relaxed atmosphere of a team lunch.

      1. Bubbles McPherson*

        That sounds like my old state government agency employer, though I have a much different take on it. It was an extremely forced social occasion with contrived games, fake camaraderie, and stupid tchotchke which we were supposed to gush over with gratitude.

        It was a huge waste of an entire afternoon overplanned by an incompetent HR director and an agency staff committee who spent half the year excited out of their gourds working on this thing and obsessing over the details instead of doing their actual jobs.

    8. Anono-me*

      Can you put the person or team in for some sort of award or certificate of appreciation? (I’m thinking not just a piece of paper but something they can put on a resume or promotion application.)

  26. Myamme*

    I have an employee who consistently does poor work and has behavioral/interpersonal issues with coworkers. Admittedly, I ignored a lot of issues I should have addressed a long time ago. About 1.5 yrs ago, I did start addressing them. Unfortunately, shortly after this started happening, the employee’s personal life has been put through the ringer. Tragedy after tragedy. To be clear, the employee’s personal life was/is not the reason for their poor performance at work. The issues existed previous to that. But the optics of starting to address issues at the same time that the employee is going through so many terrible things has not been great. The employee is set to receive a formal write-up (mandatory per some HR rules in our state) in the next few weeks. Tuesday this employee found out he has cancer. So it feels really terrible that the write-up is about to happen. I think I don’t want it to happen. But I also am tired of the issues I have seen not get any better. Is this a case where if the issues are really issues, they will continue to present themselves at a later time and we should try to not do the write-up if we can right? Am I too close to this to see that this isn’t complicated and the issues are separate?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      This is cruel but … are you 100% sure that the issues are legitimate? We had an employee whose life suddenly became a parade of drama right around the time they were written up for a PIP and it turned out the drama was not true. I hate to even suggest it though.

      1. Myamme*

        I’ve absolutely had that thought about some of the lower end stuff. But the major stuff has checked out. Does this employee exploit these for attention? Yes. But they are real.

    2. Award winning llama wrangler*

      I had a similar situation with a team member who was struggling at work and at home, although I think not to the degree that your employee is. I used “I understand that things are difficult and I’m sorry you’re going through this, but it’s critical for our team to have someone in this position who can handle all the day to day tasks every day and without errors. Do you think you can do that or should we start talking about the next steps?” It’s tough, but do you still want to be dealing with the same issues a year from now?

      1. Not Me*

        I agree with this. Also, if FMLA is an option for your company and the drama he’s dealing with you can remind him that is an option if he’s not capable of being at work and performing his job.

        1. Myamme*

          This employee has used FMLA 3 times in the last 2 years. It will likely be used again if it hasn’t been exhausted for the latest 12 month period.

          1. FMLA Wrangler*

            As an experienced FMLA administrator, my antennae is going up on this. The employee has indicated a condition which triggers the need for an FMLA response if he asks for so much as a half hour off to deal with it. Is your FMLA process up to speed and run by a trained and experienced person with quick access to legal staff? With a poor performance record and prior FML use, his is the kind of situation that can easily become a court case if not handled very carefully. If your company does not have experienced FMLA administration, it may be worthwhile to engage and employment lawyer with FMLA experience to advise every step of the way. If your prior FMLA administration has been casual or informal, legal advice is essential here.

            Be absolutely certain that he is given a Notice of Eligibility within 5 business days of the first time off request/call in. This notice will tell him if he is eligible and has any available time. If not done correctly and on time, it could lead to FMLA approval by default.

            I handled a couple of cases like this. In one, the poorly-preforming employee had been using days here and then throughout the “rolling 12 month” calculation period for available leave. She finally exhausted her 12 weeks but there was only a 6 day period before she would start earning leave back day by day. I advised our in-house lawyer who got a quick turnaround on terminating the employee. In another, the problem employee already had an FMLA case running for one reason but effectively gave notice of different reason to his manager who failed to report it for FMLA (despite the annual trainings I gave to managers). When the manager terminated him for missing work, the employee was able to bring suit in Federal court that he was wrongly terminated when he should have been on FMLA. The company settled with the guy eventually and the manager was not “kindly looked upon” thereafter.

            It pays to carefully handle FMLA when the employee is a poor performer.

      2. Myamme*

        You are right. I really don’t want to be dealing with these in a year. What hangs me up is that since I dragged my feet on dealing with these issues, from the employee’s perspective, why couldn’t I wait another year.

        But reading the comments so far has been so helpful. Thank you. The formal write-up will proceed and we will handle the rest with all the compassion we have.

        1. Not Me*

          Well, you can’t wait another year because you’ve already been dealing with it for a year. That’s a reasonable response if he asks.

          1. valentine*

            Because you’ve learned your lesson and the hits will just keep on coming. He’s a chaos magnet and, while that could change, his poor performance won’t. You took the compassionate road and are now paying for it. The second-best time to stop this is now. And think of it this way: Perhaps there is a job or a way of life that he’s missing out on right now and losing this job will lead him to that better path.

            Before you replace him, write out the signs you missed, the flags you ignored or delayed reacting to, and consider whether telling everyone and milking your myriad tragedies is also a performance issue, so you can cut it short if someone else tries it.

            1. Not Me*

              I assume that wasn’t actually meant as a response to me? I’m saying Myamme can’t wait to handle this because they’ve already waited too long.

        2. ..Kat..*

          If you don’t do a formal write up, you are continuing to punish everyone who has to work with this employee.

          Just be firm and objective when you do the write up.

    3. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

      Not the same, but maybe helpful to you:

      Some years ago my son was diagnosed with cancer. It has taken many years to get it under control. I was a high performer til then, but after that my performance steadily got worse (partly from needing to leave the office a lot for scheduled and unscheduled medical stuff, but also because, my kid had cancer). I was terrible at my job, I knew I was terrible at my job and I didn’t really care, my boss knew I was terrible at my job. I got better at my job after a year or so, and I’m grateful that my boss and my coworkers helped my through, but I would not have been surprised or upset if I had been fired. *I* would have fired me.

      If he’d been a stellar employee all along and then now tanked, I’d say, see if you can arrange things to make it better for him. But he’s been a poor employee all along, you started the process of moving him out, I’d advise: continue the process. I imagine his poor performance means others have had to take up the slack? or his coworkers look bad because they can’t make up for his poor work? or some other work-related cost, right? Solve the problem…

    4. Wishing You Well*

      If the write-up is mandatory per your HR rules, do the formal write-up. There might be other ways you can cut him a break employment-wise. Can he go on medical leave or temporary disability? You’ll need a lot of HR guidance on this one. Good luck.

    5. Cows go moo*

      They key is to see this as something you are doing for his benefit; rather than a punishment you’re inflicting on him. You are essentially going through the process of communicating your expectations clearly to bring his performance up to the required standard so he can keep his job.

      It would actually be unfair and cruel to ignore his poor performance, pretend he’s doing a good job, then surprise him with a firing.

      Obviously communicate in a respectful way – as you would of anyone going through a PIP, regardless of their personal circumstances. And if he’s got cancer you need to consider which part of your expectations you can adjust, if any (for example, is it reasonable to give him additional time for a deadline if he’s going through treatment?)

  27. BeanCat*

    I’ve been going through a lot of stress feeling like I have to “figure out what I want to do with my life” lately since I’m not sure I want to be a receptionist forever. But I’m not sure what to consider moving into! Thankfully my therapist this week asked if I actually have to make a decision, pointing out that I’ve already moved this year and am getting married early next year, and that maybe this isn’t the right time to consider a big change. So I think he’s right!

    I’m also trying to reframe in my head when people are unintentionally/mildly rude – asking how I am before immediately launching into their request (not caring about the answer), or giving me a task with only a single word (“scan?”). Any advice for reframing that to help ease the mild frustration? :) Thank you all in advance!

    1. Lena Clare*

      I think people who say “how are you?” before launching into their request are just doing it as a conversational thing, sort of like saying “hi” or “hey” or “by the way”… and then “can you please..?” almost immediately afterwards.

      I don’t think they’re expecting an answer from you either, at least not a truthful one. Here you’d just say “fine, how can I help?” in a cheerful tone of voice.

      Maybe reframe it as them not really asking you how you are, then it won’t feel so rude when they don’t listen to the response?

      1. BeanCat*

        That makes sense! There’s not even a pause where I can say that, but that’ll be how I mentally reply. I definitely wouldn’t get into a real answer even if they were asking, but that will help to remember. Thank you!

    2. Lena Clare*

      For the ones who only use one word as a question, ugh are they do busy they can’t speak in full sentences?!
      I get that that’s frustrating and irritating.
      I’d just clarify in order to force them to speak in full sentences. E.g. “when you say ‘scan?’ do you mean you want me to scan it or that it has already been scanned? Or do you mean something else entirely? (Because I don’t understand when you just say one word!)”

      1. fposte*

        I get the frustration, but doing this just to manipulate them into asking the way you want is likelier to hurt than help the overall relationship. Either be honest with them and politely ask for a less peremptory request or decide to roll with it.

        BTW, Bean, are these single-word requests face to face, or are they emailed/sticky note communications? Because I would be a little taken aback at somebody who held a book out to me and just said “Scan?” but if it were a sticky note that would seem pretty SOP.

        1. BeanCat*

          Hi fposte – yeah, these are in person. Sometimes it’s a drop off as they’re coming by, but sometimes it’s as they’re handing me the document and waiting for me to scan it. I understand it more for the quick drop off for sure!

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, that’s just weird. Maybe just reframe it as them being a big ol’ post-it?

            I’m with Lena Clare on the “How are you?” thing–I think that’s not a question but a greeting for a lot of people.

            1. BeanCat*

              Hee, the mental image there is one I’ll remember. :)

              I definitely think I took it a bit too personally – thanks for helping me reframe! Thinking of it as more of a greeting than a question will help, I suspect.

              Thank you both for your time and your help!

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          “No, book.”

          I used to have a coworker who would send me a file (they created data files, I ran them through Word/Excel macros to produce the formatted output) with the email text of, quote, “drft plz thx” :P There were a couple of occasions where I replied with her formatted draft and the text “Can I buy a vowel next time?”

    3. Jellyfish*

      I’m not sure that I have great advice, but I have been there! One of my frustration in being a receptionist was the constant directives like “scan.” I agree that people weren’t trying to be rude, but it can be wearing to feel treated like a machine all day instead of a person.

      In trying to figure out what to do with myself (while also planning a wedding the first time around), I took two approaches, and one worked better than the other.
      The first time, I figured education was a good way to switch fields. I found a degree program that looked really interesting and had a clearer path into specific jobs. Unfortunately, I never managed to fully jump on that path. I don’t know that I’d call it a wasted degree, but I could have done lots of other things with that money…

      A few years later, I had quite solidified the idea of “I CANNOT do this job for the rest of my life!” and knew I needed to pursue a change more effectively. I job hunted for awhile without actually applying to much. I read lots of job descriptions in areas that I was totally unqualified for. Eventually, I started to see a pattern where I was drawn to jobs in a specific field that I’d never considered before. This field required more education, so I had to go back to school again.

      However, I was a lot more deliberate about getting involved in that field outside of grad school. I took a pay cut to get an entry level job there (which I know isn’t possible for everyone), did some outside activities to boost my resume, and got involved with some professional organizations. It worked! And the receptionist bit wasn’t a bad thing to have on my resume either. It provided plenty of interview anecdotes for me and really did improve my customer service skills in a way that I could channel into my current field.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s a bad mix. On one hand you are trying to figure out the purpose of your life. And on the other hand you are dealing with people who think a monosyllabic word is a full sentence. s/Nothing says “we value you” like talking in one word sentences. /s “I am not a vending machine that dispenses copies/scans/whatever to the world. I am person. Try to remember.”

      Try not to let their treatment of you make you feel pushed harder to move on in life. You ARE moving on in life but just not with your career at the moment. If you cannot get yourself turned around here you may want to consider making a lateral move to a similar job somewhere else. This would get you out of the rut for the moment.
      OTH, maybe you could benefit from some extra rest. Sometimes irritation over small things can indicate not enough rest. Not all the time and not everyone, of course.

      1. BeanCat*

        I think not being well rested is definitely part of it! I’m anxious and tired but I can’t sleep well and it leaves me exhausted and sometimes grouchy (to myself). I’ll just keep trying to get better sleep and keep trying to reframe it. Thank you :)

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Everybody’s different, but I personally would reframe this by considering that if everyone else at work were to emotionally invest in me to the degree you would prefer, then I would be obligated to invest in them to the same degree.

      And I don’t have the time, desire or the emotional energy to care about how every single person who comes to my desk is doing. Or to have a full conversation about every rote task that needs doing.

      So I’d rather not incur the obligation.

      Their minimalist approach means they are imposing social/emotional demands on you as little as possible. So you can do your work without doing emotional labor for them alongside it.

      You may not enjoy that, but some people would. But reframing it as “they read me wrong” feels better than “they are rude and dismissive.”

      1. BeanCat*

        Ooooh I hadn’t considered it that way before but it’s a good point. I definitely tend to care a lot (maybe too much), so I think that will be helpful to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing this way of looking at it :)

  28. Anon4This*

    I need some advice on a job requirement/expectation that keeps coming up; both from my director at my current job and in at least 2 interviews I’ve gone on for new positions. (I am a mid-level senior manager in case that’s relevant for determining expectations.)

    I am consistently being told that in my position I am expected to “move the role/team/department forward”. I have yet to find an explanation on what exactly that means. I’m unclear on what that looks like in practice…is it identifying areas to expand the work being competed and finding new ways for it to be used? Something else entirely?

    What are some good examples of moving your work forward in a practice?

    1. Just Elle*

      I think this comes from the Lean/ Continuous Improvement language. In fact, OldJob’s motto was literally “We are never satisfied with our results.”

      One of the main functions of a higher level manager is to be focused on the strategic rather than only tactical aspects of a company. Basically, how do we become better than we were yesterday? There can be lots of areas where you can make improvements: morale / employee engagement, profitability, productivity, quality. I think its about finding the area you’re most passionate about, and spending time benchmarking or coming up with your own ideas to ‘move the team’ in a positive direction.

      Some examples: Creation of skip-level meetings where everyone can ask directors questions. Implementation of a mentoring program. A ‘shark tank’ where employees get to pitch new ideas to people who can make them happen. Lunch-and-learns. Free leadership training (a consultant came in at 5pm twice a week for a month). Creating a new metric that helped us monitor the health of our business and better react. A time you identified a high performer and helped accelerate her career.

    2. RandomU...*

      It could mean a few things. I’ll try to give some examples from my own teams/history.

      I started managing one group and found their work (somewhat transactional based) was being initiated by paper orders and sort of (not very well) tracked in a spreadsheet. We changed that into an online request and workflow managed system that could be used for metrics, to balance work levels, and was compatible and even ahead of changing work practices in other areas. Now about 5 years later this work management system is able to be almost seamlessly integrated into a huge new portal initiative for my company.

      I have another team that manages a process that I describe as being in it’s toddler years instead of it’s infancy. My interpretation of forward moving will be to mature and refine this process.

      In other words, there’s not a step by step guide. But some of the things you should be looking at is where is your company/org heading? New products or services… how would you support future things. What are some of the initiatives in your company? Standardization, consolidation, specialization, how does your team fit within those larger goals (you don’t want to be the team that works off of paper when the rest of the company has efficient tools, right? Or you don’t want to have the team that everyone grumbles about being stuck in their ways)

      As a mid level senior manager, it’s less about moving your work forward, and more about your teams and how they are advancing, what tools are they using, what they are accomplishing. In other words, your team members should be focused on doing the job they have well and your focus should be on leading your teams to the next steps.

      Hope that helps.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      They don’t know what that means either. Try not to sweat it too much.

      The first thing you do is check to see if your people have what they need to do the job. Take nothing for granted. You will probably find they do not have what they need to do the job as it stands now. People will tell a new leader things that they would never tell the old leader. “Do we have to supply our own TP?” Try not to be shocked.

      Next ask your people where the bottlenecks are and why. You might see some of the bottlenecks yourself or not. You might figure out the reason why on your own, or you could come to the wrong conclusion. Ask them. You may have to ask them pointed questions, “I see X is running slow. Any ideas on what more is needed here?”

      Check to see if compliance rules and/or standards are being hit on a regular basis. If not, why not.

      Streamlining processes to take less time is a good show of moving forward. Updating tools used in the jobs is also a good move forward. Writing schedules for things that get forgotten and left undone is another step forward.

      Just my idea, but if a boss is listening to their people that boss is a lot less apt to run out of ideas to improve the work, the process and the ending outputs.

  29. Bee's Knees*

    The guy whose office is across the hall from mine has called me the wrong name twice now. He keeps calling me Carrie. My name is not Carrie. There is a Carrie that comes from corporate sometimes, but she and I look nothing alike, and my name is not similiar. At all. Also, I share a name with one of his daughters. You’d think it would be easier to remember.

    And in the further adventures of people thinking I’m overly delicate, my boss told me to be careful, I was going to hurt myself yesterday. I was bent over at the waist to cut one of the ties on a box of paper. Not to pick up the box. Just to open it. It’s probably a miracle I’m still alive.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        It’s ridiculous! I appreciate the sentiment, but they treat me like I’m glass. I can, in fact, push empty carts, and manage to step over, and even see, spills the size of the palm of my hand.

    1. Emily S.*

      That is annoying. But some people are just terrible with names.

      Also, there is a very slight chance that he’s one of those people who have issues with faces — i.e. have difficulty seeing/processing details of peoples’ faces. It’s pretty unlikely, but you never know.

      1. Yorick*

        Truth. For a long time I couldn’t remember my neighbor’s name, and it turns out her name is also Yorick!

    2. Admin of Sys*

      As someone who just gave up years ago using anyone’s name unless they’re literally someone I share a cubical with or are actively wearing a name tag, it’s not necessarily an insult. Mind you, most folks who are as face blind as I am just stop trying at some point? But still, I have a better memory for the ip addresses of machines in my office than the names of coworkers – not because I care about the computers more, but because I literally can’t associate the people with the name, unless it’s re-enforced 100 times a week.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m mostly face-blind AND have zero visual memory or imagination (which is probably contributory). I work from home most of the time, so I recognize about three of my coworkers (the ones I’ve seen on site the most) – the rest, I either rely on name badges or I wait for them to recognize me.

      1. Venus*

        I did this years ago.
        “Hey Jack!”
        “My name’s Jason, not Jack”
        “And mine’s Venus, not Virginia”
        I never had a problem after that!

        If you use the wrong name and he doesn’t correct you then it suggests that he’s just really bad with names and I’d leave it.

      2. Emily S.*

        Reminds me of a funny anecdote I once heard.

        As part of a conversation about giving one’s name at Starbucks:
        An older gentleman came to the counter and placed his drink order. When asked his name, he replied, “Call me Ishmael.”


      3. Kat in VA*

        A Sales Engineer who isn’t in the office very often called me Cindy for the longest time. Even though he’d be told what my name was, for some reason, I was Cindy to him.

        After a while, I started calling him Marshawn. We actually – now – know (and remember) each other’s real names, but continue to call each other Cindy and Marshawn…sometimes to the consternation of bystanders who are like, “Hey, you know his name is really…”


      1. Bee's Knees*

        No, I just wait for him to come into my office. He’s a sweet man, but a hurricane, so I just ride it out.

    3. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      I have a friend whose name is something like Samantha Gulia (just making that up), but the front desk guy at her office somehow thought her name was Julia Gulia. It still cracks me up, I guess he just assumed her names rhymed? He called her that every day he worked there.

      1. WeddingSingerFan*

        He was probably joking. That is was going to be Drew Barrymore’s married name in the Wedding Singer movie.

    4. Lisa Simpson*

      Next time he calls you Carrie, ask him “Hey, don’t you have a daughter named Carrie?” and when he says “No, her name is Miranda” you can say with a big smile, “What a coincidence! That is my name too.”

      1. Bee's Knees*

        I don’t think he’s doing it because he doesn’t remember my name, it’s that he’s busy and not paying attention to what he’s doing.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I do faces well, but sometimes I get people’s names wrong (or fail to retain them, even if I hear them every day), and I do apologize for that. It may be a function of my LD, which does give me retention issues; I don’t know. For example, one person in my sangha is named Ginny, but for ages I had it in my head that her name was Lavender, which was WAY off for no discernible reason. I tell people to keep repeating it and eventually I’ll get it. I try to be patient with people who go off my paperwork and call me by my first name even though I don’t use it (my doctor’s office). It’s a joke now; I praise them when they get it right and call “Elizabeth” instead of “Firstname.”

      It could be that this person just doesn’t care. But if he’s anything like me, even without an LD, I’d just say, “It’s Bee’s Knees, actually. The TPS report went in yesterday.” and repeat until he gets it.

    6. first timer*

      I’m terrible with faces (someone I worked with in college changed their hair color and I didn’t recognize who they were for a day), but make a point to remember my colleagues or people who work with me regularly. Some people might not think anything of it, but if it’s someone I regularly work with (for YEARS) can’t find a way to remember my name, I get miffed. And I certainly think you don’t have attention to detail since you can’t take the time to read my email signature, name card, etc.

      We have a dude on my team (of 8 people, and I’ve been on the team with them for 2.5 years) and he CONSTANTLY mixes up my name with any of the other women on the team. Not saying it’s always that case or even the case in your situation. But just the optics of a guy having no issue remembering the male intern of 6 months but mixing up all the twenty-something women is not great to me!

      Names are important to a lot of people, for a lot of reasons! I try not to take it personally but it always baffles me when it’s something that you can actually look up in a lot of offices.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        As someone with two first names, I assume you’re going to call me by the wrong name at least 50% of the time. The only time I get slightly annoyed is when our first interaction is via email and you can literally see my name and still somehow manage to screw it up.

  30. MOAS*

    This doesn’t’ apply too much anymore but was a situation I had for a short time and would like to get opinions on.

    For a short while, of my core tasks as a manager was to reassign appointments daily to the correct rep/department. This was a temporary measure until my team would stop receiving those appointments.

    I would send out an email explaining why I send it to the rep and mention if there is a conflict to work with their team to work around it, and

    I also CC their supervisors/managers to keep them in the loop and write a message to them that if their rep is out of the office, please make sure someone takes care of the client.

    It’s not a long email, 4-5 lines max.

    My peer and I had a debate. They’re of the opinion that I need to check every rep’s calendar and their team’s calendar to ensure that they are present and available. and I should also go up to each person and make sure they know they have an appt.

    My stance is that I’m communicating this with enough time to the relevant people and their managers as well. I feel it’s every working person’s responsibility to read their email. If they choose not to, that’s on them. At our firm, same day appointments is not uncommon, and I give sufficient notice (at least 4-6 hours).

    What do yall think?

    1. VictoriaQ*

      I mean personally, I would be very annoyed if you came in to tell me I have an appointment. That’s what email is for, and if you tell me in person, I’m probably going to just write it down anyways.

      Though your last paragraph does suggest that appointments are getting missed? If so, I’d maybe talk to reps who are missing a lot to ask if there’s a better way to contact them, but otherwise, yeah, they’re adults. It’s their job to stay on top of their own workload.

    2. Asenath*

      If I followed your peer’s approach I’d never get anything done because I’d be spending all my time checking other people’s calendars – and, after all, that’s something best done by people concerned, the same people who are going to be entering the new appointment. So I’m definitely on your side.

    3. MoopySwarpet*

      If I were going to change the method to work more like your peer wants it to, I would only send it to the department supervisor and let them assign to the rep they choose.

      Realistically, though, your way is basically doing the same thing. If there’s a conflict, the supervisor is copied and can take it from there.

      1. MOAS*

        Ha, my first day of doing this, I did it that way, and the supervisor got pisseddddddd so this was a good *compromise*. *major eye roll*

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You can’t do their manager’s job for the manager. You would be overstepping. A more clear cut way would have been to just forward the appointments to the manager and let the manager take it from there. I think you had to send it directly to the person? If so then I think you handled it as best as possible without overstepping.

  31. Nameless Today*

    I’m an institutional support contractor for a federal agency. On Wednesday I had an interview for pretty much the exact same job except as a direct hire. Within 2 hours they emailed me asking for a list of references. Took me most of the day yesterday to track down one of them to ensure that the person was around (heading into summer vacay season!) and this morning one of my references reached out to say that they had received the reference request. The biggest issue for me is if they can’t hire me at a certain grade/step. I don’t have any level of my FAC. I mean contractors can’t get certified, but in terms of coursework completed. For Level 1 I’ve completed all but the 2 courses that require instructor led training. I’ll try and do one this summer, but I would have to take PTO to attend the 10 day course. I’ve completed all of the Level 2 and 3 courses that were online and didn’t require prereqs. If they can’t offer me a particular grade and step (the job I applied for can actually span 3 grades), I can’t take the job because it would be at least a 10% pay cut to gross and even more to take home because of 4.4% FERS contribution (health insurance etc would actually be pretty much break even). Nothing I can do about it other than see what happens. . .

    1. HRPam*

      Did the job post at multiple grades (and did you apply for all of them – or just the one you would be willing to take?) or was it one grade with a career ladder to a higher grade? They can’t hire you at a different grade than they posted – if it is a GS-11 with a full performance level of GS-13, they can only hire you at the GS-11. You can ask for a higher step, within the grade – if you have outstanding credentials, but not all agencies will do that.

  32. Jan Levinson*

    Is it worth kindly asking an employee to stop wearing so much perfume? It’s honestly not the smell itself (it would be totally tolerable if she wore a normal amount), but how much she wears. Anywhere she walks in the office…it smells like her perfume for several hours. I can’t walk past her desk without coughing because it’s SO strong. It’s even worse after she goes to her car to smoke. The perfume smell is 10x stronger when she comes back inside (I think she’s embarrassed by the smoking and trying to hide it).

    Here’s the thing…she’s given notice (after only working here a month), but doesn’t have a hard set end date. If it were only for a couple weeks, I’d probably let it go, but she has agreed to stay on until we replace her, which could be much longer than two weeks. Should I just let it go since she’s leaving (even if it could be for a couple more months?)

    1. mark132*

      I would say yes, if you can bring yourself to it, I think it would be best to not beat around the bush and be as forthright as you can.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      I have had some success with this by framing it as a “me thing.” You don’t want to get into What Is The Objectively Correct Amount of Perfume to Wear. “I’m sorry, I’m finding that I’m really sensitive to perfume right now and I’m feeling a little sick.”

    3. EBennet*

      I’ve always found it is best to be honest – “I’m very sensitive to strong smells . . .” For situations where I am surrounded by overly perfumed people (such as the Sunday matinee at the local playhouse) I actually keep a tin of Vick’s vapor rub in my bag and rub some under my nose. It’s what morticians and medical examiners do to block smells.
      One time the woman next to me commented on the smell of the vapor rub and I replied that sometimes one must fight fire with fire.

      1. silverpie*

        Which raises (NOT begs) the question: was the commenter the offender or a fellow victim?

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Don’t let it go. This is a great time to practice assertiveness with minimal consequences. Practice, practice!
      Consider telling her the perfume is not masking the smoke.

    5. cactus lady*

      Yes do it! I once dated a guy who liked my perfume but had a really poor sense of smell, and for AGES after we broke up, until someone told me, I never realized that I was wearing *too* much perfume. All. The. Time. I was so embarrassed!

    6. Rainy*

      I would just say “I’m so sorry, but your perfume is making it hard for me to breathe. Can you wear less, or not at all, while you’re here?”

      A couple of years ago I had two young coworkers who used essential oil vaporizers in their offices. They were mostly under control until the day they both decided to use an essential oil that gave me and another coworker hideous allergy symptoms. I walked into the cloud in the hallway and my eyes and nose instantly started streaming and I was sneezing my head off. I had to grope my way, blind with tears and sneezing nonstop, back into my office, close the door, open the window, and then CALL my boss and say “X and Y are using some scent in their offices and I’m afraid to leave mine–can you talk to them?”

      If you’ve been muffling the coughs, I’d also just cough blatantly.

      1. Emily S.*

        This is a good script, but I would remove the apology:

        “(FirstName), your perfume is making it hard for me to breathe. Could you please wear less, or not at all, while you’re here?”

        Also — watch your tone when you say this. Make sure that you’re asking in a positive, collaborate tone of voice. You’re making a perfectly reasonable request, so ensure that you come across that way. Eye contact might help, also.

        1. Jasnah*

          Oof, I can’t imagine what tone would make “Your perfume is making it hard for me to breathe.” come across as positive and collaborative. At least the apology softens it a bit.

    7. irene adler*

      Please ask.
      I guarantee there are others who are bothered by the perfume strength.

  33. Watermelon M*

    I feel completely overwhelmed at my job. I had a breakdown last night and have felt like just giving up on everything. I know part of this is wanting to do a really good job, and part of it is really disliking my job. I’ve been looking for a new one but haven’t found any, and honestly have had fantasies of having a heart attack before work or getting hit by a car on some days. I’m starting to look for a therapist.

    In the meanwhile, should I bring up how I feel with my boss? She has told me previous people have burned out from my position but it took a couple years for that to happen. I have been here for 6 months. The thing I’m really overwhelmed with is that she asked me to be leader of a national team three months in. She originally was supposed to do this, but she didn’t want to because she is very busy, and tasked me to take it on. Everyone was surprised that she asked me to do it when she’s the subject matter expert on this certain topic. Upon hire they knew my background, but my boss either believes I can do it, or really REALLY doesn’t want to do it. I voiced my concerns (I really don’t feel comfortable, I will try my best but I need your help with lending me your background knowledge) but it was brushed off with a chipper “You can do it.” And now I’m absolutely floundering as leader and I don’t know what to do. I know a good chunk of it is imposter syndrome, another chunk is that I’m the youngest and least experienced member, I’m also the only woman of color on the team which makes me feel hyper aware. But I am sure everyone thinks I’m an idiot.

    I feel absolutely overwhelmed because I don’t have the answers on this topic, but my boss does. Half of it is anecdotal knowledge of local partnerships and relationships with other leaders in the field. The other half I’m sure it will come with time and more studying, but it’s not something I can start googling on. It really feels dependent on my boss’s 20 years of being at this department. (Ex., “Watermelon, what can you tell us about the relationship with X going back to 2013? Do you think this board will agree with [state specific cultural/political norm]?” My boss could answer that in a heartbeat.) I don’t want to look like a complainer or like I’m giving up, but I am absolutely over my head. I either need her to attend meetings with me so she can chime in, or I need a deep debriefing. This isn’t stuff I can research on the internet or in books. It’s just her personal experiences with people in the state. On top of that, she is asking me to take on multiple projects. I’m prioritizing and doing my best to reasonably say no. She said she’ll eventually hire some part time people to help, but I will have to push through until then. She said if I can make it to two years that will be perfect. I don’t know if I can mentally make it to next month but…I will have to try my best

    1. fposte*

      Wow, that sucks; I’m sorry. I’m reminded of that bogus saying that God never gives you more than you can handle. If it’s not true of God–which it’s not–it’s definitely not true of your manager.

      I don’t know your other circumstances and whether you can afford to leave before you find a new job, but if you can, remember that’s a possibility. In the meantime, see if you can mentally detach from your manager’s take on the job and start from scratch. What would be a survivable take on the job? She’s probably not going to take back the leadership position, and I’m guessing that’s a high priority. What would you shelve if you weren’t thinking about pleasing your boss and just about what was important? What would happen if you did that?

      And I absolutely think a deep briefing and regular followups with questions are things you should request. (I’d say ask for her to go to the meetings, but from the way you describe things that’s what she was trying to get out of.) I don’t know the situation, but it sounds to me like your boss desperately needs you, and you might be so focused on pleasing your boss that you’re underselling your leverage here.

      1. Jaid*

        I slightly mistook debriefing for deep breathing and y’know what? I think that would help too…

    2. LawBee*

      ok, re: the first paragraph – that was me three months ago, for like over a year. I had the “but if I was sick at least I wouldn’t have to go to work” fantasies (and when I actually DID get injured and was out for a week in debilitating pain, I WAS OK WITH IT), the thought that if one more thing happened I was going to quit, all of it.

      I’m much better now. What helped? Therapy, and I am SO GLAD you are looking for someone. It took time, and I had to try out a few (and it’s ok to try out multiple therapists at the same time if you can afford the copay), but I’ve got one now, and it’s great.

      As for the other, this isn’t imposter syndrome. This is you being assigned to a job that is way over your skillset and abilities, with no support. I hate to say it, but you’re probably going to have to request a sit-down no distractions meeting with your boss fora set period of time (so she can’t blow you off) where you lay all of this out, tell her that you’re struggling and you don’t see how you can effectively manage this without her direct assistance, and see what happens. If you want to keep this leadership position, tell her that. If you want out, tell her that. If you need help, tell her that.

      You’re not failing. She passed a buck that she should have kept on her desk. You haven’t been there long enough to know if this is normal for her, so I’d keep an eye out and see what else she passes off.

      Good luck! This sucks.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Previous people burned out in several years?
        I hope she does not think this is an accomplishment.

        Since she is the common thread in this story I have to wonder if she is deliberately burning people out.
        Do you have anyone you can talk with there in confidence?
        It sounds to me like you are being set up to fail. Does this boss get along well with others? Does she have an ax to grind with the higher ups?

        So you know the work is above your skill set and it is still torquing your mind around and you are beating yourself up. This is a quality of life issue, especially when you imagine health issues happening so you can stay home.
        I am not clear on how a therapist who works with you is going to make your boss a better person. Perhaps she is the one who needs the therapy. It’s really not a good sign when the boss is keeping track of how many people she has burned out. That’s not normal. Burned out employees are not trophies.

        Instead of wracking up a big medical bill, why not go in tomorrow and just give notice?

        Look around for a friend/ally and see if you can get some advocacy going on for yourself.

    3. Esme*

      This sounds so incredibly frustrating. I’m glad you’re seeking therapy, and I hope you’re feeling more confident and like yourself soon.
      What really helps when I’m upside down in anxiety/overwhelmed feelings is drilling down to concrete items that I need to move forward, then listing them. I wonder if you could approach your boss and say, “I’m preparing for a meeting on [date]. I’m expecting questions on X, and I need to get some background information from you. Can we schedule a time to go over that this week?” If she pushes back and drops the cheerful “You can handle it!” again, you could say “I appreciate your confidence in me, and I intend to do my best here. But to do my best, I do need this background information. Could you spare 30 minutes/an hour to help me with that?”
      During meetings when you don’t have an answer, you can always acknowledge what you do and don’t know, then promise to follow up. “Boss has mentioned Y previously, but I’m not positive that that’s where things stand now. I’ll clarify that with Boss and report back to everyone.” Then, after the meeting, bring the list of questions to your Boss, let her know that the team needs certain details ASAP, then send out an email to the team afterward. If you’re consistent in your follow-ups after a meeting, you’ll seem organized and committed to the rest of the team, even if you don’t have answers on the spot.
      You’re in a bad spot here, but it’s not your doing. Try to focus on what you can do, do that, and let your boss know that you did (or can do) 1, 2, and 3, but that you need A, B, and C to do 4 and 5. By keeping your communication with her as practical as possible, you’re not going to look like a complainer (unless she’s a total nut).
      Good luck. I hope you find solid footing soon.

  34. super extra anon for this*

    This is venting rather than anything productive and I apologize for it.

    I’ve come to the horrible realization today that *I* am the office jerk.

    I was so upset the last week or so that my colleagues don’t interact with me at all beyond work. It started about a year ago with two colleagues and by now it’s everyone at my level.

    I don’t get asked on coffee runs (i.e. to the break room two floors above us, not to a coffee shop or something) when they go or on strolls around campus, and sometimes they forget to ask me for lunch. When I ask about coffee they’ve just been or don’t want or have urgent work. And recently they all have started to keep their doors closed when we previously had an open door policy, but there are frequent visits to each others offices and the walls are thin enough that I hear them laughing the whole time. But if I go there for anything but work related things I get an instant “oh I have work to do”. (No, I’m not taking up oodles of time from anyone, I also have work but I need the occasional two minutes away from the screen.)

    I’m still the first got to for teapot design or tech trouble though (I’m not IT but I like to help), so I’m not in work trouble, I guess.

    I’m not the most socially adept and I admit to that, I’m the only fat one and the only single person, and I’m not fitting into a mainstream mold with the things I like. And then yesterday I was so upset inside about this whole thing and then realized hey, it’s their right to do this, they’re not obligated to socialize with me and spend their time on me just because we are on the same team. That’s ok. I can continue to get coffee by myself, and I can ignore when they leave the room right away, I just have to say hello and smile and do my thing. I’m there to work. Then this morning as my mom – I’m my parents primary caretaker since my sister is abroad – told me about her annoying colleague and… I’m the annoying colleague at my office. I’m so ashamed! (If anyone has tips how not to be the annoying coworker, I’d be thankful as I don’t read social cues well.)

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I am so sorry to hear this is happening. It doesn’t sound like you are intentionally unkind, which makes you *not* a jerk. You sound like a sweet person who is struggling with work relationships, but you want things to be different which is a great beginning for things to change.

      Can you ask your mother for guidance? If she tells you about her colleague, what would she suggest that colleague do? Also, has your manager given you any feedback about ways you can improve at work? I really encourage you to ask for support from people you trust. Be friendly. Have good boundaries. You sound helpful (and that you enjoy it) which is a wonderful starting point for good work relationships.

      Do you have hobbies and activities away from work that involve interpersonal skills? If so, perhaps work on those relationships and ask for input from friends you have there.

      Good luck! Please come back and update us! You can do this!

    2. Samwise*

      I’m so sorry — it feels terrible to be left out, even if you are right that you are being annoying or difficult.

      What exactly do you think it is you are doing that is bothering others? It’s hard to offer advice without knowing what is going on specifically. I wonder if you could ask your boss to help: have a meeting where you explain that you can have trouble reading social cues and that you have a sense that you have annoyed your colleagues, and ask her for her help: what has she observed? what specific actions could you take to improve? and so on.

      Is there anyone in the office who you feel would be willing to help you with this? You want someone who will be straight with you but not mean about it (I have found that people who are super nice can sometimes be unwilling to tell it like it is).

      Please let us know how you are doing!

    3. Librarian*

      Form what you’ve written here, I don’t think you’re being the annoying coworker. I think you’re just trying to fit in and belong with your team and you’ve just now realized it’s not working. You weren’t intentionally being the annoying coworker, which gives you extra bonus points. This probably isn’t helpful, but just let your coworkers be your coworkers. You be you. Keep up the hellos, the pleasantries, and occasional offers to join you for coffee or a stroll. Keep being office-friendly and if they don’t like it, then that’s on them–not you.

      Also, if it helps, pretend they’re jealous of you for being awesome at teapot design or tech troubleshooting.

    4. fposte*

      Hi, super, that’s no fun to realize. It’s hard to tell from your post if you’re the annoying colleague or just the one of these things that is not like the others, or maybe both; it can be easy for those things to feed on each other.

      I think much of what you say is true; they don’t have to make everybody they work with a social priority. What are some of the specifics that your mom mentioned that you saw in you? I’m guessing from what you describe it might be untimely social overtures, social conversation that goes on too long, or social conversation that’s not comfortable/rewarding for everybody in the conversation. IOW, usually it’s somebody who’s Too Much, and people back away to preserve their boundaries.

      Also, do you have good friends *out* of work? Is the parent situation a tough one for you? Sometimes stuff like that can make you want more from the human connections at work; if that’s true for you, try to up your social contact outside of work as much as you can.

      I hope you can find a peaceful place with this whatever you do, and I commend you for being willing to be reflective.

    5. Expand all Comments*

      What makes you think you are annoying? While it is possible that your office mates have randomly selected you to be the the office whipping boy/girl, it doesn’t sound like you think that. Usually people will say annoying colleague is annoying because (1) they don’t listen; (2) they are know it alls; (3) they overshare; (4)they make errors they blame on others; (5) they yell; (6) they are obsessed with the bathroom pooper; (7) they avoid doing any work; (8) they pry into peoples personal lives; etc., etc. Not fitting into a “mainstream mold” is not usually seen as an annoyance, although it may speak to your feelings of not fitting in at the office.
      It could be you are seeing individual actions as being part of some larger group-decision & group-consensus that you are annoying (Carrie doesn’t want to eat lunch with me, Julia declined to go on a campus walk with me, Andrew closes his door — EVERYONE HATES ME) when really there may be individual reasons (Carrie has a meeting; Julia is wearing 5 inch heels, Andrew needs absolute quiet to focus).

    6. Annie Dumpling*

      I have a job where I am pretty much a department of one supporting a division. Which means that I am often overlooked. They go to lunch, have birthday parties, take walks, — don’t think to include me. One year, they forgot to invite me to the Holiday party. But like you, I realized that I just needed to show up and “say hello and smile and do my thing” ( I am also the go to person for help). I enjoy my job, and I decided to not let anything stop me from that enjoyment or prevent me from killing it at work.

      Over time, through my smiling/doing my job well/helping, I now have a network of people who I am on ‘work friendly’ basis with, some outside my division. They will wave me over at company meetings to sit with them, we chat when we meet up in the cafeteria, I ask them to grab coffee (usually when we have to meet for an issue – ‘hey let’s grab a coffee and discuss’).

      You keep doing your best, be a superstar and don’t let your officemates dim your lights. Appreciate yourself, be kind to others, and remind yourself that you are enough.

    7. PSB*

      Having just had the same realization in a completely different, not-work-related context, I know the feeling and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it. Go a little easier on yourself. You’re not the office jerk and you don’t have anything to be ashamed of. It sucks feeling like the only one left out of a group you should naturally belong to. It sounds like you have great insight that nobody’s doing anything wrong. But don’t turn the blame on yourself, either.

    8. Close Bracket*

      I don’t think you are the office jerk, I think you are the office misfit. I’ve been, and currently am, the office misfit, and I am sorry you are in this position. It sucks. Continue to get your coffee, go on strolls, get lunch, etc. Smile, nod, say hello if people are around while you do these things, but don’t reach out since it’s not welcome. Find a support system, even an online one, outside of work and home bc without some social outlet to boost your spirits after being a misfit and a caretaker, you will burn out.

    9. MPA*

      oh man I relate. I just parted ways with my job last week, but not fitting into a very small team was such a struggle for me. In my head, I knew it didn’t matter as I was very good at my job and hitting deadlines, but as a person it did. Everyone wants to belong. We just do.

      No advice, just empathy.

    10. fhqwhgads*

      I think there’s a difference between the office jerk and the annoying coworker, and without knowing more details it sounds like you might be the latter, but are not necessarily the former? I don’t know if that makes you feel any better.

      It is entirely possible to annoy people without being a jerk, is what I’m getting at. Possibly what your mom described to you about her colleague that you recognized in yourself is some jerk-like behavior? Or was described to you as such by her? But if the gist was just that your mom described some behaviors she finds irritating in a colleague and you realized you do the same things with yours, and this is the result, it’s possible you’re not a jerk? But you still may be bugging people? In which case now you have info such that if you want to change, you can? But also, the whole thing you said about “they’re not obligated to socialize with you” is true, nor you them. So you could also choose to see this as people just not meshing and could try to let it slide off your back. It doesn’t need to be a judgement of you personally. Some people just don’t gel with each other and that’s acceptable and normal and different from active dislike.

  35. VictoriaQ*

    First off, I’d like to thank everyone from last week who responded to my post about my boring job with hours to fill. However, being so new to the post-college working world (2 whole months)… how does one go about finding job-related/industry related training or news? I’m in an accounting role but I got a degree in and hope to move into a financial analyst role.

    Does anyone have any ideas? I don’t want anything I need to listen to, mostly because it would be very distracting to me at work and I’m too new and young (probably on average about 20 years younger than the rest of the office) to be wearing headphones for hours. I’ve tried looking up [ideal job/field] training, but I mostly get information about how to get a degree. My Excel skills are pretty strong, so I’m not hurting to brush up on those. And given how little experience I have, I have no idea where to go next or what skills I should build up. Heck, even some keywords to type into Google would be much appreciated.

    1. irene adler*

      Look for trade journals in your industry. They will have info on industry and job stuff.
      Might also look for professional organizations in your field. They may have things to read on -line and point you towards different types of training avenues.
      This might involve finding a number of different organizations or journals before you find info that fits your interest.

      1. Nicki Name*

        In fact, your company is likely to have a few subscriptions to the most relevant trade journal and you may be able to find communal copies of it lying around in your break room or reception area.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      “financial analyst blogs” in google throws a lot of results, but having no knowlege of the industry makes it hard to evaluate if any of them are decent lists. But at least one of the lists is from Forbes, which is usually worth reading.

    3. Booksalot*

      I look for senior/high-performing people in my field on LinkedIn, then check what organizations they’re involved with, LI communities they’re members of, et cetera.

    4. fluffy*

      If your Excel skills are strong, perhaps more training in Access would be useful. And you may want to reconsider listening–so much is available in either audio or video. I use through my public library, and I use one earbud on my least visible side. People don’t notice that I’m listening, and I can rip it out in seconds.

    5. it happens*

      I missed this last week, so it might already have been covered. If you have a lot of time on your hands set up some coffee dates with other people in the company to start to make your own network and understand how things really work. Start with people you interact with naturally, find out how they got to where they are in the company and ask them who else they think it would be useful to know. And ask them what they read to keep on top of the industry news. You can start with your boss. And then find someone in the company who is doing that financial analyst job internally and find out what they do, maybe see some work product and ask how they keep up.
      Good luck!

    6. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

      I have two ideas (take or leave as you see fit!)
      1. Check out the Association for Financial Professionals (www dot afponline dot org). They are a relatively new-ish organization – I think started in the last five years or so. I wouldn’t jump into their accreditation right away, but checking out their website could give you and idea about skills in a financial analyst role.

      2. I find it helpful to read job descriptions of positions that interest you, and see what skills they are looking for as a plus. For example, in several finance manager or senior financial analyst positions, I have seen that they are looking for data visualization skills (Tableau, PowerBI, etc) and some coding (SQL, Python, etc.) Both of those will be in high demand for financial analysts as data sets grow. Try reading job postings in your area and see what skills are listed for roles that you want to move into.

      Hope this helps!

    7. Emily S.*

      Check out your local library’s digital learning site. Hopefully they will have one.

      Many libraries offer free access to training websites such as Lynda-dot-com (which I HIGHLY recommend). Log on to there, check out some classes. Also, if you don’t want to use sound, they have transcripts for all the courses, which you can follow along with as you watch the videos.

      Lynda has an extremely broad range of course topics, so I bet you can find some that are of interest. They have advanced courses for software like Excel, Photoshop, and many, many others. (I took a very helpful course on creating charts in Excel, and also how to work with pivot tables.) There’s also a lot of courses on things like web design, software development, all kinds of stuff. It’s really an amazing site with a lot of great resources.

      If your library does not offer access to Lynda, sometimes you can access it through a neighboring library system (if you’re able to get an account/card with them). Or, as a last resort, get a free trial (it’s 1 month), and then you can switch and make new accounts for other email addresses you may have (e.g. extra Google accounts like many of us keep for just such uses).

    8. Good luck with that*

      Seconding the suggestion to learn Access and SQL, and any other database programs yet u run across – those are MS products that interface well with Excel, but there are a lot of others.
      How’s your PowerPoint? Both accountants and financial analysts need to present data/information. Look into not just the technical aspects of PowerPoint (which are many and complex), but also presentation style. Things like not crowding too much on a single slide; how to summarize and then dig deeper without losing your audience; how to choose what to emphasize, and how to do it; when it does or doesn’t make sense to embed a graph/table/spreadsheet versus linking…. A lot of us number-crunchers are far better with numbers than words, but being able to create good presentations is important. Ultimately, the data we aggregate and analyze has to be usable by the people making decisions.

  36. ThatGirl*

    Last year we added some new fields to our CRM to help our QA team track issues better, but their efficacy is dependent on how well my team adds the data. We went over the fields as a team, they were explained several times, I sit RIGHT behind my coworker and she asks me questions all the time … and yet she admitted she had not been filling those fields in at all.

    I am inching toward BEC with her but seriously? I know we went over it but she made it sound like it was my fault.

  37. JohannaCabal*

    I’m currently mentoring someone who just got fired from a yearslong role they’d been in after graduating school. Naturally, they are very concerned about finding the next role. I’m trying to help as much as I can.

    Personally, I was fired after a three month role (I made the mistake of taking a role I could not succeed in after a layoff earlier in 2009). Since it was only for three months I was able to leave it off my resume (and even some job applications, in hindsight I even lied on a few about being fired and I do feel shame about that now). Of course, my mentee is not able to do this.

    Throwing it all to everyone else who has been fired, terminated, what have you, how did you find your next position?

    1. annakarina1*

      I got fired a few years ago from a job for not being a good fit after four months, and I worked two volunteer jobs while getting by on unemployment and interviewed at tons of jobs. I eventually got hired after seven months of searching, and it was a real drag to continue to interview a lot. I’ve been at my current position for nearly two and a half years, and am much better at it because it’s much busier than the job I got fired from, which was a one-task job that I got bored at a lot.

      1. JohannaCabal*

        How did you explain it when you eventually interviewed for the role you did land? I also asked around some of my aquaintances and family members and some did fess up to “stretching the truth” (i.e., calling it a layoff, pretending they still worked at the place), which makes me think this is sadly more common than I thought. I really want this person to succeed and not gain a reputation for lying.

        1. annakarina1*

          I don’t remember much, I likely just said I wasn’t a good fit or it was a temporary role (it was a contract role, it just ended much sooner than expected).

    2. Close Bracket*

      > how did you find your next position?

      I went to company websites and submitted applications online until I got something.


      My experience is a while ago (think last century) but I took at least one good step. After interviewing a couple places in the medium-size city I was in, I moved back home (1 state away) to a bigger metro area and started interviewing there instead. I will admit, I did the thing that Alison told us not to do, “tell the absolute truth – i got fired”, but now i know because of this blog that I was in a bad spot, toxic work environment, it wasn’t working out, it wasnt going to work out and that is that. I was lucky enough to have skills that were needed back then in a company with a small IT dept that needed to grow. The SAD part was I moved from a lower COL to a higher COL and when I found my next job, they offered me $200 over my previous job’s base salary when I was getting $6G OT as well. I took it because it was a job, but that first year was tough. I would have your mentee read what Alison has written here about what to say in interviews, when fired from a previous job. Also, your mentee should be prepared for under cutting of wages and gently push back. Best wishes.

    4. Fortitude Jones*

      I was laid off from my first job out of college after five months, but I was miserable at that job and wanted out anyway. My mom suggested I register with a temp agency she had used many moons ago for a direct hire position, and five months after my lay off, I was at a law firm making $2 more than I made at the job I was let go from. I ended up being hired on at the firm a year or so later, and after I got my third job out of college, I was able to remove the first job from my resume altogether – it very rarely comes up.

      If temp and/or direct hire agencies are a thing where you are, you should direct your mentee to sign up with as many as she can. The agency will work with her to craft a palatable explanation for her firing, and once she has a couple of placements under her belt, she can then remove the first employer altogether as well.

  38. gwal*

    About two months ago I applied for an opening that would effectively be a lateral transfer into a department where I previously did a temporary placement and liked it. The hiring manager said she was very excited to see my name on the list of applicants and interviewed me for the position. Because the office wanted to hire for their headquarters location, they went with someone there for the official opening but told me they “would be giving me an offer” through a different lateral transfer mechanism that would allow me to change offices but stay in my city where the organization has some satellite offices.

    I really want out of my current job, but it’s been almost two months since the aforementioned promise of an offer. I’ve had a little bit of contact (most recently around last Monday) with the deputy to the hiring manager in the other department but nothing formal has been received by my current office.

    Should I still be applying to other jobs? This is starting to feel like a wild goose chase. For context, it’s typically a very slow hiring environment. I had applied to an entirely different department two months ago and interviewed then as well, but they never got back to me and I feel much more settled about that one because it’s pretty clear I’m NOT getting hired there.


    1. Fortitude Jones*

      You should always continue your job search until you have a signed offer letter in hand and a start date.

  39. Employee Trainer*

    TL; DR: When a company has a specific person hired to be the employee trainer, what percentage of training is that person responsible for and what percentage is a new employee’s direct supervisor responsible for?

    Longer version: I’m the one-person training department for a company of approximately 150 employees. I generally do a standard new hire training class with new employees, but because of scheduling I can’t always meet with them in their first week. I’m finding that their direct supervisors aren’t giving them basic information/direction, but rather leaving them to guess on their own until they meet with me. Example: the new employee gets a login for software we use every day. When I meet with them I’ll train them on *all* of the uses of it, but the direct supervisors aren’t even spending 10-15 minutes to get the new employee started on basic tasks.

    Am I expecting too much from the supervisors?

    In most cases, I’m not in the same office/work site as the new employees are. Whereas the new employee and the supervisor usually work in the same place within eyesight of each other. Does that change expectations?

    1. Murphy*

      This could be a communication issue. They may be expecting you to do all the training and you are (reasonably) expecting them to do it when you’re not able to be there right away. Maybe let the manager know what you’re going to go over and when so they know that they may need to come in before you and do some training.

      Can you put together and slide decks or other tutorials with general information that new hires can look at independently as a starting off point?

    2. Not your Dad's Recruiter*

      I suggest getting together with HR and coming up with a Hiring Manager’s New Employee checklist where it is outlined what the expectations for the 1st day / 1st week/1st month are for both a Hiring Manager and a New Hire. Your training session(s) will be in this checklist.
      Then, as suggested by Murphy, put together a short list of what you’d cover in your training, and it will be distributed along with other 1st-day information – logins, emails, contacts, benefits, etc.

  40. MOAS*

    another Q lol

    So a while back, I turned down an interview w/ a recruiter b/c I was promoted to my current position. I’m enjoying it so far but there are some things that make me want to look now.

    I told him that I really did like the opportunity he presented but that the timing wasn’t right since I had gotten promoted. I told him I appreciated him keeping me in mind and helping me. He responded back saying congrats on my promotion and best of luck and keep them in mind.

    His message seemed pretty warm and genuine so I would contact him to work w/ them in the future.

    Now my Q is — if he asks why I’m looking, what would I even say? The reason I’m even thinking of this is that my boss is difficult to work with. She’s…ugh. too much to get in to. but I’m tired of her. I do love working with my direct manager, and my team etc.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The good news is that recruiters tend to not be super concerned with the “Oh I’m not interested in moving” switching to “Actually now I am.” They aren’t the hiring managers who may think this is a flag, they just want good candidates to pitch for the roles they’re trying to help fill.

      So just say “with further consideration, my interest in moving to a new position has returned, if you have any opportunities that you think I’m a good fit for, please let me know.”

    2. SuperAnon*

      I just had an agency recruiter ask why I’m interested in getting a new position, so you’d want to have something figured it, because it’s very possible you’ll be asked.

    3. Not your Dad's Recruiter*

      Recruiters do ask why are you looking/considering moving on, even when we contact a prospective candidate ourselves.
      It is perfectly fine to say that the reality of that promotion turns out to be quite different from the expectations.

  41. Michelenyc*

    First I want to thank everyone for their advice on my opportunity in The Netherlands. It was very helpful and I have taken screenshots of everything. I am on my third interview. The first 2 were recruiter interviews and my next interview is with the hiring VP on Wednesday it will be a video Skype which is not my favorite but I will get over it. Fingers crossed!

  42. Withered Wad*

    Brainstorm with me, AAM! My office has a completely toxic and ineffective employee. So very bad at her job that she has been given busy work for years, most of which is low priority, despite having a high-level title and salary.

    My boss and another above her have made it very clear to me that their hands are tied and that there is a very specific reason that essentially requires them to keep her employed. What reason could this be? I’m interested in everything from the likely to the outlandish:
    -Employee saved the CEO from a fire?
    -Employee has legal resources that would sink us if let go?
    -What else you got?

    1. Ella P.*

      Well… on a serious note (not sure you are looking for that!), there was someone like this kept at my job, cause she had… relations with her married boss… while he was fired, she was kept on and milked it for all it was worth! She eventually left, with no job to go to, after 14 years… I assume because her coming in whenever she wanted using FMLA as an excuse wasn’t flying with the new company hired to manage FMLA requests.

      I still remember her little skirts, so short I’d look away, to avoid seeing something I didn’t want to!

      Sorry, that probably doesn’t help!

      1. Mags*

        Everyone is a protected class (multiple actually). That has no bearing on your continuing employment unless you are being fired because of your protected class.

        1. Moray*

          That’s a bit pedantic. If she’s in a protected class that has ~historically been discriminated against~ then.
          And just because it would be her poor performance that got her fired she could easily claim otherwise.

          If she’s given an indication that she might be trigger-happy with the lawyers if she’s fired, many organizations would just suck it up and keep her out of expediency, even if they knew she wouldn’t win the suit. I’ve seen this situation play out before.

    2. Coffee Owlccountant*

      Oh, she’s definitely a member of a “family” and your company hasn’t paid their “dues” timely enough.

    3. Mags*

      I would assume she filed (or threatened) some sort of suit in the past and they don’t want to chance it again.

    4. Neosmom*

      Could she have a “window dressing” certification that your organization requires in order to keep / win business?

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      She’s actually Severus Snape, and is crucial to the plan to ultimately defeat Voldemort. She’s just really, really undercover.

    6. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      “Connected” to someone high up or influential. That shit happens at my job constantly.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Humorless answer: I’m guessing an illegal adverse employment action that resulted in a legal settlement. The company wasn’t flush enough to pay cash, so the settlement included a guarantee of employment and a paycheck for some number of months.

      Tongue-in-cheek answer: Ancient curse on the land the building was built on! If she leaves, the building will collapse.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      She’s secretly a superhero, and the reason your company keeps her on is as part of her secret identity. She just doesn’t have the bandwidth to be good at her job and pleasant to be around after being out fighting crime and dealing with supervillains all night, but the company is keeping her on for the good of the city.

      1. Rainy*

        This is my favourite answer! I think I would myself choose to believe this, while assuming it’s more like what Glomarization suggested above. :/

    9. Policy wonk*

      I’d guess she successfully sued for discrimination or something else employment related, and any steps taken against her now could be seen as retaliation. (Also possible the lack of real, productive work is intentional on the company’s part. I knew of a case like this where they refused to give the person any work to do hoping she would quit. Which infuriated her and made her determined to outlast the boss.)

      1. Clever user name*

        Been there. It could actually be that the big boss doesn’t have it in her to make it happen. Perhaps she knows it must happen some day & is hoping it will take care of itself. Maybe the problem employee is extremely beloved by the community/ vendors/ other constituents and big boss is worried about optics.

  43. automaticdoor*

    Okay, so I’m cranky and amused at the same time. My non-profit organization is working on a set of publications, and we’re looking for a designer. (I’m not asking for help here–already have a wide variety of RFPs out.) I just got a rejection for our RFP from a firm that specializes in design work for non-profits. Not because our budget was too low, not because the project was too hard — but because they hate our logo! We apparently have “problematic brand and identity issues–primarily in presenting a wild, cursive font that is not easily discernible by audiences it reaches out to” which would be “really hard to work with.” I haven’t provided any design specifics just yet, but it would not involve the font in our logo, which we’ve had for decades and which has wide recognition in our sub-field. Am I right that they’re just trying to drum up a rebrand from us in addition to the other work?

    1. Lizabeth*

      Sounds like they crossed the professional line in answering your RFP. If they are saying that kind of stuff, imagine what they would be like to work with on the real project! Drop the firm from your list and don’t give them another thought or opportunity.

      1. automaticdoor*

        Yeah, they’re not getting a response. Glad to know I’m not the only one who thought it was inappropriate.

    2. Narvo Flieboppen*

      It could be they’re just jerks. It could be they were fishing for a shot at a rebrand with your company, but that’s a crap way to approach selling services.

      I’m also a jerk, so I’d say just send them a note thanking them for their input and that you’ll exclude them from future RFPs, since working with your logo font is beyond their skills.

      1. automaticdoor*

        I’m thinking no response because I don’t want to get into a pissing match, but I really like this one lol

    3. Withering Wad*

      Oof. They could be trying to drum up a rebrand. Or, if they are particularly high-end, they would not want other clients thinking they were involved in your logo design.

      1. automaticdoor*

        The interesting thing is that they work specifically with smaller non-profits, so it’s not like some Fortune 100 is going to be turned off.

    4. zora*

      No, totally! It’s just like ‘negging’ I have heard anecdotally that it is actually a sales strategy that is out there! Tell people their stuff sucks, and they’ll ask you to fix it for them. I’m skeptical it actually works, but I’d bet that’s what they’re doing. Otherwise, why bother giving a reason?

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

    Our receptionist put a sign saying “Workday starts at 10am”. Nobody gets here before 10.15 on a quiet day, so demanding passive-aggressively that everyone should be here before 10.00 is giving people yet another reason to leave.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Huh. Doesn’t seem like something that would be the receptionist’s decision. Or was this under someone else’s orders?

    2. Toodie*

      Or maybe the receptionist is posting it defensively: “No one will answer the phone before 10.”?

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

      Our suspicions are she was instructed by the owners, who swear (cross their hearts) they don’t care about it. However, she doesn’t like to open the door for us and doesn’t hide it.

      1. valentine*

        she doesn’t like to open the door for us and doesn’t hide it.
        She doesn’t like getting there first or she has to buzz everyone in?

        I don’t understand people who don’t want to be alone or are the “let’s all suffer together” type.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is bizarre and seems like an overstep on her part! But I’ve seen owners have administrative staff do things like this and then go “oh no no no, def wasn’t meeeeeeeee.” Yet if it wasn’t you, owner, then why aren’t you ripping down the sign right now? Oh right because it was you.

  45. AW*

    So I found out on Tuesday my job is being made redundant, which is a bit of shock and I’m worrying about the mortgage I only got 6 months ago and I really don’t have the savings to keep me going for long.

    I’ve been cleaning up my CV and hitting up my internal network to see if there’s anything internally that might come open soon. It’s a big firm so there are some options and I’ve got an external interview lined up early next week.

    It just sucks being in the office at the moment the mood is really flat.

    I think I’ve done all I can reasonably do but if anyone else has any tips or suggestions of what I should be doing to prepare then I’d be happy to hear them.

    1. Errol*

      Stockpile as much money as you reasonably can for the foreseeable future, I’d also update your LinkedIn with the “looking for work” toggle so recruiters get access to your profile just to boost your network there.

      Beyond that, your doing everything you should be! 6 months is a great window to line something up in!

    2. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      Best of luck. My husband was laid off 3 months after we closed on our home. It’s stressful but hopefully you can get through it!

    3. Venus*

      This isn’t relevant to work, but you might ask the bank about minimizing mortgage payments (stretching them out over more years) or other ways to reduce spending in the short-term.

    4. Minocho*

      One thing I learned the hard way (by crashing an burning at an interview for a really good opportunity when I really needed something) was to work really hard to maintain as positive an attitude as possible. This is scary news, it throws a wrench in plans and it’s going to add to your stress, but practice self care and self love, and lean on “team me” as needed to keep your mood positive and determined as much as possible.

      Don’t forget that you are awesome, and there are opportunities out there that would be perfect for you!

      Good luck!

      1. AW*

        I’m doing ok keeping things professional at work and it’s been a pretty relaxed week, I’ve been able to come in late or leave a bit early most days.

    5. SuperAnon*

      Can you go beyond your internal network? Wouldn’t you want to be looking at job boards and branching out?

      1. AW*

        I’m keen to stay in the company if I can, it’s a good place to work, but I have looked externally too, the interview I’ve got next week is with a new company.

    6. Eeether Eyether*

      I’m sorry to hear that! One thing you can do to keep the cash flow going, is to charge everything you normally pay cash for, assuming you don’t already do so, and pay the minimum amount due each month until you get another job. You’ll rack up some interest, but it gives you some breathing room. But–pay it off as *soon* as you get another job. Best of luck!!

      1. Llellayena*

        I have to strongly disagree with this. There are many ways to reduce overall expenses and save more over a short time period besides piling it all on a credit card and ending up paying MORE than you spent due to the collected interest. Cut out optional spending, switch to less expensive options for things, hold off on optional repairs, renovations or maintenance until a new job is lined up but DON’T put it all on credit.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Agreed. She may not find a job quick enough, or with a salary high enough, to pay it all off in one go. Your suggestions are what I did when I lost my job eight years ago.

    7. Katefish*

      If need be, most lenders, including mortgage lenders, will give you unemployment forbearance. Hopefully you don’t need it, but it never hurts to ask. I work in a related field, and it really helps to be proactive.

  46. halfwolf*

    I found a really interesting listing that is asking in the application questions for applicants to “describe a time when you had to solve a complex or difficult challenge at work or school. Outline the challenge and the steps you took to find a resolution.” This kind of question unfortunately always causes me to draw a complete blank! I’m an executive assistant right now trying to transition into more project management type work, so I know I need to be able to demonstrate that I have those kinds of skills. If anyone has any tips about the kinds of experiences to reflect on that would lead to good examples here, I would be really grateful. I’m just having a hard time really remembering work that I’ve done that would demonstrate this, partially because as an assistant I don’t have (or don’t feel like I have) as much ownership over outcomes as other roles.

    1. Librarian*

      (Librarian by education, project manager by trade)

      The listing asking you to describe how you solved a challenge means that they want insight into how you solve problems and make decisions. Just think about the daily work that you do as an executive assistant. Do you coordinate schedules? Triage emails? Arrange appointments and meetings? Have you ever had to pull your executive out of a meeting to go to another meeting or take a phone call? Do you escort your executive’s guests and visitors to the office? Once you have a few of these tasks in mind, think about how you work through them – for example, what goes into prioritizing your executive to meet with Joe instead of Susan? What’s the criteria you judge a situation by to determine if you need to pull your executive out of a meeting or interrupt him?

      As a project manager, you’d be working with requirements, cost, time, and resources. If you can show that you know how to manage these, then you’ve got it! As an executive assistant, you’re already doing this – the executive is your resource, you’re helping to manage his (or her!) time, your requirement is to help him do his job, and your cost is the savings and value you provide by keeping him on time and on schedule.

      1. halfwolf*

        thank you thank you! this is exactly the kind of framing that i’m looking for – really appreciate you taking the time to help. being an assistant frequently means that when my work is done perfectly, it’s invisible, so this is really helpful in getting me to think about this in the right way.

    2. baconeggandcheeseplz*

      Adding to what Librarian said, part of project management is how to handle situations where things go wrong.
      The first thing I thought of was when I was acting as a temporary executive assistant and my VP had a very last minute flight cancellation. I had to arrange an alternate flight (and I think hotel) quickly, juggling his needs/preferences with the limited availability/company travel restrictions. So maybe you have an example like that?

    3. Awful Annie*

      I was impressed by an EA who quietly organised a complex administrative request from some difficult external people and then dealt with it being cancelled as a result of organisational politics. Not only did she turn a series of vague requests into a clear plan for the day, and arranged all the bookings, but she then put it discretely on hold while politics flared up, and then arranged the cancellations without gossiping or complaining.

  47. IrishEm*

    So I’m 6 months in to my call centre job and last week my probation was extended because I had so many sick days. So far, so corporate norm. I then had to leave work with a gastric complaint this week but was back i n the next day. So HR wants me to see the company doctor. I’m trying not to panic, I tend to only get sick once or twice a year, this year was an aberration. How do I navigate the company Dr who will probably not be able to find anything wrong with me? Or should I just dust off my CV and be ready to start applying for new jobs?

    1. HappySnoopy*

      Is this an intermittent chronic condition your regular doctor know about? Wondering if there’s some form or record you can get from your doc that you’d be willing and able to shate when go to company doc. Not a waiver for them to see all your private med records, since company doc may have different fiduciary requirements in sharing, but enough general sense that company doc may have context when u see them.

      1. IrishEm*

        It was literally one sinus infection and one chest infection, both of which were doing the rounds of the office that just knocked me out this year, and hasn’t happened before, with a tummy bug picked up in the office on top of all the other sick days :(

        My underlying chronic issues are pain related and under control, so not necessary to disclose.

  48. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Who did you use as references while hunting for your second professional job?

    I’m not job hunting, but I’m asking for the distant future. I’m in my first professional job out of college and have no idea who to use as references for the next one, since I wouldn’t want to tip off my current boss I’m job hunting. It seems odd to think about using the same references I used to get this job, as they seem very connected to “college” and it wouldn’t make sense to use them after I have some experience. One reference would likely be a colleague, but what about the others? I don’t want to use all people from the same organization, right?

    Am I overthinking this? Any ideas?

    1. Minerva McGonagall*

      When I went from my first job to my second (current) job, all three were from my first job. I did make sure that they were varied in what they could say about me; one was my recently retired and excellent boss who very much supported me getting a new job, one was a higher up I worked with very closely on multiple projects for a few years, and another was a colleague with the same job title as me and could talk about how much I collaborated with others.

    2. Natalie*

      In my case I’d had two bosses move on from the company, so they were my references plus my current boss once I had a contingent offer. I don’t think it’s a big deal at all that your references would be from the same organization. Anyone hiring you will see that this is your first job!

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I think college people are fine! And so is all people from the same organization! I think especially early in your career, references are more about confirming the impression the hiring manager has of you. So, any three people who will say you get to work on time and do a good job are fine.

    4. Metameta*

      Before my first professional job, I worked in an elevated grad student position that I actually helped create from scratch during my graduate degree in the same field, so I had that supervisor serve as my first reference for what kind of employee I was. The second was a cohort from my graduate program who worked in the sort of role I would be collaborating with who could speak to what it was like to work with me.. The third was a former coworker at the aforementioned student job who had been promoted into the newly created position and could speak to the work I had done and impact it made on the department even after leaving.

      I got the second professional job with these references (in addition to well crafted application materials and a good interview process of course)

    5. Seifer*

      For my second professional job, I used a friend from the current job that had quit, and then someone that managed me at the previous job. I didn’t use anyone that still worked at the current job because I didn’t want anyone to know I was job hunting. But one from before and one from during worked well for me.

    6. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Thank you for all the suggestions! I don’t know where I got it in my head that references shouldn’t come from the same place, probably a college career center somewhere along the line. I was definitely overthinking this.

  49. Emma*

    I have an odd situation that’s been going on for a few months now and I’m not sure how to address it. In the office I work in, my desk is situated in a wide hallway, in very close proximity to a coworker’s office. My chair is about three feet from his office door. Just about every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I hear my coworking violently gagging in his office, and sometimes it turns into vomiting. On really severe occasions he will shut the door and I can hear the sounds of him vomiting for several minutes. Medically, I have no idea what is going on and I really prefer not to know. Personally, I am disgusted and hate hearing these noises. It’s highly distracting and nauseates me. I don’t know the appropriate way to address this if there is one. But it doesn’t look like moving my desk or his office is an option, so I’m at a loss!

    1. Murphy*

      Ugh…I wouldn’t be able to sit near that (I’m a sympathetic vomitter) but I have no idea what I’d do in that situation! I’m sorry you (and he!) are going through that.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Tell HR and/or his boss TODAY and get noise-blocking headphones. This is really alarming and his boss and HR need to address it. He is very, very sick in some way. I hope you and he get relief from this.
      (Don’t expect HR or his boss to give you an update.)

    3. Frank Doyle*

      Oh my goodness! I don’t know what you should do either, but that sounds really awful! I guess talk to him first, see what the deal is?

    4. Interviewer*

      I’m in HR, and we send people home for vomiting at work once, let alone multiple times a day (excluding morning sickness). You mention that you don’t want to know what’s going on, and I’m assuming that you aren’t planning to pop in and ask him sympathetically if he’s okay or if he needs help. If not, mention the situation to his supervisor, including the frequency, and ask your supervisor if you can be relocated until the issue is resolved.

    5. Venus*

      At the very least this person should be making the noises in a washroom (not in an office), although ideally they would be sent home or have this addressed longer-term in some way.

      I was told years ago about someone who had a colleague making weird gag-type noises early in the morning, and after a few days of it they just loudly said (so that everyone in the area could hear, yet no one could see them) “Would you do that somewhere else?!” and the next day the person wandered off to the washroom at around that time. This sounds like one of those times, and although you don’t have to say it directly, I would definitely mention it to someone (the vomitting is particularly gag-worthy).

    6. LizB